History of Orpington

First mentioned in 1032, the name means Orpedís farm. Orpington and St. Mary Cray competed across the centuries to be the most important settlement in the district.

Orpington is primarily a 20th century town although it had a main line railway as early as 1868. Nineteenth century development was limited mainly to the replacement of existing buildings especially in the High Street, although Orpington New Town between the Priory and St. Mary Cray was built as a small self contained suburb with its own pubs and shops. In addition a few new roads were built at the north end of the village bordering Broomhill Common.

In 1904 the station was rebuilt and enlarged, allowing the train service to be improved considerably. From this time developers began to take an interest in Orpington as a potential new suburb, several buying land along the east side of the railway line and starting to build before the First World War. Development continued throughout the interwar years on both sides of the High Street during which time the garden suburb of Petts Wood grew up straddling the Chislehurst border. The High Street itself changed from a sleepy village main street to a suburban shopping centre complete with its own cinemas.

Following the Second World War, the large Ramsden council estate was developed to cater for a growth in demand for public housing, while to the south, private estates appeared on the borders with Chelsfield and Farnborough.

Some pre Victorian buildings survived in the High Street into the 1970ís but most of these were swept away by the Walnuts development, to the east of the High Street, which consisted of shops, offices, a large college of further education and a new police station.

See historic maps of Orpington