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Origin, Aims and Objects

A short history of the early days of the Association written Circa 1956 by Trustee - Tom Kerrisk

The Baldwyns Park Estate was begun between 1924 and 1928 and, as may be imagined, the area was at that time much more rural and isolate than it is today. The original builder who planned the estate, was a man of imagination and ideas but both he and the prospective residents soon ran into a host of troubles both legal and financial. There were quarrels with the Kent County Council, the Bexley Borough Council and other Boards and Authorities, and worse still, quarrels between the parties themselves. Now, one of the attractions originally offered was a piece of land amounting to 4½ acres to the west of Baldwyns Park which the Builder proposed to give to the residents as a site for a Community Centre if and when a club or association should be formed. With this inducement before them and their many troubles as a spur the purchasers were not slow in forming themselves into an association to prospect their interests, preserve and extend the amenities of the estate and foster social activities.

The first early meetings were held under a large tree in Tile Kiln Lane or in the houses of the few who had succeeded in moving in. Many of these people found themselves in possession of a plot of land with little or no prospect of building the house they had hoped for. Since they were not yet residents they could not call themselves a Residents Association and so the Baldwyns Freeholders Association came into being with the objects stated below. It claimed and acquired the land promised, the ownership being vested in four trustees who hold the property in trust for the benefit of Association Members. The Pavilion (an ex W.D. hut) was later acquired and erected in the grounds and has been ever since the Headquarters, meeting place and centre of activities of the Association. A part of the ground was, at an early date, laid out as allotments for hire to members and has remained in use ever since for this purpose.

Since its foundation the Association has, with many vicissitudes and changes, carried out the work begun by the founder members. No opportunity of preserving and improving the amenities of the estate has been neglected. The G.P.O. has been prodded into providing better postal and telephone services, Councils have been badgered into mending roads and pavements and providing better street lighting and we have even achieved improvements, though minor ones, in the 401 bus service. On the other hand the Association has been instrumental in preventing developments which might spoil the pleasant semi-rural character of the estate or constitute a nuisance to the residents. A dump of smouldering rubbish in Ferndell Avenue which covered the whole district in evil smelling smoke was closed down after a long battle involving three Councils, two Ministries and several M.P.’s. Many thousands of words were written, and many deputation’s sent before success was finally achieved. The recent County Development Plan was carefully examined and objections raised against proposals which seemed to be most undesirable. In this too, the Association was successful, and the open farmland between Dartford Road and Joydens Wood was thus preserved. Much more could be written on the subject of the Associations activities in this direction if space and time permitted.

On the social side too, the Association has been most active, though it has long been the practice for such activities to be organised and carried on by the associated clubs rather than by the parent body. There have been a great many of these clubs - Tennis Club, Women’s Club, Dramatic Society and Table Tennis Club, to name a few, and there have also been various other activities organised by groups of members - e.g. Dancing Classes, Dressmaking Classes, Theatre Outings, Children’s Parties, Lectures, Gramophone Concerts, etc., etc. These clubs have started and faded out with the changing ages and interests of members. The great movement of population since the War has also had its effect, and many of our older members have left the district. At present only Table Tennis and the Tennis Club have survived. Possibly the increasing distractions of 3D films and television are partly responsible, but the Committee feel certain that more could be done. Any group of members can form a club for any purpose and can expect nothing but assistance and encouragement from the parent Association. The grounds and facilities are there for the enjoyment of all members, and the Committee only regret that more use is not made of them. The Association cannot offer financial assistance to new clubs but will be willing to assist in any other way. The only condition is that club members must be of the Association.

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