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Petts Wood
Petts Wood.jpg
Petts Wood is located in Greater London
Petts Wood
Petts Wood
Population 13,651 (2011 Census. Petts Wood and Knoll Ward)
OS grid reference TQ445675
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BR5
Dialling code 01689
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Orpington
London Assembly
  • Bexley and Bromley
List of places
51°23′19″N 0°04′34″E / 51.3885°N 0.0760°E / 51.3885; 0.0760

Petts Wood is a town in south-east London, England, previously located in the historic county of Kent. It lies south of Chislehurst, west of St Paul's Cray and Poverest, north of Orpington and Crofton, and east of Southborough and Bromley Common. The area forms part of the London Borough of Bromley local authority district in the ceremonial county of Greater London.


The name appeared first in 1577 as "the wood of the Pett family", who were shipbuilders and leased the wood as a source of timber. William Willett, a campaigner for daylight saving time, lived in nearby Chislehurst for most of his life, and is commemorated by a memorial sundial in the wood. The Daylight Inn in the suburb of Petts Wood is named in his honour. Petts Wood has a second pub (The Sovereign of the Seas) and a railway station. It is situated between Orpington and Bickley. The Jubilee Country Park is located to the northwest of the main shopping area and is home to several rare species of animal life. Before this park was created, the area was known as 'The Gun Sites', as it had been the location for anti-aircraft guns in WW2, and was the home of the 1st Petts Wood scout group.

Most of Petts Wood was built in the early 20th century by the developer Basil Scruby together with Master builder, Noel Rees, as a high quality estate in a rural setting only a short train journey from the city, with the east side being built first: it is often quoted in sociological textbooks as a classic piece of 1920s town planning, as the first building in place was the station, and the rest of the town developed from there.

Daylight Inn - - 1098681
The Daylight Inn, 2011

The generally higher quality of large homes built to the east of the railway line, as compared to smaller and more dense to the west, gave rise to the local references of "Half Crown" or "Five Bob" sides.

Noel Rees's name is still used as a selling point by estate agents; his houses can be found in Great Thrift, The Covert, Prince's Avenue, Wood Ride, Kingsway, Chislehurst Road, The Chenies and many other roads in Petts Wood.
The area between Petts Wood and Bickley sustained heavy bombing during World War II because of its proximity to an important railway junction. Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French and future President of France, lived in Petts Wood, at 41 Birchwood Road, for part of the Second World War. Another prominent resident of Birchwood Road was the Welsh Baritone Sir Geraint Evans, and the toastmaster Ivor Spencer also lived nearby.

Many residents of Petts Wood worked in Fleet Street, as it was the most affordable area with the latest last train for them to catch home after putting the morning's papers to bed (see Keith Waterhouse, "Streets Ahead").

The wood itself survives and is managed by the National Trust. Originally just 88 acres (36 hectares) were bought by public subscription and donated to the Trust in 1927. This asset expanded when the neighbouring Hawkwood Estate and Edlmann Wood, comprising a further 250 acres (100 hectares), were donated to the Trust by landowners Robert and Francesca Hall in 1957. The woodland features oak, birch, rowan, alder, ash, hornbeam and sweet chestnut.

In 2009, the local Woolworths had the privilege of writing the last word in the history of that chain in the UK, when its manager, realising his was the last one to close, gathered the remains of the Pick-and-Mix sweet section and auctioned the bagful of sweets, which would normally have retailed for a couple of pounds, for £14,500 ($20,000).

Nearby Areas



Petts Wood station provides the area with National Rail services to London Victoria via Bromley South and Herne Hill, Kentish Town via Bromley South and Catford, London Charing Cross via Grove Park, London Cannon Street via Grove Park and Lewisham, Orpington and Sevenoaks.


Petts Wood is served by London Buses routes 208, 273, N199, R3 and R7. These connect it with areas including Bromley, Catford, Chislehurst, Grove Park, Lewisham and Orpington.

Blue Plaques



Sports and recreation facilities

  • Petts Wood Recreation Ground
  • Willett Recreation Ground
  • Petts Wood Runners, running club
  • Petts Wood Bowling Club.
  • Petts Wood Snooker Club (above Morrisons)
  • Orpington Ojays Swimming Club
  • Oakley Fitness (Above Oakley Coffee)

Notable people

The sundial that memorialises William Willett in the woodland at Petts Wood
  • Cerrie Burnell (b. 1979) - actress, singer, playwright, and television presenter, grew up in Petts Wood.
  • Jack Dee (b. 1961) - comedian and winner of Celebrity Big Brother 1, grew up in Petts Wood.
  • Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970) - French general, statesman and future President of France who led the Free French Forces during Second World War. He rented a home at 41 Birchwood Road for four months before moving his family further inland to Shropshire later in 1940.
  • Sir Geraint Evans (1922-1992) - Welsh baritone or bass-baritone noted for his operatic roles. Lived at 34 Birchwood Road where he is commemorated with a blue plaque.
  • David Fletcher (military historian) (b. 1942) - MBE, Military historian, Author, was born in Petts Wood.
  • Pat Keysell (1926-2009) - TV presenter and sign language interpreter, grew up in Petts Wood.
  • Pixie Lott (b. 1991) - singer and songwriter.
  • John Loveday - physicist.
  • Ian Mortimer (b. 1967) - medieval historian, grew up in Petts Wood.
  • David Nobbs (1935-2015) - comedy writer and the creator of the sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, grew up in Petts Wood.
  • Major Phil Packer (b. 1972) - British soldier who was rendered paraplegic in 2008 by injuries sustained while serving in Iraq, grew up in Petts Wood. He has since raised over a million pounds through charitable fundraising efforts which have garnered him several national awards.
  • Arthur Seldon (1916-2005) - economist.
  • Ivor Spencer (1924-2009) - toastmaster and promoter of the butler arts.
  • William Willett (1856-1915) - promoter of Daylight Saving Time, an idea he is thought to have come up with whilst riding in Petts Wood. He is commemorated by a memorial sundial in the wood, and the pub The Daylight Inn is named in his honour.

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