ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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THE WISEMAN FAMILY OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

 

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

Date: August 23,2017

 

OVERVIEW 

William Wiseman (1832-1904) had been born in Beaumont, Cumberland, one of several children born to William Wiseman (born 1780) and Sarah Wiseman, nee Watts (1791-1855). William had been married twice. From his first marriage was born a son William Percival Wiseman 1857 in Carlisle. His second marriage was to Elizabeth Day (1842-1910)  in Rochester, Kent October 20,1867 with whom he had three daughters and four sons between 1870 and 1882. All of his children from his second marriage were born in Tunbridge Wells.

After his marriage in 1867 he and his wife Elizabeth moved to Tunbridge Wells where he took a position with the town as the Relieving Officer and Registrar of births, deaths and marriages. He worked from an office at the old town hall on Calverley Road, and for a time lived nearby at 36 Calverley Street. He was still at that address at the time of the 1881 census but was found in census records of 1891 and 1901 living on Albion Road with his wife and children.

William died in Tunbridge Wells September 4,1904 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery. His wife was buried in the same cemetery when she died April 17,1910.

When William died the executors of his 952 pound estate were his sons John Henry Wiseman (1870-1936), a schoolmaster who was living with his wife Cecelia Ann Wiseman in Thornton, Suffolk, and Arthur Sydney Wiseman (1875-1940) who took over his father’s positon as the Registrar of births, deaths and marriages at the old town hall.

Arthur Sydney Wiseman had married Gwendolen Marion Holt-Bull in Tunbridge Wells in 1898, but after 12 years marriage the couple had no children. Arthur was still working as the Registrar in 1922 but appears to have retired soon after. He died in Tunbridge Wells in 1940 as did his wife in 1959. After living circa 1901 at 57 Beulah Road and circa 1911 at 14 Garden Road, Arthur and his wife took up residence in a fine home in Ferndale called “West House”, 9 Ferndale Road. Arthur and his wife both died at West House in Ferndale.

William Wiseman’s son Walter Stanley Wiseman (1877-1946) married Beatrice Maud Brown (born 1879) in London September 18,1901 and with her had three children all born in Swansea. At the time of the 1911 census the family were living in Swansea, Wales, where Walter was a manufacturer of artificial teeth. Walter died June 18,1946 at All Saints Hospital in Southwark London while a resident of Ilford, Essex. His wife was the executor of his 260 pound estate.

William Wiseman’s son Harry Archibald Wiseman (1879-1937) worked in 1901 as an electrician. On January 6,1908 he left England on the ship GEELONG and arrived at Cape Town South Africa. On September 17,1908 at Forbes Reef, Swaziland he married Beatrice Ann Blewett (1882-1937). Apart from the occasional visit back to England Harry lived and worked in South African. A decendent of this branch of the family stated in a biography that Harry became an electrical engineer and was Resident Engineer at one of the mines at Forbes Reef. While on a visit to England WW 1 broke out and he was unable to return to South Africa, finding himself instead making ammunition for the war effort. After the war his previous employer asked him to return to the mine in Eastern Transvall which he did in 1921. He moved about to various mines during his career, with his final posting being at Jagersfontein where he died May 10,1937 . His wife had died in Johannesburg January 21,1937 but was survived by three daughters and two sons, most of whom had been born in Swaziland.

In this article I report on the life of William Wiseman and of his son Arthur Sydney Wiseman and their careers in Tunbridge Wells. To a lesser extend information is also given about William’s other children, who left Tunbridge Wells in the early 1900’s to seek opportunities elsewhere.

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS YEARS 

I begin my account with the patriarch of the family William Wiseman, who was born July 8,1832 at Beaumont, Cumbria, one of several children born to William Wiseman (born 1780 at Hitton and died June 27,1847) and Sarah Wiseman, nee Watts (1791-1855). William’s parents were never residents of Tunbridge Wells. Beaumont (pronounced locally as bee-mont) is a village and civil parish in the City of Carlisle district of Cumbria, England. The village lies four miles north-west of Carlisle on the banks of the River Eden. The civil parish of Beaumont includes the surrounding villages of Kirkandrews-on-Eden, Grinsdale and Monkhill.

The 1841 census, taken in the village of Monkhill, Beaumont, Cumberland gave William Wiseman senior as being in the army. With him was his wife Sarah and three of their children, including William junior who was attending school. Three members of the Watts family were also living there namely Mary,age 30; John, age 35, a seaman, and Sarah age 30. Shown opposite is a photo of the Drovers Rest, the local pub in the village of Monkhill where members of the Wiseman family went for a pint.

The 1851 census, taken in the village of Monkhill gave Sarah Wiseman as a widow earning her income as an annuitant. With her was her son William who was working as a teacher of mathematics. Also in the home was Sarah’s spinster sister Mary Watts, age 45, an annuitant.

In 1856 William met his first wife and with her had a son William Percival Wiseman, who was born in Carlisle, Cumberland in 1857. Information about his wife was not established other than it appears she died from childbirth problems.

William’s second marriage was to Elizabeth Day (1842-1910) on October 20,1867 at St. Nicholas Church in Rochester, Kent (image opposite). After the marriage the couple moved to Tunbridge Wells and took up residence at 36 Calverley Street. William at that time secured a position at the old Town Hall on Calverley Road as the registrar of births, marriages and deaths and the relieving officer.

A Relieving Officer is official appointed by a parish or union to administer relief to the poor. Since the earliest times Parish Records was the place where births, marriages and deaths were recorded but in 1836, legislation was passed that ordered the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales, which took effect on  July 1,1837. As a result town officials in Tunbridge Wells created the position of “Registrar” to record this information.

Shown below are two photographs of the old Town Hall on Calverley Road.  The one on the left dates from 1890 and the one on the right is circa 1930.Just to the west of it was the Camden In located on the north east corner of Calverley Road and Camden Road. Details about the Town Hall were given in my article ‘The Old Town Hall’ dated May 12,2014. The overview from that article is given below.











“Discussions began in the early 1830’s about the construction of a building on Calverley Road for use as an indoor market. These discussions came to fruition in 1835 when a grand  2 sty sandstone building with columns was constructed in the north east side of Calverley Road  between the Camden Inn(Camden Hotel) on the left and the recently constructed Calverley Place on the right. This project was the collaborative work of the  Ward family who owned the land and Decimus Burton who designed and built it. The main floor of the building became the place where vendors would display their goods in stalls rented from Mr Ward with the upstairs used a place where the Town Commissioners held their meetings. The market was intended to be the answer to the need for shopping facilities in the fast-developing upper part of the town, but its life was short-though it probably gave rise to the open-air market in Calverley Road which continued well into the 1940’s, when traffic congestion forced the Council to move the stalls into Goods Station Road, where in 1951 one or two still gathered on Saturday afternoons. The market building itself was completely taken over by the Town Commissioners and called the Town Hall in 1858-and remained the Town Hall after the town became a borough in 1889 and until the completion of the new Civic Centre in 1941. A booked entitled ‘Tunbridge Wells 1951’ stated “ Now the building, commonly known as The Old Town hall, is part of the premises of the Tunbridge Wells School of Art.The Tunbridge Wells School of Art ,sometimes referred to as the School of Arts and Crafts, had operated from the 3rd floor of the Technical Institute, but relocated to The Old Town Hall soon after 1941 when the building became vacant. They remained there until 1959 when the grand old building was demolished. A new building was constructed on the site, which in 1977 was the home of the National Provident Building.”

While living in Tunbridge Wells William and his wife had the following children (1) Mary Ann Elizabeth, born 1868. She went on to marry Edward Smith and with him had 4 children (2) John Henry, born July 24,1870. He was baptised at the Holy Trinity Church (image oppoiste).He became a schoolmaster after leaving Tunbridge Wells. He married August 31,1898 at St James,Dover Cecilai Anne Falconer (1875-1952) and with her had two children born 1905 and 1910 in Canterbury,Kent.At the time of the 1901 census, taken at Thornton,Suffolk he was a schoolmaster. Probate records gave John Henry Wiseman of Hill View 5 Oxford Road, Canturbury when he died October 9,1936. The executor of his 3,147 pound estate was his widow Cecelia Ann Wiseman. (3) Ethel Louise born 1873. In 1901 she was working as a mantle maker.  She died in Knebworth June 22,1926 (4) Arthur Sydney, born 1875. Further details about him are given later as one of the central figures in this article (5) Walter Stanley, born November 1,1877. On September 18,1901 he married Beatrice Maude Brown (born 1879) at The Chapel of Ease St James and with her had three children between 1903 and 1909. The 1911 census, taken in Swansea, Wales gave Walter as a manufacturer of false teeth.With him was his wife Beatrice and their three children. He and his wife had four children in total. . He was given as a dentist in 1921.Probate records gave Walter Stanley Wiseman of 49 Rane4lagh Gardens Ilford Essex when he died June 18,1946 at All Saints Hospital in Southwark, London. His widow Beatrice was the executor of his 260 pound estate. (6) Harry Archibald, born December 30,1879. In 1901 Harry was an apprentice electrician. Harry  left Southampton on the ship GEELONG January 6,1908 and arrived at Cape Town, South Africa. On September 17,1908 he married Beatrice Ann Blewett (1882-1937) at Forbes Reef, Swaziland, where he was working as an electrical engineer at a mine. He and his wife had five children between 1903 and 1914 in Swaziland. Shown above  is a photo of Harry and below is a photo of him and his wife.

Beatrice had been born October 26,1882 at St James, London and died January 21,1937 in Johanesburg, Transvall. Harry had worked for a number of mines in South Africa but was visiting England when WW 1 broke out and was stranded there for the duration of the war, making ammunition for the war effort. After the war he returned to South Africa and worked for the rest of his career in various mines. He died May 10,1937 in South Africa and was buried in Johanesburg, Transvaal. (7) Lizzie Gertrude Wiseman was the last child, being born October 18,1882. Of Beatrice, her daughter wrote " Mother was born in London, one of a fairly large family. She was actually brought up by her Aunt Alice who was a spinster. Aunt Alice was a dear old lady who lived in a building for elderly people. Mother was a regular churchgoer and did a lot of work for the church.We went to church regularly in England, but when we came out to South Africa we were miles away from a church, but nevertheless, we still had our family prayers and held our own little service on Sundays. When we moved to Johannesburg mother joined the Church Women's Society and did a lot of good work. Mother was very domesticated and taught her daughters how to sew, knit, crochet and also plain cooking. We used to spend lovely times together and many Saturday evenings were spent at the Theatre enjoying a good play. I always admire my parents for doing their best for the children, especially when it came to schooling. In doing this they spent many months apart from each other as dad was working on mines, miles away from schools, and so they set up a home in Johannesburg, where mother stayed with the children, and father came home for week-ends, when he could".

The 1871 census, taken at 36 Calverley Street, Tunbridge Wells gave William as a relieving officer and register of births, marriages and deaths. Wil him was his wife Elizabeth ; his son William, a pupil teacher; his daughter Sarah, a scholar, and his children Mary and John. One domestic servant was also in the home. Shown opposite is a photo of Calverley Street.  The 1874 Kelly directory listed William Wiseman as a Registrar of births, deaths and marriages at 1 Calverley Street.

In the 1870’s before emigrating to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Joseph Wiseman (1825-1879) paid a visit to his relatives in Tunbridge Wells and during that visit he had the photo taken of him shown opposite at the studio of T.H. Larmuth. Joseph and his brother Samuel James Wiseman (1822-1841) operated photographic studios in Southampton. Examples of their photographic work can be found on the internet. Joseph and his brother were the sons of John Wiseman (1791-1851) and Martha Wiseman, nee Ashwin (1786-1871). The family of Joseph Wiseman, from whom the  photo of him was obtained, stated he was possibly visiting a nephew in Tunbridge Wells. Joseph appears to be connected to the Wiseman’s of Tunbridge Wells by way of his father, who appears to have been the brother of William Wiseman (1780-1847) referred to as the father of the central figure in my article (William Wiseman 1832-1904).

The 1881 census, taken at 36 Calverley Street gave William as a relieving officer and registrar. With him was his wife Elizabeth, five of their children and one nephew (William Murray, age 34, single, an inspector of Nuisances, born in Cumberland). The 1882 Kelly gave William Wiseman as the Registrar of births, deaths and marriage and the Relieving Officer at 32 Calverley Road.

The 1891 census, taken at 39 Albion Road, Tunbridge Wells gave William with the same occupation as before. With him was his wife Elizabeth; his daughter Mary, a drapers assistant; his son John, an assistant schoolmaster; his daughter Ethel, a drapers assistant; his son Arthur, a solicitors clerk; and his children Walter, Harry and Lizzie who were all in school. A photo of Albion Road is shown opposite. The 1891 directory gave the following listings (1) W. Wiseman, 36 Calverley Street (2) William Wiseman Registrar of births, deaths and marriages and Relieving Officer for Tunbridge Wells District, 32 Calverley Road. Shown opposite is a photo the sawmill on Albion Road.

The 1901 census showed that all of William’s Children except for his youngest child Lizzie had all left home. The census,taken at 47 Albion Road that only William and his wife Elizabeth and Lizzie were living together. Lizzie at that time was working as a dressmaker and William was still the relieving officer and registrar. The 1903 Kelly gave the listing “William Wiseman, 57 Calverley Road, Registrar of births, deaths and marriages”.

Probate records gave William Wiseman of 47 Albion Road when he died September 4,1904. The executors of his 952 pound estate were his sons John Henry Wiseman, schoolmaster, and Arthur Sydney Wiseman, registrar of births, marriages, deaths. William was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on September 6th. His wife Elizabeth died in Tunbridge Wells on April 17,1910 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on April 20th.

ARTHUR SYDNEY WISEMAN 

Arthur was the son of William Wiseman (1832-1904) and had been born in Tunbridge Wells February 5,1875. Like his father before him he became the Relieving Officer and Registrar of births, deaths and marriages for the town of Tunbridge Wells. He took over the position form his father when his father retired.

Arthur was living with his parents and siblings at 36 Calverley Street at the time of the 1881 census but by the time of the 1891 census he was living with them at 39 Albion Road. He continued to live with his parents and siblings up to the time of his marriage in 1898.

Arthur Sydney Wiseman had married Gwendolen Marion Holt-Bull in Tunbridge Wells in 1898, but after 12 years marriage the couple had no children. By the time of the 1901 census Arthur and his wife were living at 57 Beulah Road and working as a Registrar at the Town Hall. Living with him in 1901 was his wife Gwendolen and his aunt Pryce E. Bull, age 49 ( who more correctly was Priscilla Elizabeth Bull), a spinster living on own means. Shown below is a view dated 1910 looking up Beulah Road.

The 1903 Kelly directory gave the following listings (1) “A. Wiseman, 57 Beulah Road”, which was his private residence (2) “Arthur Sydney Wiseman, Registrar of births, deaths, marriages to Tunbridge Wells sub-district, 57 Calverley Road” which was the old Town Hall.

The 1911 census, taken at his private residence at 14 Garden Road, gave Arthur as a Registrar of births, marriages and deaths. With him was his wife Gwendolen Marion Wiseman, given as born 1877 at Farnham. Also present in the 9 room residence was Arthur’s spinster aunt Priscilla Elizabeth Bull, age 59 who was working as an antiques dealer assistant.  The census recorded that Arthur and his wife had been married 12 years and had no children.  According to the 1914 and 1918 Kelly directory Arthur and his wife were still living at 14 Garden Road at that time.

The 1913 directory listed Arthur as the Registrar of births, marriages and deaths at 57 Calverley Road. The 1922 directory listed Arthur as the Registrar of births etc at 65 Calverley Road and living with his wife in a fine home called “West House” in the Ferndale Residential Development on 9 Ferndale Road. A postcard view of Ferndale Road is shown above. In this image, believed to be that of local photographer Harold H. Camburn but possibly E.A. Sweetman, you can see No. 9 in the foreground on the right with the steeple of St James Church in the background.   As no listing for Arthur as a Registrar was found after 1922 it appears he retired around that time.

Arthur continued to live at West House, 9 Ferndale Road for the rest of his life. He died at West House October 1,1940 and was buried at the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on October 3rd. Probate records for Gwendolen Marion Holt Wiseman gave her of West House, 9 Ferndale Road, widow, when she died July 19,1959. The executor of her 8,056 pound estate was her solicitor Harold John Snell. Gwendolen was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium on August 4,1959 and her urn buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on August 5, 1959,probably in the same grave as her husband.

WEST HOUSE, 9 FERNDALE ROAD 

Arthur Stanley Wiseman lived at ‘West House’ , 9 Ferndale Road from at least 1922 to the time of his death October 1940 and his wife continued to live there until she died there July 19,1959.

Chris Jones, of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society wrote his thesis on the Ferndale Residential Development and shown opposite is a map from his thesis showing the location of 9 Ferndale Road.  No. 9 was first occupied in 1867 being one of three homes (5,7,9 ) built by the brothers George and Henry Winnifrith who were local builders, on land obtained from Arthur Wellesley Ward and his brother Neville, the sons of John Ward (1779-1855).

The home was located on a site on the west side of Ferndale Road on a plot of about 1-1/2 acres and built in the “Italianate style without towers”, being a 3 sty residence with a basement, with a bank of bay windows on the right front elevation and also on the rear elevation. It was a large home with steps leading to a pillared entrance and inside were four reception rooms on the ground floor; four principal bedrooms on the first and perhaps six more smaller bedrooms on the top floor. The home was basically square in shape and as shown on the map it had a small carriage/stable block with what appears on the map as one or two small buildings at the rear, one of which may have served as a gardener’s cottage.

This home has had a number of occupants over the years, a partial list of which is given below from a review of local directories and census records.

1874……..Miss Swaisland, the niece of a Crayford calico printer

1882……..Mrs Havart

1880’s……Sir Robert Harty, an Irish baronet

1891-1911……..Robert Thompson Hubart (J.P.) retired officer of Indian Civil Service.

1922-1959………Arthur Sydney Wiseman (until 1940) and wife(until 1959)

The 1911 census described the home as having 27 rooms and at that time Robert Thompson Hubart was living there with his wife and five servants. The census recorded the couple had been married 30 years and had six children. At the time of the 1911 census the home was called ‘Clounden House, 9 Ferndale Road”.

A review of Planning Authority records from 1974 onward makes no mention of No. 9 Ferndale for by that time it had been demolished to make way for redevelopment of the site, as shown on the 1984 map above. It is to be expected, given the size of No. 9 that the home was converted into flats in the1960’s. Being situated on large grounds, along with its neighbours it was a prime location for a higher density use.

 

 

THE HEPWORTH FAMILY OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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

Date: March 4,2017

OVERVIEW

The branch of the Hepworth family that is the subject of this article are two sons and their decendents of John Hepworth (1821-1861) who was a carrier born in Saddleworth, Yorkshire, and Mary Hepworth, nee Dyson, born 1822 in Saddleworth. John and his wife Mary never moved to Tunbridge Wells but remained in Saddleworth.

John and Mary Hepworth had eight children between 1841 and 1866, among which were two brothers namely Lewis Hepworth (1852-1907), who founded the Lewis Hepworth Company in Tunbridge Wells, who were printers, stationers and bookbinders, and Arthur Franklin Hepworth (1865-1935) who worked in the business with his brother and later took it over.

At the time of the 1871 census Lewis Hepworth was living as a boarder in Coventry,Warwickshire at 38 Moat Street with the occupation of printer compositor. The 1871 census, taken at Delph, Saddleworth, Yorkshire gave John Hepworth as a carrier and living with him was his wife Mary and four of their children, including Lewis Hepworth’s brother Arthur Franklin Hepworth who at that time was still in school.

In 1878 Lewis Hepworth moved to Tunbridge Wells. In 1879 Lewis married Ellen Tealor Wade in Slad, Gloucestershire. In 1880 Lewis and his wife had a daughter (Mary) born in Tunbridge Wells. Mary was the first of eight children born to Lewis and Ellen between 1880 and 1894.

Lewis’s brother Arthur Franklin Hepworth had also moved to Tunbridge Wells with Lewis and was living with him and his wife at 14 Nevill Street. Lewis at that time was a printer, stationer and bookbinder and his brother Arthur was an “apprentice to printing”.

By 1901 Lewis and Ellen had 9 children but one had died. His brother Arthur Franklin Hepworth married Sarah Jane Amey (1860-1941) who had been born in Stockport, Cheshire, and with her had just one child namely Lewis Franklin Hepworth (1899-1977).

In 1891 the Hepworth company moved to new premises at 10 Vale Road (image above) but on July 23,1891 a great fire broke out in the Hepworth printing premises, doing considerable damage. By this time Arthur Franklin Hepworth had taken an active role in operating the business with his brother Lewis and the business prospered.

Lewis and Arthur proved to be a very happy partnership. Arthur had none of his brother’s imaginative flair but possessed those solid qualities of day-to-day application which Lewis lacked. Arthur concentrated on expanding the commercial printing side of the business and this gave Lewis the opportunity to give more of his time to the many other interests which included stoolball,botany,astronomy and, in particular music. With all these attributes he was certainly one of the great Victorian all-rounders.

In 1901 the Lewis Hepworth Company continued to be a family affair. Lewis and Arthur were still active in all aspects of running the business. Lewis's 20 year old daughter Mary was a printers clerk and his 19 year old  niece Clara J. Lowe was working with the firm as an apprentice. The company continued to expand its business and the number of employees by taking on new people as apprentices.

In 1907 Lewis Hepworth died and was buried on December 14,1907 in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery. His brother Arthur continued to run the business and in 1920 Arthur was joined by his son Lewis (Lyn) Franklin Hepworth (1899-1977).

Arthur Franklin Hepworth died in Tunbridge Wells March 21,1935 while a resident of 8 Grosvenor Road, a residence he was living at when the 1901 census was taken and where at that time he was a printers company secretary and living with him was his wife Sarah and his son Lewis Franklin Hepworth. The three of them were still living at this address at the time of the 1911 census where Arthur had the occupation of “printer worker” and his son Lewis was still in school. Arthur’s wife continued to live in Tunbridge Wells after her husband’s death but died November 28,1941 at the Homeopathic Hospital in Tunbridge Wells. The executor of her 885 pound estate was her son Lewis Franklin Hepworth, a printer.

Lewis Franklin Hepworth, born June 17,1899 in Tunbridge Wells did an effective job of running the printing business. Lewis went on to marry Doris Eversfield Down (1898-1992) and with her had a son John Martyn Hepworth (1930-2007) who was born in Tunbridge Wells and who, when his father retired ran the business until its final demise in 1968 due to competition in the printing field.

Lewis Franklin Hepworth died in Tunbridge Wells October 5,1977 while a resident of Ingle Nook, Southborough, leaving an estate valued at 1,627 pounds. He was survived by his wife Doris and son John Martyn Hepworth.

John Martyn Hepworth, who is often referred to simply as Martyn Hepworth in various records,  married Audry D. Hall in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1964 and with her had a daughter Sarah Elizabeth A. Hepworth in 1966. John Martyn Hepworth was an interesting man who was a 2nd Lieutenant in 1950 with the Royal Army Service Corps, having been a cadet beforehand. He was the author of three books namely (1) The Story of the Pantiles (first published in 1956 but republished several times) (2) Amateur Drama: Production and Management (`1979) (3) The Story of the Town (Tunbridge Wells) from 1606 until the present day” (1969). He was a member of the Constitutional Club and for many years was an amateur actor with The Pantiles Players. John Martyn Hepworth was a history graduate from Oxford and his main love was amateur dramatics. His stage connection was inherited from his father who was also heavily into amateur dramatics but on the musical side being a leading light in the Tunbridge Wells Operatic and Dramatic Society (TWODS) whereas Martyn was more stage and was involved in the Pantiles Players who performed Shakespeare plays and the likes on summer evenings on The Pantiles. One of his ventures as an entrepreneur was his lease of the Fonthill Rest Centre from the TWBC in the late 1970’s where he set up a “Brass Rubbing Centre” staffed by two elderly ladies, where one could make a rubbing of  medieval scenes. By 1993 this business venture ended and the building became empty and in that year became the Forum where various entertainments were held and are still being held.

John Martyn Hepworth passed away in Tunbridge Wells and was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium December 20,2007.

THE LEWIS HEPWORTH COMPANY

From my article ‘Francis Reginald Gilbert-A Career in Print’ dated July 3,2011 I wrote about the life and career of my grandfather Francis Reginald Gilbert (1882-1975) who was born in Tunbridge Wells and who in 1896 began a 7 year apprentiship with the Lewis Hepworth Company His eldest brother Robert Herbert Gilbert began his apprentiship with the same company at age 13. The apprentiship indentures for both Gilbert brothers were signed by them and their father Robert Charles Gilbert and by Lewis Hepworth and his brother Arthur Franklin Hepworth. Shown opposite is a family photo taken in Tunbridge Wells showing my grandfather in the middle, his brother Robert to the left and his younger brother Edgar Allan Gilbert on the right who was killed in WW 1.

The Hepworth company began its Tunbridge Wells printing operations in 1878 through the aquisition of the firm Stidolph & Bellamy located on Nevill Street who were printers and stationers.The Stidolph & Bellamy company started business in Tunbridge Wells in the 1860s and are found in the directories of 1867-1874 with premises at 8,10,12 and 14 Nevill Street.The principals of the firm were Thomas Stidolph and John Bellamy.Thomas was born 1824(baptised May 12) in Tunbridge Wells to Thomas (born 1788 Tunbridge Wells) and Sarah( born 1784 at Little Birch,Essex).Thomas (the elder) was himself a printer and later a schoolmaster and is credited with having printed,in 1838, the first map of Tunbridge Wells when in 1835 it officially became a town following the Tunbridge Wells Improvement Act which defined the town boundaries and allowed it self- government. Melvilles 1858 directory notes the firm of Thomas Stidolph,printer and bookbinder,with premises on Neville street and from the 1851 census it is seen that Thomas age 63 and his sons Thomas age 27 and John age 23 were all printers working in the family business.The other half of the business partnership was John Bellamy,born November 24,1830 at Southwell,Nottinghamshire to Robert Bellamy(1806-1882) and Charlotte Bellamy nee Thornton(1805-1887).John was still living in Southwell in the 1850's,working in the printing trade, but is recorded as living in Tunbridge Wells in 1861:occupation-printers compositor, and it was around this time that the Stidolph-Bellamy partnership was formed. In 1864 John married Mary and produced a number of children but Thomas Stidolph remained a bachelor.In 1871 their business partnership had expanded operations and in that year both men were master printers employing 4 men at their Nevill Street premises.On May 28,1874 Thomas Stidolph,age 50, died at Sussex.The probate records record "The will of Thomas Stidolph late of Nevill Street Tunbridge Wells in the county of Sussex; Printer;...He left his estate to his spinster sister Eliza Marie Stidolph of Woodbridge. From 1874 to 1878 John Bellamy continued with the business on his own until finally selling off the business to Lewis Hepworth.

Lewis Hepworth was living in at Coventry, Warwickshire at the time of the 1871 census, where he was working as a printer compositor. He moved to Tunbridge Wells in 1878 and started his business, as noted above.

From 1878 to 1890 Lewis Hepworth & Company Limited continued to operate and expand its business from their premises on Nevill Street.Lewis was  highly intelligent,artistic and imaginative .Being dedicated to his craft, he helped to publicise types and borders which were characteristic of American and German work.At his own works he used nothing but the most impressive types and superior inks,winning prizes at exhibitions for colour and design,As the business expanded,Lewis designed and built a new larger printing works in 1891 at 10 Vale Road on the site of an old riding school,and by this time Lewis's younger brother Arthur had taken an active role in operating the business with his brother.Also working for the company in 1891 were two teenage printers assistants  Samuel D. Fryton and his brother Percival W. Fryton and printers asistant Frank J. Wilson was still with the firm having been with it since 1881.

At the new works,with his staff of forty, the company produced some of the best lithographic art and colour printing in the country at that time.In addition to commercial printing,the company had a book binding department and also sold it's own design of manufacturing stationary through the shop in the front of their building.Lewis's photo scrapbooks of towns manufactured to his own designs were in constant demamd from various merchants in London and elsewhere,as were the Christmas,Wedding and other cards,as well as the railway timetables and hop-picking cards which were sold through the shop.When asked if it was not a great tax on his health taking on so many commitments Lewis replied: "Oh yes,but it is not the first battle I have been through and after all a man is not much good if he cannot face a difficulty"

On July 23,1891 Lewis faced one of the difficulties he referred to when his new building became the scene of a great fire that swept through the premises causing his employees and others to escape in a panic.The Tunbridge Wells Journal gave the following detailed account of the event. "At an early hour on Tuesday morning the printing offices of messrs Hepworth and Co. in Vale road was burnt to the ground.The fire broke out about four o'clock and continued with great fierceness till close upon eight o'clock.The building comprised an extensive block used by messrs Hepworth,who carry on a large business in all branches.The place was well stocked with new machinery,new type,and other appurtenances.Unfortunately,when the two fire brigades were in attendance no adequate supply of water could be gained,and as a consequence the whole of the premises were well alight in a short period.The entire stock in the building was destroyed,and the roof collapsed at about seven o'clock............The efforts of the firemen were beyond all praise.A large building used for storage purposes was only saved by the pluck of the firemen,who stuck to their post through fierce fire and smoke of the deepest characture.The loss to messrs Hepworth is considerable,everything being totally destroyed,The buildings,etc,are insured to the Commercial Office,of which Messrs Roper and Carter,auctioneers,are the agents.How the fire originated is a mystery.The place was all safe on Monday evening at about ten o'clock,when the foreman left.The loss is estimated at close upon 10,000 pounds".Hepworth had the premises rebuilt and during construction the company returned to their former Nevill Road premises as temporary quarters for their business,salvaging what they could from the ashes.

Lewis and Arthur proved to be a very happy partnership.Arthur had none of his brothers imaginative flair but possessed those solid qualities of day-to-day application which Lewis lacked.Arthur concentrated on expanding the commercial printing side of the business and this gave Lewis the opportunity to give more of his time to the many other interests which included stoolball,botany,astronomy and, in particular music. With all these attributes he was certainly one of the great Victorian all-rounders.

By the time my grandfather joined Hepworth's in 1896 the business was going strong once again.My grandfather told me that although working conditions were typical of the times,the workplace would be engulfed with the smell of ink and the racket created by the printing machines.He said he would always come home from work with ink on his hands and clothes and smelling like he had taken a bath in ink.Getting the ink out would have been a challenge for his mother and later his wife on laundry day.There was no hearing protection provided to employees at that time and so it’s no wonder that for most of the time I knew my grandfather he had to wear a hearing aid to compensate for the hearing loss caused by all the noise in the plant.

Lewis Hepworth is also noted for his activities as an inventor.He along with joint applicant Ellis Graber hold six patents for "Improvements in and relating to Ruling Machines".The patents were taken out in 1894,1895,1896,1897,1901 and 1902 and are for machines essential to the printing trade. Ellis Graber was born in Poland in 1868 and was an inventor and manufacturer of various types of machines used in the photographic processing and printing industry and operated his business under the name of Graber Printing & Ruling Machines Syndicated Limited from his premises on Quarry Road,Tunbridge Wells.

In 1901 the Lewis Hepworth Company continued to be a family affair.Lewis and Arthur were still active in all aspects of running the business. Lewis's 20 year old daughter Mary was a printers clerk and his 19 year old  niece Clara J. Lowe was working as a milliners apprentice and the company continued to expand its business and the number of employees by taking on new people as apprentices.

In Lewis Hepworth died at the early age of 55 and was buried on December 14,1907 in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetary.His brother Arthur continued to run the business and in 1920 Arthur was joined by his son Lewis (Lyn)Franklin Hepworth(1899-1977).

In 1922 my grandfather left the Lewis Hepworth Company and emigrated to Canada with his family, including my father Douglas Edward Gilbert (1916-1975) and his sister Mabel Joan Gilbert (1921-still living), both of whom had been born in Tunbridge Wells. My grandfather continued in the printing trade, as a foreman, with the company in Toronto Ontario until his retirement at age 70.

After Lewis Hepworth passed away his brother Arthur took over the business. When Arthur Franklin Hepworth died in 1935 the business was taken over by his son Lewis Franklin Hepworth (1899-1977) who ran the business until it passed to his son John Martyn Hepworth (1930-2007), who ran the printing works until the business ended in 1968 when offset-litho replaced letterpress as the method of producing commercial printing.

The Stidolph/Bellamy/Hepworth printing operations had spanned over 135 years of Tunbridge Wells history.

LEWIS HEPWORTH (1852-1907)

Lewis Hepworth was born in the 1st qtr of 1852 at Saddleworth, Yorkshire, one of 9 children born to John Hepworth (1821-1861) who was a carrier born in Saddleworth, Yorkshire, and Mary Hepworth, nee Dyson, born 1822 in Saddleworth. John and his wife Mary never moved to Tunbridge Wells but remained in Saddleworth.

At the time of the 1861 census Lewis was living in Saddleworth his parents and attending school. At the time of the 1871 census Lewis Hepworth was living as a boarder in Coventry,Warwickshire at 38 Moat Street with the occupation of printer compositor.

In 1878 Lewis Hepworth moved to Tunbridge Wells, and as explained above established the Lewis Hepworth Co., printers, stationers and book binders. His brother Arthur also worked in the business. Information about Arthur is given in the next section.

On October 8,1879 at Slade, Gloucestershire, Lewis married Ellen Tealor Wade who had been born 1856 at Truro, Cornwall and was the daughter of John Wade, a deceased farmer. Lewis’s father John Hepworth was given in the marriage records of his son in 1879 as a farmer. Lewis was given as a printer of Tunbridge Wells.

The 1881 census, taken at 14 Nevill Street gave Lewis Hepworth as a printer, stationer and book binder. With him was his wife Ellen T. Hepworth who had been born 1856 in Truro Cornwall; his brother Arthur Franklin Hepworth ( given as Arthur J. Hepworth in the census) and Lewis’s only child Mary Helpworth, age 8 months, who had been born in Tunbridge Wells. Also present was one boarder and one domestic servant. Shown opposite is a view of Nevill Street looking towards London Road. In this image the Hepworth building is shown on the left. 

Lewis Hepworth took an interest in football and in the 1890’s set up the Vale Rangers for the benefit of his employees and played "friendlies" on the Lower Cricket Ground .Lewis Hepworth was the team president. Shown below is a photo of the Vale Rangers taken 1899-1900. In this image, in the back row on the right, is Lewis Hepworth and in the front row middle the man with the mustache is my grandfather Francis Reginald Gilbert.

The 1891 census, taken at 12 & 14 Nevill Street gave Lewis as printer and stationer employing others. With him was his wife Ellen T. Hepworth ; five of their children ages 2 to 15, all of whom were attending school. Also there were two printers apprentices and one general servant.

The 1901 census, taken at 16 Beltram (sp) Road, Tunbridge Wells gave Lewis as a printer and publisher employing others. With him was his wife Ellen and their children (1) Mary T,age 20, a printers clerk (2) Nellie F. age 18 (3) Muriel L. age 15 (4) Lewis Dyson, age 14 (5)Ralph M, age 12 (6) Dorothy G.E. age 9 (7) Joseph Arnold Leslie, age 7 (8) Joyce D, age 11 mths. Also there was his niece Clara J. Lawe, age 19, born in Saddleworth, a milliners apprenctice and two nephews Frank and Fred Hinchliffe born in Saddleworth who were attending school. Also there was one domestic servant.

Lewis Hepworth died at the early age of 55. His death was registered in Hendon, Middlesex in the 4th qtr of 1907. He was buried on December 14,1907 in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetary.His wife remained in Tunbridge Wells and was buried in the same cemetery as her husband on November 19,1924

An exhaustive investigation into the lives of Lewis’s children was not undertaken but during research it was noted that at the time of the 1911 census, taken at 346 Bury New Road, Whitfield. Lancaster that Lewis Dyson Hepworth, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1887 was given as a gentleman living on private means with his wife Mary Sowerby, age 35. Also there was Lewis’s brother Joseph Arnold Leslie Hepworth, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1894, who was single and working as an apprentice in an iron works.

Military records for WW 1 record that Joseph Arnold Leslie Hepworth was “4th Cl Royal Navy M/14881 “engine artificer” who was on the HMS Mary Rose when he was killed in action while protecting a convoy in the North Sea on October 17,1917. He was given as the son of Lewis Hepworth and Ellen T. Hepworth of Tunbridge Wells and the husband of Florence Hepworth of 20 Linden Avenue, Thornbury, Bradford, Yorkshire. He is recorded on the Chatham Naval War Memorial and also on the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial as “ J.A.L. Hepworth” (photo opposite). His was the only Hepworth name on the War Memorial in Tunbridge Wells. His body was never recovered.  Joseph had married Florence Burns, who was born in the 3rd qtr of 1890 at Bradford and was one of two children born to John William Burns (1869-1905) and Lena Burns, nee Bastow (1871-1927). The couple had been married November 9,1915 at St Stephen’s Church in Bradford, Yorkshire.

There is no indication that any of Lewis’s sons worked at his printing business in Tunbridge Wells, and it appears that not long after the 1901 census, and certainly by the time of the 1911 census that most of his children had left Tunbridge Wells. However this is an area that would require further research to obtain the details.

ARTHUR FRANKLIN HEPWORTH (1865-1935)

Arthur Franklin Hepworth was born in Saddleworth, Yorkshire in the 2nd qtr of 1865 and as noted above was the younger brother of Lewis Hepworth and the son of John and Sarah Hepworth.

When the 1871 census was taken at Delph, Saddleworth, Yorkshire Arthur was attending school and living with his parents and three siblings.

In 1878 Arthur moved to Tunbridge Wells with his brother Lewis and worked together in the family printing business.

At the time the 1881 census was taken at 14 Nevill Street, Tunbridge Wells, Arthur was living with his brother Lewis and his sister in law Sarah Jane Hepworth and his niece Mary Hepworth, and working as an apprentice in the family printing business.

In 1891, at Oldham, Lancashire, Arthur married Sarah Jane Amey (1860-1941). Sarah had been born in Stockport, Cheshire. With Sarah he appears to have had just one child namely Lewis Franklin Hepworth (1899-1977), details of whom are given in the next section.

The 1891 census, taken at 8 Southview Terrace, Rushthall New Town, Speldhurst, gave Arthur Franklin Hepworth as a printer compositor. With him was his wife Sarah Jane Hepworth.

The 1901 census, taken at 8 Grosvenor Park, Tunbridge Wells, gave Arthur as a printers company secretary. With him was his wife Sarah and his son Lewis Franklin Hepworth, born 1899 in Tunbridge Wells. Also there was one visitor.

The 1911 census, taken at 8 Grosvenor Park, Tunbridge Wells gave Arthur as a printer worker. With him was his wife Sarah; his son Lewis Franklin Hepworth, who was in school and a 24 year old niece Ethel Armtage. The census recorded that the family were living in premises of 6 rooms; that they had been married 19 years and had just the one child.

Arthur Franklin Hepworth’s death was recorded in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1935. Probate records gave him of 8 Grosvenor “Road”,Tunbridge Wells when he died March 21,1935. The executor of his 1,229 pound estate was his widow Sarah Jane Hepworth.  He was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on March 21,1935. He was survived by his wife Sarah and son Lewis Franklin Hepworth. When Arthur died his son Lewis, sometimes referred to a “Lynn” took over the running of the family printing business. More information about him is given in the next section.

Sarah Jane Hepworth was of 60 Claremont Road, Tunbridge Wells when she died November 28,1941 at The Homeopathic Hospital, Tunbridge Wells. The executor of her 885 pound estate was her son Lewis Franklin Hepworth, a printer.

LEWIS FRANKLIN HEPWORTH (1899-1977) 

Lewis Franklin Hepworth, sometimes referred to in records as “Lynn” was the only child born to Arthur Franklin Hepworth and his wife Sarah. He had been born in Tunbridge Wells June 17,1899. He lived with is parents at the time of the 1901 and 1911 census. In 1911 the family were living at 8 Grosvenor Park. The 1914 Kelly directory gave the listing “Arthur Franklin Hepworth, 8 Grosvenor Park.

Lewis became involved with the family printing business with his father in the 1920’s and when his father died in 1935 he took over the business.

In the 3rd qtr of 1926 Lewis married Doris Eversfield, Down (1896-1992) at Ticehurst, Sussex. Doris had been born February 25,1896 at Hadlow, Kent and was one of two children born to Leonard William Down (1868-1923) and Elizabeth Down, born 1868. Lewis and Doris had just one child, namely John Martyn Hepworth (1930-2007). Details about John are given in the next section of this article.

Apart from running the family printing business until its demise in 1968, Lewis was a “shining light” with the Tunbridge Wells Operatic and Dramatic Society (TWODS) which society was founded in 1889 and is described as “one of the oldest amateur societies in the Country”. Details about the history of this society can be found on their website. From that website is a photo abovevof one of their performances dated 1939 at the Assembly Hall.

Lewis Franklin Hepworth died in Tunbridge Wells October 5,1977 while a resident of Ingle Nook, Southborough, leaving an estate valued at 1,627 pounds. He was survived by his wife Doris and son John Martyn Hepworth.

JOHN MARTYN HEPWORTH (1930-2007)

John was born in Tunbridge Wells. His birth was registered in the 2nd qtr of 1930 in Tunbridge Wells, with his mother’s maiden name given as “Down”. A review of birth records shows that he was the only child in the family. He went on to graduate from Oxford University. A photo of him from the Pantiles Players website is shown opposite.

The London Gazette of August 18,1950 gave an announcement of cadets that were to be 2nd Lieutenants in the Royal Army Service Corps. Among  those listed was “ 22187716 John Martyn Hepworth (411482) who presumably is the  John Martyn Hepworth that is the subject of this article.

In the 2nd qtr of 1964 he married Audrey D. Hall  and with her had a daughter Sarah Elizabeth A. Hepworth, who was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1966.  For a time John worked for his father in the family printing business, but at noted above the business ended in 1968.

John was an entrepreneur and was involved in a number of activities in the town. For one thing he was a member of the Constitutional Club. Details about this club were given in my article ‘ The Tunbridge Wells Constitutional Club’ dated July 15,2014 but updated January 17,2017. The records of this club record “Martyn Hepworth” as a member “deceased”. .

John, under the name of both Martyn Hepworth and John Martyn Hepworth was the author of the books (1) The story of the Pantiles  in 1956 and republished in later years (2) The Story of the Town ie Tunbridge Wells from 1606 until the Present (3) Amateur Drama: Production and Management (1979).

John was an active member of the Pantiles Players who had put on amateur theatre productions in the town for many years. In 2004 for example the Pantiles Players put on a performance in the Open Air Theatre in the Pantiles June 28th “featuring veteran local actor Martyn Hepworth performing for the 50th consecutive and final time playing Shylock”. Shown above is a  photo of “Martyn” from the website of the Pantiles Players. Martyn is the man in the white shirt wearing the stripped tie. Martyn’s main love was amateur dramatics. His stage connection was inherited from his father who was also heavily involved in amateur dramatics but on the musical side being a leading light in the Operatic Society, whereas Martyn was more stage orientated with the Pantiles Players.

One other venture he was involved with was his establishment of a “Brass Rubbing Centre” in the building known today, and since 1993 as the Forum, located in the Common in Fonthill on the former site of a group of 19th century buildings ( carriage works, Fonthill House, the old forge). In 1931 the TWBC purchased the Fonthill site from the Manor of Rusthall and installed toilets in part of the complex of buildings. In 1938 the TWBC had the buildings demolished and in May 1939 a new building was constructed on the site  known as the Fonthill Rest Centre which was used as public washrooms and a rest shelter where locals and visitors could rest after a pleasant day on the Commons or about town. During WW II the building came into use for the war effort as a decontamination centre and after the war returned to its previous use. Martyn leased the building from the TWBC in the 1970’s and 1980’s for use as a Brass Rubbing Centre. This centre was looked after by two elderly ladies. You could go there and make a rubbing from medieval scenes. In the early 1990’s the building became vacant, Martyn having closed his brass rubbing venture by then and in June 1993 the building ,named The Forum,came into use as a place where performances were given, a use it retains today. Some further information about the history of the Forum can be found on their website and will be the topic of a future article of mine. Shown opposite is a photo of the Forum which opened June 1993.

John Martyn Hepworth died in Tunbridge Wells in December 2007 and was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium December 20th.  The minutes of the TWBC December 12,2007 announced " One of the Borough's Civic Medallion Award Holders, Martyn Heptworth had died . Members of the Council joined the Mayor in paying their respects". This award had been presented to John Martyn Hepworth in 2001 for his work in town on cultural events.

 

FONTHILL AND THE FORUM

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

Date: September 5,2017

INTRODUCTION

In this article I present information on that part of the Commons opposite King Charles the Martyr Church, formerly referred to as “The Chapel of Ease”  that is presently the site of The Forum where entertainments have been conducted since it opened in June 1993. The building itself is stated by others to have been built in 1939 as public washrooms and a rest shelter used by locals and visitors to the town as a public convenience. From the time the building was constructed it came into various uses, including a military use during WW II.

The Forum building was constructed on an old site upon which there had been at least one building (a forge or smithy) since at least 1738. By 1808 there was a cluster of 3-4 buildings on the site, three of which were known to be a forge, a carriage works, and a lodging house called Fonthill House. References to a Fonthill Cottage can also be found. The earliest map located which labels “Fonthill” was that of 1872 but a directory of 1827 refers to a lodging house owned by “Mr C. Elliot,Fonthill” and so the useage of the name dates back to at least the early 19th century.

In this article I present the results of my research into the history of the Fonthill site from about 1738 up to current times.

FONTHILL 

I begin my coverage of the history of Fonthill by presenting the 1907 OS map opposite to show the location. Although the construction of buildings on the Common was not permitted since at least the 19th century one can find a number of buildings in it that were built dating back to the early 18th century, before regulations came into effect.

One early reference to Fonthill is Cliffords 1827 guide which gave a listing of lodging houses in the town, which included “ Mr. C. Elliott, Fonthill Cottage, which lodging house had two sitting rooms; two good beds and premises for three servants.

A map dated 1738 does not label “Fonthill” but at that location shows one building, being that of a forge/smithy. Kips engraving of 1719 shows the same building. A map of 1808 shows that the number of buildings on this site had increased to 3-4. Maps of 1828 and 1832 shown the same buildings.

The earliest map to label the area as “Fonthill” was that of 1872 but clearly the name was in common use well before that date. Fonthill continued to be labelled on maps after 1872 and right up to an including 1938. Obviously the buildings on the site had undergone considerable alteration over the years, the details of which are not known. The Fire Engine Station is shown at Fonthill on maps of 1901 to 1938.

It is known that Elliott’s Carriage Works had their building at Fonthill. The history of this business was given in my article ‘ Elliott’s Carriage Works’ dated August 20,2011. In part I reported “One of the earliest companies to set up shop in Tunbridge Wells to manufacture carriages was Elliotts,the business name of which varied over time but most often was generally referred to as   Elliotts Carriage Works. In 1826 there were only two companies identified as coach and carriage builders namely John & James Terry on London Road and Elliott & Sons on London Road.In addition to advertising their business as coach builders Elliott's were also in business as saddlers,blacksmiths and wheelwrights.In 1840 these two businesses were joined by coach builders William & John Constable who had premises at Ephraim Terrace,Mount Ephraim,and were still operating in 1847. In 1847 Edward Elliott was listed at Fonthill House.The history of Elliott's can in fact be traced back at least to 1824 in Tunbridge Wells as there was a Charles Elliott given as a wheelwright and blacksmith in Pigots directory.An article by the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society about the Forum which was built in 1939 stated that the current structure was one in a long line of buildings that had stood on the site over the years including a blacksmith's forge mid to early 1700's;Elliott's coach builders workshop and also a cottage called Fonthill House which dated back to 1833.Fonthill House as mentioned above is one of the business locations Elliott's advertised being at.”.As I stated above the “cottage called Fonthill House” referred to in the Civic Society article was actually there from at least 1827. Colbrans 1850 listed Edward Elliott at Fonthill House as did Colbrans 1860 guide. To read more about Elliott and his business refer to the original article. Shown above is a photo from an illustrated guide dated 1892 showing the former Elliott's coachworks. At the time this image was taken W.T. Noakes was the proprietor who was a coachbuilder and described in the 1892 guide as "the successor to the late Edward Elliott, the foundation of which dates back for over a century". His business was known in 1892 as the Tunbridge Wells Coach Works.

Some interesting images of Fonthill were found. Shown below left is one dated circa 1934 of Fonthill by David Johnson. This same image appeared in the book 'Tunbridge Wells in Old Photographs" (second edition) with the following text " Fonthill on the southern edge of Tunbridge Wells Common is said to be the site of the cottage of Mrs Humphreys, who gave Lord North a cup to drink from the chalybeate spring when he discovered it in 1606. She subsequently became the first dipper at the spring. The earliest town map (1738) shows a forge here. In 1833 the structures on the site were rebuilt in the form seen in this 1934 photograph by D.J. Johnson. On the left is Fonthill House, and on the right premises occupied by Arthur Aubin, farrier: Albert May, cabinet maker, and Norman and Goward, coach builder. The buidlings were replaced by the present pavilion (The Forum) in 1939".To the right of it is a postcard labelled as The Forge on the Common by postcard publisher Valentine.













In the row below to the left is a second Valentine postcard showing the same forge in the common and to the right of it is a wonderful photo taken of a Mazawatee Tea Company wagon being pulled by Zebras from which view can be seen Aubins blacksmith shop in the background. My article ‘The Aubin’s-Blacksmiths of Tunbridge Wells’ dated January 10,2013 provides details about the family and their business. The Aubins’s had been farriers and blacksmiths in Tunbridge Wells since at least 1871 and up to at least 1931, a period of some 6o years. They are found at Fonthill in directories throughout that period.










Shown below right is a postcard by the firm of L. Levi entitled ‘Back of the Pantiles” in which on the right hand side can be seen a partial view of the old forge.

The Sussex Advertiser of August 18,1857 under the heading of ‘Tunbridge Wells Intelligence” noted the presence of Mrs Captain Hart and a Mrs Miller at Fonthill House.

The website of the Tunbridge Wells Common Conservators states “ In 1856 a scheme was brought forward to purchase the old forge and associated buildings at Fonthill; to demolish them , and to return the land to the conservators” but obviously this was not done for the buildings were still there well after that date. Whether they were still there when the Forum was built in 1939 is not known but the group of buildings were still shown on maps of the 1930’s.

I noted that a John Hirst born about 1832 who married Jane Groombridge (1831-1917) in Tunbridge Wells in 1868 was living at the time of the 1901 census at “Fonthill, the Common, London Road”  and was a Tunbridge Ware maker. At the time of the 1911 census a Felix Neff Fox Wilson,age 52, a cabinet maker and upholsterer and his wife Sarah and several lodgers at the boarding house, were at “Fonthill, the Common, London Road”.

The last reference of the old buildings at Fonthill is Kelly’s 1937 directory which listed Norman & Goward coach builders; A.G. May, Cabinet maker workshop and Arthur P. Aubin farrier and a William J. Curd.

THE FORUM 

Shown below left is a postcard by E.A. Sweetman & Son showing a view looking north up London Road towards Nevill Street with a view of a building on the common partially screened by trees. The seller of this postcard stated it was postmarked 1923. Shown to the right is a second image from Google maps of the same location on which part of the Forum building can be seen. The image of 1923 shows a partial view of the carriage works buildings then situated at Fonthill. 














In 1931 the TWBC purchased the Fonthill site from the Manor of Rusthall and installed public washrooms in part of the complex of buildings acquired. The other parts of the buildings were rented out by the TWBC. In 1938 these buildings were demolished and a new building, which we now know as The Forum" was constructed on the site and named
“The Fonthill Rest Shelter” which provided public washrooms to local residents and visitors to the town. The washrooms opened in May 1939 and continued in use until the beginning of WW II.

During WW II a decontamination centre was set up there and after the war some of the space was divided up and used by the council. A decontamination centre was also set up at the Kent & Sussex Hospital. Ambulances were based at the Assembly Hall, Fonthill and at the two Corporation depots at Quarry Road and Rusthall.

In the late 1970’s local entrepreneur John Martyn Hepworth (1930-2007) leased the building from the TWBC and set up a Brass Rubbing Centre there. Those who visited it state that it was run by two old ladies and you could go there and make a rubbing of medieval scenes. John Martyn Hepworth was decended from the family of Hepworths who had a large and prosperous printing and stationers business in the town, first on Nevill Street and later on Vale Road. John was heavily involved in amateur theatrical performances with the Pantiles Players and was the author of three books about aspects of amateur performances and the history of the town. He was a member of the local Constitutional Club also. Details about him and the rest of the Hepworth clan can be found in my article’ The Hepworth Family of Tunbridge Wells’ dated March 4,2017. A photo of John Martyn Hepworth is shown opposite.

In 1992 the building became vacant. When Mr Hepworth ended his brass rubbing business there was not established but it was still operating in the 1980s. In June 1993 The Forum opened after a group of friends who had been running live music events in the town spotted the building and felt it would make an ideal site for a music venue. Since opening the Forum (photo opposite) has home to many performers and continues to provide musical entertainment today.

I wish to thank Caroline Gray for her input in the preparation of this article. Caroline is working on a publication for 2018 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of The Forum.

 

THE DELIVERY BOY

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

Date: September 6,2017

INTRODUCTION   

For most young boys, their first exposure to the labour market is by way of their employment as a delivery boy. During the 19th century, before the age of the motorcar ,most purchases of goods for the home were made by the lady of the house making her rounds to local shops on foot carrying her shopping basket. Most local shops however offered free home delivery by a delivery boy riding a bicycle or tricycle equipped with a carrier or box in which the goods were placed. Many companies in England, particularly those in Birmingham, produced a line of “industrial bicycles” designed especially for the delivery trade.

The delivery of telegrams, newspapers, and shop goods from grocers, bakers and most other types of shops, was the domain of boys, many of whom ,before labour laws established restrictions, began work while still in school, working before or after school hours and on weekends. When a boy left school he was able to find full or part-time employment as a delivery boy. Social norms of the pre 20th century era found it quite acceptable for boys to work as delivery boys, but girls had to find work of a more domestic nature. It was not until during the first and second world wars that girls were used as delivery boys/persons.

A review of Tunbridge Wells newspapers of the 19th and 20th century revealed that advertisments appeared on a regular basis by shop proprietors for delivery boys. The qualities of the delivery boy being called for typically stated that they were looking for “smart, obliging boys who were good with figures, able to ride a bicycle and typically between the ages of 14-18”. One ironmonger was looking for a delivery boy who was “ strong and intelligent for cycle delivery” suggesting that there were heavy items to be delivered. The shop proprietor offered “good or excellent wages (6 s per week in 1914), good or short hours, commission paid for extras” and of course provided the bicycle and in some cases a uniform. Speedy delivery was very important. Shown opposite is a photo dated September 25,1935 on the occasion of the annual delivery boy race in Maidstone.

On the streets of Tunbridge Wells could be found boys on bicycles delivering telegrams, dressed in smart uniforms (jacket, pants, peaked cap) and typically delivery boys working for other businesses wore similar attire, for the delivery boy represented his employer and needed to look smart. They were found on the streets of the town in all sorts of weather, peddling their way up and down hills come rain,hail,wind or snow, intent on reaching their destination, winding their way along trying to avoid pedestrians, other cyclists, horses and carriages and by the WW1 era the occasional motor car.

In this article I present a brief overview of the history of the delivery boy/girl with a particular emphasis on their lives and work in Tunbridge Wells. A few postcards and photographs are provided of Tunbridge Wells in which delivery boys can be seen going about their work as well as some from other parts of England.

At the top of this section is a wonderful photograph of a delivery boy, from the early 20th century, employed by the firm of J. Sainsbury, who had a grocers shop on Mount Pleasant Road. In this image the boy is smartly dressed and appears to be about age 14. He is riding a tricycle with a box on the front, upon which is some company advertising and inside the box are the goods to be delivered. Tunbridge Wells is a hilly town, as I noted on my visit to it in 2015. My friend and I had all we could manage walking up Mount Pleasant Hill, never mind a young delivery boy trying to ride up it on a bicycle or tricycle loaded down with goods.

CHILD LABOUR

Child labour and the exploitation and mistreatment of children in the workforce is a topic which was and still is the subject of much discussion. The views shared by clear thinking people today about children in the workforce is quite different than it was in previous centuries. Today there are strict laws regulating the employment of children.

Child labour has existed to varying extents though most of history. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, children aged 5-14 from poorer families still worked in the UK. They mainly worked in agriculture, home-based assembly operations, factories, mining and in services such as news boys and delivery boys of all types. Some worked night shifts lasting 12 hours. With the rise of household income, availability of schools and the passage of child labour laws, the incidence of child labour fell. During the preindustrial era children were expected to work in whatever type of employment they could find and the family unit depended on the income their work would bring. On the onset of the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the late 18th century there was a rapid increase in the industrial exploitation of labour, including child labour. The Victorian era in particular became notorious for the conditions under which children were employed, with children as young as age 4 being put out to work, in all conditions, and for all hours of the day and night. Child wages during that time were as low as 10-20% of an adult males wage.

Throughout the second half of the 19th century, child labour began to decline due to regulations and economic factors because of the growth of trade unions. The first act to regulate child labour in England was passed in 1803 with further Factory Acts passed in 1802 and 1819, which regulated working hours to 12 hours per day. In 1831 a Royal Commission recommended that children aged 11-18 should work a maximum of 12 hours per day, children aged 9-11 a maximum of 8 hours and children under the age of 9 were no longer permitted to work.

The introduction of compulsory schooling did much to reduce the number of children of school age from working. In the 21st century child labour is still common in many parts of the world.

From a website in Britain regarding child employment one can see that regulations are in place regarding the minimum ages that children can work; the rates of pay they are to receive; performance licenses and supervision of children; restrictions on child employment and local rules for child employment. These rules specify for example that the youngest age a child can work part-time is 13, with some exceptions. Children can only start full-time work once they’ve reached the minimum school leaving age, which was 16 in 2015 but recently raised to age 18. For details on child labour laws see the internet, for there is much information provided in this regard.

With respect to delivery boys, a study showed that 23% of 14 year olds in Britain were employed as delivery boys in 1931 and although this was true of just 6% of 15 year old boys by 1951, another 11% were involved in the new census classification of “unskilled occupations”.

Working as a delivery boy was not without its risks. A review of local newspapers provided examples of boys being run down or knocked off their delivery bicycles and injured. There were cases of delivery boys being assaulted and the goods they were delivering being stolen, and some cases of dishonest delivery boys who were taken to task by the law.

DELIVERY BOYS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS

From researching the 1911 Tunbridge Wells census, some interesting information was gathered regarding the employment of boys under the age of 18. In this section is given the results of the study I conducted, based on a search in the census under the heading of “delivery boy”. What turned up was a total of 166 boys under the age of 18 engaged in various types of work, who were all described in the census as errand boys of one type or another. Not included in the information below are boys listed as page boys, house boys, bakers boys, home boys, shop boys, latter boys, kitchen boys, bakers boys, chocolate boys, skate boys, stable boys, barbers boys, van boys, office boys, carpenters boys and similar work not connected to the making of deliveries. Only one of the 166 boys described himself, or was described by the census taker as a “delivery boy”, indicating that they were lumped in as some form as an Errand Boy.

Part 1 of the study involved identifying the ages of the boys engaged as errand boys of all types. The results are given in the table below.

AGE          10     11   12   13   14   15   16   17

                  2       4      11   8    47    47   26   21…………TOTAL………166

Part 2 of the study gave a breakdown of the Errand Boy listings into the type of work being performed. In the table below is given a total of 166 boys with the numbers of each by type of work.

 

Classification of Work                        Number Employed

___________________                        ________________

Errand Boy-Fishmongers ………………………..  2                                  

Errand Boy-Tailors…………………………………… 5

Errand Boy-Butchers……………………………….. 2

Errand Boy-Boot shop……………………………..  1

Errand Boy-Stationers……………………………… 1

Errand Boy-Jewellers……………………………….  2

Errand Boy-Drapers…………………………………. 2

Errand Boy-Greengrocer………………………….. 10

Errand Boy-Grocer…………………………………… 15

Errand Boy-Bakers……………………………………  3

Errand Boy-Carriage Works………………………  1

Errand Boy-Printers………………………………...   1

Errand Boy-Florist…………………………………….. 1

Errand Boy-Chemist………………………………….  1

Errand Boy-Boots……………………………………..  1

Errand Boy-Wine Merchant……………………...  1

Errand Boy-Picture Shop…………………………..  1

Errand Boy-Electric…………………………………...  1

Errand Boy-Ironmonger…………………………….. 1

Errand Boy-Coal Merchant………………………… 1

Errand Boy-Book Seller……………………………..  1

Errand Boy-Clothier…………………………………..  1

Errand Boy-Milliner…………………………………..  1

Errand Boy-Mineral Water factory…………….  1

Paper Boy…………………………………………………..  1

School and newsboy…………………………………  18

News Boy…………………………………………………..  5

School and milk boy…………………………………..  3

Milk Boy…………………………………………………….  2

Telegraph Boy (GPO)………………………………..... 4

Errand Boy (type unspecified)…………………...74

The two categories “school and newsboy” and “school and milk boy” indicate specifically that the boy was attending school but worked outside of school hours as a delivery boy. The absence of the word “school” in the occupations of the other boys does not necessarily mean that the boys were working full or part time as errand boys and NOT attending school also.

Part 3 of the study looked at the addresses of the Errand Boys to establish if there was a trend, and indeed there was. Few if any errand boys were found in the more affluent parts of the town. A large number in the census lived on Goods Station Road, Tunnel Road, Victoria Road and the like but there was quite a varied distribution of errand boys throughout most parts of the town. No doubt most of the boys lived fairly close to the business they were employed by.

Shown above are three postcards showing delivery boys in Tunbridge Wells on Mount Pleasant Road, Grove Hill Road and Calverley Road in the early 1900's.

THE PAPERBOY 

An article in the BBC News Magazine of June 3,2008 presented a story about paper boys under the heading “The Strange Decline of the Paperboy” and asked the question “ Where have all the newspaper boys and girls gone? . In part is states “ Becoming a paper boy or girl is a rite of passage for many children. Perhaps more than any other part-time job, it educates the young future worker about the importance of getting up in the morning, of punctuality, of steadfastness”. Newsagents across the country are experiencing great difficulty in finding young people to deliver the newspapers and as a result many of them have had to give up home delivery. Competition from supermarkets and convenience stores and the decline in the sale of newspapers are partly to blame but “kids don’t want to do paper rounds because of increasing pocket money and other ways of making money”. Those delivering the newspapers were typically 14 or 15 and could earn 10 pounds a week for 20-25 minutes of work per day. The study showed that there has been a  rapid rise in children’s pocket money as families have generally improved upon their financial status over the years . A survey showed that in 2007 some 19% of working 7-16 year olds had paper rounds, compared to 35% in 2004. Shown in this section are some old photographs of paperboys making their rounds

THE TELEGRAM BOY 

The telegram was once a quick way of sending a message, but in 1977 the BPO abolished them.

The telegrams were sent by telegraph machine and were a fast way to send important news for people without telephones. The telegraph operator tapped out the message in code. The message travelled to another operator who decoded the long and short taps into words and then passed the telegram message along. Telegrams were expensive and so most messages were brief. When the telegram was ready it was placed in an envelope and addressed and handed to the telegram delivery boy, dressed in a jacket with peaked cap, who raced on his bicycle to deliver it.  Upon his arrival the telegram was hand delivered and he waited to see if there was to be a reply ,and if there was, took it back to the telegram office to be sent off.

During both wars the delivery of telegrams caused the receiver of it a great deal of concern for it might report that a loved one had been injured, gone missing or been killed in the war. During 1915 for example 91 million messages were handled in England, a significant increase in telegram traffic.

Telegram boys (photo opposite)became popular after the Post Office took over control of inland telegraphs from the railways and private telegraph companies. Many of the boys employed by these services to deliver telegrams transferred to the Post Office. In some respects the life of a telegram boy was not unlike that of someone completing military service. They were expected to behave in a manner befitting one who wore the uniform of the Queen, and were required to complete a daily drill. From 1915 to 1921, morning exercise was added to these requirements.

In Tunbridge Wells the town’s main post office was on Vale Road, a postcard view of it is shown above. It was from there that the telegram delivery boy would peddle his bike from, going as fast as he safely could to his intended destination. Shown in this section is a photograph of a young telegram delivery boy with his bicycle.  In the 1930’s the Post Office introduced motorcycles to delivery telegrams and boys aged 17 were allowed to volunteer for training with their parent’s consent.

In its heyday, in the 1930’s, some 65 million telegrams were delivered annually. By the 1960’s the number had dropped to 10 million and in 1977 only 844 were delivered. It’s no wonder that telegrams were abolished in 1977.

DELIVERY BICYCLES 

Delivery bicycles were generally referred to as “Industrial Bicycles”, to distinguish them from  the bicycle used to ride for general use as a means of transportation. The industrial bicycle was an “all business” conveyance built specifically for the delivery of goods by delivery boys. They were constructed of two types, namely a two wheeler, with a basket on the front over the front wheel; and a three wheeler, a tricycle, in which a large box for carrying things in was placed between the two front wheels. This latter type could carry far more than its two wheel cousin.

A number of companies made these bicycles, many of them located in Birmingham, and many of those who built them constructed all types of boys and girls bicycle and tricyles. Examples of the box type tricycle could be found on the streets of Tunbridge Wells carrying all manner of goods, but perhaps the one most welcomed, at least by children, were the ones carrying icecream. There were a number of bicycle shops in Tunbridge Wells where delivery cycles could be purchased. Shown opposite is photo of an icecream trike belonging to Flossies in Tunbridge Wells.

Tradesmen’s bicycles, as they are sometimes called ,are now less likely to be thrown away as many folks have started restoring them. Once common on the streets of all town, they have diminished greatly in modern times and now are somewhat a rarity or curiosity when seen. The two wheel bicycles used to proudly display the name of the shop on a sign fastened to the bike frame between the wheels, and those of the tricycle design displayed the shop name and address on the side of the box.

The industrial tricycle was developed in England in the 1870’s and was largely used by grocers, bakers, druggists and others to have their goods delivered to customers. Shown opposite is  delivery bike in front of the Tunbridge Wells butcher shop of Peter Speaigh in Chapel Place. on which the shop name is printed.

In a related article entitled ‘Ice Cream-A Tunbridge Wells Treat’ dated April 28,2017 one can read about the production and sale of ice cream in the town with information provided about local ice cream shops and examples of ice cream tricycles that once plied the streets of the town offering cool treats. Many of them were peddled about by boys.




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