Friday, 5 October 2007

Is Bromley in Kent?

Don't answer that question. Not just yet.

For those of you who have been following my story, I have spent an awful lot of time in Kent so far. No problem with that, but it would be nice to see some new counties. As many of you are no doubt aware, I made a comment in my Monday post about Bromley not being in Kent. I didn't put much (if any) thought into this comment as I wrote it. Engage brain before you write.

But, my word, what a reaction I have had to that single comment. I have probably had more correspondence and read more columns of message board and forum space about that remark compared to anything else I've written to date.

And I'm all for it. The debate has been quite lively, most entertaining and in many cases very amusing. In essence it boils down to whether Bromley is in the county of Kent or resides in Greater London. The more complex arguments have touched on post codes, boundary changes, borough councils, administrative areas and the like. Oh, did I also mention all this has been most educational for me.

My initial reaction was to go and do a bit of research for myself. That's me in a nutshell; the methodical, predictable, "black v white" type of person.

I found that the more definitive sources suggest Bromley is not in Kent, although it used to be before boundary changes in 1965. It is now a London borough and Bromley resides in the "Ceremonial County" of Greater London. I even contacted the Kent Tourist Board who also stated that Bromley is no longer in Kent.

The counter arguments are based around postal addresses. For example, take a look at the Bromley FC website; their address (displayed at the foot of the home page) quite clearly states Bromley, Kent. It is like this for many other businesses and locations in and around Bromley. The excellent "Kentish Football" website includes coverage of Bromley, so one assumes they also believe Bromley is in Kent.

So, not that conclusive, but I was starting to favour the Greater London answer.

But then it was something I read this morning on the Pure DFC Forum (Dartford FC's Unofficial Discussion Site) that made me realise I was looking at this from completely the wrong angle. This is the posted comment that I read:

"I guess it's officially the London Borough of Bromley, but anybody from the area will tell you it's Kent".

There was I trying to determine whether it was Kent or not, looking for an "official" and "authoritative" answer, when this quote made everything crystal clear. Suddenly I see. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. The official answer is not that important.

What is important is what people believe. What the citizens of Kent believe. What Bromley town's folk believe. And it's all to do with regional identity. This is what defines you, where you come from, where you grew up, where you now live or where you used to live. It is in your blood. It is what makes you, well, you. If Bromley used to be Kent, then why can't it still be Kent if that's what people perceive.

Trying tell residents of the Basque region they are Spanish. Try telling the Cherokee Nation that they are really Americans. Try telling inhabitants of the Faeroe Islands they live in Denmark. All rather extreme examples I know, but you get my point?

From everything I have read I get the sense that Kent people are very proud of their county, proud to come from Kent. So should I really be judging whether Bromley is in Kent or not? Who am I to question regional identity?

And so yes, I will be off to Kent for the next game on Saturday 13th October. Bromley v Dartford. I know the way.

In the meantime, take a look at my interactive poll which I have added in the main menu just below the FA Cup picture. Now, this is nothing scientific. It will not resolve any debate nor is it intended to. It will prove nothing. Too be honest, I just fancied having an online poll. Nothing more than that really.

Go on then, you can answer that question now.

Afternote: this poll is now closed


Andy said...

I live in one of the two boroughs that make up the border between London and Kent (in my case Bexley), and it's true that asbolutely nobody here says Sidcup, London - it's always Sidcup, Kent. Whether it is or not doesn't seem to matter! Although you could say that Medway is no longer under Kent, since they formed a unitary authority separate from the county council - so if they can say they are, then so can we!

Rob said...

Sorry, I was a bit pedantic in my last post when I pointed out Bromley FC's address.

Mates from London reckon I'm from Kent, mates from Kent reckon I'm a Londoner. Some might say we don't fit comftably into either but it's the best of both worlds as far as I'm concerned.

Chopper said...

I reckon the bottom line is it's going to be a lot funnier if Bromley IS in Kent. There could be a book in this!

Dave from Shepperton that everyone says is in Middlesex but is actually now in Surrey.

sp3ktor said...

Ah, that no man's land between the end of London postcodes and the home counties.

Driving around Bromley you soon discover that it has very little about it that could be associated with London.

That said it also has little todo with Kent. Kent seems to have undeservedly avoided the sort of negative stereotypes attracted to certain regions like Essex and East Anglia. Places like Ashford, Chatham, Medway - are real duelling banjo territory. It's probably got the highest rate of 30 year old grandmothers in the country.

Duffman said...

What higher than Croydon?

Andy said...

Bromley's not a patch on Medway when it comes to that! As for Croydon, well that's in Surrey isn't it?!