David Alston from Shortlands has lived in Bromley all his life. Here he provides some fond reminiscences on his and the area's past in Snapshots of Old Bromley.

CLAD still in pyjamas (it was quite warm enough in that very early morning’s April sunshine), I scrambled across the still smoking rubble which strew the road and churchyard, and until a few short hours previously had been Bromley’s ancient parish church, and stared disbelievingly at the

only section of the building still standing, albeit mortally wounded by a gaping top-to-bottom gash in its tower, but still with its temporarily stilled clock facing the world it was to serve for many years to come.

Its eight-bell ring would presently be silent – but not for ever!

It was just five o’clock on the morning of Thursday 17th April 1941, and only a few days before I had sung the Easter service in that self-same church as a 12-year-old choirboy.

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David Alston

We did not know at that moment that young Hazel Kissick (equipped with a stirrup-pump designed for two-man usage, and unbelievably appointed the only local barrier between Hitler’s hordes and our heritage) had been lost, but her name will forever remain in our memories via the stained-glass window in the Children’s Chapel.

Snapshots of Old Bromley: Remembering teachers from my school days - and ice cream

Choirmaster Professor Frederic Fertel, Bromley’s maestro for so many years, was by then an elderly main and music, in particular that for the organ, was and always had been his life.

Since a young man he had been a part of Bromley’s life as well. It was he who had stood me before our

piano in our now bomb-swept front room and run me up the scales prior to acceptance in his hand-picked band of choristers. It was he who had led me on an enlightening tour of his beloved organ which had, via his God-given fingers and feet, presented to the people of Bromley over the years an idea of what music could and should be.

Now everything was gone, and his heart was broken. He died not long afterwards.

But we British are of stern stuff, and our cottages facing the devastation were still standing (as they are today) albeit minus their roofs.

I recall our front bedroom thick with rubble, the strangely silent piano with its lid open, window-glass blown thickly into its interior.

Snapshots of Old Bromley: A beauty spot worth remembering and golden summer evenings

It would be repaired years later, and was played by our family for long afterwards.

Our Anderson shelter remained defiant behind the house, and apart from the tremendous noise and vibration of the explosion, we remained unhurt.

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Crowds assemble on 13th October 1949 to witness the laying of the foundation stone of the new parish church by the then Princess Elizabeth, accompanied by the vicar, Canon W H Murray Walton

So much more was to happen before the war would be won, and in October 1949 the Queen (at that time the Princess Elizabeth) would lay the foundation stone of the renewed parish church of St Peter and St Paul, its ancient tower still looking down as it does today, and as it will, we trust, for many years to come.