The Kentwood Centre was the site of the former Beckenham and Penge Grammar School for Boys. It is now occupied by Harris Primary Academy, Kentwood Adult Education Centre and Men in Sheds.
The Beckenham and Penge Grammar School for Boys has had some illustrious pupils: former member of the Rolling Stones, guitarist Bill Wyman; writer Carey Blyton (Bananas in Pyjamas); Derek Underwood, international cricketer; Norman Hunter, writer (Professor Branestawm); and Ronald Dick, Head of British Defence Staff in Washington DC (1984-1988). Former teachers include the poet Alan Brownjohn.
The school opened in 1954 as the Beckenham and Penge Grammar School for Boys but had been through many other incarnations and name changes from 1931when it was called Beckenham Technical Institute and situated at what is now Venue 28. The school moved in 1969 to Eden Park where it was renamed Langley Boys School.
Harris Primary Academy has now taken over much of the building and sports ground. The Academy was rated Outstanding in the 2016 Oftsted report. See link below for full report.
The school hall has been the scene of many assemblies and stage performances over the years. Local resident Conway Castle-Knight remembers performances of Shakespeare and Ibsen when he was a pupil at the school in the fifties.
The hall can be booked and functions as a venue for the annual Gateway karoake session during the Penge Festival.
The Kentwood Centre is a branch of the Bromley Adult Education College and runs a variety of courses with reasonable fees. There are courses on Computing, Childminding, Cookery, Art Appreciation, Clothes/Dressmaking, Stained Glass, Photography, Yoga and a variety of other topics. See link below for courses on offer.
The building also houses a Day Nursery (Food Hygeine rating 5) and a Work Club offering advice for those seeking work.
Overseen by Jon-Paul Mountford, Men in Sheds is a Penge success story. The club offers day-time sanctuary and creative work opportunities in wood for older men.
The work is therapeutic and empowering. Much of the work undertaken is commissioned and/or sold at various outlets. Honing and carving skills are taught. Picnic benches have been made for local parks, items for school use, wooden ornaments are made to order, planters for gardens… If it’s in wood, Men in Sheds can probably make it.
There are stalls on the high street during Penge Day and the group has a presence at other Penge celebrations. Men in Sheds now has Women in Sheds operating on certain days and times, such has been its popularity.
The theme of education continues to this day for the Kentwood Centre’s own heritage story.
For further information, see links: