Shortlands is an area of South East London, England, within the London Borough of Bromley and the historic county of Kent. It is located east of Beckenham and west of Bromley.


The Shortlands war memorial
Location within Greater London
(ward, 2001 census) [1]
9,824 (2011 Census. Ward)[2]
OS grid referenceTQ395685
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBROMLEY
Postcode districtBR2
Dialling code020
EU ParliamentLondon
UK Parliament
London Assembly


Historically, Shortlands was known as Clay Hill.[3] It became known as Shortlands around 1800, after the fields which, at this point of the River Ravensbourne, ran at right angles up the slopes on either side.

The earliest known settlement was an Iron Age hillfort at Toots Wood, where traces of a Roman Camp and pottery has also been found.[4]

A medieval field pattern here was of sets of long and short fields, called Longelonds and Shortelonds, and the latter gave name to Shortlands house (now a part of Bishop Challoner School) built at the start of the 18th century. The house with its extensive farmland was acquired in 1848 by a railway magnate William Wilkinson, who also built several cottages for his farm labourers.[5]

Suburban development began in 1863 with the sale of the Shortlands House estate, making full advantage of the railway station opened in May 1858.

Pearson & Cox was a British automobile manufacturer in Shortlands, trading from 1908–1916. In 1913 they manufactured both steam powered vehicles (cars and bicycles) and petrol powered cyclecars.[6][7]

In 1921, a war memorial, designed by W. D. Caroe in the form of a Celtic cross, was unveiled in the village, in the middle of a road junction. On 8 July 2016, a Mini car collided with the memorial, breaking it into pieces.[8] The memorial was restored in October 2017 and re-positioned on its site.[9]



Shortlands station serves the area with National Rail services to London Victoria via Herne Hill and London Blackfriars via Catford, as well as to Orpington and to Sevenoaks via Swanley. As of 2019, the station also houses a coffee shop, snack retailer and dry cleaners.


Shortlands is served by four Transport for London bus services.

Nearby areas


The main schools in Shortlands are Valley Primary School, Highfield Infant and Junior Schools, Harris Academy Shortlands, Clare House Primary School and Bishop Challoner School. On top of Shortlands Hill towards the Chinese Garage is the Shortlands library, linked with other libraries of the Bromley borough.

The Prime Meridian runs through Shortlands.

Sports and leisure

Beccehamians RFC a Rugby Union Club founded in 1933 plays competitive rugby at Sparrows Den at the bottom of Corkscrew Hill near West Wickham.[10]

Notable people

Shortlands is most famous for Enid Blyton having lived there in the later stages of her life.

Others have included:

  • Sir John Brown (1816–1896), (of shipbuilding fame) died at Shortlands house.
  • Grahame Clark (1907–1995), archaeologist who specialised in Mesolithic Europe and palaeoeconomics grew up here.
  • Mrs Craik (Dinah Craik) (1826–1887), the novelist for whom Norman Shaw built a house on Shortlands Road.
  • John Ossian Davies (1851–1916), the Welsh Congregationalist minister died here.
  • George Grote (1794–1871), eminent historian of Greece, was born here at Shortlands House when it was known as Clay Hill.
  • General Sir Reginald Hewetson, GCB CBE DSO (1908–1993) British Army
  • Charles Keeping (1924–1988), English illustrator, children's book author and lithographer, lived on Church Road.
  • Joseph Thomas Last (1849-1933), English missionary, explorer and naturalist died here.
  • Alexander Muirhead, electrical engineer, credited with recording the first human electrocardiogram.
  • Brian Murphy, the actor (George Roper in the sitcom George and Mildred) and his wife the author and actress Linda Regan lived in the village until February 2019.
  • Peter Ricketts a former Permanent Secretary to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was created Baron Ricketts, of Shortlands, in 2017.
  • Lord Stamp of Shortlands (1880–1941), the first Chartered Mayor of Beckenham and Chairman of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway lived and died here when his house was bombed in 1941.
  • John Veale (1922–2006), English classical composer born here.
  • Charles Paget Wade (1883–1956), English architect, artist-craftsman and poet was born in Shortlands.


  1. 2001 Census information for the Shortlands ward "Shortlands ward population - 9303"
  2. "Bromley Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  3. "History of Shortlands". Hidden London. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  4. "Tootswood road". Beckenham History. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  5. "William Wilkinson". Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  6. "Pearson and Cox Steam motor cycle". Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  7. "Pearson and Cox". Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  8. "War memorial destroyed after car crash Mini lands on top of it". Daily Telegraph. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  9. "War memorial smashed by car returned to former glory". News Shopper. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  10. Beccehamians RFC
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