The Bromley Festival was inaugurated at a public meeting in October 1928. The then Mayor of Bromley, Alderman E. Ford Duncanson, was the first Chairman and expressed the hope that it would be a ‘Festival for Bromley people run by Bromley people’. To raise funds, a Grand Inaugural Concert was held in May 1929 at the Methodist Central Hall, London Road, and several distinguished local musicians including the Misses Marjorie and Dorothy Whyte of Ripley fame, were involved. The first competitions were held in November 1929 with classes for Pianoforte, Strings, Solo Singing, Choirs and Elocution. Many of the trophies date from that time.
The Festival was held each November until 1939 when, on the outbreak of World War II, the Committee decided to postpone activities until further notice. The next Council Meeting took place in July 1945 and it was decided to re-establish the Festival in March 1946 at Stratford House School. Since then the Festival has been held annually in various halls and churches in the Borough. The present name – the Bromley (Kent) Festival of Music and Speech – was adopted in 1978 and the Festival received charitable status in 1983.
The early records show a strong interest in Piano, Strings and Singing but in recent years there has been a marked increase in the entries for Woodwind Instruments, including Recorders. These changes reflect the greater variety of instrumental teaching in schools today. It is one of the few Festivals in the country to include Harp classes. The Speech and Drama Section has also flourished and now represents one-half of the total entries.
The Festival receives more than 1,000 entries each year, which proves that it is widely valued as a platform for the performing arts in Bromley. We look forward to hearing many fine performances and are most grateful for your interest.