Featured Bexley – proud to be a borough of culture

Bexley – proud to be a borough of culture

The Council has promised to build on the work that took place to bid to become the Greater London Authority’s London Borough of Culture and has restated its commitment to put culture firmly at the centre of its exciting growth plans.

Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE said: “I’d like to congratulate the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest and Brent on achieving London Borough of Culture status for 2019 and 2020.

“I’d also like to thank our partners, local people and businesses for all the support they gave our campaign. To win the accolade would have been a great achievement for Bexley, but even though we weren’t successful, our bidding journey has been so valuable in creating a strong foundation to build on, and has proved that we are already a borough of culture.”

Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Environment and Leisure, Cllr Peter Craske said: “Going forward we have aspirations for working with our partners and communities to further develop our cultural and creative agendas, informed by the bid development work and also our wider agendas. This is important, not only because of the value of culture and the arts, but also because we recognise the role culture has in creating identity, shaping our communities and providing new opportunities.

“Bexley already has an exciting programme of cultural events taking place throughout 2018. As well as the recent BookBuzz literary festival, highlights include ‘The Spine’ festival for young people, the ‘Brick City’ exhibition at Hall Place, the second Sidcup Fringe, a number of ‘Performing Places’ events in summer and much more. There will also be our new annual Lantern Parade in December.”

To keep up-to-date with cultural events and news, and to help shape our on-going cultural journey, sign up to our regular e-newsletter at www.bexley.gov.uk/newsupdates.


Let it Glow – the video

In the run-up to Christmas, Bow Arts worked with the London Borough of Bexley to run free, artist-led lantern making workshops in Bexleyheath for children and young people.

The workshops culminated in ‘Let It Glow: Bexley’s first lantern parade’ – a festive procession of participants, carrying their handmade lanterns through Bexleyheath town centre.

Our thanks to Bow Arts for the delivery of a truly magical event.

Best of BexleyFeatured

New book focuses on local photographer

A new book produced by Bexley Archives was launched with at illustrated talk at Hall Place & Gardens earlier this month.

“Boswells Bexley: a photographers view of the Borough 1890-1950” is the work of Penny Duggan in collaboration with Kirsty Macklen and Simon McKeon.

Priced at £18 the book is packed with great photographs and available from Bexley Archives at Central Library, Hall Place, Bexley Libraries and online by emailing archives@bexley.gov.uk

Boswell's Bexley

In 1968, Bexley Council saved Arthur Boswell’s collection of historic photographs of Bexley from the skip. After much negotiation, it bought the Boswell Collections consisting of around 20,000 lantern slides, negatives and prints for £350.

The book tells the fascinating story of Arthur Boswell’s life and his work recording all aspects of life in and around Bexley from the end of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century.

“Boswell’s Bexley” includes carefully selected images from the Archives and Museum Boswell Collections. The images capture the transformation of the borough from a largely rural district in the 1890s to becoming a bustling suburb by the 1950s.

Best of BexleyFeatured

Bexley makes its bid for London Borough of Culture

Bexley has submitted its bid to become London Borough of Culture!

Thank you to everyone who supported the bid by contributing their ideas or practical help.

The detailed submission was backed up with letters of support from creative, business and community partners.

It included a link to the exciting and original video produced by Bird College and published on this site yesterday, which showcases its talented students and the borough’s unique heritage sites.


Sir Quentin Blake backs the Bexley bid!

World famous illustrator and author Sir Quentin Blake has backed Bexley’s bid to become London Borough of Culture!

In a letter of support Sir Quentin told the Council’s Chief Executive Gill Steward:

“It is with the greatest of pleasure that I would like to add my support to the London Borough of Bexley’s bid to become the London Borough of Culture” and that he would be “truly delighted to see the borough win such a tremendous accolade”.

The full letter of support is reproduced below.

Quentin Blake Bexley LB Culture letter


Sir Peter Bazalgette backs the Bexley bid!

Sir Peter Bazalgette – lead on the independent review for the Government into the Creative Industries, Chairman of ITV, president of Crossness Engines Trust and former chair of Arts Council England – has pledged his firm support for Bexley’s bid to become London Borough of Culture.

Sir Peter Bazalgette provided a personal message to an audience at a special business and key stakeholder event at Hall Place earlier this week (21 November) via video. In giving his wholehearted support to Bexley’s bid, he talked about the power of arts and culture, in its intrinsic value, but also in its ability to build community identity and cohesion. He talked about the way culture delivers enormous social benefits, how it supports education and skills and of the significance of the creative economy.  He also noted how Bexley is perfectly positioned to be at the centre of the emerging Thames Estuary Cultural Production Corridor opportunity.

Get involved

Bexley’s chance of a ‘fourth plinth’

The Council is supporting local mental health charity Centrepieces and the North West Kent Countryside Partnership (NWKCP) in their bid to the Aviva Community Fund for funding for an exciting arts project based at Hall Place & Gardens.

The bid is for funds to install a plinth in the grounds of Hall Place, similar to the famous Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Once installed home-grown artists will be invited to take turns to display their sculptures to the public.

Bexley has provided the old mill stone at Hall Place and brickwork and a popular spot where the plinth could be built.

Voting on the Aviva site started on 23 October – and ends at midday on Tuesday 21 November. The project needs votes from friends, family and supporters to be entered into the finals, where a judging panel will decide on where the funds will be awarded.

Cabinet Member for Community for Community Safety, Environment and Leisure, Cllr Peter Craske said: “This is a great opportunity for a respected local charity to develop something that everyone can enjoy and take part in. Centrepieces have worked closely with us and their current ’Twelve’ exhibition at Hall Place that runs until March is an example of some of the innovative, unusual and impressive art their group produce. A plinth that changes over time and includes a range of work from across the borough is a fantastic idea and I wish them the very best with the bid.”

Geoff Norris from Centrepieces said: “We are proud to be working on a project that not only celebrates the artistic talent of the local area, but that helps to increase awareness of mental health issues and to remove stigma. Our charity is entirely volunteer-run and this is a fantastic opportunity to shout about what they do”.

Isabel Shaw from North West Kent Countryside partnership said: “We are delighted to be working with Hall Place and Centrepieces on this exciting project. The beautiful Hall Place gardens are a treasured space for local people, and a plinth would be an innovative and interesting addition. We hope everyone that loves Hall Place will vote for our project so that we can make it a reality!”

Aviva Community Fund offers local groups funding for community projects. Centrepieces have applied for £1,980 for the project.

Please visit the Aviva Community Fund website and vote for the Centrepieces project!


What makes Bexley so special?

By Cllr Peter Craske, Cabinet member for Community Safety, Environment and Leisure, London Borough of Bexley

#backthebexleybid logo

In July I took on a challenge – to visit as many of our great cultural sites as possible in one day.

Over eight hours we criss-crossed the Borough and visited 14 places, from public art in Crayford to the history of the Red House, via sports facilities of the highest quality, ending our day at Hall Place.

And we could do the same again and visit completely different places.

It is easy to take for granted all the great things we have here, on our doorstep. Spending a day travelling round seeing it all really reminded me how lucky we are and showed me that we all need to take a moment and look at what we have here to see.

Right here, we have Lesnes Abbey, built in 1187, on land that dates back 65 million years; Danson House, renovated and then re-opened by Her Majesty The Queen right in the middle of one of London’s greatest parks. And if sewage is your thing, and even if it isn’t, right by the river Thames is Crossness Engines, an outstanding piece of Victorian engineering.

It’s not just about buildings, it’s also about people. We have, with Rose Bruford and Bird College, two of the country’s leading theatre and performing arts centres, powerhouses of talent nurturing movie stars and dancers.

And it’s about celebrating our past – just a century ago, the first aeroplane to cross the Atlantic was built in Crayford, at the Vickers factory opposite where our library is now.

That’s why we want to be London Borough of Culture – to celebrate all these great places together, and tell everyone across London, and the country that Bexley is not just one of the greatest place to live in the UK, it is one of the greatest places to visit.


Library buzzes for launch of first literary festival

The newly refurbished Central Library was packed out for the launch the borough’s first BookBuzz literary festival.

The Gruffalo, Elmer and Peter Rabbit were all on hand to meet and greet children and parents, who also enjoyed free facepainting and circus skills workshops.


Cllr Craske joins the Gruffalo, Peter Rabbit and Elmer and friends at the launch of the BookBuzz festival

BookBuzz runs until 24 February. The fun includes a packed programme of free events and activities for all the family.

During half term week, there will be a huge variety of fun activities for children, including ‘Where’s Wally?’ hunts, Harry Potter activities, drama workshops and storytellers.

There will also be a wide range of author events and talks for adults – from ‘The Bewildering Business of Book Covers’ by Martin Davies to ‘The Exploits of Colonel Blood’ by Angus Donald.

Take a look at the BookBuzz Festival programme for full details of all the events and activities and find out how to book your free tickets.

For regular news of events in our libraries sign up to the Bexley libraries enewsletter.


London Borough of Culture exhibition

London Borough of Culture

The Greater London Authority has put together the first London Borough of Culture exhibition, which will feature content from the bidding boroughs.

The free exhibition will reveal a snapshot of local culture from the 22 bids the GLA received and will open to the public on Monday 26 February at City Hall.

It will be on display until 13 March at City Hall from 8.30am until 6pm each working day.


Book Buzz is coming…

Cllr Peter Craske took a tour of the borough’s libraries this week, to highlight some of the great things happening during Book Buzz – Bexley’s first book festival.

More information and the full programme for the festival are available online.


Dino Live! comes to Bexley

Hall Place & Gardens may not be where you would expect to spot a Tyrannosaurus rex roaming through the undergrowth, or a Pterodactyl stretching its wings, or even a Velociraptor guarding its eggs, but until 4 February that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Dino Live! exhibition.

The exhibition was officially opened on 8 January by the Mayor of Bexley, Cllr Peter Reader, who then welcomed a class of Brampton Primary School pupils to take a look at the moving – and roaring – going on in the Great Hall of the historic house.


Along with the impressive animatronic dinosaurs there is also a dino drawing activity area, an educational display and the chance to take a photo with a giant dino egg.

Council Cabinet Member, Cllr Peter Craske said; “Bringing this fantastic exhibition to Bexley is a real coup for Hall Place & Gardens. Not many venues could house these magnificent monsters, but we are lucky enough to have the space. To see them in the Great Hall, roaring, flapping their wings and generally making their scary presence felt is amazing! We have a packed schedule at Hall Place & Gardens throughout 2018 and this is a great way to kick it off.”

Tickets cost £5  for an adult and £3 for a child under 16. Babies up to 18 months are free. Tickets are available for sale in the main house reception on the day. Gift vouchers are also available.

The exhibition is open 10am –5pm Saturday to Wednesday, 10am–6pm Thursday and 10am–8pm on Friday. Last admission will be 30 minutes before the closing time. Access after 4pm will be via the East Gates off the main car park.

Find out more about the exhibition.


Bexley’s first ever lantern parade

Local children proudly paraded their handmade lanterns through Bexleyheath Broadway on 7 December) during Bexley’s first ever winter lantern parade, Let it Glow.

18 copy

A large illumined puppet of Roald Dahl character Willy Wonka, operated and made by internationally renowned artist Tessa Garland, led the parade of around 40 handmade lanterns. Children and late night shoppers marched the length of the Broadway several times to the sound of a professional steel drum band, which performed their rendition of well-known Christmas Carols.

The Council commissioned leading arts and creative learning provider Bow Arts to run lantern making workshops, the parade and accompanying arts and crafts stalls, in partnership with the Bexleyheath Business Improvement District. Tessa Garland led the free workshops every Saturday for six weeks leading up to the event, showing children the skills they need to create and personalise their very own lanterns.