ARGUABLY the most famous resident Bromley’s ever had was born on this day in 1809 – naturalist Charles Darwin.
Known across the world for his theories of evolution and natural selection, Darwin conducted much of his work at Down House, nestled in the borough’s leafy outskirts.
Darwin and his family moved there in 1842 and after his death in 1873 it became a school and then a museum. It was bought by English Heritage in 1996 and attracts lots of visitors every year.
But Darwin’s just one on a long list of famous faces to have graced the London borough. Here are ten more of the most acclaimed:
1. Musician David Bowie moved to Bromley in 1953, aged six. He went to Burnt Ash Junior School and then Bromley Technical High School, now known as Ravens Wood. At 15 he formed his first band and has since gone onto become one of the most listened to voices in rock history.
2. All round clever chap H.G. Wells was born on Bromley’s high street in 1866. As well as teaching and journalism he went onto write books such as The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man.
3. Hit pop artist and actress Pixie Lott arrived in Bromley in 1991. She’s also lived in News Shopper home Petts Wood, as well as Bickley.
4. Our youngest ever Prime Minister also hailed from these parts. William Pitt the Younger, son of the also quite famous statesman, the Earl of Chatham, was born in Hayes in 1759. The Tory politician did a great deal but is best known for leading Britain against Napoleon – whose son lived just down the road...
5. Napoleon III – or Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte to be precise – was the last Emperor of France and son of the man himself. After a coup, plenty of swordplay and lots of cigarettes he was finally exiled to England in 1871. He and his family settled in Chislehurst and apparently Queen Victoria once visited.
6. Brit Award-winning DJ and rave-bringer Fatboy Slim, also known as Norman Cook, was born in Bromley in 1963. If you’ve ever been clubbing, you’ll know his work.
7. Although originally from up the road in Middlesex, punk rocker Billy Idol lived for a time in the borough. He and his family moved here from Dorking in 1971 and he went to The Ravensbourne School. He’s also a member of the ‘Bromley Contingent’ of Sex Pistols fans.
8. Batsman extraordinaire W.G. Grace died in Mottingham in 1915 and he’s buried in Beckenham. He'd been turning out in his later years for London County Cricket Club, based in Crystal Palace, after a glittering career.
9. West End star Florence Emery (née) Farr was born in Bickley in 1860 and spent her life being talented and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Oscar Wilde. As well as her time on stage she was a women’s rights activist, journalist, singer – in fact, there isn’t much she didn’t do. She was even leader of an occult order known as The Golden Dawn for a while.
10. In 1855 the great racing driver Sir Malcolm Campbell was born in Chislehurst. As well as some journalism he broke land and water speed records throughout the 1920s and 30s, and won the Grand Prix in France twice.
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