When we moved into our new flat, we were moving into one of several blocks of privately-owned flats set in landscaped grounds, which are all inside a gated compound. At the time we thought there was nothing special about it – until the Westpoint Resident Management Association Steering Committee posted a welcome pack through our front door. The welcome pack told us what day the bins were collected and some other practical information, but by far the most useful thing was the history of the flats.
So that we can all share in this learning experience, here is the history of the building in which I now live inside there.
144 million years BC
A 60-metre layer of impermeable Gault clay is deposited on earlier Paeleozoic rocks, forming the geological basis of the ground on which Shortlands now stands. It is this clay that continues to support Westpoint today and stops it being some 60 metres closer to the centre of the earth.
Ethelbert, the king of Kent, grants land for a new manor to be called Bromleag. The manor becomes a prosperous market town over the following centuries, known as Bromley.
Shortlands railway station is opened on the new railway line to Bromley. It is not called Shortlands yet and there are no houses nearby for it to serve. Nobody knows why a railway station was built here.
Local building company Arkwright Masonry Erectors Ltd. purchase three handsome Victorian villas in extensive gardens and with fetching period detailing, and demolish them in order to build three big box-shaped blocks of flats and a car park.
Arkwright Masonry Erectors Ltd. go bust when the owner is sued by his own daughter for embezzling company funds to construct a large fiberglass model of the Coliseum encasing her house. The residents of Westpoint buy out the freehold on the site and begin a new era in which there are no grown ups to tell them what to do. The Westpoint Resident Management Association Steering Committee is established as a not-for-profit commercial community joint enterprise partnership.
The front doors to all buildings at Westpoint are carefully sanded down and coated with a slightly darker shade of varnish than before.
Benches are installed in the grounds so that residents can sit outdoors at an uncomfortable slope and in close proximity to parked cars or the bins.
Chris finds himself getting on a train at Shortlands with Chris Addison, stand-up comedian and star of The Thick of It, who apparently lives nearby and sometimes gets a train from the same station as Chris at about 9am.