The North Cray Ratepayers Association (to give it its old name) was formed on 23rd March 1944, so we are over 65 years old. We have seen many changes since then. At that time we were a separate ward in the Chislehurst and Sidcup Urban District. Today we are part of the much larger St Marys and St James Ward in a London Borough, which stretches from Ruxley to the Thames.
We have lost most of our large country houses. The Palladian mansion at Foots Cray Place was destroyed by fire in 1949. North Cray Place was bombed in 1944 and finally demolished in 1962 while Mount Mascal was pulled down in 1957. The building of the dual carriageway of North Cray Road decimated the village, resulting in the loss of the Old Rectory, Alms Houses, original infant school and Jevons shop which was part of the medieval hall house and was re-erected at the Weald & Downland Museum.
The extension of North Cray Place Estate brought us many new members increasing our membership from the original 27 who attended our inaugural meeting to over 400. The building of the Bedensfield Estate resulted in the formation of their own Residents Association with whom we work very closely. The construction of the Church Hall provided a valuable venue for social activities. This is now owned by the Seventh Day Adventists, while community activities have been transferred to the renovated Bothy in the grounds of St.James Church or, alternatively, in the Community Centre incorporated in the new housing estate.
Although much has been lost over the years, including our local school on which site now stands a controversial housing estate, there have been some gains. The Foots Cray Meadows has been developed into one of the largest natural open spaces in the Borough containing several nature reserves and the Five Arch Bridge has been renovated, as has, more recently, the Penny Farthing bridge. We have at last got two pedestrian crossings in North Cray Road which make our lives a bit safer.
But what of the future?