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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 postcard view of the Linden Park Cricket Club pavilion taken on the occasion of a celebration in 1922. As noted on the back this image was made by Amos Phillips who had his photographic premises at 26 Camden Road. Details about Amos and other photographers who operated from the same address over the years was given in my article ' Photographers of 26 Camden Road' dated December 15,2015. Details about the history of the Linden Park Cricket Club were given in my article ' Linden Park Cricket Club' dated October 27,2016.

The Linden Park Cricket Club on Fir Tree Road was established on the Commons on the upper cricket ground.The pavilion in this image dates back to about 1882 and it appears the decoration on it and the date 1922 was to mark the clubs 40th anniversary. In April 2006 the pavilion, stated by the club to be 130 years old,  was destroyed by arsons. After fundraising a new pavilion opened in 2008.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

Date: March 25,2019



By the beginning of the 20th century Tunbridge Wells had a number of commercial laundry businesses, among them being the St John’s Sanitary Laundry at 44 St John’s Road. 

From a review of local newspapers it was announced in the Courier of February 15,1901 that Miss M.A. Thomson was the proprietor of the St John’s Sanitary Laundry and that this business began in the town “five months ago” making its opening in October 1901.

Miss M.A. Thomson was born 1878 in Tonbridge  and baptised at Margaret Ann Thomson. She was one of nine children born to Christopher Thomson, an engine fitter born 1851 in Charlton, Northumberland, and Mary Love Thomson, nee Bryson, born 1850 in Midlothian, Scotland.

At the time of the 1881 census Margaret was living in Tonbridge with her parents and three siblings. By the time of the 1891 census she was living with her parents and seven siblings in Hastings, Sussex. By the time the 1901 census was taken Margaret was working in a laundry in Hastings and living with her parents and five siblings.

In late 1901 or early 1902 Margaret, moved to Tunbridge Wells and opened the St John’s Sanitary Laundry. She was referred to as the proprietor of this laundry in advertisements of 1902 and 1903, such as the one shown above.

Margaret was a talented musician able to play the pianoforte and banjo. She was one of the members of the Tunbridge Wells Pierrots, an amateur pantomime troop consisting of about six members at any time. Several newspaper reports were found about this troop, between 1901 and 1906,making mention of Miss M.A. Thomson performing on piano, banjo and singing. This troop performed locally and also in such places as Heathfield and Bournemouth just to name two.

Margaret lived not far from the laundry at 29 Queen’s Road and remained there until she left Tunbridge Wells in 1917. Although the local newspapers provided several advertisements in the help wanted columns for laundry workers and those of 1903 reported on the provision of three new water closets at the laundry and an addition to the laundry in 1906, the business did not last long, for the Courier of June 1,1917 announced that the laundry was in liquidation and that the machinery and plant of the laundry were being sold off by auction.

What became of Margaret after 1917 was not established. Being that she was 39 years of age at that time, and a spinster, it is unlikely that she got married. In any event any trace of her after 1917 was not found and there were no references to her in the Courier after 1917.

In this article I present information about the business; family information for Margaret Ann Thomson ; and her involvement with the local Pierrot troop.

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION   (Insert ‘ scan of 1907 os map’)

The St John’s Sanitary Laundry was located at 44 St John’s Road as noted in the Courier of May 8,1903 in an announcement that read “ Tunbridge Wells Council-Miss M.A. Thomson- three new water closets at St John’s Laundry 44 St John’s Road”.

The laundry building can be seen marked in red on the 1907 os map opposite, located on the east side of St John’s Road near its intersection with Woodbury Park Road.  As can be seen from this map the shape of the laundry was rectangular but irregular with an addition made to the original building in 1906 as reported in the Courier of June 8,1906 which gave “ Town Council- Miss M.A. Thomson-addition to St John’s Laundry. Details about the extent of the addition were not found but it appears from the 1907 os map that the extension referred to was most likely the one that faced on to Woodbury Park Road.

The earliest reference to the laundry was the Courier of February 15,1901 which gave “ St John’s Sanitary Laundry-Miss. M.A. Thomson the proprietor of the St John’s Laundry entertained her employees in a very generous fashion. The laundry has only been established five months and the evening proved so enjoyable to all that Miss Thomson intends to provide further entertainments for her staff”. With this one can conclude that the laundry opened for business in October 1900.

The Courier of February 6,1903 reported that Miss Thomson assured her employees of her continued interest in their welfare. A move was next made to the packing room where a concert was given. Those who contributed to the programme included Miss M.A. Thomson, Miss Dora Hughes, Mrs L.M. Wainwright”.

Shown opposite is an advertisement for the business in 1903.The Courier of April 1,1902 gave “ St John’s Sanitary Laundry, St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells. A High-class modern laundry dealing with best family washings only. All communications addressed to Miss M.A. Thomson. Messrs Barclay Co bankers”.

From the book ‘Tunbridge Wells in 1909’ by Chris Jones is the following. “ Opposite the Culverden Brewerey (Kelsey Brewery) on St John’s Road was the St John’s Sanitary Laundry which had machines that soaked, washed,boiled,rinsed, blue’d and starched the clothes, but the most impressive was the ‘hydro-extractor’, which took every bit of moisture out. They used special drying rooms with slightly warmed and filtered air, so that there was no chance of smuts or germs. They also took in washing from London which required 2 or 3 extra washings because of the fog and smoke there. According to the ‘Society’ reporter, the very nicest collection of girls and women is found in St John’s. The employees are only selected from the better classes of laundry workers…they also look a very nice, healthy and happy set of women.

The directory of 1903 gave the listing “ St John’s Sanitary Laundry (Miss M.A. Thomson, proprietoress St John’s Road. A directory for 1913 gave (1) St John’s Sanitary Laundry Co. Ltd, St John’s Road (2) Miss M.A. Thomson, 29 Queens Road, Tunbridge Wells (private residence).

The Courier of April 30,1909 advertised in the help wanted column that the St John’s Laundry wanted “packers and sorters immediately” Three advertisements appeared in the Courier in May 1912 advertising that junior sorters and packers were wanted. Similar advertisements for staff appeared in the Courier of May 17,1907 and May 19,1909.

The end of the business was announced in the Courier of June 1,1917 which stated “ St John’s Sanitary Laundry Co. Ltd (in liquidation) St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells. The machinery and plant to be sold at auction”.

Shown below left is the former site of the laundry facing Woodbury Park Road, now the premises of the Royal Garage. In the background of this image to the right can be seen the former laundry with skylights on the roof. In the image below right is a view of the site of the former laundry now a newer building called ‘Lenco Motor Spares Ltd.  It would appear that at least part of the old laundry building still survives for use as a commercial garage business/warehouse/shop.






Margaret was born 1878 in the town of Tonbridge, and was one of nine children born to Christopher Thomson, an engine fitter born 1851 in Charlton, Northumberland, and Mary Love Thomson, nee Bryson, born 1850 in Midlothian, Scotland.

The 1881 census, taken at 32 Priory Street, Tonbridge gave Christopher Thomson as an engine fitter with the SER. With him as his wife Mary Love Thomson and their four children Helen, Thomas, Mary and Margaret. Margaret and Mary (born 1877) were both born in Tonbridge but earlier in the 1870’s the family lived in Ashford Kent and before that in Southwark, Surrey.

The 1891 census, taken at 22 St Mary Terrace in Hastings, Sussex, gave Christopher as an engine fitter. With him was his wife Mary and seven children including Margaret who was attending school.

The 1901 census, taken at 237 Bexhill Road , St Leonards, Hastings, Sussex gave Christopher as an engine fitter at the water works. With him was his wife Mary and seven of their children including Margaret who was working at a laundry. Her brother Christopher, age 18, was a auctioneers clerk; her brother John,age 16, a plasterers apprentice and her sister Janet,age 13, a dressmakers apprentice.

In late 1901 or early 1902 Margaret left the family home and took up residence in Tunbridge Wells at 29 Queens Road (image opposite). She was listed there in local directories of 1903 and 1913 and in the 1911 census. Her home was a 2 sty semi-detached residence finished in white render.

Margaret was a talented musician able to play the pianoforte and banjo. She was one of the members of the Tunbridge Wells Pierrots, an amateur pantomime troop consisting of about six members at any time. Several newspaper reports were found about this troop, between 1901 and 1906,making mention of Miss M.A. Thomson performing on piano, banjo and singing. This troop performed locally and also in such places as Heathfield and Bournemouth just to name two.

The members of Pierrots varied at times but among the names who were members of the troup in addition to Margaret who was always referred to as “Miss M.A. Thomson:” were Miss Violet Edwards, Miss Dora Hughes, Mrs. L.M. Wainwright, Miss Taverver, Mr Arthur Leslie and others. 

Perrot troups were popular in the early 1900’s and several communities throughout England had them. Shown below are two images of Pierrots in their costumes, the first one of Folkestone and the second of Ramsgate.

One of Miss Thomson’s interesting performances was reported on in the Courier of December 8,1905 where “Miss Thomson’s Coon Song to which she played a banjo accompaniment was encored”. This type of negro (often referred to as “Coons”)performance is of course frowned on today but was acceptable at the time. Many white performers did their acts in “black face” to imitate the negro, something not done today thankfully.

Margaret had an interesting life in the years leading up to the liquidation of her laundry in 1917. One can only assume that the failure or ending of the business was a financial blow to her. No trace of her in Tunbridge Wells was found after 1917 and what became of her after that was not determined.



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

Date: March 23,2019


Laundry didn’t become a weekly chore in the home until the 19th century, largely because the types of clothing that were worn in pre-industrial times (i.e. those made of felt, leather,wool, and linen) could not be laundered. Instead they were shaken or brushed to remove dirt. When cotton replaced linen and wool as the fabric of choice for clothing, laundry became a major component of women’s labour in the home.

As the 19th century progressed, laundry became an increasingly more important household task. During this period of time, however, laundry was largely a non-mechanical and quite arduous process. Typically, women allocated at least a full day of labour to laundry. They were unable to do all of the work by themselves. Water had to be carried to the laundry site where it was heated over a fire. Soap was made by women out of lye and animal fat, a process that proved toxic to their skin. Wash boards became the primary method of getting dirt from clothes. Wet clothes and linens were hung outside to dry, no matter what the weather conditions. Even the most pared-down version of the laundry routine demanded an enormous amount of hard, hot, and heavy work.

Experiments with domestic washing machines date back to the early 1800’s but they initially mimicked the action of human knuckles in rubbing dirt from clothes and mechanical devices to wring water from wet clothes.  The use of mechanical devices in commercial laundries helped to created smaller similar devices for home use. Initially mechanical devices were hand powered but with the introduction of electricity more modern and simpler washing and drying machines came into use making doing laundry a less demanding task. Today, doing the family laundry consumes only a fraction of the time and effort it demanded in the past. Improvements in machines and detergents have transformed the task. Changes in clothing styles and synthetic fabrics have helped to simplify  doing the laundry, although people today tend to have far more clothes than the past and  change it more often.


It was not until the mid 19th century that commercial laundries began to be used for “family washes”. The first articles of clothing families sent out to commercial laundries were men’s shirts, suits and collars. Between 1870 and 1910 it became common for middle-class families to send out their laundry to commercial laundries. In each decade of this period, the number of females of all ages employed in laundries increased substantially.

By 1900, most families lad a least some of their laundry done by hired “washer women” or commercial laundries. Commercial laundries relied on advertising campaigns in which they claimed to offer services that were superior to those of the “ignorant washerwoman”. They also used the work “sanitary’ in their advertisments with “prompt and reliable” pickup and delivery by motor lorry, such as the one shown above.

Apart from home laundry services commercial laundries had other major clientele, including hospitals, hotels and restaurants. Their success acted as the impetus for the development of mechanical devices that could speed up the process and reduce the cost of doing a large volume of clothing and linens. The majority of people employed in the commercial laundry business were females of all ages and although most of these businesses were owned by men some were owned or managed by women.

Proponents of commercial laundries welcomed their freeing up of women from this laborious job at home. Detractors on the other hand, argued that commercial laundries were expensive and often resulted in damaged or lost clothing.

The commercial laundry industry declined during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. In the early post WWII years, it increased briefly but then went into decline from which is never recovered, due to the heavy marketing of domestic washing machines and dryers.  


Large households produced considerable volumes of laundry and prior to the introduction of the domestic washing machine, the location of the household largely dictated how this was dealt with. Large country houses with extensive outdoor grounds for drying and bleaching employed laundry maids to undertake laundering in-house, whilst in urban areas the trend towards sending laundry out to professional laundresses and specialist laundry companies was underway by the 1860s. By the turn of the twentieth century, the development of mechanised commercial laundering processes and the introduction of motor transport to facilitate collection and delivery, together with the servant shortage, combined to accelerate this trend. This general development is reflected in Tunbridge Wells where, in 1901, laundry work employed the largest number of girls and women (509) after domestic service (3, 394) and the needle trades (797).

Professional laundry companies were numerous and included the Tunbridge Wells Laundry in Market Road, the St. John’s Sanitary Laundry in St. John’s Road ,the Woodlands Laundry at 104 Upper Grosvenor Road (image above) which was owned and run by Phillis and Sarah Candler, as well as laundries in High Brooms and Rusthall. The Hillview Laundry (image below right) on Southborough Common, which was in operation in the 1920’s,  boasted of ‘Three large, outdoor drying grounds’ in its advertisements.

When the 1911 census was taken, it was shown that there had been another large increase in the number of workers employed in powered laundries over the preceding ten years. The move to highly-mechanised steam laundering processes had the effect that older laundresses, who still practised ‘old-fashioned, skilled hand washing’, were, according to Amelia Scott (noted for her involvement in the Tunbridge Wells branch of the Nation Union Women’s Suffrage Society (WUWSS))‘discarded’ in favour of younger women and girls. Some of these subsequently found employment at the Solder’s Central Laundry (image opposite), set up by the National Union of Women Workers in 1915 . The Soldier’s Laundry was set up to provide clean clothes to the soldiers billeted in the town. The women mended as well as cleaned the clothes. Amelia Scott said “ Though we cannot fight at the Front, we can wage war in the background against uncleanliness and un-mended garments, and prevent our soldiers suffering from these unnecessary miseries, besides providing paid employment for a number of women who are in need of work”. With 40 paid staff and 300 volunteers, at the height of its activities the laundry was washing, mending and sorting as many as 20,000 garments for over 2,000 men every week from its premises as 44 Grosvenor Road. The women provided ‘old fashioned, skilled, hand washing’, many of whom had previously been let go by the local steam laundries.

The Tunbridge Wells laundries provided employment to women of all ages and irrespective of marital status. Amongst those employed by one or other of the commercial laundries the 1910s were labourer’s wife and mother-of-seven Lydia Corbett, together with her fifteen year-old daughter Kathleen, who both worked at the Woodlands Laundry. Annie Hollman of Woodland Road, mother of a seven month old child was an ironer at the Royal Kent Laundry whilst her sister-in-law Clara was an ironer at the Woodlands Laundry. Sixty-nine year old widow Mary Ann Gilbert employed five single women, all in their twenties, in laundry work at her home in Western Road. This household illustrates the presence of large numbers of young single women in Tunbridge Wells for whom initiatives such as the Leisure Hour Club were established.

Further information and a large selection of photographs pertaining to the Woodlands Laundry can be found in my article ‘ The Woodlands Laundry’ dated February 12,2013 (updated March 16,2018). When Sarah Candler died in 1919 the Woodlands Laundry was sold to George Marsh.  The Candler sisters were actively involved in the local Women’s Suffrage Movement.


The Tunbridge Wells Laundry was located on Market Road north of Calverley Road in the middle of Crown Fields between Varney and Golding Streets. The Salvation Army had their headquarters on Varney Street and the laundry building was not far from it. This area was cleared after WW2 and before 1980 and became the site of Royal Victoria Place. A photograph of their building with the Salvation Army Band standing in front of it is shown opposite and below is a map showing the location of the laundry (marked “B” on the map with the Salvation Army building marked as “A”.  Given later in this section is an advertisement for this laundry dated 1902 when at that time it was run by the Hirst family.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of 1902 from the advertisement below states that the Tunbridge Wells Laundry on Market Road has been taken over the business of Messrs Pickett & Co , signed “Mrs D. Hirst, Manageress”.

A reference to Pickett & Co was found in the Courier of January 22, February 19 and April 29,1892 which stated “ Tunbridge Wells Steam Laundry-Messrs T. Pickett & Co having taken over the large and spacious premises lately known as The Central Market, being altered and adapted is now one of the finest laundries in the South of England. The ventilation……”

The Courier of March 3 and May 19,1899 gave “ Tunbridge Wells Sanitary Laundry (formerly The Central Market) at 58 Calverley Road. Shirt and collar dressing a specialty”.

The Courier of July 24,1891 and two articles of August 7 and 12 reported “ Notice of Removal as soon as alterations are complete. Messrs T. Pickett & Co will remove their steam dyeing,cleaning and laundry works from Quarry Road to more extensive premises lately used as The Central Market”.

The Courier of April 5,1889 announced “ The Central Market Tunbridge Wells sale by auction by Mr, Dilnott Stokes on Friday April 12th at 12 0’clock precisely the above premises and a large collection of other effects”. The purchaser of the building was T. Pickett & Co. Other auctions by Mr Dilnott appeared in the Courier of October 5,1888 regarding “a new feature where weekly auction sales will be held for the sale of produce in small lots”.

The Courier of September 5,1888 reported on “The New Central Market” on Calverley Road for the sale of meat, poultry, eggs,butter, vegetables, fruit, flowers etc will be opened on Friday September 7th,. This suggests that the original Central Market on Market Road was closed and replaced by the New Central Market.  The Courier of September 12 and 14,1888 reported that in connection with the opening of the New Central Market that “a band of music played round the town in a waggonette announcing the opening of the new market on Friday last” but that there was not formal ceremony held for its opening,

It is known from a review of maps The Central Market building on Market Road was not there in 1868 but is shown there on a 1874 map. There were other small buildings on the laundry building site in 1868 and earlier which had been demolished to make way for the construction of The Central Market building.

An interesting article from the Courier of September 11,1878 was found which stated in part “ The other morning a man whose every look proved how hungry and pennyless he was halted before a eating stand at the Central Market to let his mouth water for a while. The women knew him and called out ‘Come-be jogging along-you won’t get any food here’.


The T. Pickett referred to in the above advertisement was Thomas Pickett who was born in London in 1854, with his birth being registered there in the 2nd qtr.

The 1881 census, taken at 77 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells gave Thomas Pickett as a dyer. With him was his wife Sarah, born 1849 in London, one assistant in his business (a shopwomen dyer) and one domestic servant. Thomas had married Sarah in London in 1880 and by 1911 the couple had three children.

The 1891 census, taken at 58 Calverley Road, gave Thomas as a dyer and cleaner employer. With him was his wife Sarah, given as being bron in London in 1848. Also there was his children Sarah (born in Tunbridge Wells 1887); Sammy (born in Tunbridge Wells 1884) and Isabel Dorothy Pickett who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1888. Also there was a 32 year old women working as an assistant in the business.

The 1901 census, taken at 130 Upper Grosvenor Road gave Thomas Pickett as a dyer and cleaner employer. With him was his wife Sarah, born 1851 in London and his children Thomas Whiting Pickett born 1882 in Tunbridge Wells; Catherine born 1887 Tunbridge Wells and Isabel Dorothy Pickett born 1889 in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1911 census, taken at 7 London Road in St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, in premises of 7 rooms, gave Thomas Pickett as a dyer and cleaner. With him was his wife Sarah, born 1848 Belgravia, London and their children Thomas Whiting, born 1885 Tunbridge Wells and working for his father as an assistant dyer and cleaner; Catherine Sarah, born 1887 in Tunbridge Wells and working for her father as a shop assistant, and Isabel Dorothy Pickett born 1889 in Tunbridge Wells who was also working for her father as a shop assistant. The census recorded that the couple had been married for 31 years and that all three of their children were still living but appears from the 1891 census that their son Sammy who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1884 died sometime before 1901.

Thomas Whiting Pickett, referred to above was married April 21,1928 to Augusta Laurens, a 39 year old spinster of Grove Road, Balham and the daughter of Elias Charles Laurens. Thomas’s father was given as “ Thomas Pickett, deceased, dryer and cleaner”. The marriage took place at St Stephen’s Church Clapham Park, London. Thomas Whiting Pickett gave his occupation as “ dyer and cleaner”.


The W.H. Hirst referred to in the 1902 advertisment was William Henry Hirst (1867-1912) who was born May 17,1867 at Holbeck (near Leeds) Yorkshire. He was baptised June 9, 1867 at Holbeck St Matthew and New Wortley, St John the Baptist Church in Yorkshire and given as the son of John Hirst, a painter, and his wife Eliza.

The 1871 census, taken at 40 Bowling Green Terrace in Hunset, Yorkshire, gave John Hirst as born 1898 in Woodhouse, Yorkshire and working as a house painter. With him was his wife Eliza (born 1842 in Hunset) and their children (1) Anne Eliza (born 1865 at Holbeck( (2) WILLIAN HENRY born 1867 (3) Florence, born 1870 at Hunset.

The 1881 census, taken at 15 Croydon Street Holbeck, Yorkshire, gave John as a machine painter. With him was his wife Eliza and their children (1) Anne Eliza , a woolen cloth weaver (2) WILLIAM HENRY, an errand boy for a drapers shop (3) Florence, a scholar (4) Alice, a scholar, born 1875 in Holbeck (5) Amelia, born 1880 in Holbeck.

The 1891 census, taken at 9 Britanny Place in Armley, Yorkshire, gave John as a house and machine painter. With him was his wife Eliza and his children (1) Mary Eliza, born 1865 in Leeds, a woolen cloth weaver (2) WILLIAM HENRY, a machine and tool fitter (3) Florence, a woolen cloth weaver (4) Amelia, a scholar (5) Ada, born 1882 in Leeds, a scholar (6) Arthur, born 1890 in Leeds.

In the 3rd qtr of 1891 William Henry Hirst married Demarius Booth (1868-1931) at Holbeck, Yorkshire and with her had the following children (1) Horace, born 1893 in Leeds (2) Ethel Alice, born 1897 in Dartford, Kent.

Demarious Booth was born 1868 in Leeds, Yorkshire. She was baptised September 12,1969 at Holbeck St Matthew and New Wortley, St John the Baptist Church, Yorkshire. She was given as the daughter of John and Ruth Booth. The 1871 census, taken at 7 Hallau Street in Wortley, Yorksire, gave John Booth as a labourer. With him was his wife Ruth (born 1845 in Leeds) and their daughter Memarius. The three of them were living as boarders with the Joseph Backhouse family. The 1881 census, taken at 13 and 15 Spence Lane gave John Booth as a hairdresser employing two boys. With him was his wife Ruth and their children Demarius, age 13; Leonard,age 9; Arthur,age 7; Ada,age 5 and Annie, age 3. All of the children were attending school.

The 1901 census, taken at Dartford, Kent gave William as a tool makers fitter. With him was his wife Eemarius given as born 1868 in Leeds, Yorkshire. Also there were their children Horace and Ethel.

In 1902 William and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells where according to a 1902 advertisement he took over the laundry premises on Market Road from Thomas Pickett, a business from that time forward that was known as the Tunbridge Wells Laundry. In 1902 his wife was given as the manageress of the laundry. A directory of 1903 gave “ William Henry Hirst, laundry, Market Road, Tunbridge Wells”.

An advertisement in the Courier in May 1909 as given in the book ‘ Tunbridge Wells in 1909’ by Chris Jones, stated “ One of the laundries had very poetic adverts. Tunbridge Wells Laundry in Market Road used the following verse: “upon the Meads I met a Maid, and low in accents soft she said…I wash for thee. Then to her side I made my way, And whispered low: Tell me, I pray, O Maiden sweet and wondrous fair, For whom you wash that white robe there ? Make ready! Straight she answered me. Thy winding-sheet I wash for the!” . The inspiration for this seems to lie in Heine’s Book of Songs, written in the 1820’s. It’s an interesting way to advertise a laundry and one has to wonder how widely allusion would have been recognized by the launtries prospective customers.

The 1911 census, taken at 15 Upper Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells, gave William Henry Hirst as a laundry proprietor. With him was his wife Demarius and their daughter Ethel Alice (in school). Also there were Williams sister Amelia,age 31, a packer and sorter at the laundry and William’s sister Ada, age 29 a housekeeper domestic. The census recorded that William had been married 19 years; that they were living in premises of 8 rooms and that of their three children two were still living.

The 1911 census, taken at 88 Albert Street in East Ham, Essex gave Horace Hirst as an electic engineer and living as a boarder with the Smith family. In the 3rd qtr of 1918 , in Tunbridge Wells, Horace married Alice Whitaker who was born Jukly 9,1891. Horace was born May 4,1892 in Leeds. A directory for 1939 for 110 St John’s road, Tunbridge Wells gave Horace as a laundry proprietor worker. With him was his wife Alice, unpaid domestic duties, and their daughter Margaret who was born April 20,1919. Horace died in the 3rd qtr of 1967 in Tunbridge Wells and was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium April 15,1967. His wife Alice died in the 2nd qtr of 1981 at Eastbourne, Sussex.

Probate records for William Henry Hirst gave him of 15 Upper Grosvenor Road when he died November 1,1912 at 38 Armley Grove Place at Long Road, Leeds, Yorkshire. The executor of his 3,123 pound estate was his widow Demarius Hirst. William was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on November 7th. The Courier of November 8,1912 reported in part “ Death of Mr. W.H. Hirst-Mr William Henry Hirst, the proprietor of the Tunbridge Wells Laundry, passed away Friday after a brief illness while on a visit to his sister at Leeds. Her had caught a chill only a week before his death…”

 After Williams death his wife Demarius took over the running of the business and was later joined by her son Horace who eventually took over the running of the business when his mother retired. Directories of 1913 and 1918 gave “ Mrs William Henry Hirst, Laundry, Market Road, Tunbridge Wells”.

Probate records gave Demarius Hirst of 138 St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, when she died as a widow on March 15,1931 at the Tweedale Nursing Home (image opposite) on London Road, Tunbridge Wells. The executors of her 27,977 pound estate were he son Horace, a laundry proprietor, and her daughter Ethel Alice Hirst, spinster, and George Beatty Stoakes, agent. Demarius was buried at the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on March 18th.

From a review of local newspapers, some sample articles are given below. It was noted that the first mention of the Tunbridge Wells Laundry was in 1902 when William Henry Hirst took it over from Thomas Pickett. The last article found making reference to this laundry was from the Courier of November 4,1949.

The Courier of November 13,1908 gave “ Tunbridge Wells Laundry are anxious to wash for you. A trial will ensure satisfaction and secure your future orders. Return linens with pemptitude and despatch. Our prices are reasonable and consistent with good work. Manageress Mrs Hirt, Market Road”.

The Courier of May 13,1917 gave “ Girls wanted for packing, calendar and collar departments. Apply Tunbridge Wells Laundry”.The Courier of June 21,1918 gave “ Flannel washer wanted –Apply Tunbridge Wells Laundry”.

The Courier from June 27,1924 to January 17,1941 contained at least a dozen advertisement which read “ The Tunbridge Wells Laundry-Tel 995- proprietoress Mrs Hirst, Market Road off Calverley Road”.

The courier of March 23,1934 announced “ Quarter partnership-Tunbridge Wells Laundry, taking tripled since last year. Selling owing to ill health. Apply Courier office”.

The Courier of July 24,1942 gave “Situations Vacant-Girls and Calender Hands wanted. Apply Tunbridge Wells Laundry Market Road,Tunbridge Wells”.  The Courier of November 21,1942 announced “ Collar washer wanted-Apply to Tunbridge Wells Laundry, Market Road”.

The Courier of September 2,1949 gave “ Tunbridge Wells Laundry Market Road Tel 995. Our vans collect and deliver regularly each week in your district. If you would like to avail yourself of our high class fully finished laundry service just fill in the coupon below”

The Courier of November 4,1949 gave “ The Manager Tunbridge Wells Laundry. Please arrange for your vanman to call and collect laundry and advise me when to expect him. Our fast collection and deliveries are regular weekly in your district.”



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

Date: March 26,2019

Evan Jenkin Lloyd (1867-1909) was born in Wales, one of several children born to John Lloyd (born 1828 in Wales)who in the Wales census of 1881 was a farmer of 406 acres in Pencurrey and his wife Anne Lloyd born 1832 in Wales.

Evan lived with his parents and siblings in Pencurrey up until the early 1890’s when he moved to England and graduated from the University of London with a BA in January 1892 and made teaching his career.

On August 22,1895, at St Mary’s Church, Bury St Edmunds (image opposite), Evan married Annie Ellen Snape( 1858-1936). At the time of the marriage Evan was a headmaster of a boy’s school. Annie was a spinster living at the time at the St Mary’s vicarage with her father Rev. Alfred William Snape (1825-1896) and her mother Jane Ready Snape, nee Jones (1839-1901) and her siblings. Census records of 1861 to 1881 record Annie living with her parents and siblings. Annie was one 10 children in the family.

Annies father  had served  as curate of Brent-Eleigh, Suffolk 1848-51; of St John, Waterloo Road 1853-55; Vicar of St Mary Magdalene Southwark 1855-74; Early Sunday Morning Lecturer at St Swinin London 1872-74; Vicar of St Mary’s Bury St Edmunds 1874-96. He was the author of several works including ‘ Essential Truths’ , ‘The Great Adversary’, ‘The Waverer’ and the ‘Fountain of Love’. He died May 8,1896 at Welbeck Street, London. He was noted in a book as being believed to be, while at St Mary’s Bury St. Edmunds, the last rector to make regular use of a sedan chair as a means of conveyance to and from the church. He preached his last sermon at that church shortly before his death. 

Evan and Annie went on to have four children between 1896 and 1903, born variously in order at Wales, Littlehampton Sussex and Bognor Regis Sussex. The last of the four children was Gwyneth Irene Snape Lloyd born 1903 in Bognar Regis.

In 1899 Evan and his family were living in Littlehampton, Sussex at 53 Norfolk Road, where Evan was the schoolmaster of a boy’s school. The 1901 census taken at Harrow House at Bognor gave Evan as a schoolmaster of a private school. With him was his wife Annie and two of their children; twelve boy pupils between the ages of 6 to 13; one assistant master; two domestic servants and one nurse domestic.

It was not long after the marriage that marital discord began to take hold, breaking down the relationship between Evan and Annie. On April 27,1907 Annie filed a petition for divorce with the firm of Townsend & Sharpe of Grays Inn acting on her behalf. At the time of the filing Annie was living at 41 Welbeck Street in London and in the divorce documents laid out her complaint in eleven oaths. From a review of the documents Annie stated that since the marriage, but mostly in the last year, that Evan has been intoxicated and treated her with great unkindness and cruelty and had frequently abused her, threatened her and assaulted her. She goes on in the remaining parts of her statement to provide further details of the physical abuse and mental cruelty she was subjected to causing  her ‘ great pain and suffering’ much of it inflicted upon her at “The Vicarage Burminton” in August 1906 and in Wales in September 1906 with further attacks on  April 15,1907. At the time the petition was filed Annie was living at 41 Welbeck Street, London and Evan was living at Sywell House Rhyl, County of Flint and working as a schoolmaster.

Despite the divorce being granted Evan continued to live with Annie, although without her consent. In 1908 Annie, Evan and their daughter Gwyneth moved to Tunbridge Wells where they took up residence at No. 6 Calverley Parade ( at 46 Mount Pleasant Road) where Annie ran the Calverley Employment Agency and provide the financial support to the family. Shown opposite is a postcard view of the Calverley Parade with No. 6 being about half way between Crescent Road and Monson Road. The dominance of domestic service as a source of employment in Tunbridge Wells is reflected in the number of employment agencies in the town. Servant registries originated in the eighteenth century and by the early 1900s they were beginning to become more regulated. Barnett’s Registry in South Grove, the Central Registry at 8, Mount Sion, The Employment Bureau in London Road, Calverley Servants’ Agency at 46 Mount Pleasant run by Annie Lloyd, Dene’s Agency in Crescent Road together with Goodenough’s Extensive Servants' Agency in Church Road, Southborough provided a service for households seeking servants and for individuals seeking employment. They charged a fee to individuals who wished to be put on their books.

The Courier of February 5,1909  reported that on January 29th  Evan became abusive towards Annie and threatened to murder her  and as a result she took refuge next door with her children. The police were called and Evan was taken away. On returning to her home she discovered that Evan had burned her personal belongings. At the court Evan was found guilty but only given a fine of 5 pounds and his abuse of Annie continued. Under cross-examination Annie denied failing to act as a wife in concealing his faults and denied ever hitting him, though she said she sometimes wished she could. Their servant, Mrs Emma King confirmed her story. Their neighbour, Madame d’Aubingny, said she had never seen a women so cruelly mauled and hurt by a man. It seems likely ,given his past, that Evan had a severe drinking problem and for whatever reason took out his anger on his wife. It seems that the reason for his violence on this occasion was that Annie had shown him a letter regarding a legacy. Her had become very angry and said she had been his curse and ruin and “ I could kill you. Nothing but God’s power would stop me”. He had shaken her violently and struck her on the head and kicked her. She had tried to escape but he seized her again by the throat and struck her again many times before the police arrived and arrested him.

On August 25,1909 Evan was in trouble again, being accused of drunkenness and of bursting into the offices of Vaughan Gower, Annies solicitor. A separation order was granted to Annie.

The Courier of August 27,1909 reported from the Police Court that Evan was committed to trail charged with attempting to commit suicide by administering a lethal poison at the Mount Pleasant Residence. Mrs Lloyd and Boots Chemists (where the poison had been purchased from the shop shown above on Mount Pleasant Road) and others were called to testify. Evan had been found unconscious having taken 72 grains of Veronal, a sleeping drug. In the flat were two letters to his wife which had been returned unopened. In them he had pleaded with her to take him back, and had threatened to kill himself. When the case came up at the Quarter Sessions in October, Evan vehemently denied the charge, and was found not guilty.

Evan eventually left Annie and moved to London where he died December 8,1909 .Probate records gave him of 46 Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells but died at Charterhouse Squarer in London. The executor of his 45 pound estate was his widow Annie. He was buried December 23,1909 at Islington, London. The London Standard of December 21,1909 reported that an inquest was held regarding his death and he was found to have committed suicide.

The 1911 census, taken at 6 Calverley Parade, 46 Mount Pleasant Road gave Annie as a widow and the proprietor of a servant’s agency living on own account at home. With her was her daughter Gwyneth Irene Snape Lloyd and one domestic servant. The census recorded that they were living in premises of 10 rooms and that all four of her children were still living.

When precisely Anne left Tunbridge Wells was not established but she was found in directories of  1920 and onwards living in Surrey.  Annie died May 30,1936 at The Grange Nursing Home in Surrey (image above) and was buried in the local cemetery.




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

Date: April 20,2019


As a result of the National Registration Act  some 40 million men, women and children were enumerated throughout Britain in 1939. Enumerators fanned out across the country recording the details of every resident. As a result, every person was issued with an Identity card, which card was to be carried with them, although cards for children under age 16 were kept by their parents. This was a massive undertaking in preparation for war particularly since the identity cards had to be updated as information changed (eg. Address, marital status, new births etc). Shown opposite is the front of an Identity Card for 1943. Further details about the National Registration Act can be found on many websites such as Wikipedia.

Although not mandated by the National Registry Act of 1939 another form of identification came into common practice, namely the wearing of identification tags /bracelets. Those serving in the military all wore identity tags (Dog tags) issued by the Government and some even had identification bracelets made of  Silver, steel or brass made at that own expense. These of course, like all other forms of identification tags/bracelets were worn as a means of identifying a person’s body in case of injury or death particularly if damage to the body was so severe that viewing the body could not establish the person’s identity.

Apart from the military “Personal Identification Bracelets” were often worn by members of the civilian population. Various websites report that school children in Britain wore identification bracelets in case their school was bombed and no doubt members of staff wore them also. Some companies also issued identification bracelets to their employees. Apart from these examples, many private citizens decided to were identification bracelets and in this article I present as an example one worn by a Mrs Baker.

Several examples of personal identification bracelets can be found on the internet and a number of people have tried to decipher the information on them. By way of the example given in this article, it is hoped that the information given will help others with their research and lead them to the identification of the wearer of the bracelet.


Shown in this section are two photos  of a brass identification bracelet with a chain attached. Five pieces of information were stamped into the brass as follows:



366    2

Tunbridge Wells

It is clear from the above that the bracelet was worn by a Mrs Baker of Tunbridge Wells but the challenge was to identify who Mrs Baker was. The answer to that question involved some detective work. 

The first step taken to identify Mrs Baker was to use the Ancestry UK website to search the 1939 enumeration records for any women with the surname of Baker living in Tunbridge Wells in the enumeration district of “DIPM”. It was noted that there were a number of women with the surname of Baker in the town and one by one each was examined for a DIPM designation. It should be noted that there were several enumeration districts in Tunbridge Wells each with a different identification code such as DIPE, DIPF,DIPH etc. The first there letters  DIP were assigned to Tunbridge Wells with the fourth letter assigned to a specific enumeration part of the town.

A few female Bakers were found with the designation DIPM but the list was shortened to those who were married. During this investigation it was found that “366”  and similar numbers pertained to the enumeration schedule number assigned to each household and so the Bakers remaining on the list were reduced to only one Mrs Baker in the enumeration district of DIPM with a schedule number of 366. It should be noted that the “2” after the number 366 identified her as the second person in the household. The husband was assigned No. 1, his wife No. 2 and any children were numbered 3 onwards.  Each entry in the enumeration record had a different schedule number.

Putting this all together here was the final result.

Enumeration District………DIPM

Schedule number……………366

Position in household………. 2

Street Address……………….. 29 North Street, Tunbridge Wells

(1)   James Baker, born April 30,1902, unemployed house painter.

(2)   Annie Baker, wife, born March 26,1906, unpaid domestic duties

(3)   James Jesse Baker, son, born February 21,1931, at school

(4)   Ann Baker, daughter, born July 12,1935, at school

Two other lines in the enumeration record were blacked out for reasons unknown to the researcher Written into the record at some later date was the name “Barber”written above Annie Baker’s married name, suggesting that Barber was her maiden name. Written into the record at some later date was the name “Mortimer” written above Ann Baker’s name, indicating that Mortimer became her married name.

Finding out further information about the four members of the Baker family above is fairly straightforward using such geneology websites as Ancestry Uk . Having identified who Mrs Baker was on the identity bracelet I did not go much further other to note the following.

From death records (1) James Baker, born April 30,1902 died 2nd qtr 1997 at Luton, Bedfordshire. It is possible that although this James Baker was born on the same date as the husband of Annie Baker that he is not the same James Baker (2) James Jessie Baker, born February 21,1931  was given as passing away in Tunbridge Wells October 28,1997 and buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.

From a family tree for James Jessie Baker born February 21,1931 in Tunbridge Wells it was noted that his parents were given as James and Annie Baker; that he died in the 3rd qtr of 1997 in Tunbridge Wells; that he married Jeanette Stone (born 1936)  and that he had five children. His mother Anne Baker was reported to have died in Tunbridge Wells in 1995.

With further research one can get a more complete record of the Baker family and using the research techniques described above one should be able to establish the identity of any other person with a similar identification bracelet.  



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