Locksbottom lies in a slight hollow, or bottom, just over 12 miles south of London on the route to Tonbridge and less than a mile from Farnborough village, an important stopping place on the London road.  From at least the 17th century there has been a coaching inn - now called Ye Olde Whyte Lion.

Ye Olde Whyte Lion at Locksbottom

But the name Locksbottom probably did not exist before the 1700s, and almost certainly derives its name from John Lock. He first appears in the Land and Window Tax records in 1766, when he was assessed for 14 lights (windows). His name also appears as assessor for Land Tax in 1767. He owned land in the area and lived in a farmhouse which still remains today just north of the inn. Over the years the name gained acceptance as a single word —Locksbottom. 

The principle building in Locksbottom is Farnborough Lodge, also known historically as Chalk Farm. The land to the north of Chalk Farm towards Bromley was heavily wooded, and in May 1652 John Evelyn, travelling alone on horseback from Tunbridge Wells to London, recorded in his diary that he was attacked, robbed and tied to a tree within three miles of Bromley. This incident would have taken place in the vicinity of Locksbottom in an area then known as Chalk Down and Brasted Green.

Although this part of north-west Kent was sparsely populated and open country, Chalk Farm was on a route that was historically always important — the Rye and Hastings road to London. The road was second in importance only to the London-to-Dover route.

Farnborough Lodge was used over the centuries for all types of trade, both legal and illegal. Couriers for the Crown and the Church travelled by horse between London and the coast and on to the Continent. A variety of commercial trade wagons carried produce along this route and oak from the Weald for housing and shipbuilding on the Thames also came this way. Cattle and sheep were driven by this route to the London markets, too.

In the 1660s Tunbridge Wells became a popular spa town and the carriage traffic using the road would have increased considerably. In 1750 the road [now the A21] became a turnpike road and a regular stagecoach route. The Royal Mail service from London to Rye and Hastings on the south coast operated from the 1700s.

Locksbottom  began to develop in the early 1800s. On the Crofton Road frontage a small number of shops and houses were built. This resulted in a staggered road junction where the Croydon Road crosses the Hastings Road.

A short distance up the hill, Farnborough Hospital, originally a workhouse and infirmary, was built in 1858 by the Bromley Board of Guardians. Demolished in recent years, it is now the site of the Princess Royal University Hospital.

To the right of The Whyte Lion Inn (pictured above) stood a Victorian house named Goddendene, home of the March family of sculptors. The six brothers and one sister produced many bronze memorials, the largest a First World War memorial for Canada. Their memorial sculptures went all over the world. At the rear of the house, now Sainsbury’s car park, there were two huge moveable iron sheds on a track for the creation and production of their sculptural works.
The March grave in Farnborough churchyard

At the start of the 20th century the area of Chalk Down continued to be farmed by various tenants of the land.   Locksbottom remained a small collection of houses, weatherboard cottages and shops, including a forge and a bakery, on the south side of Crofton Road continuing past the police station round to The Whyte Lion Inn.

In 1923-24 most of the farmland belonging to Farnborough Lodge, including the house and adjacent gardener’s cottage, coach house and vegetable garden, was purchased by Rogers Brothers. They also bought part of the Holwood Estate in Keston. Both areas were developed to form a spacious development of quality properties — Keston and Farnborough Parks.

The shops on the north side of Crofton Road at Locksbottom were also built around this time, and Eric Rogers became the owner and managing director of Keston and Farnborough Park Estates.
Leonard Smith

This page contains material written by Leonard Smith in 2011, and is reproduced here by kind permission of the Bromley Borough Local History Society

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