Welling is probably one of the oldest settlements in this area. A Neolithic stone axe was found in East Wickham in 1910 and more recently in 1989 the remains of Roman buildings were unearthed near Danson.
Before the coming of the railway, with the opening of the Bexleyheath Line on 1 May 1895, Welling was a village on the main road between London and Kent (Watling Street). It had been a traditional staging post for coaches; the presence of three inns along the main road is the result of that.
After WWI the then Bexley Borough Council built over 400 houses north of the railway. Later, when the Danson estate was sold to developers, the land to the south was opened up to suburban sprawl and the settlement incorporated the local parishes of East Wickham, Falconwood, Danson and Saint Michael's.
Welling railway station is close to Central Avenue at the western limit of the town centre and offers direct rail links to London Bridge, Charing Cross, Victoria and Cannon Street Stations in central London, and to Dartford and other towns in north Kent. The high street is well served by frequent bus routes, namely the B15, B16, 51, 89, 96 and the 486. Several minicab companies are based in Welling.
Welling as a shopping area has plenty to offer such as several restaurants and take aways outlets, various charity shops, a range of fashion, sports, entertainment, and IT shops, betting shops, charity shops, fast-food takeaways, cafés, tea shops, estate agents, banks, bakeries, bike and flower shops, pubs and barbers all lining Welling High Street (ancient Watling Street), Upper Wickham Lane, and Bellegrove Road and several local supermarkets, namely: Iceland, Sainsbury (petrol station), Lidl and a well stocked Turkish Food Store (TFC).
Plans submitted by a local developer to redevelop Embassy Court in Welling High Street have been agreed by Bexley Council. In it's place a new Tesco foodstore will replace the old one. A underground car park and upper-floors of private and social flats will also be built. This important development will commence in June/July 2008.
With permission from the site developers, a PCA (Pre-Construction Archeology) team is digging the car park area of former Embassy Court in search of Roman remains, possibly of a Roman road.
The Co-op Superstore (formerly operated by the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society) has ceased trading on the 19th September 2008, this historic site having been sold to Morrison's supermarket which will open in 2009 re-employing former Co-op staff.
The former Co-op car park, together with Lidl car park, provides now the bulk of parking capacity in the centre of Welling. Two new supermarkets are currently being developed. A Tesco store replacing the old that was located in Embassy Court and a very large Morrisons which will open on the site of the old Co-Operative Super Store. Both stores are due to open next year(2009).
The Koffi Pot, dating from 1930s, when it was called "Ferrara's" and famous for its widely loved ice cream is no more, having recently closed for economic reasons. The shop is now empty awaiting for a new occupier.
The former Foster's School building in Upper Wickham Lane is a local landmark. The school relocated to Westbrooke Road in Welling and its original site was converted to residential use (whilst retaining the old Grade II listed main school building). Further North of the original site is an ancient church, now used by a Greek Orthodox congregation.
A large Russian gun is located at Welling corner. This Russian weapon is a 36 pounder carronade (calibre 6.75 inches - weight 17cwt) of a type used during the Crimean War (1854 to 1860), displayed on a simple wooden replica carriage. The carronade was in service from 1780 to 1860 and is now on loan from the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich as a reminder of Welling's early association with the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, when huts at East Wickham were built as homes for munitions workers in the Great War.
The population of Welling was estimated to be around 42,000 at the 2001 census. Singer and songwriter Kate Bush is a famous former resident.
Welling is witnessing a slow but perceptible gentrification by white and multi-ethnic middle-class professional people seeking better schools and a calmer environment.
Welling was, for a time, headquarters to the British National Party, whose barricaded building was the centre of several anti-racist protests in the early 1990s. One protest in September 1993 was 50,000 strong, and their presence brought the town unwanted notoriety. A post-office box address in Welling was still in use by the BNP in 1999, and, alongside Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dems, they continue to field unsuccessfully candidates in local elections.
A major upgrade of paving and street lighting was completed in the autumn of 2005. The retention or removal of a section of westbound bus lane from Welling High Street became one of the few specific local issues on which the main political parties disagreed in the approach to the local Bexley Council elections held on 4 May 2006. The locally successful Conservative Party have kept their electoral pledge and scrapped the bus lane plus some related parking restrictions in Welling High Street.
The MECCA bingo hall in Upper Wickham Lane has ceased trading, apparently one of six in England unsuited to operate after the national ban on smoking in public places. This large building, which originaly was a cinema, is now empty awaiting demolition. According to a local commercial estate agent, the site will eventually be developed into shops and apartments.