Biggin Hill History – 1924
By 1924 the R.A.F. had established itself at the airfield at Biggin Hill. The Station was opened in January 1917 as a wireless testing park and the Air to Air and Air to Ground telephony systems were developed at this site. The RAF and Biggin Hill airport played a major role in the Battle of Britain during world war two.
It is known that members of the R.A.F. visited the tea gardens as described in Ken Wilsons book “The Story of Biggin Hill” on page 22 “141 Squadron removed the four foot high wooden teapot from the front of the shop owned by Alphonse Haentjens. in celebration of attacking a German Gotha bomber.
There is only one other refreshment room listed for 1924 in Kellys Directory, that belonged to Mr Earnest Charles Snashall of Westerham hill.
This may provide evidence that going to tea / refreshment rooms and cycling to them at weekends by the wealthier, middle to upper classes, was no longer a fashionable thing to do. perhaps the after effects of the first world war did not give time to pursue such activities.
Maybe time was needed at home to look after family and friends injured or bereaved. It may be that people spent their leisure time doing other things or shopping in larger towns such as Bromley town centre. Here there would have been lots of different shops offering the latest goods.
After World war one, the land on the eastern side of Main Road was offered for sale restrictive covenants were placed on it. One of the covenants was that there should be no trade, business or manufacture on any of the plots. (Nelson, 1982, p10). This meant that Biggin Hill had all of its shops on the western side and none on the eastern side.
In conversation with Mr. Les Lyne of Lynes Butchers, we were informed that the family firm was first started in 1924. There is however no record of this in Kelleys Directory for 1924, perhaps the shop opened after Kelleys Directory was published.
Mr. Terry and Mr. Milbank are still listed as land agents.