Main Births etc
Coordinates: 51°24′N 0°11′E / 51.4, 0.18

Swanley is located in Kent

 Swanley shown within Kent
Population 20,986 (2001)
OS grid reference TQ515685
Parish Swanley
District Sevenoaks
Shire county Kent
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SWANLEY
Postcode district BR8
Dialling code 01322
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Sevenoaks
List of places: UK • England • Kent

Swanley is a town and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. It is located on the south-eastern outskirts of London, north of Sevenoaks town. The town boundaries encompass the settlements of Swanley itself, Hextable (Hextable recently voted to become an independent parish council) and Swanley Village. Swanley has a population of 20,986

Modern Swanley


In 1066, Swanley only consisted of a few cattle farms, surrounded in oak, sycamore and ash (Fraxinus) woodland. Because Swanley only consisted of a few homesteads,so it was not mentioned in the Domesday Book.[1]

There is a theory that the placename Swanley developed from the Saxon term 'Swine-ley', "Ley" meaning a clearing in the woods and "swine" meaning pigs. So it has been suggested that it was originally a Saxon pig farm. This later developed into what we now know as Swanley. There is however no clear evidence that the derivation of the placename Swanley is 'a clearing for pigs'. This fiction may have been invented by a history teacher at Swanley School sometime in the late 1960s as a backhanded insult towards the kids he or she was expected to teach. If Swanley was a Saxon name chances are it would have received mention in Domesday. It didn't. The name is just as likely to be derived from the personal name Sven, Svein or something similar.

In the 6th and 7th Centuries, there were probably two homesteads. After the Norman Conquest, these portions of land were turned into manors, which were then often divided among the monks at Ghent Abbey and Bermondsey.[2]. The original settlement of the town of Swanley (as opposed to modern-day Swanley Village) was based around Birchwood which does get mention in later medieval and early modern documents.

The town developed from a crossroads with very few no buildings, to a town with a population of 16,588 (in 2001) in one and a half centuries.[3] It had only three houses before the advent of the railway in 1861. The newer settlement grew up around the railway junction and was originally named Swanley Junction, it became Swanley, and the original Swanley became Swanley Village, in the 1920s.

The arrival of the railway changed life in Swanley. The town became the location of a horticulture college which opened in 1887. The college originally only catered for male students. Then in the early 1890s the first female students were admitted. Local Nurseries and florists’ outlets blossomed, while casual farm labouring job opportunities on farms became in short supply.[1] Some properties in Swanley still have apple and pear trees in their gardens from the original orchards. The college later relocated to Wye College near Canterbury.

Contrary to popular myth, Swanley was never a major flower growing or orchard area (at least not more so than any other part of North Kent) however its location became attractive for London doctors seeking a cure for sick Londoners, escaping the smog of London.

Three hospitals were established, the Kettlewell (or Alexandra) Hospital in 1885, Parkwood Hospital in 1893 and White Oak Hospital in 1897.[3] The Kettlewell stood on the site of Asda's car park and was for poor patients from London who needed to recuperate after major surgery. The Parkwood hospital was similarly used and White Oak was originally for children with eye diseases. During both World war I and II, Kettlewell and Parkwood were used as military hospitals, Parkwood become part of the Sidcup Hospital for facial injuries. After 1948, and the creations of the National Health Service, meant these old London Hospitals became redundant - Kettlewell and White Oak closed in 1959 and Parkwood ceased being a hospital in the early 1960s. Currently, the gates of White Oak can still be seen opposite Swanley Police Station in London Road, the Roman Catholic Church in Bartholomew Way is on the site of Kettlewell's chapel and Parkwood still exists in its entirety in Beechenlea Lane as Parkwood Hall School (a residential and day school).[3]

As Swanley developed as a railway town, the success of Swanley Horticultural College (which opened in 1887), led to horticulture becoming the predominant industry. The college originally only catered for male students. Then in the early 1890s the first female students were admitted. Local Nurseries and florists’ outlets blossomed, while casual farm labouring job opportunities on farms became in short supply.[1] Some properties in Swanley still have apple and pear trees in their gardens from the original orchards.

The parish of Swanley was created in 1955 from neighbouring parishes of Farningham and Sutton at Hone reflecting the developments of the town and increase in population. In 1974 the parish council became a Town Council and included the settlements of Hextable, Swanley Village and the main town of Swanley. In 1988, Hextable was formed into a separate parish council.


The A20 London Road continued to pass directly through the town (the by-pass was discussed in 1938). It was finally built in the 1960s. The majority of housing development took place from the post-war peroid to late 1980s. A new fire station was opened in 1962, and new post office two years later. Victorian houses and shops were demolished to create a new town centre.[1] Its 1970s shopping centre was then re-modelled in the 1990s when the Asda supermarket was extended and is one of the larger Asda stores.

Swanley boasts excellent transport links with easy access to the M25, M20, A20, being on the M25 junction 3 interchange. The A2 is close-by and the town has very good train links to London or the Coast. The train journey from Swanley to London Victoria Station takes about 25 mins. It is a 15 minute drive to the Bluewater Shopping Centre and Ebbsfleet International Eurostar station.

Today, Swanley is essentially a commuter and distribution centre, home to a mainly lower-middle and working class population, trading on its rail links to London and its proximity to the M25 motorway.


Between 1974 and 1999 Swanley Town Council was Independent controlled, from 1999 the Town Council was Labour controlled with Conservative/Independent minority but in May 2011 the Conservatives took control with 10 councillors to the 6 held by Labour. At County Council both ward councillors representing Swanley and area are Conservative and at Sevenoaks District Council the Town is represented by three Labour councillors and three Conservative [one gained from Labour in 2011].

Swanley Library and Information Centre


Local business sponsor the floral displays, while the Town Council maintains the grass verges and open spaces. The residential is a mix of private housing with social housing on two main estates at St Mary's and White Oak largely provided by West Kent Housing Association based in Swanley Centre.

Swanley Park (which covers 60 acres of countryside) was previously known as New Barn park as it was previously New Barn Farm until various fields and orchards were bought by the Town Council to protect the green belt between Hextable and Swanley.[1] There remains acknowledgement of the former use (as a farm) with an avenue of fruit trees remaining and new avenues of trees linking the car parks to the central area of play areas, cafe and paddling pool and water play and boating lake. The Town Council has maintained old hedgerows and trees around the outside of the park and has created allotments and an environment area that is now managed by local volunteers. The park is home to Swanley Athletics club and hosts a number of county cross country races and other events each year. Around one of the large fields is Swanley New Barn Model railway (running on 800 metres of track) operated by a group of volunteers throughout the summer. A classical music and firework event - called the '1812 Night' - is held on the Friday before the August bank holiday.[1]

At the Western boundary of Swanley was the 'Bull Hotel' which had a long history at the site serving the passing trade, during the 1980s to 2000 this changed to Hickorys Nightclub (1st Leisure Group) and then was renamed 'Deja Vu Nightclub' after a refurbishment in the middle 1990's, and in 2011 was rebuilt to create a hotel and restaurant operated by Premier Inns. Due to the recession of 2009-2010, the 'Birchwood Pub' closed leaving only 'The Lullingstone' in Swanley Centre, 'The Lamb' and 'Red Lion' in Swanley Village and 'The Olympic' in Beechenlea Lane, the latter operated by the Council and providing a bowls green, a snooker hall and a golf driving range.

Other Facilities;

  • In Swanley Park (New Barn Park) is the Swanley New Barn Railway and boating lake.
  • Swanley Indoor Bowling Club
  • White Oak Sports Centre - With flumes and large swimming pool, gym, squash courts.
  • Several Schools - 3 Primary and 1 College (Orchards Academy).
  • The Woodlands Conference and Wedding Centre
  • The Alexandra Suite and Clocktower Conference and Wedding centre
  • The Swanley Recreation ground - otherwise known as the Rec which has a skate park, football pitches and tennis courts.
  • As well as the large Asda supermarket there are also several other shops including Superdrug, Pie & Mash shop, Boots, Aldi, Peacocks, Wilkinsons, Needlework Shop, Holland & Barrett, Beauty Salon, a couple of bakers and several Estate Agents and Betting Shops and nail bars (2010). Banks include a Barclays and a NatWest. There is also a Post Office/Sorting Office.
  • Dispensing Chemists x 3 in the town centre + another in Azalea Drive near the railway station
  • Fire station
  • Police station
  • Two Health Centres (The Cedars and The Oaks)
  • Birchwood Golf Club
  • The Olympic Golf Range Conference Centre
  • Swanley Outdoor Bowls Club (Olympic)
  • Tourist Information Centre/Cafe
  • Library
  • Dominos Pizza
  • Parkview Vets
  • Petrol Garages x 3
  • 5 Indian Takeaways
  • 4 Kebab/Fish & Chip shops

Moose International meets as the Swanley Invicta Lodge and Circle at the St. Mary's Church Hall,[4] while other several other organisations such as the Royal British Legion and the Swanley Light Opera Group meet at the Five Wents Memorial Hall. There are many clubs for elderly at the Alexandra suite and other centres and the Town Council offers trips and entertainment for over 60s who are residents of the Swanley Parish.


Orchards Academy is the local secondary school. It is a technology college, a status achieved in January 2005. It was formerly the Swanley Technology College. It has now become an independent school [5] (meaning it is no longer under Kent County Council direction) as part of the Kemnal Academies Trust (a Multi Academy Trust that currently oversees 12 Academies comprising eight secondary schools and four primary schools). The vocational centre was originally opened in September 2006. The school used to have a partnership with Hextable School and Wilmington Academy.


Alma Swanley F.C. were a popular local side but went bankrupt. Swanley Furness F.C. are the town's new team, though many support nearby Crockenhill F.C. as they are more successful. Cricket is also a very popular sport, with many playing it on the village green in summer.

Swimming is also popular as there is White Oak leisure centre and White Oak swimming club training there. Swanley Sub Aqua Club meet at the pool on Monday nights. SSAC is an independent club that has been training people to dive safely since 1967. Since 2009 it has been offering FREE PADI training for its club members.

Hexley Rangers F.C. is a FA Charter Standard (Hextable/Swanley) community based junior football club that play at Downsview Primary School.

Petham Park Panthers ( is a FA Charter club whom boasted a fine talent of players during the mid 90's.

Sidcup and District Motor Cycle Club owns the spectacular Canada Heights International Motocross Circuit at Button Street, Swanley. The venue was first used in 1948 and was purchased by the Club in the 1980s. The Club became a Limited Company in 2007, but all Directors are unpaid and all profits go to improving facilities at Canada Heights. A round of the British Motocross Championship is run each year as well as Open Motocross, Enduro and Trials events for all types of motorcycles.

The motor racing circuit Brands Hatch is situated 5 miles away from Swanley.

Notable people[]

  • Janice Hadlow, controller BBC 2, went to school in Swanley.
  • Alan Knott, Kent and England cricketer, spent his childhood in Swanley.
  • Crispian St. Peters, singer and guitarist, born Robin Peter Smith in Swanley.
  • Mark Steel, columnist and comedian, born and grew up in Swanley.
  • Mike Stock, songwriter and record producer, came from Swanley.
  • James Dickson Innes (painter) died of Tuberculosis in 1914, aged 27 in Nursing Home in Swanley.

Twin city[]

  • France Verrières-le-Buisson in France

External links[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Swanley. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.