ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Page 2

 

 

LONDON HOUSE -NO. 1 THE PARADE

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

Date: July 31,2018

OVERVIEW

The Parade, also later (circa 1891)known as The Pantiles, named as such after the clay tiles on the walks, is the oldest commercial district in Tunbridge Wells, dating back to the 17th century. It was during the 17th century that rows of shops were built, among them being a shop on the corner of Nevill Road and the entrance to the Pantiles at the Bath House that became known as “London House”. Shown opposite is an engraving showing Bath Square in the late 1880’s in which the Bath House, then named Crafton House is most apparent. To the right of it is the entrance to the Pantiles beyond which can be seen a partial view of King Charles the Martyr Church on the corner of Nevill Street and London Road. At this entrance on the right side of the engraving is London House at No. 1 The Parade. Other views of this building are given later in this article.

London House was a shop that over the years saw many proprietors, largely in the 19th century being linen drapers but which in 2014 was a jewellery shop called Glitterati.

The earliest occupants of this shop are unknown but the 1824 Pigots directory noted that Richard Corke (1799-1858) was listed as a linen draper in the Parade. In the1840 Pigots directory were three listings for him namely (1) Fire-Office Agent-Richard Corke, Bath Square (2) Richard Corke, Mount Sion Road, hatter and clothier (3) Richard Corke, Chapel Yard (near the Pantiles) linen draper and silk mercer. Richard is found at London House, The Parade, as a draper in the 1841 census. With him was his wife Hannah Noakes Corke, nee Huntley (1802-1975) and their three sons. Mrs Corke, in a book about her son Richard Huntley Corke (1822-1843) entitled ‘The Refiners Fire’ published in 1852, provides a moving account about her son who’s life was cut short by severe medical problems and in part she states that in 1832 typhus fever swept through Tunbridge Wells and that eleven members of her family came down with it. By 1851 the Corke family left Tunbridge Wells. His son Henry Noakes Corke (1825-1892) returned to Tunbridge Wells by 1860 and ran  a tailors, drapers, clothiers business at ‘The Cloth Mart’ but left to live in Maidstone and ran a similar business there.

Mr Corke’s shop was taken over upon his departure by Charles Edwards, a silk mercer,haberdasher and linen draper. He is found at London House in a 1858 directory and in the 1851 census with a staff of 25 . Charles, born 1816 in Middlesex was working in London as a linen draper at the time of the 1841 census. Charles left Tunbridge Wells sometime after 1858  and before 1860.

A directory of 1860 listed William Beale at London House, London Road, Tunbridge Wells and that he ran the post office and was a tea dealer, grocer, wine seller etc.

The 1861 census, taken at London House, The Parade, gave Edward Millard (born 1828 in Hampshire) as a silk mercer and draper. With him was his wife and his four children, three visitors, domestics and a staff of three. Edward ran this shop until Charles Cornelius Thorley (1821-1890) took it over sometime before 1868. Charles never married and was found at London House at the time of the publication of the 1868 directory.

The 1871 census, taken at London House gave Charles Thorley as a linen draper. With him was his partner Gustavus Beckley, a linen draper, and twelve members of staff.

The 1881 census, taken at London House gave Charles Cornelius Thorley (born in Somerset 1827) and is partner Gustavus Beckley (born in London 1838) along with nine shop workers.

Charles was still running the shop there at the time that a 1887 directory was published. Charles died at 3 Belmont, Tunbridge Wells in 1890. The executors of his estate were his niece Jane Anne Vowley and most interestingly Edward Horace Booty, a draper of Tunbridge Wells.

As noted in the booklet about the Pantiles by Philip Whitbourn, and as reported by me in an article about the Booty clan, various members of the family were drapers with premises in the Pantiles. Also noted was William Dust a silk mercher and Linen draper who established his business at No’s 1-5 The Pantiles in 1889. Since I have reported on William Dust before this article ends with the story of London House up to the death of Charles Cornelius Thorley in1890.

THE CORKE FAMILY

The earliest reference to the Corke family in Tunbridge Wells as it relates to London House was the 1824 Pigots directory which gave the listing “ Richard Corke, linen draper, The Parade”.

The 1840 Pigots directory gave the following listings (1) Fire-Office Agent-Richard Corke, Bath Square (2) Richard Corke, Mount Sion Road, hatter and clothier (3) Richard Corke, Chapel Yard (near the Pantiles) linen draper and silk mercer.

The 1841 census taken at London House, Parade, noted that London House was next to the Bath Square (image opposite dated 1827). Found there was Richard Corke (1799-1858), a draper. Also there was his wife Hannah Noakes Huntley Corke (1802-1875) and their three sons Richard Huntley Corke (1822-1843), Henry Noakes Corke (1825-1892) and John Corke who was born in 1833. All three of these sons were born in Speldhurst. Richard and his wife went on to have one more child namely Leighton Huntley Corke who was born in Speldhurst in 1844. Richard Huntley Corke was baptised June 10,1822 at St Mary’s Church in Speldhurst. Henry Noakes Corke was also baptised at St Mary’s Church. John Corke was baptised September 1,1833 at St Peter’s Church in Speldhurst as was Leighton Huntley Corke.

The Corke family were highly religious as noted by the contents of a book published in 1852 entitled ‘ The Refiners Fire’. This book was published in London and written by Mrs Hannah Noakes Huntley Corke (1802-1875) as a memorial to the tragic life of her son Richard Huntley Corke. The full contents of this book can be read online and includes many references and details of the family’s life in Tunbridge Wells, such as then taking church services at King Charles the Martyr Church( image opposite) which was just a stone’s throw from the location of Richard’s shop at London House. In this book Mrs Corke states that her son Richard was born in Tunbridge Wells on Whitsunday May 26,1822 who was a healthy child until the age of 10 when typhus swept through Tunbridge Wells and that eleven members of Mrs Corke’s family had come down with the disease. Her sons Henry and Richard were sent off to a boys school in Hawkhurst but the education of her son Richard was interrupted by his illness and had to return home. Mrs Corke goes on in the book to describe in detail the times and tribulations of her son who suffered both illness and back operations and rendered an invalid before his life ended far too soon at age 21. It’s a moving account, one I recommend you read.

Richard Corke (1799-1858) was born in Seal, Kent and lived his early life there. His brother Benjamin Corke was born in Seal in 1798 and at the time of the 1851 census, taken in Seal, Benjamin was a master carpenter employing 6 men.

On November 14, 1821 Richard married Hannah Noakes Huntley (1802-1875) in Speldhurst. Hannah had been born in the 1st qtr of 1802 at Speldhurst and was baptised in Speldhurst June 14,1802. She was one of three known children born in Speldhurst to Thomas Huntley(born April 25,1746 in Ticehurst) and Hannah Noakes(born 1760 in Kent) between 1800 and 1808.

Although the birth and baptism records for the four children born to Richard and Hannah Corke give Speldhurst Mrs Hannah Corke, in her book of 1852, states that her eldest son Richard was born May 26,1822 in Tunbridge Wells. In July 1832 Mrs Corke sent her ailing son Richard to live in a cottage in Southborough for a few weeks for some air, where he improved and then returned home to Tunbridge Wells. Both Richard and his brother Henry were sent off to a boys school in Hawkhurst but die to health issues Richard had to return home. Henry was still at Hawkhurst attending school in 1834 but Richard was not able to join him there. She records that on October 14,1838 “we heard a sermon at Mount Sion Chapel ( a reference to King Charles the Martyr Church). The book contains several letters by her son Richard including one dated “ Tunbridge Wells December 8,1838”. After trips away for his health poor Richard died in Tunbridge Wells in the family home on September 25,1843.

Colbrans 1840 guide listed Richard Corke as a linen draper and undertaker at Chapel Yard,Tunbridge Wells “with show rooms for millinery, rich dresses, silks and shawls”.

The 1841 census, taken at London House, Parade gave Richard Corke as a draper. With him was his wife Hannah and their children Richard, Henry and John. The census noted that London House was next to Bath Square in the Parade. Also at London House at the time of the census were four milliners, five dress makers, four shop assistants, six drapers and one house keeper.

The 1851 census, taken at Seal Village in Seal, Kent (image opposite) gave Richard Corke, a draper; his wife Hannah; his son Henry, a draper; his son John, a draper and his son Leighton , a drapers son, living as visitors with Richards brother Benjamin Corke ,age 50,( master carpenter) and Benjamin’s wife Elizabeth Anne ,age 47 and their seven children.

Although listed as “visitors” in the 1851 census, the 1851 census for Tunbridge Wells, taken at London House, confirms that the Corke family did not return to Tunbridge Wells and their shop at London House was taken over by 1851 by Charles Edwards, details of which are given in the next section of this article.

Richard Corke died in Seal, Kent in 1858. The 1861 census gave his widow Hannah living in Maidstone, Kent. At the time of the 1871 census Hannah was living at St Andrew Holborn London. Probate records gave Hannah Corke late of Gravesend, Kent, widow, died January 27,1875 at Gravesend. The executor of her under 300 pound estate was her son Henry Noakes Corke of Maidstone, a draper, and one of the next of kin.

In closing off this section on the Corke family below is given a brief mention of Henry Noakes Corke (1825-1892), and Leighton Huntley Corke the sons of Richard and Hannah Corke.

(1)Henry Noakes Corke, who was referred to as the executor of his mother’s estate in 1875 had lived in Tunbridge Wells with his parents and siblings up to 1851. At the time of the 1851 census he and his parents and siblings were living as visitors in Seal, Kent with Henry’s occupation given at that time as “draper”. It is clear that all of Richard’s sons followed him into the family business. Henry went on to marry Elizabeth R. (maiden name unknown) in the early 1850’s.  A directory for Tunbridge Wells of 1860 gave “H. Corke & Co, tailors, woolen drapers, clothiers etc at the Cloth Mart” which suggests that this was Henry Noakes Corke.The 1861 census, taken at 80-81 Bank Street in Maidstone gave Henry as a draper employing one man and five women. With him was his wife Elizabeth (born 1832 in Weymouth, Dorset) and their two children William , born 1854 in Maidstone, and Arthur, born 1859 in Maidstone. Also there were six shop workers and one domestic servant. Probate records gave Henry Noakes Corke of Bank Street, Maidstone, draper, when he died January 16,1892. The executors of his 13,996 pound estate were his widow Elizabeth; Henrietta Bessie Corke and Emma Corke, spinsters and William Henry Corke, gentleman.  Henry and his wife Elizabeth Robinson Corke, nee Musgrave (1833-1914) had six children born between 1854 and 1873, all of whom were born in Maidstone,

(2) Leighton Huntley Corke was born in Speldhurst 1844. At the time of the 1851 census he was living with his parents and siblings but left the family home in the late 1850’s. At the time of the 1861 census he was living in Southwark St Saviour, Surrey. On October 7,1863, at Westminster, he married Charlotte Virginian O’Carroll (1840-1927) and with her had the following children (1) Leighton Henry Corke (1867-1896) (2) Frederic Huntley Corke (1869-1937 in Sydney, Australia) (3) Lillian Frances Corke (born 1881).  Charlotte was living in Paddington at the time of the marriage and was given in marriage records as the daughter of William Dennis O’Carroll, gentleman. Leighton junior had been born in Maidstone and Frederic was born in Bayswater, Middlesex. Lillian was born in Paddington, London. Leighton’s wife Charlotte died September 2,1929 at Brentford,London. At the time of the 1861 census Leighton was working as a clerk at the Bride House Hotel at 2 Wellington Street.

CHARLES EDWARDS AT LONDON HOUSE

Richard Corke’s shop was taken over upon his departure by Charles Edwards, a silk mercer,haberdasher and linen draper.

Charles is found at London House in a 1858 directory as a “linen draper etc”  and in the 1851 census with a staff of 25 at London House, the Parade where he was single and given as a “linen draper etc”. Shown opposite is an 1858 advertisment for his business.

Charles, born 1816 in Middlesex was working in London as a linen draper at the time of the 1841 census. With him in this census was his brother Robert Edwards, age 20; three linen drapers and two domestic servants.

Charles left Tunbridge Wells sometime after 1858  and before 1860

WILLIAM BEALE AT LONDON HOUSE

A directory of 1860 (image opposite) listed William Beale at London House, London Road, Tunbridge Wells and that he ran the post office and was a tea dealer, grocer, wine seller etc. This must have been a short term business for by 1861 London House was the drapers shop of Edward Millard.

EDWARD MILLARD AT LONDON HOUSE

The earliest reference to Edward Millard at London House was the 1861 census taken at “London House, Frant Road”. In this census Edward was given as born 1828 in Southampton, Hampshire, a silk mercer and draper. With him was his wife Emma,age 38, born at St Stephens Leicestershire. Also there were their children Langton age 8; Frank,age 6; Mary,age 5 and Alice age 1. All of the children were born between 1853 and 1860 at St Marylebone, Middlsex. Also there were three visitors (one linen draper and two teachers), a governess, two domestic nurses and one cook, one housekeeper and two children in the Trice family who were attending school. Shown above is an advertisement for his business that appeared in a directory of 1863.

Edward vacated this shop sometime before 1868 and left Tunbridge Wells.

CHARLES CORNELIUS THORLEY AT LONDON HOUSE

The earliest reference to Charles at London House was a directory of 1868 which gave him as a linen draper. A directory of 1887 gave “ Charles C. Thorley, 1 Parade,Tunbridge Wells, draper”.

Charles was born in 1821 and baptised November 14,1821 at Wells, Somerset. He was given as the son of Charles James Thorley and Lucy Thorley.  

The 1871 census taken at London House, Frant Road (part of which was stated to be in Speldhurst) gave Charles as a linen draper. With him was his partner Gustavus Beckley, linen draper, and twelve shop assistants.

The 1881 census, taken at London House, Frant Road, gave Charles C. Thorley as single and born 1821 in Somerset, a silk mercer. Also there was his business partner Gustavus Beckley, single, born 1838 in London, silk mercer. With them were 28 members of staff with occupations of drapers assistants, dressmaker, milliner, clerk, four housemaids and one cook.

Probate records gave Charles Cornelius Thorley late of Tunbridge Wells who died January 2,1890 at 3 Belmont Tunbridge Wells. The executors of his 24,290 pound estate were Edward Horace Booty of Tunbridge Wells, draper, and Jane Anne Vowley of 3 Belmont, spinster, the niece.

THE BOOTY CLAN

As noted above Edward Horace Booty was a draper and one of the executors of the estate of Charles Cornelius Thorley in 1890.

The presence of the Booty family in the Pantiles was reported on in detail in my article ‘James Booty-A Pantiles Silk Mercer’ dated September 2,2014.

DUSTS CORNER

Shown opposite is a sketch with caption dated 1975 of Dusts corner showing the shops at 1 to 5 Pantiles.  In 1978 this block of shops was refurbished.

William Dust established his silk mercers business at Nos 1-5 the Pantiles in 1889. This business went on to become the leading fashion house of its time in the town. Shown opposite are two advertisments for the Dust business.

Details about the Dust family and business can be found in my article ‘ William Dust-A Pantiles Silk Mercer’ dated August 28,2014.

 

 

 

 

THOMAS GODFREY HEARNDEN CORN AND COAL MERCHANT

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

Date: July 30,2018

OVERVIEW

Thomas Godfrey Hearnden was born 1873 in Maidstone, one of several children born to Thomas James Hearnden (1855-1913) and Frances Hearnden, nee Terry (1855-1905).

Thomas lived with his parents and siblings in Maidstone up to the time of his marriage to Flora Martin (1868-1930) on March 22,1896. It appears form the absence of birth records that the couple had no children, which is also confirmed by the 1911 census.

Soon after the marriage Thomas and his wife moved to Southborough. A directory of 1899 , under the heading of millers, gave Thomas George Hearnden, Western Road, Southborough. The 1901 census recorded that Thomas was a corn merchant employing others at his Southborough business. A directory of 1903, under the heading of millers gave “ Thomas Godfrey Hearnden, Western Road and 60A London Road,Southborough. Later Thomas moved his business to 52 London Road, Southborough, as noted in a 1918 directory. From at least 1913 up to about 1920 he lived a The Firs on Yew Tree Road.

Thomas expanded his business to also become a coal dealer, and coal cars bearing his name were used to import coal to Tunbridge Wells, which coal was offloaded at the Goods Station and distributed from there to his depots. He had coal offices on Grosvenor Road and Monson Road in Tunbridge Wells and at London Road,Victoria Road  and Western Road in Southborough. He incorporated his business in the early 1900’s as T.G. Hearnden Ltd.

Thomas took an active role in local affairs. He was initiated into the Tunbridge Wells Pantiles Lodge of the Freemasons in 1900. He was a member of the Southborough Urban District Council . During the war he advertised corn meal as an ideal food for chickens, which people were encouraged to raise to supplement rations during WW1. He was also a member of a Council Committee set up to manage the distribution of coal to poor families. When the Southborough Football Club was suspended during WW1 he took over the responsibility for their grounds. Thomas also took an active part in the Southborough Cricket Club. He was interested in cycling and was active in the events of the Southborough Cycling Club. In February 1906 for example, as chairman, he spoke and handed out the cycling club prizes.

William Edward Cass, a second Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps died at age 21 on June 4,1917. He was the son of John William and Elizabeth Jane Cass of 60 Prospect Road in Southborough. An inquest was held at the Southborough Cemetery,at which inquest Thomas Godfrey Hearnden was chosen as foreman of the jury. Witnesses testified that William Cass was seen performing aerial stunts before his plane crashed in Southborough.

In the 1920’s Thomas and his wife left Southborough and Tunbridge Wells . Probate records gave Thomas Godfrey Hearnden late of Roydon 14 Marina St Leonards-On-Sea, formerly of Southborough, Kent, who died October 11,1924. The executors of his 1,250 pound estate was his widow Flora and Percy James Lidbetter, a printer. His wife Flora died in the 1st qtr of 1930 at Chelsea, London. The solicitors for the executors were Buss Bretherton and Murton-Neale of 2 The Priory, Tunbridge Wells.

The business of William Godfrey Hearnden was taken over by John Herbert Allan, who was found at 52 London Road in directories of 1930 and 1934 as a corn and flour dealer. He was related to Thomas C. Allan, a coal merchant with premises in Tunbridge Wells on Camden Road.

In this article I present information about the Hearnden family and the public and business activities of Thomas Godfrey Hearnden in Southborough and Tunbridge Wells. Photographs of his business premises and a coal car bearing his name are given as well as other related information. Shown above is a Dapol model of his 5 plank wagon that was offered for sale at a Tunbridge Wells model shop.

THE PRE SOUTHBOROUGH YEARS

Thomas Godfrey Hearnden was born in the 1st qtr of 1873 in Maidstone, one of eight children born to Thomas James Hearnden (1855-1913) and Frances Hearnden, nee Terry (1855-1905).

At the time of the 1881 census Thomas was living with his parents and siblings in Maidstone, Kent.

The 1891 census, taken at 6 Middle Row, Maidstone gave Thomas J. Hearnden with the occupation of “eating house keeper”. With him was his wife Frances; his son Thomas Godfrey Hearnden (a shopman); his son Alfred John Hearnden (1874-1910) (a shopman); his son Charles (1879-1960) (a scholar) and his daughter Beatrice Maud (1886-1958) (a scholar). Also there were three lodgers.

On May 22,1896 Thomas married Flora Martin (1868-1930) in Maidstone. Flora was born in the 1st qtr of 1888 at Brockenhurst, Hampshire and was one of eight children born to Moses (a steward) and Ellen Martin. Prior to her marriage she was living at Brockenhurst with her parents and seven siblings. As not birth records were found of children born to Thomas and his wife, and since the 1911 census did not record any children, it is believed that the couple had no children.

HIS LIFE AND CAREER IN SOUTHBOROUGH AND TUNBRIDGE WELLS

It is believed by the researcher that Thomas and his wife came to Southborough after their marriage in 1896. The earliest record of him in Southborough was a 1899 directory which gave “ Thomas Godfrey Hearnden, Western Road, Southborough. Thomas began his career in Southborough as a miller/corn merchant but later expanded his business to be a coal merchant as well.  Shown opposite is a postcard view of the intersection of Western Road and London Road in Southborough by Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn.

On February 7,1900 Thomas was initiated into the Pantiles Lodge of Tunbridge Wells in the Freemasons. His occupation at that time was given as “corn merchant”.

The 1901 census, taken at 34 Hardy Street, gave Thomas as a corn merchant employer. He was living there for a short time as a visitor. His wife was found in the 1901 census in Southborough. The Kent & Sussex Courier of March 8,1901 referred to the nomination of “Mr. Thomas Godfrey Hearnden by Mr Frank Daniel Draper”.

A 1903 directory gave the listing “ Thomas Godfrey Hearnden, miller, Western Road and 60A London Road,Southborough.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of February 17,1905 listed Mr T.G. Hearnden under the heading of the Southborough Cricket Club. This club played their games on the Southborough Common. Mr Hearnden was either a member of the team or a supporter of it.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of July 6,1909 gave “ T.G. Hearnden (late Bkarsby) 65 & 67 Victoria Road Tunbridge Wells, millers, corn and coal merchant. An image of Victoria Road is shown opposite.

The 1911 census, taken at ‘The Firs’ Yew Tree Road in Southborough (image opposite) gave Thomas as a corn and coal merchant. With him was his wife Flora. The census recorded that they had been married 15 years and had no children. The family lived in this home for many years and were listed there in the 1913 and 1922 directories. A directory of 1914 gave “ Thomas G. Hearnden Ltd , millers and corn and coal merchants 52 London Road and Western Road, Southborough.  

A modern photograph of this shop at 52 London Road is shown below left. London Road was the main commercial area of Southborough.

The website of the Southborough Walking Trails gave the following information. “ Thomas G. Hearnden, 52 London Road. Thomas was a corn and coal merchant with premises at 52 London Road,Southborough and on Monson Road, Tunbridge Wells”. (His shop at 52 London Road was  located on the south west corner of London Road and Springfield Road and his shop on Monson Road was located in the Monson Collonnade (image below right).











“Thomas  was a member of the Southborough Urban District Council, and lived on Yew Tree Road. He advertised corn meal as an ideal food for poultry being raised during WW1 by local people in order to supplement the rations. Thomas was also a member of a council committee set up to manage the distribution of coal to poor people. When the Southborough Football Club was suspended during WW1 Mr Hearnden took responsibility for their ground.” The sources quoted for this information was the Kent & Sussex Courier of June 1,1917 and other dates. Shown opposite is a photograph of the Southborough Football Club.

Another interesting reference to Thomas during WW 1 came in the form of an account about the life and death of Second Lieutenant William Cass of the Royal Flying Corps (images opposite). William was the son of John William and Elizabeth Jane Cass of 60 Prospect Road in Southborough. A detailed report on his death was given in the Kent & Sussex Courier of June 8,1917 and in part reported that William was performing loop’s in his aircraft over or near his home as a form of entertainment when something went wrong and his plane plummeted to the ground, where he was killed instantly. He was buried in the Southborough Cemetery. His connection to Thomas Godfrey Hearnden is by way of an inquest that was held into the death of William Cass at the Southborough Cemetery on Friday morning when Mr T.G. Hearnden was chosen as foreman of the jury. Several witnesses to the accident gave their testimony at the inquest, with the conclusion that William had met his demise through his own carelessness, while showing off with his aerobatic maneuvers.

Another reference to Thomas appeared in the Spring 2006 Southborough and District Wheelers Gazette. The Wheelers were a cycling club in Southborough and still exist today. They referenced in the Gazette an article in the Kent & Sussex Courier of February 9,1906 when a supper was held at the Hand and Sceptre Hotel (image opposite) on Monday . The evening was set apart as a cycling club night. After the company had paid the greatest possible compliment to the excellent meat puddings and noble round of English beef provided by the host and hostess Harris, the tables were cleared and harmony reigned supreme. At this popular function there is generally very little speechmaking, but at a suitable interval the chairman Mr T.G. Hearnden, was called upon to present the cycling club prizes. Shown below left is an image of the Hand and Sceptre Hotel and to the right of it is an image of the Southborough Cycling Club dated 1921.








Shown opposite is a postcard No. 40 by Harold H. Camburn showing a view of Grosvenor Hill on Grosvenor Road that was posted in 1910. This image provides a view of the shops along Grosvenor Road, looking south toward 5 ways. In the background one can see the dome of the Opera House. On the right side is Ganney’s Jewellers hop at 55 Grosvenor Road next door to No. 57 and across the street can be seen the coal office of T. G. Hearnden where people dropped in to order their coal.

The coal sold by him was transported to the Goods Station by train where it was unloaded and stored for a time at the station. The coal was bagged there and then transported by horse drawn wagon and later by motor lorry. Based on the coal orders it was delivered to his customers. Shown below is an image of a horse drawn coal wagon and a motor lorry carrying bags of coal.  Thomas was one of many coal dealers serving the town at that time.













In about 1922 Thomas and his wife left Southborough and Tunbridge Wells and moved to St Leonards- On-Sea.  The Kent & Sussex Courier of April 15,1921 gave “ T.G. Hearnden Ltd, 52 London Road, corn and coal merchant”.

Directories of 1930 and 1934 show that his business premises at 52 London Road were taken over by Mr J.H. Allan. John Herbert Allan was listed in these directories as a corn and flour dealer.  One of his relatives Thomas C. Allan was a coal merchant who operated from premises at 126B Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells. A business postcard of his is shown opposite. A website about Private Owner Wagons lists Thomas Godfrey Hearnden and  “John Herbert Allan-see Thomas Godfrey Hearnden”. A listing was also found for ‘C.S. Cawston-see Thomas Godfrey Hearnden. The connection, if there is one, between Mr Cawston and Mr Hearnden was not investigated.

Probate records gave Thomas Godfrey Hearnden, sometimes Thomas Godfrey Hearnden Terry ( Terry was his mother’s maiden name) gave him of ‘Royden’ 24 Marina St Leonards-On-Sea, formerly of Southborough, Kent  when he died October 11,1924. The executors of his 1,250 pound estate was his widow Flora and Percy James Lidbetter, printer. The solicitors for the executors was Buss Bretgherton and Murton-Neale of 2 The Priory, Tunbridge Wells. The Priory was a large multi sty brick building located on the north west corner of Church Road and Mount Pleasant Road next door to Trinity Church,  an image of which by Harold H. Camburn is shown opposite. Thomas’s wife Flora died in Chelsea London in  the 1st qtr of 1930.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SIDNEY JOHN DUNN

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

Date: July 23,2018

OVERVIEW

Sidney (sometimes Sydney) John Dunn was born in Southborough in November 1890 and was one of eight children born to ordinary seaman William Dunn (1854-1893) and Isabella Dunn, nee Smallcombe (1857-1939).

Sidney’s claim to fame in Tunbridge Wells was his engagement in a series of petty crimes, in 1908 and 1909, which included the theft of clothes and the stealing of lead from the roof of a house in Ferndale. For his crimes in 1909 he was convicted and served a two year sentence at the Borstal Institution in Borstal, Rochester, a young large convict prison founded in 1870. This prison was then set up in 1902 as an experimental juvenile prison of the reformatory type. Although Sidney’s brother Thomas Arthur Dunn also engaged in similar crimes, including the uttering of profanity in High Brooms he was not found in the 1911 census at the prison with his brother Arthur but instead was living in 2 rooms with his widowed mother at 29 Springfield Road  and working as a farm labourer.

Arthur’s notoriety reached a peak when in October 1909 he was arrested for the theft of clothing and kept in a cell at the police Station behind the town hall (Calverley Road and Camden Road), a cell which he escaped from by squeezing himself through the narrow bars  and after working his way through the police station fled out the back of the Town Hall out onto Camden Road. He was soon recaptured and after trial was sent to Borstal for two years.

Sidney came from the lower working class of society and his early life was fraught with difficulties. He had attended school but received only the basic education. He was described as a labourer in court appearances in 1908 and 1909 but while in prison at Borstal in 1911 he was given as a fruit hawker. In the 1930’s he was a general labourer.

In 1914 Sidney enlisted for service in WW 1 in Tunbridge Wells and was assigned service number 1802 with the 2nd South Down Btn, Royal Sussex Regiment and was listed as being a shoe maker in private life. He served for only 14 days however after being discharged November 30,1914 for insubordination and being drunk and disorderly.

Family photographs, several of which are included in this article, of the Dunn clan show them mainly as poorly dressed with some associated with horses and farm work.

When Arthur’s father passed away in 1893  his mother Isabella worked as a laundress or washerwoman to support the family. At the time of the 1901 census, taken at 5 Stewart Road in Southborough she had eight of her children with her aged 8-21 two of which were working as domestic servants, one as a machinist worker and one as a pub boy. Isabella passed away 1939 in Bridge, Kent.

In the 2nd qtr of 1922 ,in Tonbridge, Arthur married Charlotte Ellen Bristow (1903-1967) and with her had eight children between 1923 and 1948. Their birth records indicate that the family lived variously at Tonbridge, Westerham,Sevenoaks and Maidstone.

Arthur died at the ripe old age of 100  in Ashford, Kent leaving what is expected to have been a small estate to his wife and surviving children.

In this article I present information about the Dunn family with a particular emphasis on Sidney John  Dunn and his brother Thomas Arthur Dunn.

THE EARLY YEARS UP TO 1908

Sidney(sometimes Sydney) John Dunn was born in Southborough November 20,1890, although his birth was recorded in 1939 as being November 27,1889. His military records dated 1914 gave his birth as 1890 in Southborough.

Sidney was one of eight children born to ordinary seaman William Dunn (1854-1893) and Isabella Dunn, nee Smallcombe (1857-1939), who were married in the 1st qtr of 1881.

William Dunn was one of several children born to Henry Dunn (1830-1882)and Mary Dunn, having been born in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1854. William was baptised April 2,1854 at Charlton near Dover, Kent.

The 1861 census, taken at 22 Ladywell Place in Charlton, Dover gave Henry Dunn as a bricklayer. With him was his wife Mary and eight Dunn Children, including William who was in school.

William decided that a career at sea was for him and at the time of the 1871 census he was an ordinary sailor at “ Vessels, Hampshire- Duke of Wellington, including her tenders the Victoria, Black Eagle, Firequeen and Sprightly, all of which vessels were located at that time in the Portsea Harbour.  The 1881 census gave William as an ordinary seaman at “Vessels, Dorset”.

The 1891 census, taken at 34 Taylor Street in Southborough, Kent gave William Dunn as a seaman. With him was his wife Isabella (a laundress) and their children Agnes,age 9; Nellie,age 6; Thomas Arthur,age 4; Charles, age 2 and Sidney John Dunn,age 4 mths.

Sidney’s father William Dunn died in Southborough in 1893, leaving his wife to raise eight children on her meager income as a laundress and washerwoman.

The 1901 census, taken at 5 Stewart Road in Southborough gave Isabella Dunn as a widow born 1857 in Southborough and working as a washerwoman. With her were her children Edith,age 21 (a domestic servant); Agnes, age 19 (a machinist dressmaker worker); Ellen, age 19 (a domestic servant); Thomas Arthur (a pub boy); Charles,age 12; Sidney John,age 11; Isabella,age 8 and “baby Dunn, age 1 mth. Also there was one lodger.  The census did not record either Thomas or his brother Sidney being in school at that time.

EVENTS OF 1908-1911

Sometime before 1908 Sidney and his brother Thomas left their mothers home and struck out on their own. In this section I feature the criminal activities of both brothers.

Details of  the brothers criminal activities were widely reported on in the Kent & Sussex Courier (April 9,1909; October 8 and October 29,1909, and in the Advertiser April 10,1908 and October 1,1908) and no doubt other issues of these newspapers record other activities of the two brothers.

In the Civic Society Book by Chris Jones entitled’ Tunbridge Wells in 1909’ Chris gave the following for the month of April 1909, citing the above listed newspaper articles as the source.  “ Prison Escape-In April, Sidney Dunn, charged with stealing old lead and brass, escaped from the cells in the police station behind the Town Hall (image opposite) then situated at the corner of Calverley and Camden Roads. Arthur had squeezed between bars only 5 ½” apart and got out into the courtyard. He then climbed back into a different part of the Police Station, went through the backyard of the Town Hall, and out into Camden Roadf. According to the Courier ‘ the police are moved to admiration at his agility, as much as annoyance at his self-effercted release”. Dunn probably knew the geography of the building guite well. In April 1908 he had been charged with two others with stripping lead from a roof in Ferndale ( a house in Ferndale Road), and it was said then that he had a previous conviction. He was re-arrested in October (1909) for stealing clothes while hop-picking (image opposite), and sent to Borstal for two years. At Sidney’s retrial he claimed that the escape had actually been simple-a gate in the police station had been left open. The Chief Constable strongly denied this. Perhaps Dunn was just making trouble”.

It was believed at that time the poor education was the cause of much of the crime in the town. Children were required to attend school from age 5 to 14. Education had been made mandatory since 1870 but there were still those who questioned its value for the lower classes. Few of those from the lower classes went on to secondary school and this was certainly true for members of the Dunn family, who went out to work as soon as they were able.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of April 10,1908 reported “ Alleged Lead Stealing- A witness saw Sidney Dunn, who admitted going to the house , denied touching the lead. When charged at the station Beeney said “ It is no use denying it, you were both there. Dunn said “ I only helped double up the lead”. Sidney and his accomplice were both charged with the theft of the lead.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 9,1908 reported “ Indelicate Speech-Thomas Dunn and Sidney Dunn of Stewarts Road High Brooms were summoned for using obscene language at High Brooms on September 25th. Thomas Dunn pleaded guilty. The other defendant Sidney Dunn did not put in an appearance…”

The Kent & Sussex Courier of April 9,1909 reported “ Tunbridge Wells Borough Bench-before Mr V. Wadham (in the chair) and Mr R. Pelton alleged Sidney Dunn, Charles Dodon and Arthur Thomas Watson charged with feloniously stealing between March 1st and April 2nd” from a person in Culverden.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 1,1909 gave two records regarding Sidney Dunn. The first was headed ‘Tonbridge Petty Sessions’- The prisoner Sidney Dunn committed for trial the next quarter sessions. Escaped prisoner charged-Sidney Dunn, labourer, was charged with stealing a coat, a pair of trousers, a pair of men’s boots, the property of Levi Gamble…” The second account read in part “ Escaped Prisoners Story-The interest created by the young man named Sidney Dunn, who succeeded in escaping from Tunbridge Wells police station some months ago was enhanced this week by his reappearance…”

The Courier of October 8,1909 reported in part “ A police officer was a man dressed in what appeared to be stolen clothing. The police officer said “I believe you are Sidney Dunn, and I am going to arrest you and charge you with stealing the clothing you are wearing, also a pair of boots….”

As a result of Sidney’s trial in 1909 he was sentenced to two years at the Borstal Prison in Borstal, Rochester. Two images of the prison are shown here, one of the boys in the schoolroom and the other a view of the exterior of the prison. This prison was founded in 1870 as Borstal Prison which was a large convict prison. It then became in 1902 an experimental juvenile prison of the reformatory type, The institution remained as a Borstal school until 1983 when it was converted into a Youth Custody Centre and renamed ‘Rochester’. Further details about this prison can be found on such websites as Wikipedia.

The 1911 census, taken at the Borstal Institution in Rochester listed there several hundred young men, most notably between the ages of 16 and 23, among whom was Sidney John Dunn given as an inmate with the occupation of ‘fruit hawker’.

The 1911 census, taken at 29 Springfield Road in High Brooms, a two room residence, gave Isabella Dunn as the head of the household. She was listed as a widow with the occupation of ‘laundress’. With her was her son Thomas Arthur Dunn, a farm labourer and a grandson by the name of Reginald Dunn,age 6. They were all living as lodgers at that address.

What became of Thomas Arthur Dunn was not definitively established but records of the 1950’s list a Thomas A. Dunn in Erith, Kent at 47 King Harolds Way. Also there was Evelyn M. Dunn, Francis A. Dunn, James J.F. Dunn and Peter J. Dunn.

Sidney’s mother Isabella died 1939 in Maidstone, Kent, leaving her small estate to her surviving children.

SIDNEY AND THE GREAT WAR

When war was announced thousands of young men rushed to enlist for service. Among them was Sidney John Dunn. His attestation records have survived and record that he was born 1890 in Southborough; that in 1914 he was age 24; that his mother was Isabel Dunn of 7b Colebrook Road in High Brooms and that Sidney’s occupation was ‘shoe maker”.  His attestation papers were signed in Tunbridge Wells March 17,1914 . He was identified as being 5’-5 ½ “ tall with dark complexion, brown eyes and dark hair with his religion given as C of E. His medical records show he was declared fit for service and that he had a tattoo on his left arm  of an anchor, no doubt in recognition of his father as a seaman. Sidney was assigned service number 1890  with the 2nd South Bound Btn Royal Sussex Regiment. A view of Colebrook Road is shown above.

Sidney was by no means a model soldier and his activities reflected upon him badly as someone of low character, having been discharged from service after just 14 days at Bexhill November 17,1914 for insubordination and being drunk and disorderly. Witnesses to his behaviour were Segt. Bartlett, Segt. Woreham and private Balcombe. He returned to live in Southborough for a time after his discharge.

SIDNEY AFTER THE WAR 

After being discharged from the army in November 1914 he returned to High Brooms where he remained for a few years doing menial jobs as a general labourer. In this section are three photographs showing Sidney. One shows him late in life with a horse; a second shows him with his wife and a thirds shows him beside a caravan with his son Sidney Dunn(1930-1991).

In the 2nd qtr of 1920 Sidney married Charlotte Ellen Bristow (1903-1967). The marriage was registered in Tonbridge. A photo of her is shown opposite. Charlotte had been born June 5,1903 at Malling Kent at the Malling Union Workhouse. She was one of five children born to Arthur E. Bristow (1872-1941) and Charlotte West Bristow (1881-1958).   At the time of the 1911 census she was living with her parents and siblings at Brighton ,Sussex but up to about 1908 she was living with her family in Sevenoaks.

Sidney and Charlotte had the following children (1) Nancy Dunn (1923-1994). Nancy was born August 24,1923 in Sevenoaks and married Jackie Cooper in 1943. She died in the 2nd qtr of 1994 at Chatham, Kent. (2) Samuel Dunn (1926-1997). He was born November 17,1926 on Tonbridge. In 1978 he married Kathleen Grodman and with her had 3 children. He died in the 2md qtr of 1997 in Maidstone (3) Rose Dunn (1927-1985). She was born in Westerham, Sevenoaks. She was married in the 3rd qtr of 1945 at Maidstone. (4) Sidney Dunn (1930-1991). He was born February 13,1930 in Tonbridge and died September 28,1901 in Tunbridge Wells. (5) Annie Dunn (1932-2008). She was born in the 3rd qtr of 1932 in Sevenoaks. She first married Stanley H. Letchford (1928-1989) and with him had three children. She later married again and had another child.  (6) Thomas Arthur Dunn (1939-2006). He was born November 4,1939 in Tonbridge and died in the 4th qtr of 2006 in Kent (7) Douglas Dunn (1943-2007). He was born May 15,1943 in Maidstone and died in the 1st qtr of 2007 in Kent (8) Eileen Dunn (1948-1949). She was born in the 4th qtr of 1948 in Tonbridge and died January 22,1949 in Tonbridge.

 

A directory for 1939 taken at Badsell Park Farm in Tonbridge listed Sidney Dunn born November 27,1889 and working as a general labourer. With him was his wife Charlotte born June 5,1903 (unpaid domestic duties). Also there was (1)Samuel Dunn,age 26 at school born October 17,1926  (2) Sidney Dunn, at school, born February 13,1930 (3) Janice Dunn born July 6,1932, at school. Also there were several other people at the farm not of the Dunn family.

Sydney John Dunn died at Ashford, Kent at the ripe old age of 100. His birth was given in this death record as November 20,1890.

 

 

 

 

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