Beckenham Soultown Festival

The Beckenham Soultown Festival (BSF) Concert in Croydon Road Rec took place from noon to midnight on 22.9.18.

I did not attend as a paying customer, but on the morning of the event I went into the Rec and and I took a lot of photos of the preparations for the concert.

I contacted the organisers and learned that the event would take place again in 2019.

It seems that next year’s event is already being promoted by a video of this year’s event included on the website.

Beckenham Remembrance Day Service

Beckenham War Memorial

On Sunday, I attended the Beckenham Remembrance Day Service.

There were far more people present than I have seen for any event in Beckenham: this includes the Remembrance Day Service for 2000 when I took photos for the Beckenham Photographic Society’s Millennium CD Rom and a few years ago when I represented the Copers Cope Area Residents Association at the Service.

The last time there was a similar turnout was when huge crowds witnessed the Olympic Torch being carried through Beckenham on July 23rd 2012.

I took many photos and below are some together with a copy of the photo which appeared in the Beckenham Journal when the memorial was opened in 1921.

Cliff Watkins

12th November 2018

David Bowie Festival 2018

BOWIE’S BECKENHAM ODDITY is an annual fundraiser, supported by David Bowie when he provided signed items for auction at the event.

Money raised goes to the Bandstand Restoration & Plaque Fund.

More below…


Saturday, 11th August – 12 noon to 8.30pm
Croydon Road Recreation Centre, Beckenham, BR3 3PR

“Someone passed some bliss among the crowd…”

Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity continues…..


Mobile: 07538 984631


A Bowie Bust for Beckenham

A Bowie Bust for Beckenham

Italian architect and sculptor, Maria Primolan, is donating her latest sculpture, a life size bust of David Bowie, to Beckenham to help raise awareness and funds for the restoration of the bandstand in Croydon Road Recreation Ground.

At 2 pm on Saturday, August 12th, Maria will be on the bandstand, where she will be introduced to the many hundreds of fans attending the 5th Bowie themed concert, by the Mayor of Bromley, Kathy Bance.

The bust has been hand carved in lime wood and the face is that of the young Bowie who was living in Beckenham when his Hunky Dory album was released in 1971. This album, Maria’s favourite, was rehearsed in the nearby Azelia Hall.  On the album was Life on Mars – another of Maria’s favourite tracks – which Bowie had written on a lovely sunny summer’s day in 1971 seated on the bandstand steps.

In particular, Maria has asked the Mayor “to permanently expose this sculpture in a public area – either inside or outside – on Beckenham territory, in order to make it visible to people and visitors.”

Maria has requested  that “the sculpture must not be sold or given to others in the future: it is a gift I am giving to your community from my heart.“

The title of the sculpture is “GOODBYE MR BOWIE”.

For more information, please contact:

Maria:, site:

Cliff Watkins:

Wendy Faulkner:

Professional photo by Antonio Sandro Crisà

David Bowie Festival 2017

BOWIE’S BECKENHAM ODDITY is an annual fundraiser, supported by David Bowie when he provided signed items for auction at the event.

This year the Bowie Archive has donated another item signed by him, more details of which will follow before the festival in August.

Money raised goes to the Bandstand Restoration & Plaque Fund.

More below…

flyer image 1


Saturday, 12th August – 12 noon to 8pm
Croydon Road Recreation Centre, Beckenham, BR3 3PR

“Someone passed some bliss among the crowd…”

Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity continues…..

In 1969 a young curly haired man who went by the name of David Bowie co-organised a festival at Croydon Road Recreation Ground, South London. He even later went on to immortalise that day in his song ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’, which also appeared on his Space Oddity album. Bowie fans worldwide – join us in celebrating the life and musical legacy of David Bowie, The Growth Summer Festival of 1969, The Arts Lab, The Spiders From Mars and beyond….

Our celebratory day promises to be better than ever with food and drink, market stalls, merchandise, face painting plus a Bowie themed raffle and auction. This year’s festival kicks off at midday. Our line-up will be announced shortly, so watch this space:

Tickets are £10 (under 10’s free) and all money raised will go to the Bandstand Restoration and Plaque Fund.

At last year’s event Bowie fans united from around the world and helped raise over £17,250 for the project. The Edwardian bandstand in Beckenham (now named the Bowie Bandstand), will always be the ideal place to honour his memory (especially in the Beckenham/Bromley area), as well as being an important part of local history.

This is the first Festival anniversary year without Bowie. In 2016 we were all shocked by the news of his death as for many of us he was the soundtrack to our lives. His musical legacy continues and will gain new generations of fans around the globe for many years to come. The Oddity event organiser, Wendy Faulkner, had this to say:

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“Aylesbury will soon have a Bowie statue as a lasting tribute to the great man, Brixton also has its mural. And so we need the Bowie Bandstand in Beckenham fully restored in his honour and for all the other musicians that performed at that original event of 1969.

Bowie will always be loved and sadly missed by millions of people worldwide, so let’s get this bandstand restored!”

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Mobile: 07538 984631

The event is supported by London Borough of Bromley Council and sponsored by Lollipop Events

“We’re gonna have a party…”

David Bowie Festival 2013


“…The Sun machine is Coming Down, and we’re Gonna Have a Party…” 

Bowie It raineth 01


Sunday afternoon in the park in the residential south London town of Beckenham may not conjure up visions of youthful exuberance and rock music – but on Sunday September 15th, 2013  in Croydon Road Recreation Ground hundreds of people enjoyed typical Glastonbury style rain to celebrate David Bowie – Beckenham’s most famous former resident, the legacy of the Arts Laboratory he co-founded, and the sensational Free Festival that he and Arts Lab members staged on the Bandstand in the park in 1969.

The Festival was “free” as the modest entry fee of £5 plus donations were collected to raise funds to restore the historic bandstand which:

  • was opened in 1891 by Beckenham’s recently celebrated Tom Thornton
  • 21 years later, was used by Beckenham’s Harold Bride – the hero of the Titanic – to address cheering crowds in the park.
  • and for most of the 20th Century, witnessed civic and royal ceremonies, balloon flights and flower shows which rivalled Chelsea in popularity.

Today in an age of austerity there are not council funds to pay for repairs and it was left to Natasha Ryzhova, a Bowie fan from Russia, to galvanise the Friends of Croydon Road Rec into action. In her room in Moscow, Natasha kept a copy of the iconic photo of the young curly headed Bowie on her wall. When she moved to Beckenham a few years ago, she was surprised and delighted to find that, virtually on her doorstep, was Bowie’s bandstand; but aghast at its condition. So she persuaded the Friends to stage an event similar to the original Free Festival.

Members of the Arts Lab some 40 years ago were encouraged to do their own thing and this ethos underlined the 2013 event. As well Bowie classics created and performed during  Bowie’s five years in Beckenham from 1969 to 1973, the seven groups taking part (some 70 musicians in total) played much of their own original music.

All the performers  quoted David Bowie as their inspiration to take up music and they played for free. As a result over £900 was raised to repair the roof on the bandstand.

The 2013 Free Festival provided over 3 hours of live music from 3 to 6.30 pm. The performers taking part included:

The Thin White Duke a Bowie tribute group which played 5 Bowie numbers including Life on Mars and Space Oddity – both of which have links to the band stand.

Bill Liesegang  Bowie’ s own tribute to the 1969 event song – Memory of a Free Festival

Amory Kane who flew in from the USA to reprise some of the songs he performed in the 1969 Free festival.

Others taking part were  Raf and O, Keval, Low Rent Tractors, Scott Fuller and John Aldington.

Have a look at the picture gallery here

and some video here

W G Grace Centenary Celebrations

W G Grace Centenary Celebrations

The Centenary Celebrations for W G Grace , in Beckenham on Friday 23rd October, 2015,  who died age 67 on 23rd October 1915,

“He  swung his bat and turned his arm on the green and pleasant fields of Beckenham in his last years; his memory remains with us forever.”

On Friday, 23rd October 2015 there will be two W.G. Centenary Events:

1.       At 4.30 pm Derek Carpenter will be conducting a Remembrance Service at W.G.’s grave in Beckenham Cemetery.

2.       At 7.30 pm in St George’s Church, Beckenham, W.G. ‘s life will be commemorated at a Service conducted by the former Bishop of Rochester and Durham, The Rt Revd Dr Michael Turnbull (a MCC member) when the guests will include  notable cricketing names and the BBC Sports personality, Rob Bonnet who will be talking about ‘Cricket and a Beckenham Boyhood’ .

All are invited to the Service when high class music will be provided by St George’s Choir and Peter Warlock’s Cricketers of Hambledon will be sung by the professional singer Malcom Banham who lives in Beckenham.

Background Notes:

The cricketing career of Dr William Gilbert Grace, W.G. as he was known, spanned 48 years from 1861 to 1908.  During his 43 years as a first-class player he scored 54,896 runs, including 126 centuries, and took 2,876 wickets. He made his Test debut at the age of 32 in 1880.

Aged 52 in 1900, when his international career was over, he formed the London County Cricket Club based at Crystal Palace Park, Beckenham. He played first-class county matches with them until 1908.  During these years he often appeared during the annual cricket weeks at Beckenham Cricket Club when he drew huge crowds to Foxgrove Road.

W.G. continued to play minor cricket after his retirement from the first-class version. His final match was for Eltham Cricket Club at Grove Park on 25 July 1914, a week after his 66th birthday.  He died in Eltham on 23rd October, 1915 and is buried in the Beckenham Cemetery in Elmers End.

In October 1998 to mark the 150th anniversary of Grace’s birth, the Revd Canon Derek Carpenter organised a graveside ceremony in Beckenham Ceremony and conducted a service in St George’s Church, Beckenham.

On March 26th  2011, Grace was celebrated in the  Fanfare for Beckenham, Concert  which took place in the Church on March 26th when  the audience were invited to join in the chorus when the Lewisham Concert Band and Paul Allen performed Peter Warlock’s rousing drinking song  The Cricketers of Hambledon.



Arts & Heritage Evening

Arts & Heritage Evening

Venue 28 (formerly the studio)

Friday, 17th July 2015

6.00 pm to 9.30 pm

Come and enjoy paintings by local artists in this wonderful newly renovated Victorian building. Meet the artists. Free drinks and canapés with live music by a jazz ensemble.

Also see the exhibition telling the story of the Clock House District of Beckenham, since c. 1750 and the lives of many notable local people, like Brett, Bride and the Blytons.

For more information contact

Bernard, Belleberry Deli




Beckenham Heritage Group

Beckenham Heritage Group – Putting Life into Local History


In 1998 Len Johnson the President of the Beckenham Photographic Society (BPS), proposed that during 1999 members should record life at the end of the 2nd Millennium. This was extended to cover both the years 1999 and 2000. A CD was made of some 800 colour photos of Beckenham, including a selection of vintage images.

These images are now both a record and a part of Beckenham’s Heritage and BPS have authorised the reproduction of the CD images on the BHG website.

This project encouraged BPS member Cliff Watkins to research the history of Beckenham. He discovered the wealth of publications and articles used by local historians Nancy Tonkin and Eric Inman in their definitive book Beckenham, published by Phillimore in 1993. On his retirement from remunerated employment in 1998, Cliff joined many local societies and met many interesting people who instilled his desire to celebrate Beckenham’s Famous – its people and places.

One of these was the Copers Cope Area Residents Association (CCARA) . Eric Inman was a leading figure and, at his instigation, in July 2000 the CCARA marked the Millennium by placing a Plaque above the Water Spout on the building used by Beckenham’s first Fire Brigade from 1872 to 1884. Photos of this event were put on the BPS CD and some souvenir postcards were printed.


Following the successful reception given the BPS CD Rom when launched in February, 2001, the following is record of some of the events that followed.

2001 (December 6th) saw the Bowie plaque placed on the historic Three Tuns pub funded by the CCARA and the Noble House Pub Company. A video was made by Editpoint  (who had created the software for the BPS CD ).

2002 (March 14th) saw a Civic Ceremony which honoured the composer Carey Blyton in his 70th birthday year. Again an Editpoint video recorded the scene as guests recalled life in Beckenham in the 1950’s .

2002 (October)  The first BHG Concert took place in St George’s Church entitled Beckenham’s Famous when the Beckenham Junior Choir, the Crystal Palace Band recorded the achievements some 20 alumnae in music, song, poetry and two ‘radio plays’ to a very large audience. A souvenir programme booklet was printed.

2005 (June 18th)  A day long event called Home Front Recall took place, comprising

  1. Publication of the book Beckenham – the Home Front 1939 -1945
  2. Two concerts in St George’s Church: In the afternoon the professional group Forces Sweethearts songs of home and homecoming made famous by  great singers like Anne Shelton, Gracie Fields, Jessie Matthews and Vera Lynn.  In the evening the Crystal Palace Band performed rousing and romantic music of the 1940’s.

2006 (January 14th) Amnesty International’s Gala Concert  in memory of Hugh Bean in St George’s Church took place with programme  notes about  Hugh’s early years when his career as a violinist started in the Beckenham County School.

2007 (June 30th) “Songs for a Summer Night”, the South London Singers’ Silver Jubilee Concert was held at the Methodist Church in Beckenham.  The event was filmed by local film makers Footprint Productions

2008:  Pat Manning and Cliff Watkins published The Story of Beckenham Green following recognition by LBB that the town sign on the Green should be the Coat of Arms of the  Borough of Beckenham from 1935 – 1965. The book was to remind and inform new comers to Beckenham that the Green is there as memory of the commercial heart of the richest borough in Kent and a tribute to the people who suffered and coped with the devastation of WW2.

Also, the second Beckenham’s Famous Concert took place in Christ Church, Beckenham in November 2008 with the same performers as in 2002, plus Beckenham Youth Voices. This time a further 20 alumnae were celebrated. A souvenir programme booklet was printed.

2010:  The chair of CCARA, David Vevers, retrieved the Bowie Plaque from the Orpington Museum (who were not aware that they had it in store). David then arranged with Zizzi for the plaque to be re-fixed on the 3 Tuns building.

In the same year, Cliff Watkins  met another composer who lived in the heart of CCARA territory in The Drive, Gordon Carr.  Cliff was introduced  to Les Lake (who went to Beckenham County School), the Director of the Lewisham Concert Band. Gordon accepted a commission to compose a ‘Fanfare for Beckenham’ for a concert of that name that I was planned  for 2011.

2011 (March 26th):  The concert called Fanfare for Beckenham  and did much to promote the concert of that name in St George’s Church on March 26th.  Les Lakes’s Band and local people and players made the concert a great success with a full house raising £1000 for charity.

2012 (July 7th):   On this day the Beckenham Junior Choir, Youth Voices, the Crystal Palace Band, Royston Primary School’s  and other local performers took part in the third of ‘Beckenham’s Famous’ series of concerts. Called  Fanfare for Penge and West Beckenham’. It took place in Penge Congregational Church, High Street, Penge opposite the historic educational establishment used by Beckenham County School which can trace its roots to Harold Bride’s school now known as The Studio.

2013:  On March 9th the Lewisham Concert Band and the Beckenham Ladies Choir with guests soloists took part in a concert called March of the Women to mark both the 110th anniversary of the formation of the WSPU (The Suffragettes) and 18 other women/womens groups associated with Beckenham. £1,100 was raised for charity.

To be continued

Cliff Watkins 25.11.2013