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

Date: January 10,2016


Frederick William Sturt (1841-1920) had been born in London, the son of Edward Sturt who operated a stationers and booksellers shop in London in the 1850’s. Frederick married Minna Helen Kettelwell, a widow who had three children with her first husband, who had died in 1869. Frederick’s marriage took place at Lambeth,London in 1891 but the couple did not have any children. However Alfred Sturt, born in 1885 from Minna’s marriage to William James Bidden Kettelwell (1838-1869) was adopted by Frederick and took on the name of Alfred Kettelwell Sturt.

At the time of the 1901 census Frederick and his wife Minna and son Alfred were living in Lambeth,London, where Frederick was working as an opticians assistant.

By 1907 Frederick and his wife and son Alfred moved to Tunbridge Wells where Frederick opened an opticians shop at 30 Pantiles, where he performed eye examinations and dispensed eye glasses. He also branched out his business by selling a line of barometers which bear the name “F.W. Sturt Tunbridge Wells” on the dial. His name on them represents him only as the seller ,and not the maker ,for one example of a barometer with his name on it also bears the makers mark of Short & Mason. Short & Mason were a London firm in the business of making barometers.

Advertisments for Frederick’s business on the Pantiles appeared regularly in the Kent & Sussex Courier  in the period up to his death in Tunbridge Wells in 1920. His wife Minna died in Tunbridge Wells in 1923 and both of them were buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.

The optician business at 30 Pantiles continued to be listed as Frederick William Sturt up until 1934 when it disappeared from directories. The business had been carried on by his son Alfred Kettelwell Sturt (1885-1971). Alfred had married Alma E. Hitchcock in Tunbridge Wells in 1910 and lived his whole life in the area. At the time of the 1911 census, he and his wife Alma were living at 3 Brunswick Gardens and he was working for his father as an optician worker. Alfred was living at 11 Frant Road when he died in 1971.

The shop at 30 Pantiles (photo above), according to a label on the back of one of the barometers he sold, was demolished in 1938 when it was a chemists shop run by Maddock and Atterton and then Maddock & Harrow. The shop stood next to the Cadena Café near the clock, which exists today.
This simple sentence, written by Seneca the Younger in the 1st century AD, is how eyeglasses first got their start. Though this was the first recorded acclamation of magnified sight, the thorough history of eyeglasses trails consistently through the ages.The first legitimate pair of eyeglasses is believed to have been created in Italy around 1286, though Marco Polo claimed to have seen many a pair in China in 1275. The invention, which many considered a form of art, made for good vision and quickly spread in popularity.Benjamin Franklin, an American scientist, is considered the inventor of bifocals. After suffering for years with myopia (nearsightedness) and presbyopia (inability to focus on close objects) Franklin constructed the two-lens-in-one concept that allowed for individuals to see both near and far with the same pair of spectacles.Perhaps one of the biggest evolutions in the history of eyeglasses is the frame and structure in which they are created. Early eyepieces were either hand-held or rested on the bridge of the nose (with hand support). It wasn’t until 1727 that the modern style of glasses was invented. However, the public didn’t immediately accept the design that passed over the temples and secured behind the ears and it wasn’t until the 19th century that the modern form of glasses became popular.

This article reports on the Sturt family and their business in Tunbridge Wells.


Frederick was born August 26,1841 at St Pancras, London. He was baptised at Holy Trinity Church at St Marylebone on September 15,1841. His parents were given as Edward Weaver Sturt and Amey.

The 1851 census, taken at 16 New North Street in St George the Martyr, Middlesex gave Edward Weaver Sturt as born 1819 in St Pancras and the proprietor of a stationers and booksellers shop. With him was his wife “Amy”, born 1821 in St Marylebone. Also in the residence were the following children (1) Edward William, age 11 (2) FREDERICK WILLIAM, age 11 (3) Amy,age 7 (4) Montague,age 5 (5) Frank,age 3. Also there were two servants.

Frederick was still living with his parents and siblings in London at the time of the 1861 census. Frederick married Emma Isabella Nott in 1864 and with had the following children (1) Elizabeth, born 1865 (2) William H, born 1867 (3) Rose, born 1871 (4) Frederick William Francis, born 1873 (5) Edward W,  born 1875. All of the children had been born in London. His wife Emma had been born 1838 at Madras and was a British subject.

The 1871 census, taken at 5 Caesthorpe Street in St Pancras gave Frederick as an opticians assistant. With him was his wife Emma and his three children Edward, William and Rose.

The 1881 census, taken at 2 Acaga Villas on Hember Road in Camberwell, London gave Frederick as an assistant optician. With him was his wife Emma and his children Elizabeth, William, Rose, Frederick and Edward. Elizabeth was working as a school governess; William as a junior clerk for a Colonial broker,and the rest of the children were attending school. Frederick’s wife Emma died before 1891.

In the 3rd qtr of 1891 at Lambeth,London, Frederick married Minna Helen Kettelwell (1839-1923). Minnie had been born in the 1st qtr of 1839 at St Pancras as Minnie Helen Becker. She was one of six children born to Francis Pool Becker and June Becker. She had been baptised at St Pancras on December 17,1842. She married William James Bidden Kettelwell (1838-1869) and with her had three children. When her husband died she raised her children on her own. By the time she married Frederick William Sturt all of her children had left home except for her youngest child Alfred Kettelwell, who when adopted by Frederick went by the name of Alfred Ketttelwell Sturt. Alfred had been born 1885 at Kennington,London.

The 1901 census, taken at 97 Bosport Road in Lambeth, London, gave Frederick as an opticians assistant. With him was his second wife Minnie and his adopted son Alfred,born 1884, who was working as a stationers assistant.

By 1907 Frederick and his wife and son moved to Tunbridge Wells and established an opticians shop at 30 Pantiles.  The Kent & Sussex Courier of January 25,1907 ran the following advertisement “ F.W. Sturt, oculist optician has considerable experience in his profession, which enables him to prescribe glasses that are most suitable, so that the best results are obtained. Astigmatism is a common cause of eye strain and eye trouble, the eyes being becoming weary after reading for a short time. All cases having the personal supervision of Mr Sturt.” Several other advertisments appeared in the local paper business up to the time of his death showing that he performed eye tests and prescribed glasses. No. 30 Pantiles is  located on the Upper Walk opposite of the Fish Market building which in recent times was the Tunbridge Wells Tourist Information buildings but now is a restaurant. In 2014 No. 30 Pantiles was the premises of Lewis of Hungerford Kitchens.

The 1911 census, taken at 30 Pantiles gave Frederick as a general optician. With him was his wife Minnie. The census recorded that they were living in five rooms; that they had been married 19 years and that they had one child.

The directories of 1913-1934 gave the listing “Frederick William Sturt, optician, 30 The Pantiles” even though Frederick had passed away in 1920. His adopted son Alfred however carried on the business under his father’s name.

Two interesting items pertaining to Frederick’s business were recently offered for sale. The first was a barometer, a photo of which is shown above . This item was offered for sale on eBay and described as “an Edwardian desk barometer with hinge out easel stand on the back. It is eight sided finished in faux turtle shell surround with a silver dial with black lettering bearing the name “F.W. Sturt Tunbridge Wells”  who was likely the seller and not the maker.  The dial is 6.5cm diameter and the surround is 10.5 cm diameter. The actual barometer is 2.5 cm deep including the easel hinged back.” This item was priced at 400 pounds.

The second item was also a barometer. The seller, Philippa H. Deeley Ltd, auctions, gave it as lot 418 and described it as “A 1930’s Short & Mason oak cased ‘Stormoguide’ barometer, with rising/falling aperature, inscribed “F.W. Sturt, Scientific optician, 30 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells made by Short & Mason in England copyright 1930”. On the reverse is a F.W. Sturt advertising label with a handwritten note reading “ Sturt William Frederick, The Pantiles, building demolished in 1938, shop was a chemist shop owned by Mr W. Maddock and Mr Atterton, then Maddock & Harrow, stood next to Cadena Café and click”. Measures 60 cm high by 7.5 cm deep.

Shown opposite is an advertisement showing the barometer mentioned above made by Short & Mason Ltd in London. Short & Mason was established in London in 1845 by Thomas Shirt and James Mason. They produced their barometers at the Aneroid Works on Macdonald Road in Walthamstow, London and over the years operated from various addresses in London. They held patents on a number of products they made and in the 1920’s to the 1940’s  exhibited at the British Industries Fair. In 1969 the company left Walthamstow after merging into the Taylor Instrument Company. Further details about the history of this business can be found on the website of Graces Guide.

Frederick William Sturt died in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1920. He was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on February 23,1920. His wife continued to live in Tunbridge Wells after his death until she passed away in the town in 1923. She was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on October 31,1923.

Fredericks adopted son Alfred married Alma E. Hitchcock in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1910. The 1911 census, taken at 3 Brunswick Gardens,Tunbridge Wells gave Alfred as an optician worker. In fact he was at that time working for his father at the shop in the Pantiles. With Alfred was his wife Alma, born 1888 in Surrey. The census recorded that they were living in six rooms; that they had been married one year and that they had no children.

Death records for Alfred gave him as Alfred Kettelwell Sturt and that he was born November 19,1884 and died in Tunbridge Wells in 1971.Probate records gave Alfred Kettelwell Sturt of 11 Frant Road, died March 15,1971 leaving an estate valued at just over 12,000 pounds. Alfred was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium on March 19,1971.

Alfred had continued his father’s shop on the pantiles under his father’s name until at least 1934. As noted above the shop was then occupied by a Maddock the chemist.



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

Date: January 9,2012


The Bluemantles Cricket Club of Tunbridge Wells began in 1862 when a group of Victorian cricket enthusiasts published a notice calling for ‘a Gentlemen’s cricket club’ to be formed in the town. Shown opposite is a photograph of the team from 1891.

Historical records for the club went up in smoke in April 1913 when the pavilion at the Nevill Grounds, where the club was based, burned down. As a result the information contained in this article is based largely on an article that appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier on June 14,2013 to commemorate the clubs 150th anniversary.

With its roots in public school cricket, the club today still retains the jaunty self-confidence of its early days. In spirit the club has always been one which relishes the chance to play matches when and where it chooses. According to tradition, Bluemantles is a ‘wandering’ cricket club, one of a gypsy band of clubs roaming the land at will in pursuit of sporting fun.

The origin of the club and its name are directly connected to Henry Murray Lane, who’s passion for cricket was equalled by the strangeness of his title “Bluemantle Persuivant of Arms” at the College of Arms in London. With the permission of Queen Victoria, who was a frequent visitor to the town, which she referred to as “our dear Tunbridge Wells”, members voted to use the splendid heraldic title of “Bluemantles”, along with its colours and badge, for their new club. Shown opposite is a picture of the heraldic badge and another one bearing the name of the cricket club. The Bluemantle Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary is a junior office of arms of the College of Arms in London. The office is reputed to have  been created by King Henry V to serve the Order of the Garter, but there is no documentary evidence of this. There is, however, mention of an officer styled Bluewmantle going to France in 1448. The first Bluemantle to be mentioned by name is found in a record from around 1484. The badge of office, probably derived from the original blue material of the Order of the Garter, is blazoned as ‘A blue Mantle lined ermine cords and tassels Or”.

Shown opposite is a photograph of the current Bluemantle Stand at the Nevill Ground and the plaque mounted on it which makes reference to the origins of the club and its name. As the plaque notes the Bluemantle Stand shown in the photograph was erected in 1995. This stand is a permanent brick stand and members of the Bluemantles Cricket Club helped build it. It was built as a replacement for the previous pavilion on the site after the adjacent Nevill Pavilion was burned down in 1913.


So who was Henry Murray-Lane who’s title became the name of the club? Well Henry was the 6th son of the Rev Canon Charles Lane, rector of Wrotham,Kent, and Frances Catherine Lane, and was one of 13 children born to the couple. Henry was born at Leamington, Warwickshire  on March 3,1833 . He was baptiosed May 5,1833 at Leaminton Priors, All Saints, Warwickshire. Through his father, he was a descendant of the Lane family of Bentley Hall (later of Kings Bromley) one of whom was Jane Lane, the English Civil War heroine. His mother was a daughter of the Right Rev. Dr. Daniel Sandford, DD, Bishop of Edinburgh from 1806 until 1830.

The Rev Canon Charles Lane (photo oppoiste) was born February 2,1793 at Leyton Grange,Essex. He was the husband of Frances Catherine Lane. Reverand Charles Lane was educated in Harrow School, Harrow on the Hill, London, England. He was Rector between 1846 and 1879 in Wrotham, Kent. He held the office of the Honorary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral. He was Rural Deed of Shorham. Charles  died March 23,1879 in Wrotham,Kent.

Henry was appointed Bluemantle Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary on August 11, 1849 at the age of 15, and promoted to the rank of Chester Herald of Arms in Ordinary on July 18, 1864. He was Secretary to Garter Mission to court of St Rotersburg in 1867.He was Registrar of the College of Arms from 1880 to 1887. and secretary to Garter Mission to the Court of St. Petersburg in 1867. Unfortunatley no photograph of Henry could be found but given opposite is a cigarette card for the Bluemantle Pursuivant from 1937 showing Richard Graham Vivian in his regalia during the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Henry Murray Lane married Mary Isabella Wykeham-Martin, daughter of the late Reverend Richard Francis Wykeham-Martin,esq., of Elsfield House,Leeds,Kent and Mary Malcolm, on October 9,1862 at Brighton,Sussex.She was born 1841 at Leeds Castle. Kent. At the time of the 1871 census, Henry and his wife and three servants were living in Whissonsett,Norfolk and at that time Henry gave his occupation as ‘officer of arms to the Queen’. He and his wife had a son Gerald Stratford Murray Lane (1863-1949) who was a composer of Edwardian parlour songs.

Henry’s second marriage was to Amelia Elizabeth Colvile (1832-1897) at Geneva.She had been born in Bath,Somerset and was one of nine children born to Augustus Asgill Colvile (1795-1865) and Mary Ann Colvile (1807-1882). She and Henry did not have any children. She died 1897 at Florence,Italy.

Henry’s third marriage was in the 1st qtr of 1901 at Canterbury, Kent when he married Mary Grace Wigstwick (1846-1928). The 1901 census, taken at Weybridge,Surrey gave Henry and his wife Mary Grace and three servants in the home. Henry and Mary did not have any children. Mary was born at Canterbury,Kent and died at Weybridge,Surrey on October 30,1928. At the time of the 1911 census, Henry and Mary and two servants were living at Weybridge.

Henry wrote the book ‘ Lane of Bentley Hall’ (1910). He also wrote ‘The Royal Daughters of England, and their representatives : together with genealogical tables of the Royal Family from the Conquest to the present time ‘ (1911).

Henry  died May 24,1913. Probate records gave him of St Anthony’s, Weybridge, Surrey when he died. The executor of his 315 pound estate was his wife Mary Grace Lane.


The idiosyncratic rules of the game devised by the Hon. Frederick George Brabazon Ponsonby and the Hon. Spencer Cecil Brabazon Ponsonby-Fane, John Loraine Baldwin and Richard Penruddock Lang included the appointment of a ‘perpetual president’ who retained the title even after his death.

Spencer Cecil Ponsonby-Fane (1824-1915) was an English cricketer and civil servant. He was born at Mayfair March 14, 1824, the sixth son of John Ponsonby, 4th Earl of Bessborough. He had two brothers James George Brabazon Ponsonby and Frederick George Brabazon Pnsonby. He played for the Marylebone Crick Club 1841-1862 and for Surrey 1848-1858 and Middlesex in 1862.Later he administered Somerset and Harrow Cricket Club. He was one of the founders if I Xingari in 1845. He was also an employee of the British Foreign Office, Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, Private Secretary to Lord Palmerston, the Earl of Clarendon and Earl Granville, Gentleman Usher to the Sword of State and he transported the peace treaty for the Crimean War to Paris. A cartoon image of him is shown opposite by Vanity Fair in 1878.  He married Louisa Rose Lee Dillon, the daughter of Henry Dillon, 13th Viscount Dillon on October 7,1847 and with her had eleven children. In 1875 he changed his name to Ponsonby-Fane upon inheriting the estate of Brympton d’Evercy from his aunt, Lady Georgiana Fane. He spent the remaineder of his life there improving the gardens until he died December 1,1915 at Brympton Yeovil. Details about his cricket activities can be found on the internet on the Cricket Info website.

The Hon. Frederick George Brabazon Ponsonby was born at Marylebone London on September 11,1815 and was the older brother of the Hon Spencer Cecil Brabazon Ponsonby and was the son of John Ponsonby, 4th Earl of Bessborough. The major teams he played for were Cambridge Town Club, Cambridge University, Surrey. For a great number of years he was closely associated with the MCC, and perpetual vice-president of the Surrey County Club. It is stated that there was no more honoured figure in the cricket world than he. He appeared first at Lord’s for Harrow against Eton in 1832 and played in big matches until about 1845 when in that year, partly due to his profession and an arm injury he gave up playing at Lord’s,though for several seasons he continued to take part in small matches. He, in conjunction with his brother, the Hon Spencer Cecil Brabaxon Ponsonby-Fane and Mr John Loraine Baldwin, founded the I. Zingari. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography should be consulted for more information about him. He died March 11,1895 at Mayfair, Westminster, London. An image of him is shown opposite.

John Loraine Baldwin (image opposite left) was born June 1,1809 near Halifax. Yorkshire and studied at Oxford University where he developed interests in cricket and dramatics. He was a sports and games rules enthusiast, and one of the founders of I Zingari on July 4,1845. He was also the writer of the first standardized rules for badminton in 1868, while on a visit to Badminton House. The was the editor of ‘The Laws of Shirt Whist’ in 1864. He was Warden of Tintern Abbey in 1873 and died at his home in Tintern on November 25,1896.

Richard Penruddock Long (portrait opposite right ) JP and DL was born December 19,1825, the son of Walter Long,esq., of Rowde Ashton Wraxall and Whadden and Mary Ann Colquboun. He was one of six children in the family and when his older brother Walter died he became the heir of his father’s estate. He was an English landowner and Conservative Party politician. He was a founding member of the amateur cricket club I Zingari. Long was appointed High Sheriff of Montgomeryshire in 1858 and served as Justice of the Peace as well as Deputy Lieutenant for the county. Born at Baynton House in East Coulston, he was the second son of Walter Long and his first wife Mary Anne, daughter of Archibald Colquhoun. He was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. He obtained his MA in 1852. In 1853 he married Charlotte Anna, the only child of William Wentworth Fittswilliam Dick, esq., M.P. for the County of Wicklow. He had a numerous family. He died at the age of 49 at Cannes February 16, 1875. His body was brought to Rood Ashton for internment.


Cricket had been played in Tunbridge Wells long bore the Bluemantle’s arrived on the scene with matches played on the Upper and Lower cricket grounds of the Commons . Records in this regard date back to 1782. For the first 100 years or so the Common was the focal point for cricket in the town, but there was only one pitch. The demand for playing the game resulted in a second pitch ,called the Lower Cricket Ground, which was created in 1885.They and the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club played their matches on the Common until the end of the 19th century. Shown opposite is a  postcard view of the lower cricket ground.

The aim of the Bluemantles was to foster the spirit of amateur cricket, and other clubs soon followed, names like Stragglers of Asia-founded in India and initially open to men who had lived east of Suez for at least two years-underling the careers and backgrounds of its members. Closer to home, the Band of Brothers, formed in 1858 by members of the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles, provided welcome competition.

But while the Bluemantles revelled in their quirky style and freedom to roam outside the cricketing establishment-there is no captain, and many players also play for other teams-when the opportunity arose to gain a home ground in Tunbridge Wells it was too good to miss and this led to the establishment of the Nevill Grounds in 1895 , details of which are given in the next section.


In 1895, the land at the bottom of the town on the Marquis of Abergavenny’s estate came up for sale, and the club joined forces with the Bluemantles to buy it. It became the Nevill Ground, formerly opened in 1898. Shown opposite is a map giving the location of the cricket grounds.

Details about the history of the Nevill Ground are given in the Civic Society book entitled ‘The Origins of Warwich Park and the Nevill ground by John Cunningham, which was published in 2007. From this book I give the following information.

The Nevill Ground arose from the development of the Home Farm Estate. In 1895 a prospectus for the Tunbridge Wells Cricket, Football and Athletic Club Ltd was prepared and the Marquess of Abergavenny became the President of the club and a committee of 14 were appointed as directors. The prospectus proposed to lay out a cricket ground with a provision for a circular cinder track; to form a football ground and to lay out six lawn tennis courts, and to erect a Cricket Pavilion and a bandstand, all of which was to be fenced in.

Tenders for the necessary roads were called February 17,1896 but the road was not built until the middle of 1897. The Cricket Club at that time found that not all of the shares in the company had been taken up leaving a shortfall of some 2,000 pounds of the 10,000 pounds allotted . Costs for the work had exceeded estimates by an astonishing 180%. Shown above is an aerial view showing the cricket grounds.

William Roper (photo opposite) was not only the designer of the new roads of the Home Park development but he was also the surveyor of the Nevill Ground, and he recorded that the size of the original cricket pitch was some 500 feet north to south and 600 feet east to west. In all some 5 acres. A lot of work and money was spent to level the site, requiring the importation of some 60,0000 cubic feet of earth. The original plan called for the construction of a double-faced grandstand pavilion to serve both the cricket pitch and the football pitch but was never built. The contractor for the ground was local nurseryman Arthur Charleton who I have written about before.

The opening of the “New Athletic Ground” took place on Whit Monday May 30,1898 before a crowd of about 8,000.

The cricket pavilion was to be built in 1899 by Strange & Sons at a cost of 1,060 pounds from donations.What was built was a more expensive double-faced pavilion but built in a more modest way in line with the money that had been raised. It was built on the south side of the cricket pitch with the assistance of members of the Bluemantles.

Early in the morning of Friday April 11,1913 at a time when the Suffrage movement was in full swing, the Pavilion was burnt down, with the militant suffragettes blamed for the destruction, although it was never “proven” they had anything to do with it. Shown below are two photographs of the remains of the Pavilion, which was taken by local photographer Percy Squire Lankester who live nearby.

Several clubs-Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club, Bluemantles CC, the Post Office CC, St Mark’s CC, the Borough Police CC, the Tunbridge Archery Club-used the ground and the Pavilion, and it was a great loss to them. All of them incurred losses of equipment and in some cases it threatened the demise of the club (s) themselves. The Bluemantles, among other things, lost all their club records, leaving historians to piece together what they can about the club from other sources.

A new replacement Pavilion, designed by C.H. Strange (Strange & Sons) was erected in less than twelve weeks after the fire, just in time for Cricket Week in July 1913. The foundations of the old pavilion were reused and other parts of the partially destroyed Pavilion may have been incorporated into the new structure.

To read more about the cricket grounds see the Civic Society book referenced above.


Supremely well-connected, the Bluemantles attracted a steady stream of the great and the good over the years. From top players like Bob Woolmer of Kent and England to the First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon and Sherlock Holmes Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Bob Woolmer (photo opposte) referred to was Robert Andrew Woolmer (1948-2007) who was an international cricketer, professional cricket coach and also a professional commentator. He played in 19 Test matches and 6 One Day Internationals for England and alter coached South Africa,Warwickshire and Pakistan. He had been born in the hospital across the road from the cricket ground in Kanpur, India on Mary 14,1948. His father was the cricketer Clarence Woolmer, who represented United Provinces in the Ranji Trophy. Bob went to school in Kent, first at Yardley Court in Tonbridge and then The Skinner’s School in Tunbridge Wells. His first job was as a sales representative for ICI, and his first senior cricket was with the Tunbridge Wells club and with Kent’s second XI. In 1967 he broke the Kentish Leagues Bat and Trap record for most consecutive stikes between the white posts-13 in one game. At age 20 in 1968 he joined the Kent Cricket staff and made his championship debut against Essex. He won the county cap in 1969. He began his coaching career in South Africa in 1970-71 and by 1975 had made his Test debut. He had become a teacher of physical education at a prep school in Kent as well as running his own cricket school. He had an impressive cricket career, details of which can be found on the internet. He died March 18,2007 in his hotel room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston,Jamaica, having died of a heart attack

Growing up in Matfiled, Siegfried Sassoon (photo opposite)  had loved village cricket as a child and honed his skills as Marlborough College. In his war diary he wrote sadly “I’m thinking of England, and summer evenings after cricket matches……Blue Mantles against some cheery public-school side”. Sassoon retained a nostalgia for the cricket of his youth, writing in 1932;” The players all looked so unlike one another then; and there was an air of alfresco intimacy about their exploits…it seemed more like homemade cricket in those days”.

The following account by James D. Coldham describes the connection between Sassoon and cricket. “ Of very talented stock, he was born in September, 1886, and lived his years at Matfield in the idyllic Weald of Kent. He was moulded by the culture of the English country house during its twilight hours before the lamps were extinguished in 1914, when "France was a lady in a short skirt. Russia a bear, and the performances of the county cricket team more important than either of them." He longed to become a poet; cricket and fox-hunting also claimed his affections. He soon discovered. however, that few poets of his acquaintance could appreciate cricket, and few cricketers and fox-hunters could appreciate poetry. During his youth, the cricketing atmosphere was rarely absent. His father, who died quite young, was. according to a villager, "a rare good one getting his bat down to a shooter " on the village green; Siegfried's brothers were enthusiasts; the Marchant family were neighbouring land-owners, and Frank Marchant captained Kent; Richardson, a servant of the Sassoons was captain of the village team, and a dashing left-handed batsman: and three tutors were enthusiasts, the meekly authoritative James Moon, an inoffensive but accurate lob bowler: one nicknamed "Uncle," who had kept wicket for Kent, and whose way of walking "suggested a wicket-keeper changing ends between the overs," and CH Hamilton, a stylist who batted brilliantly in local cricket. The latter was an old Rugbeian and, at Cambridge, where he had captained his College XI, had been a friend of Gilbert Jessop. Sassoon played for his village at a tender age, and delighted in the "local Derby" between Brenchley and Horsemondon. Eventually, he went to Marlborough and played respectably for his House team for two summers, once capturing 7 for 18 in a Lower House match. For several years he played for the Blue Mantles, whose headquarters were at Tunbridge Wells. NF Druce, who had played for Surrey and England in his youth. was the most prolific batsman; Dr Conan Doyle appeared occasionally, but his "batting was rather on its last legs and his artful slows had lost their former effectiveness." Sassoon in 1910 and 1911 batted in 51 innings and returned an average of 19: "quite a creditable record for a poet." He has a wistful regard for the county cricket of his youth. While at Marlborough his poetic talent developed steadily, and he contributed the first three of his five poems to the magazine Cricket. With the exception of one non-cricketing poem in The Thrush, a poetry magazine, these were his earliest published verses: April 9, 1903 - The Extra Inch (A Forecast with Regard to the Probable Alteration of the Wickets, with Apologies to the late C. Kingsley). April 23, 1903 Spring (With all Due Deference to Lord Tennyson's Opinions).January 28. 1904 -To Wilfred - Bowling (A Reminiscence of the Second Test). December 22, 1904 - Yuletide Thoughts August 10, 1905 -Dies Irae (On Watching a Match in which Full Pitches by Fast Bowlers were among the Noticeable Points in the Game).These little-known contributions possess no outstanding merit. Essentially imitative, they are redeemed by enthusiasm. Sassoon has not included them in his published collections of poetry, although "The Extra Inch" is reprinted in one of his prose works*. His only other thorough-going cricket poem is "The Blues at Lord's " from his Satirical Poems (1926). He avers that " though the Government has gone vermilion " it is indisputable "that, while the Church approves, Lord's will endure." He has a wistful regard for the county cricket of his youth. He writes in 1932: "The players all looked so unlike one another then: and there was an air of alfresco intimacy about their exploits which lent them a fuller flavour than seems perceptible now ....It seemed more like home-made cricket in those days, and the people who played it really went home after the game instead of--as one imagines now--being incorporated into the machinery of the popular press." Two of his heroes were Baldwin of Hampshire, one of the stoutest bowlers he ever saw, and Humphreys of Sussex, the lob bowler who wore a pale pink flannel shirt with an artfully flapping sleeve. On village cricket Sassoon is in the tradition of Mary Russell Mitford, HG Wells, Hugh de Selincourt and others. "The Flower-Show Match" from his classic, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, is drawn from life. All the well-loved country types are there, and the result is a charming fragment of a pre-1914 summer. The Great War came, and Sassoon, as an infantry officer who became very well acquainted with it, was moved more profoundly than most men. In his vivid writings nostalgic cricketing memories are recollected. Shortly before a bombing party, of which he is in charge, sets off, he discusses the Canterbury Cricket Week; several soldiers play at a rest camp with a stump, a wooden ball, and an old brazier as a wicket; on the road to Arras "our second-in-command, a gentle, middle-aged country solicitor, was walking beside me, consoling himself with reminiscences of cricket and hunting "; and, while moving up to the front on another occasion, there is " something in the sober twilight which could remind me of April evenings in England and the cricket field where a few of us had been having our first knock at the nets. The cricket season had begun. .Although Siegfried Sassoon has written too little about cricket for our delight, what he has contributed possesses an old-world quality and is a happy reflection of the period in which he is most at home.

The website of the Wadhurst History Society, in their  newsletter of November 2013 gave in part “ Tom Richardson, a groom , and captain of the Maitfield Cricket Club, became a father figure to Siegfried Sassoon, turning the young man into an very good cricketer and who played matches at The Nevill for the Blue Mantles in 1910 and 1911, averaging 19 runs in 51 innings. At Marlborough his bowling prowess had once returned 7 wickets for 18 runs, and he was to continue playing cricket well into his 60’s down in Wiltshire”.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle needs no reporting on by me for his life and career are well known, particularly in connection with his character Sherlock Holmes and there are many sources of information that can be consulted to gain a full understanding about him. Perhaps his activities in cricket are less known, or at least overshadowed by his other accomplishments. The website of the Emerits Cricket Clube stated “ In the 1920’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a lesser light, playing a few MCC games but his sole first-class wicket was that of WG. More locally his name appears in connection with the burning of the Nevill Pavilion in 1913 when the National League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage held their meeting in Tunbridge Wells after the 1913 fire which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attended, and where he called the suffragettes “female hooligans” and compared the attack to “blowing up a blind man and his dog”. He comments hit the press and he was criticized for his remarks.

A century on, in a very different world, the Bluemantles tradition continues, with the majority of its players still drawn from Tonbridge School and Eastbourne College. “We have moved with the times” insisted treasurer Nick Ogden. “We appointed out first lady member, the late Ros Bairamian, and these days I don’t think Bluemantles is a class thing any more, it’s just that schoolmasters who enjoy cricket often bring their 1st XI boys along. “Basically, it has always been about a group of friends playing cricket together”.

In researching past players with the Blumantles, I found a long list of them, too long to provide an account of all of them. However I have selected a couple which I report on below.

The first is Henry Mellor Braybrooke, M.B.E. who died October 28,1935 at Tates, at the age of 66. He had  been born at Kandy in Ceylon on February 121,1869. He went to Wellington College and was in the 1886 eleven. He failed to get his blue at Cambridge, though playing a few times for the University in 1891, but between 1890 and 1899 he met with some success for Kent, his highest score for the county being 53 against Somerset at Taunton in 18982. A free batsman, hitting specially well to the on, he played many big innings in club cricket including 256 not out for the Bluemantles against Eastbourne College in 187889, his unfinished opening partnership with J.H. Kelsey (136 not out) producing 403. He played for Cambridge against Oxford at golf in 1891 and gained many prizes for running.

The website of the Bluemantles reported on the passing of J.R.V (Dick)Woods on October 28,2015 after a short illness. He became a member of the Bluemantles in 1948 and played cricket with the likes of Maurice Williams, Peter Neild, Ian Fleming, Keith Linney, Hector Munro and Nigger Wright amongst others. Later on he played with Ted Rose and his brother Gerald, and became a member whilst still at school in 1951. He opened the batting for Kent Young Amateurs against Surrey at the Oval in September 1949. He also opened the batting for the Army in 1952 at Fenners….”

When investigating the early matches of the Bluemantles I noted the following.

The Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of August 15,1918 reported on a match played at the Nevill Ground on August 8 and 9 where the  Bluemantles played Old Clifton.

The website, ‘Lords the home of cricket’ give records from July 11,1892 to July 29,1898, in which was found a reference to Mote Cricket matches against a long list of teams among which was listed the Blue Mantles Cricket Club.

The Yalding Cricket Club reported that on July 31,1918 that they were at Tunbridge Wells and played the ” Blue Mantles” that made 126 with Yalding scoring 340 with L.A. White scoring 60 and A.J. White scoring 59.

A scrapbook and family album of Elizabeth Mary Rosseter, held by the National Archives, reported a match on July 8,1875 between The Lewes Priory Cricket Club and the Tunbridge Wells Blue Mantle Cricket Club.

Peltons guide of 1912 listed three cricket clubs in Tunbridge Wells, namely (1) The Blue Mantles Cricket Club –Ground-the Nevill Athletic Ground,Warwick Park (2) Linden Park Cricket Club-matches played on the Upper Ground, The Common (3) Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club-visitors admitted at special rates on application to the Hon. Sec. Nevill Athletic Club 65 High Street-The matches are played on the Athletic ground Nevill Park.

The Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of September 4,1931 reported that a match had taken place between Blue Mantles and Yellowhammer.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of June 22,1928 reported on the Blue Mantles vs Westminster Bank at the Nevill  and gave “Brig-Gen P.M. Robinson b. Tappin 11 Capt. E. Visa Adams b Wood K Rhodes b Jackson 29 Capt. L.G. Lawrence st Stiff b Craig 17 L. Eraber c Adams b Craig 3 A Clark 0 Home b Jackson”. Not being a cricket payer myself I cannot explain what these statistics mean and with this account I end my coverage of the history if the Bluemantles Cricket Club.

Shown above are two modern images. The top one is a photo of the Bluemantles Stand constructed in 1995 and blow it is a photo of the Bluemantles team taken in 2015.

In closing I would say that my interest in Cricket stems from my grandfather Francis Reginald Gilbert (1882-1975) who born in Tunbridge Wells and before emigrating to Canada with his family in the 1920’s was an avid sportsman. While in the town he played cricket, football with the Rangers ,and lawn bowling at the Grove Hill Lawn Bowling Club, which I had the pleasure of visiting during my trip to Tunbridge Wells in July 2015. My grandfather continued his interest and participation in sports in Canada but I only remember seeing him playing lawn bowling and five pin alley bowling in Canada.Unfortu nately  photos of him playing sports have not survived, if in fact there were any at all, and I do not have any details about his cricket activities in Tunbridge Wells. I do however remember his stories that I wrote down during discussions with my grandfather about the time  he played cricket in the town and the other games I mentioned. I wish I had paid  more attention and made more notes.



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

Date: October 20,2015


The Nevill Cricket and Athletic Ground (1909 map opposite) located on a large plot of land off Warwick Road came about when the Marquess of Abergavenny decided to develop the Home Farm Estate with interest in the creation of the grounds by the Tradesmen’s Association and others. Two local surveyors, William Brackett and William Roper played an important role in the project.

Discussions about the creation of the grounds began in 1894-5 which was followed by a limited company being set up called the Tunbridge Wells Cricket, Football and Athletic Club. The prospectus proposed to lay out and make a ‘thoroughly good Cricket Ground  with a provision for a circular Cinder Track’. It was upon this track that in the early 1900’s motorcycle races  and other athletic races were run. Local motorcycle enthusiasts and riders from other parts of the country competed there and the events drew large crowds.

This article provides some background information about the Nevill Grounds and several photographs with a particular emphasis on the motorcycle races conducted there and the men who competed in them.


A limited company was created called the Tunbridge Wells Cricket, Football and Athletic Club after discussions between the land owner (the Marquess  Abergavenny)  and  other interested parties in 1894-5. The plan was to create a ground for the playing of cricket and other sports around which was to be constructed a circular Cinder Track. The work was to include a Football Ground 120 yards by 75 yards; Lawn Tennis Courts; a Cricket Pavilion; a bandstand (which was never built) and other covered stands and buildings for spectators, with the perimeter of the site fenced. In all it was estimated that the proposed work would cost in the order of 5,000 pounds, but the project went over budget, as most grand schemes seem to.

A 100 year lease for a 10 acre site was arranged starting from September 29,1895. Under the terms of the lease the Marquess had to build road (Warwick Park) before January 13,1897which skirted along the south side of the grounds, with the lessees agreeing to build a road (now Nevill Gate) from Warwick Park into the grounds, on which they were to construct a cricket field surrounded by a running and cycling track of three laps to the mile, a football pitch and six tennis courts. Tenders for the work  were advertised in the Courier February 17,1896. By April 1897 the road was still under construction. The opening of what was called “the new Athletic Ground” took place on Whit Monday May 30,1898 before a crowd of 8,000-a sizeable turnout for a town with a population at that time of 30,000, although the venue had an estimated capacity of 12,000.

Shown above is a postcard view of the Nevill Grounds taken in the early 20th century, in which can be seen among other things the fenced track surrounding the playing field and it was on this that motorcycle races were conducted. The main event in the afternoon of the Opening Day was a mixture of athletic races and cycling races (half mile, mile and five miles) with the Marquess firing the starters pistol for the first race. This postcard view was by local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn.

The Cricket Pavilion built by local contractors Strange & Sons in 1909 burned to the ground on the morning of April 11,1913, which fire was blamed on militant suffragettes, although no proof was found that it was them. A new pavilion was built in time for the 1913 cricket season.

Several clubs made use of the grounds but no mention is made of any motorcycle club using it in the years just after its opening. It is known however that motorcycle races were conducted there at least by 1903.

For further information about the history of the Nevill Grounds, see the Civic Society Book by John Cunningham published in 2007 and entitled “The Origins of Warwick Park and the Nevill Ground’.


Cycling and Motorcycling in the town has always been popular and there was no shortage of bike shops in the town at the end of the 19th century. By the start of the 20th century it was not uncommon to see motorcylists on the roads. Enthusiasts in town founded The Tunbridge Wells Motorcyle Club ( now called the Tunbridge Wells Motor Club) in 1911 and today is one of the oldest still operating in Britain.The club was formed by a small group of local motorcycle enthusiasts.There were no helmets at that time-just goggles and a flat cap and depending on the weather a long coat.The leather motorcycle jacket was not to appear until much later.Their trousers, of normal street wear,were tucked into their socks and no special motorcycle boots were worn-just work boots or shoes.

By the 20th century the St John’s Cycling, Motors and Athletic Club was in operation and it was they who managed the races at the Nevill ground.

A more detailed history of this club and the history of motorcycling in the town and elsewhere is given in my article ‘Motorcycling in Tunbridge Wells’ date February 24,2015.

When motor cycle racing began at the Nevill Ground is not known by he researcher. A review of local newspaper records would be necessary to attempt to establish the date and a review of all available articles would also provide the results of these races.

For the purpose of this article I have provided information and the results of motor cycle races at the Nevill for the years 1904 and 1909.

[1] THE 1904 RACES

The Kent & Sussex Courier of August 5,1904 provided a detailed account of the athletic events held at the Nevill from which I have extracted the portions dealing with two motor cycle races held that day.

It was reported that “there were a few spills but no injuries”. The event was held under the management of the St Johns  Cycling, Motors, and Athletic Club.  “The Nevill ground presented quite a gala appearance with steam roundabouts, swings,side shows and fruit and sweet stalls etc”. There was dancing on the lawn, a band concert and a total of eight sports events open to all of England. Many people from out of town competed and watched the spectacle.

“During the afternoon a few of the motor cyclists came to grief-the track being,if anything ‘too fast’ for motor cycles but fortunately no serious injuries were inflicted by the falls. Record times were made by T. H. Tessier, mounted on a 2-3/4 HP ‘Bat’ motor cycle who rode in his heat from scratch in the Five Mile Race and completed the journey in 8 min 16 4/5th seconds; and in the flying start contest for The One Mile Race, W.W. Genn was awarded the gold medal for covering the distance in 1 min 31 seconds. Mr Tessier’s time for the same event was 1 min 32 4/5th seconds whilst H. Colver’s time was 1 min 37 2/5th seconds. In this event there were 13 entries but only ten competitors made the event. Mr J. Crundall, riding a Humber, had the misfortune to catch his pedal on the track whilst taking the curves on two occasions, preventing him from completing his distance and spoiling what appeared to be a good race.”

In the One Mile Race first prize was awarded to W.W. Genn of Wimbledon with a time of 1 min 31 sec. Also competing were T.H. Tessier of Penge who finished second; H. Calver of Plumsted who finished 3rd; followed in order by E. Blaker of the Auto CC; W. Waton of Tunbridge Wells with a time of 1 min 48 4/5 seconds; H. Boghurst of Tunbridge Wells with a time of 1 min 53 3/5th seconds; S. Ganny of Tunbridge Wells with a time of 1 min 55 seconds; C.E. Bennett of Caning Town (did not finish the race) and J.F. Crundall left the race.

The Five Mile Race drew a number of fine competitors. Prizes awarded were 8 pounds 8 shilling (1st) ; three pounds 3 shillings (2nd) and two pounds two shillings for 3rd place. The results in order for Heat 1 were…. T.H. Tessier (scratch); H. Culver (fell) time 8 min 16 4/5 sec. In Heat 2 was J. Perkins with a 35 sec start; C.E. Bennett who retired.The time was 8 min 34 2/5th seconds. In Heat 3 it was H. Boghurst with a 59 sec start; Also competing in this heat was J.F. Crundell who fell; S. Ganny.Time as 1 min 20 sec start; time 10 min 10 sec. In Heat 4 was W. Walton 40 sec start with W.W. Genn also competing. In the Final race the winner was C.E. Bennett who won the race by nearly two laps. He was followed by W. Walton of Tunbridge Wells with 3rd going to H. Boghurst of Tunbridge Wells. The winning time was 8 min 23 2/5th seconds.

The Three Mile Motor Cycle Scratch Race had four heats and a final. In Heat 1 W.W. Genn rode over with a time of 6 min 14 seconds. In Heat 2 C.E. Bennett won with a time of 5 min 58 2/5th seconds. Also competing in this heat was T.H. Tessier and W. Walton of Tunbridge Wells. In Heat 3 H. Boghurst ran with a time of 6 min 9 4/5th seconds. In Heat 4 J. Perkins won with a time of 6 min 11 2/5th seconds. Also competing in this heat was E. Ganny and E.E. Blaker. In the Final it was C.E. Bennett who won with W.W. Genn finishing second with J. Perkins coming third. The winning time was 4 min 54 2/5th seconds.

The names of the competitors in the 1904 Royal Tunbridge Wells motorbike race "The Five Mile Motorcycle Race - handicapped (open)" were; Heat 1…H Tessier (Autocycle)F E Barker (Kingston Upon Thames)Heat 2;Wm Walton (St John's CC)A J Sproston (ST John's CC)Heat 3 W Genn (Wimbledon) E B Blaker (Auto CC)Final……Tessier,Genn,Walton,Barker (as the fastest runner up).

C.E. Bennett, known most often as Charlie “Wagg” Bennett , was a well- known motor cycle race competitor . In 1904, at the Nevill, he was the winner of the 3 mile and 5 mile motorcycle races held August 1st,1904 on a Kerry motorbike. A photograph of Bennett posing at a unidentified photographic studio in Tunbridge Wells  on his motor bike with the racing plaque announcing his accomplishments at this event in front, is shown above. The chap with him holding the bike appears to be W. Hodgkinson.

{2} THE 1909 RACES

The Kent & Sussex Courier of June 4,1909 reported on the days event that were held on Whit Monday. The event was held under the management of the St John’s  Cycling, Motor , and Athletic Club and the weather was well suited for a lovely day of athletic demonstrations, with a large crowd being in attendance. The event drew participants and spectators from all over England. Over 120 pounds in prizes were awarded. It was stated “ the sports passed off with remarkably few spills and no serious  accidents of any kind….The motor cycle races, as usual, created immence interest…Early in the event there was a gymnastic demonstration and The Ceylon Band enlivened the proceedings”. Prizes were handed out by the Mayor and Mayoress at the end of the sporting events.

A Three Mile Motor Cycle race was held. In Heat 1 P.V. Wallis came first followed by C.E. Bennett. In Heat 2 the race was won by H.S. Wallis with W. Hodgkisnon coming second. In the Final race F.W. Wallis was the winner followed by C.E. Bennett and then H.S. Wallis. First prize for this event was 6 pounds; second 3 pounds; 3rd one pound ten shillings.

The second motor cycle event was the Five Mile Motor Cycle Race where the same value in prizes as the three mile race were competed for. In Heat 1 C.E. Bennett was first with P.V. Wallis 2nd. In Heat 2 the winner was W. Hodgkinson followed by F. E. Barker. In the Final C.E. Bennett came first with a time of 8 min 9 seconds followed by P.V. Wallis  with W. Hodgkinson finishing 3rd.

The Civic Society book ‘Tunbridge Wells in 1909’  gave the photograph opposite and the following text associated with the race held on the grounds in 1909. The text associated with the photo reads “ C.E.Bennett  (with the cycle) winner of the five mile race at the Nevill on Whit Monday . W. Hodgkinson, in the stripes came third”. Regarding the 1909 race it was written “ May 31st was Whit Monday. There was beautiful weather  for a Sport Day at the Nevill Ground organized by the St John’s Cycle,Motor and Athletic Club.There were gymnastic displays,and walling,running and cycling races.The most exciting events though ,were the two motorcycle races. The racing was eventful,with falls, and belts slipping off,and delayed riders making up many laps to eventually win. Motor cycling was popular at St Johns.One of the members there represented the Rex motor cycle manufacturer in hill-climbs in the Midlands. The previous year A.J. Sproston of the Invicta MotorCo. Entered the London to Edinburgh rally-400 miles,which had to be accomplished in 22 hours (ie 18 mph).”

Standing beside C.E. Bennett in the above photo is W. Hodgkinson.


From the newspaper accounts of 1904 it was stated that the following men from Tunbridge Wells competed in the event; namely W. Walton;  H. Boghurst and S Ganny. Given below is some brief information about them.

[1] S. GANNY……..The gentleman was actually SYDNEY ALBERT GANNEY, who was born in Tunbridge Wells  November 8,1878. He was one of  seven children born to George William Ganney (1847-1932) who ran a local wathmakers shop, and Sarah Ganney. The Ganney family were living at 11 Thomas Street in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1891 census and in that census Sydney was identified as a cycle maker working for someone else. In the 1901 census, taken at 55 Grosvenor Road,Tunbridge Wells Sydney, who at that time was a cycle maker, was living with his parents and three siblings. The 1899 Kelly gave the listing “ Sydney Ganney, cycle maker, 16a Grosvenor Road. The 1903 Kelly gave “ Sydney Ganney, cycle maker, 33 Grosvenor Road. In the 4th qtr of 1901 Sydney married Mary Sophia White at Croydon, Sussex. Sydney and his wife emigrated to Canada before the start of WW 1 and on  March 13,1916 he signed his attestation documents at Toronto, Ontario. His occupation was given as “machinist” with his wife Mary Sophia Ganney of 55 Grosvenor Road,Tunbridge Wells given as his next of kin. Sydney was a rather small man being in 1916 only five feet 4-1/2 “ tall with a dark complexion; brown eyes and black hair with some scars from previous injuries/operations. He was ruled fit for service and entered the war as a private (512437) with the Canadian Army Service Corp.  He saw action in the war and although details about his service and injuries are lacking it is noted from military and probate records that he died at the Westminster Hospital in London, Ontario,Canada on June 17,1920. The executor of his estate was his spinster sister Winnifred Ganney.The records of the CWG confirmed the above but added that he was buried at Mil. Plot  R4 G54 of the London Mount Pleasant Cemetery and that he was the son of George Willian and Sarah Ganney of 55 Grosvenor Road,Tunbridge Wells and the husband of Mary S. Ganney of 2 St Peter’s Street in Tunbridge Wells.

[2] H. BOGHURST……This gentleman was HENRY STEPHEN BOGHURST, who was born  November 22,1880 in Pembury,Kent. He was one of three children born to George Stephen Boghurst (1851-1936)who in 1901 was a public house keeper at 105 St John’s Road, and was born  at Brenchley,Kent. Henry’s mother was Augusta Strong Boghurst, nee Silvester (1851-19234) born  in Bristol, Somerset.  At the time of the 1881 census, taken at the National School House in Pembury, Henry was living with his parents and one brother. His father worked as a gardener at the school. The 1891 census, taken at Albany Villa in Pembury recorded Henry as a scholar and living with his parents ;two siblings and one servant. His father at that time was a gardener domestic and his mother a dressmaker. In the 1901 census, taken at 105 St John’s Road,Tunbridge Wells Henry is a cycle engineer worker and living with his parents and his sister RFosina. His father at this time is the keeper of the pub  at this address. In the 3rd qtr of 1907 Henry married Florence Agnes Walton 1907 in Tunbridge Wells. Florence Agnes Boghurst was born 1882 in Tunbridge Wells. The 1911 census, taken at 25 Camden Road gave Henry as the head of the household and working as a pork and beef butcher. With him was his wife Florence,who was assisting in the business,  and a bookkeeper. Henry died in Tunbridge Wells in January 1981 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on January 16th. His wife Florence was buried in the same cemetery on September 1,1948. The couple had no children during the first four years of the marriage.

[3] W. WALTON……….This gentleman was WILLIAM WALTON born in the 3rd qtr of 1883 in Tunbridge Wells, and was one of seven children born to the pork butcher Henry Walton, born 1841 in Ely,Cambridgeshire, and to Sarah Walton, nee Hole born 1846 in Huntingdonshire.  At the time of the 1891 census, taken at 40 Queens Road in Tunbridge Wells William was attending school and living with his parents and siblings. He father at that time was a pork butder worker. At the time of the 1901 census, taken at 147 Camden Road William was a pork butcher working in his father’s butcher shop. Those living there consisted of William; his parents and three of his siblings. William left Tunbridge Wells before 1911 and is found that year at 37 Stanley Street in Deptford St Paul, London with is brother Edwin, both of whom are working as butchers in a shop run by George Thomas. Although William was not employed at any time in the cycle trade, he like many young men at that time ,took up motorcycle racing as a hobby, and there are no records of William becoming noted for his cycling activities.

[4] F. W. WALLIS………..This was FREDERICK WILLIAM WALLIS who competed in the 1909 race at the Nevill grounds. There are several accounts of a Freddie Wallis competing in motorcycle races in the 1950’s and no doubt this is a reference to his son. It would appear that the F.W. Wallis referred to in the 1909 was a native of Tunbridge Wells .

The 1901 census, taken at 12 Basinghall Street,Tunbridge Wells gave a Frederick William Wallis born 1st qtr 1896 in Tunbridge Wells. He  and his siblings Florence, age 1; Ernest,age 5 and Sideney, age 6 ,all born in Tunbridge Wells, were living with their parents Michael Wallis (1846-1902), born 1846 at East Houtley, a coffee house owner, and Minnie Wallis,nee Minnie Ellen Tompkins (1863-1929) born 1863 in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1911 census, taken at 10-12 Basinghall St. Tunbridge Wells gave the brothers Sidney, Ernest and William living with their step father George Quinnell, age 51, a grocer and their mother Minnie Quinnell. Sidney was working as a music shop assistant; Frederick and Ernest as cycle fitters. The Quinnell’s had been married five years and had no children.

On October 21,1922 Frederick William Wallis married Hilda Mary Blankley. William was given in the marriage records as a  bachelor and a cycle motor salesman. They were married at Thornton Heath,St Paul ,Surrey  where his wife came from, and who was the daughter of William Richard Blankley (decased) cartage foreman. Williams father was given as Michael Wallis (deceased). What became of William after his marriage was not determined

[5} A.J. SPROSTON…………This was ARCHIBALD JOHN SPROSTON (photo opposite) He was an engineer, a well-known motor bike competitor and had premises in Tunbridge Wells on St John’s Road. Details about him and his career can be found in my article entitled ‘The Sproston Famuly-A Tunbridge Wells Saga’ dated November 7,2013. The ‘INTRODUCTION’ to that article is given below.

“The Sproston’s were a family from a long line of fishmongers who were well established in the Stepney part of East London during the 19th century . One of the sons, George Spronston, came to Tunbridge Wells by 1899 and established a wholesale fishmonger business.When George’s brother James died he became the executor of James estate and took under his wing two of the child namely Eva and Archibald John Sproston . Archibald became a motor engineer and in the early 20th century had business premises on St John’s Road. He also became an accomplished motorcycle and motorcar racer and served in WW 1 with the Royal Engineers as a motorcycle despatch rider. His career in racing continued after the war but moved from Tunbridge Wells to London and was married. The lives of Archibald, his wife and his uncle George were suddenly ended in 1924, when the plane they were taking to spend Christmas in Paris, crashed shortly after take-off from the Croydon Aerodrome killing the pilot and all seven passengers. Firefighters were unable to extinguish the fire in time and everyone was consumed by the explosion and flames that occurred upon impact.

One would normally think that their deaths would be the end of the storey but that was not the case. The genealogical research done on the Sproston’s became a tangled web requiring not only myself but two volunteer researchers to work through to gain an understanding of their lives. Outright lies, poor census taking,inaccurate and missing records resulted in the conclusion that there was much more to the lives of this family than met the eye. After countless hours of research a clearer picture was obtained, yet there are many unanswered questions. In addition, the deaths of the three Sproston’s led to a lengthy public enquiry and a medical examination of their remains to establish who had died first so that their estates could be properly distributed. This part of the process resulted in interventions by the decendents and the beneficiaries of those that had died and lawyers became involved in a long drawn out process which dragged some five years.When this was finally resolved the storey did not end there, for a member of the family, Eva Sproston, the sister of Archibald (who had died in the crash), and who by 1929 had been twice married and had children became involved in the death of Archibald Sproston as the advocate for her son Arthur Langton (form her first marriage), who was entitled to a legacy from Archibalds estate. She had moved to Adelaide Australia by 1929 and had to make several trips to London to try and resolve the matter. Eva Sproston became the subject of blackmail by the infamous O’Dare gang headed up by a beautiful con artist by the assumed name of Theresa O’Dare who was eventually captured along with some members of the gang and sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prision. But no -the storey did not end there either, for in 1929 a suitcase was found on a London bus which was found to contain charred bones believed to be those of the Sproston’s killed in the 1924 airplane crash along with womans clothes and various personal papers, including the diary of Eva Prescott ,nee Sproston led to a Scotland Yard investigation. The life of Eva Sproston/Langton/Prescott when examined was just as full of mystery as those of her relatives. I think you will find this storey as interesting as a Sherlock Homes novel for it is full of intrigue and takes many twists and turns. Although I have named this article ‘The Sproston Family-A Tunbridge Wells Saga’ the whole storey takes us to two continents and various towns in Britain to gain a full picture of events as they unfolded.


Due to limited space I have provided in this section information about some of the motor cycle racers who participated at the Nevill in the races of 1904 and 1909 who were not residents of Tunbridge Wells. The most celebrated of them all perhaps was  C.E. Bennett who I begin with below.

1)    C. E. BENNETT (1882-1941)……….CHARLES ERNEST BENNETT  was born in the 3rd qtr of 1882 at Canning Town,Essex. He married Sarah Emma Harding (1888-1949)in the 3rd qtr of 1906 at West Ham, Essex. She and his wife had three children namely (1) Charles Ernest, born 1907 (2) Rene Thomas, born 1910  (3) Frederick George, born January 24,1911 and baptised at Holy Trinity Canning Town on February 10,1911. The 1911 census, taken at 37 Hallsville Road,Voctoria Dock, West Ham, Essex gave Charles Ernest Bennett as a cycle maker employer. With him was his wife Sarah born 1888 and the three children listed above. His son Charles Ernest went on to marry and had a granddaughter Rene E. Bennett, who married Howard Powell in the 3rd qtr of 1956 and had two daughters. Rene went on to emerge as “Britain’s best known lady rider” .Charles and his wife and all of their children and grandchildren were born in Canning Town, Essex.  Rene’s interest ion trials riding began watching her father riding motorcycles around the docks near his cycle and motorcycle shop. Her parents were hard working East Londoners, who opened their first shop in the late 1920’s in Victoria Docl Road where they hired and sold cycles. Further information about Rene can be found on the internet in an article entitled “Renee Bennett…the Legend” on the website She had met her husband Howard Powell (1926-2003) through her brother the well-known bodybuilder who once trained Arnold Schwarzenneggar and was the first man in England to bench press 500 pounds.  The name of Bennett continues today as decendents of Charles E. Bennett as Bennetts Racing, of Uk drag racing fame. Their website gave the following information about the patriarch of the family, Charles Ernest Bennett (born 1882) who went by the name Charlie “Wagg” Bennett, “Wagg” being a name used in London for Charles. “

Charlie 'Wag' Benn* Winner of the 3 mile & 5 mile motorcycle races at Tunbridge Wells, August 1st 1904 on a 'Kerry' motor. * TT race 1910 at Brooklands, won by Charlie 'Wag' Bennett at average of 61mph - 1910 two cylinderIndian 70 by 83 cubic capacity, equals 638, 59 miles 870 yards.  (British record)

Charlie Bennett served his apprenticeship first as a rivet boy, helping to build the first iron battleships down the Victoria and Albert dockland shipyards, then to the Canning town based Mansfield cycle company, frame building at the brazing hearth.  Charlie Bennett built his first motorcycle at these barking road premises, around the year 1907, this machine was belt driven, single speed, and solely a track racer with Bailey dropped handlebars, saddle over the rear wheel, pad on the top frame tube for the riders chest.  This racer was fitted with a French Buchet engine, bore and stroke square at 76 x 76 centimetres, overhead push rod operated inlet and exhaust valves, with coil ignition using a dry cell battery.

On the Canning town banked racetrack in august 1907 this bike with Charlie Bennett riding it covered eight miles in nine minutes.  It seemed this bike was ahead of its time. Charlie Bennett was noticed and fitted up with a 5/6 horsepower “Indian” from the American factory.  He rode this in the Isle of Man and on Brook lands alongside other famous old riders, including Billy Wells, Bert Colver, Walter O.Bentley, the two Collier brothers, Harry Martin and Guy Lee Evans. 

Charlie Bennett started up his own business in these early years; he did his own electro plating and brazing, and built his own brand of pedal cycles, the well-known East London “Genuine”.  Charlie with his cockney nickname “Wag Bennett” was the founder of the cycle and motor businesses still running today.  

His son wrote “ I am his son and when I was a small boy I watched him at the bench, it was always interesting to see the bits and pieces gradually turn into a complete pedal bicycle or motorcycle.  The pedalling gear had disappeared by the time of the First World War, there were even a few kick-started gearboxes, but the smaller machines were mainly ‘run and jump’.  We lived over the top of the cycle shop, busy with spares and repairs in the summer months, but hard to find the rent and keep going when October came until April.  My father always started work early each morning, seven days a week, and still at it often until 10pm.   Winter was when he stole the time to build the motorcycles.  When I left school in the he would be in the back yard, workshop wreathed in the beautiful violet and orange colours thrown up from the red hot bricks in the hearth of the gas and air bellows forge. A long blue dragon’s tongue of flame coming from the blowpipe brazed the steel tubes into the cycle and motorcycle frame lugs. The mixture ran round the joints, deep into the mating place of lug and tube, the devil belching fire, poking the flames before him, just like the picture of Hell I had seen in the Bible. 

It was not difficult to obtain supplies of metal and fittings in those days. Birmingham was in full swing and many engineering firms produced cycles and motorcycles, or fittings for other cycle builders. My father would order lugs, steel tubing, wheel hubs and spokes from Radnall or Brampton in Birmingham, also Great Eastern Street in Bishops gate was handy for many items. Brown Brothers produced their own bike, the ‘Vindec’. I remember the strong heavy casting of a large lug that came from the Chater-Lea factory in Clerkenwell, Banner Street; this was the piece which carried the rear chain stays, seat tube and rear engine mounting, and adjust the countershaft or gearbox. The later big-port ‘A.J.S.’ had something much the same as this lug, the bikes were always with diamond-frames, the crankcase and engine plates making up the strength, nice heavy head lugs, 14 gauge steel tubing all round. Number ‘321’ or other special names were obtainable then; the top frame tube was usually bent to drop lower at the rear, the sometimes straight or steeply dropped top tube, always a lower tank tube in 7/8” or 1” tee lugs, one each end to the main frame. Wheel rims from the Palmer Tyre Company in Silvertown, East London, were nickel plated and drilled (40 holes), or in rough steel and undrilled, with beaded-edge Hutchinson tyres, size 26”x2½“x2¼“. Building up the wheels was always one of the longest jobs, 12 or 10 gauge spokes were cut to length and threaded on a hand machine, laced, hub-centred on the rim and wheel-lined up in the motorcycle rear end after truing.

The belt-rim was fitted to the spokes by small, 2 holed bracket plates. All this, the primary chain and belt pulley to a fraction of an inch, with just a 2’ straight edge and the naked eye. The rear brakes were always the rubber block type, pulling onto or pressing inside the ‘v’ of the belt rim. Sometimes a rim on the spokes of the front wheel was used to take a brake block, but it was ready to fly out of its guider clips and throw the rider over the locked wheel and handlebars. Front forks were Druid or Brampton, no friction discs, no steering damper, a nice wide handlebar 7/8” or1”, but always a 1” stem entering the fork column tube, an inverted lever at each extreme end of the bars for front brake and exhaust lifter. This was rarely called a release valve or decompresser in the 1920s. The inverted control levers were good for some extra excitement when riding side by side with a companion, similarly equipped, they would hook together with both riders finishing up entangled in a heap on the road! Mudguards, 4” or 3”, to look like a racer, double-wire stays, sometimes a rear carrier, always a clip to secure the rear stand, 2 number plates, the front one nicely placed to slice a victim after the front wheel had got him! Twist grips were about, but almost all the old British ones had the twin gas and air control levers on the right hand bar, and if the engine was lucky enough to have a magneto with variable ignition, there could be a mag lever on the left side of the bars, very useful to be able to advance and retard the spark timing whilst on the move, and as good as an extra gear when hill climbing.

My father, Charlie Bennett, would send a boy with cardboard templates to a firm in Pentonville Road, King’s Cross. They would turn out a petrol tank with built in oil space and painted, ready in 2 or 3 days. I had seen him make petrol tanks, a tricky job, with 2 soldering irons on the go and sticks of ‘tinmans solder’, large shining sheets of 30 gauge tin, bent and curved to shape, on blocks of wood, 2 large holes for the oil and petrol filler cap (the screwed necks to be soldered in) and another hole for the oil drip feed pump.

Careful attention was always given to the 3/8” bore, threaded brass collar for the petrol tap and the blind topped ones which were soldered into the bottom of the tank, sometimes 1 or 2 on top or up front to take the set screws securing the tank to the tank rail or perhaps the top frame tube. The heat in the enamelling oven was always kept low when drying the tanks after painting.

Engines were not difficult to obtain in the old days, they were 2 and 4 stroke. Beardmore, Villiers, J.A.P., Dalm, De Dion Bouton and Fafnir were some of the maker’s engines I noticed in the workshop. I remember the Dixie mags and Brown & Barlow carburettors. Brooks leather saddles were always on a seat stem slid into a slotted lug. When these machines were not fixed engine, single speed, the gearboxes were usually Albion or Chater-Lea, sometimes 2 speed without a clutch, ‘run and jump’ start, or perhaps even a 3 speeder with a kick start pedal. There was always a hand gear-lever fitted against the right hand side of the petrol tank.

Some of the more mature customers would ask for raised touring handlebars and cast aluminium foot boards, but most of the young ones wanted flat or slightly raised bars, with foot rests and the odd special colour paint. Fire engine red or Indian red with gold lines looked magnificent. The usual finish for the machines was black enamel for the frame, front forks, mudguards, engine chain cover, wheel rims, spokes and hubs, handlebars and lots of small fittings were all nickel plated. The petrol tank light brown and panels blue and cream with gold lining. Each tank side sported a varnished transfer, The Genuine, and on the frame head lug front, ‘C.E. BENNETT Cycle and Motor Works’, 116 Rathbone Street, Canning Town, London.

On the very day I reached the age of 14 (1939) I was outside the driving licence office. I covered lots of miles, sneaking rides on some of these old machines. Surprising how reliable they were down to Southend or the Kentish hopfields, climbing Bread and Cheese Hill and Wrotham without having to run alongside, provided you worked up a good speed, and a nice dose of oil using the hand pump a ¼ of a mile before the start of the hill. Carrying a spare inner tube, a belt with some fasteners, ½ a gallon of petrol and a quart of engine oil, these old machines could cover the length of Britain. Their weakest point was the magneto. Inlet and exhaust valves rarely pulled their heads off, valve springs did go soft, but there was not often an engine seizure. The ’60 drips a minute’ of oil, showing through the gauge glass, with one extra pumpful for luck now and then took care of the lubrication.”   

[2]W. HODGKINSON……….He was WILLIAM HODGKINSON ,and as noted above he finished third at the Nevill Ground race of 1909. Based on the photograph he appears to be about the same age as Bennett, making him born about 1882. Details about him proved to be elusive but he his believed by the researcher to be related (a nephew)to the William Hodgkinson family of Birmingham who were engaged in the business of cycle makers.

A William Hodgkinson was found in the 1902 London directory as William Hodgkinson, cycle maker of the firm Levy & Hodgkinson, cycle makers, of 4 Durham Mansions, Durham Road, Tottenham,Middlesex.This William Hodgkinson was born 1865 at Birmingham.

Based on the 1881 census, taken at 12 St James Place at Ashton, Worcestershire William was one of six children born to William Hodgkinson (born 1835) and Jane Hodgkinson,nee Dale,(born 1842) the daughter of George Dale, a copper plate printer.  In 1890 William married Emily, born 1865 at Birmingham and with her had two children by 1898 and four children by 1912, none of which were called William. The 1891 census, taken at 18 Northumberland Street gave William as a bicycle maker.  With him was his wife Emily with one lodger and one visitor. From a record entitled a ‘Return of prosecutions’ dated April 1,1891 is found W. Hodgkinson & Co. ,Cycle fitting makerers, Slaney Street, Birminghsam” The company was proscecuted for employing a young person uncertified and was fined with costs 6 shillings.The session papers noted that W. Hodgkinson & Co, cycle fitting makers of Stoaney Street were fined on April 1,1893 15 shillings for employing a young person at 8:30 p.m. Graces Guide gave a record for W. Hodgkinson of Birmingham for 1896/7 as cycle makers at the Falcon Works on Slaney Street. The 1901 census, taken at 7 Checheley Street in Warwickshire gave William Hodgkinson as a bicycle maker. With his was his wife Emily ; two children (Horace and Mary) and one boarder. Emily died as a widow at Birmingham on Octobe3 2,1832 at the Dudley Road Hospital.

[3] T.H. TESSIER………He was THEODORE HENRY TESSIER of Penge,Surrey and was born 1March 26,1868 at Shoreditch,London. He was one of six children born to Harvey Tessier (1841-1912) and Annie Tessier, nee Brice (1841-1923). On March 26,1892 he married Frances Ellen Boddy (1871-1953) at St Pancras, London. He and his wife had the following children (1) Sidney Theodore (1892-1953) (2) Frederick Henry (1899-1975) (3) Florence Ellen (1901-1992) (4) Beatrice Ada (1912-1967). At the time of the 1901 census, taken at 30 Goodingly Road, Padddington, Theodore was a cycle dealer on own account. With him was his wife Frances and his sons Sidney and Frederick. Sidney had been born in Surrey and Frederick in Leyton,Essex. The 1911 census, taken at 25 Avington Grove, Penge,Surrey gave Theodore as a motorcycle manufacturer. With him was his wife Frances and his sons Sidney and Frederick and his daughter Florence who was born in Paddington. The census recorded that the couple had three children; that they had been married 19 years and were living in premises of seven rooms.  Teodore was directly connected with the Bat Motor Manufacturing Company who had premises at 3 Kingswood Road in Penge, Surrey. This was a motorcycle manufacturing company that operated between 1902 and 1926 and was founded by Samuel Robert Batson. Poor sales of their first motorcycle with a small 2.5hp de Dion engine led to Mr Batson selling the business to Teodore Henry Tessier in 1904. Theodore had started his employment with this company in 1903 and under his later management, and that of his sons the company prospered. Teordore competed as a racer in many events throughout England demonstrating the merits of the BAT motorcycle. In 1907 he entered the first Isle of Mann TT race but retired from it. During WW 1 BAT stopped making motorcyles and made shell casings. Production of the their motorcycles resumed after the war. In 1923 BAT was taken over by the manufacturer Martinsyde but the business ended in 1925/1926. The 1918 Kelly directory for Penge gave the listings (1) Theodore Tessier, 25 Avington Grove (2) BAT Manufacturing Co.,Kingswood Road. Theordore died in Worthing,Sussex in the 3rd qtr of 1946. There are several newspaper accounts describing the races that he competed in and there is plenty of information and photographs pertaining to BAT on the internet and in books. Shown above is a photo of a BAT twin cylinder motorcycle, like the one that Tessier rode during his races in Tunbridge Wells.

[4]  W.W. GENN……….This was WILLIAM WALMSLEY GENN, born April 20,1874 at Bidford,Devon. His father James Genn died in 1885.William had two siblings namely George Murray Genn and James Montgomery Genn. His mother was Elizabeth Genn, formerly Clark, nee Drown, who was born 1841-1843 at Falmouth,Cornwall.  Records of school admissions show that William attended in 1881 St Paul’s Bentinck Boys School; in 1883 St Pauls School at Hackney,London and in 1884 he was admitted to Morning Lane School in Hackney

The 1891 census, taken at 48 Osborne Terrace in Kensington,London gave just William and his widowed mother Mary with no occupation given for William.

The 1901 census, taken at 30-32 Kingston Road in Wimbledon,Surrey gave William W. Genn as a cycle maker and agent. He was living there as a boarder with the Alfred Middleton family who was the keeper of  a refreshment house

In January 18,1908 William married Jesssie Piggott at Murton,Surrey. The marriage records show that William was a bachelor; and an engineer of 10 Park Parade, Wimbledon and that his father was James Genn jeweller (deceased). Jessie was age 27, a spinster of Murton, the daughter of William Piggott, a brewer.

Electoral records of 1904 to 1911 listed William Walmsley Genn at 17 Church Rd in Wimbledon, and from 1913 to 1923 at Wandsworth; and from 1932 to 1945 at Chertsey,Surrey.

The 1911 census, taken at 30 Ravenswood Rd in Wandsworth, gave William as a motor engineer employer. With him was his wife Jessie and his 70 year old mother Mary Genn, widow. They were living in premises of 5 rooms and although married for three years had no children.

Probate records show that William Walmsley Genn was of 16 St Leonards Rd, Claygate,Surrey when he died November 2,1963 at Barnes Hospital Martlake,Surrey. The executor of his 1,884 pound estate was Gladys Mary Banney Harris, married woman, and his solicitor. His wife had died several years earlier.

[5] H.S. WALLIS and P.V. WALLIS………….HORATIO(Horace) SAMUEL WALLIS (1884-1963) and PERCY VALENTINE WALLIS (1885-1955) were brothers and competed in the 1909 race at the Nevill grounds in Tunbridge Wells and at many other tracts in England. They were two of six children born to grocery shop proprietor Samuel Banks Wallace, born 1856 in Cambridge,Cambridgshire, and Rebecca Wallis, born 1855 in Cambridge.

As one can see on the internet the name of Wallis in connection to field of motor cars, motor cycles and aviation is documented in many accounts and members of this clan , come from various branches of the family, with deep roots in Elly, Cambridgeshire.  F.W. Wallis who also competed in the 1909 race in Tunbridge Wells is connected to a different branch of the Wallis clan than that of Horatio and Percy Wallis.

The 1891 census, taken at 50 Mall Road in St Andrew the Less, Cambridge, Cambridgshire gave Samuel Banks Wallis as a grocer employer. With him was his wife Rebrecca ; four grocers assistants; and six of their children including Horace S Wallis a scholar and his brother Percy V Wallis, a scholar.

Moving ahead to the 1911 census gives Samuel Banks Wallis as a grocers shop proprietor at 12 St Barnabas Rd,Cambridge. With him was his wife Rebecca; one domestic servant and five of their children including Horace and Percy who were working for their father as grocers assistants.

In the 3rd qtr of 1914 Horace S. Wallis married Emily M. Barker and it appears that their only child was Kenneth Horatio Wallis (1916-2013) . A detailed obituary of Kenneth Horatio Wallis can be found on the internet outlining his distinguished career in the making of motor cycles, which he began at the age of 11 in his fathers and uncles motor cycle shop He later went on to build cars and boats and later served with the RAF. He was born April 16,1916 ‘ married Peggy Stapley, and died September 1,2013. A photo of Kenneth can be found in his obituary.

The directory of 1916 for Cambridge gave three listings (1) Horatio S Wallis, cycle agent and dealer, Lynn Rd, Ely (2) Wallis & Sons,grocers, Mill Rd etc (3) Wallis & Easton, cycle agent. The company of Wallis & Easton was not directly related to Horatio of Percy for the principals of the company were G.J. Wallis and L.H. Easton .

It was noted while researching Kenneth Horatio Wallis that his father Horatio and uncle Percy built the ‘Walbro’ monoplane hoping to enter it in the 1910 English Channel Race (won by Bleriot) in a bid to win the 1,000 pound prize but they were late by a couple of months and crashed their plane.

The Ely News of November 19,2015 ran an article about the firm of Wallis & Son of Cambridge who today operate a large business with a garage serving motor cars and motorcyles among several other business activities. The article stated that they had been in business for 80 years and that they came from a background of over 100 years when the Cambridge brothers Horace and Percy Wallis were in the motor cycle and aeroplane business.

Because there was more than one branch of the Wallis family involved with motorcyles it is somewhat difficult to separate them and for that reason I have presented here the fact that there was a motorcycle called the “Wallis” produced by this clan(by George Wallis) and I have shown opposite some images pertaining to The Wallis Motor Cycle Press Reports dated 1926 put out by Wallis Motors Ltd who had premises at Queens Mead Road in Bromley Kent. Also show here is a postcard view of Bromley, Kent dated 1903 which shows The Bromley Motor Car Company and next door to it the Bromley Cycle Works. There was a business in the 1930’s called W & E Cycle Stores who’s principals were G.J. Wallis and L.H. Easton. There is also to be found records for a G.L. Wallis & son company of 7 Lidgate, Broadway London (00483087) which was incorporated in 1950 but was dissolved in 2015 and was engaged in the manufacture of motor cyles (Ariel) and other motor related vehicles.

Probate records show that Horace Samuel Wallis was of 45a Cambridge Rd Isle of Ely when he died November 2,1963 at The Royal Air Force Hospital Isle of Ely. The executor of his 44,652 pound estate was his son Kenneth Horatio Wallis, wing commander R.A. F.

Percy Valentine Wallace, who was living with his parents and siblings at the time of the 1911 census married Evelyn Dorothy Byford in the 3rd qtr of 1912 at Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. He and his wife had five children namely (1) Geoffrey V. Wallis 1912 (2) Basis P Wallis 1913 (3) Victor H.T. Wallis 1923 (4) Stanley T.B Wallis 1916 (5) Frederick G. Wallis 1920.

Probate records gave Percy Valentine Wallis of Ranmore, Cavendish Avenue,Cambridge, died April 17,1955 at The Evelyn Nursing Home in Cambridge. The executor of his 12,801 pound estate was his widow Evelyn Dorothy Wallis and his sons Basil Percy Wallis, civil air pilot; and Geoffry Valentine Wallis, motor engineer.

[6] J. PERKINS……..This gentleman competed in the 1904 races at the Nevill Ground. He was JAMES PERKINS born 1860 at Hackney, Middlesex who in 1901 was a cycle maker.

On November 26,1885 at St Philip Stepney, London James Perkins married Ellen Hardy, a widow, nee Harris. His father was given as John Perkins(deceased) and his wife’s father was Charles Harris.

The 1891 census, taken at 196 Cromfield Road in Wanstead, Essex gave James Perkins as a cycle maker worker. With him was his wife Ellen, born 1855 at Birmingham and their two children Jessie, age 8 and Jim age 4.

The 1901 census,taken at 299 High Street in Leyton,Essex gave James Perkins as a cycle maker, With him was his wife Ellen and children George, Jessie and Jim.

Directories for Leyton,Essex for the period of 1908 to 1912 gave “ James Perkins, cycle dealer and agent, 299 High Road, Leyton,Essex”.

The 1911 census, taken at 299 High Road, Leyton,Essex gave James as a cycle engineer employer. With him was his wife Ellen. The census recorded they were living in 6 rooms; had been married 27 years and of their three children one had died.

Death records show that James Perkins died in the 4th qtr of 1929, with the death registered at West Ham, Essex.

[7] J. F.CRUNDALL………….This was JOHN FREDERICK CRUNDALL who in the above described races rode a Humber motorcycle. A phototograph of a 1904 Humber is shown opposite. Also shown is a photo of J.F. Crundall getting his machine ready for a race in 1903. Humber’s were first produced in England in 1896 but due to the depression the company ended operations in 1929. Their works were located at Coventry. In 1902 they hired C.F. Crundall and Bert Yates to run their motorcyles in competitions held around England and became an accomplished rider. Described as one of “Britains best hopes” he had an impressive career. In 1903  at Phoenix Park he finished first in Class A on his Humber . At the Crystal Palace races of 1903 and 1904 he finished first, the last race of which he went 42 miles , 1,390 yards. He won a Class 4 race in 1905 and in that same year he competed in a Humber at the Brighton Speed Trials. The London Daily news of September 26,1904 reported on a race at Ealing won by Crundall for the Humber company and he also won in 1903 on a Humber for the 2ns time in succession, the distance covered being 42 miles 1,352 yards. In May 1905  he competed against T. Tessier and others but came off his bike at the Ramsey Hairpin and broke his arm. If one looks on the internet you will find records of Crundall competing and often winning races well into the 1920’s including the I.O.M . TT races.

John was born in the 1st qtr of 1881 at Holloway, London, one of five children born to Frederick Crundall (1852-1921) and Louisa Crundall, nee Shillingfored, born 1853 at Clerkenwell. Frederick was born ad Enfield,Middlesex and died at Islington. John was baptised March 12,1882 at Holloway.

The 1891 census, taken at 52 Devonshire Road ,London listed John as a scholar, living with his parents and three siblings. His father at that time was a silver and gold embosser. The 1901 census, taken at 398 Holloway Road in Islington,London gave John as a cycle mechanic, working for his father. His father was given as a cycle manufacturer employer. Also present in the household was John’s mother and three siblings.

In the 1st qtr of 1907 John married Annie Judkins (1882-1919) as Islington. She died at Coventry, Warwickshire. John and Annie has one child, namely Eric John Crundell (1908-2001).

The 1911 census, taken at 157 Islington Road in Islington gave Frederick asa embosser and chaser of silver and gold and a manufacturing silversmith. With him was his wife Louisa and his spinster daughter Ada. The census recorded that Frederick and been married 41 years and that four of their five children were still living. The family was living in premises of 4 rooms. Also living there was Frederick’s son John who was a commercial traveller for a motor firm. His wife Annie was also there and working as a clerk for a motor firm. Their son Eric was also with them.

In the 3rd qtr of 1931 John married Marie Rebecca Britton at Stoke Newington but the couple had no children.

Probate records gave John Frederick Crundall of 131 Alexandra Park Road, Woodsgreen,Middlesex when he died February 17,1936 at Royal Northern  Hospital on Holloway Road, Middlesex.The executor of his 3,454 pound estate was his widow Marie Rebecca Crundall.

[8 THE OTHER RIDERS……….Inconclusive information for the other riders listed in the accounts of the 1904 and 1909 races prevented the reporting of anything about them.

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