Arriving at the terminal station courtesy of Tramlink, Beckenham Junction is one of the three destinations created to serve the growing population east of Croydon. The platform is also adjacent to the main line station which offers through trains into Central London and into the heart of Kent.
Beckenham has a villagey feel but probably large enough to be called a town comprising of two main streets. Nothing unusual other than being relatively quiet as school has now resumed so the streets aren’t littered with school children. However walking deeper into the heart of the town I found myself on a wildlife adventure as I explored and circumnavigated the lakes in Kelsey Park.
The Town and its historic landmarks
Turning south out of the station I entered the meandering High Street which is dominated by St George’s Church and as well as being an imposing building, it’s adjoining cemetery is a Commonwealth War Graves location although sadly looking a little unkempt. Across the road is The Public Hall another equally imposing building, a multi-purpose Victorian built venue. It’s rooftop catching my eye as it has a Gothic Swiss villa look to it.
Walking down the hill, I pass the old police station, now a trendy spa and restaurant, recessed from the main road where the local Farmer’s Market is occasionally held. In contrast, and slightly tucked away from the main road is The Coach & Horses, an attractively decorated traditional pub.
Continuing through HIgh Street, I note a mix of independent shops interlaced with a modicum of closed shop fronts, however the town is working hard to improve the landscape by repaving a significant part of the street.
At the bottom of the HIgh Street, there’s an iconic art deco Odeon Cinema still trading as a cinema, and this landmark acts as my turning point back up the High Street.
Walking around the town I notice several alleys, cut throughs and dead ends that have novelty and informative street names highlighting their historic past. An interesting way to draw attention to otherwise bland and forgotten places. Here are some examples found at: Church Hill Alley; Thornton’s Alley; Legion Alley; Wood House Alley and Burton’s Yard
Wildlife at Kelsey Park
I stumble across Kelsey Park by chance at its entrance in Manor Way and take a peek in through the main entrance looking for shelter as the rain starts to fall. I later realise the stream flowing from the lake is named The Beck, no doubt helping to give the town its name?
A combination of the rain and it being school term meant the park was quiet with only the hardy few, dog walkers and parents with non-school aged children in tow. Most were polite as we exchanged pleasantries, and some chit chat followed.
Time to swap the standard lens for the 75-300 mm zoom telephoto to take advantage of the wildlife. The lake was awash with a variety of birds and on a distant island two herons were encamped high up. Every now and then, a gathering of geese started their runway wing flapping take off display flying off seamlessly and in harmony with each other.
Most of the birds close to the shore were inquisitive enough that they came in close almost posing to have their picture taken, so I took advantage. Overhead, there was an unexpected sound, but for regulars tuned into wildlife around London will know that it’s no longer unusual to hear the squawking of a flock of parakeets; yes even in sleepy suburbia. I think I counted at least a dozen in a free flowing aerial display.
The lake also boasted at least two cormorants, one high up in a tree proudly displaying its wings, and another doing likewise perched on a post mid lake; a good opportunity to test my ability to keep the camera still at full zoom.
I probably spent an enjoyable hour bird watching under a chestnut tree sheltering from the rain, engaged in conversation with passers by equally enjoying the bird displays; but time to move on. And on leaving, I spotted a baby heron fishing in the stream; his/her eyes in a steely gaze mesmerised on a hidden fish…AND WHAAAM! Fish for lunch as the heron gulped it’s prey down it’s slender neck. It’s movement so fast, the best I got was a picture of the drips falling from the heron’s mouth. Satisfied with its catch, the heron walks onto the path and uses it as a runway to glide gracefully into the trees..
The day was an interesting sojourn, reminding me to simply embrace whatever each location offers up as points of interest and record for my personal pleasure and entertainment.
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