30A, High Street – Linklater and Warren Opticians

30A, High Street – Linklater and Warren Opticians  www.linklaterwarren.co.uk

According to a recently discovered (2019) photograph from the estate of T.A. Bushell, the area occupied by 30A was once a fenced-in area used by ironmongers White & Bushell to display goods, as well as offering billboard space for other local businesses, and was not enclosed with a building extension until between 1905 and 1908.

An ironmonger was trading on this spot from the mid-nineteenth century. In local directories, David Inns advertised himself as “plumber, painter, glazier, paper hanger, writer, grainer, zinc worker, bell hanger, & gas fitter,” and he and his staff were serving customers when the High Street was still called Prickend (for Prickend Pond, next to the Queen’s Head).

Mr Inns traded here for many years before branching out with another shop in the district known as Widmore (East Bromley). He ran the two shops for about five years, until 1883, when he left behind his Chislehurst premises in favour of Bromley, and the iconic Chislehurst business of White & Bushell was first listed.

Advertising in Strong’s Directory of Bromley (1887) with 14 other advertisers in the Chislehurst pages, White & Bushell proclaimed themselves:
Shoeing and General Smiths,
Chislehurst West,
General Furnishing Ironmongers,
Gas and Hot Water Engineers.
Stove & Range Manufacturers.
Locksmiths & Bell Hangers.
Toilet Ware, &c., &c., &c.
All kinds of Lawn Mowers Ground and Repaired.

Roy Francis Evans, author of In the Footsteps of Arthur Battle – 1898-1995, remembered getting a van-driving job at White & Bushell in 1959, where, it seemed to him, “nothing had [apparently] changed since 1870.” Perhaps because he was a van-driver, he was particularly fascinated by the unused yet preserved forge behind the ironmongers’, with its anvil, bench and hundreds of horseshoes, for “at that time, the horse and the blacksmith were no longer required.”

Mr Evans was not quite right about the immutability of White & Bushell, for it was not long after the turn of the century, and certainly by 1908, that the business expanded the premises into the corner space at the crossroads of Park Road and the High Street. No longer was merchandise spread across the pavement, market-fashion, but was housed in the new extension where Linklater & Warren have their premises today.

The White & Bushell business eventually passed from the High Street — as many DIY businesses did, relocating out of towns. For a time, around the next turn of the century, the corner premises held a menswear boutique, Uno, but Linklater & Warren, opticians, moved into the corner spot – 30A – in August 2014.