THE HUBBLE FAMILY OF GOODS STATION ROAD
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
Date: January 31,2017
In my June 29,2014 article entitled “Chimney Sweeps of Tunbridge Wells” I reported on the trade of a chimney sweep and those engaged in this line of work in the town. Among those referred to was John Hubble, a chimney sweep, who lived with his family on Goods Station Road. Both John senior and John junior worked as chimney sweeps with the family beginning operations in Tunbridge Wells in the 1850’s. The family were still working as chimney sweeps in the town up to the end of WW 1.
Since writing that article three interesting postcards have been located that were sent to Rhoda Hubbard (1888-1976), the daughter of John Hubbard junior (1854-1916). Two of them ,signed with the fondest of greetings, were from George Henry Walter Pearce (1888-1975) who married Rhoda in Tunbridge Wells in 1915. Both Rhoda and George were born in Tunbridge Wells and were still living there at the time of the marriage. George in 1911 was living with his parents and one sibling at 1 Calverley Mount, Tunbridge Wells and was working at that time as a scale maker’s assistant and his father George was working as a corn factors foreman.
The Hubbard family lived most of their lives on Goods Station Road but moved about frequently. They are found for example from the 1850’s to 1890’s at No. 23 but moved to No. 62 by 1901; then to No. 79 by 1909 and then back to No. 62 by 1911 where in 1916 John Hubbard passed away. As would be expected the Hubbard family were of modest financial means the small semi -detached/terrace homes they lived in reflected this for chimney sweeps earned little from their work.
George Henry Walter Pearce was living with his parents and siblings in 1891 at 47 Auckland Road, a small two sty red brick semi-detached home, reflecting the modest income of the family. By 1901 the family lived at 56 Camden Road. By 1911 George and his parents were living at 1 Calverley Mount on the corner of Mount Pleasant Road and Crescent Road, in one of the buildings that formed part of John Ward’s Calverley Terrace and Calverley Parade development in the late 1820’s. George passed away in Brighton, Sussex in 1975 and his wife Rhoda died there in 1976.
This article reports on the lives and careers of both the Hubbard and Pearce family with a particular emphasis on related postcards as part of my series of articles on the postal history of Tunbridge Wells. Shown above is a view of a chimney sweeps brush and below it a photograph of Goods Station Road by local photographer and stationer James Richards of Camden Road looking south towards the shop at Kirkdale Road at a time the street cleaners were at work.
THE HUBBLE FAMILY
I begin my coverage of the family with John Hubble Senior (1832-1885) and his family which in part included his son John Hubble Junior (1854-1916) and John seniors granddaughter Rhoda Hubble (1888-1976) one of the central figures in this article.
John Hubble Senior had been born 1832 at Wrotham, Kent. He had married Mary Ann Hubble (maiden name unknown), one of two wives. John had two children with his first wife and three with Mary Ann. By1850 the family had taken up residence in Tunbridge Wells on Goods Station Road. The 1858 Melville Directory gave John Hubble as a chimney sweep at Goods Station Road.
The 1861 census, taken at “Old Station Road” Tunbridge Wells, which is the same as Goods Station Road, gave John Hubble as a “chimney sweeper”. With him was his wife Mary Ann, born 1829 in Rotherfield, Sussex and their children (1) Stephen, born 1850 (2) James, born 1852 (3) John junior, born 3rd qtr 1854. All three children were born in Tunbridge Wells.
The 1871 census, taken at 23 Goods Station Road gave John Hubble as a ‘chimney sweeper’. With him was his wife Mary Ann and their son John junior, also a chimney sweeper. Both John senior and junior worked together and could be seen making their rounds together and sometimes alone in the Goods Station Road part of town. After a hot and thirsty day of cleaning chimneys father and son would go for a pint at either the White Horse at 8 Goods Station Road or the Railway Inn at 106 Goods Station Road. There were no shortage of pubs in the area and it was quite common for the patrons to over indulge which at times resulted in rowdiness and fights. In Victorian times Goods Station Road was a place to be avoided for living there were mostly people from the lower end of the social scale and its residents were frequently mentioned in the police files. Those who remember the Railway Inn state “that the furniture took quite a beating and was reduced to sawdust”. An article that appeared in the Autumn 2003 newsletter of the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society by Sue Brown , under the heading of ‘Low Life in Victorian Tunbridge Wells”, “In the 1860’s-1880’s the areas of town to avoid, if one belonged to polite society, were Golding Street, Varney Street,Bassinghall Lane, Ely Lane and Goods Station Road….Beerhouses were two-a penny in some parts of the town, such as the Goods Station Road area, and some were more notorious then others….” This part of town was often the scene of crime, with fights, assaults, theft,and other problems occurring on a regular basis. The Railway Inn and the White Horse were most definitely not high class places but they served the purposes of those who worked and lived in the area. For further information about the Railway Inn see my article ‘The History of the Railway Inn on Goods Station Road’ dated November 23,2012. A photo of the Railway Inn, next to the yard of the Baltic Sawmills is shown above and below it is a photo of the White Horse pub taken in 1954.
In the 1sty qtr of 1878 John Hubble junior married Louisa Jane Richardson in Tunbridge Wells. Louisa had been born in Dover, Kent in 1853. She was baptised at Charlton near Dover on August 7,1853 and was one of several children born to John and Louisa Richardson.
John and his wife Louisa went on to have the following children (1) Charles John born 1879 (2) Caroline Louisa, born (1880-1949) (3) Rebecca, born 1887 (4) Rhoda, born 1888 (5) Arthur, born 1891 (6) Alice, born 1893 (7) Herbert, born 1895. All of the children were born in Tunbridge Wells.
The 1881 census, taken at 23 Goods Station Road gave John Hubble as a chimney sweep. With him was his wife Louisa and their children Charles John Hubble and Caroline Louisa Hubble.
The 1891 census, taken at 23 Goods Station Road gave John as a chimney sweeper. With him was his wife Louisa and their children Caroline, Rebecca and Rhoda.
The 1901 census, taken at 62 Goods Station Road gave John Hubble as a chimney sweeper on own account. With him was his wife Louisa and children Rebecca. Rhoda, Arthur, Alice and Herbert. Rebecca at that time was working as a toy shop assistant with some of the younger children attending school.
The Hubble family attended St Barnabas Church and the St Barnabas School. A photo of both the church and the school are given below. The photo of the school was taken by local photographer and stationer James Richards of Camden Road.
In 1909 and 1910 Rhoda Hubble was living with her parents and siblings at 79 Goods Station Road but by the time of the 1911 census the family was residing back at 62 Goods Station Road (image opposite), where in that year John Hubble was a sweep and living with him was his wife Louisa and their other children Rebecca, Arthur, Alice and Herbert. The census recorded that the family were living in premises of 6 rooms; that the couple had been married 33 years and that all seven of their children were still living. Rebecca at that time was working as a shop assistant; both Rhoda and Alice were dressmakers; Arthur was a plumber and painter and Herbert was also employed as a maker.
Probate records for John Hubble junior gave him of 62 Goods Station Road when he died March 14,1916. The executor of his 1,467 pound estate was his widow Louisa Jane Hubble. His wife passed away in the 3rd qtr of 1929. Shown above is a modern photograph of 62 Goods Station Road which is located on the south east side of Goods Station Road, being a 2 sty red brick semi-detached residence south of Kirkdale Road.
As noted in my 2014 article ‘Chimney Sweeps of Tunbridge Wells, in 1867 there were four sweeps working in the town, one of which was John Hubbard of Goods Station Road, who was also found in the 1858 Melville directory. In 1874 the town had five sweeps listed with John Hubble listed at 23 Goods Station Road. In 1882 there were four sweeps with John Hubble still at 23 Goods Station Road. In 1899 there were 8 sweeps including John Hubble junior at 23 Goods Station Road. In 1903 there were 8 sweeps with John Hubble now at 62 Goods Station road, In 1911 there were 16 sweeps with James Henry Hubble, the brother of John at 4 Flats Golding Street and John Hubble was still listed at 62 Goods Station Road. By 1922 the number of sweeps in the town had dropped to just four and no members of the Hubble family were listed among them.
RHODA HUBBLE AND THE PEARCE FAMILY
Rhoda Hubble’s birth was registered in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1888 and was born on September 8,1888 according to death records. As noted above she was one of seven children born to John Hubble junior (1854-1916) and Louisa Jane Hubble, nee Richardson (1854-1929).
Rhoda lived with her parents and siblings on Goods Station Road from the time of her birth to the time of her marriage to George Henry Walter Pearce in the 2nd qtr of 1915 in Tunbridge Wells. The couple had known one another since childhood when they attended St Barnabas School and St Barnabas Church. It was at that church that the couple were married. An interior view of St Barnabas Church is shown above left. A photograph stated by relatives to be a picture of Rhoda and her husband George is shown above right. On the back is written Rhoda and George Pearce Tunbridge Wells. The photographer is not identified but it is claimed that the photo was taken in Brighton, Sussex and may be a honeymoon photo.
George had become smitten with Rhoda, who was a rather attractive young lady ,and before they were married they would correspond together regularly whenever George was away. Two examples of this correspondence are shown (right and below), being postcards mailed by George to Rhoda while she was living at 79 Goods Station Road. Both postcards are dated 1910 with one printed in Germany by the large postcard company of E.A. Schwerdfeget & Co. of Berlin. Only the back of this generic type postcard is shown.
The second card, which I have shown both the front and back below is by an unidentified publisher. As can be seen from the text on the back George refers to Rhoda as Dearest Rhoda . The front of this card shows two little children standing in front a building. No information is known about where this card was sent from, who the children are in the photo etc, but most likely are members of the Pearson family. On these cards George addresses Rhoda in affectionate terms such as “Dearest Rhoda” and “ I am longing to hear from you”.
Shown opposite is the back of a third postcard sent to Rhoda at 79 Goods Station Road dated 1909. The front of the card is just a generic one with no indication of where it was sent from. This one signed “ Yours Lon’ in part thanks Rhoda for sending cigarettes to him and that he has found work. The writer says “give my love to Ethel and all at the cottage. Love from mum and dad to all”. Ethel must have been a friend of Rhoda’s for she had no sister by that name and nobody by the name of Lon appears in the records of either the Hubble or Pearce families. Today the site of 79 Goods Station Road is a more modern apartment building.
George Henry Walter Pearce (1888-1975) was born in Tunbridge Wells and baptised at St Barnabas Church, being one of three children born to George Pearce, born 1863 at Perbright, Surrey, and Eliza Ann Pearce (maiden name not determined), born 1865 in Tunbridge Wells. George senior and Eliza Ann had been married in 1888. One of the children had died in infancy leaving George junior with just a sister Dorothy Grace Pearce, born 1894 in Tunbridge Wells.
The 1891 census, taken at 47 Auckland Road gave George Pearce as a ‘corn store warehouseman’. Two images of Auckland Road are shown here. The first (opposite) is a view of the road dated 1905 and below it is a modern view of No. 47. With him was his wife Eliza ; their son George Henry Walter Pearce and two lodgers. Shown opposite is a modern view of 19 Dover Road, which is the white painted semi-detached brick building noted by the red arrow. The homes on this road are quite smart, being of the same or similar style and built at the same time. Their residence was a two sty red brick semi- detached home similar to many others on Auckland Road being modest in size. As one can see from a map Auckland Road was not far from Goods Station Road or the St Barnabas School and church.
The 1901 census, taken at 56 Camden Road (image opposite) gave George Pearce as a warehouseman. With him was his wife Eliza; their children George Henry Walter and Dorothy Grace Pearce. Also there was one boarder.
The 1911 census, taken at 1 Calverley Mount gave George Pearce s a ‘corn factors foreman’. With him was his wife Eliza Ann as well has his children George Henry Walter Pearce, a scalemakers assistant, and Dorothy Grace Pearse. The census records that they were living in premises of 6 rooms; that the couple had been married 23 years and of the three children they had only two were still living. The residence at 1 Calverley Mount (photo opposite) was part of John Wards Calverley Estate development, built circa 1828 and was located on the north east corner of Mount Pleasant Road and Crescent Road. This building along with Calverley Parade which it joined to the north and Calverley Terrace to the east on Crescent Road were all (apart from two on Calverley Terrace) demolished in the late 1930’s to make way for the new Civic Centre Development. Details about Calverley Mount can be found in my article ‘ The History of Calverley Mount/ Lanthorn House’ dated May 22,2014.
Information about Rhoda and her husband after their marriage was inconclusive apart from Probate records which gave George Henry Walter Pearce of 19 Dover Road, Brighton, Sussex who died October 17,1975. He left an estate valued at 791 pounds with his wife as the executor. Probate records for Rhoda Peace of 19 Dover Road, Brighton, Sussex noted her death on February 8,1976 with an estate valued at 10,421 pounds. A modern view of Dover Road is shown opposite with No. 19 being the white home behind the tree.
THE CROWN TAVERN COMMON LODGING HOUSE
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Date: January 30,2017
The Crown at 53 Varney Street was both a tavern and common lodging house, which in 1911 was described as being premises of 14 rooms. This red brick building no longer exists, having been demolished by 1982 along with other buildings on the west side of Varney Street.
The first known proprietor of the tavern was Thomas Card who was listed there as a beerhouse keeper in 1873. At the time of the 1871 census he was the beerhouse keeper of the Wheatsheave pub at 4 Camden Road and by 1877 he had moved from The Crown to the Roebuck Inn at 81 Camden Road where he was both a publican and coal merchant employing two men. By 1891 he had given up this business and was a carman living at 26 Albion Road. He died in Tunbridge Wells in 1901.
A newspaper report dated April 6,1877 reported that a Mr Roberts had been charged with assaulting Mrs Caroline Lucy Rabbit, a widow, who was the proprietor of the Crown on Varney Street. She had taken over the running of this establishment upon the death of her husband George Rabbit in the 4th qtr of 1875. George Rabbit had been born in Frant in 1827, the son of Robert Rabbit and agricultural worker who’s wife Phoebe had passed away before 1851. George and Caroline Lucy Couchman had been married in Tunbridge Wells in 1861 and by 1871 were living at 29 North Road, Tunbridge Wells with their two daughters. In about 1880 Caroline left Tunbridge Wells and is found in the 1881 census in Rotherfield, Sussex where she was the beerhouse keeper of a local pub. Caroline died in Paddington, London in 1901.
In about 1880 the Crown was taken over by James Barrett (1846-1905) who had been born in Cork Island. James was the son of William Barrett, an agricultural labour and Anne Barrett. James was married but his wife died sometime before 1881. In 1881 his premises were called ‘The Crown Tavern Common Lodging House’ and crammed in there were 24 lodgers. At the time of the 1891 census he had 14 lodgers and about the same in 1901. James died at the Crown Tavern in 1905.
The last known keeper of these premises was Albert John Skinner who was listed there in the 1911 census and the1913 Kelly directory but was gone by 1922. Albert had been born in 1884 at Canterbury, the son of John and Esther Skinner. He was married in 1908 to Ellen Leaney, born in 1891 and by 1911 the couple had one daughter. In 1911 , in addition to his family, were living 22 boarders in 14 rooms. He died in Thanet, Kent in 1975.
In November of 1912 a large gathering of the Tunbridge Wells branch of the National Union of Women Workers (NUWW)assembled to discuss the poor provision of women-only Common Lodging House places
In 1913 this tavern and lodging house was put up for sale.The house accommodated 28 people in 8 bedrooms, with a bar and a small kitchen for lodgers who paid between 6d and 10d a night. The aim of the NUWW was to purchase the house and re-open it as a Common Lodging house for women and children only.
The purchase price of £1,600 was raised through the sale of £1 shares, and Tunbridge Wells Common Lodging Houses Ltd was formed. The premises were renovated, cleaned, and transformed into the Crown Lodging House for Women and Children which was opened in a ceremony performed by the Mayoress in July 1913. The Kent & Sussex Courier of July 25,1913 gave the following account pertaining to this building under the heading “ The Old Crown Tavern in Varney Street is now transformed, almost out of recognition”. Mr. E. Brotherton, one of the directors of Tunbridge Wells Common Lodging Houses Ltd, paid tribute to Amelia Scott who, he said 'had worked so hard in the matter'.
Now no longer a tavern this Women and Children lodging house continued in operation for several years. How long it remained in this use was not established and the history of the building since they took over in 1913 up to the time of the buildings demolition circa 1980. No mention of this building was found in the records of the Planning Authority from 1975 onwards and so no clues about the building from this source were found but it is known that the Alma Tavern at 7 Varney Street was still there, with presumably The Crown and other buildings in the area in 1979. Shown opposite is a map from 1982 showing Varney Street on which is highlighted in red the location of the Alma Tavern at No. 7. As can be seen from this map all of the buildings on the west side of Varney Street had been demolished by that time.
THE COMMON LODGING HOUSE
"Common lodging-house" is a Victorian era term for a form of cheap accommodation in which inhabitants are lodged together in one or more rooms in common with the rest of the inmates, who are not members of one family, whether for eating or sleeping.The slang term flophouse is roughly the equivalent of common lodging-houses. The nearest modern equivalent is a hostel. In this section are shown two images of a Common Lodging House from the 19th century in Spitifields, London.
There was no statutory definition of the class of houses in England intended to be included in the expression common lodging-house, but the definition used above was adopted to include those houses which, under the Public Health Act 1875 and other legislation, must be registered and inspected. The provisions of the Public Health Act were that every urban and rural district council must keep registers showing the names and residences of the keepers of all common lodging-houses in their districts, the location of every such house, and the number of lodgers authorized by them.
The scandalous condition of the common lodging houses in London, which were frequently the resort of criminals and prostitutes, prompted the Common Lodging Houses Acts 1851 and 1853. These regulations, however proved ineffectual and the requirement that residents vacate the premises between 10 a.m. and late afternoon hit poor and sick residents hard, as they were obliged to walk the streets in the intervening period in all weathers.
Even tighter control was imposed when regulation of common lodging houses was transferred from the police to the London County Council in 1894, resulting in the imposition of higher standards and regular inspection of the premises by council officials. The new regulations required the landlords to limewash the walls and ceilings twice a year and the mixed sex accommodation, which was frequently a cover for a brothel, was abolished. Proper beds and bedding had also to be provided instead of mattresses on the floor and worse.
THE LICENSED VICTUALLERS
The following list was compiled from a review of local directories, census records and similar genealogical sources and local newspaper reports and journals. This list may not be complete and the dates given reflect the year of the source document(s) rather than the actual dates of occupancy by those listed. Shown opposite is a photograph of Varney Street taken in 1954. This one shows the Alma pub at 7 Varney Street.
1876-1877………Mrs Caroline Lucy Rabbit
1906-1913……….Albert John Skinner
1913………………..Tunbridge Wells Common Lodging Houses Ltd
 THOMAS CARD………..Thomas Card was born 1834 in Withyham, Sussex. He was baptised there in October 5,1834, one of several children born to George and Anne Card. Thomas was still living at Withyham up to the time of his marriage there on November 10,1855 to Jane Box (1834-1913). Jane had been born in Withyham, Sussex and was the daughter of William Box. Thomas and his wife went on to have six children and it can be seen that the family moved to Tunbridge Wells by 1869 for in that year they had s son William(1869-1898) and a son Walter(1879-?) both born in Tunbridge Wells. The 1871 census, taken at the ‘Wheatsheave’ pub at 4 Camden Road, gave Thomas as a beerhouse keeper. With him was his wife Jane and three of their children. A local directory of 1873 gave Thomas as the beerkeeper of the Crown Tavern on Varney Street but was gone by about 1875. The 1881 census gave Thomas as a publican and coal merchant employing two men while at the Roebuck Inn at 81 Camden Road. With him was his wife Jane; three of their children, and one domestic servant. The 1891 census, taken at 26 Albion Road, Tunbridge Wells, gave Thomas as a carman. With him was his wife Jane, their son Walter, and one visitor. Thomas died in Tunbridge Wells January 21,1901. The executor of his 2,324 pound estate was Henry Dainton, a retired brewer’s agent.
 GEORGE AND CAROLINE RABBIT
Several variations in the spelling of this families surname were found but ‘Rabbit’ appears to be the most reliable.
George Rabbit had been born 1827 in Frant, Sussex. He had been baptised in Frant July 29,1827 and was one of several children born to Robert and Phoebe Rabbit. He was still living in Frant with his parents and siblings at the time of the 1841 census. The 1851 census, taken at the cottages in Frant gave Robert Rabbit as age 47, a widower working as an agricultural labourer. Also there were seven other Rabbit children and one granddaughter. In the 4th atr of 1861 George married Caroline Lucy Couchman in Tunbridge Wells. Caroline had been born 1827 in Tunbridge Wells. The 1871 census, taken at 29 North Road, Tunbridge Wells gave George Rabbit as a beerhouse keeper. With him was his wife Caroline; their two daughters Fanny, born 1858 and Jane, born 1861 and six lodgers. Soon after took over the running of the Crown on Varney Street and in the 4th qtr of 1875 he died there. Upon his death his widow Caroline took over the establishement. A newspaper report dated April 6,1877 reported that a “Mr Roberts had been charged with assaulting Mrs Caroline Lucy Rabbit, a widow, who was the proprietor of the Crown on Varney Street”. In about 1880 Caroline left Tunbridge Wells and is found in the 1881 census in Rotherfield, Sussex where she was the beerhouse keeper of a local pub at or near Green Hill.With her was her niece, one boarder, two visitors and one domestic. Caroline died in Paddington, London in 1901.
 JAMES BARNETT
James Barnett took over the Crown Tavern and Common Lodging House from Caroline Lucy Rabbit circa 1880. James had been born 1846 in Cork, Ireland and was still in Ireland up to at least 1851. The 1861 census, taken at 3 Isabella Place in Putney, Surrey, gave William Barrett (his father) as a labourer born 1821 in Cork, Ireland. With him was his wife Anne, born 1821 in Cork and their two sons John, born 1849 in Cork and James born 1846 in Cork. The 1881 census, taken at 53 Varney Street Crown Tavern and Common Lodging House gave James and a laundress and twenty four lodgers there, most of whom were hawkers and dealers. James had been married but his wife had passed away by that time and he appears not to have had any children. The 1891 census, taken at the same place gave John as widowed and working as a beerhouse and lodging house keepe3r. With him were 14 lodgers. He was still running this establishment at the time of the 1901 census. Probate records gave James Barrett of the Crown Tavern on Varney Street when he died March 26,1905. The executor of his 985 pound estate was Julia Lynch, widow.
 ALBERT JOHN SKINNER
Albert took over The Crown pub and lodging house upon the death of James Barrett in 1905. Albert was born in the first qtr of 1884 at Canterbury,Kent. He was baptised November 2,1884 at Canterbury and was one of several children born to John Skinner (1837-1898) and Esther Skinner, nee Failkner (1842-1910). In 1885 Albert was living in Canterbury. The 1891 census, taken at 20 King Street (The Farriers Arms) at St Alphage, Kent, gave John Skinner as the licensed victualler. With him was his wife Esther; three of their children including Albert; one niece and 31 boarders. In 1908 Albert married Ellen M. Leoney, the daughter of James and Sarah E. Leoney. She was living with her parents at 11 Balmoral Street in Ash, Surrey at the time of the 1901 census, and at that time Ellen was working as a drapers apprentice. She had been born 1891 in Oxfordshire. Her father was a railway guard. The 1911 census, taken at 53 Varney Street gave Albert as a publican and lodging house keeper. With him was his wife Ellen and their only child, Minnie Kathleen Skinner (1897-1993) who had been born in Oxfordshire.Also there ,in premises of 14 rooms, were 22 lodgers. Albert John Skinner was still listed at 53 Varney Street in the 1913 Kelly directory but in that year the Crown Tavern and Common Lodging house was put up for sale and purchased by the Tunbridge Wells Common Lodging Houses Ltd who converted the building into a lodging house for women and children, details of which are given in the last section of this article.
THE LADY’S LODGING HOUSE
The following information is from the website ‘Inspiring Women’.
Life in pre-First World War Tunbridge Wells was not comfortable for everyone. Those who had to travel from place to place for work were reliant on common lodging houses for their overnight accommodation, as they frequently were unable to pay the 1 shilling per night charge for other types of lodgings. Four of the common lodging houses in Tunbridge Wells were also licensed premises; the Crown and the Alma in Varney Street, the Dorset Arms in Golding Street and the Standard in Little Mount Sion. Three of these provided mixed accommodation which meant shared washing facilities. Young unmarried women were not admitted at all. It was feared that women would often prefer to stay in the casual wards of the workhouses than to face the degradation of mixed lodging houses.
In November 1912, a large gathering of the Tunbridge Wells branch of the National Union of Women Workers assembled to discuss the poor provision of women-only Common Lodging House places. Whilst a relatively small number of women used them, even as few as six a week added up to two thousand a year, and therefore to a significant social problem. The NUWW’s letters to magistrates, together with those from other agencies asking that the premises’ licenses be withheld, had previously fallen on deaf ears.
The following year, the Crown’s owners put the building up for sale. The house accommodated 28 people in 8 bedrooms, with a bar and a small kitchen for lodgers who paid between 6d and 10d a night. The aim of the NUWW was to purchase the house and re-open it as a Common Lodging house for women and children only.
The purchase price of £1,600 was raised through the sale of £1 shares, and Tunbridge Wells Common Lodging Houses Ltd was formed. The premises were renovated, cleaned, and transformed into the Crown Lodging House for Women and Children which was opened in a ceremony performed by the Mayoress in July 1913. In his speech at the opening ceremony, Mr. E. Brotherton, one of the directors of Tunbridge Wells Common Lodging Houses Ltd, paid tribute to Amelia Scott (photo above) who, he said 'had worked so hard in the matter'.”
The Women’s Library has in their collection the ‘Tunbridge Wells Common Lodging Houses By-laws (1870).
The Kent & Sussex Courier of July 25,1913 gave the following account pertaining to this building under the heading “ The Old Crown Tavern in Varney Street is now transformed, almost out of recognition”.
The Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society newsletter of Autumn 2003 contained an article entitled ‘Low Life in Victorian Times’ which in part stated “ In the 1860’s -1880’s the areas of town to avoid, if you belonged to polite society, were Golding Street, Varney Street, Bassinghall Lane, Ely Lane, Goods Station Road and that part of St John’s Road known as the ‘Lew’. Much of this area has disappeared beneath the Royal Victoria Place. Beerhouses were two in a penny in some parts of town. On Varney Street there were two, the Crown at 53 Varney Street and the Alma at 7 Varney Street with fights and foul language being common at both of them. Hardly the place for a women’s lodging house it would seem. The Salvation Army Citadel was also on Varney Street and no doubt they were busy saving souls given the rough types living in the area.
THE ALMA TAVERN ON VARNEY STREET
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Date: February 1,2017
The Alma Tavern, also known as the Alma Tavern Common Lodging House, was located at 7 Varney Street. This ‘beer house’ was noted as being a rough place in a part of town lived in by those from the lower end of the social scale. It was just a stone’s throw away from another pub known as the Grosvenor Hotel at 5 Ways and not far from a second pub called The Crown Tavern Common Lodging House at 53 Varney Street. The Crown and the Alma and other buildings on the west side of Varney Street were demolished after 1979 but before 1982 and the Grosvenor, who’s front façade only remains today, became the entrance to Royal Victoria Place shopping centre. The land along Varney Street eventually was swallowed up by the construction of the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre which was opened by Princess Diana in 1992.
The name “Alma” came into common use throughout Britain to name pubs and other buildings in recognition of the Battle of Alma during the Crimean War. When this tavern began operations is a matter of some speculation. Some have stated it started by 1871 but this is not supported by my research for it does not appear in either the 1871 census or the 1874 Kelly directory. It first appears mentioned in the Kent & Sussex Courier of June 23,1875 and it may well have been run at that time by David Brewer who was listed as beerhouse keeper there at the time of the 1881 census. There was in 1871 an Alma Beer House run by George Love, but this pub was located at 4 North Street.
The Alma has been run by a number of beerhouse keepers since it began operations and records of its existence can be traced up to 1979 when Planning Authority approval was given for an illuminated sign for “The Alma Public House 7 Varney Street”. This article reports on the location and description of the tavern by text, maps and photographs and provides information about the men and women who ran it. Shown above is the last known photograph of the Alma dated 1959.
For information about "Common Lodging Houses see the above article 'The Crown Tavern Common Lodging House'.
LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION
The Alma Tavern sometimes referred to as the Alma Tavern Common Lodging House, was located at 7 Varney Street, its location being shown and labelled on the map opposite. The Alma Tavern, like many other pubs and buildings in England derive their name from The Battle of Alma of September 20,1854 during the Crimean War.
There was also another pub in Tunbridge Wells called The Alma Beerhouse at 4 North Street, located south of Bayhall Road and east of Prospect Road which in 1871 was run by beerhouse keeper George John Love. There was also an Alma House in Tunbridge Wells, details of which were not investigated except that the 1858 directory gave the listing “ John Arnold, builder, Alma House, Calverley Road”.
From the Inspiring Women website it was stated “ Four of the common lodging houses in Tunbridge Wells were also licensed premises. The Crown and the Alma in Varney Street, the Dorset Arms in Calverley Street and the Standard in Little Mount Sion. Three of them provided mixed accommodation which meant shared washing facilities. Young unmarried women were not admitted at all”.
Varney Street, Bassinghall Road, Goods Station Road and Golding Road were among the streets in that part of town that were generally to be avoided. Those that lived and worked there were from the lower end of the social scale and police reports record them as having high crime rates. The Alma and The Crown were noted for fights and disagreements among their patrons and from a website about closed pubs it was stated that the Alma was “a very basic beer pup, one up from spit and sawdust in the 1960’s”. Just east of the Alma on the south east side of Varney Street was the Salvation Army Citadel (now gone) who catered to saving the souls of those who patronized the local pubs and consumed the demon drink. No doubt some of them attended the regular Salvation Army meetings, like the two young lads from the Baltic Sawmill (Goods Station Road )Murder case that was widely reported on.
The Sussex Advertiser of November 16,1878 reported on a crime that had been committed at the Alma Tavern on Varney Street about the theft of an umbrella, the property of Thomas Bachelor and involved a man who lived at Yew Tree Farm in Southborough who was drinking with a friend of his at the Alma Tavern.
The Kent & Sussex Courier of January 18,1900 gave a sad account when it reported “ Having conveyed to the mortuary the body of George Johnson, aged 80, a pedlar, of no fixed address, who was found dead in a chair at the Alma Tavern, Varney Street where he was lodging. Dr. Elliott was called but his services were of no avail”.
In terms of the building itself it was of modest red brick construction and reported in the 1911 census to consist of 13 rooms at that time it was occupied by Stephen Charles Skinner (given as Stenkin E Skinner in the census) and fourteen lodgers. The best description of the building is by way of the photo opposite dated 1954 and the one I presented in the ‘Overview’ dated 1959. The sign on the pub in both images show that Carrington’s Ales were served there. It is to be expected that over the years, like most pubs in the town, the brewery that owned the pub had changed and which breweries owned it in prior years was not determined except that the Kent & Sussex Courier of June 23,1875 carried an advertisement by Kenward and Co, The Close Brewery who thanked those who had patronized their pubs. The advertisement listed over six local pubs owned by them including “The Alma Tavern, Varney Street”.
As reported in the next section 7 Varney Street was the site of the Alma Tavern from 1875 up to circa 1979 when in or around that year it was demolished along with all of the other buildings on the west side of Varney Street. This fact can be seen from the 1982 map shown opposite from the Planning Authority files. The last and for that matter only Planning Authority record for the Alma from 1975 onwards was in 1979 when in that year an application was approved for the installation of an illuminated sign for “The Alma Public House, 7 Varney Street”. In the years following developers put together a plan to redevelop the area and in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s work began on designing and constructing the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre, which swallowed up the former site of the Alma and many other roads and buildings in the area. This new mall was opened by Princess Diana in 1992.
Given below is a list of known beerhouse keepers/ licensed victuallers of the Alma based on a review of local directories, genealogical records and newspaper articles. This may not be complete and all dates given are based on the year of the source document and do not necessarily reflect the entire period that each person listed ran the pub.
1901-1911……….Stephen Charles Skinner
1913-1917………..Frederick Charles Marsh
1918-1922………..Mrs Elizabeth Marsh
1930……………….. Daniel Wild
1939………………… Harry William Avard
1951-1957………… David Bryon
 DAVID BREWER
Although David Brewer is not listed at the Alma in 1875 the Kent & Sussex Courier noted the existence of the pub. David had been a resident of Tunbridge Wells since 1868 and was the beerhouse keeper of the Alma at the time of the 1881 census and so most likely was its first occupant.
David Brewer was born 1841 in Hackney, London, one of five children born to John Brewer, an agricultural labourer and later a shoemaker born 1814 in Mayfield, Sussex. David’s mother was Mary Ann Brewer born 1812 at Mayfield, Sussex.
The 1841 census, taken at 3 Prospect Place in Hackney gave John Brewer as an agricultural labourer. With him was his wife Mary Ann and this sons James, born 1838 and David, born 1841.
The 1851 census, taken at Railway Cottage in Ticehurst, Sussex gave John Brewer as a shoemaker. With him was his wife Mary Ann and five of their children including their son James who was a railway labourer and David who was attending school.
In 1866 David married Elizabeth Kneller in Tunbridge Wells. Elizabeth had been born 1847 in Lewes, Sussex. David and his wife had eight children between 1868 and 1890, all of whom had been born in Tunbridge Wells.
The 1871 census, taken at 39 Stanley Road (image opposite), Tunbridge Wells gave David as a plasterer. With him was his wife Elizabeth; two of their children, and David’s sister Esther, age 27, a laundress.
The 1881 census, taken at the Alma Tavern, 7 Varney Street, Tunbridge Wells gave David as a beerhouse keeper. With him was his wife Elizabeth; five of their children and 10 lodgers.
The 1891 census, taken at 45 Stanley Road, Tunbridge Wells gave David as a bricklayer. With him was his wife Elizabeth and six of their children, all of whom except their son William, who was a groom stableman, were attending school.
The 1901 census, taken at 20 Auckland Road gave David as a bricklayer worker. With him was his wife Elizabeth and five of their children.
David Brewer passed away in Tunbridge Wells in the June 1905 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on June 15th.
 EDWARD COLEMAN
Edward Coleman was listed at the Alma at the time of the 1891 census. He was born 1859 at Sandhurst,Kent and was baptised May 22,1859 at Sandhurst, one of several children born to Alfred and Elizabeth Hannah Coleman.
The 1861 census, taken at Bayham Cottage in Frant, Sussex, gave Alfred Coleman as an agricultural labourer born 1837 in Sandhurst, Kent. With him was his wife Elizabeth Hannah, born 1838 at Ewhurst, Kent and their son Edward,age 2.
The 1871 census, taken at Arphan Place in Tonbridge gave Alfred Coleman as a labourer, With him was his wife Elizabeth; three of their children including Edward, a scholar, and one boarder.
The 1881 census, taken at Budzell Park, Brenchley, Kent, gave Alfred Coleman as a farm bailiff. With him was his wife Elizabeth; their son Edward, a gardener; a niece and two farm workers.
In the 1st qtr of 1886 Edward married Emma Ashdown in Sevenoaks, Kent. Emma had been born 1862 at Newbury, Kent but died sometime before 1901 but after the birth of a daughter Gladys in Tunbridge Wells in 1890.
The 1891 census, taken at The Alma Tavern, 7 Varney Street gave Edward Coleman as a beerhouse keeper. With him was his wife Emma; their daughter Gladys and two lodgers.
The 1901 census, taken at North Frith, Hadlow gave Edward Coleman as a gardener domestic, With him was his second wife Annie, born 1862 at Whitstable, Kent and Edwards daughter Gladys, age 6 mths, born 1890 Tunbridge Wells.
The 1911 census, taken at 100 Auckland Road listed Edward Coleman and his family. Edward Coleman died in the 1st qtr of 1946 at Ashford, Kent. Shown above is a photograph of Auckland Road dated 1905.
 WILLIAM CHAPLIN
The presence of William Chaplin at the Alma was recorded in the 1899 Kelly directory as “The Alma Tavern,7 Varney Street, William Chaplin beerhouse keeper. Strangely no other definitive records for him were found.
 STEPHEN CHARLES SKINNER
Stephen was born 1870 in Canterbury, Kent and baptised there on July 10,1870. He was one of ten children born to John Skinner, a carter, born 1837 in Canterbury and Esther Skinner born 1842 in Canterbury.
In the period leading up to 1881 he lived with his parents and siblings in Canterbury. The 1881 census, taken at 15 Duck Lane in Canterbury gave John Skinner as a carter. With him was his wife Esther and nine of their children, including Stephen who was attending school. Stephen’s brother John was a general dealer and his brothers James, Alfred and Frederick were all errand boys. The rest of the children were attending school.
The 1891 census, taken at 55 Sussex Street in Southwark, London gave Stephen as a single man living on his own and working as a gas works labourer.
In 1895 Stephen married Ada Parry (1876-1896) who appears to have died while giving birth to their first child, for in July 1898 Stephen married Kate Clara Brett (1874-1954) in Canterbury and with her had six children between 1898 and 1913. From the children’s birth records it was noted that their first child was born 1898 at Westerham, Kent; who was followed by three children born in Tunbridge Wells in 1900, 1901 and 1908, and then the last two were born in Brighton, Sussex in 1912 and 1913.
The 1901 census, taken at The Alma, 7 Varney Street, gave Stephen as a publican employing others. With him was his wife Kate, born 1874 in Canterbury and their children Esther, age 2 and Jessie, age 1. Also there were two servants and ten lodgers.
The 1911 census, taken at The Alma, 7 Varney Street, gave Stephen as married but no members of his family were with him. He was given as a beer retailer. With him in premises of 13 rooms were fourteen lodgers. The census recorded that he had been married thirteen years and that he had five children, all of whom were still living. In this census Stephen’s name was incorrectly given as “ Stenkin E. Skinner”.
Stephen and his family left Tunbridge Wells after the 1911 census and before 1912 when in that year his son Stephen Alfred Skinner was born in Brighton.
Stephen Charles Skinner died March 1,1917 at Carlton Hill, Brighton, Sussex. Probate records gave him of 97 Carlton Hill at the time of his death. The executor of his 1,245 pound estate was his widow Kate and his son Frederick Skinner (1907-1981) a licensed victualler.
 FREDERICK CHARLES MARSH AND WIFE
Frederick first appears at The Alma in the 1913 Kelly directory and was still listed there in 1917. For unknown reasons his wife Elizabeth became the licensed victualler of the Alma in 1918 and was still listed as such in the 1922 Kelly directory. This change in management suggested, as is often the case that Frederick had passed away with his wife taking over but no death or burial records for Frederick was located.
Frederick was born in the 3rd qtr of 1874 at Folkestone, Kent, one of several children born to William Marsh, a miller employing others, born 1849/1849 at Shepherds Wells, Kent and Elizabeth Marsh, born 1850 in Sittingbourne, Kent.
The 1881 census, taken at Mill Cottage, Cheriton Road in Folkestone, gave William Marsh as a miller employing eight men. With him was his wife Elizabeth; four of their children including Frederick and one general servant.
The 1891 census, taken at Folkestone gave Frederick living with his parents and siblings and attending school.
The 1901 census, taken at 5 Bourverie Road in Folkestone gave William as living on own means. With him was his wife Elizabeth; their son Frederick, a house agent/auctioner; Edith,age 22, a dressmaker; Mary, age 20, a milliner and Ada age 12.
In 1904 Frederick married Elizabeth Marsh (maiden name unknown). She was born 1869 at Moorsley, Devonshire.
The 1911 census, taken at the Camden Arms, Willesley Pound, Cranbrook (image opposite), Kent gave Frederick Charles Marsh as a “beer retailer by license”. With him was his wife Elizabeth,given as “assisting in business” and their two children Audry, born 1905 in Dinton, Kent and Frederick Charles junior born 1908 in Bride, Sussex. The census recorded that the couple had been married 7 years and had just the two children and that they were living in premises of five rooms.
As noted at the beginning of this account Frederick was found as the beerhouse keeper of the Alma on Varney Street, Tunbridge Wells from 1913 to 1917 and that his wife took over from him in 1918 and was still at the Alma when the 1922 directory was prepared.
Frederick died at the Public Library in Folkestone, Kent in 1947 and was buried August 15,1947 at the Hawkinge Cemetery in Hawkinge, Kent.
 DANIEL WILD
The only definitive record found for Daniel Wild was the 1930 Kelly directory which gave “ Daniel Wild, beer retailer, 7 Varney Street, Tunbridge Wells”.
 HARRY WILLIAM AVARD
The only definitive record for this gentleman was the Kent & Sussex Courier of January 20,1939 which in part gave “ To the Clerk of the Rating Authority of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells, aforesaid, and to all whom it may concern, I. Harry William Avard, now residing at The Alms, Varney Street, in the Borough of Tunbridge Wells, beer retailer, do hereby give notice that it is my intention to apply at the ……….”
 DAVID BRYON
The only definitive record pertaining to David was a listing of him from licensing records which gave him as the licensed victualler of the Alma on Varney Street from 1951 to 1957.
A HISTORY OF DUNORLAN LAKE
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Date: January 23,2017
Dunorlan lake today, of about 6 acres, sits in the 78 acre Dunorlan Park off Pembury Road. It is a manmade lake created through the damming, in two locations, of the River Teise and is also fed by a natural spring.
The origin of the lake dates back to 1823 when the well-known local developer John Ward acquired the property as part of his purchase of the Calverley Estate. At the time the property was purchased it consisted of a large tract of land on which was an old farmhouse. Stidolph reported in 1838 that John Ward dammed the river to create a lake on the farm for recreational purposes. Shown above is a modern aerial view of Dunorlan on which the lake can be clearing seen.
In 1854 Henry Reed (image opposite left) purchased the farm; demolished the old farmhouse, and constructed a large mansion which he named ‘Dunorlan’. Apart from having the mansion built he hired Robert Marnock(photo opposite right), one of the leading landscape designers of his day, to create on the grounds of his mansion an elaborate landscape, consisting of a fountain, an avenue of trees, shrubs and flower gardens and other features. English Heritage reports that it is believed that Marnock made improvements to the lake as well. Wikipedia states that during Marnock’s time the lake was adapted to form”a fine ornamental sheet of water”. English Heritage describes the lake as ‘roughly triangular in shape, with a long north-west shore and shorter banks along the south and east sides”. At the outfall of the lake one can see a “Cascades” into a Victorian water garden and pond before reaching the fountain. Protracted repairs to the main dam required the lake to be lowered, drawing attention to the heavy silting and the failure of the stream feeding the water system.
Shown opposite is a photographs by James Richards (1866-1949) who for many years in the early 20th century operated as a bookseller, stationer and photographer, from premises at 85 Camden Road. Although the quality of the image is poor it provides and interesting document of what the lake and the mansion looked like. This is one of a series of images he captured and although the images are not dated most of his photographic work seems to date from the period of 1901 to 1920. Details about James Richards can be found in my article ‘The Life and Times of James Richards’ dated August 23,2013.
A sale brochure of 1872 described the lake as a "fine ornamental sheet of water of about six acres with pretty shaped islands and well stocked with fish".
In 1874 Henry Reed sold Dunorlan to Brendon Halliburton Collins, a wealthy banker from Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada). He and his family lived there for many years. On the death of Brendon, Dunlorlan was inherited by his son Caurteret Fitzgerald Collins who still owned it at the time of his death in 1941. Dunorlan remained in the Collins family after his death.
On May 15,1941 Dunorlan was requisitioned for the war effort and in 1943 the War Damage Commission took up residence in the mansion and remained there for the next fourteen years. Still in the ownership of the Collins family during that time, it was sold to the Tunbridge Wells Council for 42,000 pounds in 1945 for use as a public park. In 1946 there was a fire in the Dunorlan mansion and when Council took possession of it they had no use for it and put it up for sale although on two attempts to sell it there were no interested parties. Finally in 1957 it was sold;the mansion was demolished in 1958, and the site redeveloped on which eight new homes were built. About all that remains today of the mansion itself is the terrace and steps leading away from it, from which a wonderful view of the lake can be seen, as portrayed in some of the postcards shown in this article. The fountain and some other old features of the estate have been preserved and can still be seen today.
Shown above right is another view of the mansion from across the lake and to the left is a postcard view of children beside the lake watching the feeding the birds. Shown below is a series of photographs taken by members of the Collins family during the time they resided at Dunorlan, many of which show the lake with the Collins children boating and swimming in it.
Public boating on the lake was introduced by Council in April 1949 and since that time boating has been a popular attraction to the park. The boating had been organized by the Matchett family, who also built a café in the park. In 1950 King George VI awarded two swans to the park, which could be seen paddling about in the lake. Shown below left is a view dated 1957 and to the right is another view from the 1950's.
Overlooking the lake on high ground is a tea pavilion that opened in 1966. When I visited Tunbridge Wells in 2015 my friend and I took a break from our stroll around the park for some refreshments, and what a fine view of the lake could be had from that vantage point. Shown below is a selection of modern views of the lake. The black and white photo is dated 1983 and the one beside it in the 1970s.
In the summer of 2015 my friend Susan Prince and I visited Dunorlan Park and spent some time walking about and sitting beside the lake watching the boaters and the birds on a lovely sunny day. What a peaceful setting it was.There were plenty of people there, the weather was great, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the park. For more information and photographs pertaining to the fascinating history of Dunorlan see my article ‘A Retrospective View of Dunorlan Park’ dated December 28,2011.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF RICHARD ROY DOUGLAS (1907-2015)
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario
Date: May 18,2015
Richard was a renowned Tunbridge Wells music composer and arranger and dram buff born 1907 in Tunbridge Wells who died in Tunbridge Wells in 2015 at the grand old age of 107 years.
My interest in him stems from his association with Marlborough Villa, at 3 Eden Road in Mount Sion, a home with a history dating back to the 17th century, and where he lived with his sister Doris Edith Douglas(1902-1997) from about 1945 until almost the end of his life. He became of even greater interest to me because of his mother ,Edith Ella Charlton, who was from the well-known Tunbridge Wells Charlton family, who for a long time were connected to Charlton’s Nursery , that had a large nursery and flower shop business in the town.Apart from this Richard was a fascinating chap in his own right who made an important contribution to his field of interests.
This article provides information about his life and career;his family background, as well as a brief description of his places of residence in Tunbridge Wells. Shown above is a photograph of Richard Roy Douglas taken in 2009.
RICHARDS FAMILY BACKGROUND
Richard Roy Douglas was born December 12,1907 in Tunbridge Wells and was one of three children born to Richard Moses Douglas (1867-1953) and Edith Ella Charlton (1874-1945). His siblings were Arthur Eric Douglas (1899-1990) and Doris Edith Douglas (1902-1997).
Richard Moses Douglas had been born in the 3rd qtr of 1867 at Bitterme, Hampshire , one of nine children born to James Gardiner Douglas (1824-1896) and Ann Douglas,nee Clay (1829-1898).
The 1871 census, taken at Cedar Road , St Mary, Hampshire gave James Gardiner Douglas as a clerk in the Ordnance Survey Department and Temporary Superintendant. Living with him was his wife Ann and eight of their children, including his son Richard Moses Douglas. The older children were all attending school.
The 1881 census, taken at 32 Cliff Road in Southampton, Hampshire gve James Gardiner Douglas, born 1824 in Ireland, as a clerk in the ordnance serice. With him was his wife Ann born in Potsea,Hampshire, and his children (1)Mary Louise(1856-1915) born in Southampton (2) Kathleen Jane (1857-1938) born in Southampton who was working as a dressmaker (3) William Fabian (1861-1950), born in Southampton, who was working as an apprentice gas fitter (4) Frederick J. Douglas, born in Southampton in 1863 (5) Sarah Ann (Sally) born in Southampton in 1864 and working as a dressmaker (6) Charles Henry (1866-1920) born in Southampton, who was a scholar (7) Richard Moses (1867-1963). In 1870 the couple had their last child namely Rebecca M Douglas.
The 1891 census,taken at 28 Cliff Road at St Mary, Hampshire gave James Gardiner Douglas as living on means. With him was his wife Ann and his sons John George Douglas (1859-1924) and Richard Moses Douglas (1867-1963). In 1896 James Gardiner Moses passed away and is wife Ann died in 1898.
From the above I now turn to Richard Moses Douglas(1867-1963), the father of Richard Roy Douglas, the central figure in this article.
Richard Moses Douglas was born in the 3rd qtr of 1867 at Bitterne,Hanpshire. As noted above he was living with his parents and siblings up to the time of the 1891 census, where in that year he was living at 28 Cliff Road at St Mary Hampshire.
In 1898 he married Edith Ella Charlton (1874-1945) in Tunbridge Wells, the town where Edith was born. How Richard from Hampshire came to meet and form a relationship with a young (age 24)woman in Tunbridge Wells is not known but both the Douglas and Charlton families had roots in Hampshire before settling in Tunbridge Wells and this no doubt is the connection.
Richard and Edith went on to have three children (1) Arthur Eric Douglas (1899-1990) (2) Doris Edith Douglas (1902-1997) (3) Richard Roy Douglas (1907-2015) the central figure in this article. Details about each of these children are given later but I now turn to Richard’s wife Edith Ella Charlton.
Edith Ella Charlton was born in the 1st qtr of 1874 in Tunbridge Wells and was one of ten children born to Arthur Charlton, a florist, (1853-1828) and Lucy Ann Charlton nee Baker(1850-1924) .Arthur had been born in Elvetham,Hampshire and died in Tunbridge Wells May 26,1928. His wife Lucy Ann Charlton had been born in Tunbridge Wells and died in the town. Charlton’s Nursey was an old established business in the town and in addition to operating a large nursery the family also operated flower shops. Details about the Charlton family and their business activities are given in the last section of this article.The founder of the nursery business in Tunbridge Wells was John Charlton, the father of Arthur Charlton and grandfather of Edith Ella Charlton. John Charlton had been born in 1822 at Elvetham,Hampshire and by 1861 had moved to Tunbridge Wells.During his life his son Arthur played an important role in the family business and when his father passed away his role increased, later forming the business under the name of Arthur Charlton & Sons.
After Richards marriage to Edith in 1898 he and his wife moved to Hampshire, where their first child, Arthur Eric Douglas (1899-1990) was born August 28,1899 at Stoneham,Hants. Arthur appears to have never married. As you will see later he was living with his parents up to at least the time of the 1911 census in Tunbridge Wells. He died at Chelmsford, Essex, in the 1st qtr of 1990.
The 1901 census, taken at 46 Bromwell Road in Shirley,Hampshire gave Richard Moses Douglas as house furnishing shop assistant. With him was his wife Edith and their son Arthur. Also present was Richards sister-in-laws Kate Charlton who was working as a drapers shop assistant and Richards sister-in-law Rose Charlton of no occupation. Ediths 21 year old cousin Harry V. White was also living with them and was working as a drapers clerk.
On July 20,1902 at Stoneham, Hants, Richard and Ediths second child Doris Edith Douglas was born. As you will read later she was still living with her parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1911 census. She died in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1997, while a resident of Marlborough Villa at 3 Eden Road in Mount Sion, a home she had lived in since at least 1945 with her brother Richard Roy Douglas. Doris never married and travelled frequently including a trip to Madeira Portugal in March 1960.
The next child born to Richard and Edith was the central figure in this article, Richard Roy Douglas on December 12,1907 in Tunbridge Wells. When exactly the Douglas family moved from Hampshire to Tunbridge Wells is not known but obviously it was after 1902 and before 1907. I continue the story of the family in the next section.
THE DOUGLAS FAMILY IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS
As noted above Richard Roy Douglas was born in Tunbridge Wells on December 12,1907 and was the last of the three children born to his parents Richard Moses Douglas(1867-1963) and Edith Ella Douglas,nee Charlton (1874-1945).
The 1911 census, taken at 15 Buckingham Road, Tunbridge Wells gave Richard Moses Douglas as a buyer and manager for a house furnishing business. Living with him was his wife Edith.Also present in their 7 room residence were their three children; Arthur Eric Douglas (1899-1990), who was attending school; Doris Edith Douglas (1902-1997), who was attending school and Richard Roy Douglas, who was at home.
The family continued to love at 15 Buckingham Road until Richard and his wife and three children moved to Folkstone .While in Folkestone Richard Roy Douglas was with the Folkestone Orchestra and was still there in 1927. After resigning from the orchestra at Folkestone he and his parents and sister moved to Highgate, London. The family lived together in London throughout the 1930’s but in 1939 Richard Roy Douglas moved back to Tunbridge Wells .It is believed by the researcher that his sister Doris moved to Tunbridge Wells with him for he and his sister were living together in Tunbridge Wells at the time of her death in 1997.
It is known from directory records that in 1941 Richard Roy Douglas was living at 11 Meadow Road in Tunbridge Wells and that from 1942 to 1944 he was living at 36 Grove Hill Road. By 1945 he was living with his sister at Marlborough House at 3 Eden Road, a home his sister died at in 1997. From that time forward, until late in life was living at Marlborough Villa. By at least 2011 Marlbough Villa became the home of David and Maria Andrews. It is not known by the researcher where he was living at the time of his death.
Edith Ella Douglas (1874-1945) died in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1945.She was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on August 23,1945.Her husband Richard Moses Douglas (1867-1963) died in Halstead, Essex in the 1st qtr of 1963. Her daughter Doris Edith Douglas died in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1897 and was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium on November 15,1997. A photo of the crematorium is shown above.
THE CAREER OF RICHARD ROY DOUGLAS
Details about his career were not researched by me, and the information given in this section is attributed to others and is a compilation of information from various sources which are identified. These articles began to appear soon after his death in Tunbridge Wells on March 23,2015.
The first is a brief article of May 16,2015 under the heading “ Roy Douglas of the Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra Passed Away at the age of 107”, which read “ One of Britain’s most distinguished musicians, who gave much sipport and encouragement to the musical community in Kent has passed away at the age of 107. Roy Douglas,born in Tunbridge Wells in 1907, was a hugely talented musician and had large musical ties to the county. The composer and pianist played with the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra (RTWSO) from 1950 to 1987 and he became its President in 1988. At the age of 73, he conducted the orchestra for the first time. A composer of 11 film scores and 32 broadcast programmes, Roy was a founder of the Society for the Promotion of New Music and also served as Treasurer of he Composer’s Guild of Great Britain for five years. For several years from 1933, he was part of the London Symphony Orchestra, playing in the last season of Promenade Concerts at the Queens Hall in 1940, as well as the first season at the Royal Albert Hall in 1941. Roy was a well- respected and versatile musician, and was known on a worldwide spectrum due to his work with both William Walton and Ralph Vaughan Williams. RTWSO Chairman,Giles Clarke, said “ We are all saddened at the news that our President ,Roy Douglas, has died at the extraordinary age of 107. Roy has been a great friend of ours over many years, and thanks to his help it has grown and matured to become a significant force for music in the South East. Roy was a consummate musician in all he did, and as player, composer,arranger and advisor as well as friend, he will be sorely missed by all who know him”. Shown above is a photograph of Richard Roy Douglas (on the left ) which appeared with this article.
The Kent & Sussex Courier of March 27,2015 gave the following announcement. Two photographs accompanied this article which are shown here. The first is one of him sitting at the piano smoking his pipe, and the second shows him with composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. He was describes as an“inveterate pipesmoker”.
“AN internationally-renowned Tunbridge Wells musician, who gave huge support and encouragement to the musical community in Kent, died on Monday at the age of 107.Roy Douglas, who lived in his family home in Eden Road for almost his entire long life, was an extraordinarily gifted and versatile musician who worked as a pianist, composer and arranger.As well as performing with the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra (RTWSO) from 1950 to 1987, and serving as its president for many years, he was an orchestrator for some of the 20th century's greatest composers, including Ralph Vaughan Williams – a close friend – and Sir William Walton. He also assisted well-known conductors, such as Sir Henry Wood and Sir Adrian Boult.Interviewed by the Courier on his 100th birthday in 2007, Mr Douglas gleefully pointed out that he had not been expected to live beyond the age of 14.He said: "I had rheumatic fever as a child, which left me with a weak heart. I spent a lot of time lying on my back reading, and the doctors said I wouldn't live into adulthood."Puffing on his beloved pipe – and pointing out the stark warning on his tobacco packet, "Smokers Die Young" – Mr Douglas recalled his earliest childhood memory of being pushed through The Grove in a pram in the early years of the 20th century.The frail youngster, who was playing the piano by ear by the age of five and performing in concerts as a teenager, went on to become a member of the world-famous London Symphony Orchestra.He said: "I remember being seated at that vast organ in the Albert Hall for the first time. It was quite frightening, and of course I played with dear old Sir Henry Wood at the Promenade Concerts."Mr Douglas composed and orchestrated music for film, TV and radio, most notably Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto for the film, Dangerous Moonlight.In 1936, he orchestrated Chopin's music for the ballet, Les Sylphides, in just nine days, and his arrangement is still performed regularly by ballet companies throughout the world.A founder member of the Society for the Promotion of New Music, he also served as treasurer of the Composers' Guild of Great Britain for five years.Mr Douglas was immensely proud of his 15-year association with Vaughan Williams, regarding him as the greatest British composer of his time. Helping him to prepare works for performance and publication, including Vaughan Williams' last four symphonies and the opera Pilgrim's Progress, he also accompanied him to every rehearsal.He later recalled: "He wrote very fast and had the most appalling writing, it was like spiders crawling all over the page."Mr Douglas was a member and past-president of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society, and performed with Tunbridge Wells Drama Club, playing many leading Shakespearian roles.He was a keen motorcyclist and, in his later years, described his pleasure in "just listening to any music I like."Funeral details have yet to be confirmed.”
The last article I present is his obituary that was published in the Telegraph March 25,2015.Shown opposite is a photograph of him on the left taken at a concert celebrating his 100th birthday.
“Roy Douglas, who has died aged 107, was a composer and arranger, but was best known for the assistance he gave to Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton in the preparation of their works for performance and publication. He assisted Vaughan Williams from 1947 until the composer’s death at the age of 85 in 1958. It was said of him that he “knew Vaughan Williams’s mind and, perhaps a rarer accomplishment, could read his handwriting”. Vaughan Williams unintentionally embarrassed him by introducing him jocularly as “Mr Douglas, who writes my music for me”. Some people took this seriously, and Vaughan Williams had to explain that Douglas’s job was to make a fair copy of the score of a new work, correct “a lot of careless errors on my part” and make suggestions about the pianoforte and celesta parts where applicable – a process Vaughan Williams described as “washing the face” of the work concerned. The persistent rumour that Douglas “orchestrated” Vaughan Williams’s later works was totally false. One work he did orchestrate was the ballet devised from Chopin’s music, Les Sylphides. Disgusted by the many poor orchestrations, he did his own in 1936. He was offered an outright fee of £10 but wisely refused, for royalties from it provided a substantial income for the rest of his life. It was taken up by most leading ballet companies. When the Royal Ballet on one occasion substituted an arrangement by Sir Malcolm Sargent, the restoration of Douglas’s version was demanded by Margot Fonteyn. Roy Douglas was born at Tunbridge Wells, where he would live for much of his life, on December 12 1907. He began to play the piano when he was five, and at 10 was composing little piano pieces. His mother extracted a shilling a week from her meagre housekeeping money to pay for piano lessons. As a child he suffered from recurrent heart trouble and had little formal education. He never had lessons in composition, orchestration or conducting. From the age of eight he spent hours at the piano, reading at sight everything he could find from Beethoven to ragtime. When the family moved to Folkestone in 1915, Roy played regularly in local orchestras, and in 1927 he joined Folkestone Municipal Orchestra as Mustel-organist, deputy pianist, celesta player, extra percussionist, librarian and programme-planner – all for £6 a week for 14 performances and two rehearsals. When the local council reduced orchestral salaries, Douglas resigned and moved to Highgate with his parents and sister. He obtained engagements with the London Symphony Orchestra, and from 1933 was a full-time member as pianist, celesta player, organist, fourth percussionist and librarian. He also played in ballet seasons at the Alhambra, Coliseum and Drury Lane. He reckoned he played the piano part in Stravinsky’s Petrushka 80 times; and in the Polovtsian Dances from Borodin’s Prince Igor, he “played triangle and tambourine, both parts together, one with each hand”. In the 1930s he was a pianist in many West End shows, including revivals of The Desert Song and The Vagabond King, and performed light music in the restaurants at the Savoy and at Frascati’s, as well as in cinemas. Between 1937 and 1941 Douglas provided the orchestration for recordings by several famous singers when HMV, Columbia and Parlophone decided that an orchestral accompaniment was preferable to the original voice and piano. Thus he orchestrated Brahms for Elisabeth Schumann, and other composers for Gigli, Paul Robeson, Webster Booth, Dennis Noble, Peter Dawson (who insisted on his fox terrier being present at sessions) and John McCormack. The orchestra was usually conducted by Walter Goehr, father of the composer Alexander Goehr, and led by Alfredo Campoli. At one Abbey Road session, the pianist Benno Moiseiwitsch was recording Weber’s Invitation to the Dance, in which the player’s right thumb has four times to execute a glissando up the white keys, ending on a top G. Four times Moiseiwitsch had hit the wrong note at the end, necessitating in those days a complete retake. The record producer Walter Legge fetched Douglas to stand by the piano and hit the G after Moiseiwitsch had completed the glissando – and that is how the record was issued. The LSO played many composers’ scores for films during the Second World War, and through these engagements Douglas came to work with Walton, Alan Rawsthorne, John Ireland and Arthur Benjamin. He made an orchestral arrangement of Liszt’s Funérailles and orchestrated all Richard Addinsell’s music for eight BBC programmes and 24 films. The latter included Dangerous Moonlight (1941), which contained the famous and popular “Warsaw Concerto”. Dangerous Moonlight was about a Polish airman who was also a concert pianist (played by Anton Walbrook). The original idea was that he should be shown playing Rachmaninoff’s second concerto, but for some reason this was abandoned (and taken up successfully in Brief Encounter). Addinsell wanted the Warsaw Concerto to sound like Rachmaninoff, so while Douglas was working on the orchestration he surrounded himself with the miniature scores of the second and third concertos and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The recording sessions began in March 1941 with the young Australian pianist Noel Mewton-Wood; but the pianist for the final soundtrack was Louis Kentner, who agreed to perform only if his name was not publicised – presumably because he feared that it might be thought degrading to play for film music. But when later he heard that the gramophone recording of the soundtrack was a bestseller (three million copies), he asked for (and got) royalties. Douglas also asked for royalties on his orchestration, but was told he had been commissioned to score the entire music for the film for £100 and that was that. He later worked out that a penny on each of the three million copies would have brought him £12,500, a huge sum at that time. He first worked with Walton in 1940, on revision of the Violin Concerto. He also gave the composer some lessons in conducting. He performed the same function for Walton as he was later to do for Vaughan Williams, but on occasions helped Walton by orchestrating a few bars of film music when the composer fell behind a deadline. One example of this was in the music for Gabriel Pascal’s film of Shaw’s Major Barbara. Douglas also “washed the face” of Walton’s film scores for The First of the Few and Henry V and later of the operas Troilus and Cressida and The Bear and the later orchestral works. During rehearsals for Troilus and Cressida at Covent Garden, Douglas discovered 238 mistakes in the printed parts. Douglas’s first encounter with Vaughan Williams was with some of his wartime film music when he copied out the orchestral parts of Coastal Command because the manuscript score was deemed “unreadable”. In 1944 the composer asked him to make a reduced score of his Thanksgiving for Victory to enable it to be performed by societies which could not afford the original version. Then, in 1947, Vaughan Williams wrote to him to say he had “been foolish enough to write another symphony (No 6). Could you undertake to vet and then copy the score?” Thus began an association which brought Douglas close friendship with Vaughan Williams and his wife, Ursula. He worked on Sinfonia Antartica, the Eighth and Ninth Symphonies, the opera The Pilgrim’s Progress and many other compositions. He also orchestrated six of the nine Songs of Travel after Vaughan Williams’s death. Douglas wrote a fascinating account of their collaboration, Working with RVW, in 1972 and expanded it in 1988 as Working with Vaughan Williams. It includes many of the composer’s letters to him. After Vaughan Williams’s death, Douglas went through all his manuscripts and was of invaluable assistance to his biographer. He continued to vet the publication of Vaughan Williams scores until he was in his eighties. Douglas was a founder member of the Committee (now Society) for the Promotion of New Music in 1943, and an early committee member of the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain . He moved back to Tunbridge Wells in 1939, and after the war joined the town’s dramatic society, appearing as Oberon, Shylock, Touchstone and Dr Chasuble. In 1950 he played the piano part in Falla’s Love the Magician with the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra and continued to play with it, and occasionally to conduct it, for many years; in 1985 he was elected president. His compositions include an oboe quartet, Four Old Scots Tunes for strings and an Elegy for strings. He wrote music for 32 radio programmes and six documentary films. Douglas was a remarkable all-round musician. His sardonic sense of humour made him a splendid raconteur, and he had a hatred of sloppy English. Perhaps surprisingly, his favourite recreation was motorcycling: he travelled throughout England on a Triumph 200cc Tiger Cub which he bought in 1958, replacing it with a Triumph 350cc on which he covered more than 55,000 miles until his doctor ordered him to stop after his 80th birthday. Roy Douglas was unmarried, sharing his home with his sister Doris until her death in 1997.
THE RESIDENCES OF RICHARD ROY DOUGLAS
[A] 15 BUCKINGHAM ROAD
The Douglas family moved to Tunbridge Wells after 1901 and before 1907 and took up residence at 15 Buckingham, Road and they were still there at the time of the 1911 census. By 1915 the family left Tunbridge Wells and moved to Folkestone,Kent. Richard Roy Douglas later moved to London where he remained until the end of the 1930’s ,when by 1941 he moved back to Tunbridge Wells.
No 15 Buckingham Road (photo opposite) is a three bedroom Victorian terraced house boasting a lovely view of the Grove Park.
[B] 11 MEADOW HILL ROAD
In 1941 Richard Roy Douglas was living at 11 Meadow Hill, Road,Tunbridge Wells. Meadow Hill Road is located south off of Grove Hill Road and located between Sunderland Road and Guildford Road. The homes on the street are nice looking two sty red brick terraces with developed attic space. No. 11 is located near the end of the short road on the east side. A photograph of it is shown here and it is the house on the left side of the photograph, one of several there that are almost identical in appearance.
[C] 36 GROVE HILL ROAD
From 1942 to 1944 Richard was living at 36 Grove Hill Road,Tunbridge Wells.A photograph of the home is shown opposite. In the 20th century it was converted into at least six flats, a use it retains today.
[D] MARLBOROUGH VILLA, 3 EDEN ROAD
From 1945 to 1997 he was living with his sister Doris at Marlborough Villa, at 3 Eden Road in Mount Sion,Tunbridge Wells.Shown opposite is a modern view of Marlborough Villa. When Doris died in 1997 he continued to live at Marborogh Villa for several years but by at least 2011 the home was owned by David and Maria Andrews.
Marlborough Villa dates back to the 17th century when it began as the stables and coachouse of a lodging house on Mount Ephraim called Forest Prospect. Later in the history of the site the stables and coachouse were converted into a single family residence and given the name Marlborough Villa, a name it retains today. Over the years Marlborough Villa has undergone extensive interior and exterior alterations. In 2011 an application for Planning Authority approval was approved to completely rebuild the residence, which today can be found at 3 Eden Road in Mount Sion. A photograph of the home before its most recent rebuilding is shown opposite. For more details about the site of this home and of the home itself see my articles ‘The History of Forest Prospect/Ivy Chimneys’ dated May 17,2015 and ‘The Life and Times of Joseph Delves-Surgeon’ dated May 15,2015.
THE CHARLTON FAMILY AND BUSINESS
The following information is from my article ‘Charlton Nurseries’ date November 1,2011 but updated November 4,2014. The first addition of this article was posted to my website in 2011 but the updated version has not previously been published.
The history of the Charlton Nursery in Tunbridge Wells can be traced back several generations as many members of the family had a long and interesting career as gardeners,nurserymen and florists.For my work the story begins with the birth of company founder John Charlton in 1822 at Elvetham,Hampshire. John was christened on September 22,1822 at the Elvetham parish church.His mother was Rachel Ford(1788-1873) born at Elvetham who married William Charlton(1784-1857) on January 4,1810 in Hampshire.William was born in Hampshire being baptised at Heckfield,Hampshire on April 12 of 1784 and was a gardener for all his life.William and Rachel had six children,all sons, and their sons John(1822-1889),Charles(1825-1876)Stephan(1827-1885)Alfred(1830-1888) and George(1832-1910) all began their working careers as gardeners,but not all remained in this trade later in life.The beginnings of the family nursery business is credited to their second oldest son John who in 1841 was found in the census of that year at The Stables,Elvetham House,Elvetham, Hampshire working as a gardener.
On April 27,1847 John wed Zilpah Baker(1825-1906) at Saint Lawrence,Wichester and in the years 1849 to 1865 produced seven children among whom were sons Ernest(1849)Arthur(1853-1928) and Leonard(1856) all of whom worked as gardeners.His son Arthur would later with his father play an instrumental role in the families nursery/florist business in Tunbridge Wells.In the 1851 census John is found at 58 Baker's Bridge Road in Elvetham living with his wife and son Ernest.In the vicinity of where John was living in 1851 was a nurseryman and seedsman by the name of William Prestoe on Bridge Steet and it is likey that John was working for this business
By 1861 John and his family moved to Tunbridge Wells,and in the 1861 census is found at Springfield Place.John is listed as a gardener and his son Ernest a gardeners assistant.Sometime before 1871 John established a nursery,which is referred to as Summer Vale,in Frant as well as a florist shop in the Pantiles.The 1871 census taken at Summer Vale,Frant records John as a florist and landscape gardener living with his wife and eight children.His sons Arthur and Leonard are both recorded as florist assistants in the census. A directory for 1874 records John under the category of "florists" on Eridge Road(the site of his nursery) and at Cumberland Terrace(the site of his florist shop).
On April 29,1876 an article written by John,and credited at the bottom of the article to John Carlton,Summer Vale Nursery,Tunbridge Wells, was published in the horticultural trade journal 'Gardeners Chronicle & New Horticulturalist'. In the article entitled 'Pickling Plant-houses-Injurious Effects of Creosote' John talked about his theory that the use of creosote for the protection of wood,rather then paint which had so far been used, would be of benefit to protect wood from decay.The basis for his assertion was based on his observations and discussions with hop growers who used creosote to protect the ends of the poles they used in hop crowing with great success.His article however stated that after putting his theory to practice that most of the plants subjected to the presence of creosote died and as a result he was working on the development of a new substance which he hoped would protect the wood without injury to plants. He informed the readers in the article that he would publish the results of his research. In the same article was given the following " During the autumn and winter of 1874 I was engaged in forming several pieces of ornamental water for Samuel Newington Esq. of Ticehurst...." John by this time was not only operating a florist shop and nursery but was also contracting out his services as a landscape gardener.John also at this time was advertising his business in all the important trade publications as Summer Vale Nurseries, which derived its name from the location of his nursery on Summervale Road.
The1881 census records taken at #7 Cumberland Walk record John as a landscape gardener employing 36 men and living with his wife and daughter Blanche age 19 a shop assistant and according to Kelly's directory he also owned or rented #9 Cumberland Walk.The 1881 census, taken at 37 Pantiles recorded Ernest Charlton, born 1849 Elontham,Hampshire as a seedsman and florst. Living with him was his wife Sophia, born 1846 Speldhurst; their four children and his sister-in-law.
In 1889 John passed away and probate documents record the following; "John Charlton late of Marine Cottage Cumberland-walk,Tunbridge Wells,Kent,nurseryman and seedsman died February 19,1889 Tunbridge Wells" His estate of just over 2,000 pounds went to his wife Zilpah of Marine Cottage and to his son Leonard of Tunbridge Wells,nurseryman, and to Frederick Hogbin Adams,grocer and to Frederick Chalres Blaine,coal merchants clerk both of Peacocks cottage.There is no record of John being buried in the Tunbridge Wells cemetary.Leonard Charlton carried on his father.s business under his father’s name.Directory records for 1899 give the following listing "John Charlton,nurseryman,seedsman,florist and landscape gardener,37 Ye Pantiles;Summervale Nursery,Eridge Road and High Brooms,Tunbridge Wells".The directory of 1903 gives the same entry but now shows the flower shop being at 35 and 37 Ye Pantiles.From 'History of Speldhurst' by Alan & Donald Mackinnon is the following business advertisment "John Charlton florist,seedman and landscape gardener 35 & 37 Pantiles and Summervale Brooms Nurseries Tunbridge Wells.Specialties; high class seeds-very finest quality.Large collection of Herbaceous plants-Dahlias-a fine collection.Nursery stock generally.Wreathes,crosses and wedding bouquets.The following catalogues free by post;Vegetable and flower seeds-Herbaceous plants,dahlias,roses; Bedding and greenhouse plants".
The publication ‘Pictorial History of Tunbridge Wells and District’ dated 1892 provided the image of John Charleton’s shop in the Pantiles and the following text. “ Mr J. Charlton,Florist and landscape gardener, The Pantiles-Tunbridge Wells has been known for generations throughout the county on account of its reputation for the production of floral decorations,with which,for many years has been associated the name of Mr J. Charlton. This business since its foundation, has gained a well-merited repute far and wide; and the house has long held a leading position in the town, and has, probably, no superior in the district. At the Pantiles are Mr. Charlton’s head-quarters. The premises are very extensive and handsome, occupying a splendid corner position, and having a fine double frontage, facing the General Post Office.A beautiful display of plants and flowers is always to be seen here, and the establishment is a famous one for the supplying of flowering and foliaged plants for balls, choice flowers for dinner and supper tables, church decorations,wreaths and crosses, and other florist’s work of a high class, all of which are executed in the best style, and upon the shortest notices. The nurseries, which cover a considerable area, are situated in the Eridge Road, and also at High Brooms. At the first-mentioned is cultivated, probably, the largest collection of hardy herbaceous plants to be found in the county.Dahlias are also a specialty.Here is a good general collection of stove and greenhouse plants. The High Brooms nurseries, near the new Southborough Railway Station, are devoted to the growth of standard and dwarf roses, and a good selection of ornamental and flowing shrubs. Mr Charlton is also a landscape gardener of considerable repute, as witness the many beautiful gardens which have been designed and laid out by him,not only in the neighbourhood, but in all parts of the country-distance being no object in carrying out this part of the business-plans and specifications of which are supplied gratis. He is a thorough master of his trade, and enjoys the support and confidence of a very large circle of distinguished patrons, and is highly respected in the town and throughout the district”.
On May 30,1898 ‘the new Athletic Ground’ (Nevill Cricket Ground) was opened before a crowd of 8,000. The contractor for the construction of the ground was Mr Arthur Charleton,the nurseryman who had the nursery at the bottom of Eridge Road and also a shop in the Pantiles (no. 35-37) which in 2007 was the shop of Trevor Mottram,the Aladdin’s Cave of a kitchen utensil shop. Three days after the opening, on Mr Charleton’s instruction, an auction was held on Friday June 10th for the sale of ‘valuable Contractor’s stock and plant, comprising seven powerful cart horses, chain and quioler harnesses, waggons, contractor’s and dobbin carts,sectional buildings,a large number of fows and variety of miscellaneous items. As far as Charlton was concerned the work was finished but the approach road (now Nevill Gate) was still unfinished and was a source of criticism six months later and there was no Pavilion, which was finally built in 1899 by Strange & Sons.
The 1903 directory gave the lists John Charlton 35 & 37 Pantiles seedsman and florist. In the 1913 Kelly directory appears for the first time two directory listings.The first is " John Charlton;35 & 37 Ye Pantiles;nurseries High Brooms Rd,High Brooms,Tunbridge Wells" and the second listing is Arthur Charlton & Sons,Summervale Nursery,Eridge Road,Tunbridge Wells".Both listings are found together under the trade category of "Nurserymen & Seedsmen". Arthur Charlton as referred to near the top of this article was John's son so for purposes of clarity and to continue with the timeline of the family business I will bring the story of Arthur and his sons up to the 1913 period.
Arthur Charlton was born 1853 at Elvetham.He had been living with his parents up to an including 1871. In 1872 he left home and in that year married Lucy Ann Baker(1850-1924) in Tunbridge Wells.In 1881 Arthur is living at 1 Grove Place,Tunbridge Wells with his wife and children.In the years 1872 to 1888 the couple had 9 children namely Nellie May(1872-1955)Edith Ella(1874-1945)Kate(1875-1937)Arthur(1877-1944)Rose(1879-?)Lucy Farenden(1881-?)Mabel(1882-?)John(1884-?)and Hilda born 1888.In 1881 Arthur is working in his father’s business as a florist.From the 1891 census taken at 27 Eridge Road,Speldhurst Arthur is recorded as a florist,nurseryman employing several men and living with his wife and seven of his children.His children at this time are still quite young and most are still in school but his 17 year old daughter Edith is working as a florist shopwoman in her father’s shop and her sister Nelly,age 18 is working as a drapers shopwoman.In the 1901 census taken at 18 Eridge Road Arthur is a nurseryman yard employer living with his wife and children Lucy(post office clerk)John(tailors cutter) and his 13 year old daughter Hilda still in school.
For the period 1918 to 1930 the only listing in Kellys for the business is "Arthur Charlton & Sons,Summervale nursery,Eridge Road,Tunbridge Wells" given under the headings of nurserymen and seedmen and a seperate listing which reads" Arthur Charlton & Sons,nurserymen & florists,see and bulb merchants,landscape gardners & horticultural sundriesmen,Summervale Nursery Eridge Road and also 35 & 37 The Pantiles.The last directory listing for the company is found in the 1938 directory for Tunbridge Wells which gives the same advertisment as above for Arthur Charlton & Sons but also one for John Charlton Ltd,nurseryman,Eridge Road. During this time Arthur Charlton passed away in Tunbridge Wells in 1928.Probate records give the following" Arthur Charlton of 18 Eridge Road,Tunbridge Wells,nurseryman, died May 26,1928 in Tunbridge Wells".His estate of 4547 pounds and change went to his sons Arthur Charlton(1877-1944) and John Charlton(1884-?)both identified in the probate records as nurserymen and they continued the family business under the name of Arthur Charlton & Sons.
The premises at 35 to 41 Pantiles date back to 1706 when in that year the Gloster Tavern opened at 39-41 Pantiles. For a complete history of 39-41 Pantiles and the adjoining buildings see my article ‘The History of The Gloster Tavern 39-41 The Pantiles’ dated October 12,2014.
In 1939 Arthur is age 60 and his brother John 53 and are nearing the end of their active careers in the family business and their sons have essentially taken over from their fathers.A 1937 phone directory records the following listings-firstly; A.Charlton & Sons Ltd(nurseries,head office)Eridge Road,Tunbridge Wells tel 1423; Floral seed department 35 Pantiles tel 1423;Quarry Farm nurseries Rotherfield tel 27" and the second listing "John Charlton Ltd,nurserymen,Hillside Nursery,Eridge Road Tunbridge Wells tel 1450".This same listing appears until at least 1951 and then in 1968 only the first listing appears. During this time both John and Arthur passed away.Details about John's demise are not known but it is known that Arthur passed away in Tonbridge in the 4th quarter of 1944.The two of them would have left their business to their sons.
How long the business remained under Charlton ownership is not known exactly.However , a directory listing for 1976 gives the following; "Eridge Road Garden Centre(Charltons)Tunbridge Wells".It is known from Coblands Landscapes Limited that they owned Summervale Nurseries until April 1991 and then moved to Trench Road,Tonbridge,a place they left in November 1994 and moved to their current(2011) site at Langton Green,Tunbridge Wells. Coblands had been in business as landscape contractors in Tunbridge Wells for several years and are listed in a 1970 phone book at 9 Grainger Walk Tunbridge Wells and at Ivy Hatch,Sevenoakes.In 1971 they are listed at Ivey Hatch,Sevenoaks and also at Eridge Road Garden Centre,Tunbridge Wells indicating that this company had taken over the Carlton nursery in 1971.The Coblands company was incorporated April 6,1973.
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