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Bexleyheath: The old Kent town home to the likes of Delia Smith and Jacqueline Jossa

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Original article from Kent Live

Bexleyheath is part of the London borough of Bexley, and is a very short driver away from the Kent border.

The town has a population of more than 30,000 according to the 2011 Census, and offers close links to London, with it only being 12 miles south-east of Charing Cross.

It offers a fine balance between central London and the Kent countryside, as it is identified in the London Plan as being one of the 35 major centres in the capital.

Read more: I took £10 to Tesco to feed a family-of-four and was left surprised

Clearly this has appealed to quite a few celebrities in the UK, with several having lived there or grown up in the area.

The likes of James Bond star Roger Moore, TV chef Delia Smith and professional footballer Jimmy Bullard have all been acquainted with Bexleyheath.

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KentLive breaks down the town's history, its features and some more famous names who have frequented the area.

Bexleyheath's modest start

Until the early 19th Century there wasn't much of Bexleyheath to speak of.

It was just a rough scrubland with very few buildings, but it began to emerge as something more substantial in the late 1700s.

This was kick-started when the sugar merchant and vice-chairman of the British East India Company, Sir John Boyd, built Danson Park on his land which would become near the town.

Now a Grade I listed building, the core of it remains between the southern halves of Bexleyheath and Welling.

Most of the area became privatised in 1814, and later on Red House was built there, designed by the architect Phillip Webb for the designer Phillip Morris.

Morris wanted to have a "Palace of Art" in which he and his friends could enjoy producing works of art, and is now a Grade I listed building.

Alfred Bean, railway engineer and one-time owner of Danson House, furthered the development of Bexleyheath as a London suburb by championing the Bexleyheath Line in the 1880s to support the growth of estates around Danson Park.

This began to see the architecture and general area flourish.

The clocktower, which is now a prominent feature of the town, was built in 1912 to commemorate the coronation of King George V.

A key point in the mid-20th Century came when it was allocated as the administrative base for the newly-formed London borough of Bexley, which gave it a new sense of status which it has not looked back from.

Bexleyheath's features

A number of important historical features lie in the area. including the aforementioned Danson House, Red House and the clock tower on Broadway.

This area is also famous for Broadway Shopping Centre, where a pedestrianised section and hosts a number of shops and restaurants.

The Edward Alderton Theatre can also be located there for a night of entertainment on the stage.

The famous names who have lived there

Roger Moore might be one of the most famous names to live in the town.

The actor most well-known for his seven films playing James Bond, and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame.

It was during his marriage to Dorothy Squires from 1953 to 1968 that Moore settled at St Mary's Mount, Wansunt Road in Bexley.

Moore is not the only actor to be associated with the area, as Michael Gambon also has a link.

Best known for playing Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film franchise, Gambon lived with his family in Hurstwood Road in the nearby borough of North End.

He also attended Crayford Secondary School.

Amongst other names TV chef Delia Smith grew up and went to school in the area.

She attended the Bexleyheath School (now the Bexleyheath Academy) and left with no qualifications, but has gone on to great success.

Now she's a majority shareholder in Norwich City FC and being one of the best known names in the British TV chef game.

A more recent occurrence of a celebrity being associated with the area is through Jacqueline Jossa.

The ex-Eastenders actress and winner of I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2017, Jossa was born in nearby Bexley.

She has also opened up a performing arts school in the town, to give youngsters an opportunity to develop their acting, singing and dancing skills.

Moving into the arena of sports Lennox Lewis might be someone you have heard of.

The world heavyweight champion boxer lived in Crook Log as a child.

He competed from 1989 until 2003 and was the Olympic Torch-bearer on the day it travelled through Bexley en route to the 2012 London Olympics.

The former Premier League footballer Jimmy Bullard also has a claim to the area.

Bullard played for many clubs including Fulham and Hull City, and has gone on to present shows like Soccer Am since retiring.

He has lived in Bexleyheath and attended the nearby Erith School.

The list of names is almost endless, with author Roald Dahl having lived nearby when he wasn't attending boarding school in his younger years.

Bernie Ecclestone, the former chief executive of the Formula One group lived in Danson Road as a child, while the singer Kate Bush was born in Bexley Maternity Hospital.

Original Article