Ramsden

Ramsden, Bromley

A recently regenerated estate situated on the far eastern edge of Orpington


Hidden London: William Petty Way, cropped from an image that is copyright Ian Capper. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence.
New homes on William Pet­ty Way

Noth­ing is known of the ori­gin of Ramsden’s name, which does not seem to have been record­ed in print before the mid-19th cen­tu­ry, but it may have meant ‘wood­land pas­ture for rams’.

Well into the 20th cen­tu­ry the ham­let of Rams­den con­sist­ed of lit­tle more than a hand­ful of cot­tages on the south side of the road now called Pet­ten Grove and a near­by farm on Chels­field Lane called Pet­ten (or Pat­ten or Pet­ting) Grove. These were sur­round­ed by orchards, open fields and, lat­er, a clutch of nurs­eries. Tripes (or Tripe) Farm, lay to the south-east, as it still does.

The orig­i­nal Rams­den estate was con­struct­ed in the late 1950s and 1960s, in a mix of ter­raced hous­ing, bun­ga­lows and high- and low-rise blocks. A minor final phase added 42 hous­es in the mid-1990s, bring­ing the estate’s total num­ber of dwellings to 1,344.

Rams­den pri­ma­ry school (lat­er Hill­side, now Har­ris Pri­ma­ry Acad­e­my Orp­ing­ton) and sec­ondary schools for girls and boys opened in 1957, 58 and 59 respec­tive­ly.

Blenheim infant and junior schools (now Blenheim pri­ma­ry) opened in 1967 and two years lat­er Rams­den Church of Uni­ty (now the Uni­ty Church) was joint­ly estab­lished by the Church of Eng­land and the Methodist Church.

The Rams­den estate came to be regard­ed as grot­ty and crime-rid­den by many Orp­ing­to­ni­ans, although this was by com­par­i­son with most oth­er parts of this salu­bri­ous dis­trict rather than with deprived com­mu­ni­ties else­where. The estate was even nick­named ‘Lit­tle Belfast’ in the ear­ly 1980s – not because of the ori­gin of its res­i­dents but in an allu­sion to the strife-torn con­di­tion of North­ern Ire­land at that time.

Rams­den’s two sec­ondary schools were merged in 1989 as the Pri­o­ry School (eschew­ing the taint­ed ‘Rams­den’ name). The school, which occu­pies the for­mer site of the girls’ school, has since been entire­ly rebuilt and is now the Har­ris Acad­e­my Orp­ing­ton. The for­mer boys’ school was replaced by hous­ing and – despite sur­pris­ing­ly vocif­er­ous objec­tions – Brom­ley indoor bowls cen­tre.

Begun in 2003, a recent­ly com­plet­ed scheme has trans­formed Rams­den almost beyond recog­ni­tion. The project was halt­ed mid­way owing to the effects of the reces­sion but resumed after a two-year hia­tus. It ulti­mate­ly involved demol­ish­ing most of the ter­raced flats and tow­er blocks and cre­at­ing a more tra­di­tion­al street pat­tern, with new build­ings ris­ing to no more than four storeys.

The Rams­den Revival project cost around £12 mil­lion and has pro­vid­ed a rough­ly even split of homes for sale and for rent, with improved play areas, more park­ing spaces and sev­er­al homes specif­i­cal­ly tai­lored for dis­abled peo­ple.

Postcode area: Orpington BR5
Further reading: John Pateman, The Ramsden Estate and Petten Grove, Pateran Press, 2011 (exceptionally good)
Orpington History PDF: Sally Pennington, A short history of Ramsden estate, Orpington

 

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The picture of William Petty Way on this page is cropped from an original photograph, copyright Ian Capper, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.