Home Page

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 postcard by Judges Ltd entitled "Mount Sion Tunbridge Wells". It was mailed from Tunbridge Wells and franked July 17,1928. What a great view taken at a time when Mount Sion Road was lined with fine looking trees and not a single motor car or pedestrian in sight. The sender of the card wrote this message on the back. " This is a lovely place ! I came over by bus today from Sevenoaks. The heat is stiffling! This week I will be going to a place outside Eastbourne the end of the week".  This image shows Mount Sion Road looking down towards London Road. In the background can be seen the Commons rising up to the buildings on the ridge of Mount Ephraim.
A second view of the same location is shown opposite in which can be seen that the lime trees lining the road had been trimmed back and that two horse drawn carriages were making their way along the road. This photo was franked from Tunbridge Wells May 20,1905. The publisher of it was not identified.

Quite a change from the way the area looks now!


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

Sadly it was recently announced that the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society has ended due to a drop in membership and difficulty in finding members to hold positions in the Society to assist in running it. The area covered by them has as a result been taken over by another Family History Society.


Last month I posted an article about the coal merchants of Crescent Road which featured the businesses of H. Novis and G.H. Smith. Since the I received two photographs and related information from John Arkell, which I was most grateful to receive. John stated that H. Novis had two coal wagons (No. 1 and No.7) which were painted signal red. His wagon No. 1 is shown below left. Regarding G.H. Smith John stated that he had reviewed the minute books of the Tunbridge Wells District Coal Merchants Association and that the Smith family were prominent. Shown below right is a photograph of a G.H. Smith coal wagon at the Wadhurst station.


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 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. 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.



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

Date: February 17,2017


Thomas Clifford Elcome was one of four known children born in 1876 at Ealing, Middlesex, to Thomas Elcome, a florist and fruitier born 1833 in Wrotham, Kent and Susanna Elcome, born 1835 in Burton, Wiltshire.

In 1881 Thomas was living with his parents and siblings in Lambeth, London where at that time his father was a horticultural painter and Thomas junior was in school. In 1891 Thomas was working for his father, a fruitier and florist employer, as an assistant fruitier in Margate Kent. His brother William,age 18, was working as an auctioneers clerk and his brother George, age 28 was a poultier and fruitier employer. The family was still in Margate, Kent at the time of the 1901 census but Thomas senior was retired by then. In that same year Thomas junior was working as a fruitier for his brother George, a fruitier employing others.

In the 3rd qtr of 1903 Thomas Clifford Elcome married Mary Ann Louisa Everett who had been born 1876 in Dover,Kent, the daughter of Henry Thomas Sidney Everett and Margaret Jane Everett. Their marriage produced six children born between 1905 and 1915, all of whom were born in Margate, Kent. At the time of the 1911 census Thomas was a fruitier and poultier employing others from his shop at 34 Northdown Road in Margate and his wife Mary Ann was assisting her husband in the business.

Sometime after 1913 and 1922 Thomas and his wife and some of their children moved to Tunbridge Wells where Thomas opened a tobacconist shop at 26 Calverley Road. In that shop he sold tobacco and all items related to smoking. In addition he made arrangements with a local postcard company to produce a series of postcards of the town, on the back of which  his name and business address were given as “C.Elcome, publisher, 26 Calverley Road”. Thomas seems to have preferred using his middle name “Clifford” and is referred to as Clifford in many records. Examples of postcards bearing his name are hard to find and no doubt the sale of them formed only a very small part of his business.

At the time of his death in 1936 Thomas and his wife Mary Ann were living in a nice home at 124 Upper Grosvenor Road. The Kent & Sussex Courier of August 24,1936 stated that Thomas died “after a serious illness lasting nearly a year”. From the long list of mourners and those who gave wreaths he was obviously a popular gentleman for even the Mayor and Mayoress of Margate, Kent sent a wreath. A wreath was also proved by the Monson Swimming Club in Tunbridge Wells. Messrs R.W Weekes, of the well -known Weekes family shop on Mount Pleasant Road, carried out the funeral arrangements with Thomas being buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery. The funeral procession from the church to the cemetery was a long one and people along the route stopped in respect. His wife remained in Tunbridge Wells after her husband’s death up to the time of her own demise in 1967.


I begin my account about the Elcome family with Thomas’s grandfather George Elcome, who was born 1801 in Wrotham,Kent, and who’s wife was Catherine Elcome born 1794 in East Peckham, Kent.

The 1841 census, taken at Wrotham, Kent gave five of the children of George and Catherine living together with their parents, namely Rachel, age 12; THOMAS, age 8, born 1833 in Wrotham; Jospeh, age 5; Catherine,age 4; Albert,age 3 and Charles age 8 months. George at that time was a gardener.

The 1851 census, taken at Wrotham, Kent gave George Elcome as a gardener. With him was his wife Catherine and their children Thomas, age 18 a gardener; Albert,age 13 and errand boy; Charles, age 10 attending school; Joseph age 15 a servant and Catherine, age 13, a niece. All of the children of George and Catherine had been born in Wrotham. Shown opposite is a view of the High Street in Wrotham village.

In 1859 Thomas Clifford, born 1833 in Wrotham married Susanah (sometimes given as Susan). Susanah had been born 1835 in Burton, Wiltshire.

The 1861 census, taken at the ‘Cottage’ Dolaberalwen, Merionethshire, Wales, gave Thomas Elcome as a head gardener. With him was his wife Susanah and their daughter Catherine who was born in Corwan, Wales in 1860. Also there was one lodger who was an undergardener and two domestic servants. Richard Elcome, born 1830 Wrotham who was Thomas’s brother was also there visiting.

The 1871 census, taken at “Rhug Gardens”, Dolaberalwen, Cowen, Merionethshire, Wales gave Thomas as a head gardener. With him was his wife Susan; his daughter Catherine and son George, age 8, born in Corwen,Wales. Shown opposite is a view dated 1920 of Bridge Street in Corwen.

Rhug, sometimes given as “Rug” is located within the Corwen parish and there is situated the elegant mansion of Rug, once the property and residence of G.H. Vaughan esq.. Rug is a chapelry located about 1-1/2 miles from Corwen. G.H. Vaughan  in 1807 succeeded his brother Lieut Colonel E.W. Vaughan who had assumed the name of Salusbury and who was a distinguished officer of the Guards who died in Sicily. The ancient mansion was taken down and rebuilt by Liet. Colonel Vaughan only a short time before he died and in its place was constructed a handsome mansion pleasantly situated with extensive nicely landscaped grounds. Thomas Elcome as the head qardener was in charge of keeping the grounds in order and had staff under him to undertake the work. Corwen itself is a market town situated on the southern bank of the river Dec on the great road from London to Holyhead and Dublin. The Gardeners Chronicle of August 14,1875 listed James Bennett, Rhug Gardens, Corwen and that grown there were a list of fruit crops including apples, pears, apricots, plums, strawberries, peaches and others.

The 1881 census, taken at 4 Chesnut Villas on Woodlands Road, Lambeth, London, gave Thomas Elcome as a horticultural painter. With him was his wife “Susanna”; their son William, born 1873 at Calford, Sussex and their son THOMAS CLIFFORD ELCOME, born 1876 in Ealing, Middlesex. Both of the boys were attending school. Also there was one lodger, one boarder, and a cousin.  Shown here is view of Ealing, Middlesex and a map. The birth of Thomas Clifford Elcome was registered in the 1st qtr of 1876 in the district of Brantford, Middlesex.

The 1891 census, taken at 54 Clifton Terrace in Margate, Kent, gave Thomas senior as a florist and fruitier employing others in his shop. With him was his wife Susanna and their son George R,age 28, born in Corwen, Wales with the occupation of “poulterer and fruitier employer”. Their son THOMAS CLIFFORD ELCOME, given as “Thomas C”, age 15 was a fruitier assistant worker. Their son William V Elcome, age 18 was working as an auctioneers clerk. Shown opposite is a postcard view of Margate.

The 1901 census taken also at 54 Clifton Terrace, Margate, gave Thomas senior as a retired fruitier. With him was his wife Susan; their daughter Catherine,age 40; and their sons George, age 38, a fruitier employer, and THOMAS CLIFFORD ELCOME, given as “ Clifford” who was working for his brother George as a fruitier worker. .Also there was one domestic servant.

In the 3rd qtr of 1903 Thomas Clifford Elcome married Mary Ann Louisa Everett at Dover, Kent. His name in the marriage record was given as “ Clifford Thomas Elcome”. Mary Ann Louisa Everett had been born December 25,1876 in Dover, Kent. She was one of seven children in the family and also had a half sibling. She lived in Dover from the time of her birth until 1882 and from 1890 to 1892 lived in Pimlico, London. Her birth was registered at Dover in the 1st qtr of 1877.  At the time of the 1881 and 1891 census she was living with her grandparents. She was baptised April 8,1877 at St Mary the Virgin ,Dover, Kent (image opposite).  She was the daughter of Henry Thomas Sidney Everett (1859-1939)and Margaret Jane Everett,nee Martin (1857-1912). She was the granddaughter of Sidney Everett, a fellmonger in 1881 who was born 1834 in Devises, Wiltshire, and Mary Ann Everett, born 1833 in Orpington, Kent.

Thomas Clifford Elcome and his wife Mary Ann went on to have the following six children, all of whom were born at St John the Baptist, Margate. (1) Ruth (1905-1979). (2) Madge born 1906 (3) Lucy (1907-1985). Lucy married Cyril Ross Jenner (1912-1975) and had two sons (4) Clifford (1909-1994) (5) Denys (1911-1987) (6) Joyce (1915-2010) who died in Tunbridge Wells October 18th.  The Kent & Sussex Courier of July 15,1932 announced the marriage of Thomas’s daughter Ruth to John William Rawstron, the son of Mr and Mrs William Luther Rawstron of 23 Canning Street, Burnley. Ruth was given away by her father of 124 Upper Grosvenor Road,Tunbridge Wells. The newspaper provided a detailed account of the marriage including a description of what the bride was wearing.

The 1911 census, taken at 134 Northdown Road, Margate, gave Thomas Clifford Elcome as a fruiterer and poulterer employer. With him was his wife Mary Ann (given as Louisa) who was assisting in the business. Also there were their children Ruth, age 6; Madge, age 5; Lucy, age 3 and Clifford, age 1. Also there in premises of 9 rooms were one lodger and three domestic servants. The census recorded that all of the children born to the couple were still living and that the couple had been married for seven years. Shown opposite is a photo from the Margate history website of the shop of Elcome & Son on Northdown Road.


The earliest indication of the family in Tunbridge Wells is from a 1922 directory which gave the listing “ Clifford Elcome, tobacconist, 26 Calverley Road. It is known from the birth records of his children that the last child, Joyce, was born 1915 in Margate and so it is expected that the family took up residence in Tunbridge Wells circa 1920 for there is no listing for Thomas in the 1918 Kelly directory in the town. Shown here is the front and back of a CDV produced at the studio of Samuel Payne Jenkins at his Grosvenor Road studio which appeared on a family tree stating that Thomas Clifford Elcome is the gentleman seated and with him was one of his sons and a grandchild. No image of Thomas’s wife was found.

Calverley Road has always been an important and busy commercial district in the town. Shown opposite is a postcard view of Calverley Road looking east from Five Ways. Thomas’s shop was located on this road between Mount Pleasant Road on the west and Camden Road/Monson Road on the east.

Tobacconist shops sold a broad range of products related to smoking, a nasty habit that was popular at that time. Among the products sold in his shop were cigarette and pipe tobacco, cigarettes, cigarette papers, lighters, cigars, pipes, pipe cleaners, pipe pouches, tobacco humidors, chewing tobacco, snuff etc etc. In addition to these items Thomas also sold a selection of postcard views of the town, views which he had arranged to have made by a local photographer and postcard printer/publisher on which he had his name applied on the back as the publisher. Examples of postcards bearing his name are hard to find but shown opposite is one example giving a view of Wellington Rocks, on the back of which is given as publisher “ C. Elcome, 26 Calverley Road”.

Thomas does not appear to have had his shop long for no listing of it was found in the 1930 or later directories.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of August 7,1936 announced the death of “Mr Thomas Clifford Elcome after a long illness lasting nearly a year. Mr Thomas Clifford Elcome of 124 Upper Grosvenor Road Tunbridge Wells died on Monday at age 60”.  

Probate records gave Thomas Clifford Elcome of 124 Upper Grosvenor Road when he died August 3,1936. The executor of his 8,067 pound estate was his widow Mary Ann Louisa Elcome. Thomas was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on August 7th.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of August 14,1936 published information about his funeral under the heading of “ The Late Mr Elcome”. It stated in part that “the funeral took place at the Borough Cemetery on Friday of Mr Thomas Clifford Elcome of 124 Upper Grosvenor Road, who’ death occurred at the age of 60 after a serious illness lasting nearly a year. The chief mourners were Mrs L Elcome (widow) (actually Mary Ann Louise Elcome), M,L. and J Elcome(daughters), P and D Elcome (sons), Mr and Mrs J.W. Rawstron (son in law and daughter), Mr George Elcome (brother) Captain W. Gates (uncle), Mr Will Gates (cousin) Mr and Mrs Tuthill (husband and sister-in-law)Mr C. W. Baker, Mr Ernest Borg, Mr J. Lyle,Mrs Hickmott and Mr Oxord”. The article continues by listing some fourty wreaths send by family members, friends etc including one from the Mayor and Mayoress of Margate. A wreath was also given by the Monson Swimming Club of Tunbridge Wells. Messrs R.W. Weekes carried out the funeral arrangements. Although the Weekes family are best known for their landmark shop on Mount Pleasant Road (photo opposite) they had a long history of being in the funeral service business.

Thomas’s wife continued to live in Tunbridge Wells after the death of her husband. Mary Ann Louisa Elcome died in Tunbridge Wells in December 1967 and was cremated October 20th and then buried on October 26th in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.

The Elcome family appear to have had a long association with Margate, Kent and it is perhaps because of this and that fact that Thomas and his family lived in Margate for several years that the Mayor and Mayoress of Margate sent a wreath to his funeral. A 1922 Kellly directory for Margate for example gave the listings (1) Clifford & Elcome, fruiterers and greengrocers, 268 Northdown Road, Cliftonville (2) Clifford & Co., fruiterers 206 Northdown Road. Shown above is a view of Northdown Road in Cliftonville, Margate.


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

Date: February 12,2017

Perhaps nothing more has had such a great effect on people’s lives than the arrival of the steam age. Apart from its role in the countries railway system as a more effective means to transport  goods and passengers it has affected almost other aspect of life. Shown opposite is a photo by local photographer Percy Squire Lankester of a steam engine named ‘Tunbridge Wells’ which was described in my article ‘The Steam Engine Called Tunbridge Wells’ dated August 1,2016. The Goods Station, the Central Station and the Tunbridge Wells West Station were bustling places with steam trains arriving and leaving frequently and regularly every day.

The draft horse used to pull just about everything was displaced as time passed. Well into the 20th century horses were a common sight on the farm pulling wagons and ploughs and other farm implements. The arrival of the steam tractor, adopted by those who could afford them, revolutionized the way in which tasks were performed and over time they and later the petrol tractor eventually replaced the horse. Most draft horses seen today are found at agricultural fairs as examples of a bygone era. In years long past one could see horses at work on most of the farms around Tunbridge Wells and fine examples of them were shown and put through their paces at the annual Tunbridge Wells Agricultural Fair. In later years this fair displayed and demonstrated steam traction engines and later still petrol and diesel tractors.  A photo of tractors on display at the Tunbridge Wells Agricultural Fair is shown opposite and to the left is a steam tractor it replaced

From an earlier time below in the left is a  photo of a proud man and his fine horse taken in the early 1900’s at the Tunbridge Wells Agricultural Fair and to the right of it is a photo of haying at a Tunbridge Wells farm. Information about the Agricultural Fair can be found in my article ‘A Photographic History of the Agricultural Show’ dated February 1,2014.

Industry in the 19th century relied heavily on steam power to operate their machinery and massive steam engines with leather belts were in common use, replacing in some instances water wheels as a source of energy. Stationary steam engines(image left) did most of the work , such as those used at the High Brooms Brick and Tile Company (Image opposite right) to operate their manufacturing equipment and with their arrival a new occupation arrived, namely that of steam engine operator and steam engine driver or steam engineer. The Tunbridge Wells carriage and motor body makers Rock, Thorpe, Chatfield who had large premises at the northern end of Grosvenor Road relied initially on steam power to run their manufactory but in the early 1900s’ when electricity came to town they converted over. Other companies followed suite. Information about the companies referred to can be found in my articles ‘Brick Making in Tunbridge Wells’ date July 18,2012 which was updated October 12,2012  and Rock, Thorpe, Chatfield Carriage Makers and Motor Body Manufacturers’ dated August 14,2013 and ‘The 1915 Fire on Grosvenor Road’ dated January 8,2017.

Road construction and other Civil Engineering works, once all manual labour found the use of steam rollers and related steam driven equipment to be a great saver of manpower and speeded up the work. Farant’s in High Brooms, for example, engaged in roadwork, employed steam driven traction engines in their business as did others in the area. Shown below left is a photo of one of Farrants steam rollers, being a Marshall 73900 and to the right of it is a photo by local photographer Percy Squire Lankester of a steam crane in use during the opening of the new High Street bridge,  being one of a series he produced in an album for the event. Further details about Farrants can be found in my article ‘The History of Farrant’s in High Brooms’ dated April 11,2014 and information about the building of the High Street Bridge can be found in my article ‘The History of The High Street Bridge’ dated October 6,2015.

The town of Tunbridge Wells had at least one steam roller, No. 8097manufactured by the largest firm in the business Areiling & Porter in Kent. Photos of it in use crushing metal in the Corporation Yard during the wartime metal drive are shown below. Further information about the war time metal drive can be found in my article ‘The Metal Drive During WW II’ dated June 20,2016.  This steam roller later restored and named Moby Dick has been featured in various steam fairs in the country. A modern view of it is also shown.  

Every year Tunbridge Wells was the scene of a fine fair which was looked forward to by children and adults alike. Normally there was one held in the spring and another in the fall. In the 19th century and even early 20th century the rides were powered by steam. It took a lot of work to set up these fairs with wagon loads of items needing to be transported. Shown opposite is a photograph taken of a steam tractor pulling a load of fair equipment on its way from the commons where the fair had been set up. This traction engine was  owned by E. Andrews, a local fair business. This 1922  image shows their Burrell engine 2195 named ‘The Pride of Kent’ with a load of gallopers pulled behind it leaving the commons before the road intersection with Mount Ephraim. This fair business run by Thomas William Andrews is described in my article ‘The Tunbridge Wells Fair’ dated October 16,2015.

Shown below left is one of an Aveling & Porter showman’s tractor No. 7612 taken in Tunbridge Wells that was built in 1912. This image is by the postcard publisher J. Salmons Ltd of Sevenoaks. The last circus/fair related image in the series shows an old lorry once owned by Silvesters Circus who used to come to town.

Local haulage companies made use of steam lorries to haul their goods, both locally and between London and Tunbridge Wells and elsewhere. One of them was the firm of W. Grainger & Son who were haulage and road contractors. Details about this business were described in my article ‘W. Grainer & Son Haulage and Road Contractors’ dated October 2,1015. Shown below are some photos of their equipment.

Another local business that used steam equipment was Gilberts Haulage in High Brooms. In addition to their haulage business they also had luxury coaches. Details about this business can be found in my article ‘ Gilberts Haulage and Luxury Coaches’ dated August 2,1015.

Shown opposite from the book ‘Tunbridge Wells in Old Photographs  Vol 1  is a photo  showing an old steam lorry of the London and Counties Distributing Company dated June 7,1901, a photo taken by local photographer Percy Squire Lankester who operated from his studio in the north wing of the Great Hall on Mount Pleasant Road.

Shown opposite is another photo of a steam lorry of the London and Counties Distributing Company  second goods car delivering in Tunbridge Wells in June 8,1901.

The Culverden Brewery, perhaps best known when run by E & H. Kelsey from premises on St Johns Road not far from St John’s Church, used steam in the manufacture of their beverages and as shown in the photos below to transport their product to the many pubs they owned in the town.  Before the age of steam their horse drawn wagons could be seen on the streets of the town. Further details about this business can be found in my article ‘ Early Brewing History and The Culverden Brewery’ dated May 5,2012.

In July 2009 a steam rally was held at Dunorlan Park and among the items there was the steam traction engine shown below left. Steam rallies are a popular event across Britain. The old steam driven machinery is both displayed and operated much to the excitement of the thousands of people who come out to see these events. Although it is a sad fact that the vast majority of these steam monsters ended up being scrapped it is good to see some fine examples of them have survived, thanks to the effort and expense of steam enthusiasts who have restored them and enjoy showing them off. In May 2013 an event was held in the town at the former Tunbridge Wells West Station called ‘A Day Out with Thomas’ from the popular children’s television show, which can be seen also in Canada. At that event the steam engine “George’ formerly called ‘Eveneezer’ was put on display. A photo of it is shown below right. George was engine No. 10762.

Lastly I would be remiss if I did not also make mention of the horse drawn steam engine used by the Tunbridge Wells Steam Fire Brigade, before they put the horses out to pasture and employed petrol driven fire engines. These were marvelous pieces of machinery and unfortunately it had to be called into service far too often. The firebox was lit up before the engine left the station so that by the time it arrived on the scene a good head of steam was got up and ready to douse the flames. A more modern engine was put on display at the Horseless Carriage Exhibition of 1895 in Tunbridge Wells, the first exhibition of its kind in the country. A photo of one of these old steam engines is shown opposite.

Although I have only touched on the topic of the steam age in the town I hope you found it of interest . There is plenty of information to be found on this topic on the internet and in books –so happy reading.



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

Date: February 22,2014


Thomas Dudley Putland (1835-1915) (image opposite) was decended from the well- known Putland family of St Leonards on Sea, Sussex where his father  Stephen was a respected alderman and businessman in the coal and timber trade. Thomas moved to Tunbridge Wells in 1863 and like his father in Sussex, established a large and successful  business as a corn and coal merchant initially but also expanded into lime and cement  and if this was not enough to look after also went into the tobacconist and confectioners business .He expanded his business interests even further in 1892 when he diversified into the manufacture of mineral water under the name of Thomas Putland Limited.

A contemporary guide described his ‘extensive and commodious corn stores, coal wharves and aerated water factory’ in Goods Station road. Local directories also record he became a dealer in lime and cement with premises on London Road and Goods Station Road. Thomas Putland served as a councillor from 1889 and as an alderman from 1900 until his retirement in 1912”. Thomas was a long- time resident of 54 High Street. In the 1860’s Thomas also had a tobacconists shop in town .Where his confectioners shop was located has not been determined.

Thomas married Mary Ann  Porter (1836-1913) and with her had a number of children ,who went on to live interesting and productive lives of their own. His eldest son William Stephen Putland (1861-1920), for example, continued his father’s business and by 1911 was the company’s secretary  when it was engaged in the business of coal merchants and confectioners. He initially worked for his father, but by 1901 described himself as a coal merchant employer.  William Stephen Putland also became involved , in a developer role, in the Warwick Park development where he had several homes designed and constructed on his behalf by noted local architects and builders. His business activities however did not always turn out  as he hoped for and he fell into financial difficulties when in 1914 he was declared bankrupt .When he died in 1920 his estate was only valued at 50 pounds.

This article outlines the history of the Putland family, and their business ventures,  from their origins in Sussex, through their years in Tunbridge Wells, and beyond.


Thomas Dudley Putland was born January 1,1835 at St Leonards on Sea, Sussex and was baptised March 1, 1835 at the Weslayan Methodist Church in Hastings.At the time of his baptism his father Stephen was a surveyor.  Thomas was, based on the 1851 census, one of nine children born to Stephen and Mary Putland. The 1851 census, taken at 4 London Road in Hastings, Sussex records the presence of this large and prosperous family. The head of the household was Stephen Putland, age 44, born 1807 at Beckley,Sussex, a coal merchant. Living with him was his wife Mary, age 43, born 1808 in Winchelsea,Sussex, and his children Stephen, born 1828 at Buxted,Sussex; Mary Alice born 1829 at Keymar Sussex; Henry Robert, born 1833 at St Leonards on Sea; Thomas Dudley, born 1835 at St Leonards on Sea; Walter (b1841); Septimus(b1846);Sarah Jane (b1846); Charles D(b1848) and Alfred (b1851). All of the children from 1841 onwards were born at St Mary Magdalen, Sussex. Among the children listed only two were employed namely Thomas, who was working as an assistant clerk in his father’s business, and his brother Henry who was working as an ironmongers assistant. Also in the home were two domestic servants, and with such a large family the servants were no doubt kept very busy.The 1861 census recorded the family at St Leonards on Sea with Stephen Putland given as a coal and timber merchant and surveyor.

The Putland family had deep roots in Sussex particularly in the St Leonards on Sea and Hastings part of the county. They were a very religious family of the Weslayan faith and religion played an important part of Thomas’s later life in Tunbridge Wells. James Burton’s St Leonard-The Two Towns’ referred in part to the December 1835 Municipal Reform Act and that the borough was divided into an East and West ward for municipal regulation, the former being allotted 12 seats and the latter 6 seats. Voting for the first election of councillors resulted in six being elected among which was” Stephen Putland, St Mary’s Place, Warriers Gate, coal merchant, who was appointed to serve on the new Watch Committee, whose first task was the organization of a police force”.

The Brett Manuscripts held by the Hastings Library record that in 1843 “ Mr Putland complimented on the due fulfilment of his engagement to construct the road over the Government Ground for 150 pounds (100 pounds from Commissioners of Woods & Forests and 48 pounds from subscribers). The name of Mr Putland was not given in the record but was either Stephen Putland or a relative of his.

The National Archives holds a number of records that make specific mention of Stephen Putland. Some examples are as follows; (1) 3 Union Rd. St Leonards on Sea purchased by Stephen Putland in 1886. This title includes land, part of a field called Walls Field on Geasney Farm (2) Stephen Putland the elder and the younger of Hastings, coal and timber merchants (3) A will of January 26,1848 of Thomas Putland of Playden, beer retailer, granted to James Putland of Hastings (4) Partnership agreement as coal and timber merchants between Stephen Putland the elder and Stephen Putland the younger dated December 1878 (5) 28 Martina, St Leonards , a deed purchased by Stephen Putland in 1883. (6) 1 Edward Road, St Leonards. Conveyance of mortgage from Putland to Beeching (7) 20 Norman Road, St Leonards. Lease and guarantee Putland to Arnold (8) Probate of will dated July 9,1855 of Stephen Putland of St Leonards, merchant ,December 31,1886 (9) Executors accounts and papers regarding Stephen Putland (died 1886) and his widow Georgina Sophia Putland. As one can see from this partial list the Putlands were large property owners .Thomas’s brother Stephen (1828-1886) had married Georgina Sophia Pimlott (1827-1904) and followed his father into the family business.His probate records show that he died August 13,1886 at St Leonards on Sea, a merchant, and left an estate valued at 3,569 pounds with his brother Charles Decimus Putland, house agent, and a solicitor as his executors.

Stephen Putland, the father of Thomas Dudley Putland is recorded in the probate records as being late of 7 London road, St Leonards on sea, a coal and timber merchant, and that he died January 28,1880 at home. The executors of his under 4,000 pound estate was his two sons Stephen Putland and Alfred Ernest Putland, both coal and timber merchants and both of St Leonards on Sea. The book ‘Hastings of bygone Days and Present (1920) referred to “Alderman Stephen Putland” and the 1881 census listed “ Stephen Putland, J.P. of Hastings”. In the 4th qtr of 1859 Thomas wed Mary Ann Porter (1836-1913) at Hastings,Sussex.She had been born  in London. Until his arrival in Tunbridge Wells Thomas, his wife and their two children William Stephen Putland (born 1860)and Mary Ann Putland(born 1863) lived at St Leonards-on-sea at #3 Princely Road where Thomas worked as a merchant clerk in his father’s business. It is believed by the researcher that Mary Ann Porter was the daughter of Uriah, a waterman,  and Esther Porter, both of whom had been born in 1795.The 1851 census records Mary Ann living with her parents at St Marylebone, Middlesex.

It would appear that there was not enough room for Thomas in the Sussex family business , which presumably was the reason why he decided to move to Tunbridge Wells.


When Thomas arrived in Tunbridge Wells in 1863 he opened his business as a coal and corn merchant with premises at 54 High Street and Goods Station Road and simply ran his business under the name of Thomas Putland. Later his business became Thomas Putland Limited around the time he diversified his business and began to produce bottled mineral water from his factory on Goods Station Road.

Shown opposite is an example of one of the Putland mineral bottles and on this bottle is imprinted the words “ This is the property of Thomas Putland- Putland-Thomas Putland Reg’d Trade Mark Tunbridge Wells”. Quite a lot of information to get on a bottle that measured only 7.25” by 2.2 inches. Amongst the bottle collecting community this bottle is considered to be “rare”.  His bottles bore the Riley’s Patent mark and came with a chiselled stopper.

The Kelly directories of 1867 give the following listings (1) Thomas Putland, coal,lime & cement dealer, London Road and Goods Station Road (2) Thomas Putland, coal merchant, Church Road (3) Thomas Putland, tobacconist, London Road. There were no other Putlands listed in this directory. Directories of 1874 and 1889 gave “ Thomas Putland, coal dealer, 54 High Street and Good Station Road.

The 1881 census, taken at 46 High Street records the presence of Thomas and his wife and their children William Stephen,age 20; Mary Ann,age 18; Olivia,age 16; Thomas Septimus,age 10 and Lewis Porter, age 8.The three youngest children were all born in Tunbridge Wells. In that census Thomas was given as a corn and coal merchant and local employing four men and a Methodist preacher.

Shown opposite is a photograph of the shop of T.Putland at 54 High Street, obtained from the 1892 publication ‘Pictorial History of Tunbridge Wells and District. The related text stated “ Mr Thomas Putland, Corn and Coal Merchant, 54 High Street-The business of Mr Thomas Putland, coal and corn merchant of 54 High Street, Tunbridge Wells, was established 1863, and since that date it has been considerably improved and extended until it now stands as one of the largest and most representative undertakings of its kind in the town. The premises are most conveniently situated in the main thoroughfare, and adjacent to the South Eastern Railway Station. They comprise a handsome shop, with windows suitably dressed with choice selections of samples representing the varied stock held by this eminent house. As a coal merchant the proprietor is well known, and holds an extensive business connection of a high-class and influential character, the special facilities which he possesses placing him upon the very best footing to meet competition in the trade.Extensive and commodious corn stores, coal wharves,and aerated water factory are provided in Goods Station Road. Waters of the finest quality are manufactured, and put up in screw-stoppered bottles and syphons, the utmost care being taken in the production, only the very finest quality of fruit essences and specially prepared sugar being used for this branch of the business, thus ensuring absolute purity. A large stock of corn and kindred goods is kept, and as the proprietor buys first-class goods only, he is in a position to offer special advantages. Mr Putland is well known throughout the corn trade of the South of England, and commands the widespread confidence ,esteem and the public patronage which he enjoys”.

The 1903 Kelly directory recorded (1) Alderman T. Putland, corn & coal merchant,54 High Street (2) Thomas Putland, corn and coal merchant 54 High Street,mineral water manufacturer, Goods Station road. The business however did not prosper in the years leading up to WW 1 and the company of Thomas Putland Limited was put into liquidation and a liquidator appointed February 12,1913. The company’s assets were disposed of and shared amongst creditors..A notice regarding the release of liquidation was published in the London Gazette April 27,1915 in which Thomas Putland was identified as being of 54 High Street and that the liquidator was Percy Wickenden of 1 and 2 The Broadway, Tunbridge Wells. The liquidator was released January 30,1915. Shown opposite is a postcard  (card 46)view of High Street by local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn which in the foreground on the left hand side shows the shop and sign of Thomas Putland.  

In the 1911 census, taken at 54 High Street, Thomas was living with his wife and one of his daughters. Thomas’s wife Mary Ann died in the 4th qtr of 1911 in Tunbridge Wells and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on December 19th.

Thomas’s son William Stephen Putland was actively involved in his father’s business but was declared bankrupt in 1913, details of which are given later. Thomas son Thomas Semtimus Putland was also actively involved in the family business.

It is expected that the production of mineral water by the company was relatively small compared to the others, which perhaps explains why examples of the companies bottles are very had to find. An advertisement for the company dated 1893 showed that the  company at that time had its office at 54 High Street,Tunbridge Wells with its factory on Goods Station Road and its Depot at South Eastern Goods Station. At that time they advertised themselves as coal and corn merchants and manufacturers of aerated water but offered also other beverages as listed in the advertisement. The bottle collectors club gave the address of Thomas Putland from 1893 to 1913 as 54 High Street and Goods Station Road. Shown here are two more examples of Putland bottles.  

The company’s founder Thomas Dudley Putland passed away November 7,1915 and he was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery November 11 th. The Courier of November 12,1915 gave just a four line announcement of Mr Putland and from it was stated he had died November 7th; that he was an ex-alderman of the Borough and that at the time of his death he was living  at 55 Mount Sion. The courier of Nov 9th gave a photograph of him under the heading “The Late Alderman Putland” and stated that he had been laid to rest Thursday last; that he was a former Alderman of the Tunbridge Wells Town Council; a Chairman of the Water Committee. “Mr Putland will be remembered for the part in which he took in the water contravercy, which a number of years ago divided public opinion in Tunbridge Wells. Both Mr Ashby Wood and Mr Putland, who were the advocates of entirely different schemes, have now passed away”.  Thomas served as a councillor from 1889 and as an alderman from 1900 until his retirement in 1912.

A picture of Thomas Putland hangs on the wall of the Town Hall and his name can be found on a plaque commemorating the opening of a new bridge in 1907 which stands at the bottom of Grove Hill Road where it enters the High Street. Shown above is one his old paper bags- a marvelous survivor.


William Stephen Putland was the eldest son of Thomas Putland (1835-1915). He had  been born 1860 at St Leonards on Sea, Sussex.

From ‘TheOrigins of Warwick Park and the Nevill Ground’ by John Cunningham/Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, published 2007 is the following. “ W.S. Putland was the son of Alderman Putland who was a ‘founding father’ of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells. He lived initially at 34 High Street and subsequently at 42 Grove Hill Road. He used his neighbour at 34 High Street, James G.D. Armstrong, as his architect in 1899 for his first six houses-the semi-detached houses, Nos. 64-70 and 76-78 Warwick Park and Strange & Sons as his builders. However by the time he had moved to Grove Hill road, he had switched to Thomas Bates as both his architect and builder for the somewhat larger (detached) Nos. 80 and 82 Warwick Park, which were built in 1902 and the much larger Warwick Ridge (now 148 Forest road) which was built in 1904”.  An image of 68-70 Warwick Park is shown opposite.

Of James G.D Armstrong the above book gave “ James Armstrong was the original architect for the developer W.s. Putland. He designed six identical but very pleasant semi-detached houses (Nos 64-70 and 76-78 Warwick Park). However it seems likely that despite his talent, he lost out to financial or other considerations  since Putland who had used Bates to build Armstrong’s designs, subsequently changed to Bates to design and build the next-door nouses (nos 80 and 82 Warwick Park).

In the 3rd qtr of 1892  William married Louisa Charabet Saltmarsh in Tunbridge Wells. She was of the well-known local Saltmash business, an advertisement for which is shown opposite.

The 1901 census , taken at 42 Grove Hill Road records William, age 40, as a coal merchant employer. Living with him was his wife Louisa Charabet , age 40 and their two daughters Meriam, born 1894 and Doris Louisa, born 1900. Both daughters had been born in Tunbridge Wells.

William Stephen Putland filed for bankruptcy in 1913 and he was recorded at that time as the secretary of Thomas Putland Limited. An order was given May 5,1914 delaying his discharge from bankruptcy for a further two years. The Edinburgh Gazette of May 20,1913 gave “ William Stephen Putland living care of Mrs Saltmarsh, Micheldene, Warwick Park, Tunbridge Wells,Kent, late secretary of Thomas Putland Ltd”. This was an application filed for discharge from bankruptcy. The same notice was posted in the London  Gazette. A notice of Release of Trustees was posted in the London Gazette of March 6,1914 in which the trustee was identified as Thomas Bourley of 12A Marrborough Place, Brighton. The date of release was given as February 9,1914.

It is interesting to note the record of the 1911 census, taken at 64 Warwick Park(one of the homes that William had built) in which Maria Hawkins Saltmarsh, age 68, widow, born 1843 in London, a picture frame and artists colourman employer, was given as the head of the household. Living with her was her daughter Bessie Augusta Saltmarsh, age 35, single, born 1876 Tunbridge Wells, an assistant to her mother’s business. Also present was William Stephen Putland, age 50, a company secretary, coal merchant and confectioner  and his wife, identified as the daughter of Maria Hawkins Saltmarsh, Louisa Charbut Putland, age 50, married, born 1861 Tunbridge Wells. Louisa was working as an artist and as an assistant to her mother. Also in the home of 9 rooms was Maria’s granddaughter Doris Louisa Putland, age 11, born 1900 in Tunbridge Wells. The family also had one domestic servant. The census recorded that William and his wife Louisa had been married 18 years (actually 1892)and that they had two children. The name of Saltmarsh should be a familiar one for they were a long operating business in the town . Maria Hawkins Saltmarsh had been the wife of Mark Saltmarsh.When Mark passed away his wife took over the businesss and their two daughters Louisa(1861-1956) and Bessie(1875-1964) worked in the shop.For more information about the Saltmarsh business please refer to my article ‘Saltmarsh-Artist Supply Shop’ dated November 18,2011’ in which a brief introduction to the business states “The Saltmarsh artist supply shop has become an institution in Tunbridge Wells,having started business under the name of M. Saltmarsh in 1835.Not only is Saltmarsh's longevity remarkable for the town but the celebrated art supply wholesalers Winsor and Newton,established in 1832,maintain that Saltmarsh's is the oldest surviving retail supplier of art materials in the country.As might be expected for a business that has been in operation for so long,it has changed locations several times.However the decendants of the very first owner,John Saltmarsh,still survive and maintain a link with the shop to this day.

Probate records give that William Stephen Putland of 35 Broadhurst Gardens Hampstead,Middlesex died November 3,1920 at St Elizabeth’s Nursing Home, Holmesdale Gardens, Hastings. The executor of his estate was his wife Louisa Chabbut Putland, widow. He left an estate valued at only 50 pounds.

His wife Louisa lived until 1956. Probate records give that Louisa Charbut Putland of 8 Arundel Road, Tunbridge Wells, widow, died May 9,1956. The executors of her 758 pound estate was her daughter Doris Louisa Harris (wife of Eric Charles Harris) and Nellie Kathleen Dar, widow. Shown above is a photograph of Louisa.


Thomas had been born in the 3rd qtr of 1870 in Tunbridge Wells and was the second eldest son of Thomas Dudley Putman. He was living with his parents and siblings at the time of the 1881 census at 54 High Street. In the 2nd qtr of 1900 he married Martha Thatcher.Martha had been born 1868 at Brixton,Surrey and was one of several children born to Benjamin Thatcher, a “clerk collector in gas light” born 1817 in Middlesex. Martha is found in the 1881 cenus living at 30 Carter Street in Newington,Surrey with her widowed father Banjamin, her 9 year old brother Benjamin and Matilda Thatcher, a 34 year old niece of Benjamin and one servant. In the 1871 census, taken at the same address Martha was living with her father Benjamin and her mother Elizabeth, born 1835 at Camberwell,Surrey.

The 1901 census, taken at 37 Lime Hill Road, Tunbridge Wells records Thomas Septimus Putland as a coal merchant manager. Living with him was his wife Martha, two visitors and two servants. The 1911 census, taken at ‘Knowlehurt’ on Forest Road, Tunbridge Wells records Thomas and his wife lving in 6 rooms. Thomas was at that time a managing director of  a corn, coal, treated water manufacting company and confectioner. The census recorded that the couple had been married 10 years and had one child, but that the child had died in infancy.

At some point in time Thomas and his family move to the Isle of Wight. Probate records give that Thomas Semtimus Putland of Aivilo Gills Cliff Road, Ventnor, I.O.W. died September 7,1951 at St Mary’s Hospital, Newport I.O.W.. His wife Martha was the executor of his 271 pound estate. Probate records for Martha Putland  show she died at the Whtecroft Hospital Newport I.O. June 12,1965. Two solicitors were appointed as the executors of her 355 pound estate.


Lewis was the youngest son of Thomas Dudley Putland and was born  in the 2nd qtr of 1872 at Tunbridge Wells. What became of him is a bit of a mystery for he disappears from census records. Based on passenger lists there is a record of a Lieut. L. P. Putland born abt 1870, given as age 32, who departed from Bristane,Australia and arrived at London April 16,1902. A second passenger list records Mr. L.P. Putland of Cape Town, a resident of South Africa, born 1872 departing from Kibe Japan and arriving at London September 16,1917. Based on the above it would he appear that he like so many from Britain decided to emigrate to South Africa to seek his fortune but later returned to England. He is recorded as having died in the 4th qtr of 1928 at Westhampnett,Sussex.


Mary Ann(1863-1911) was the eldest daughter of Thomas Dudley Putland. She had been born at St Leonards on Sea in 1863. She died March 1,1911 in Walland Farm House in Wadhurst, Sussex. She had married Samuel Fairbrother (1863-1937) in 1887 at Tunbridge Wells. Samuel was a farmer and in 1891 they were living on the family farm at Wadhurst. They were still there in 1901.Mary Ann was buried in St Peter and St Paul’s churchyard. She and her husband had four children. Samuel Fairbrother had been born 1863 at Wadhurst, Sussex and was one of nine children born to Samuel Fairbrother (1829-1899) and Sarah Ann Swift (1831-1921). His father was also a farmer. Samuel died October 7, 1937 at Wadhurst and like his wife, was buried at St Peter and St Paul’s churchyard.


Olivia was the second eldest daughter of Thomas Dudley Putland and had been born in the 4th qtr of 1864 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1881 she was living with her parents and siblings at 54 High Street,Tunbridge Wells. In the 3rd qtr of 1887 she married Henry Dear(1859-1905) and with him had five children between 1889 and 1905. Henry Dear had been born 1859 at Ventnor, Isle of Wight and died July 16,1905 in Tunbridge Wells. He was one of three children born to Clement Dear(1861-1899) and Frances Sarah Way(1816-1866).In 1901 the family was living at Ventnor, I.O.W.

Probate records give Henry Dear of Warwick Park,Tunbridge Wells and that he had died July 16,1905 in Tunbridge Wells. The executors of his 4,586 pound estate was his wife Olivia and James Richard Dear,gentleman.

The book by the Civic Society,regarding Warwick Park, which I referred to earlier also gives the following reference to Henry Dear as one of the developers of this residential subdivision when it states “ There is no evidence to suggest that the developers Dear and Drewitt were not builders/developers as such, but individuals who thought that owning more than one house was a good investment. Henry Dear, who lived at Ventnor, Blatchington Road, only developed three houses in Warwick Park-Standish House on Roedean Road and two adjoining sites, Nos. 84 and 86 Warwick Park. He used Thomas Bates as his builder and architect”. It is interesting to note that he named his house “Ventnor” after the place of his birth in the I.O.W.

After the death of her first husband Olivia remarried in the 4th qtr of 1906, to Albert Arthur Foster.Albert was born in 1864, the son of John Foster and Lydia W. Foster.He had been baptised June 21,1863 at Darlastom,Staffordshire

Based on the 1871 census, Albert was one of five children born to the couple. His father was in 1871 a blast furnace manager and they were living at 30 Walsall road in Darlestone, Shropshire.Probate records show that Albert Arthur Foster was of Buon Porto Dalmeny Road, Southbourne, Bournemouth when he died June 11,1941. The executors of his 3,502 estate was Alice Gertrude Foster, widow. Alice was his second wife.

The 1911 census, taken at Warwick Park, Roedram Road, Tunbridge Wells, recorded Olivia Foster as the head the home and married, although her husband was not present at the time of the cenus. Living with her were three of her daughters Winifred, Olivia May and Henrietta, all with the surname of Dear. They were living in a 12 room home with one servant and the census recorded that she had been married four years.

Probate records for Olivia Foster show she was of The Birches, Victoria Drive at Gognor Regis Sussex (wife of Albert Arthur Foster) and that she died December 6,1936. The executors of her 10,472 pound estate were two solicitors and her daughter Dorothy Dear, spinster and her married daughter Winifred Sargent (wife of Charles Sargent).



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

Date: March 5,2014


Sewage is one topic that few people wish to discuss today, but in the 19th century in Tunbridge Wells it was a topic of great importance and one that invaded on a daily basis both the mind ,eyes and nostrils of local residents  for they were up to their ears in it. Diseases like cholera and typhoid were rampant, killing thousands ,and little was initially known about their cause, but when it was discovered it had to do with contamination by sewage something had to be done about it, and in a hurry.

My interest in the top stems from my background as a Civil Engineer who,in part,  was trained in the design of sewage systems. During my training I was called upon to undertake a detailed study on a topic related to Civil Engineering and give a presentation and paper on it. The topic I chose was to report on the design and operation of the Richmond Hill Sewage Treatment plant ( I lived in Richmond Hill). This work, undertaken in 1970, during my second year of University, was a great success and resulted in me obtaining top marks. The photographs I took were turned into slides and my report was carefully typed up and submitted. I was so proud of my work that I kept the slides and the report and I still have them today.

Apart from that and my general interest in the history of all things related to Tunbridge Wells, the stories my father Douglas told me about his early life in Tunbridge Wells and in Canada, as they related to the disposal of human waste, prompted me to investigate how sewage was handled inTunbridge Wells. My father was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1916 and was fortunate at that time to live in a nice home in the town that had indoor plumbing. When he and his family moved to Canada in the early 1920’s he lived in the large city of Toronto which had modern facilities, but when the family moved 25 miles north of Toronto and settled on agricultural land he had neither electricity, piped water or sewers. As  a boy he had the job of digging a hole in the yard and putting the outhouse over it to handle the family waste and filling the hole in when a new site for the outhouse was needed. Somewhere buried on that property is a trunk of my grandfathers , containing family  items, that was dumped down the outhouse hole and ruined  by pranksters one halloween night in the 1930’s. Fortunatley before WW II that part of Richmond Hill finally was served by electricity, water and sewers and life for the family improved greatly.

This article investigates the state of the sewage system in Tunbridge Wells in the 19th century and the great strides that were taken to establish sewers and a sewage treatment system in the town. The companion article to this one is about the water system entitled ‘The History of the Waterworks System in Tunbridge Wells’ dated January 25,2014.


There was no controlled method for disposing of liquid waste effluent in England until the Victorian times. Before that time waste was dumped in the yard or allowed to flow in open foul smelling ditches where  it drained by gravity into a local steam or other body of water.The use of chamber pots and cesspools in the yard were the norm. Chamber pots were in common use in Europe from ancient times. By the Early Modern era, chamber pots were frequently made of china or copper and could include elaborate decoration. They were emptied into the gutter of the street nearest to the home. During the Victorian era, British housemaids emptied household chamber pots into a "slop sink" that was inside a housemaid's cupboard on the upper floor of the house. The housemaids' cupboard also contained a separate sink, made of wood with a lead lining to prevent chipping china chamber pots, for washing the "bedroom ware". Once indoor running water was built into British houses, servants were sometimes given their own lavatory downstairs, separate from the family lavatory.

By the 16th century, cesspits and cesspools were increasingly dug into the ground near houses in England as a means of collecting waste, as urban populations grew and street gutters became blocked with the larger volume of human waste. Rain was no longer sufficient to wash away waste from the gutters. A pipe connected the latrine to the cesspool, and sometimes a small amount of water washed waste through the pipe into the cesspool. Cesspools would be cleaned out by tradesmen, who pumped out liquid waste, then shovelled out the solid waste and collected it in horse-drawn carts during the night. This solid waste would be used as fertilizer. The perception that human waste had value as fertilizer, and in ammonia production, delayed the construction of a modern sewer system.

The growth of towns and cities and the development of industry caused an acute disposal problem by the middle of the 19th century.The major impetus to take action was the discovery of diseases such as cholera and typhoid are waterbourne and are caused by drinking water and wastewater coming into contact.In the 19th century three epidemics of cholera occurred in the years 1826-1828; 1846-1854; and 1863-1868. The first case of cholera in Kent was in the spring of 1832 with many cases found among hop pickers (shown opposite)from London who had come to Kent during the season to seek work.Many of them came to work on farms in Tunbridge Wells. In most cases the owner of the farm provided no facilities for sanitation. Total deaths in Kent were 2,684 over the three epidemics with Tunbridge Wells being affected most by the epidemic of 1853-1855.Typhoid fever was an accepted fact of life in the 19th century affecting all walks of life with thousands losing their lives.

A series of Royal Commissions  in the 19th century led to a significant change in attitude towards the connection between health and the handling of sewage. In the period of 1842-1857 the dominant idea was for the removal of excretal matters from the vicinity of dwellings wthout much reference to their ultimate fate. In the 1850’s London  decided to address their sanitation problems by installing sewers that discharged the waste into the Thames River. A second phase in the history of sanitation was from 1858 to 1870 when in 1857 a new Royal Commission was appointed to look into what the best method of disposal was. Their final report of 1865 stated that the best method was to apply it continuously to the land to avoid pollution of the rivers.

The disposal of sewage in inland towns was affected in the second half of the 19th century by treatment at sewage farms. The first sewage farm in Tunbridge Wells was being discussed in 1868 and soon after installed, marking the first time that the town had any form of sewage treatment system.The town did however, as recorded in the 1868 hearings on the matter, have sewers in at least part of the town before 1866 ,but there was no treatment of it and the sewage  was allowed to discharge into  Calverley Brook to the north,which ultimately found its way to the River Medway , and into another stream (High Rocks)which drained south towards Groombridge.

The sewage farms,such as the one proposed for Tunbridge Wells in 1868, settled out the majority  of solids as sludge from liquids.The sludge was spread on the land and allowed to dry out before being ploughed into the soil.The liquid was distributed by field irrigation.Sewage farms were used for cereals, root-crops and livestock.They were often large, the size of which depended on the amount of sewage to be disposed of and the nature of the soil conditions at the location of the sewage farm.

By the end of the century many sewage farms became overcrowded due to the growth in the population. It was not until the Commissioners 5th report of 1908 that they considered the use of artificial filtration in sewage treatment as well as the use of irrigation. To meet the growing demand sewage treatment works, using more intensive handling methods were built, often on sewage farm land. At first the percolation filter system ,which still used large amounts of land, was used in sewage treatment works.It was gradually replaced by the more effective and less land-consuming activated sludge  technique which was developed  between 1912 and 1915.Before WW II much of the land used in connection with sewage farms was redundant and came onto the market, where the land was used for housing, leisure activities and industry.

Sewage to the farms was transported in pipes. Initially a combined system was used employing one pipe that handled both sanitary and storm water but later the more efficient and cost effective method of separating storm water and sanitary water came into being and separate pipes became the system most authorities adopted. This method had the benefit of diverting water which did not require treatment away from the sewage treatment system, thus minimizing the amount of effluent to be treated and costs of treatment.

Large sewers were built of brick or cut stone, the smaller ones of clay, cast iron or wood.The size of the sewers increased as more connections to them were made to collect the discharge from the sources along the sewers route. Initially the outfall from the sewer drained into a watercourse but later when the treatment of the sewage became necessary the effluent was carried in a pipe to the treatment facility before being returned to the environment.

Modern treatment systems make use of a multi-stage process involving screening, aeration, chemicals, settling and agitation. Thanks to modern sewage systems;the invention of the flushing toilet by Thomas Crappers patent of 1891, and indoor plumbing with all modern conveniences, we seldom have to think about sewage, a far cry from the state of matters in the 19th century.


The comments I have made under the heading of General History all apply to Tunbridge Wells. The use of gutters and cesspools in the town continued well into the 19th century. How the town dealt with sewage did not change until the Tunbridge Wells Improvement Act came into effect in July 1835 when Tunbridge Wells became a town in its own right.The Act  gave relatively limited self-government over lighting,cleansing, watching(policing),regulating and otherwise improving the town and for regulating the supply of water and other matters,including sewage. The town’s new government was by Improvement Commissioners  who were not elected but were men of property , who owned or occupied  land worth at least 50 pounds a year.This form of governess all changed on January 22,1889  when the town was granted its own charter  and was incorporated as a Borough  with four wards, 24 elected councillors, and eight aldermen.

When sewers were first installed in the town has not been determined by the researcher but it is known that some form of sewage pipe system was in place in at least part of the town  by the 1840’s. Some evidence of this appears in the records of the sewage inquiry that was initiated in 1860 by a complaint from an irate Mr Frederick David Goldsmid who owned the Somerhill estate on the road to Tonbridge. Frederick David Goldsmid was the tenant in life of the Somerhill Estate and had initiated the complaint about sewage on his land. When Frederick David Goldsmid died March 18,1866 the cause was taken up by his son Julian Goldsmid, who upon his father’s death, inherited the Somerhill Estate and other estates of his father.  Goldsmid’s property agent had informed him in 1861 that there was something wrong with the water on the estate as it was not as clear as it used to be and that the problem was getting worse. Inquiries were made and it was determined that the problem lay with the discharge of raw sewage into Calverley Brook, which after passing through other land flowed onto the Somerhill estate before finally discharging into the River Medway. Mr Goldsmid’s complains fell on deaf ears and as nothing was done by the town commissioners to eliminate the nuisance Mr Goldsmith took legal action. The dispute dragged on for years having arrived in the hands of The Rolls Court in 1865, who ruled in favour of Mr Godsmid; then appealed by the Town Commissioners and brought before the Court of Appeal in Chancery in 1867. Throughout much of 1868 the matter was the subject of a lengthy inquiry , in which several proposals had been put forth by Civil Engineer John Rawson, who had been hired by the town to investigate the matter ; file a report; and design a sewage system for the town that would solve the problem. It was estimated that once a decision had been made on the final plan that it would take two years to finish its implementation. From that estimate ,1870 would have been the earliest that a sewage treatment system was put in place. Details of the options discussed ; the plan submitted by John Rawson, and the final outcome of the matter are given beginning with the section ‘The Rolls of Court Case 1865’.

The Friends of the Commons is the source of the following. “ The Brook-The small stream which once marked the county boundary flowed beside what is now Cumberland Walk, behind the lower walk of the Pantilles and along Eridge Road before arriving at the corner of the Common below the cottage,the footpath to which once crossed a small bridge. In 1853, following years of complaint that it had become an open sewer and was a hazard to public health, it was finally enclosed in a barrel drain at the expense of the Local Board,assisted by a contribution from the Earl of Abbergaveny. It now emerges in the garden centre beyond the western boundary of the Common”. Every body of water, no matter what its size or route , became the receptacle for the towns raw sewage before proper underground sewage pipes were installed.


A complaint of “nuisance’ made by Mr Goldsmid, the owner of the Somerhill Estate, that existed ,in his allegation ,as a result of the Local Commissioners actions in discharging raw sewage into Caverley Brook had not been addressed in his opinion and he wanted action taken.As a result he brought his complaint to the Rolls of Court in 1865. Coverage of this matter was given in The Law Times December 2,1865 in which the following information was given in part. “ Rolls of Court-Goldsmid vs The Tunbridge Wells Improvement Commission-Mr Goldsmid, the proprietor of a mansion,park and estate called Somerhill in the parishes of Tonbridge and Tudeley near the town of Tunbridge Wells. Mr Julian Goldsmid had come in possession of the Somerhill estate in 1859 under his father’s will although he did not live there much and was attended to by his resident agent Mr. Nixon.The case was that an ancient brook or stream called The Calverley Brook, which had from time immemorial flowed from Tunbridge Wells in to and through the estate of Somerhill had been fouled by the discharge into it by the defendents work.that the sewage of a portion of the town of Tunbridge Wells which had become a great nuisance to the estate and especially to the park through which the steam passed. The stream or brook took its rise in certain springs in the vicinity of Tunbridge Wells, flowed thence to a place called Colebrook Park; and after passing through a lake there, which it partly filled with water, it entered the Somerhill estate at about two miles from Somerhill.It then traversed the estate for nearly two miles passing through the park of Somerhill and through an ornamental lake which it partly filled with water ,the lake being about 12 acres extent. Emerging from the lake it continued through Somerhill estate till it reached the mill on the borders of it belonging to the plaintiff called the Priory Mill, which it supplied with water. From there the stream passed through other lands than those owned by the plaintiff and eventually emptied into the River Medway.The lake at Somerhill was used for boating and supplied rough ice for the consumption of the mansion house.The water was also used as a drinking place for cattle but unlike the steam was not an ancient lake.

The Calverley springs, from which the water of the steam or brook was given its origin existed on lands belonging to Mr Ward(John Ward of Calverley fame) who was empowered to establish works at the springs for supplying the town with water from them.The effect of the operation of these works was very considerable to diminish the supply of water to the brook.The commissioners were approached and a system of drainage established for conveying the sewage of a portion of the town of Tunbridge Wells into the brook.In or about 1857 that part of the brook was arched over ( a brick arch)and converted into a main sewer, for receiving the outfall of the drains of that part of the town.It was stated that there was no fewer than 16,000 houses there and that the number was increasing. It appeared from a plan attached to the plaintiffs bill that the owner of Colebrook Park had made a deviation or tributary stream from the book in question through his property in 1835 for manufacturing purposes. While these purposes were being carried out the brook was in a purer condition; but they were merely temporary and when discontinued the former impure state of the brook again rose. The defendents commenced their operation soon after they had obtained their local Act, viz in 1846. It was in the course of these operations that they,by allowing sewage matter to be discharged in the Calverley brook from a sewer situated close to the Calverley waterworks, a few miles from the borders of the Somerhill estate, but within the boundary of the commissioners, had fouled the stream in the manner complained of by the plaintiff. The plaintiff discussed the problem with the town authorities in 1860 and corresponded with the town to put a stop to the fouling of the water.The plaintiff claimed that the commissioners had done nothing to address his complaint and that there was no nuisance.As a result the plaintiff sought legal relief from the courts by requesting that an injunction against the commissioners be issued”. As a result the Rolls of Court ruled in favour of the plaintiff but did not at that time issue the injunction as they expected that the commissioners would file an appeal on the matter, which they did. This led to the Court of Appeal in Chancery case which is summarized below.

As a footnote to the above it is known that the source of the towns drinking water was from Jack’s Wood Stream  with Jack Wood’s Spring being is source and that the water pumping plant was installed in the vicinity of what is now the Grosvenor Bridge.The water from that  point was sent to a water reservoir for storage until needed and from that point water was carried to the residents in pipes.Its a good thing that the town decided to use the spring water as drinking water and not the water from the Calverley Brook, otherwise the town would have soon been in need of  a larger cemetery.


The following was noted in the records of the  hearing of 1868 “In the beginning of 1866 the commissioners called in Mr Lawson, a gentleman with considerable experience in matters of this kind, who looked at the whole subject, examined the land on either side and reported to the commissioners what would be the scheme needed to get rid of the complaint of Mr Goldsmid and also effectively drain the district of Tunbridge Wells. Mr Lawson received his instructions January 22,1866 who filed his report Mary 18,1866. It was stated that he had found many difficulties to be overcome.

In reviewing the town‘s sewage system, as it existed in 1866, Mr Lawson looked at different options. One option which he seemed to favour  initially was to take all of the towns sewage ,both from the north and the south, and send it all south to the area of Groombridge. At that time the town’s sewage was being discharged in two directions. The sewage from the north side of the town was being discharged into the Calverley Brook which was the discharge that Mr Goldsmid was concerned about. The sewage from the south side of the town was being discharged in a southerly direction, finding its way into High Rocks Brook and ended up in the Groombridge area.

Mr Lawsons initial plan of sending all the sewage south would have resulted in a considerable increase in the flow of sewage south and the necessity of constructing a sewage tunnel under the town to carry the sewage from the north to the southern outfall. There was strong opposition by those in the Groombridge area to taking all of the towns sewage and strong opposition to the construction of a tunnel under the town,especially the cost of the scheme.

As a result Mr Lawson suggested that construction of the tunnel could be avoided if permission was obtained from the railway to carry the northern sewage in a pipe within the railway tunnel  but the railway would hear none of it.

As a consequence the final plan put forth by Mr Lawson was to keep the northern sewage in the north and the southern sewage in the south . This plan required that land be acquired in both Groombridge and in the Colebrook Park/ Somerhill Estates part of the town; that sewage farms be established at both sites for the purpose of separating the solids from the liquids and that after this “purification” the liquids would be returned to the land to fertilize the ground but more importantly further cleanse the water by natural filtration of the soil. The liquids after such ‘treatment” would then find their way back into the natural streams and brooks mentioned. By this method it was believed that the town’s sewage could be dealt with in such a way that the quantity of it would be disposed of in a cost effective and efficient way and remove the complaints of Mr Goldsmid and others of contamination. However there was still strong opposition and much debate about the matter and this led to the hearings of 1868 held at the Town Hall in Tunbridge Wells. By the time the hearing had been convened Mr Lawson had finalized the details of his proposed sewage system and prepared design drawings, the details of which were reviewed at the 1868 hearing and which are given later by me. Also given later is more information about John Lawson himself and his career as a Civil Engineer.

The journal of Gas Lighting,Water Supply and Sanitary Improvement  dated February 18,1866 gave the following comments on the matter. “ The decision on Mr Lawson’s plan has not yet reached us.We suppose that the end will be that the unfortunate inhabitants of Tunbridge Wells,squeezed between the unrelenting Mr Goldsmid and the hard and fast theories of Mr Rawlinsons late assistant “the most eminent of the day” will be compelled to sink a hundred thousand pounds into a most unsatisfactory matter.Let them turn their attention to deodorization, let them obtain a definite plan from competent persons.Deodorizing will involve comparatively small expense.This can be done before the hot months set in. The other plan under most favourable circumstances will take two years before it can come into useful operation. Dr. Voelcher and Mr Bazalgette as agricultural chemist and engineer have both placed great attention to this deodorizing question,Mr Haywood of the City of London has also studied it with Mr. Letheby”.  You will read later about Dr Voelcher and Mr Bazalgette, the man who designed the London Sewage System in the accounts of the 1868 hearing.


The details of this case , which I summarize  below, were published in The Jurist dated April 21,1867. As noted above this case dealt with an appeal that had been filed by the Tunbridge Wells Improvement Commission w.r.t. the outcome of the 1865 Rolls of Court case which had ruled in favour of the plaintiff, Mr Goldsmid of the Somerhill estate.The case was heard on March 24,1867. The case was “Goldsmid vs The Tunbridge Wells Improvement Commissioners”.

The quantity of sewage discharged into Calverley brook is about 200 to 300 gallons per minute. The smell is most foul and offensive. The brook charged with sewage runs for about a mile and a half through and estate called Colebrook Park, down to a place called Great Lodge and is at some points diverted by means of penstocks or ditches into some meadows by the side of the brook for the purpose of irrigating and fertilizing the meadows. By this irrigation much of the sewage is deposited in the meadows but the rest is returned to the brook and this process of irrigation is not carried out all through the year.It is carried out for two to three months in the summer. At Great Lodge the book enters the plaintiffs estate and flows across it for a short distance to a mill called Powder Mill which is worked buy the stream.At Powder Mill the book leaves the plaintiffs estate and flows for a short distance across other lands but it re-enters the plaintiffs estate, flows through it to his lake a distance of about three miles and one half from Tunbridge Wells.After that it flows down to another mill on the estate called Priory Mill, which it also works;and soon after passing the mill it leaves the estate and drains into the River Medway.

In June 1864 the plaintiff was informed by his resident agent Mr Nixon that the water was less clear and that this was due to the sewage in it .Mr Nixon, upon examining the water in the lake had found a thickening of the water and observed and cleared from the lake a large deposit of foul and offensive mud in a dam or weir, which had been erected in 1860 at the head of the lake for the purpose of keeping out silt and mud.Mr Nixon informed the plaintiff that he understood the problem of the lake water was owing to Tunbridge Wells sewage entering the brook.The plaintiff engaged Mr Cernton, a Civil Engineer to investigate and make a report.The plaintiff made inquiries but nothing was done to correct the problem.The plaintiff then served notice on the defendents July 15,1864 of the nuisance.The result of this case was that the defendents appeal was dismissed and the earlier ruling of 1865 was upheld in favour of Mr Goldsmid. As you will see later the legal action taken by Mr Goldsmid resulted in financial difficulties for the town commissioners for they were prevented from collecting the funds they needed to run the towns affairs. The commissioners needed to do something to resolve the matter and so in 1866 they called in a Civil Engineer by the name of John Rawson (1824-1873) to investigate the problem  and file a report with his recommendations. Details of this are given later in which testimony is given at a hearing in 1868 by Mr Cripps, a local lawyer representing the commissioners, and by John Lawson himself.

The Civic Society Newsletter of Autumn 2006 had this to say “ Goldsmid vs Tunbridge Wells Improvement Commissioners.The Chairman was reading the Proceedings of the Sewage Outfalls Committee of August 20th 1867. It referred to the case of Goldsmid vs Tunbridge Wells Improvement Commissioners. Mr Goldsmid had complained that sewage was being discharged from the town into Calverley Brook which ran through the Somerhill Estate and into his lake. He considered it a health hazard. The Commissioners were not sympathetic. They pointed out that the sewage in the High Rocks Brook at the other end of town was used by farmers there as a ‘source of great profit’. The solid matter in the brook was collected and used to fertilise the land. The landowners looked upon it ‘as a fortunate present’. Faced with the ingratitude of Mr Goldsmid, the Commissioners asked their engineer to prepare a scheme for diverting all of the town’s waste into the southern valley - by means of a tunnel starting near Goods Station Road, running through the railway tunnel then across the Common and down High Rocks Lane to Groombridge. What enterprise! Unfortunately it was never built - the South Eastern Railway Company objected, and there were fears about it polluting the Wells. But doesn’t it just sum up the Victorian era - the can-do attitude, the urge to improve, the dumping of s__ in your neighbours’ backyard.”


The Gas Journal of January 21,1868 gave the following “ For some years past complaints had been made that the High Rocks Brook was at times very offensive but to the farmer the sewage had always been a source of great profit. At certain distances down the brook, extending even into the Groombridge Valley, temporary reservoirs were formed on which the heavier sewage matter was collected and by its use much of the poor land of that district was brought into a high state of cultivation. Mr Smith, the owner of the Great Lodge had constructed at some expense irrigation works and it is well known that he had achieved a great success in applying this diverted sewage to his otherwise very poor unproductive land.Beyond Great Lodge at the watermill there are three large and deep ponds and nobody there complained of the sewage and the ponds were full of fish”.

The hearing was held at the Tunbridge Wells Town Hall and began January 28,1868. The inspector appointed by the Home Secretary opened the hearing regarding an application by Local Commissioners to obtain a provisional order to enable them to take land for the purpose of sewage irrigation. W.C. Cripps and W.P. Trustram appeared on behalf of the local board; Mr  Renshaw appeared representing Mr Julian Goldsmid M.P. who opposed the petition; Mr T.F. Simpson appeared on behalf of Mr John Heugh as landowner; Mr Hopwood on behalf of Rev W. Stephens; and Sydney Alleyne on behalf of the Dorking Charity Trustees and the Rev J.J. Saint of Groombridge.

Mr Cripps led off the testimony by reading the petition and referred to the action taken by Mr Goldsmid  with reference to the 1865 Rolls of Court Case and the 1867 Court of Appeal in Chancery. Mr Cripps stated that “the cost of forming the sewage farm in the Northern Valley was 24,360 pounds 12s 6d ;and in the Southern valley 37,639 pounds 18s 6d.These costs plus the cost of other certain necessary alterations of the sewers in the town and legal expenses brought the total to 70,000 pounds”. Mr Cripps asked that they be allowed to borrow the money with a 50 year repayment plan.This provisional order was requested under the Local Government Act 1858 as amended by the Sewage Utilization Act of 1867.

Mr Cripps stated that the plans for the proposed sewage system were available for viewing at the office of Mr Lawson, the civil engineer the commissioners had hired. Questions were raised about the accuracy of the 70,000 pound cost given by Mr Cripps  “as the cost of the land alone would be 62,000 pounds leaving only 8,000 pounds to cover the cost of the work. It was also stated that details of the proposed work had been published in the local newspaper regarding the taking of land for the sewage irrigation and for the easements required for the sewage pipes .

Mr Cripps outlined the complaint by Mr Godsmid regarding the fouling of Calverley Brook and that after the 1865 case an injunction was granted “and the commissioners set to work to remedy the nuisance and in the beginning of 1866 they called in Mr Lawson  to investigate and report on the matter. Mr Lawson received his instructions January 22,1866 and filed his report May 18.1866.Mr Lawson came to the conclusion that land should be used both in the north and south valet but on the whole of it, looking at future requirements of Tunbridge Wells that it would be advisable to divert the sewage from the north outfall and let it all go to the south. The commissioners expected opposition to this scheme due to its cost and taking the sewage in a direction to the south. Also Mr Lawson proposed a tunnel under the town should be made, and the town was up in arms at the idea. As a result Mr Lawson was asked to look at the matter again and see if it was not possible to obviate the necessity for the tunnel. Mr Lawson reported back verbally that he was able to provide an efficient system of drainage by still allowing the sewage to flow as heretofore partly to the south and partly to the north and still address the concerns of Mr Goldsmid.He was subsequently instructed to prepare the necessary plans for the purpose. Mr Goldsmid had taken further action as in his opinion the commissioners had done nothing to address his concerns and as a result of his actions the commissioners could collect no rates and they were now in the utmost difficulty.”

Mr Cripps outlined the work proposed by Mr Lawson by stating “ According to Mr Lawson’s scheme it was proposed to take the northern sewage from the outfall by means of conduits along the easements over land to a farm near Brooks Mill, and the quantity of land for irrigation was 138 acres-viz 8 acres belonging to Mr Smith, on the Colebrook Estate; 39 acres and 23 perches belonging to the Rev Mr Stephens; 25 acres belonging to Mr Edward Wickhams and 65 acres from Mr Goldsmids land. The sewage on the south side would be taken from the outfall on the farm of 169 ½ acres, consisting of 74 acres and 29 perches belonging to Rev. J.J. Saint; 22 acres and 27 perches from land belonging to Lord Abergavenny; 63 acres 1 rood and 33 perches belonging to Mr George Field of Ashurst Park; and 9 acres and 34 perches belonging to Mr George Heugh. By this scheme Mr Lawson was of the opinion they would entirely get rid of Mr Goldsmids complaint and establish a more effectual system of drainage for the whole town of Tunbridge Wells. Having done this however the government had come to their rescue by passing the Sewage Utilization Act on August 29,1867 which gave the authorities the power they did not have before to acquire land beyond their districts under the Land Clauses Consolidation act. Mr Cripps stated that on one hand Mr Goldsmid wanted something done about the nuisance but on the other hand, by his legal actions, had refused to give the commissioners any facilities for the purpose or to allow them to take any portion of his land. Mr Cripps stated that their scheme “did not in any way affect the residential property of Mr Goldsmid and the nearest part of the proposed sewage farm would be 1-1/2 miles from Somerhill Park.”

Next to speak was Mr Lawson who confirmed the dates of his appointment and his report as testified to by Mr Cripps. He went to say “nearly all of Tunbridge Wells drains to the north valley. The total cost of the works and engineering for both north and south valleys  was estimated to be 2,229 pounds 16s.” He stated that he had been supplied with plans by Mr Wright the surveyor; examined the land and that the land I examined was that almost surrounding Colebrook Park and that in his opinion  “its adaption for sewage irrigation would require the purchase of the mansion and its ornamental grounds.I thought that 130 acres could be obtained there for irrigation purposes but bear in mind that the land had the mansion on it.On some parts of Mr Smith’s land (the owner of Colebrook)there are carriers and some of it has been irrigated.A portion of the land in the 130 acres I believe is also under irrigation.I thought at the time it was well adapted for the purpose and I still do.”

Under questioning by Mr Renshaw , Mr Lawson said that the intercepting sewer from the outfall to the tanks as the sewage field at Colebrook is smaller than the current outfall and therefore some sewage will go directly to Calverley Brook but that this will occur when it rains and the sewage will be sufficiently diluted as to cause no nuisance”. He went on to say to talk about his previous plan to taking all of the sewage south by way of a tunnel under the town or by way of a pipe through the railway tunnel but in the end he felt that idea should be abandoned in favour of the plan he was now recommending. Lawson stated “ I do not propose to alter or enlarge the sewers in the town.At the point where the sewer becomes an open drain I propose to construct an intercepting  sewer with a small gradient to convey the sewage by a route shorter than that of the Calverley Brook to the land intended to be purchased. It will be received there into one or both tanks placed at the same elevation.The sewage will deposit solid matter in the tanks and the liquid matter will flow over and be used for irrigation, being conveyed by carriers onto the land. All the liquid which flows over the carriers must flow into the brook. It is not necessary that the land be absorbant for the purpose of irrigation.The tanks I propose to construct will be open.There might be a smell from them at a quarter of a mile but no further. The size of the tanks on the plan are 150 feet long by about 16 feet wide at the top and about 3 feet deep.They will have brick sloping sides and brick bottoms.The solid matter collected in the tanks may be put on the land or sold. The distance from the proposed farm to the road from Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells is about ¾ of a mile.” The inspector asked Mr Lawson if he was aware “that there was a partial system of sewage irrigation in operation at Southborough” Mr Lawson replied that he knew nothing about Southborough.When questioned by Mr Allenne as to what depth the sewer passing through their land would be Mr Lawson replied “part of it would be 6 feet and at others 8 feet.It would not be prejuditial to the cultivation of the land”. When questioned by Mr Cripps Mr Lawson said “I cannot as an engineer recommend that the commissioners take the Great Lodge Estate”.

Next to Speak was Mr Bailey Denton, an engineer who spoke on behalf of Mr Goldsmid. He state that he had been for the past 20 years an engineer of the General Land Drainage Company and that he had been aquainted with the Somerhill property for many years, which he said “consisted of between 4,000 to 5,000 acres” and that the land proposed to be taken from Mr Goldsmid was upwards of 65 acres that formed part of the 138 acres and that it was at Moat Farm being a mile from Somerhill Park and about 1-1/4 miles from the mansion to the centre of the proposed sewage farm. He said “Mr Lawson has spoken of the sewage work at the Great Lodge as it is now carried on.Comparing the proposed farm to the one that exists, where the nuisance  exists , the fact of the sewage being applied a mile or more closer  to Mr Goldsmid will be a nuisance also.I know that the irrigation works at the Great Lodge extend from the brook to the gardens of Colebrook House.Their irrigation meadow nearest to Colebrook bounds the garden or pleasure ground.A branch of the brook runs at the bottom of the pleasure ground,which does not receive any sewage.” Mr Denton questioned why Mr Lawson did not propose to take sewage on to Colebrook because of the nuisance it would create and which would require the purchase of the whole estate “The fact is that the existing sewage is as near to the house of Colbrook as it can possibly be”.  Mr Denton and Mr Simpson weighed in on that point and stated that Mr Smith who owned Colebrook was the one putting the sewage on his land and that Colebrook was on the market and that the sewage farm should be put there.

Mr Denton then spoke advocating that all of the sewage should be sent to Groombridge and that “Mr Bazalgette has given an opinion that a pipe might be laid down the in the railway tunnel to carry all the sewage south”. Those at the hearing representing interests in Groombridge objected to all of the sewage being sent south. The hearing ended for the day and was reconvened later.

Mr Ryde was called who outlined the position of Mr Goldsmid and stated he advocated the purchase of the Great Lodge Estate for the sewage farm.

Mr Voelcher, the chemist,  referred to earlier next spoke. He was a professor of chemisty to the Royal Agricultural Society of England. He stated that he had inspected Calverley Brook from the sewer outlet down to the Priory Mill on several occasions and that he knew the land  “proposed to be taken for the sewage farm below Powder Mill Land.He said in his opinion that the land sloped too much and was not sure the soil could absorb the liquids.

Civil Engineer R.Grantham testified next. He had been appointed under the government as inspector to the Drainage and Enlosure Commissioners.He also said the land sloped too much and referred to having read a report by Mr Bazalgette who said “ After a personal examination of the northern or Tunbridge and the southern or Groombride valleys, aided by further information you have given me,I agree with you that the land on the southern side is better adapted for sewage purposes. I am of the opinion that all objections which have been raised to the tunnel which Mr Lawson proposed to divert the sewage may be avoided by going through the railway tunnel, the general indication of the railway being in that direction”. Mr Grantham was of the opinion that “there was some land at Liptraps Farm, that would be suitable.The Great Lodge Estate, of which Lipraps was part was on the market” .

Mr Lawson was recalled and stated “I propose to take the sewage from the mouth of the present sewer, carry it by intercepting sewer at a high level to the deposit tanks which were near Roper’s Gate 1-1/2 miles from Groombridge and from there by conduit, culvert or sewer at a higher level than the present brook where the sewage will discharge into tanks proposed to be erected on the land to be purchased for irrigation in the south near Waghorne’s Gate. These tanks will be 182 feet in length; 16 ft wide; 3 ft deep.They would be close to each other and parallel.The nearest part of the sewage farm to Mr Saints house would be 350 yards.The tanks would e 1450 yards from his house. At the present time the whole of the southern sewage went into Mr Saints pond but when the proposed work was carried out the sewage would first be intercepted in the tanks and the remainder made use of for irrigation of the land.The main part of the road at Groombridge would be about 600 yards to the nearest part of the farm.

Proceedings ended for the day the matter was held over to February 8,1868.


The hearings were finally concluded in 1868 and the plan put forth  by Mr Lawson to direct the south outflow to Groombridge and the north outflow to land  in the vicinity of the Colebrook Estate was implemented providing by 1870 some form of sewage treatment in the town.

The Local Government Supplement No. 3 under the heading of ‘Public Bills 1868’ referred to the Clauses Consolidation Act 1845 w.r.t the purchase of land by the local commissioners as amended by the Sewage Utilization act of 1867 regarding land referred to as sewge farm, consisting of a portion of Somerhill Estate, the said Julian Goldsmid appeared by councel on the inquiry directed by the Secretary of State on the said petition, and opposed the scheme proposed regarding the land to be taken and on such inquiry it was suggested that certain land comprising about 110 acres, part of the Colebrook Park Estates, belonging to William Arthur Smith, edq, (which land is herein after referred to as Mr. Smith’s land) as together with certain rights and easments in connection therewith better adapted for the formation of a sewage farm and for sewage works. Mr Goldsmid is to sell his land to the commissioners  for the price of 950 pounds sterling.Purchase to take place on or before October 11,1868. The commissioners to ensure that the outfall from the sewage works into the stream flowing though the Somerhill  Estate of Mr Goldsmid does not adversely affect  Mr Goldsmid”. The land the commissioners got was two parcels of freehold land being about 13 acres near to a road called Power Mill Lane. The agreement between the Local Improvement Commissioners and Mr Julian Goldsmid was entered into on June 1,1868 and outlined the details of the dispute and in the agreement Mr Goldsmid agree to withdraw his objection to the sewage farm and agreed to sell the two parcels of land bordering the railway line at Powder Mill Lane and agreed that the commissioners had the right to construct a roadway with three bridges over the Calverley Brook and the right to remove or destroy the two existing bridges over the brook. The agreement was signed by Julian Goldsmid and withnessed by W.H. Stephens and sealed by the John Elliott the clerk to the Tunbridge Wells Improvement Commissioners.
On May 28,1868 an agreement of purchase and sale was entered into between William Arthur Smith (vendor) and owner of Colebrook Park, and the Tunbridge Wells Improvement Commissioners (purchasers). The detailed purchase and sale agreement, which can be seen in my article about Colebrook Park, stated in brief that Mr Smith had agreed to sell to the commissioners 110 acres of land, being part of the Colebrook Park Estate for the sum of 20,000 pounds. The land purchased included the Colebrook mansion house, all of the outbuildings, lanes and other roads within the land boundary etc.. Mr Smith retained the right to remove any materials of the mansion and other buildings including fences, timber,trees,and other moveable items provided they be removed on or before March 25,1869, the date by which Mr Smith was to deliver the deed to the land. The agreement even included stipulations about how the land was to be used, the construction of roads and buildings upon the land. It is a fascinating and quite complex agreement but it gave the commissioners the right to use the land for a sewage farm and to construct pipes and other conduits upon the land for the conveyance of sewage.

Peltons Guide of 1876 reported “ The public are not allowed to walk, or to drive in flys through Colebrook Park, but it is by the kind permission of Mr Smith, open to equestrians and to private carriages. The best plan is to turn down Blackhurst Lane, a mile on the Pembury Road, and to skirt the new Sandown Park. Entering the first lodge gate on the left, you ride through beautiful plantations containing many rare shrubs and trees, and you can emerge upon the road from Pembury to Tonbridge by the further lodge. Part of the Great Lodge Estate has been purchased by the Town Commissioners and is used as a sewage farm. There are paths and roads little used connecting Powder Mill Lane with Liptrap’s Farm and the Great Lodge Estate, and so with St James Road by Lover’s Lane. A new road, in continuation of Upper Grosvenor Road has lately been opened up as an approach to the Sewage Farm”.

The London Gazette of November 20,1891gave a long announcement pertaining to those matters authorized regarding the local board and said in part “ To empower the local board to purchase and acquire by compulsion or agreement, and to hold the lands hereinafter described –Certain lands forming part of Liptrap Farm, in the parish of Tunbridge, County of Kent, belonging or reported to belong to William Arthur Smith of Colebrook Park, in the said parish, and occupied by Henry Lee Bredshaw, containing by measurement 3 acres or thereabouts and bounded on the east by a proposed roadway abutting on the stream forming the boundary of the Southborough Urban Sanitary District and the Tonbridge Rural Sanitary District, on the north by the roadway leading to the North Sewage Farm  and sewage tanks belonging to and occupied by the Corporation of Tunbridge Wells, and on the west by the South Eastern Railway from Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells, and on the south by other land belonging to the said William Arthur Smith, and occupied by the said Henry Lee Bradshaw”. For further information about Liptrap’s farm referred to in the Gazette refer to my article ‘The History of Liptraps Farm’ dated March 3,2014. Additional information is given in that article about William Arthur Smith and other matters related directly and indirectly to the sewage debate.

Mr William Arthur Smith continued to own the Colebrook estate that was much talked about during the inquiry and died there December 28,1921.


As noted in my coverage of the 1868 hearings conducted on the sewage question Mr Bazelgette was consulted. He had visited the site and formed his opinions and had reviewed the proposed work as designed by John Lawson. In an article about the History of Groombridge it was stated “ In the 1860’s Joseph Bazelgette, the world famous sewage expert, who built the sewers of London, was called to Tunbridge Wells to solve the issue of its own sewage. He devised two sewage installations, one north and one south of the town.So a site near Colebrook Park House was chosen, and as a result the Colebrookes sold up”. The claim that it was Bazelgette who designed the Tunbridge Wells sewage system is incorrect for based on my research, which is  based on the testimony at the 1868 hearing, Mr Bazelgette had been called to render an opinion and as a consequence had come to Tunbridge Wells to inspect the proposed work as designed by Civil Engineer John Lawson and comment on it. He therefore offered his expert opinion on the matter, but it was Lawson who designed the work not Bazelgette.

As chief engineer to London's metropolitan board of works in the mid-19th century, Bazalgette had a significant impact both on London's appearance and, through his design of an efficient sewage system, on the health of its inhabitants. Joseph Bazalgette was born in London on 28 March 1819. His father was a captain in the Royal Navy. Bazalgette began his career as a railway engineer, gaining considerable experience in land drainage and reclamation. In 1842 he set up in private practice.

In 1856, London's metropolitan board of works was established. The board was the first organisation to supervise public works in a unified way over the whole city, and it elected Joseph Bazalgette as its first, and only, chief engineer.

In the mid-19th century, London was suffering from recurring epidemics of cholera. In 1853 - 1854 more than 10,000 Londoners were killed by the disease. It was thought at the time to be caused by foul air. The hot summer of 1858 created the 'Great Stink of London', which overwhelmed all those who went near the Thames - including the occupants of Parliament. This, together with the frequent occurrence of cholera, gave impetus to legislation enabling the metropolitan board to begin work on sewers and street improvements. By 1866 most of London was connected to a sewer network devised by Bazalgette.

He saw to it that the flow of foul water from old sewers and underground rivers was intercepted, and diverted along new, low-level sewers, built behind embankments on the riverfront and taken to new treatment works.

By 1870 both the Albert and the Victoria Embankments had been opened. These replaced the tidal mud of the Thames shore with reclaimed ground for riverside roads and gardens behind their curved river walls. The Victoria Embankment protected Bazalgette's low-level sewer, as well as a service subway and the underground railway. The Chelsea Embankment was completed in 1874, reclaiming over 52 acres from the Thames.

Throughout this busy time, Bazalgette continued to train young civil engineers and provide independent advice to other British towns and cities - as well as places as far apart as Budapest and Port Louis, Mauritius.Mr Bazalgette died on 15 March 1891.

JOHN LAWSON (1824-1873)

John Lawson was the civil engineer who was hired by the Town Commissioners in 1866 to look into the matter of the sewage question. He prepared a report and engineering drawings based on his investigations and it was based on his work that the proposed sewage farm works were constructed.

The following obituary was published by the Institute of Civil Engineers. “   MR. JOHN LAWSON was born at Skerton, near Lancaster, on the 25th of May, 1821, and was educated at the national school in that town.

At the age of fourteen he entered, as a pupil, the office of the late Mr. William Lamb, of Hay Carr, near Lancaster, who was then agent for the extensive estates of the Duke of Hamilton in the County Palatine. Mr. Lamb, though nominally a land agent, had been brought up under the late Mr. Miller, of Preston, who called himself a surveyor, as was customary in those days, but who was really engaged in all the engineering works of the district, such as the laying out and making of roads and canals, the reclamation of land, main drainage operations, &c.

By 1871 John was married to Ellen and had two sons Thomas, born 1862, and Charles ,born 1864.

Mr. Lawson spent nearly seven years at Hay Carr, during which time he was engaged in surveying and preparing plans of several townships for tithe-commutation purposes; in laying out roads, watercourses and extensive drainage works; in the valuation of land for railways and buildings, and in settling accommodation works for landowners, in connection with the railways - the Lancaster and Preston and Lancaster and Carlisle - then in course of construction in the neighbourhood.

He also had to undertake the preparation of plans for new farm buildings, and to superintend their erection, and other works of improvement in roads, fences, drains, &c., on large estates under the management of a progressive, educated, and thoroughly competent agent.

For the last two years of his pupilage, Mr. Lawson was responsible for the management of the office and the general direction of the whole staff.

Mr. Lamb was a person of precise and rigorous habits, who required that his work should be done with the utmost regularity and accuracy, and the result of this seven years’ training on a man of Mr. Lawson’s acuteness and industry was evinced in the clear, systematic, and painstaking intelligence which he subsequently brought to bear upon all that he undertook.

After leaving Hay Carr in the year 1848, he was appointed the Resident Engineer and agent for the Bold Hall, Burtonwood, and Sutton estates in the neighbourhood of Warrington, then belonging to Sir Henry Bold Houghton, Bart., and he held this appointment for about three years.

During this period he laid out and executed extensive improvements in the roads, drives, watercourses and drainage of the estates, and erected some of the most extensive farm buildings in the north of England.

In 1848, in conjunction with Mr. Hugh U. McKie, Assoc. Inst. C.E., he purchased the business of Mr. John Watson, M. Inst. C.E., and carried that business on in Lancaster until the year 1856, during which time he was actively occupied in railway and estate surveys, in road making, bridge building, harbour works, laying out building land, &c., and all the varied practice of a country engineer’s office.

In 1850 he commenced the preliminary investigations, gaugings, surveys, &C., in connection with the Lancaster water supply, and subsequently got up the parliamentary plans for these works. After the passing of the Act he was engaged by Mr. Rawlinson, C.B., M. Inst. C.E., and under him he carried out, as Resident, the whole of the works of water supply and sewerage of the town.

In 1866 he left Lancaster and entered Mr. Rawlinson’s office in London, as principal assistant and manager, and was thus for several years intimately connected with the various works of town improvement that Mr. Rawlinson was then engaged upon. In 1862, on Mr. Rawlinson’s retirement from active private practice, Mr. Lawson took over the business, and carried it on up to the time of his death; for the later years of his life in partnership with Mr. James Mansergh, M. Inst. C.E.

Having devoted his attention principally to sanitary engineering, Mr. Lawson was extensively employed in reporting upon and constructing works for the supply of water to towns, and for the removal and treatment of sewage. Among others may be enumerated Bedford, Cockermouth, Workington, Maryport, Grantham, Horncastle, Tunbridge Wells, Hexham, Keswick, Rotherham, Reading, Lincoln, Middlesborough, Barnet, Burton-on-Trent, Clevedon, Sherborne, &c.

In 1867 Mr. Lawson was sent out, by the Colonial Office, to report upon the sanitary condition of Valetta and the other towns adjoining in the island of Malta, and to prepare a scheme for the sewering of those places.

In later years he was consulted as to the disposal of the sewage of many towns, such as Birmingham, Darlington, Windsor, Twickenham, Southport, &C., and was Consulting Engineer for two of the earliest Bills - viz., Blackburn and Reading - that were brought into Parliament for the purpose of obtaining compulsory powers for the purchase of land for sewage purification purposes. For some time prior to his death Mr. Lawson’s health gradually broke down, as a consequence, it is believed, of overwork and the anxieties specially incident to his occupation, and he died on the 7th of February, 1873, at the comparatively early age of forty-eight, leaving an estate to his wife Ellen valued at under 6,000 pounds. He had died at his home at Lunesdale House at Marylebone, Middlesex.

Mr. Lawson had a remarkable faculty for unravelling the mysteries of masses of figures, and so marshalling them in a tabular form as to make them self-explanatory. He was a self-possessed and trustworthy. witness on public inquiries and before Parliamentary Committees, where his honest, serious style of giving evidence was effective and convincing. He was a man of modest and unobtrusive habits, and attained his position by dint of sterling merit. He was highly esteemed by all with whom he was brought into contact on business matters, for his quiet, earnest thoughtfulness, and his conscientious devotion to his clients’ interests. Possessing a clear head and sound judgment, he was looked up to by his friends as a safe and reliable counsellor, and his unselfish kindliness of heart never permitted him to spare himself labour or trouble which would benefit them. Mr. Lawson was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 1st of March, 1859.        


William Brentnall, born on the 30th of March, 1829, was a native of Ilkeston in Derbyshire, where his father was in business as a builder and contractor. Mr Brentnall, who I have written about in detail in my article “The History of the Waterworks System of Tunbridge Wells” had been appointed as Surveyor and Waterworks Engineer to the Borough of Tunbridge Wells in 1870 and remained in that position for 24 years. He had been employed from 1864 to 1870 as the Resident Engineer, under the late John Lawson, on the sewage of Keswick, Cockermouth and Workington and on the waterworks of Maryport.William Brentnall played an important role in the development of the  sewage system in Tunbridge Wells and it was he that inherited the system that had been designed by John Lawson. Details about his live and career are given in my article ' William Brentnall-Tunbridge Wells Town Engineer and Surveyor' dated December 22,2012. In the photo above William is shown seated far right at a Borough Council meeting of 1891.

SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (1838-1896)           

Sir Julian Goldsmid, 3rd Baronet (8 October 1838 – 7 January 1896) was a British lawyer, businessman and Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1866 and 1896.

Goldsmid was the son of Frederick Goldsmid and his wife Caroline Samuel. His father was a banker and Member of Parliament for Honiton. Goldsmid was educated privately until he entered University College, London. In 1864 he became a fellow of University College, and was also called to the bar.After a brief period on the Oxford circuit, he gave up practicing law when he was elected to parliament.

In 1868 Goldsmid married Virginia Philipson of Florence and had eight daughters.He and his family lived at their grand Somerhill Estate on the road to Tonbridge which was 4,000 to 5,000 acres  consisting of a large mansion, a park, a farm, and an ornamental lake used for boating and swimming and from which ice was collected in the winter for use in the mansion. He also owned Priorty Mill and others.Julian Goldsmit became entitled to Somerhill estate in 1859 under his father’s will but did not reside there much. His agent, Mr Nixon, attended to the estate in his absence.In the 1860’s Goldsmid became involved in a dispute with the Local Commissioners of Tunbridge Wells regarding the dumping of raw sewage into Calverley Brook which after passing through other land, entered upon and passed through his lake and estate before discharging into the River Medway. Mr Goldsmid complained about the fouling of the water and the nuisance it caused and he took action in court to seek a remedy, which he eventually received.

Goldsmid was first stood for Parliament at a by-election in February 1864 for the borough of Brighton, without success, and he was defeated again at the 1865 general election, when he contested Cirencester.He was elected unopposed as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Honiton at a by-election in March 1866.In that year, Goldsmid inherited Somerhill House near Tonbridge, Kent, on the death of his father.Honiton was disfranchised in 1868 by the Reform Act of 1867 and at the 1868 general election Goldsmid stood unsuccessfully for Mid Surrey.He was elected for Rochester at a by-election in 1870 and held the seat until his defeat at the 1880 general election.In 1879, Goldsmid began expanding Somerhill to accommodate his large family - he had eight daughters. The work took until 1897 to complete.

He then contested a by-election in May 1880 for Sandwich,and was returned to the Commons after a five-year absence at the 1885 general election as MP for St Pancras South,[10] holding that seat until his death in 1896.In 1894 Goldsmid was deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.

In 1878 Goldsmid succeeded his uncle, Sir Francis Goldsmid to the baronetcy and to the estate of Whiteknights Park at Earley in Berkshire, as well as others in Sussex, Kent and elsewhere. He also bore the Portuguese title of Baron de Goldsmid e da Palmeira.His business interests included being chairman of the Submarine Telegraph Company and the Imperial and Continental Gas Association, and he was a director of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway. A steam locomotive was named Goldsmid after him in 1892.

Goldsmid was treasurer of University College in 1880-81 and was a member of the council of University College Hospital. He was vice-chancellor of the University of London when he died. He was Deputy lieutenant of Kent, Sussex, and Berkshire, J. P. for Kent, Sussex, and London, colonel of the 1st Sussex Rifle Volunteers, and honorary colonel of the 1st Sussex Artillery Volunteers.

Goldsmid died at the age of 57 at Brighton where his grandfather, Sir Isaac Goldsmid had purchased the Wick Estate in 1830. "Julian Road" in the estate is named after him.

                                                                          GO  TO PAGE 2









Web Hosting Companies