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Blog request of the Library – Bromley Little Theatre.

Query 15 May 2020

I am a member of Bromley little theatre and I'm embarking on a project to make a video of the theatre's history, most of the video will just be a guided tour for posterity, but I'm hoping to start it with a brief history of the building we think the theatre was originally a bakery but I can't find any proof of this, in fact I can't find any reference at all although it started as a theatre in 1934.

any help you can give will be much appreciated

Answers 16 May 2020

Thank you for contacting North West Kent Family History Society library.

At present we are shut down because of then coronavirus and our Library and Branch meetings as well as the house groups cannot meet. This means the research volunteers are unable to do any research from our resources and records at the library.

Your request is the same type of research family historians do to find the houses and businesses of their ancestors. If you are a member of our Society you will find the research guides on our web site that will show the documents you should consult. See https://www.nwkfhs.org.uk/members/research-aid-diagrams-charts

At this time, we cannot carry out research for you although some of our volunteers might have the expertise to research your theatre. I have forwarded your email and this reply to our Research coordinator just in case there is a volunteer that can help from their own resources. If you would like to make a formal request for research there is a form on the web site. There is a charge for this service.

I assume you have already contacted the Local History Group without any success.

In the interim you might like to check the British Newspaper Archives online as they hold many newspapers that might refer to the setting up of the theatre and the owners beforehand.

Keep us informed of your progress and once things are back to normal you might like to visit us at our Library in Joydens Wood to discuss how we can help you further.

Answer 17 May 2020

The Building and the street (now named Compass Street), in which the Theatre is now housed, seems to date prior to 1897 according to the OS Map seen at the National Library of Scotland. Further in-depth research needs to be made to ascertain the exact date of construction.

The current Theatre building may have been the rear part of a building that fronted on to East Street as No 41 but this is speculation and again would need further detailed research. Best resource would be Local directories.

Contact with Bromley Civic Society may prove useful. Also the Bromley Local Studies in the Civic Building. They have Directories which can be searched online for free as does Leicester University web site.

To date no information has been found of a Bakery in what is now Compass Street except in the 1940 Directory the Bromley Little Theatre (J. H. Leather, director), is at Isard's Yard. In the Illustrated Police News of 12th December 1935 under the headline 'Given away by newness of Bicycle' it reports Norman Williams age 30, a traveller of Hunsden Road, New Cross was charged with being in possession of a stolen bicycle taken from the Co-Operative Bakery, North Street, Bromley.

In the 1913 Directory we can confirm the address of the property on East Street as No 41 by counting the properties from the Railway Hotel (No 45) on the corner with North Street to the Drill Hall of the Kent Cycle Battalion, which was No 27. Knowing the number, we are able to check if its listed and it was. The Bromley and Crays Co-operative Society Ltd (John R Santer, sec) grocers etc. 41 East Street and branches 2 Simpsons Road & Chatterton Road. Know the Street numbers if any photographs exist then the adjacent properties may be worth tracing. Especially these which are No. 43 Wollheim C L Laundry, No. 39 Kentish District Times as well as Strong and Sons, printers with James Humerstone at 37 is a Upholsterer and he is a Cycle Dealer at No. 35.

Conclusion: Now we have the address all the census and 1939 Register can be checked and the sources on the research aid diagram can be followed.

Kismet: How strange that two enquires this one and the 6 May request both referred to an 'East Street'. 

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