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Discover the fascinating people and places of Tunbridge Wells.Take a journey back in time to the 19th and early 20th century. See what the town was like in the days of the horse and carriage and what the people did who lived there. See the vintage postcards and photographs.Read the articles about the different trades and professions and the people who worked in them.Learn about the historic buildings and the town's colourful history.

This month I feature a photograph from The British Commercial Vehicle Museum of a Trojan lorry from the 1920's/1930's. The name "Trojan" is shown painted on the side of the lorry and below it " Blythe & Co 78 St Johns Road Tunbridge Wells". The firm of Blythe & Co are found at that address in directories from 1925 to 1930 but are not found after that. Blythe & Co were Automobile Engineers, engaged in the business of repairing motor cars and commercial vehicles and also acted as dealers for Trojan vehicles. Trojan were British manufacturers of light motor cars between 1914 and 1965 and light commercial vehicles for a short time. The Trojan lorries were especially popular with tradesmen who wanted a relatively inexpensive and compact vehicle to deliver their goods. Details about the history of Trojan can be found on the internet in such websites as Wikipedia.  Information about Blythe & Co is sadly lacking but appears to be connected to William Blythe(1855-1932), an engine fitter, born in Brockley. He had a wife and at least 11 children  and was living in Deptford at the time of the 1901 census. Among his children was a son, Colin Blythe (1880-1917) who was born in Deptford and became a very famous professional cricket player and for a time was with the local cricket team in Tonbridge . At the time of the 1911 census, Colin was living with his wife Janet Gertrude Blythe,nee Brown in premises of 8 rooms in the town of Tonbridge. He had married Janet  in 1907 but the couple had no children. Dispite Colin's great success on the cricket pitch he was not so fortunate during WWI for while serving as a sergent with the Royal Engineers he was killed in France November 8,1917. In 2012 a special ceremony was held at Colin's memorial at the Kent County Cricket Club's headquarters.  In the post WW1 period many Trojan commercial vehicles could be seen plying the roads of Tunbridge Wells.


The articles on this site are replaced by new ones on the first of the month, so come back and visit this site often. Feel free to copy any text and images of interest to you.Due to the quantity and size of the images in this website users will find that some of them are slow to appear. Please be patient, as they are worth waiting for.Those without high speed internet service will no doubt have to wait longer than others. To move from one page of the website to the next simply click on the page number in the bar at the top of the page-not the "Go To" instruction at the bottom of the page.

Also note that if you attempt to print any pages from this website before the page has fully loaded, some images may not be printed and the layout of the page may be distorted, as the text and images are repositioned during loading. For the best copy wait for the page to fully load.

There is no provision for contacting me from this website. If you wish to contact me I would suggest contacting the Tunbridge Wells Reference Library or the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society who will forward your inquiry to me. Their contact details can be found on their websites.


I am a researcher and writer of articles about the history of Tunbridge Wells and was a member of the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society (TWFHS) until its recent demise. I had been a regular contributer to the TWFHS Guestbook and Journal. I assist others with their genealogical inquiries on various websites such as Rootschat and the Kent & Sussex History Forum. I have had many articles published in various society journals, Newsletters and Magazines in England and Canada. I am decended from three generation of Gilberts who lived in Tunbridge Wells since 1881.

Shown here is a photograph of me taken in July 2015 proudly displaying my T-shirt. I was trained and worked as a Civil Engineer and in the late 1980's changed careers and became the owner of two corporations engaged in General Contracting and the supply of building materials. Upon my retirement in 1998 I devoted my spare time to research,writing and gardening. I lived in southern Ontario from 1950 to 1981 but moved to Thunder Bay,Ontario (about 950 miles north of Toronto) to work as a Supervising Engineer in NorthWestern Ontario. My father Douglas Edward Gilbert (1916-2009) came to live with me in 1983. He had been born in Tunbridge Wells but came to Canada with his parents/siblings in the early 1920's. All but one my relatives (mostly second cousins, none of which have the surname of Gilbert) live in England and some still live in Tunbridge Wells. The only Gilberts from my family line in Canada are me (born in Canada 1950). My dads sister Mabel Joan Gilbert, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1921 died October 2017 in Barrie, Ontario. Her only child Garry Williamson is living in Barrie with his wife and two adopted sons. Since I never got married I am the last of the family with the surname of Gilbert in Canada and England and I am the self appointed genealogist of my family line. Although my greatgrandfather of Tunbridge Wells had three sons and four daughters I am the only surviving descendent with the surname of Gilbert. A complete family tree of my family going back five generations can be found on the Ancestry UK website.

I established this website in 2011. Every month I replace all of the articles with new ones so please come back and visit again. If there are any articles you wish to keep for your records feel free to copy them. There is no archive of older articles on this site but the Tunbridge Wells Library and the Museum retain copies of my articles for their local history files,so please contact them to see them. I am in regular contact with the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society (Chris Jones) who takes an interest in my work and may have some of my articles in his files. Occasionally I republish older articles that have been updated with new information.

On October 9,2014 I was presented with a Civic Society Community Contribution Award in recognition of the contribution that this website has made to the town, especially in the field of history and family history. In the summer of 2015 I had the pleasure of visiting Tunbridge Wells and seeing first hand all of the places I had written about and those which will be featured in future articles. Shown above (left)is a photo taken during this trip at Hever Castle by Alan Harrison in July 2015 in which I am wearing my "I Love Royal Tunbridge Wells" T-Shirt, a slogan which accurately expresses my great interest in the town and its history. Shown with me is my good friend and neighbour Mrs Susan Prince of Thunder Bay,Ontario, who organized the trip,and the lady in dark blue on the right is my second cousin Mrs Christine Harrison of Tunbridge Wells. Christine's grandfather Robert Herbert Gilbert is my grandfathers eldest brother.Christine and her husband were kind enough to drive us around Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area. It was a memorable holiday, and one that will be reported on in various articles of this website. Also shown above right is a photograph of me that appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier in August 2015 from an article written about my visit to the town.This photograph was taken by the Courier photographer at the Victorian B&B, 22 Lansdowne Road, where I stayed during my visit. A reception was also held on June 30,2015  to commemorate my visit  and my work in writing about the history of the town by the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society in the garden at the home of John Cunningham,who is a member of the Civic Society.John, Chris Jones and some 30 others came out for the reception and afterwards Susan Prince and I had a lovely meal and evening with John and Chris and their wives at John's home.

I hope you enjoy reading about my family and the articles I have written about the history of Tunbridge Wells.


One of my many hobbies is the collection of old photographs and postcards, particularly in the last seven years, of those for Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area. The photographic work of Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn is the subject of a new project I have embarked upon. Shown opposite is an advertisement for his business later in his career when he worked from premises at 80 & 82 St Johns Road. On this advertisement he notes that his business was established in 1904. Prior to this he had worked in partnership with Percy Squire Lankester in the Great Hall Studio, located in the north wing of the Great Hall on Mount Pleasant Road and before moving to St Johns Road Camburn operated on his own from premises on Grove Hill Road. Beside Camburn's famous "Wells Series" logo of a well with rope and bucket below it, is given the words "The Sign of Highest Quality" and below it he reports having been awarded "Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the Earl's Court International Exhibition for excellence of work". Although its his postcard work that is the subject of most interest his advertisement above identifies the other aspects of his business.

For over 40 years Camburn operated out of Tunbridge Wells and during that time produced thousands of "real photos" in his "Wells Series" of the villages and towns throughout mainly Kent and Sussex, although he sometimes ventured further afield. His total production of postcards is estimated to be in the 5,000-10,000 range. In my opinion he was one of best, if not the best, local photographer of his time, producing remarkable views of superior quality to his competitors. Although I say this is a "new" project, I have been working on it for some seven years, fitting it in between my work in researching and writing articles about Tunbridge Wells and other projects. The objective of my work, in collaboration with Mark Collins of the Roughwood and Sussex OPC sites, and other researchers ,is to compile a complete catalogue list of every postcard produced by Camburn throughout his long career. Given the length of his career and his prolific output this is a somewhat daunting task. Every day I scan the internet in search of images of his work not yet on my list and add both the image; the caption; card number; date posted (if used) and who Camburn produced the postcard for (most often the postmaster of the local post office or a stationers shop). All of this information can be captured from the front and back of Camburn's postcards.

When the project has advanced to a stage of being as complete as possible it is the intention of Mark and I to publish this work on a new website dedicated to the photographic work of H. Camburn where one can see all his photographs and details about each of them, all of which will be arranged by County, town/village. In addition to an illustrated catalogue of Camburn's photographs the website will have a section for articles about Camburn and also a Forum where those interested in his work can exchange information.  Mark and I will be joint webmasters of this new site, each of us working together and in some cases taking the lead individually for the administration of certain aspects of the website. It is our intention that this new website will become the authoritative source of information on Camburn and his work.

In many cases Camburn's images of small villages and towns make up the bulk of the photographic records of that locality, images which are of particular interest to local historical societies and historians in general. All of them depict a much simpler time of life during the age of the horse and carriage and the early years of the motor car and many of the buildings depicted in them have long gone due to redevelopment.

Here is where you come in!!!!    If you would like to contribute to this project please email to me the front and back of ANY postcards you have by Camburn that you have in  YOUR  personal collection. They don't have to be just postcards of Tunbridge Wells-any town/village/county is what I'm looking for. Don't send images found on the internet as I will have them already.  Camburn's cards have on the back his logo of a well with a rope and bucket suspended from it and sometimes the words "Read Photograph " at the top and "Wells Series" printed on the roof of the well. Some examples of his cards without the logo exist, particularly his very early ones, but they  have his name somewhere on the back if there is no logo. To the trained eye the front of the card is instantly recognizable as being one of Camburn's but the back of the card is the best proof that it is one of his. Sometimes Camburn's cards show the Well Series logo on the back along with the name of both Camburn and the person he contracted with but sometimes Camburn's name is not there and only the name of his client appears. In all or at least most cases his Wells Series logo is there. The names of all contributors to this project with be listed in any published work.  If the task of submitting images of Camburn's postcards is too much work then please submit a list of the cards you have under the headings of County, Town, Card Number, Caption, Date posted (if any) and the name of the client for whom Camburn produced the card.

In the future I will post the status of this project and make an announcement when and where the illustrated catalogue and the rest of the website content can be found on the internet. Shown above is a typical example of the front and back of a Camburn postcard -this one taken during WW 1 in Tunbridge Wells showing the soldiers encampment on the Commons.  

Sent any submissions to me at


On the March 2018 edition of this website I posted an article entitled "A.A. Cundell's Garage" date January 15,2018. In response to that article Eric Baldock sent me two more images pertaining to that topic which I was most thankful to receive . One is an advertisement card for the business and the other a wonderful view of an outing showing a charabanc (plate No. KN 8337) with a large group assembled in front of The New Inn. Eric investigated the charabanc and reported that it is a Wilson 25 hp 20 seater that was new to Cundell in 1920 and that Wilsons were built in the USA (note the drivers position). Due to the file size of these images I am unable to include them here but if you want them sent me an email and I will forwarded them to you as attachments to my reply.



Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: March 1,2018


In 1902 the Opera House on Mount Pleasant opened for business. Its construction had been delayed but finally its doors opened and became the site where great operatic performances, theatricals , musical events and variety shows  could be enjoyed by local residents and visitors to the town.

It had been designed by architect John Priestley Briggs (1868-1947) and constructed at a cost of 30,000-35,000 pounds by local builder John Jarvis. It was a grand building inside and out, with spectacular ceilings, which can still be seen today in Weatherspoons restaurnant.

The history of the Opera House was given in my February 7,2012 article ‘The Opera House-88 Mount Pleasant Road’  in which article I reported that live entertainment became surplanted first by silent films in the 1920’s and by ‘talkies’ in the 1930’s. Live entertainment ended in the Opera House4 June 1931 when it became a cinema. Shown below is a postcard view of the Opera House and a recent image of its grand ceilings.

Over the years thousands of entertainers performed at the Opera House. Among them was a grand lady ,who played significant roles in many theatrical performances , by the name of “Miss Mouillot. Shown below is a postcard (both front and back) showing her in the principal role of ‘Becky Sharp’  at the Opera House in Tunbridge Wells. As can be seen by the card, it was mailed from Tunbridge Wells by someone who signed himself  “with love from Reginald” who had watched the performance. The postmark on the card reads Tunbridge Wells November 7,1902.

Miss Mouillott was her stage name. She had been born as Gertrude Emily Davison at Creech St. Michael, a small village in Taunton, Somerset, on January 7,1867. Her mother Mary Jane Wills, who was born in the village, married Robert Davidson , a stonemason, in the local church September 1,1864. By the time the third child was born in 1868 the family was living in London  and by 1881 they were living in Islington and by 1891 in Brenford.

When her mother died in 1888 at the age of only 49 Gertrude had to look after her look after her two younger brothers. The family however was sufficiently well off that they had a domestic servant to help out in the home.

One day a 30 year old widowed impresario by the name of Frederick Mouillot saw Gertrude and mistaking her for an actress invited her to come to his office for an interview and possible employment. What began as a business relationship  led to their marriage April 2.1895 and the pair of them travelled all over performing. On the website you can see other images of Gertrude and her husband and further details about her acting career.

Frederick Mouillot went on to be very successful in business and owned a number of theatres but sadly died of a heart attack August 4,1911 at The Royal Albert Hotel in Brighton, leaving Gertrude 4,000 pounds. After Frederick’s death Gertrude lived in a succession of houses in London and never acted again. In early 1920 Gertrude purchased the Palace Theatre for 25,000 pounds. Throughout the 1930’s the Palace faced many challenges and on June 2,1940 it finally closed. In 942 Gertrude gave the theatre to the people of the borough in Southend, Essex and today is a thriving centre for the performing arts.

Gertrude , through the death of her father and brothers ended up with a cumulative inheritance of some 17,000 pounds. During her final years she lived alone in Western Avenue, Brent, NW London . She was later moved from the house by a relative, believing she was unable to look after herself. She was moved first to a hospital and later to a nursing home. Gertrude died November 24,1961 of heart failure and old age. Her funeral took place in Haslemere November 20th and was buried in the grave of her husband.  Today a plaque to her can be seen at the entrance to the Palace Theatre she donated.




Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: February 26,2018


Wallis,Holder and Lee Ltd were wholesale grocers and provisioners  established initially in Brighton, Sussex but by the late 19th century also established branch premises in Tunbridge Wells on Bassinghall Lane/Street.  As wholesalers they brought most of their stock to Brighton and Tunbridge Wells on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway with whom in 1888 they had a dispute over carriage rates.

The business was begun by the Wallis family in Brighton, by Marriage Wallis, a Quaker born 1820 in Springfield, Essex, the son of Abraham Wallis. It is recorded that Wallis’s business had been initially founded by Isaac Bass in 1804 but that Marriage Wallis took it over.

In 1848 Marriage Wallis married Hannah Thistlewaite (1814-1894), the daughter of William Thistlewaite of Mothley, Yorkhsire. Since both were Quakers they were married at the Society of Friends meeting house at Sunderland. After the marriage they settled in Brighton and while living there had at least four children including a son William Charles Wallis (1853-1931), who took over his father’s business . In 1871 Marriage Wallis was a wholesale grocer employing 37 men and 12 boys and the business prospered and by 1881 his son William joined the business.

Marriage Wallis became an important gentleman in Brighton as a Quaker minister, the chairman of the Brighton and Preston School Board , philanthropist and in 1881 became a Justice of the Peace. His wife Hanna, a Quaker schoolmistress, became an important figure in the Brighton Women’s Suffrage Movement.

The three partners of Wallis, Holder & Lee were William Charles Wallis (1853-1931); John Josiah Holder (1835-1924) and John Shreeve Lee (1849-1925). John Josiah Holder, the son of Robert Holder and Betty Holder, nee Wilkins, was born 1834 in The Thrupp Sound, Gloucesteshire. In 1871, in Brighton he married Catherine Fairbill (1832-1920), nee Wood, the daughter of William Wood. She had been born 1832 in Lewes, Sussex and died 1920 in Steyning, Sussex.  Robert and his wife went on to have 6 children, all born in Brighton and by 1881 he had joined the business as a wholesale provision merchant. By 1911 Robert retired and the company became known as Wallis & Lee Ltd. The third partner John Shree Lee was born in Wisbech, Cambridgewhire, one of five children born between 1841 and 1850 to Henry Charles Lee (born 1813 Norfolk, who ran a bootmakers business) and Lydia Eliza Lee. John was living with his parents and five siblings in Wisbech at the time of the 1861 census. In 1885 in Brighton, John married Edith Amy Simpson  who was born 1864 in Brighton. By 1891 John was working in Preston, Sussex as a provision merchant clerk but became a partner with Wallis and Holder in the 1890’s. At the time of the 1901 census John and his wife Edith and two children were living in Preston, Sussex where John was a wholesale provision merchant. . He was still there at the time of the 1911 census with the same occupation. Of his four children one had died in infancy by 1911.  John Shree Lee was the gentleman who was sent to Tunbridge Wells to open their branch on Bassinghall Lane and is found at those premises in local directories up to 1918. When John died in 1925 he was survived by his wife Edith Amy Lee and his children. No signs of the business were found in a 1922 directory suggesting that the business ended around the end of WW 1.

The company continued in Brighton, and had premises throughout the  late 19th century to at least 1938 at 14-15 Market Street in Brighton.  The company later moved to East Street in Brighton where Cyril Scaping worked for many years as the Managing Director of the company. By the  1950’s the business moved to new premises on Roedale Road in Brighton. The London Gazette of November 27,1964 announced that a general meeting of members of the company had met and that they had decided to wind down the business and a liquidator was appointed to that end.

Shown above is a bill of sale for the company dated 1898 on which can be seen that at that time they had premises in both Brighton and Tunbridge Wells. Below this image is a 1907 os map showing the location of the companies premises on Bassinghall Lane, Tunbridge Wells.


The grocers and provisioners business that became Wallis, Holder & Lee and later Wallis, Holder & Lee Ltd and then Wallis & Lee Ltd upon the retirement of Mr Holder was initially founded in Brighton in 1804 by Isaac Bass. When Isaac retired from business it was taken over the a Marriage Wallis , a Quaker born 1820 in Springfield, Essex.

Marriage Wallis made a great success of the business and was active in the Quaker church and the school board and became a JP. He was a much celebrated member of the community. Among his children was a son William Charles Wallis (1853-1931). In 1871 Marriage Wallis was a wholesale grocer employing 37 men and 12 boys and the business prospered and by 1881 his son William joined the business and when his father retired he entered into a partnership with John Josiah Holder (1835-1924) and John Shreeve Lee (1849-1925). This business operated from premises at 14-15 Market Street in Brighton under the name of Wallis, Holder and Lee and later Wallis Holder and Lee Ltd. Shown above is a photograph of their business premises on Market Street. Local directories listed Wallis, Holder & Lee at 14-15 Market Street as wholesale provisioners from at least 1909 to 1922.  The company was one of the main suppliers of groceries to local grocery shops like the one shown in the photo opposite left dated 1906.

The book ‘Railway and Canal Traffic Act 1888’ by the Great Britain Board of Trade noted that Wallis, Holder & Lee had filed a complaint dated February 28,1888 regarding the London,Brighton and South Coast Railway for increases in rates they were charged for the transportation of their goods to Brighton and Tunbridge Wells. It was noted that after correspondence a meeting was held and that a settlement was reached between the parties.

Sometime after 1901 and before 19121 John Josiah Holder retired from business the company continued in operation under the name of Wallis & Lee Ltd (00374543). Local directories listed the business of Wallis & Lee Ltd at 14-15 Market Street (image above), Brighton from 1930 to 1938 and they were still there in the 1940’s. 

Later the business  moved to premises on East Street (photo opposite taken 1960) in about 1959 where in their warehouse they even smoked their own bacon hung from the rafters. They were a large concern, delivering canned and dry goods as well as household groceries to shops in the town and to all the outlying village shops. One person who recalls the business remembers seeing the upstairs of the store full of selecton boxes ready for Christmas. Later the business moved to Roedale Road where at that location the loading bay was to the front of the building.  In the late 1950’s the building on Roedale Road was a warehouse for Wallis& Lee, wholesale grocers. Cyril Scaping was the Managing Director of this business on East Street and had worked in this capacity for some 50 years before the company relocated to Roedale Road.

When the business moved from Roedale Road to Newhaven their premises were taken over by Toomeys.

As shown from the bill of sale of 1898, shown in the ‘Overview’ ,the business had branch premises in Tunbridge Wells. A review of local directories shows that their premises were on Bassinghall Lane/Street. Bassinghall was one a few streets in the town that was to be avoided as it was occupied by rather rough characters who often had too much to drink and often got into trouble with the law. Shown below are two photographs of Bassinghall Lane. The one on the left shows the Times Public House and the one on the right shows some flats before they and other buildings were demolished in 1982 to make way for Royal Victoria Place. 

When exactly the business premises in Tunbridge Wells was established was not determined. No references to the business were found in directories prior to 1898 and it appears that the business began circa 1895. The 1903 Kelly directory gave the listing “Wallis ,Holder & Lee, wholesale grocers, Bassinghall Street. The 1918 directory gave two listings namely (1) Wallis, Holder & Lee, wholesale grocers, Bassinghall Street (2) John S. Lee, wholesale grocer (see Wallis, Holder & Lee).  From this it appears that it was John Shreeve Lee who started up the Tunbridge Wells Branch. As you will read later he was living at the time of the 1911 census in Brighton and so it appears that after opening the business he turned over the operation of it to a local manager. No listing for the business was found in the 1922 directory or any directory after 1922 suggesting that the business in the town ended about the time WW 1 ended.


For the purposed of this article I begin with the founder of the business, Marriage Wallis, , a Quaker born 1820 in Springfield, Essex, the third son of Abraham Wallis of Southwark. It is recorded that Wallis’s business had been initially founded by Isaac Bass in 1804 but that Marriage Wallis took it over.

Marriage Wallis married Hannah Thistlewait (1814-1894) at the Friends Meeting House in Sunderland July 20,1848. Hannah was the daughter of the late William Thistlewait of Mothley, Yorkshire. She had been born in Methley, Yorkshire. After the marriage  Marriage and his wife moved to Brighton, Sussex.

Marriage and his wife Hannah had at least three children in Brighton between 1852 and 1856. Among them was a son William Charles Wallis (1853-1932).

The 1861 census, taken at 3 Pavers Villas in Brighton gave Marriage Wallis as a grocer and candleman employing 35 men. With him was his wife Hannah; his three children including William, who was attending school; a nurse and one cook.

The 1871 census, taken at Norman Villas on Dyke Road in Brighton gave Marriage Wallis as a wholesale grocer employing 37 men and 12 boys. With him was his wife Hannah ; their son William and two domestic servants.

The 1881 census, taken at Springfiled House in Patcham, Sussex, gave Marriage Wallis as a wholesale provison merchant employer. With him was his wife Hannah; their son William who had joined his father as a wholesale provision merchant; and their son Edwin a mineral water manufacturer. Also there were two domestic servants.

The 1891 census, taken also at Springfied, gave Marriage Wallis as a J.P. and wholesale provision merchant employer. Marriage had been appointed a JP on August 17,1881 and had served as the Chairman of the Brighton School Board from 1877 to 1884. Living with him at the time of this census was his wife Hannah ; his son William, a provison merchant employer and one other son. Also there were four domestic servants.

The book ‘The Churches of Brighton’ reported “ There are few gentlemen at once so useful, both as a minister in the religious body to which he belongs, and throughout Brighton as Mr Marriage Wallis, the respected Chairman of the Brighton and Preston School Board, who takes a leading part in all religious and philanthropic movements in the town, and in those which have a bearing upon the advance of liberty of conscience and upon political progress”.. It continues by stating it because of his work and character that he was made a JP in 1881.

Books about the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Brighton note that Marriage’s wife Hannah Wallis was a leading lady in this movement in Brighton and that she among others signed the 1866 petition in Brighton.  She appears to have also worked as a schoolmistress at the local Quaker school.

In 1900 William Charles Wallis married Helen Stanhope Wallis (maiden name not known) in Brighton. She had been born 1863 in Nottingham. The 1901 census, taken at ‘Springfield’ his father’s former residence, gave William as a wholesale grocer and provision merchant. With him was his wife Helen and two domestic servants.

The 1911 census, taken  in their 11 room residence ‘Springfield’ gave William as a wholesale grocer and provision merchant. With him was his wife Helen; a niece and two domestic servants. The census recorded that they had been married 11 years and had no children.

William Charles Wallis was living at Clifton Lodge, Dyke Road, Brighton when he died November 8,1931 at 31 Brunswich Road, Hove, Sussex. The executors of his 56,118 pound estate was his niece Helen Turner Nidd, spinster, and Sir Charles Augustus Woolley, knight. Miss Nidd later married. He was predeceased by his wife.


John Josiah Holder (1835-1924),the son of Robert Holder and Betty Holder, nee Wilkins, was born in The Thrupp Sound, Gloucestershire. He was baptised March 5,1835 at Bisley.

Moving ahead in time to the 1861 census, John is found at 35 Church Street in Brighton with his first wife Clara Holder, nee Tate (1835-1871), who had been born  in Brighton. John at that time was a gas inspector. His daughter Emily, born 1860 in Brighton was also living with him along with one boarder.

The 1871 census, taken at 8 Clement Terrace in Preston, Sussex gave John as a widower and working as a commercial traveller. Living with him were six of his children, born in Brighton between 1860 and 1870 and thee domestic servants.

In the 2nd qtr of 1871 John married Catherine Fairhall, nee Wood (1833-1920) in Brighton . The 1881 census, taken at 8 Lorne Villas in Preston gave John as a provision merchant. With him was his wife Catherine ; five of his children,  and one domestic servant.

The 1891 census, taken at 8 Lorne Villas gave John as a wholesale provision merchant. With him was his wife Catherine, born 1833 in Lewes, Sussex, and five of his children. His daughter Grace, age 22 was working as a school teacher; his son Arthur, age 24 was a commercial traveller and his son William, age 19 was a drapers apprentice. Also in the home was a stepson by the name of Albert T. Fairhall,a ge 27, a commercial traveller and one domestic servant.

The 1901 census, taken at Lorne Villa gave John as a wholesale provision merchant employer. With him was his wife Catherine and his daughters Grace, age 32 and Charlotte,age 31. Also there was one domestic servant.

The 1911 census, taken at 8 Lorne Villas in Preston gave John as a retired wholesale provision merchant .With him was his wife Catherine and Grace Wind Firhall, age 42, a visitor. Also there was one domestic servant. The census recorded that they were living in premises of 10 rooms; that they had been married 40 years and had two children but only one of them was still living.

Catherine Holder died at age 88 in the 3rd qtr of 1920 at Steyning Sussex. Probate records for John Josiah Holder gave him of 4 Clermont Terrace in Preston when he died March 15,1924. The executors of his 3,993 pound estate was Alvan Dudeney, auctioneer and Albert Thomas Fairhall, wholesale provision merchants manager.


John Shreeve Lee’s birth was registered in the 1st qtr of 1849 at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. He was one of several children born to Henry Charles Lee, born 1813 in Norfolk, and Lydia Lee born 1816 in Norwich, Norfolk.

The 1851 census, taken at Ha Market in Wisbech gave Henry Lee as a bootmaker employing 4 men. With him was his wife Lydia and five of their children, all born in Wisbech between 1841 and 1850. Among them was a son John Shreeve Lee. Also there was one servant.

The 1861 census, taken at 20 Lower Hill Street in Wisbech, was Henry Lee a bootmaker employing 2 men. With him was his wife Lydia Eliza Lee; his son William,age 20, a drapers clerk; his son Henry,age 14, a booksellers apprentice and four other children who were all attending school including his son Joh.

Moving ahead in time, John Sheeve Lee married Edith Amy Simpson in the 2nd qtr of 1885 in Brighton.

The 1891 census, taken at 9 Claremont Road in Preston, Sussex gave John as a provision merchant worker. With him was his wife Edith and two of his children, Oswald born 1887 in Preston and Clarice born 1890 in Preston. Also there was one domestic servant.

The 1901 census, take at 9 Claremont Road, Preston, gave John as a wholesale provision merchant employer. With him was his wife Edith and their children John, age 5 and Edith,age 3. Also there were two domestic servants.

The 1911 census, taken at 81 Beaconsfield Villas in Brighton gave John as a wholesale provision merchant employer. With him in premises of 9 rooms was his wife Edith and his daughter Edith, age 13 and one domestic servant. The census recorded that they had been married 26 years and of their four children three were still living.

From the Tunbridge Wells directory of 1918 it was noted that John was living in Tunbridge Wells, having started up the companies branch there in the late 1890’s.

Probate records gave John Shreeve Lee of Brighton when he died March 26,1925. At Cap di Monte 81 Beaconsfield Villa in Brighton. The exectutors of his 44,722 pound estate was his widow Edith Amy Lee and his daughter Clarice Margaret Lee and his daughter Edith Constance Lee, both of whom were spinsters.



Written By; Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: February 17,2018


Albert Richmond Smith (1897-1916) was born in Oxley, Victoria, Australia the son of James Smith, a farmer, and Ellen Smith, nee Mcnab. In the years leading up to WW1 he worked as a farm labourer on the family farm and was educated at the Boneygilla State School.

He enlisted for service with the Australian Imperial Force on July 27,1915 (service No. 4293) and began service as a private with the 7th Btn Australian Infantry (13th Reinforcement) at Melbourne, Australia. At the time of his enlistment his parents were living at ‘Strathlinden’ Bolingbroke Road, Pascoe Vale via Coburg, although they had mostly been connected with the Milawa area near Wangaratta.

Albert embarked aboard the HMAT ‘Demosthenes’ December 29,1915 with the 13th Reinforcements of the 7th Btn. He arrived in France April 4,1916 and became a lance corporal. He was severely wounded in the face, neck and shoulder  three months later at Pozieres and evacuated to England.

He ended up at the VAD hospital in Rusthall where he received several operations and lingered for a month before finally passing away August 29,1916 and was given a full military funeral August 31,1916. Alec Brook, a Southborough photographer was on hand to capture a number of images of Albert’s funeral, which are presented in this article. A photo of Albert himself is shown above, a photo that was taken in a portrait studio in December 1915 before setting off for France with his regiment.

Rachel M. Ard of the Rusthall VAD (Kent 154) wrote a moving account about Albert which in part stated she wrote to his relatives and included photographs and a lock of  his hair and his personal belongings. She also noted that Albert’s coffin was taken from the VAD Hospital a quarter of a mile to St Paul’s Rusthall Church where the funeral service was held and where he was buried in the churchyard. Six men of the A.I.F. carried his coffin to the church along Langton Road with over 100 wounded soldiers joining the procession and all of the detachment  , and the Australian Red Cross Officer. The coffin, draped in the Union Jack was preceded by 15 men of the 3/5th Queens with arms reversed. The vicar and the choir met the coffin at the church door and a beautiful service, with hymns was given.

In this article I present some information about Albert’s live in Australia; his military service and details along with several photographs pertaining to his funeral. Some information is also given about the Rushtall VAD Hospitial and nurse Rachel M. Ard.


Australian birth records note that Albert was born August 1,1897 at Oxley, Victoria and that he was the son of James Smith and Ellen Smith, nee Mcnab. His parentage was confirmed by his military records. A map of Oxley is shown opposite.

Oxley is a town in Victoria, Australia, located on Snow Road, 13 kilometres (8 mi) south-east of Wangaratta, in the Rural City of Wangaratta. At the 2011 census, Oxley had a population of 594.Oxley derives its name from the Oxley Plains, which were named in 1824 by the explorers Hume and Hovell after John Oxley, the Surveyor-General of New South Wales. Oxley Post Office opened on 1 January 1870. An earlier office named Oxley became Milawa.The township served as the administrative centre of Oxley Shire until 1936.

The Smith family had mostly been connected with the Milawa area(image opposite) near Wangaratta, with Oxley nearby. Milawa is a town in Victoria, Australia, located on Snow Road, 18 kilometres (11 mi) south-east of Wangaratta, in the Rural City of Wangaratta. At the 2011 census, Milawa and the surrounding area had a population of 592. It is at the northern end of the King Valley wine region, between the King River to the west and Ovens River to the north (the meet in Wangaratta). Milawa is the hub of the Milawa Gourmet Region which offers a wide range of produce. The town is the home to the Brown Brothers vineyards, which have operated in the town since 1889. Milawa is also home to the Milawa Cheese Company and Milawa Mustards.

What type of farming Albert and his family were involved in was not determined but most likely was connected to vineyards and produce production. Albert’s occupation as a farm labourer was given in his WW1 enlistment records.

Albert had attended Bonegilla State School and at the time of his enlistment in Melbourne, Australia on July 27,1915 his family was living at ‘Strathlinden’ on Bolingbroke Road, Pascoe Vale via Coburg.


Albert enlisted for service in WW 1 in Melbourne, Australia on July 27,1915, signing his name as “Bert Smith”.  Although he was actually age 18 at the time of enlistment  he gave his age as 21 years 7 mths. He signed up as a private (service number 4293) and was given as a resident of the parish of Oxley flats in or near the town of Wangaratta in the County of Victoria. He was still single and had no prior military service and gave his occupation as a farm labourer, the son of James Smith.  As part of the Australian Imperial Force he was assigned to the 7th Infantry Regiment 13th Reinforcements. Upon enlistment he received his basic training in Australia before being sent overseas.  While still in Australia he and one of his comrades went to a local photographic studio and had their photograph taken at Broadmeadows December 14,1915 .

Albert embarked aboard the HMAT ‘Demosthenes’ December 29,1915 with the 13th Reinforcements of the 7th Btn. He arrived in France April 4,1916 and became a lance corporal. Shown below is a photo of the ship at sea and one of soldiers boarding the ship in 1915.

The 7th Battalion was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. Raised in 1914 as part of the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War, the battalion was completely recruited from the state of Victoria and formed the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division. The battalion served during the Gallipoli campaign where it had the distinction of having four of its members awarded the Victoria Cross. In 1916, it was transferred to Europe, fighting in the trenches along the Western Front for the next two and a half years.

Albert had served in France for only three months when on July 23,1916 he was severely wounded at Pozieres. A Roll of Honor circular recorded that “though severely wounded himself, his main artery in the neck being shot through, he refused to be put on a stretcher till his comrade,who was wounded, was taken first.   He became one of a huge casualty list of men sustained over several days of intense fighting. Further details of his injuries noted that “he had been wounded in the face and shoulder and suffered  a severed artery in his neck. His wounds were grave”.

Albert received some basic medical treatment in France but due to the extent of his injuries he was evacuated to England and ended up at the Rusthall VAD Hospital (Kent 154) in Rusthall, Kent.

The book ‘The Shock of War’ published 2014 by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society’ has within it  chapter 6 written by myself and John Cunningham, that provides information on how Tunbridge Wells dealt with those wounded in the war. Within this book it was reported that the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) was a volunteer organization established by the British Red Cross  to run auxiliary military hospitals  in various buildings available for such use. Many of them were large houses, halls, schools etc and even tents. There were 127  VAD hospitals in Kent alone and several in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area. The Rusthall VAD (photo’s right) was a large home that was offered by Mr & Mrs Simon Leeder for five years at a rent which could be afforded. It still exists today as a 10 room mansion on Langton Road. Rusthall would prove to be the largest VAD hospital in Tunbridge Wells with a total of 334 beds. The hospital’s VAD number was Kent 154 and under this number were Rust Hall itself and also its Annex, which operated from April 1915 until the end of August 1919. The house had 12 acres of grounds, which could accommodate tents should the need arise. The hospital was opened in 1915 and following extensions, would eventually have a capacity of 130 beds in the main building and 204 in the annexes. Further information about VAD hospitals can be found in my article ‘ The VAD Hospitals of Tunbridge Wells During WW 1’ dated September 12,2013. Alec Brook, a Southborough photographer took many photographs of soldiers and medical staff at the VAD hospital during the war. Shown above and below are two examples.

Rachel Ard a clergyman’s daughter born in Armagh,Norther Ireland, was appointed Commandant of Kent 154. She was awarded an MBE in 1917 for her services to the war effort and would in due course become one of the first female Justices of the Peace. Following conscription in 1916 Miss Ard said that the call had ‘now come to the women as it had to the men of the country’.

Many letters sent from Rusthall VAD by soldiers to loved ones can be found from archives online and many of them comment on how wonderful the place was and gave great praise to the medical staff and friendships created between the soldiers and the staff. Despite best efforts to treat the wounded some did not survive and were buried mainly in the churchyard of St Paul’s Rusthall Church.

Shown opposite is the Red Cross flag which flew over the Rust Hall VAD. The flag can now be seen on display at St Paul’s Parish Church,Rusthall. At the same church is a cemetery which contains the graves of several men who were treated at the Rusthall VAD but sadly did not survive. Also near the church is the Rusthall War Memorial.

Albert lingered on at the Rusthall VAD for month before dying of a secondary haemorrhage on August 29, 1916. The following details about Albert’s treatment at the hospital is from an account by Rachel Ard  dated September 6,1916. “ Pte A. R Smith No. 4293, 7th A.I.F. , A Coy died at 10.45 a.m. on the 29th August 1916 from secondary hemorrhage. The shrapnel which entered his throat at the back of the tongue caused it to go septic and his canotid artery (right) was severed. This was tied by Colonel Sir Frederick Eve, who operated on August 12,1916.  Pte Smith was not in any great pain and he had a very nice ward to himself and the best surgical sister for the night and another for day that anyone could have. For nine days all went well and then on the 20th the tying sloughed off, the artery being so septic and again gave way. The Surgeon came at once and plugged his throat, saying that if they tied the artery higher up it would cause him to be paralysed. The plugging lasted seven days and then it gave way too, the throat having been so poisoned and the surgeons tied the artery again on the 24t6h. Smith was quite conscious and not in any very great pain, but, after the last operation was quite paralysed down the side and could not lift his hand or foot, and on the 25th, one side of the face was also paralysed. He was conscious up to midnight on the 25th, when he fell into a sleep from which he never awoke”.


From the Rachel Ard account referred to above she continued by stating “ The funeral was from here (Rusthall) on Thursday last and was a fully military one. The Church (St Paul’s Rusthall) is only a quarter of a mile away and the coffin was borne to the church by six men of the A.I.F. Over 100 of our wounded patients followed and all the detachment, and the Australian Red Cross Officer. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack, and was preceeded by 15 men of the 3/5 Queen’s, with arms reversed. The Vicar and choir met the coffin at the church door and we had a beautiful service with hymns. There was a firing party at the grave and the Last Post was sounded.” Rachel went on to state that she was forwarded this information to the local paper (who published it) and that she had written a full account for the relatives and sent his mother photos and a lock of his hair and also all of his personal belongings”.

Shown above are three photographs of Albert’s funeral by Southborough photographer Alec Brook. Details about Alec Brook can be found in my article ‘ The Photographic Businesses Of 140 London Road, Southborough’ dated December 11,2014. From that account it was reported that in the years leading up to about 1929 Alec operated his business from premises at 40 Edward Street in Southborough and afterwards from premises at 140 London Road. Alex was a prolific photographer and took many photographs during WW 1 of the VAD hospitals and soldiers in Southborough.


Shown above are two postcard views of St Paul’s Rusthall Church which also show the war memorial and the churchyard where Albert was buried. The Rusthall War Memorial is in the form of a large cross to the design if Sir Giles Gilbert Scott O.M. RA.  It was unveiled July 23,1922 . The cross with a broad shaft is mounted on three stepped base with the lower step flanked by projecting arms with concave tops and was given a Grade II listing by English Heritage. The cross and base is set within the churchyard and has the inscription “ IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF THE MEN OF RUSTHALL / WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918”. There are 116 names on the memorial but Albert’s name is not among them as he was not a resident of Rusthall. His name is also not on the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial. Shown below left is a postcard view of the Rusthall War Memorial dated 1922 by the noted Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn and also shown to the right of it is Albert's headstone.  

Details about this church can be found in my article ‘ The History of St Paul’s Church Rusthall’ dated April 9,2013.

Albert is recorded in the 7th Battalions War Diary AWM Item 23,24,17. His name is also recorded on Panel 51 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial.



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