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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 lovely view of the Nevill Ground  being card No. 57 by the French postcard publisher Leon &  Levi, who produced a large selection of postcard views of Tunbridge Wells and elsewhere. The firm of Leon & Levi were founded in Paris France in 1864 by Moyse Leon and Isaac Levy. Due to an longstanding error in the historical record it was long ,and mistakenly, thought that the LL on the postcards stood for Lewis or Louis Levi but no such person connected with this business was found. Although the company  name has changed a number of times over the years they always used the LL designation on their postcards. At the time this photo was taken in the early 1900's cricket was very popular, a game that had been played in the Commons since at least 1782,well before the Nevill ground was created as part of the Warwick Park development. Once part of the Home Farm Estate, discussions began in 1894-5 between the Tradesmen's Association and the Abergavenny estate for a ground on the site. The Tunbridge Wells Cricket, Football and Athletic Club Ltd was formed in 1895 with the Marquess as president.The prospectus proposed to create a cricket ground with a circular cinder track, as seen in the above photo, and to provide a football ground; tennis courts ;to erect a cricket pavilion , a bandstand and other covered stands and buildings for spectators. This ambitious undertaking went well over the original estimate of costs with the final bill amounting to some 10,000 pounds. Construction of the road to the site began in 1887 and the opening of what was called "the new Athletic Ground" took place on Whit Monday May 30,1898 before a crowd of about 8,000, a sizeable audience for a town of 30,000.  These grounds, apart from cricket that was played their regularly, was annually ,on Whit Monday, the site of an  athletic event in which races of all kinds, including motorcycle races on the circular track, were held.

For anyone interested in reading a good historical account of Warwick Park and the Nevill Ground take a look at a copy of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society book 'The Origins of Warwick Park and the Nevill Ground (2007), a book which can be purchased online from the website of this Society. Also, I have written about the Nevill Ground and events there in my article 'Motorcycle Racing at the Nevill Grounds' dated October 20,2015.

ANNOUNCEMENT

From the time this website was created in 2011, page 5 has been devoted entirely to articles pertaining to my family. For the foreseeable future Page 5 will now be used for articles devoted to the History of Tunbridge Wells. So please ensure that you visit page 5 on a regular basis.

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 Tunbridge Wells Family History Society who will forward your inquiry to me. Their contact details can be found on their websites.


ABOUT ME

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). I have 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. Most of my relatives 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, born in Tunbridge Wells and her son born in Canada. Since I never got married I am the last of the family with the surname of Gilbert in Canada and I am the self appointed genealogist of my family line. A complete family tree of my family going back five generations can be found on the Ancestry UK website.Although my greatgrandfather of Tunbridge Wells had three sons and four daughters I am the only surviving descendent with the surname of Gilbert.

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 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.

ITS A TUNBRIDGE WELLS CHRISTMAS

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Date: November 1,2016

Christmas is almost upon us, and it wont be long before families in the town will be making preparations for this much celebrated event. To set the stage for this brief article, in which I present some chilling, yet charming, winter views of the town dating back to the 19th century, I give below some facts about Christmas in general; some Gilbert family references, and some examples of a Tunbridge Wells connection.

[1] FIRST CHRISTMAS CARD 

The sending of Christmas greeting cards began in the Victorian era. Although engravers produced prints with religious themes in the European Middle Ages, the first commercial Christmas and New Year's card is believed to have been designed and printed in London, England in 1843. John Callcott Horsley (1817-1903), a British narrative painter and a Royal Academician, designed the very first Christmas and New Year's card at the request of his friend Sir Henry Cole (first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum). Cole suggested the idea of a specially designed form of greeting to send to friends at Christmas. In 1843 an edition of 1,000 of these Christmas cards were printed and placed on sale in London, selling for 1 shilling each. They were printed in lithography by Jobbins of Warwick Court, Holborn, London, and hand-colored by a professional "colourer" named Mason. The cards were published under Sir Henry Cole's nom de guerre, "Felix Summerly"—by his friend Joseph Cundall, of New Bond Street.

That was the beginning. But in spite of its ingenuity, the first Christmas card was not an instant success, even bringing about disapproval from the temperance league who feared the card would encourage drunkenness. The following year there were other picture-makers, and the Christmas card was launched on the tide of popular favor; but it was not until the idea had grown out of favor among artistic and literary circles that it was taken up by a business man, Goodall. Charles Goodall & Son, a British publisher of visiting cards was one of the first to mass produce Christmas cards and visiting cards. In 1866 Mr. Josiah Goodall commissioned Messrs. Marcus Ward & Co., of Belfast, to lithograph, for his firm, a set of four designs by C. H. Bennett, and in the following year another set by the same artist. These, together with Luke Limner's border design of holly, mistletoe, and robins, may be taken as the forerunners of today’s Christmas card.

Shown above is a photo of the first Christmas Card. In 2001 one of these cards was sold at auction for 22,250 pounds. More locally, the Photochrom Company ,that had large premises in Tunbridge Wells, was a major producer of postcards, greeting cards and other related items. Many examples of their products can be found today, although the business ended many years ago.

Shown below this first card is one offering Seasons Greetings from Mrs Yates of St Martin's of 26 Lansdown Road,Tunbridge Wells. This is one of but a few examples that can be connected directly to a resident of Tunbridge Wells and it is interesting to see how Mrs Yates personalized the front of it. Stationer's shops in the town did a good trade selling greeting cards, and its surprising to see one dating back to the late 19th or early 20th century that has survived in such good condition.

[2] FIRST CHRISTMAS STAMP 

The honour of producing the world’s first  Christmas stamp goes to Canada in 1898. Stamps featuring a profile of Queen Victoria (The Penny Black) were the first stamps used on the mail in England. It was first issued May 1,1840 but it was not until December 1,1966 that the first British Christmas stamp was issued. Shown opposite is a First Day Cover of the 1966 Christmas stamp that was franked “ Tunbridge Wells December 1,1966. This piece of mail was sent to a Miss Martin in the Pathology Department of St Bartholomew's Hospital in West Smithfield. Since 1966 the BPO has produced an annual issue of Christmas Stamps and apart from their use on the mail they are popular among stamp collectors. My father Douglas Edward Gilbert (1916-2009) who was born in Tunbridge Wells, was an avid collector of stamps, especially those of Great Britain, and in that collection is an example of every British Christmas stamp issued.

[3] FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE

Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria is most often credited as the person to first introduce the Christmas tree to England when he set one up in Windsor Castle in 1840. However it was Queen Charlotte, the German wife of George III who set up the first known English tree at Queen’s Lodge, Windsor December 1800. Today some 35 million Christmas trees are sold annually in England. Christmas trees were, and are, sold in Tunbridge Wells in many places, although the artificial tree has gained in popularity. Before the age of the motor car people would either drag them up the road to their home or load them on a carriage or wagon. When I was a boy my father used to tie the tree to the roof of his car to get it home, a practice that continues today, particularly since modern motor cars are much reduced in size. Shown opposite is a photograph, turned into a postcard, showing a little girl beside the family tree in her Tunbridge Wells home. This card was send from Tunbridge Wells in 1912 to a destination in Boston, USA.

[4] FIRST CHRISTMAS CRACKERS

The first Christmas crackers were invented in 1846 by Thomas Smith with their design modified in the years following. When I was a boy our Christmas meal was never complete unless we pulled our Christmas Crackers and put on the hat inside. I still have in my mothers china cabinet a half box of Christmas Crackers that must date back to mid 1960's. Although I no longer have a use for them, I never had the heart to throw them out as looking at them brings back wonderful childhood memories.

[5] FIRST QUEENS MESSAGE

The first Queen’s Christmas speech was televised in 1957. Although I do not have a memory of this event ,when I was just age 7, I do remember our family in later years gathering around the radio and later television listening to Queen Elizabeth giving her annual Christmas message, which was inspiring. To think she is still doing it today is remarkable. The current Queen and generations of the Royal Family have been frequent visitors to Tunbridge Wells and that is largely how the town got to officially use the name "Royal".

[6] CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND DECORATIONS

Initially trees were lit by candles to represent the stars and all decorations were handmade. The first electric Christmas lights were the idea of Thomas Edison’s assistant Edward Johnson in 1882. In 1895 the American Ralph Morris invented a string of lights similar to those in use today. In 1880 Woolworths first sold manufactured Christmas tree decorations, which proved very popular.

Among the many stories my father told me about his childhood ,the one that always stuck in my mind was him telling me that when he was a boy his parents used to put candles on the tree. Having grown up in the age of strings of colourful Christmas Lights on the tree and outside on the house, I always thought how lucky my father was in not having their tree catch alight and burning down their house.
 
When Tunbridge Wells became electrified at the beginning of the 20th century, those who could afford the cost of converting from gas to electric, and the cost of the lights ,began to put them on their trees. When stings of outside lights became available soon after, they began to come into general use. Many people in the town decorated their homes with them and many shop owners, who traditionally decorated their shops windows with merchandise and decorations, also began using them to brighten up their displays with wonderful coloured lights. Im sure many of you will remember as young children, assembling in front of shop windows, full of amazement at the Christmas display, and with great expectations of Christmas day when some of the toys might appear under the family tree. Shown above is a photo dated 1906 of the Infirmary in Tunbridge Wells in which, hung from the ceiling ,can be seen Christmas decorations. Below it is a modern view of the High Rocks Hotel all lit up for the Christmas season.

WINTERTIME VIEWS

Wintertime in Tunbridge Wells is, i'm sure,looked forward to as much as it is in Canada, although our Canadian winters are terribly long in comparison . In Canada one can expect to be shovelling what seems like tons of snow. Although Tunbridge Wells gets much less snow than we do the images in this section show that you get more than your fair share of the white stuff. Although postcard views of Tunbridge Wells ,when there is snow on the ground are rare, shown below is a selection of them. The photo on the left is a view of Brighton Lake by Harold H. Camburn.The one on the right is also by local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn and was mailed in 1909. Note how this image compares to a similar one that I presented at the beginning of this article bearing a Christmas message. Of all the winter postcard views of the town, and there are very few of them, most were by Harold Camburn who did a winter series. Most, although not all, do not bear his usual handwritten captions and card numbers on the front, but were produced with typed  captions.













Shown below are six more examples postcards by Camburn bearing self explanatory captions.











































Shown below left is a postcard view from the commons dated on the front as 1929. The Commons was and still is a favourite spot for children's snowball fights, tobogganing etc. Shown right is a photograph dated December 26,1906 showing what is described as children tobogganing in the Commons although I strongly suspect it is actually in Calverley Park Gardens.














Shown below left is a view of tobogganing in Calverley Park Gardens dated 1914. The publisher on the back of this image is given as J. Billards of 85 Camden Road who ran a stationers shop. Shown right is an early 19th century view of Camden Road. Not many shoppers that day!













Shown below left is photo taken at the Pantiles dated 1892 and to the right is a photo of postmen at the Pantiles in 1962 fighting their way through a storm loaded down with letters and packages, perhaps during the Christmas rush.

As would be expected in the weeks leading up to Christmas a huge volume of mail was handled by the BPO.

Shown below left is a view of the main post office and mail sorting station, by Harold H. Camburn, that once was located on Vale Road and to the right of it is an interior view showing the sorting of letters and packages.
















During WW 1 Tunbridge Wells was inundated by troops, Territorials and others, camping out in tents on the Commons until bad weather forced them to spend the winter indoors in large halls and homes. Every Christmas local residents organized a fine meal for the soldiers and due to their numbers several venues had to be organized for the event. Shown right is a view of the soldiers enjoying their Christmas meal. Shown left is a view of Mount Sion Grove during the war. A song familiar to most from the war era is "I'll Be Home For Christmas", and although it was expected that WW 1 would be over by Christmas it dragged on and on. Many of the troops had to spend their Christmas in the wet and cold trenches at the front and for many their last Christmas in Tunbridge Wells with family and friends ,or as guests of the town,was sadly their last Christmas. 

A large number of postcards and greeting cards were produced during WW 1. Some were comical in nature but most had patriotic messages and images of ladies waiting for their soldier to return home. One Tunbridge Wells based business that did a good trade in these was Photochrom who produced a large selection of war related cards and general Christmas greetings, such as the two examples shown below.













Although much could be written about the events in Tunbridge Wells during the winter and particularly the Christmas season I hope that this short article gets you in the mood. Why not go skating at the wonderful rink set up in the Calverley Gardens annually.

Over the course of the year I have had the pleasure of corresponding with  many friends, family members and associates in Tunbridge Wells. As there are far too many to mention by person I will simply say I WISH YOU ALL A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

THE CANTERBURY MEAT CO.-22 CAMDEN ROAD

 

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

Date: October 31,2016

 

OVERVIEW

The butchers shop of the Canterbury Meat Co., at 22 Camden Road has its roots in Canterbury,New Zealand, where in 1882 a group of like- minded men decided to go into the frozen meat export trade and set up large premises for this business in that country under the name of The Canterbury Frozen Meat Company which became The Canterbury Frozen Meat Company Ltd (1891-1967). The objective of this business was to export large quantities of frozen meat to England and elsewhere. The company took great risk in this enterprise for they were initially unable to obtain insurance for the long and dangerous ship voyage, but were successful despite this, rewarding their investors with healthy annual dividends.

In England great concern was expressed by local producers about the impact ‘cheap’ foreign imports would have on their trade. Apart from New Zealand, meat was being brought into the country from Australia, Argentina and elsewhere. To facilitate the sale of frozen meat in England the head office in New Zealand established a subsidiary company in England of the same name, and a chain of butcher shops in England was created to sell their products. Such was the case in Tunbridge Wells where the shop on Camden Road operated from 1913 to 1916.

This article provides some background information about the company in New Zealand and its operations in England, but concentrates on business operations in Tunbridge Wells.

NEW ZEALAND OPERATIONS

Newspapers in New Zealand announced that The Canterbury Meat Co had been established in 1882 at Canterbury, New Zealand. A book entitled ‘The Canterbury Frozen Meat Company Ltd-The First 75 Years (1891-1967) by G.R. Macdonald (1967) provides an excellent account of the history of this business. Newspaper reports on the company’s financial affairs appeared regularly, such as one reporting on the 5th annual meeting of the company on March 26,1887. This company was not alone in New Zealand in exporting meat, for a company called the Meat Export Company Limited at Christchurch, Canterbury was managed in the early 1870’s by J. M. Heywood, and there were others. The meat export business in New Zealand was huge. The demand for their meat products was large and there was a lot of money to be made from it.

The company premises at Ashburton, Canterbury were extensive Shown below are two photos relating to this business. The first shows a flock of New Zealand Sheep being fattened up for market. The second show sheep and lamb carcases being weighed and graded in the plant. 

Mr J.C. N Grigg (1828-1901) was a gentleman in New Zealand remembered as a pioneer in the frozen meat trade. He had been born in Cornwall. When his father died in 1847 he had to support his widowed mother and siblings. In 1853 he sold the family farm and arrived in Auckland in 1854 and obtained a lease on land. In 1855 he married Martha Vercoe, who he knew in England, and who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1848.  A good account of him; his life; and his career can be read online in the Encyclopaedia Of New Zealand (1966).

John Grigg was one of the few who saw and recognized the possibilities of the great trade of meat between New Zealand and England. He chartered his own ships to carry his own lamb and mutton to England. In a ‘Press’ report Mr Grigg stated that an Australian named Mort was really the inventor of the frozen meat process and that the first chairman of a company to take the business in hand was a Mr Fairbairn of Melbourne. This company had a ship fitted up with refrigerating appliances and sent a cargo of frozen meat to London, but the venture was not a financial success and the company ended operations. It was then that Thomas Brydone, Matthew Holmes and John Grigg formed a company and built freezing works to exploit the business under the name of the New Zealand Refrigerating Company, which had its works at Duneden. The first shipment of frozen meat was despatched to London about 1881 by the New Zealand and Australian Land Co., in the sailing ship Duneden. Mr Grigg was connected with the Canterbury Frozen Meat Co., which despatched its first consignment from Lyttelton to London by the steamer British King, but the cargoes had been sent to England by Mr Grigg prior to this when he had shipped 500 carcases by the Mataura before the inauguration of the Canterbury Frozen Meat Co., and he subsequently twice loaded and despatched on his own account the sailing ship Wellington.

Mr Griggs is regarded as ‘the father of the industry” when his position and actions as chairman of the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company are taken into account. When the whole business was going through a very doubtful stage, he personally guaranteed large quantities of stock and chartered his own ships to send the meat to London. For many years Mr Grigg took an active part in managing the affairs of the Canterbury Frozen Meat Compnay. It was he who advocated the starting of the company, and with his personal influence and reputation as a shrewd man of business, as well as a thoroughly capable farmer, conduced considerably to the determination to establish works at Belfast. When the company was started he was one of the provisional directors, and afterwards became chairman of the Board. This position he held until shortly before his death , when failing sight and ill-health compelled him to relinquish the work in which he was so keenly interested. The ‘Press’ interview of 1905 concluded by stating “ The original directors of the company were Messrs John Grigg (chairman), F. Banks, John Cook, William Chrystall, and J. T. Ford, who is the only member of the original Board still holding office. Mr Cook is in Australia, and the other three have gone over to the great majority”.

When the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company was established in 1882 with John Grigg as chariman, Frederick Waymouth (1849-1914) took the position of secretary, which post he held until 1910 when he became managing director. Frederick (photo opposite) had been born November 29,1849 at Mile End London, the fourth child and third son of John Waymouth and Ann (nee Blackman). When he was nine years old the family emigrated from London to New Zealand. He completed his education and trained as an accountant in Auckland. He joined his father’s public accountant businesses and was sent to Christchurch in 1874 to look after John Grigg’s Longbeath books and in that same year he set up his own accounting business. Frederick was at times, a member of St Albans Borough Council, Lyttelton Harbour Board and the Dominion Board. He was also a director of the Christchurch Electric Tramways. Frederic married Alice Collins in 1881 and had five children, all born in Christchurch. Frederick and his wife Alice lived in England towards the end of their lives and he died in Devon on December 6,1914.

The steady growth of the trade can be seen by the fact that the value of meat exports from New Zealand in 1882 was 19,330 pounds but 2,718,7653 pounds in 1902. In 1904 the manager of the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company in Ashburton was A.E. Couper.

To enable the distribution and sale of meat produced by the Canterbury Meat Co., they established a subsidiary company of the same name in England, which in turn established butcher shops across the country, such as the one shown in the photo opposite at 34 Market Street in Huddersfield, which was run at the time the photo was taken by William Woolsey. Directories of 1895 t0 1912 show they had shops in such places as Swansea, South Wales; Regent Street in Warwickshire; 136 High Street in Buckinghamshire; 9 Sherrard Street in Malton Mowbray, Leicestershire to name  just a few. It was not until 1913 that a Canterbury Meat Co shop opened in Tunbridge Wells as 22 Camden Road, details of which are given in the next section.

THE SHOP AT 22 CAMDEN ROAD 

Shown below is a photo of the shop on Camden Road taken sometime between 1913 and 1916. Later in this section are modern views of the building at 22 Camden Road, then occupied by other proprietors in different businesses.

 A review was undertaken to establish the years in which this shop was in business by Brian Dobson, of the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society, and much of what I present in this article about it is largely due to his research, for which I am most grateful.

Brian reported that “According to Kelly’s Directories the Canterbury Meat Company was at 22 Camden Road from 1913 to 1916. From 1917 to 1919 number 22 Camden Road is not shown in Kelly’s listings and seemingly the property remained unoccupied. The 1922 directory listed the premises occupied by George Scales”. George Scales was also found in directories at this address up to 1934 and was a tobacconist who by 1930 expanded his business to occupy both No. 22 and No. 24.

Going back in time to 1882 No. 22 was the bakery shop of James Ayers. The 1891 census gave Frederick Featherstone (1867-1932) operating a bakery there. His father George Featherstone was also a confectioner and baker who had a shop in the Pantiles. The 1895 Kelly gave G.F. Featherstone & sons 22 Camden Road and George Featherstone, baker, 70 & 72 Pantiles. By 1902 G. Feathersone & Sons were operating from premises at 70 & 72 Pantiles, 79 High Street, 36 Little Mount Sion, and 42 Camden Road.  By 1901 No. 22 was the premises of C.W. Manton, a wholesale tobacconist, who appear at the same address in 1903 at Charles W. Manton  & Co. tobacconists. The 1911 census gave Harriet Collins,age 46, at 22 Camden Road, a widow who was a dealer in stationary employing others.

From a review of newspapers Brian Dobson found a report that the proprietor of the Canterbury Meat Co shop at 22 Camden Road had gone bankrupt. The article appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier of March 2,1916 under the heading “Southborough Residents Affairs”. In brief this article reported on James Benjamin Russell of Prospect Road,Southborough, a debtor who had liabilities of 322 pounds and his assets nil.  He presented answers to a number of questions put to him stating that he had been without occupation of about 16 months and that up to that time he had been working for his father doing jobbing work. He stated he had been bankrupt before some 20 years ago in Manchester. When asked “ After your father’s death did you become interested in a butcher’s business? –Yes, my father got the business for me. He advanced the money and in order to do so he borrowed 150 pounds and gave it to me”. “What was the old name? –The Canterbury Meat Company”. “ How did you get on in business?-Im sorry to say that I had two managers who robbed me and the business was not a success.” What happened after that?-When the war started the price of meat went up. I did not want to shut up, and I kept it open as long as I could, thinking I could put the business in the market, but it was not sold. It was a bad time to offer it, and I could not find a purchaser. I simply sold it for the fixtures-12 pounds for the fixtures and 5 founds for the book debts. I sold it to son-in-law”. He went on to explain where his money went and when asked “ How was it you did not find out how the manager’s accounts stood? –he answered “ He was too clever for me. I can see it now. Half of Tunbridge Wells knew how I was being robbed by the man, but I did not know. I have had fifty people tell me about it afterwards.” He went on to say that when his father died he was a trustee of his father’s will and was left the household furniture fir as long as he lived and the use of the cottage and was to receive a certain amount of income at the discretion of the trustees, which amount he stated was about 1 pound a week. He went on to state that he had six children; that his father’s estate was valued at about 4,000 pounds but there were mortgages and that his income as a jobbing carpenter against his expenses left him all but pennyless.

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society book’ The Shock of War’ (2014), which I contributed to, is an excellent source of information about what Tunbridge Wells was like during WW 1. Part of that book describes the shortage/rationing of meat, shortages and rising costs of food stuffs in general and other items, and the impact it had on people’s lives and the businesses of the town. It was an extremely difficult time for all ,and one can certainly sympathize with the difficult position Mr Russell found himself in having to cope with rising prices, a reduction in sales and income and the claimed theft and mismanagement of his business. Certainly, who during WW 1 would want to buy his business!

A second article found by Brian Dobson appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier February 14,1914 entitled “A Butcher’s Agreement” regarding the butchers shop business of W. and R. Fletcher Ltd who sought an interim injunction to restrain George Edward Archer from carrying on or taking part in a similar butchers business within two miles of Calverley Road, contrary to an agreement. Part of this article stated that Mr Archer had been manager of the applicants business at 41 Calverley Road and had signed an agreement not to take part in a similar business within 12 months of leaving their employ. He was to receive a salary of 2 pounds a week. “Recently Mr Archer left the employ of Messrs Fletcher, and was afterwards employed by the Canterbury Meat Company at their Camden Road premises, which were within the prescribed area. The long and the short of the dispute was that the judge ruled the agreement had been broken by the Plaintiff by not paying Mr Archer the 2 pounds a week and therefore Mr Archer was required to seek employment with the Canterbury Meat Company.

A third article provided by Brian Dobson appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier of January 22,1915 which reported on the death of private Thomas James Denton of the 3rd RWK Regiment who had resided at 42 Granville Road in Tunbridge Wells. A photo of him from the newspaper is shown below.

The Denton clan from which Thomas was decended had been residents of Tunbridge Wells dating back to the mid 18th century. Those of the earlier generations tended to be farmers, dairymen, labourers and bricklayers. Thomas James Denton was born 1895 at Killkenny, Ireland, being one of eleven known children born to Thomas Denton (1868-1927) and Susannah Denton, nee Birch (1874-1954).Thomas Denton (b1868) served at home in WW 1 and in 1915 served in France, having enlisted at Maidstone in  1914. He had previously been with the Royal Irish Fusiliers and at the time of enlistment on August 24,1914 he was a manager of the company. He achieved the rank of acting Major and was discharged June 9,1916 as no longer physically fit for war service.

At the time of the 1901 census, Thomas James Denton; three of his siblings, and his mother were living at Lower Green in Pembury but by the time of the 1911 census his parents and six siblings were living at Cavan, Ireland. Thomas James Denton, at the time of the 1911 census, was living at 24 Shipbourne Road in Tunbridge Wells with Frank Mockford, a butcher employer, and the rest of the Mockford family. Thomas James Denton at that time was working for Mr Mockford as a butchers assistant. When war broke out he enlisted for military service in the army.

The aforementioned article in the Courier continued the story of the life of Thomas James Denton by stating that the mother of private Thomas James Denton had received a postcard from her son stating that he had “stopped one in the leg” (shot) and that his son was lying in a Stationary Hospital at Havre seriously wounded. Soon after she was informed that her son had died at Havre on January 7,1915 from his wounds. The article in part continued by stating “ Pte Denton, who would only have been 20 years of age next March, worked for some years in Tunbridge Wells, as a butcher’s assistant, first with Mr Pearson, of Camden Road, and later with the Canterbury Meat Company. The article ended by noting that Mr Denton senior had a second son in the war, John, who joined the RWK Territorials and another son Frank. Both  Thomas and Frank were killed in the war and their names appear on the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial and on the St James Lynch Gate (photos above) Several years ago I prepared a transcription of all the names on the war memorial. Those given for the two brothers are presented below.

T.J. DENTON ........[Thomas James].....Thomas was a Private(S/8699) serving with the Queens Royal West Kent Regiment,1st Bn. who at the age of 19 was killed in France on January 7,1915.He is recorded at the Ste. Marie Cemetery Le Have (Div.14.17).He was the son of Thomas and Susannah Denton of 42 Granville Rd.,Tunbridge Wells and was one of two sons lost to this couple.Thomas was born at Kilkenny,Ireland but was a resident of Tunbridge Wells and enlisted for service there. He is also listed on the plaque at St James Church as Thomas J. Denton.

F.C DENTON..........[Frank Charles]........Frank was a Private(#54969) serving with the Welsh Regiment,15th Bn who at the age of 21 was killed in Belgium on August 22,1917. He is recorded at the Tynecot Memorial (Panel 93 to 94).He was the son of Thomas and Susannah Denton of 42 Granville Rd.,Tunbridge Wells.He is also listed on the plaque at St James Church as Frank C. Denton. He had first served as G17394 with the Royal Sussex Regiment. He had been born 1895 in Pembury, Kent and at the time of the 1901 census was living with his mother and some of his siblings in Pembury. At the time of the 1911 census he  was living with his parents and five siblings at 31 Church Street in Cavan, Ireland.


THE CALVERLEY GROUNDS BOWLS CLUB

 

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

Date: October 28,2016               


Founded in 1925 the club held its first annual dinner in 1926. Attended by about 100 people the event was presided over by Councillor Hempson, the Mayor various other councillors and the Chief Constable. After a toast to the King the first years awards were presented and so had started an association with Calverley Grounds that lasted 78 years. During the speeches that evening it was remarked that the club had attracted 66 members, which was thought to constitute a record. One member recounted wonderful summer evenings with the sun setting and the strains of the band coming to them on the green. Shown opposite is an enamel badge of the club. On the back of it is marked the maker “ Simpson”.

From the Register of Donations is a bench in Calverley Gardens donated by Mr & Mrs Chubb in memory of Harry Rafton, President of the Calverley Grounds Bowls Club August 22,2001.

Shown opposite is a modern photo of the Calverley Bowls Club original home in Tunbridge Wells Calverley Grounds.

In 2005 the Tunbridge Wells Council decided to close the Bowls Green in Calverley Grounds due to the costs of repair work required including the need to relay the green. The club had been founded for 79 years, but fortunately it wasn’t to end there when the Grove Bowls Club (founded in 1909) offered to take us, as a club, to share their facilities.

Councils decision in 2005 stated that (1)  That the bowling green in Calverley Grounds be closed from the end of the 2006 bowling season. And (2)   That the Head of Leisure Services be authorized to enter into an agreement with the Royal Tunbridge Wells Croquet Club for them to utilize the bowling green whilst works are being carried out to the croquet lawns.

Shown opposite is a photo taken of club members on their last day at the Calverley Grounds. The first game at the Grove club took place the very next day.

The website of the Calverley Adventure Grounds stated “The Friends of Calverley Grounds are planning a unique and natural play space within the historic park in the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells.

The design for the Calverley Adventure Grounds, which will be sited on the former bowling green, is by Jennette Emery-Wallis who designed the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens and the Tumbling Bay Playground in the Olympic Park.

Fund raising for the new play area in Calverley Grounds has received a fantastic boost with the news that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, in partnership with The Friends of Calverley Grounds, is to receive a grant of £25,000 from SUEZ Communities Trust (formerly SITA Trust). 













Shown above are two early 20th postcard views of the Calverley Grounds taken before and during the time the bowls club was there. You can see in the background the same pavilion that is shown in the modern photograph above. As local residents will be aware the only buildings remaining in these views are the bowls pavilion at the back and the little  tea house on the left.

THE LINDEN PARK CRICKET CLUB

 

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

Date: October 27,2016

 

CLUB HISTORY- AN OVERVIEW

The Linden Park Cricket Club (LPCC) is a cricket club based at the Higher Cricket Ground on Fir Tree Road in Royal Tunbridge Wells and today has over 300 members. Shown opposite is a photo of the club playing cricket with a view of their new pavilion behind, which was built in 2006 after the original pavilion was destroyed by fire.

The Club has a senior section which runs five Saturday league teams, with the top two sides playing in the Kent League, the 3rd and 4th sides playing in the East Sussex League and the 5th side in Kent village league. It also runs two Sunday sides, one of which plays in a development league for part of the season, and a midweek side.

The Club also has a junior section which fields five sides each week across the age ranges Under 9s to Under 15s.

For over 100 years the Higher Ground cricket pitch, overlooked by the Wellington Rocks, has been a jewel in the centre of the Common. Situated in the centre of Tunbridge Wells, the Common provides a tranquil open space amidst the hustle and bustle of this beautiful and historic spa town. An old postcard view of the cricket grounds from Wellington Rocks is shown opposite.

The beauty of its location and its friendly welcome mean that LPCC is one of the highlights on the fixture list for all of its visiting teams. On a typical summer weekend, an estimated 3,000 people realise that there is no better place than one of the many benches around the ground to slow down, “take five” and relax in the sun to the sound of leather on willow.

Cricket has been played on Tunbridge Wells Common for over 200 years with the first recorded game taking place in 1782 between Tunbridge Wells and Groombridge. In 1876 Lewis Luck formed a cricket club known as Tunbridge Wells Juniors, initially playing near the present Nevill Ground. Following the opening of the Linden Park estate the club moved to the Lower Ground and changed their name to Linden Park Cricket Club. In 1898 the club moved to the present location on the Higher Ground, where it remains today. Shown opposite is a view of the Commons from Mount Ephraim. On the far right of this image can be seen the white cricket pavilion on the upper ground.

In 1882 a United England XI (W G Grace captain) played Australia at the Higher Ground. The visitors were bowled out for 49. In 1927 LPCC played against a Frank Woolley XI with 6,000 spectators. On June 19,1941, 1,500 people watched LPCC beat a British Empire XI but the following year the “Empire fought back”, beating LPCC. On May 6,1949 a match against Kent saw Les Ames make 91 out of 226 but unfortunately the team was bowled out for 71 in reply.Further matches against Kent and visiting academy and national sides (including West Indies) took place in the following years.

The club's most important role is to encourage, assist and develop junior cricket in Tunbridge Wells. Its links to local schools are important and it is committed to this going forward. The club welcomes players of all standards and ages from 7 upwards. A team of qualified coaches under Brian Gasking manages teams at Under 9, 11, 13 and 15 who each have a full programme of both competitive matches and friendlies where the emphasis will be on ensuring “everyone takes an active part”. Every Friday evening from April to September the cricket pitch is full of children playing as up to 130 boys and girls turn up to enjoy coaching where the emphasis is on learning – with fun. Their parents seem to enjoy it too as in most weeks many stay throughout the evening chatting and enjoying a well-earned drink in the beautiful surroundings of the Common.

Shown above is a modern view of the old pavilion taken in 2004 showing it as a white painted frame building.

A central feature of the local community with over 300 players of all ages, Linden Park Cricket Club and its welcoming 130-year old clubhouse provided a quintessential sense of British history complementing the beautiful Georgian and Victorian architecture of the town. However In 2006 the Club's Pavilion was destroyed in an arson attack. Fixtures for the season were in place, pre-season practice was completed, the days were getting longer, the sides for the first matches were selected and the pitches were cut. Everything was in place – but at around 3am on 14 April, “Good Friday”, and the day before the first game of the season, an alarm was raised – vandals had broken into the pavilion and set fire to it. Unfortunately, though a beautiful old structure designed to fit into the surroundings, the structure was 130 years old and made out of wood. Despite the best efforts of the fire services, the building was completely wrecked. Changing, showering, cooking and bar facilities, not to mention somewhere to hide from the rain, the very heart of the Club had been taken away in just a couple of hours. The match the next day (15 April) had to be cancelled.

However, that was the only one to be cancelled all season. Members and friends all helped and opposing teams demonstrated huge understanding and support for the Club's plight. Emergency equipment was found. Mowers and groundkeeping tools and storage containers to put them were organised. Portable units for changing and the all-important bar were found. The Club did not live in the lap of luxury but it did survive.

After a mammoth fundraising effort covering nearly two years, the rebuilding of the clubhouse commenced in 2007 in time for the 2008 summer, a real 'Phoenix from the Ashes' moment for the local community.

Since the rebuild of the Pavilion and its opening  13 July 13,2008, the Club's membership has increased, particularly at junior level where the Club has a huge base. Onfield results have also improved with three promotions in a row for both the Saturday Kent League sides, meaning that for the 2013 summer both will play in the second tier of the Kent League - the highest level the Club has reached for several decades.

In 2012 there was  a promotion for the Saturday 4th team, and for the Sunday Development League team.

The active teams are Saturday 1st XI, captain Stuart Clarke;Saturday 2nd XI, captain Tom Davis;Saturday 3rd XI, captain Andy McBride; Saturday 4th XI, captain Tim Champion; Sunday 1st XI, captain Oliver Morkel;Sunday 2nd XI, captain Brian Gasking;Midweek XI, captain John Harvey;Twenty20, captain John Harvey.

Since 2009 Planning Approval was given for the operation of a day care at the clubs pavilion which today is run by The New World Montessori for children ages 2 to 5. The nursery operated Monday to Friday between 9am and 4 pm.

Over the years a large number of postcard views of the commons have been produced including several showing the upper and lower cricket grounds. Shown below is a sample of a few views of the upper grounds.
























THE FIRE OF 2006 

The BBC news of April 15,2006 gave the following report. “Fire crews were called to the Linden Park ground in Fir Tree Road, Tunbridge Wells, in the early hours of Friday. Most of the two-storey 130-year-old newly-refurbished building was gutted in the fire, which started in the adjoining groundsman's shed. Gary Stevenson, treasurer, said the club was now facing a huge challenge to "keep cricket alive on our ground".  Kent Fire and Rescue sent 25 firefighters to the scene after flames triggered alarms at about 0330 BST. It took four hours for the fire to be extinguished, by which time most of the pavilion had already been destroyed. Members of the club, which plays in the Kent League Division III, had been due to start their cricket season on Saturday with a home match. All the equipment stored in the outbuilding, including thousands of pounds worth of machinery used to prepare pitches, was destroyed. Thousands of pounds worth of cricket equipment and electrical goods were also ruined. The fire gutted the interior of the pavilion, including the bar and kitchen. No one was inside at the time. Many players and supporters had spent the last few months cleaning and painting the pavilion both inside and out and thousands of pounds had been spent on refurbishment. Mr Stevenson said the club would be launching a major fundraising initiative to help rebuild the club house. An investigation into the fire has been launched by the fire service in conjunction with Kent Police.” A photograph of the burnt pavilion is shown above.

Kent Online,dated April 21,2006 gave the following report. “ARSONISTS who set fire to a cricket pavilion on the eve of the new season caused at least £150,000 worth of damage and have put the ground out of action.Fire broke out in the pavilion at Linden Park Cricket Club, Fir Tree Road, Tunbridge Wells, just before 4am on Good Friday. About 20 firefighters from Kent Fire and Rescue Service battled to put out the blaze, but damage was caused to about 50 per cent of the building, and much of the groundskeeping machinery inside was destroyed.The loss of the pavilion and the machinery meant the club cancelled its first match of the season, which was due to be played on Saturday (April 15) against Bexhill.John Harvey, captain of the first team and groundsman, said he had been woken in the middle of the night to be told of the fire."Pretty much everything of any value has gone up: £40,000 to £50,000 worth of machinery - mowers, rollers, specialist grounds maintenance equipment," said Mr Harvey."A good half of the pavilion is gutted and inside it’s all filthy and wet, and there’s water pouring through the roof."The structure is 50 per cent gone. It’s the day before the start of the season. If we play cricket in this ground in the next few months I will be surprised. It’s off for the forseeable future."Mr Harvey said the club had been targeted by firebugs before. Kent Police confirmed they were investigating the cause of the blaze. Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to contact police”. Shown above is a photo by Matt Walker of club Captain John Harvey and president Warwick Buckley amid the devestation.

THE NEW PAVILION 

The BBC News of December 1,2006 gave the following report about the proposed rebuilding of the clubs pavilion. A photo of the completed pavilion is shown opposite.

“The newly-refurbished building at the Linden Park ground in Tunbridge Wells was gutted in the fire on Good Friday. However, despite raising funds and receiving the insurance money, it has been left with an £80,000 shortfall. In a fundraising drive, the club is asking cricket fans to buy a brick with their name on it for the new building.  The bricks will form part of an internal wall in the bar area of the new pavilion.  Since the fire in April, the club has held charity cricket matches and auctions and, along with donations, has raised £26,000. Its aim is to have the new clubhouse ready for the start of the 2007 season. But chairman Dave Thomas said the club was still a long way from having the necessary funds to replace the pavilion with a new fire-resistant building. He said a fundraising committee was working tirelessly behind the scenes. "With the help of the community, local businesses and our members we know we can get to where we need to be," he said. 'Something special' Cricket has been played at the site since 1782, and the club plays in the Kent League Division III. Mr Thomas said the new pavilion would be similar to the original building in keeping with the surroundings, and would also benefit the wider community. "Our next pavilion is not just something for our club but for local people too. “said Dave Thomas,chairman. "That is why we need to raise a lot more money in order to build something special, not something ordinary or even worse disliked by the community." Despite the fire being treated as suspicious by police, no-one has been arrested. Plans for the replacement building are due to be lodged with the local council in the next few weeks.”

In November 2006 Planning Authority approval was given for the demolition of the old pavilion that had been destroyed by fire and for the construction of a new pavilion.The architectural firm of R.D.P. Chartered Achitects was hired to produce a set of construction drawings for the new structure. A set of drawings, that formed part of the Planning application is shown below.


























VANDALISM IN 2011

The following report of vandalism at the club was reported in the newspaper May 11,2011.

When the groundsman of a cricket club beset by vandals called 999 after grabbing a rowdy youth he was expecting the police to rush to help. Instead he was warned that he was risking arrest himself and was told: “You’re sounding rather aggressive.”

John Harvey was patrolling the grounds of Linden Park Cricket Club after a spate of vandalism which members had urged police to help combat. When he spotted a dozen youths damaging the Tunbridge Wells club’s pitch and making off with equipment, he chased them on foot. Charging across the field after them, he managed to grab hold of one of the vandals and was able to dial 999 on his mobile phone and ask for help. But instead of reassuring him that officers were on their way, the call handler insisted he answer a string of standard, computer-generated questions – and warned him he could be charged with assault. As he spoke the other youths returned, armed with sticks, and started to jostle and threaten him. He eventually hung up on the 999 operator and let the teenager go. Officers did eventually arrive at the scene, by which time the youths had made off.

Mr Harvey, 47, who is also first team captain at the club, said he was stunned by the 999 operator telling him he sounded “aggressive”. He went on: “I was telling this kid that he was not going anywhere until the police arrived and she could hear this and was castigating me for my manner. I expected to be thoroughly supported by the police as a civilian, and not rebuked. “I was expecting a response car immediately. I had restrained someone in the act of vandalism and the operator said 'I must warn you, you are leaving yourself open to an assault charge.’” “The way things were going, it was going to be me that was going to be prosecuted. I didn’t touch him, but I had him by a firm grip. “The other youths could obviously hear what was going on and came back. They could hear me being told off so instantly I lost the moral high ground. They were jostling me and threatening what was going to happen if I did not let go. “And the operator was reading screen prompts and insisting I gave my name and address, which I didn’t want to do with all these kids listening. “In the end I gave up with the lady on the phone and pushed the button on her. I kept hold of the lad for another five minutes but in the end the others realised that all I had was bravado and for my own safety I let go.”

Vandals have repeatedly targeted the club, which is based on Tunbridge Wells Common, and in 2005 its pavilion was burned down by arsonists, causing more than £100,000 in damage. It has since been rebuilt, following fund-raising efforts by the club.

In recent weeks, there has been a cluster of attacks, in which security lights have been damaged, gutters torn down and equipment stolen.

“I know this is supposed to be squeaky clean Tunbridge Wells but it is heartbreaking when you think of all the work that the public and members have put into the place,” Mr Harvey added. Members, frustrated at the lack of late night police patrols in the area, had agreed to periodically drop in on the club in the evenings and it was during one of these patrols that Mr Harvey spotted the group of youths. “They were on the wicket, at least 12 of them,” he said. “I just watched for a bit in case it was all innocent. But then I saw they were pouring some sort of liquid onto the wicket and were pulling up the poles and rope that surrounds the wicket and dragging it into the woods.” Similar equipment, costing £300, had been stolen the week before.

Mr Harvey, from the village of Rusthall, just outside Tunbridge Wells, said police had not contacted him since about how they were going to follow up their inquiries and try to catch the vandals. He lodged an official complaint with Kent police about the incident on the evening of Wednesday April 20. He has now received an apology from senior officers and although they insisted the 999 worker acting correctly in terms of the advice she gave, she has been “spoken to” and told to “show more empathy”.

Chief Inspector Simon Black said: “The call taker who spoke with Mr Harvey acted correctly in the advice she gave but has been advised she could have shown a little more empathy to Mr Harvey’s situation.” He said officers were at the scene within 12 minutes to help deal with the incident.

VANDALISM CONTINUES

The Kent & Sussex Courier of April 17,2015 gave the following report. “

VANDALS have smashed up a cricket club in Tunbridge Wells, with members fearful at the prospect of shelling out thousands of pounds in repair costs.Linden Park Cricket Club suffered a spate of attacks last Thursday, with structural damage to the pavilion, gutters being ripped off and roof tiles being dislodged.It followed incidents a week earlier where beer cans and broken glass were strewn across the pitch. On Tuesday a mother was threatened by yobs when she challenged them about their behaviour.Captain John Harvey said he feared a repeat of the arson attack nine years ago where the old pavilion was torched and destroyed. He said: "For the second Thursday running we were attacked by vandals at the cricket club. They pulled slates off the roof and pulled the gutters down and smashed up the balcony and fence."It is a secluded area and they know it is isolated. They can drink and take drugs and there is no chance of the police catching them."We know it is the same people because they are drinking an obscure brand of beer."We used to have regular patrols around but they haven't got any chance of getting caught. Nine years ago almost to the day we got burnt down, causing £300,000 worth of damage. I am worried this may happen again."Before that we had spates of vandalism."They stole some tools and smashed up pot plants."Although police were informed, Mr Harvey said his complaints were "not being taken seriously" and he laid the blame on cuts to the police force."I phoned on Thursday and no one has called back," he said. Mr Harvey believes the lack of a visible police presence, added to the location of the club, could lead to the problem escalating as the nights get longer and warmer.Kent police said: "Priority is given to all crimes where life is in danger and victims are at risk. "For some less serious crimes, attendance by a police officer will not be required if all the relevant details can be obtained over the telephone and there is no likelihood of obtaining further evidence through investigation."In this case, it was established that there were no outstanding lines of enquiry and the damage had already been cleared up.”


THE SOUTHBOROUGH/HIGH BROOMS TRAIN STATION

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

Date: October 20,2016

OVERVIEW

Although train service to Tunbridge Wells was established in 1845 by the SER there was no plan at that time to construct a train station on the line in the community of High Brooms and when the station was finally built in 1893 it was given the name ‘Southborough Station”,being the nearest station to the town of Southborough. The station opened with little ceremony  on March 1,1893 and Tunbridge Wells but photographers Lankester & Warren were on hand to make a photographic record of the important event. The Courier of March 3,1893 reported on the opening of the station and remarked in part  “ It is undoubtedly one of the prettiest stations of the SER Company Line”.

The station had been designed by the Tunbridge Wells architect William Barnsley Hughes, who had designed many buildings in the area before emigrating to Canada. John Jarvis, the well-known Tunbridge Wells builder got the contract to construct the station at a price in excess of  4,000 pounds. It was constructed of red brick manufactured by the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company which had been founded by John Smith Weare of Tunbridge Wells in 1885.

Maxwell Macfarlane, of the Southborough Historical Society stated in response to my inquiry that there were objections by Southborough councillors to the name of Southborough being used, “as they knew full well that it would be confusing to travellers unaccustomed to the local geography.  The walk from the station to the “real” Southborough is up a long drag”. It was not however renamed the “High Brooms Station” until  September 21,1925 to avoid confusion with Southborough station on the Chatham Main Line.

The station itself consisted of two parts namely the main station building on the north (up) platform, accessed from North Farm Road, with its large semi-circular window and tiled gable roof. It contained the booking office with pitch pine panelling along with a waiting room with cushioned benches, a clerk’s office and lavatories. On the south (down) platform side opposite the main station building was constructed an equally impressive, yet smaller, waiting room, which was connected to the main station building by a subway (photo opposite)beneath the tracks.

Over the years there have been a number of station masters. The Courier of March 3,1893 announced “Mr Taylor will evidently make a thoroughly good station master”. The gentleman referred to was George William Taylor who in 1881 was working as a railway booking clerk. Mr Taylor was still the station-master in 1903. By 1911 William Thomas Snelling (aka Usherwood) became the station master but had left the position by 1918 and was replaced by Harry Manuel Dumbrill who was still the station master in 1922.

During WW 1 the station was the site of considerable activity as local soldiers boarded the train and were waved off by friends and relatives, with the expectation that they would soon be returning, but the war dragged on for years and many of them never returned, their loss recorded on the local war memorials. Train loads of soldiers on their way for a temporary stay in Tunbridge Wells, before heading off to the front, were a common sight at the High Brooms station.

Today the High Brooms station continues to provide good service for residents of the community, many of whom make the daily trip to work by train to London. The buildings themselves have been well preserved and upgraded to meet modern requirements, but from the exterior at least look much as they did when constructed.

Model train collectors will be pleased to know that they can purchase kits of both buildings of this station produced by Hornby/Skaledale, which are excellent to scale models.

Unfortunately there is only a small selection of images from the first half of the 20th century. At the top of this section is the earliest photo of the station found by the researcher, which is stated to be dated April 25,1893. The last photo in this section is a view dated October 19,1985.

THE GRAND OPENING

 The Courier of Friday March 3,1893 published the following article with related sketches of the station regarding its official opening on March 1st.

‘The New Southborough Station’………On Wednesday,without ceremony save the accompaniment of a few fog signals to the earlier trains,the long looked for Southborough Railway Station was opened. It is undoubtedly one of the prettiest stations of the SER Company’s line, and such was the4 opinion of a good many who out of curiosity made the two penny return journey during the day. The building is of that tasteful style of architecture in red brick and stone dressing, which is associated with the name of Mr W.B. Hughes, and the contract, which exceeded 4,000 pounds, has been successfully carried out by Mr J. Jarvis. The arrangements are most complete. The main entrance is surmounted by a semi-circular window in a tiled gable roof, and the booking office inside is fitted with pitch-pine panelling; while the waiting rooms and lavatories leave nothing to be desired. The ladies waiting room is most comfortable, and with its cushioned benches and tiled fire place with dog irons looks remarkably cosy. Both platforms are covered and connected by a subway. The clerks offices are also very complete. Mr Taylor will evidently make a thoroughly good station-master, and there is the following service of trains to start with-Tunbridge Wells to Southborough (various times given) and Southborough to Tunbridge Wells (various times given). On Sundays there will be two trains each way. All round the station there are indications of new roads being opened up, and the Liptraps Estate with some half dozen roads will at once be thrown into the market, so that the new station will before long be the centre of a large population. We may add that Messrs Lankester and Warren exhibited during the day an instantaneous photograph of the first train entering the station. Our artist gives general sketches of the new building, including the interior, the main entrance, the subway, and the booking office”.

It is to be expected that Lankester & Warren took a number of photographs of the opening of the station. The one described of the first train arriving has yet to be found but shown in the ‘Overview’ is a photograph dated April 25,1893. Shown opposite is another version of the same photograph with the text “(13) Southborough Station, SER (now High Brooms) 25/4/93  that is the only early photograph of the station located to date. Although this image appeared on the internet without the text I wish to thank Maxwell Macfarlane and Fred Scales for supplying this photo with the text. Who the photographer was who took the image is not known but it is speculated that it was a Lankester & Warren photo. A view of the back of this image would be necessary to confirm who the photographer was.

From the Courier article four important names were given, namely William Barnsley Hughes, the architect who designed the station; John Jarvis the contractor who constructed it; the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company who supplied the bricks from which the station was built, and photographers Lankester & Warren who were on land on the opening day to take photographs of the event. In previous articles I have written about all of them, and in this article I have provided in later sections an information about each of them with a reference to the original article which provides greater detail for those who wish to read more about them. The Courier article also refers to the residential development of the Liptraps Estate, details of which can be found in my article’ The History of Liptraps Farm’ dated March 3,2014 or in the Civic Society Book ‘The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells’.

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION

Before 1870, High Brooms was a quiet, wooded area which had partly belonged to the medieval South Frith manor. Other parts of South Brooms had come into the ownership of the Colebrook Manor. The woods were used for hunting. Thus most of High Brooms once belonged to the Colebrooke family.

Southborough began to expand rapidly from 1879 when the Holden Estate was sold and laid out to accommodate 165 new dwellings.

The community continued to grow and an important brick and tile manufacturing business (The High Brooms Brick & Tile Company) was established there in 1885, which company supplied most if not all the bricks used to construct the buildings in High Brooms. It was this expansion that triggered the need for a local railway station, and so one was built in 1893.

The High Brooms railway station is on the Hastings Line and serves High Brooms, a suburb on the northern side of Tunbridge Wells in Kent. The station and all trains serving it are operated by Southeastern. It is also the nearest station to the town of Southborough. A map from 1909 showing the location of the station is given above and also a closeup view of the track layout.

The main station buildings are on the northbound platform. There is a closed waiting room on the southbound platform. At both locations passengers are protected from the elements by a canopy that extends form the building over the platform. Access to the southbound platform is underground via stairs from a side entrance, and access to the northbound platform is at street level. A subway links the two platforms. Shown below are views of trains leaving the station circa 1950. Shown in the background are the gas works premises with the gas chambers, all of which were removed a few years ago to make way for redevelopment of the site.











I

In the previous section was given a description of the interior and exterior of the station as noted at its opening on March 1,1893 by the Courier reporter. The main material used in its construction was red brick supplied by the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company.

STATION MODELS

Railway model enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Hornby/Skaledale have produced models of both buildings that make up the High Brooms Station and are accurate representations in OO gauge of what the buildings look like. These can be purchased for about 50 pounds on the internet but likely for less at local hobby shops. The models were made based on either the construction drawings of the buildings or more likely from onsite photographs and measurements to scale.

Shown in this section are some photographs of these models, which in themselves provide a good view of what the buildings look like, and in some respects are better than most of the photographs as they show some details not easily seen from modern photographs.

THE HIGH BROOMS BRICK & TILE COMPANY

Between 1885 and 1968, the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company excavated clay in the area.The company started to build houses for its employees and the area expanded. Shown opposite is a postcard view of their manufactory.

It also had a siding for the railway line in order that it could transport the bricks and tiles that it produced. The High Brooms Brick and Tile Company was founded in 1885 by John Smith Weare. He died in 1890,aged sixty-two. His son, Frank Weare took over running the firm, and he lived at “The Dell” in Ferndale, and walked to work daily. With the brickworks doing well, Frank persuaded his son, Frank Gerald Craven Weare to take up a directorship in the company, and he took over in 1941 following his father’s death. A slump in the building trade in the 1960s lead to the closure of the brickworks, but there is both a road and recreation ground in High Brooms named after the Weare Family. This company not only supplied all the brick for the houses, but also made bricks transported by train to London from around the turn of the century when the train station was built. He built some houses for his workers, but not all the High Brooms houses were devoted to brick workers. There were a range of professions in High Brooms. He built about 20 houses by 1881, then 200 every decade until 1901, by which time, there were over 2000 people living in High Brooms.

Details about brick making in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area, which includes further information and photographs of the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company can be found in my article ‘ Brick Making in Tunbridge Wells’ originally written July 18,2012 but updated October 12,2012.

John Smith Weare holds an import spot in the history of Tunbridge Wells and High Brooms. Not only was he the founder of the High Brooms Brick and Tile Company but lived in and was actively involved in the development of the Ferndale residential area. Details about John Smith Weare and the Weare family can be found in my articles ‘ The History of Ferndale House’ (No. 3 Ferndale) dated March 22,2014 and ‘The History of Springhead-Sandhurst Road’ dated March 25,2014.

THE ARCHITECT WILLIAM BARNSLEY HUGHES

From my article ‘Weeks & Hughes-Architects’ originally written August 21,2012 but updated November 1,2013.  Only a portion of this article is given below. Shown opposite is a 1908 photograph of William Barnsley Hughes.

Weeks & Hughes  was a partnership formed between Tunbridge Wells architects William Barnsley Hughes and James Weeks who on their own or together designed many houses and several well-known buildings in the town during the last half of the 19th century and most of the buildings they worked on still exist today. Weeks & Hughes are found as a partnership in local directories for 1874 and 1882 but not 1867 or after 1884 so their partnership is estimated be me to have lasted about 10 years.The London Gazette of October 1884 states “ The partnership between us the undersigned, James Weeks and William Barnsley Hughes, as Architects,Surveyors,Builders,Hotel Keepers, and Tailors, at Tunbridge Wells,Kent, was this day dissolved by mutual consent..dated October 3,1884”.

William was born April 19,1852 at Birmingham,Warwickshire and was the son of Thomas Hughes,a bricklayer who rose to the position of works manager, and Harriet Sulerum.The photograph shown above was provided to me by Dean Sullivan, a decendent of the Hughes family, and was taken 1908 at a portrait studio in Tunbridge Wells. David states “ the photo of WBH was sent to Percy [his son] on his farm in Kitscoty in 1908 and there is writing on the back of the frame that details the Tunbridge Wells photographer who took the photo.It was hung with pride on my grandmothers walls until the day that she passed away in 1999. William Barnsley Hughes was my great great grandfather on my mother’s side. I was very close with my grandmother, Phyllis Purcell, and she spoke of her grandfather WBH very affectionately.Phyllis was Gertrude’s daughter, and Gertrude was WBH’s daughter ( Ida Gertrude).”

The label on the back of the photo above shows that was is that of the Henry Jenkins Studio, photographer and miniature painter at 20 Grosvenor Road,Tunbridge Wells.The picture was sent Percy Hughes “care of Post Office Kitscoty near Lloydminster,Albert Canada”.

Little is known about William’s early years until 1873 when, at the age of 21, he is found in the partnership of Weeks and Hughes, Architects and Surveyors, with offices at 7 Grove Hill Road,Tunbridge Wells.

On May 7,1875 William married Ellen Weeks in Tunbridge Wells. Ellen Weeks was born August 1852 in Tunbridge Wells and was baptised at Christchurch August 23,1852.Ellen was the third daughter of George Weeks, and therefore the sister of James Weeks who became a partner of William Barnsley Hughes. William and his wife went on to have ten children, all born in Tunbridge Wells.

William had moved to Tunbridge Wells in the 1870's and began work there as an architect and surveyor. He is listed with this profession in the 1881 census taken at 33,35,39 and 41 Cumberland House.Living with him there was his wife Ellen and three of their children.

He and his family were still living in Tunbridge Wells as shown in the 1891 census. The 1901 census taken at Prospect House Vale Road, Tunbridge Wells records William B Hughes ,age 48 an "architect on own account". Living with him is his wife Ellen and seven of his children. The 1899 Kelly directory gives "William Barnsley Hughes, architect etc, 1 Vale Avenue,London Road.

William B Hughes was the architect on a number of buildings in and around Tunbridge Wells, including the Southborough SER station which in 1925 was renamed the High Brooms Station. This station was constructed by the well-known local builder John Jarvis at a costin excess  of 4,000 pounds and built of red brick supplied by the High Brooms Brick and Tile Company. Details about this building with sketches was given in the Courier of March 3,1893 in reference to the official opening of the station on March 1,1893.

A search of immigration records gives "William Barnsley Hughes born 1854 departed Ritterdam,Netherlands,arrived Febrruary 4,1910 at Halifax,Nova Scotia,Canada". He was listed in the passenger log as an "English engineer". A second record gives " William B Hughes born 1852 England departed Southampton,England arrived July 11,1927 Quebec,Canada on the ship Antonia,age 75". This record goes on to say that he "lived in Edmonton,Alberta,Canada from 1910 to 1920". On this voyage he was sailing on his own.

The 1911 census for Edmonton,Alberta,Canada records W.B. Hughes,age 59 (born 1852).Living with him is his wife Ellen,age 59, and their children Percy,age 26, as well as Daily,age 22,Gerta,age 17 and Mannel age 16.These last three children do not coincide with any known children of William and Ellen from British records.There was no record of William Barnsley Hughes in the 1916 census for Edmonton,Alberta,Canada.

Dean Sullivan, who I have referred to above, gave the following information. “ WBH did indeed move to Canada and as it turns out came to Canada for the birth of his granddaughter (my grandmother) Phyllis in 1910.He came to a very small farming community of Kitsoty (it is still a very small community) then moved to Edmonton [ Alberta] with my grandmother Ellen [Ellen Hughes1852-1932)] when he became a well-respected magistrate. I have no doubt that he was well connected to the community as I recall reading that his funeral at the McDougal Church in downtown Edmonton was one of the largest funerals on record. An article by Vera Coomber [published in the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society newsletters in two installments in 1994] reminded me that WBH returned home once to Europe before he passed away in Edmonton in 1928.My grandmother said he wanted to go to Europe to visit the graves of his two departed sons, Percy and Max, in Belgium and France.These two boys passed away in WW I and my grandmother felt that William never got over this.I am not aware of the details of a return visit to Tunbridge Wells during this same trip-my grandmother did not mention that detail”. Dean goes on to mention that there was an Edmonton Journal article that was published in 1956, written as a memorial to William Barnsley Hughes and there was also a book within which a chapter was devoted to him.I have included in this article the information given in both of these references.

Williams sons Maxwell and Percy enlisted for service in WW I and both were killed in action. Details about them and related photographs can be found in the original article.

The Tunbridge Wells Civic Society newsletter of 1994 gives the following information about Hughes.”Financial pressures led Hughes to emigrate to Canada with his wife and several of his children in 1910.He became a much respected resident of Edmonton,Alberta, serving as magistrate from 1913 until his death. In 1926 he had suffered a stroke but at the age of 75, returned to Tunbridge Wells for a visit in 1927.He died the following year”.

Initially when or where William Barnsley Hughes died was uncertain for accounts had him emigrating to Edmondon,Alberta Canada with at least two trips recorded of him returning to England, however clairification of this came by way of two decendents of his.One decendent of the Hughes family told me that William,his wife and some of their children emigrated to Canada and that William had become the Mayor of Edmonton,Alberta on two occasions. While the report of Hughes family moving to Canada is true my review of a list of Mayors for Edmonton did not show that William was ever the Mayor.A family tree of the Hughes clan reported that a William B Hughes born about 1850 died April 1912 at Birmingham,Warwickshire, but this account is completely incorrect.The true facts come by way of Dean Sullivan who forwarded to me the cemetery photograph shown opposite.

Dean states “ He [WBH] passed away in 1928 and is buried about a mile from where I live in downtown Edonton. The first cemetery photo shows a wide view of the cemetery grounds with the Hughes pink coloured headstone shown in the foreground on the right. The second image shows a closeup view of the Hughs headstone on which are recorded Ellen Hughes(1852-1932) and William Barnsley Hughes (1852-1928) with a tribute to their sons Max and Percy who fell in WW I.

James Weeks was born November 13,1843 in Tunbridge Wells.He was the son of George Weeks(1816-after 1901) and Matilda Weston(1814-1897) and was one of ten children born to the couple.James father was a carpenter/builder and his mother had a grocer's shop in Tunbridge Wells. (See the original article for further details about Mr Weekes).

A list of known buildings designed by Hughes and Weeles, either on their own or as partners can be found in the original article.

THE BUILDER JOHN JARVIS

From my article ‘John Jarvis-A Tunbridge Wells Builder’ originally dated May 4,2014  but updated October 26,2016 is the following.

The name of the John Jarvis Construction Company in Tunbridge Wells is well known by those who have followed the construction industry in the town. The business was founded by John Jarvis in 1873 and survived for 135 years until finally ending operations in 2008 during the recession. Some writers, such as Christopher Cassidy (Anke website) claim that John started his business in 1883. When the company was actually founded can be better determined from the information given below. Shown opposite is a photo of John Jarvis and his workmen with their horse drawn carts.

John Jarvis had been born 1843 in Warbleton,Sussex, one of four children born to William M. Jarvis (1817-1904) and Charity Booker (1822-1854).

By 1851 the Jarvis family moved to Tunbridge Wells. The census of 1851 records them living at Modest Corner, Southborough. The head of the household was William Jarvis, born 1817 at Warbleton,Sussex, who was working as a carpenter. Living with him was his wife Charity, born 1822 at Buxted,Sussex. Also present was John Jarvis,age 8, who was at that time attending school. His younger siblings Jane and William were also there.

The 1861 census ,taken at Backroad, Waldron,Sussex records John,a journeyman carpenter , and his brother William living at the home of their grandfather William Jarvis, born 1796 Waldron,Sussex, a carpenter and farmer of20 acres employing eight men. Also in the home was the Martha Jarvis, Williams wife and other family members. Based on the occupations given in the census records it appears that the Jarvis family had a long tradition of being carpenters.

In the 3rd qtr of 1867 ,at Uckfield, Sussex, John married Lois Gower(1840-1887) Lois had been born in the 3rd qtr of 1840 at Waldron,Sussex and died in the 2nd qtr of 1887 in Tunbridge Wells. John and Lois had the following children (1) Alice Jane (b1869, Hastings Sussex) (2) Mary Rake(b1869 Hastings Sussex) (3) Arthur Donald (b 1872 Tunbridge Wells) (4) George Edward (born 1875 Tunbridge Wells; died 1924) (5) Ethel Matilda (b 1880 Tunbridge Wells). From the birth dates and locations of births of John’s children it can be concluded that he and his family moved to Tunbridge Wells sometime after 1869 . The 1841 census, taken at Waldron, Sussex shows  Lois Gower,age 10 mths living with her parents John Gower, born 1901 Sussex and Mary Gower, born 1801 Sussex. Lois’s father was working as a thatcher. Also in the home was Lois’s three sisters and her grandfather Thomas.

The 1871 census taken at 12 Hope Terrace, Tonbridge records John Jarvis as a carpenter. Living with him was his wife Lois (given as Louis) and their twin daughters Alice and Mary.As there is not listing for John Jarvis in the 1874 Tunbridge Wells commercial directory one must conclude that he was working for someone else casting doubt in claims by others that he had founded his business in 1873.

The 1881 census, taken at 30 St Mary’s Hill,Tonbridge, records John as a carpenter. Living with him was his wife Lois and his five children and two servants. The 1882 Kelly directory listed John Jarvis at  No. 1 Mountfield Road,Tunbridge Wells .

The Builder dated March 17,1888 reported on the design and construction of the Church Mission Room,Tunbridge Wells, which had been built to the designs of architect Brett A Erphnicke and constructed by Tunbridge Wells builder John Jarvis.

The 1891 census, taken at No. 1 Mountfield Road,Tunbridge Wells, listed John Jarvis as a builder employing others. Living with him was his two daughters Mary and Alice and his son George and one visitor. John’s wife had passed away in 1887 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on March 29,1887.

In the 4th qtr of 1892 John Jarvis, remarried, this time to Amelia Ann Avis (1852-1929). A marriage announcement gave the actual date of the marriage as November 2,1892 at Holborn St Sepukhre, City of London. Johns father was given as being a carpenter and Amelia’s father Thomas was given as a grocer.There is no record of John and Amelia having any children. Amelia had been born in Withyam,Sussex, one of five children born to Thomas Avis (1822-1883) and Ann Crowhurst(1827-1860). Amelia had lived in Uckfield Sussex 1861-1871 but lived in Tunbridge Wells by 1881. In 1891 she was residing at Holy Trinity, Sussex. Probate records show that Amelia was of 15 Beltring Road,Tunbridge Wells, when she died July 26,1929. Probate was to her brother Peter Stanley Avis, engineer. She left an estate valued at 2,212 pounds. She was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on July 30,1929.

The Courier of March 3,1893 reported on the opening of the Southborough SER station, which in 1925 was renamed the High Brooms Station. The article reported that it had been designed by the Tunbridge Wells architect William B Hughes and constructed of red bricks supplied by the High Brooms Brick and Tile Company, at a cost of 4,000 pounds, by the Tunbridge Wells builder John Jarvis.  In the same year John Jarvis submitted an unsuccessful bid for sewage works, roads etc in Southborough.

The 1899 Kelly directory gives a listing for John Jarvis as a builder with office premises at 6 Vale Road and his works yard on Goods Station Road.

The 1901 census was taken at “Hill Crest” Tunbridge Wells. In that census John was listed as a ‘builder,emploer. Living with him was his wife Amelia and his children Mary, Arthur and Ethel. One domestic servant was also present. John’s son Arthur was also at that time listed as a ‘builder,employer’ indicating that Arthur had joined his father in the family construction business. The 1903 Kelly directory gave the following listings (1) John Jarvis, builder, Langton Green (2) John Jarvis, ‘Hill Crest’,Sandhurst Park,Tunbridge Wells (3) John Jarvis 6 Vale Road and Goods Station Road, and Langton,Tunbridge Wells.

The 1911 census, taken at ‘Hill Crest’ Sandhurst Park, Tunbridge Wells listed John as a builder employer. Living with him was his wife Amelia; three visitors and two domestic servants. Directoris of 1913 to 1922 record John living at ‘Hill Crest’ Sandhurst Park. Sometime between 1903 and 1913 John’s business began to operate at John Jarvis Limited. Directories of 1913 to 1918 list “John Jarvis Limited, 6 & 8 Vale Road and 46 Goods Station Road and Langton, Tunbridge Wells. The premised on Vale Road was his main construction office and the locations at Goods Station Road and in Langton were construction yards.

The 1922 Kelly directory gave the listing “John Jarvis Limited, builders, 6 & 8 Vale Road, 46 Goods Station road and depot, Whitefield Road”.

Probate records give John Jarvis of ‘Hill Crest’,Sandhurst Park, Tunbridge Wells when he died March 31,1922. The executors of his 31,789 pound estate were his wife Amelia Ann Jarvis, and two solicitors. John was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on April 4,1922. There is no indication that the business was carried on by any members of the Jarvis family, but did continue under the guidance of the companys board of directors.

The Courier of April 7,1922 gave the following information “ We regret to record the death, which occurred suddenly on Friday morning at his residence “Hill Crest”,Sandurst Road,Tunbridge Wells, of Mr John Jarvis, of the well-known building firm of John Jarvis Ltd. The deceased gentleman, who was 79 years of age, had enjoyed good health except for apparent slight heart trouble. Recently, however,he had suffered from insomnia.He was in the best of spirits before retiring to rest on Thursday night ,but about an hour after midnight he passed peacefully away. The sad intelligence came as a shock to his immediate friends and acquaintences and the sorrow of his relatives was also shared by the employees of the firm,among whom he was extremely popular. The late Mr John Jarvis founded the building firm ,which employs many men, some forty years ago and he played quite an important part in the development of the town during the last half century,being responsible for the erection of the Opera Houser and the adjoining premises forming the imposing block in the centre of the town.Important additions to St James and St Peter’s Churches and the General Hospital were also executed by the firm, and quite half of Molyneux Park and many fine country houses were erected by them.The contract for the new Predential offices,which were opened last year,was also placed with the firm,which was made a limited company some few years ago. ,the deceased gentleman being appointed Chairman,a position he retained up to his death. The business capabilities of Mr Jarvis were well known, and it was an axiom among the members of the firm that his word was his bond.Apart from the great interest he evinced in Poor Law administration,the deceased gentlemen took no part in public affairs locally.He had been one of the six Tunbridge Wells representatives on the Tunbridge Board of Guardians for a number of years and acted as Vice-Chariman for a long period.No one could have been more familiar with the Institution at Pembury than the late Mr Jarvis,and both at Committee and at the board meetings his vote was often heard in the debate.He was generally esteemed and respected by his fellow Guardians,his ripe business experience ,combined with sound common sense,making him a most valuable member.His advice was freely sought and his utterance as a rule carried great weight and often influenced his colleagues.To the regret of those with whom he served on the Board for so many years,he decided recently not to seek re-election, and his duties as a Guardian only ceased this work. The late Mr Jarvis was one of the original members of the Tradesmen’s Association,a Vice-President of the Grove Bowling Club and a member of the Ancient Order of Foresters. The mortal remains were laid to rest in the Borough Cemetary on Tuesday morning.Employees of the firm,to the number of about 50, lined up on either side of the path at the entrance to the cemetery and walked behind the mourning coaches to the Chapel,subsequently forming up again as the coffin was borne to the graveside.The impressive service was conducted by the Ven. Archdeacon A.T. Scott…” The article continues with details about the funeral.Family members in attendanece included Mrs Jarvis (widow) Mrs Arthur Jarvis. There was a profusion of choice floral tributes . “The deceased gentleman’s only son, Mr A.D. Jarvis of Pevensey, was unable to be present owing to indisposition.”

Molyneux Park, referred to in the obituary was a residential development off Mount Ephraim Road in the area of the Earls Court Hotel, the one- time residence of the Hon F.G. Molyneux, after whom the development was named. The book ‘The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells’ by the Civic society, published in 2004 devotes a chapter  to the history of this development. The first building lots were made available in the 1890’s .Most of the early  homes in the development were designed by architect William Barnsley Hughes. 

The 1930 Kelly gave the following listings (1) John Jarvis Ltd, builders (2) John Jarvis Ltd, builders, 6 & 8 Vale Road, 46 Goods Station road and Langton”. The last directory listing for the company before WW II was for 1933 which gave “ John Jarvis Ltd, builders (offices) 6 Vale Road,also at Langton Green with works on Goods Station Road,Tunbridge Wells”. No directory listings for the company were found for the period of 1934 to 1938.

In addition to John Jarvis Limited, business records show that a company called John Jarvis Holdings Limited (00119342) with its registered office in 2013 being Mall House,at Faversham Kent,  had been in business for 102 years , being founded December 23,1911. Their trading address was given as 61 Goods Station Road,Tunbridge Wells . As you will read later John Javis Holdings Limited was the parent company which controlled John Jarvis Limited (the construction company) and other subsidiary companies in the construction industry. John Jarvis Holdings Limited was also recorded with an address at 46 Goods Station Road.

An article entitled ‘Brian Nunn and BG Nunn Ltd” refers to this business being established in 1983 as building contractors. Brian Nunn was the Managing Director of the company who had worked in the construction industry for 45 years and after working for 30 years established this company in 1983. The article states that the company was taken over by John Jarvis of Tubnridge Wells whom Brian worked for until the age of 35 and was initially employed as a Site Agent and then Contract Manager and then for four years managed a subsidiary company.

So what happened to John’s sons? Well the 1911 census, taken at Speldhurst , records Arthur Jarvis as age 39, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1872. He was living in Langton Green, was single, and living on ‘private means’, as a boarder with the Walter Wood family. Walter Wood was a carriage builder and they lived on premises of 5 rooms. Arthur had married Florence M Somme in the 3rd qtr of 1928 at Reigate,Sussex. Probate records give him of Hamelsham Court ,W estern road, Hailsham,Sussex when he died January 29,1966 at the Woodside hall Nursing Home at Woodsidge Hailsham. He left an estate valued at 63,190 pounds with Lloyds Bank as the executor.

John’s son George Edward Jarvis (1875-1924) was born in Tunbridge Wells and died September 24,1924 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1899 he married Martha Edith Keemer, who had been born 1877 in Tunbridge Wells. She was one of nine children born to James and Ann Keemer. Her father was ,in 1891, working at the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company.

The 1901 census, taken at Grenstede Villas in Pembury recorded George Jarvis as a coal carrier working at home. Living with him was his wife and daughter Ivy. The 1911 census, taken at Grenstede Villas, Pembury revorded Geroge with his wife and daughter Ivy along with his niece and one boarder, living in premises of 5 rooms. Probate records give George of Lower Green Pembury who died September 24,1924 at the General Hospital in Tunbridge Wells. He left an estate valued at just 499 pounds to his spinster daughter Ivy Edith Florence Jarvis. His wife Martha Edith Jarvis , born November 25,1876 died January 1969 at Hailsham,Sussex.

An advertisement for John Jarvis Ltd in ‘Business Look’ stated “ At John Jarvis Ltd our customers can rely on us for a high quality professional and friendly service. We have extensive knowledge of many aspects of the building industry. John Jarvis is a Private Limited Liability Company established in Tunbridge Wells over 120 years ago. All of our management team are long service practical and technically competent people, experienced in most forms of building construction. The Company is divided into two Departments, small Works and Contracts. John Jarvis Ltd have gained valuable experience in the Construction Industry in a wide variety of projects. John Jarvis Ltd, 46 Goods Station Road,Tunbridge Wells”.

The Pembury Village News of the Summer of 200 contains an article about the construction of the Village Hall in Pembury by John Jarvis Construction.

In 2008 the demise of the John Jarvis Limited company was announced. An article in ‘Construction News’ dated October 13,2008 by Nick Whitten stated “ A 135 year old Kent based construction firm and its sister plastering company have fallen victims of the credit crunch after falling into recession. John Jarvis Construction and plasterers Cartwrights have gone bust with the loss of 35 jobs. John Jarvis had a turnover of around 4 million pounds with notable builds including Tunbridge Wells Opera House and the Kent and Sussex Hospital. Chairman Ernest Turley said: “ The unforeseen impact of the credit crunch and its severe effects on the construction industry has made it impossible for John Jarvis and Cartwrights to survive:. Shown opposite is a photo of his abandoned yard on Goods Station Road.

The Kent and Sussex Courier gave,in part,  the following announcement. “ Two family firms hit by the credit crunch have collapsed, leaving 35 people out of work and causing delays to a 2.4 million pound project at a Tonbridge School. Tonbridge plasterers Cartwrights and sister company John Jarvis , the Tunbridge Wells based builders, plunged into insolvency, as recent turmoil in the construction industry saw their downfall. …Chairman of the firm’s parent company, Ernest Turley, who has worked there for 69 years, blamed the unforeseen impact of the credit crunch for the closures…’it is with great sadness and disappointment that the companies are closing”.

Since the business closed in 2008 their works yard at 46 Goods Station Road was used for a time by a colony of artists and craftspeople. In 2014 the site was abandoned and had been vandalized. Christopher Cassidy of the Anke website, recently paid a visit to the site and while there took a number of photograph and reported on what he say. If you go to his website you can read his article and see the photos. While there he found a large collection of construction drawings in a shed which represented at least some of the projects that Jarvis worked on over the years. It would be a shame to loose these documents, especially since the old shed is not secure and has a leaky roof. I suggested to the Tunbridge Wells Museum that they should save these drawings or at least examine them and make up a list of them so that a record of the projects that Jarvis worked on would be preserved.  I was informed October 2016 by Chris Jones of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society that he had rescued the drawings and are presently in storage in his garden shed. An index of the drawings has yet to be made but an examination of them seems to indicate that they pertain to the last 50 years of the company’s operations.

Jarvis had worked on a large variety of projects over the company’s history, Some small and perhaps insignificant ones but among the larger notable buildings he constructed were the Opera House on Mount Pleasant Road, the Kent and Sussex Hospital, the New Covenant Church in High Brooms (1898), and the historic “New Fire Station” in the town of Tonbridge built by Jarvis in 1901.

Christopher Cassidy said in part on his website “ The John Jarvis family ran their building firm out of the yard at 46 Goods Station Road after it was founded in 1883. They made a tremendous contribution to the development of Tunbridge Wells over the 130 years of their existence. Among other buildings they were responsible for building the Opera House, the K & S Hospital, which it claimed at the time was Tunbridge Wells largest building. After WW II they built and restored many houses, schools, and corporate buildings, and on the morning of October 16,1987 a long line of people could be seen queuing the length of Goods Station Road wanting work done on their homes from the wind storn………”

The redevelopment of the site at 46 Goods Station Road is a topic of current discussion and was reported on by the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society in their Spring 2014 Newsletter. There is some discussion that the site may become a residential development.

Shown throughout this article a few images of the abandoned site at 46 Goods Station Road.

THE PHOTOGRAPHERS LANKESTER & WARREN

Details about Percy and his photographic career were given in my article ‘Percy Squire Lankester-A Tunbridge Wells Photographer’ originally written December 23,2015 but updated March 11,2016. From the ‘Overview’ of that article is the following which in part refers to the timeframe when he operated as Lankester & Warren. Shown above is a self- portrait of Percy and below is an example of a CVD produced in the studio by Lankester & Warren.

Percy Squire Lankester (photo opposite)became a well-known and respected photographer and citizen of Tunbridge Wells. At an early age Percy developed an interest in photography and dedicated himself to perfecting his skills in this art and it was upon his arrival in Tunbridge Wells by 1891 that most of his photographic work was produced.

 Percy Squire Lankester was born 1866 at St Martin’s, Leicester, Leicestershire, one of seven children born to surgeon Henry Lankester(1825-1902) and Rachel Crosby Squire(1830-1919). By 1891 he left the family home and moved to Tunbridge Wells where he took over the “Great Hall Studio” of H.P. Robinson, who had moved to London. 

In the 3rd qtr of 1895 Percy married Martha Edwards at Steyning,Sussex. Percy and his wife never had any children. Martha was one of several children born to nurseryman George Edwards and his wife Elizabeth.

Initially Percy ran his business as a partnership under the name of Lankester & Warren but when the partnership was dissolved April 1,1894 Percy operated his business at the Great Hall Studio , Mount Pleasant on his own under his name or as Lankester & Co. In the early 1900’s Harold Hawtrey Camburn began working as a photographer with Percy but left the business by 1906 and went out on his own and became a very successful and well-known photographer in Tunbridge Wells.

Percy was a very accomplished photographer and there are many examples of his studio and field photographs ,and postcards to be found. He also produced a few ‘Souvenir Albums’ of special events such as the construction of the High Street Bridge in 1906/1907 and the Pevensey Pagent in 1908, The Penshurst Place Masque of 1909 and also 1912, just to name four.

He exhibited his photographic works at the Exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society from 1891 to 1902 and in 1890 he won a silver in the profession class at a grand photographic exhibition put on by the Tunbridge Wells Amateur Photographic Association that was held at the mansion of Sir David Lionel Salomons, who had organized the event.

Later in his career Percy  moved from his studio at the Great Hall to a studio at 38 High Street, which he referred to as the Romney Studios.Percy was quite the businessman for not only did he take photographs and produce postcards he also opened a framing shop on Grove Hill Road and had premises for a time on Grosvenor Road. He lived in various places in the town such as 1 Mountfield Gardens ,45 Upper Grosvenor Road, and 72 Warwick Park.  If photography was not enough, by 1922 he manufactured a line of fancy leather goods ,referred to as “The Romney Series”, which goods he exhibited in 1922 at the British Industries Fair.

He continued his business in the town until about 1922 for in that year 38 High Street was the photographic studio of Wheeler, Fisk,Moore Ltd and later the studio  was taken over by photographer Leonard Wiseman Horner, who had a second location in Hastings. Horner  gave up the business just before WW II.  Percy Lankester left Tunbridge Wells after selling his business and took up residence in his retirement years in Sussex. His death was registered in Brighton,Sussex in 1930 and his wife died there in 1947.

DURING WW1 

Fiona Woodfield, in an article entitled ‘Commemorating the Great War 1914-1918’ in part wrote “In early 1914 there seems to have been more than just a hint of conflict in the air in Southborough and High Brooms. The recently formed Territorial Army unit the Kent Fortress Engineers - colloquially the Sappers - was already at full strength.The company included a band of forty five musicians - both a brass band and a drum, fife and bugle band. There was also a cadet company for the yougsters of the town. In February 1914 the company held a celebratory engineers' dinner the Royal Victoria Hall with their patron Sir David Salomons as the speaker - he was Lieutenant in the main company and the Captain Adjutant in the cadet section……In May 1914 the Southborough men joined an outdoor camp held in Dover, parading off smartly to board the train at what was then still known as Southborough Station. The Courier account indicates that safety was very much to the fore, with the detail that everyone should have fired off their musketry on the outdoor range before camp.”

As noted in the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society book ‘The Shock of War’ Tunbridge Wells was inundated by the arrival of troops throughout the war, who for a time camped out on the commons ,and during inclement weather were billeted in homes and other buildings. Their stay in the town was typically short as they prepared to leave for service at the front. They arrived in the town by train from many parts of England by the thousands beginning on the announcement of war in 1914, and as noted by Fiona Woodfield many local troops made their way to the Southborough/High Brooms station where they boarded the train, waved off by family and friends. A photo of soldiers boarding the train is shown above. Unfortunately by the time the war ended many of these young men had been killed or injured and did not make the return trip to the Southborough Station.

Anyone standing on the platform of the train station during the war years would have seen long trains filled with soldiers and other trains loaded with supplies for the war effort.

THE STATION MASTERS 

To close of this article I present the following information about the men who served as a station-masters at this station covering the period from 1893 up to and including 1922. Further research is required to establish who the station-masters were after 1922.

On November 10,2013 I wrote an article entitled ‘The Station Masters of Tunbridge Wells’ which did not include information about the Southborough Station, but rather information about the Central Station and the West Station in the town of Tunbridge Wells. This article however also provided information about the uniforms and work duties of station masters in general , information that would also apply to the station-masters of the Southborough/High Brooms station, which article should be consulted for information in this regard.

In general terms the Station-Master was the man in charge of all matters pertaining to the operation and management of the station and in the employ of the SER were other members of staff taking care of ticket sales, the handling of baggage, cleaning etc, all essential duties for the efficient operation of a train station.

As noted in the Courier of March 4,1893 the first station-master at the Southborough station was given as “ Mr Taylor” who was in fact George William Taylor.

[1] GEORGE WILLIAM TAYLOR

George was born in the 1st qtr of 1856 at Bridge,Kent. At the time of the 1881 census George was living at 1 Plima Cottages in Lavender Hill, Tonbridge. He was given as born 1857 at Littlebourne,Kent and was married and working as a railway booking clerk. His wife was Alice Jane Allen who he had married 1879 in Tunbridge Wells.

In 1893, commensurate with the opening of the Southborough station he took the position of station –master. The 1901 census, taken at 2 Sunny Side, Clifton Road, Southborough,gave George William Taylor as the station master, born 1856 at Wigham, Kent. With him was his wife Alice Jane Taylor, born 1855  at Biddenden, Kent, and their four children Allen, born 1882 Tunbridge Wells, a member of the constabulary; Eva M, born 1885 Tunbridge Wells, a dressmakers apprentice; Harold ,born 1886 Tunbridge Wells, a commercial clerk; Bernard, born 1890 Tunbridge Wells, at school, and Leslie C. Taylor born 1893 in Tunbridge Wells. The 1903 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Station Master High Brooms-George William Taylor”.

George was replaced as station master there by 1911. The 1911 census, taken at Station House SEC Railway Robertsbridge,Sussex, gave George William Taylor as the station master and born 1857 at Wigham, Kent. With him was his wife Alice Jane Taylor, given as born 1859 at Biddenden,Kent, and their son Leslie who had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1893, who was working as a process etcher. The census recorded that the couple had been married 30 years; that they had five children, all of whom were still living, and that they were living in premises of 5 rooms.

[2] WILLIAM THOMAS SNELLING (a.k.a. Usherwood)

William became the stations second station-master having replaced George William Taylor sometime before 1911.

William had been born 1864 in Harsmonden, Brenchley, Kent. He was living in Reading in 1895 and in Eltham from 1897 to 1901.

The 1901 census, taken at 12 Roper Street in Eltham, London gave William Snelling as born 1872 at Eltham, London and working as a station-master. With him was his wife Clara, born 1872 at Reading and their children Harold,age 6, Winifred,age 4 and Gladys,age1. The eldest child had been born in Reading and the other two at Eltham. His wife was Clara Emma Watson (1872-1925) who had been born at St Mary Reading, Berkshire.

The 1911 census, taken in High Brooms gave William and his wife and children living there where he worked as the station master of the Southborough station. The census recorded that the couple had three children and they do not appear to have had any more after 1911. The 1913 Kelly directory gave the listing “William Snelling-Station Master, High Brooms”. A 1918 directory for Reigate Surrey gave ‘William Snelling, station house”.

His wife died 1925 at Reigate, Surrey and he died in the 1st qtr of 1947 at Ashford, Kent.

 [3] HARRY MANUEL DUMBRILL

Harry replaced William Thomas Snelling as station master in High Brooms by 1918. The 1918 Kelly directory for High Brooms gave “ High Brooms Station-Harry Manuel Dumbrill, station-master”.

Harry had been born in the 3rd qtr of 1872 at Blackwater, Hampshire. She was one of six children born to Stephen Dumbrill (1840-1912) and Eliza Dumbrill, nee Mace (1850-1901).

In 1877 he was living at Blackwater, Hampshire. By 1880 he was living at Brenchley, Kent. At the time of the 1881 census he was a scholar at Paddock Wood,Kent.

From 1882 to 1885 he lived at Brenchley,Kent. On October 16,1894 he married Elleanor Edith Lucinda Clarke (1873-1957) at St Mary’s Church in Lewisham, Kent. In 1896 he was residing at New Cross, Lewisham and by 1901 was working as a railway clerk at 2 Rhyme Road in Lewisham.Living with his was his wife Eleanor and their son Ronald.  In 1909 he was a railway clerk at 51 Court Hill Road,Lewisham.

The 1911 census, taken at The Station, Betchworth,Surrey, gave Harry as a station-master. With him in premises of 5 rooms, was his wife Elleanor, born at Glemsford, Suffolk and their son Ronald who had been born 1897 at Deptford,London. The census recorded that they had been married 16 years and although they had three children only one of them was still living.  His wife Elleanor (sometimes given as Eleanor) was the daughter of Leonard Clarke.

Harry was still listed as the station master at the Southborough station in High Brooms in the 1922 Kelly. Directories of 1930 onwards unfortunately give the name of the station master there.

Harry passed away August 1,1944 at Steyning, 4 The Medway, Chelmsford,Kent.



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