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Swanley Town Twinning Association

Why Twinning?



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Membership of Swanley & District Twinning Association is inexpensive and brings many benefits.

An Individual Membership subscription costs just £5.00 per year, and £10.00 for a family, any size. Membership for businesses and other organisations costs £16.00 per year. Subscriptions are renewable from 1st April and can be paid up to three years in advance.

In return you will receive

  • access to our programme of social events
  • inclusion on our exchange visits
  • cross-channel contacts for business and other activities
  • a quarterly newsletter

We welcome potential new members at any of our regular events. If you would like to attend a coming event please contact the membership secretary on 01322 660589 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Alternatively, if you would like to join now, then download our membership Application Form, complete it and send it with your membership fee to our membership secretary at the address on the form.

[NOTE: Please send your application to ROD SHARMAN 20 ARCHER WAY SWANLEY KENT BR8 7XR - NOT to the address on the form.]



Aerial view of Swanley, looking south-east

Swanley grew from a crossroads with virtually no buildings, to a considerable town with a population of 20,986 (2001) in one and a half centuries.

Once the railway had been established it led to Swanley becoming a horticultural centre and it was also seen as being the ideal place to send sick Londoners. Swanley’s soil and climate were recognised as a healing environment now easily accessible from London by train.

Three hospitals were established here: the Kettlewell (or Alexandra) Hospital in 1885, Parkwood Hospital in 1893 and White Oak Hospital in 1897.

The Kettlewell stood on the site of Asda’s car park and was for poor patients from London who needed to recuperate after major surgery, and so rested in Swanley. The Parkwood hospital was similarly used and White Oak was originally for children with eye diseases.

During both world wars Kettlewell & Parkwood were used as military hospitals, Parkwood became part of the Sidcup hospital for facial injuries. The setting up of the National Health Service in 1948 meant these old London Hospitals became redundant - Kettlewell & White Oak closed in the 1950s and Parkwood ceased being a hospital in the early 1960s. Today reminders of these three important places still exist e.g. the gates of White Oak can still be seen opposite Swanley Police Station in London Road, the Roman Catholic chapel in Bartholomew way was Kettlewell’s chapel and Parkwood still exists in its entirety in Beechenlea Lane – now a special school.

Swanley Home for Little Boys was opened in 1883 for orphans from London, a place in the country where they learned a trade to secure a living in later life. This fine Victorian building is now Furness School in Hextable.

Swanley was originally seen as developing into a genteel Victorian residential area with the building of several villas along London Road and Birchwood Park Avenue, these included private schools for middle class Victorian families. This vision was defeated by the needs of horticulture and industry, which used Swanley’s good rail and road communications with London and Kentish markets as a place for both their businesses and workers. Railway workers were soon joined by horticultural workers who, in turn, were followed by industry such as Thomas Wood’s jam factory (stood on the site of Swan Mill). Nearby was Castle Street, known as “Do as you like Street” because of the appalling overcrowding and the close proximity of railway wagons at Swanley siding filled with manure from the London horse traffic, ready for use in Swanley’s horticultural businesses. Swanley up to the 1930s exported flowers and vegetables to London and imported manure! Castle Street was demolished and replaced with Bevan Place, just off London Road.

Christ Church, Swanley
© Copyright Roger W Haworth

The earliest surviving buildings in Swanley Town are contained in the row of shops in the High Street opposite the Lullingstone Castle public house and known as Kent Terrace. Increasing population meant that Swanley Junction had to have its own schools and a church because the ones used in Swanley Village could not cope. In 1894 a small corrugated iron church was built (known as St Philip’s & St James’) but that was replaced in 1901 by the newly completed St Mary’s church – a building that was designed to be larger than it is as can be seen from its odd shape. In 1902 a congregational church was built in London Road (still there today). This church began life in 1878, being moved to Swanley in 1890 and then to its present site which, until 1955 marked the boundary between Swanley (which was part of Sutton at Hone Parish) and Farningham to which belonged all the rest of London Road westwards. The schools at Swanley Junction included St Mary’s National School (Church of England) opened in 1896 in Goldsel Road, Farningham Hill School 1902 and Birchwood Elementary School (1908).

The recreation ground in what is now St Mary’s Road was land given to the parishes of Sutton-at-Hone (including Swanley), St Mary’s Cray, Eynsford & Farningham in 1900.

The War Memorial, since 1980 outside St Mary’s Church, was originally on the junction of Swanley Lane and London Road and unveiled in 1922. The memorial contains a total of 138 names for the dead of two world wars including Staff Paymaster Joseph Gedge of Swanley – the first British Officer killed in the First World War.

Next Stop Swanley
© Copyright Glyn Baker

From the 1920’s and especially since 1945, Swanley has become a commuting community taking advantage of the excellent road and rail communications. Swanley Town Centre has completely altered over the past 40 years, from a bottle neck for traffic with decaying buildings along parts of London Road, to a pedestrianised shopping centre supported by buildings from the 1960’s the Post Office, Telephone exchange and Fire Station as well as modern light industry at several industrial estates.

In 1975 the Library replaced rooms in White Oak Hospital building which was rebuilt again in 1999 now The Library & Information Centre, is home to the Library, Tourist and Local Information, Volunteer Bureau, Learn Direct and Adult Education and a Café.

The Library is the best place to start finding out about Swanley’s history. There is a local collection with files, maps and illustrations.

Text courtesy of Swanley Town Council



Verrieres-le-Buisson Coat of ArmsThe fascinating history of Verrières-le-Buisson can be traced back over one thousand years from the reign of Charlemagne.

The "Villa Vedrarias", was given by Childebert I in 543 to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It is the first written mention of Verrières. The current name appears during the XVIth century.

Under the reign of Louis XIV, who enjoyed hunting in the Verrières forest, the term "Le Buisson" was added. This is reflected in the coat of arms, which bears an oak, along with the arms of Saint-Germain. External ornaments include two beavers (bievers in Old French) symbolizing the Bièvre River.

Verrières was originally aligned with the parish of the Abbey of Saint-Germain. This changed at the end of the 12th century, with the building of the parish church Notre-Dame de l'Assomption ( Our Lady of the Ascension). Village life was strictly controlled by the monks, however, until 1248, when Thomas de Mauléon, the Abbot of St Germain granted some freedoms in return for payment of a large tribute.

Church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption, Verrieres-le-BuissonAlways a small village, Verrières survived the Hundred Years war in the 14th and 15th centruy, the Religious Wars of the 16th Century and the French Revolution of 1789. The neighbouring village of Amblainvilliers fares worse, and the castle there is destroyed in 1796.

By 1801 the population had risen only to 1071, and by 1873 had barely changed. However, in the last quarter of the 18th  century the influence of the Vilmorin-Andrieux company (then a plant breeder, now a major world-wide seed producer) the population rose to around 1500.

The expansion of the Parisian suburbs early in the 20th century had little effect on the village, which remained largely agricultural. Although some land around the village was sold, by 1939 the population was still only 3000.

The second half of the 20th century saw more change in Verrières than during the previous millenium. Urbanisation started in earnest in 1954, and in 1965 the Vilmorin-Andrieux comapny sold 100 hectares of agricultural land, leading to the development of the eastern side of the town. By 1999 the population had reached 15923.

Location Map of Verrieres-le-BuissonToday, Verrières is a picturesque, mainly residential town situated some 12 miles south-west of the heart of Paris in the Vallée de la Bièvre. Despite it's proximity to Paris, it is almost surrounded by forest - the Bois de Verrieres - that offers a host of recreational activities. The town is blessed with many parks and gardens, a lake and a thirteenth century church: Notre Dame de l'Assomption.
A number of chateaux and other interesting tourist sites in the vicinity of Verrières can be reached by bus, car or train. Verrières has been twinned with Hövelhof in Germany since 1971.

Visit the Verrières Mairie (town council) web site at