Much archive material relating to Otford and the surrounding district are held by the Society.
Please contact Ed Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The following link takes you to a short video by Barbara Darby giving an impression of Otford in 1907:
A (small) selection of historic photographs of Otford is included below. More photographs will be added regularly so keep checking this page … (Click on the photograph to enlarge)
Aerial photograph of the centre of Otford c1930. In the bottom left-hand corner the 401 London General / East Surrey bus from Sevenoaks heads towards the village pond. The road layout has changed since the photograph was taken
Otford 1907. (Extract from Ordnance Survey map, amended 1938)
Otford High Street c1912 looking east towards the pond. The builders are at work making the dilapidated forge cottages habitable and available to rent
Otford pond and High Street looking west
Otford High Street in the late 19th century looking west
Otford Palace in the 1950s and (in colour) after the recent work to preserve the fabric of the building.
You can read a short history of Otford Palace at the following link: http://otfordpalace.org/palace-history/. This was written by members of the Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust (APCT)
St Bartholomews Church, Colets, the National (Church of England and originally Sunday) School and the pond, Otford, in the late 19th century
For centuries working horses were an integral part of village life. Watched by farmer Charlie Browning, George Dearing leads Ben and Nobby past the church in 1934
Otford Primary School
Otford Primary School has a history stretching back nearly 200 years. Beginning as a ‘Sunday School’ in the early 19th century, in 1833 an Anglican ‘National School’ was opened on the village green in front of St Bartholomew’s Church, as illustrated below
This was replaced by the present building in the High Street in the mid 1870s. (The building on the green was demolished in 1912)
This unusual view of the 1870s school building was taken from ‘The Bull’ in the late 20th century. The original school building and the adjoining Head Master’s house (now the Parish Council offices and Heritage Centre) were designed by Thomas Graham Jackson (1835-1924). It was the only ‘National School’ he designed. He went on to become a nationally-renowned architect and designed several buildings which form part of Oxford University as well as other residential buildings in Sevenoaks. The school in Otford features an unusual, and typically Kentish, hipped roof. The photograph shows the school bell, last used to summon village children to school in 1939. Since 1945 several other buildings have been added to the school
This aerial view of the High Street c.1960 shows how the school looked over fifty years ago
There is currently an exhibition about the history of Otford School on display in the Otford Heritage Centre in the High Street. If you have any memories of the School please do include them in the ‘reminiscences book’ you will find in the Centre.
The railway through Otford was opened in June 1862 as a branch from Swanley to ‘Bat and Ball’ (Sevenoaks station and the first station in the town). The branch from Swanley was built, originally as a single line, but excavated for double track, by the ‘Sevenoaks Railway Company’ which was later incorporated into the ‘London, Chatham and Dover’ railway company (LCDR). Initially Otford was not considered important enough to merit a station of its own. In 1874 a wooden interchange station was provided at the junction of the railway not far from Otford and close to the present motorway bridge, where the new Maidstone line diverged. However this did not provide any access to the village and was not built to serve it. The current Otford station opened on 1 August 1882. It was renamed Otford Junction in 1904, reverting to its original name on 7 July 1929.
The Ordnance Survey map (above, from 1895) shows the layout of the station and its sidings. As was usual for most railway stations there was a goods shed (demolished in 1972 and now the station car park) and a signal box to control both the railway signals and the points to the goods yard and stabling siding. Some remains of these can still be seen. This can be compared with the aerial photograph of the station, which dates from 1955, below:
Above left: Otford station (note its name as Otford Junction change for Sevenoaks) photographed in 1912. When the photograph was taken the canopies and footbridge were recent additions to the station. The rather rudimentary track ballasting of recycled waste material (ash and cinders) was a typical and probably cost saving, policy of the LCDR company at the time.
Above right: At platform level looking towards London in January 1913 we see Mr Willis, Station Master since 1899 and his staff. On the extreme left is the bay platform, used for the local shuttle service from Otford to Sevenoaks
Above: The railway line from Swanley to Maidstone is a secondary route to the Kent coast. Diverted to pass through Otford in February 1960 ‘The Golden Arrow’ is hauled by Battle of Britain locomotive ‘219 Squadron’ built in 1948. Most of this class were used on services on the ‘Eastern / Chatham Section’ of the Southern Region of British Railways. The locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1966.
(Photograph by D. Cross)
Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust
You can find out more about the history of Otford’s famous Palace at the following link: https://otfordpalace.org/