Petts Wood: The making of a 1920s garden suburb

by Peter Waymark

Social Development

Meanwhile the new suburb was soon acquiring social amenities. A public house, the Daylight Inn (a reference to William Willett's daylight saving campaign) opened on Station Square in 1935. The prospect of a pub was not universally welcomed but a promise to adopt the Tudor style helped to defuse opposition. In the early years it was also a residential hotel, while its spacious banqueting hall-cum-ballroom became a popular venue for dinners, amateur dramatics and public meetings. It was effectively the "village hall" until after the Second World War. Petts Wood's cinema, the Embassy, opened a year later on the west side of the railway. Its first presentation, ironically in view of the social divisions of the new suburb, was A Tale of Two Cities. In contrast to much of residential Petts Wood it was built in the modern art deco style. The auditorium with a rose and gold décor seated 1,300 people and there was a large café/lounge on the first floor with fashionable tubular chairs. The Saturday morning children's shows were popular, particularly in the early years, but the Embassy eventually fell victim to the post-war decline in cinema going and closed in 1973.