ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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THE ROYAL TUNBRIDGE WELLS VETERANS ASSOCIATION

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

Date: December 5,2016

INTRODUCTION 

Since the beginning of time mankind has resorted to war to resolve conflicts. It is often said that if women ran world affairs that there would be no wars as they would find, through discussion and negotiation, a non-military solution to disputes, thus avoiding the cost of war in money; destroyed property; the terrible loss of life and serious injury to those who served their country.

Apart from this a great fallout from war is the veteran who set off to do his part for the war effort, who if he survived, was left either physically or mentally scarred for life. Few men who survived the war talk about their experiences, for what they saw –the devastation, the loss of comrades, the terrible injuries etc is just too painful to speak of and brings them to tears. Many of these men and women were left disabled for the rest of their lives, spend a good part of their life in hospitals and were left with psychological problems.

Fortunately Britain and all other countries, recognized a need not only to pay homage to those who gave their lives, but also to provide assistance and services to the veterans.

Those who served in the war felt their comrades were friends in arms and this friendship during the war continued afterwards when like- minded veterans banded together to form Veterans Associations in their local community, where members could meet for companionship, entertainment, a pint, and for enjoyable discussion on old and recent topics. Such an association was formed in Tunbridge Wells at the beginning of the 20th century and named the Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association. Sadly as the years passed, so did the members of these Veterans Associations, and although the last UK veteran from WW I passed away July 2009 at age 111, there is still estimated to be in the order of 100,000 men and women veterans from WW 2 in England alive , all of whom are reported to be over the age of 90. Within the next ten years one can expect that they will have passed away. Unfortunately WW II was not the last military conflict and so a new crop of veterans has been added to the numbers.

The Royal British Legion was founded May 15,1921 and provides lifelong support for the armed forces community. The Legion was formed from four organizations of ex-servicemen. The first Poppy Day was organized by them and held on Rememberance Day November 11,1921. The British Legion were granted “Royal” status in 1971 and extended their membership to serving members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, as well as serving personnel in 1981. Their members are from all branches of the armed forces. From the website of the Royal British Legion, they state “ The main purpose of the Legion was straightforward: to care for those who had suffered as a result of service in the Armed Forces during the war…Even those who had come through the war relatively unscathed struggled with unemployment, as Britain’s economy had plummeted, and in 1921 there were two million unemployed. Over six million men had served in the war-725,000 never returned.Of those who came back, 1.75 million had suffered some kind of disability and half of these were permanently disabled. The situation so moved Lancastrian Lance Bombadier Tom Lister, that he decided that if the government was either unable or unwilling to do anything to improve the lives of ex-servicemen, he would do something himself. This eventually led to the formation of the British Legion.”

With the passage of time and the formation of the British Legion membership in the local Veterans Associations declined. Although once plentiful, and found in most towns across Britain, very few of them exist today and those that do exist are in most cases the result of an amalgamation of associations. Even in Canada, membership in the Canadian Legion has been declining and over the years various “Locals” of the legion have been discontinued and the buildings where they held their meetings sold off.

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association was formed before WW 1 to serve the veterans of the town but no longer exists. They played an important role in the community, not only in support of the veterans, but also to the community though their charity work. They had a fine band which put on concerts and participated along with the veterans in all the local parades, military funerals, war memorial unveilings, Remembrance Day celebrations and others. In the following section I provide information about the history of this  important veterans association.

Shown above from top to bottom is a photo of the 2015 Remembrance Day Ceremony in Tunbridge Wells in which the veterans paraded to the applause of the spectators. The second to last image shows a group of British D Day veterans on the beach in France in 2016. The last image shows representatives of the local veterans associations welcoming the serving officers of the Tigers (Princess of Wale’s Royal Regiment) , as reported on by the BBC news July 15,2013. The Tigers had paraded through the town starting from the bottom of High Street and finished outside the Town Hall and the Assembly Hall.

THE VETERANS ASSOCIATION OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association, as it was officially known, was formed, based on a review of local directories, and other sources, sometime after 1903 and before 1912.

The earliest ,and for that matter the only photographic image of the Association ,is the one shown opposite labelled on the front “Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association March 24,1912. Also shown on the front to the right is the name of the photographer who took the photo, namely “Bijou Studio”. This studio, referred to in 1911-1912 as the Bijou Art Company, is also referred to as the Bijou Photo Company at 45 Montague Street, Kettering, Northamptonshire. This studio, in addition to field photography, also produced studio CDV’s (portraits). Some examples of their studio work can be found on the internet. Based on this one can conclude that the Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association were attending a veterans conference in Kettering in March 1912. No details about this conference were found. For further information about the Bijou Studio, who had a studio at 26 Camden Road in Tunbridge Wells , and another in Eastbourne, Sussex see my article ‘The Photographers of 26 Camden Road’ dated December 15,2016.

The first directory listing available to the researcher was the 1903 Kelly directory and no listing for this association was found in it. The 1913 Kelly directory however gave the listing “ Veterans Club Association (T. Denton, sec; C. Hinton, steward) 26 & 28 Camden Road”.

The 1918 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Veterans Club Association (C. Hayworth, sec ) 26 & 28 Camden Road”.

The 1922 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Veterans Association & United Service Club (C.B. Catfield, sec. ) 26 Camden Road”.

Directories of 1930 and 1934 gave “ Veterans Association (Frederick England, sec.)back of 26 Camden Road”.

The last directory listing available to the researcher was that of 1938 which gave “ Veteran Association Club (V. Usherwood, sec.) back of 25 Camden Road.

The directory listings above appear to reflect a reduction of membership in the Association with the passage of time having begun in large premises at 26 & 28 Camden Road circa 1910; then operating from premises half the size by 1922 at just No. 26 Camden Road and they by 1930 operating from just the back of No. 26.

When the Association ended operations was not established but no record of it was found after WW II, and presumably those inclined to do so joined the British Legion. Membership records for the Association were not found by the researcher and it is unlikely they have survived. No record of them was found in the National Archives or the British Legion.

Although the number of veterans from WW II is rapidly being depleted, shown opposite from an article dated October 11,2015 is a photo of Ken Richardson who at that time was age 91. He was a veteran from Tunbridge Wells and was awarded France’s highest honour for the part he played in liberating the country from the Nazis. He had been recognized on his 21st birthday by Field Marshall Montgomery for outstanding conduct and dedication to duty. He had joined the Grenadier Guards in 1942, aged 18 following in the footsteps of his father who was in the regiment during WW 1. The article from the Kent & Sussex Courier provided additional information about him.

Surprisingly no details about this Association was found from a search on the internet, apart from a list of articles in the Kent & Sussex Courier and the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser for the years 1912 to 1939, a partial list of which with the topic of the article is given below.

[1] K & S Courier June 24,1912…….”Forthcoming -Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association-By kind permission of the Railway and Parks Committee-a concert will be given by the band of the above Association (Mr C. Hinton,steward) in the Mount Sion Grove from 7:15 to 10pm. A postcard view of Mount Sion Grove, where there was once a bandstand is shown opposite.



[2] K & S Courier March 17,1916…….”Colonel Sydney Sladen, president of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association occupied the chair at the annual meeting of this Association, which was held at the Veteran’s Club in Camden Road on Wednesday evening……” Colonel Sydney Sladen (photo opposite ) served as Mayor of Tunbridge Wells 1911-1913.

[3] K & S Courier January 10,1919…..”Annual meeting of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association at the Club rooms Camden Road on Wednesday evening. Colonel Sydney Sladen presided over a large gathering of members…………

[4] K & S Courier June 11,1920…….”Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association-Should funds for war memorial be raised by concerts?....Remarkable protest by ex-servicemen…On Friday evening last a large muster of the Veterans General Committee, representing 400 ex-servicemen met”. The article essentially referred to the Veterans objections to funds being raised for the war memorial by people who were not residents of the town. A resolution was passed which read “ Whilst appreciating the motive of the Concert Party in helping the funds of the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial do respectively and earnestly request the Mayor and War Memorial Committee to consider the desirability of placing the sum derived from the benefit given by the Concert Party on June 3rd to some charitable organization instead of to the War Memorial as our members are of the opinion that the Borough Memorial should not only be from Tunbridge Wells citizens alone, not that any object where subscriptions are raised by humerous efforts is unworthy of the cause. Further that the ex-servicemen are solid in their opinion that for such a worthy object in this wealthy Borough, one call and one call only, through our chief citizens should have been more than necessary to have brought in the required amount to raise a monument to our fellow townsmen and comrades who so willingly made the supreme sacrifice”. 
 
[5] K & S Courier October 29,1920…….”Concert at the Royal Victoria Hall, Southborough”. Among those performing was the Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association Band. A photo of the Royal Victoria Hall is shown opposite.





[6] K & S Courier December 17,1920……..” A successful concert was held at The Veterans Club Saturday evening. There was a numerous company present. Capt. W.J. Wellum occupied the chair at the opening and afterwards Sir Robert Gower supported……..” A photo of Sir Robert Gower is shown opposite. Sir Robert Vaughan Gower OBE served as Mayor of Tunbridge Wells 1918-1920.






[7] K & S Courier March 4,1921…….. This article referred to a “Sacred
Concert” at the Opera House at which the Veterans Association Band played along with others. The article stated that the money raised at the concert was to be put towards the cost of construction of the war memorial on Mount Pleasant Road in front of the town hall. A postcard view of the Opera House is given opposite.



[8] K & S Courier January 29,1923……… This article outlined the War Memorial Program. The unveiling of the war memorial took place on February 11,1923 and was reported on in the Courier. In my article ‘Tunbridge Wells War Memorial History’ dated October 15,2012 a provided a detailed account of the war memorial including details about the unveiling ceremony, which was attended by the Veterans who layed a wreath and thousands of others. Initially the plaques of the war memorial contained a list of 766 men who lost their lives in WW 1 but in 1946 another 35 names were added bring the total to 801. In 1946 the names of those lost in WW II were added on additional plaques. When the last name was added (in 2005) there were 170 names on the plaques for WW II. Shown opposite is a postcard view, one of many, showing the unveiling of the war memorial by local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn.

[9] K & S Courier September 18,1925…..”Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association-Waves of members of the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association……..”

[10] K & S Courier March 12,1926………Article referring to a gentleman being re-elected as President of the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association.

[11] Sevenoaks Chronicle & Kentish Advertiser April 2,1926…’Military service overseas-Funeral cortage September 13 Victoria Road Tunbridge Wells 2 pm. The internment being at the Borough Cemetery. Mr Brown was a member of the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association and will be buried with full military honors…”

[12] K & S Courier October 31, 1929……” Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association-Consecration of Colours and church parade…An important event took place Saturday evening in the history of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association vis, the consecration of their Colours by the Hon Canon………”

[13] K & S Courier November 7,1930…..Refers to ‘Mayoral Sunday Parade’ with a list of participants, among which was the Fire Brigade, British Legion, the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association Band, VAD and others. The Courier of November 21,1930 referred to “an inspiring service at Holy Trinity” at which members of the Veterans Association were in attendance.

[14] K & S Courier November 13,1931…….An article referring to the laying of wreaths at the war memorial on Mount Pleasant Road by several organizations including the Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association. Similar articles can be found annually since 1923 to 2016 regarding the annual Remembrance Day Ceremonies held November 11th.  Shown opposite is a postcard view of wreaths at this memorial by Harold H. Camburn.

[15] Sevenoaks Chronicle& Kentish Advertiser June 23,1933….”Alleged theft from Veterans between November 7,1932 and April 1,1933…A warrant was issued for the arrest of Arthur H. Nash, who was summoned for the alleged theft of 148 pounds 10 shillings 8 pence, belonging to the committee of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association.There was a second summons alleging that he converted the money to his own use. Louis Albert Betts said that the defendant was employed as secretary to the Veterans Association from September 1932 until April 1933 and during that time he had to collect certain sums of money”.

[16] Kent & Sussex Courier June 30,1933……..Refers in one article to the Veterans Association Band performing with others at the Nevil Ground Cricket Week music programme. A second article of the same date headed “ Cricket Week Gala” added that the event would take place at 3pm.

[17] Sevenoaks Chronicle & Kentish Advertiser January 4,1935  “ The Headquarters of the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association was crowded to capacity New Year’s Eve for a concert. Mr H. White, chairman of the Association presided and a jolly evening was provided by Mrs Willard……”

[18] K & S Courier December1935………Refers to a New Years Concert to take place at the headquarters of the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association at their headquarters on Camden Road, which was stated to have been well attended.

[19] K & S Courier November 20,1936…..Refers to the Veterans Association and their band participating in a local parade.

[20] K & S Courier November 19,1937…… Refers to the Veterans Association and their band participating in a local parade.

[21] K & S Courier February 8,1939…..Refers to the annual meeting of the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association at which Mr E. J. Dale presided”

[22] K & S Courier April 18,1939……Refers to the late Mr W.F. West of the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association.

[23] K & S Courier May 19,1939………Refers to the “National Service Parade” and among those attending was the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association and their band.

[24] K & Sussex Courier May 26,1939………”Carnival Procession and Pea-Nut Fun Fair”., which included members of the Tunbridge Wells Veterans Association.

The absence of articles about this Association beyond 1939 may be of some significance, perhaps indicating that it ended in 1939. A common thread that runs through most of the articles is the participation of the Associations band in holding concerts at their Camden Road headquarters, at various bandstands in the town and at other venues such as the Opera House where money was raised to support the Associations activities, the local hospitals, the war memorial construction, and other charities in the town. They also show that the veterans and their band also participated in all the parades of the town for Rememberance Day; the various coronations and memorial parades, Hospital Sunday and no doubt Shopping Week parades and were listed among those participating in the Peace Parade held in the town not long after peace was declared for WW 1.

Members of the Association also attended various military funerals in the town, such as that of Captain Godfrey Lawrence Dunn who served in WW 1 and died September 21,1920. The Kent & Sussex Courier of Friday October 1,1920 provided a detailed account under the heading “ Death of Captain G.L. Dunn. Organizer of Scout Movement in Tunbridge Wells”. He had had a distinguished military career and was awarded several medals. At his funeral he was awarded Military and Scouts honours and “The Tunbridge Wells Veteran’s Band headed the funeral cortage, Master Welham leading Billy Lewellym, the Veteran’s mascot goat, which saw long service in France with the Welsh Fusiliers, and , on being brought to England, ostensibly to be killed, was purchased by the deceased officer and presented to the Veteran’s Association, of which he was Vice-president...His hearse was escorted by members of the Veteran’s Association, under Captain Welham….”. A photo of Capt Dunn’s headstone in the Tunbridge Wells Borough cemetery is shown opposite.

Shown below are two postcards by Harold H. Camburn. The one on the left shows veterans marching with their medals in the 1919 Peace Day Parade. The photo on the right shows the Veterans Car in the George V Parade.



THEIR HEAQUARTERS

As noted from a review of directories and newspaper articles by 1913 this Association had their club meeting rooms at 26-28 Camden Road,later operating from No. 26 only. Shown opposite  is a recent photo of 26-28 Camden Road. This building had consisted of two shops on the main floor with rooms at the back and apartments above. The building has seen a number of occupants over the years and saw use as shops, offices, a religious institution and the club headquarters of the Veterans Association.

Until recently 26-28 Camden Road was the premises of The Camden Quarter, a pub with music entertainment, located above the shops on the ground floor but is now closed.

This building is located on the east side of Camden Road as shown on the 2006 site map opposite. The map and the ground floor plans for the building (below)were given in the Planning Authority files pertaining to an application by Silverstar Foods Ltd of 28 Camden Road to expand their restaurant “ Relish” into No. 26 by removing the party wall between the two shops and other alterations. The application was approved and the work carried out.








A review of Planning Authority records dating back to 1979 show that in 1979 approval was given for alterations to the shop front of No. 26. The applicant was the National Provident Institution of London. In 1980 an application was made for a change in use from Religious Meeting Hall to offices on the first floor of 26 & 28. The applicant was the National Provident Institution and the application was approved in 1981.

 

THE ELLIOTT FAMILY -FROM SRI LANKA TO TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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

Date: February 27,2017

OVERVIEW 

The story of the Elliott family begins in Ireland with the birth Christopher Elliott (1809-1859) who entered the medical profession. He moved to Sri Lanka in 1834 and while there married twice producing nine children. He became a journalist, taking over the  Colombo Observer and also became a deacon of the Baptist Church. He and his family lived in a grant home called ‘Temple Tees’ now the official residence of the Prime Minister.  He died in Colombo, Sri Lanka (image opposite).

Of Christopher’s children he had two sons that entered the medical profession, namely Edward, and Thomas(1850-1925) and it is Thomas and his family that this article focuses on.

Thomas Elliott married Elizabeth De La Cour Bogue (1856-1926) in 1879 and took up residence in Tunbridge Wells in about 1887, where he went into private practice. He and his wife had four children, all sons, and three of them James Bogue Elliott (1887-1964), Thomas Harold Elliott (b 1894) and John Yule Elliott (b1899) were all born in Tunbridge Wells.

Thomas’s sons Thomas Harold Elliott and John Yule Elliott went on to have a family and hold important positions in business.

Thomas’s son Christopher entered his fathers practice in about 1907 and after being educated at the Tonbridge School and St Bartholomews Hospital became M.R.C.S; and L.R.C.P. He went on to have an impressive medical career, most of which was spent in Tunbridge Wells at the Tunbridge Wells General Hospital When he died he was survived by a wife and three children.

Thomas’s son James Bogue Elliott served as Major in the RAF in WWI and was awarded the OBE. He married Dorothy Mary Chapman (1890-1979) and with her had two sons and a daughter. James son John David De La Cour Elliott (1921-1942) was killed in WW II.

Several members of the Elliott clan had long and distinguished medical career. Several of them served in WW 1 and WW 2 and some did not survive. Of most significance to Tunbridge Wells history is the life and medical careers of Thomas Elliott and his son Christopher Elliott who between then gave over 70 years of service to the town as medical practitioners.

CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT MD AND FAMILY

The story of the Elliott family begins in Sri Lanka with Dr. Christopher Elliott(1809-1859)(image opposite) , a medical practitioner, journalist and deacon of the Baptist Church, Cinnamon Gardens, who came to Sri Lanka in 1834.Born July 8,1809 at Clonmore in the Baroncy of Ivert, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland he first married Jessie Selina Clark (1807-1855)in 1836 at St Paul’s Church in Colombo, Sri Lanka and with her had seven children, all of whom were baptised at St Paul’s Church.  Jessie was born at Dunoun, Argyll,Scotland on October 8,1807the daughter of William Clark, a merchant who imported Manchester goods to Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Selina died at Colombo  Sri Lanka March 7,1855.

In 1858 Christopher married Bessie Scott of Woodstone, Co. Waterford and with her had two children.

Christopher Elliott, colonel surgeon for Badulla, took over the ‘Ceylon Observer’ (later renamed the ‘Colombo Observer’ by Elliott) as editor in 1835 from George Winter and was stationed in Badulla, and became the owner of the newspaper. While with the newspaper Christopher not only carried out a campaign against the many taxes, dog and gun included, that the British imposed, but also incited mobs to protest against British rule. He also refused to pay the dog tax and addressed large crowds of locals, both in English and Sinhala, from a makeshift platform with drastic consequences. He resigned his position with the newspaper in 1836 . In July 1848, rattled by a big demonstration that Dr Elliott organized, the full strength of the British troops, both infantry and cavalry, descended on Borella from Pettah and Maradana to quell the disturbance. The mob retaliated and the British opened fire leaving many people dead and Martial Law was declared in the colony.

Christopher was made Principal Civil Medical Officer in 1858. One of his sons was Edward Elliott of the Ceylon Civil Service. Christopher died on May 22,1859 at Colombo, Sri Lanka and was buried outside Wolvendall Church in Colombo, as was his first wife Jessie. 

Christopher and his family lived in a fine home called ‘Temple Tees’ which is now the official residence of the Prime Minister. Christopher bought this home in 1848 which had previously been owned by John Walbeoff, head of the Cinnamon Department who had bought it in 1830. An image of Temple Tees is shown here.

Of his many children at least two of them followed him into the medical profession namely Christopher Elliott who was born June 22,1849 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and who died February 18,1933. He had married Rachel Mary and had six children. The second, who is a central figure in this article was Thomas Elliott (1850-1925) who later took up residence in Tunbridge Wells; raised a family, and had a distinguished medical career in the town.

THOMAS ELLIOTT MD AND FAMILY

One of Christopher’s sons was Thomas Elliott who like his father became a physician surgeon and went on to achieve the rank of Major during his military career.

Thomas Elliott (1850-1925) was born in Sir Lanka became a well- known medical practitioner.

On June 20,1879 , at Cork, Ireland, he married Elizabeth De La Cour Bogue (1856-1936), the daughter of James Bogue of Valebrook Co. Cork, Ireland, and with her had four sons. Thomas was given at that time as a resident of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (image opposite).

At the time of the 1881 census Thomas was living with his wife Elizabeth and their first children Christopher (born 1880 at Marsfield, Notts) with one servant and one visitor at 12 Belgrave Terrace, Tormoham, Devon where Thomas was a physician surgeon.

In the late 1880’s Thomas and his family moved to Tunbridge Wells where they had three sons namely (1) James Bogue Elliott (1887-1964) (2) John Yule Bogue, born 1889 (3) Thomas Harold Elliott, born 1894)

The 1891 census, taken at 60 Mount Pleasant Road gave Thomas as a general practitioner and with him was his wife Elizabeth; his sons Christopher, James and John, as well as one visitor, one boarder and four servants. A postcard view of Mount Pleasant Road is shown above.

The 1901 census, taken at ‘Clanricarde House’ (a 14 room residence) gave Thomas as MD on own account. With him was his wife Elizabeth and their four sons. Also there was a sister in law; two resident patients and five servants. The 1911 census recorded Thomas as a medical practitioner at Clanricarde House. With him was his wife Elizabeth , his sons Christopher, John and Thomas, one boarder and four servants. Shown opposite is a photo of Clanricarde House, located on Clanricarde Gardens north of the SER station off Mount Pleasant Road.

Thomas had a distinguished career in Tunbridge Wells in the medical field and his son Christopher (M.R.C.S.; L.R.C.P.) joined his father in the practice.

Thomas, who was living at 11 Church Road in 1925, died April 18,1925 at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. An announcement of his death was given in the Kent & Sussex Courier of April 24,1925.His sons Christopher Elliott MRCS and John Yule Elliott, a company directory were the executors of his 2,571 pound estate. After his death his wife Elizabeth continued to live in Tunbridge Wells and died July 17,1936 at 82 London Road. The executors of her 4,902 pound estate were her sons Christopher, a physician, and John Yule Elliott, a surgical belt maker. A postcard view of Church Road by local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn is shown opposite.

THE SONS OF THOMAS ELLIOTT

Moving ahead to the next generation ( the sons of Thomas Elliott)  below is a summary.

[1] Christopher Elliott  He was born September 14, 1880 at Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. He was educated at Tonbridge School(below left) and at St Bartholomews Hospital ( below right).












Qualifying M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. in 1905 he worked as a house surgeon at the Leicester Royal Infirmary before entering practice with his father in Tunbridge Wells. He remained in Tunbridge Wells until his death on February 16,1957, except for the period of his service as a temporary captain in the R.A.M.C in WW 1.

He was honorary anaesthetist to the Tunbridge Wells General Hospital (later the Kent & Sussex Hospital) from 1921 to 1940, when he was appointed honorary consulting anaesthetist, but continued active work until 1946. An image of the General Hospital is shown opposite.

He also held part-time appointments as deputy medical officer, of health for the district, assistant school medical officer, and police surgeon from 1920 to 1933. A member of the British Medical Association for over forty years, he represented the Tunbridge Wells Division on the Kent Branch council for a number of years, and was chairman of the Division in 1923-4. His Christian faith meant much to him and he took and active part in evangelical work. He was survived by his widow, two daughters, and one son.

He had married Evelyn Hunter Wood, age 30, a spinster of 8 Baker Street in Portman Square, the daughter of John Ronald Wood (deceased gentleman). They were married February 10,1915 at St Paul, Marlylebone, Westminster.

He died February 16,1957 at his home (Winbrush) at Bidborough Ride,Tunbridge Wells. Probate records show that the executors of his 16,933 pound estate was his widow Evelyn Hester Elliott and his brother John Yule Elliott of no occupation and Hardy John Snell, solicitor.

He had a long association with Tunbridge Wells where he entered his father’s medical practice in about 1907. He had been educated at Tonbridge School and at St Bartholomews Hospital. He served in WW1 as a temporary captain with the RAMC.He had a distinguished medical career, including many years at the Tunbridge Wells General Hospital.He took an active part in evangelical work.When he died he left a wife (Evelyn Hester Elliott, nee Wood)and one son.

[2] James Bogue Elliott (1887-1964) (photo opposite)was born in Tunbridge Wells February 17,1887and became an engineer. Passenger lists show that he departed from Liverpool for Montreal, Canada on May 28,1910 on the ship LAURENTICA. His occupation was given as engineer and he was travelling alone.  He served in WW 1 with the 6th Rifle Brigade and obtained his Royal Aero Club flying certificate September 26,1915 on a Maurice Farman Biplane at the Shoreham Military School, and achieved the rank of Major in the RAF having seen active service in France. He had first served on the Western Front in the Rife Brigade 1914-1915 then was appointed Lieutenant (Flying Officer) RFC December 23,1915.   The London Gazette of December 19,1919 gave Capt. James Bogue Elliott OBE transferred to the unemployed list November 4,1919. The London Gazette of July 12,1920 gave “Captain (A/Major) James Bogue Elliott OBE (Rifle Brigade) gazetted January 1,1919”. He is also referred to on the Flight Global Honor List in 1920 and in ‘The Aeroplane’ of July 7,1920.

In 1918 he married Dorothy Mary Chapman (1890-1979) and with her had the following children (1) John David De La Cour Elliott (1921-1941) who was born in Tonbridge September 26,1921. He served as 2nd Lieut (198604) in the Royal Armoured Corps 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars. He previously had been educated at the Tonbridge School. He died May 17,1942 in Egypt and is remembered on the Alamein Memorial in Egypt.(2) James Newham Elliott (1919-1999)  born January 13,1919 in Tonbridge who married Joanne and had two children. He was had served with the Royal Navy. (3) Nina Mary Elliott (1916-1997) was born March 11,1916 in Tonbridge. She married Geoffrey Stockdale and had two children. All three children were born in the town of Tonbridge. James Bogue Elliott, who was awarded the OBE died December 11,1964 at Guys Hospital in London leaving an estate valued at almost 62,000 pounds. The executors of his estate were Basil Walter Vincent, chartered accountant and Joseph Leonard Reed, solicitor. At the time of his death he was a resident of Pell House in Consley Wood,Wadhurst, Sussex.

His wife Dorothy Mary Elliott was of the Molyneux Nursing Home at 39 Molyneux Park Road Tunbridge Wells when she died on July 31,1979, leaving an estate of 85,742 pounds.

[3] Thomas Harold Elliott had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1894. He married Gertrude Sophia Rainey (1895-1993) in the 3rd qtr of 1924 at Marylebone and with her had three children. Gertrude was born November 27,1895 at Abingdon, Oxfordshire and was one of eight children born to John Crofton Rainey (b 1853) and Eva Margaret Jane Wakefield (1853-1911) .Gertrude died in the 4th qtr of 1993 at Camden, London.

At the time of the 1911 census he was living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells and attending school. Details about Thomas’ career are lacking and a precise date of death was not established. Strangely he is not mentioned as one of the executors of his parents wills.

[4] John Yule Elliott was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1889. At the time of the 1911 census he was living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells and  was a chartered accountant student. At the time of his mother’s death in 1936 he was a surgical belt maker. He had married Helen Seldon and in the 1920’s was living in London where in 1929 they had a daughter Pamela Elizabeth Elliott who married Dr David Clarke and died February 4,2004 at Durham. They may have had other children. When John Yule Elliott died was not established but he was named as one of her executors of his brother Cristopher’s estate in 1957 and was “of no occupation”.

 

THE ‘BRITISH RESTAURANTS’ OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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

Date; March 7,2017

INTRODUCTION 

During WW II England experienced food shortages, the rationing of food,and rising food prices and as Ann Bates describes in the Royal Civic Society book ‘ Tunbridge Wells In The Second World War and The Years of Austerity 1939-1953’, this event in history was felt by the residents of Tunbridge Wells.

Some proprietors of restaurants, grocers, fishmongers, butchers, and other purveyors of food signed up for military service in the hundreds, having to close down their businesses or at least curtail their operations until they returned from the war.

As a result communities, including Tunbridge Wells, established communal kitchens where meals could be had for a reasonable price. One such kitchen in the town was interestingly name “The British Restaurant” and was set up at the Assembly Hall before the such premises were officially given that name by Winston Churchill when the British Restaurant program was launched across the country in 1940.

The communal kitchen at the Assembly Hall served a useful need for some time but it was soon realized that the whole operation needed to be expanded and so on November 13,1942 the Kent & Sussex Courier announced the opening of a ‘British Restaurant’ in the lovely Grosvenor Recreation Grounds, which was followed by an announced in the Courier on December 15,1942 by the opening of a second ‘British Restaurant’ in the Calverley Grounds.

The buildings constructed at both locations were of simple and speedy construction, described as prefabricated buildings consisting of a kitchen and dining room with “smart looking tables to seat four people at each, with cream coloured walls embellished with frescoes which have been cleverly worked by students of the Art School. The room had accommodation to seat 250 with the price of luncheons set at one shilling for adults and fourpence for children.

In later years these two buildings served as halls for entertainment and places were various organizations and clubs. The building in the Grosvenor Grounds was finally demolished in 2003 and the one in the Calverley Grounds around the same time.

Shown above is a photograph of the British Restaurant in the Grosvenor Recreation Grounds in the 1960’s when the Satellite Club occupied the building.

THE ‘BRITISH RESTAURANT’ PROGRAMME

As reported on the Wikepedia website British Restaurants were communal kitchens created in 1940 to help people who had been bombed out of their homes, had run out of ration coupons or otherwise needed help. Originally called ‘Community Feeding Centres’, the name ‘British Restaurants’ was chosen by Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. They were set up by the Ministry of Food and run by local government or voluntary agencies on a non-profit basis. Meals were sold for a set maximum price of 9d. No-one could be served with a meal of more than one serving of meat, game, poultry, fish, eggs or cheese. In one in ten restaurants the meals were prepared at central depots. Schools were often used because they had cafeterias and kitchens. In London, mobile canteens delivered meals to air raid shelters and on the street in the aftermath of air raids.

By contrast, ordinary private restaurants continued in operation and were not subject to rationing although no meal could be more than three courses and the maximum price was five shillings.

By mid-1941 over 200 British Restaurants operated in the London County Council area. By 1942 there were about 1,900 of them and by 1943 some 2,160 of them had been set up across the country, serving around 600,000 meals a day. After the war some of them were converted, under the Civic Restaurants Act, into civic restaurants run by the local council. In 1949 some 678 of them still existed throughout the country.

The reason why British Restaurant meals could be provided relatively cheaply was that the catering, cooking and washing up etc was all done by volunteers, notably older women who regarded their input as a contribution to the war effort. Most of them belonged to the Women’s  Volunteer Service (WVS) and wore green uniforms, such as that worn by the woman  shown opposite.

THE GROSVENOR GROUNDS RESTAURANT 

The opening of the British Restaurant in the Grosvenor Grounds was announced in the Kent & Sussex Courier of  Wednesday, November 13,1942 as described below. Shown  opposite is a photograph taken at the grand opening  and below it a photo showing some of the workers there.

“Sir Eyre Gordon, Divisional Food Officer, opened the newly erected British Restaurant in Grosvenor Recreation Ground on Monday. To give Council members and others some idea of lunching out under war-time conditions the Mayor and Mayoress invited them to “sample the goods” and the atmosphere, and at the Mayor making Alderman Westbrook emphasised that members would be treated as ordinary customers, that as they filed in after Sir Eyre Gordon had unlocked the door they would be expected to take up their trays, knives, forks and spoons, together with their portions of meat, vegetables and sweets, take them, to their tables and “get to work”. Her further reminded them that they might even have to remain behind afterwards and help to do the washing up, but the threat was not put into practice”.

“ As each guest entered the kitchen they took up their trays and cutlery, plates of either stewed steak or curry, potatoes, cabbage, creamed carrots and American pinwheel (sweets). “Something new but we can all get used to it these days” one heard it said.”

“ The dining room next to the spacious kitchen is a well- appointed room with smart looking tables to seat four people at each. On the cream coloured walls are embellished frescoes which have been cleverly worked by students of the Art School. The room had accommodation to seat 250 persons, and the price4 of the luncheons is one shilling for adults and fourpence for children. It is under the supervision of Mrs Savage”.

“The Mayor, who presided, was supported by the Mayoress (Mrs Westbrook), Sir Eyre Gordon. Lieut. Commander Basil E.Greene (Deputy Regional Commissioner), Lieut. Col. Gordon Tucket (Regional Transport Officer). The Deputy Mayor and Mayoress (Alderman R. H. Burslem and Mrs Burslem), the Town Clerk (Mr John Whitehead), Mr. H.A. Banner (South Eastern Region Ministry of Information) and others”.

“ The Mayor welcomed the guests and expressed the hope that they had enjoyed the informal luncheon at the new British Restaurant. Sir Gordon said that not least among Lord Woolton’s achievements was the fostering and the development of the British Restaurant. Perhaps the idea was not Lord Woolton’s-he was not sure where it originated. It might have originated in Tunbridge Wells for it was a fact that in September 1939 the Town Council of Tunbridge Wells on their own initiative started a communal feeding scheme known as the British Restaurants (applause)”.

“That centre was opened at the Assembly Hall (photo opposite), and since that time had continued to give excellent service under the very able supervision of Mrs Smythe. But the limitations of the centre soon became apparent, and encouraged and abetted by the Minister of Food the Council determined that an extension was both desirable and necessary. Therefore that enterprise which was being launched on its career that day was the second child in the Borough family”

“He was advised that it was one of the best buildings yet set up for British Restaurants in this division. The Mayor referred to the cordial relationship which existed between the Council and the Regional headquarters. It had been hoped that the Regional Commissioner would have been present, but another appointment prevented him from attending. Lieut. Commander Greene also spoke”.

“ Alderman Westbrook congratulated Mrs Savage and her staff on the excellence of the meal and the general arrangements made for the informal gathering. He also mentioned that the town had the first class food office under the direction of the Town Clerk and Mr Priest. Messrs Strange Electrical Ltd., carried out the electrical installations throughout the restaurant”.

No mention was made in the article about who actually erected the building. Most of them were pre-fabricated structures and no doubt the job was given to one of the towns local builders such as Strange & Son  who were part of the same Strange family as Strange Electrical Ltd.

With respect to the Mrs Smythe referred to in the article contact was made with the archives of the WVS to seek information about her. Unfortunately they required  proof of her death in the form of a death certificate, which I was unable to provide , before they would release any information. However they did confirm that Mrs Smythe was with the WVS in 1942 but that in 1943 the Local Authority appointed another person as manager of the two British Restaurants in the town.

Ann Bates in the book I referred to in the introduction stated that the restaurant at Grosvenor closed in 1945 when the building was turned over to Education Committee in April 1945 and that the building was then used as a canteen with 50 children of St Barnabas Mixed Junior School using it (as per the St Barnabas school log book). Since its opening the restaurant had served just under 1,000 meals a week.

The cost of the restaurant was announced by Council in April 1943 as “ Building-3,278 pounds; Equipment 565 pounds; Refrigeration-100 pounds; Consumable Equipment-250 pounds for a total of 4,283 pounds or equivalent in 2009 to about 65,000 pounds.

The Grosvenor Recreation Grounds had been opened in July 1889 and laid out to the designs of landscape architect Robert Marnock. Within the grounds was constructed a bandstand (image above) in 1899 which served the community until 1935 when it was demolished. On the site of the former bandstand was constructed the British Restaurant. An aerial view of the building is shown below in the upper right hand corner.

From an article by the Friends of Grosvenor and Hilbert Park is given the following;

“At the beginning of World War Two TWBC set up an Emergency Committee, and within days they had opened a Communal Feeding Centre in the lounge of the Assembly Hall. It's interesting to note that they were “using chairs from Calverley Grounds. Cutlery was bought from Breeds for £27.” At this time the new Assembly Hall had just been opened and there was still a pavilion around the Calverley Grounds bandstand, which suffered bomb damage during 1940. At the time of writing there is no longer a pavilion or bandstand, and Breeds the cutlers has just closed down.”

“As the war progressed, household food was rationed, but not restaurant food. Around the country “British Restaurants” were set up, where a 3 course, non rationed, meal could be bought for 9d. Several times TWBC EC discussed building British Restaurants, finally on November 13th 1942 the Grosvenor Recreation Ground restaurant was opened at a cost of £4,000. It was formerly opened by the Mayor, Alderman C. E. Westbrook. It was located on the site of the 1899 bandstand; if you enter by the Auckland Road gate it is the piece of grass to the right, at the very top of “The Hollow”.”

“Reports in the TWBC EC minutes a year later are not good for Grosvenor Restaurant: the windows were repeatedly vandalised, the building was burgled twice, and was making a loss. The Restaurants were run “not for profit”; but within all Local Authorities, 73% made a profit. However, both TWBC restaurants, at Calverley Grounds and Grosvenor Recreation Ground stayed open until the end of the war.”

“Children from St Barnabas School used the restaurant after the war as their school canteen, up until 1958. There is also a report of the boys from the Victoria School in Calverley Street using it while the old Town Hall in Calverley Road was being demolished.”

“The building then was used as The Satellite Youth Club, and as a Montessori Nursery School.”

“A classroom at the front of the building was the nursery, in the 1970s called “The Musical Box”, and through the 80s and 90s “Grosvenor Kindergarten”. Children remember the cold walk through the main hall to the toilets! There was a paddling pool in the garden, which was later tarmaced into a play area.”

“The main hall was used as the Satellite Youth Club, which seems to have been very popular. There were lots of organised activities such as weight lifting, judo, CB radio club, table tennis and dancing. When it first opened there was a coffee bar with stools, and a dance floor. Later on people remember there being a “tellyroom” where you paid a penny to watch Top of the Pops. At this time there were swings and a roundabout in “The Hollow” , and summer playschemes were run that used the hall and park for organised activities.”

“The hall was also available for private hire, and was used by Tunbridge Wells Operatic and Dramatic Society and Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra for rehearsals, and also used by the new Trinity Arts Centre for scenery and prop making. There were also dance classes.”

“In 1988 a group of friends called “The Rumble Club” hosted bands in the hall, including Sigue Sigue Sputnik. After 1988 they hosted bands at several other Halls before finding a permanent base in 1992, “The Forum”.”

“Local resident Sharon Abrams has a special memory of the Queen's Silver Jubilee: “a party was held in the Satellite Club in 1977; all the boys were given a blue commemorative mug and the girls a deep pink commemorative mug.” Sharon's photo of the party shows the hall full of tables of children with jubilee paper plates full of party food, the walls decorated with posters and streamers.”

“In 1989 proposals were made by TWBC for the building to be pulled down. It was seen as ugly and old. Protests followed from local residents, as around 1,000 people a week were using the hall. However, finally, in 2003 the hall was demolished. It was very much a case of: “it will be sadly missed”.”

Shown opposite is a photograph labelled ‘Satellite Youth Club Jubilee 1977’ that as mentioned above was held in the former British Restaurant. A posting on a blog by David Smith adds to the story about the time of the Satellite Club. He says in part “ If you were in the  transitional phase between primary and secondary and you grew up anywhere around the Grosvenor Recreation Grounds in Tunbridge Wells, you’ll also associate that period with an ugly, white brick and asbestos building - 'The Satellite' - that used to stand at the top of the hill by the Auckland Road park entrance and swings. The Satellite was a youth club running when youth, as opposed to ‘Yoof’, was itself seen as a transitional phase between childhood and adulthood rather than a cut-off point, and when children between the ages of, say, twelve and fourteen might have wanted everything the adult world seemed to offer, but for the most part didn’t really have any expectation that it would be handed to them on a platter. Consequently, they had a little bit more time and space to manoeuvre, and places like the satellite offered them a venue for some of that manoeuvring. From that period I mostly remember playing snooker and table tennis, or, rather, trying to, in the face of stiff competition from older and bigger boys who would monopolise the rather oversubscribed tables. My friend “Boris” could be seen standing in the darkest corner of the dance floor, drooling at girls.” He continues by describing a Christmas show the club put on and that a year or two later they organized a Christmas meal for seniors along the same lines as that by the British Restaurant. “Another huge attraction of the Satellite was the record player there, and the chance to hear music in the ‘cafe’ area. I also remember a band playing at the Satellite. I’m not certain they even had a name. And on that cheery note I’ll say adieu, and thanks again, Satellite Club and Grosvenor & Hilbert Rec, for these and many other (mostly) happy memories. It was, as they say, real.”

THE CALVERLEY GROUNDS RESTAURANT
 
The Kent &Sussex Courier did not make as extensive an announcement about the opening of the British Restaurant in the Calverley Grounds as it did for the one in the Grosvenor Recreation Grounds.

The announcement of its opening appeared in the Courier of December 11,1942 on pages 5 and 7, which announcements are given opposite and below.

“ British Restaurant……..After today (Friday) the Communal Kitchen at the Assembly Hall will close down, and the new British Restaurant in Calverley Grounds will open on Saturday. Mrs Smythe,W.V.S. (Womens Voluntary Service) will be in charge, and the Restaurant will be run on exactly the same lines as the one in Grosvenor Recreation Ground. It is also understood that the Restaurant will be open to the public on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The price of meals is, of course, 1s for adults and 4d for school children”.

Ann Bates in the book I referred to in the introduction reported that  the restaurants in the Calverley and Grosvenor Grounds “continued to serve meals until 1945 when they finally closed and were transferred to the Education Committee in April of that year. The structure of the Calverley Grounds restaurant can still be seen as the café in today’s (2009)Calverley Grounds. Since its opening the restaurant had served over 2,000 meals a week.” The Calverley and Grosvenor restaurants were run by the Women’s Volunteer Service (WVS). Shown opposite is am image showing the green beret and other items of the WVS.

Shown opposite is a photograph of the WVS in the Calverley Grounds near the site of the British Restaurant executing their meals on wheels campaign. Written on the back of this image is “ Outside the British Restaurant in the Calverley Grounds, Tunbridge Wells before the first meals-on-wheels were taken out to about 20 people. There was snow on the ground, and a great shortage of both gas and electricity, so the cold was intense and the hot meals were all the more welcome. Shown left to right are Miss Beecroft, Miss Hayne, Miss Chapin, Miss Hornby, Mrs Humphreys (in van, Jenny Hayne) (1st Leader of Scheme) (Deputy Country Organiser) (County Organiser)(Regional administrator) (Driver of first round) (2nd mate on 1st Round) (Organiser of scheme)”.

The cost of building the  British Restaurant in the Calverley Grounds  was announced by Council in April 1943 as Building-3,313 pounds; Equipment-565 pounds; Refrigeration- 100 pounds; Consumable Equipment-250 pounds, for a total of 4,227 pounds which in 2009 money is equivalent to about 65,000 pounds. If you compare the cost of the Calverley building to that of the one in Grosvenor you will see that the cost was almost identical which strongly suggests that both restaurants were of the same or similar design and size.Since the time the restaurant closed in 1945 it came under other uses. During WW II Darby and Joan Clubs were established for seniors. Shown opposite is a photo showing members of the local Darby and Joan Club having tea at the British Restaurant in the Calverley Grounds.

The main entrance to the Calverley Grounds is off Mount Pleasant Road from a lane adjacent to the north wall of the Great Hall. The entrance is marked by a lodge on the left at which location a set of large and ornate iron gates were located until they were cut up and hauled away for the metal drive during WW II. Shown opposite is a view of this entrance from a postcard dated 1953.

The British Restaurant was constructed just beyond this entrance to the grounds on the right hand side in the south west part of the grounds. The building can be seen in the aerial photograph shown below right dated 1953 in the top left corner of the grounds. For comparison purposes below left is an aerial view from 1930 in which the later site of the British Restaurants is vacant. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                         

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