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

Date: March 1,2015


“The Manor House”,which exists today, is situated on Bishops Down Road next to a large apartment building called Bishops Court at the corner of Bishops Down Road and Hurst Wood Lane, on the east side, and on the west side is next door to Manor Lodge, a lodge which appears to have formed part of the Manor House estate, and which itself is located next door to Lloyds House, another grand home dating back to 1746.

It is the opinion of  historians that “The Manor House”  dates back to about 1746 and is located on ground that formed part of the Rusthall Manor Estate. Although the name “The Manor House” would suggest that it was at one time the Manor House of the Rusthall Estate, this is not the case.

Shown here is a photo of “The Manor House” from the book by Roger Farthing entitled ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells”. The text associated with this image reads “ The Manor House on Bishops Down might be expected to be as ancient as Rushtall Manor itself, but this house was used as a lodging house rather than a manor house, and probably dates from the same late 17th century as other lodging houses”. English Heritage, who gave this home a Grade II listing in 1952, also gives the date of construction as 1746 and described it as a large 2 sty home of American Colonial style with steeply pitched tiled roof with later additions.

The home began as a single family residence,but was a lodging house for part of its existence. In 1758 the eminent physician Sir George Kelley bought the Rusthall Manor Estate for 12,000 pounds. Part of the estate included the row of homes along Bishops Down and a plot of land to the south west on Langton Road,on which Kelley built a private residence for himself in 1765, and which after his death came into possession of Major York, and which later became the Spa Hotel. George Kelly died in 1771 but was survived by his wife Dame Johanna Kelley who drew up her will in 1772 and died about 1774.

John Bowras map of 1738 shows the house and labels it as the residence of “Mr. Ben Skinner”. Shown above is an old lithograph of Bishops Down in which can be seen “The Manor House” to the right.

A first -hand account from the time of the homes occupancy by a Miss Sheppard, as given in the book ‘Family Reflections of Lieut. General Elias Walker Durnford’ published in 1868, which I give in its entirety later ,refers to a Miss Sheppard living on Bishops Down at “The Manor House” and that Mr William Wix lived next door to Miss Sheppard at “Lloyds House”. It goes on to mention that Miss Sheppard had people staying with her, suggesting that she was running a lodging house and as you will read later describes the nicely landscaped grounds of Mr Wix’s residence, and the poor flowers in Miss Sheppards garden.This account suggests that Mr Wix was late in life at the time due to his inability or difficulty walking and it is known that Mr Wix died at Lloyds house in 1849, which therefore leads one to conclude that the account dates from the 1840’s.

Details about Mr Wix the history of Lloyds House can be found in my article “The History of Lloyds House Bishops Down’ dated February 28,2015.

This home has seen many occupants, from all walks of life, during its long existence, and during that time the house has been sympathetically altered and enlarged,bringing it up to modern living standards. This article reports on the history of this home and its occupants from the 18th century up to current times


Shown opposite is a partial view of the first edition of the Ordnance Survey of 1867 that provides the location and names of the buildings on Bishops Down, including “Manor House” and a related building called “Manor Lodge” with “Lloyds House” located next door. The homes on Bishops Down were in a pleasant situation, set in lovely landscaped grounds facing the Common.

Going back in time I present below two other maps of Bishops Down showing the existence of a row of houses on this road. The first map (shown below left) is Bowra’s map of 1738 which shows the existence of the house that is the subject of this article, labelled as “Mr Ben Skinner”. The map (shown below right) is the 1808 map of T.T. Barrow, which gives less detail;names only two homes; but shows fewer homes than does the 1738 map, suggesting that  some had been taken down.

Colbrans Guide of 1843 provides the following interesting information and refers in part to “the erection of some elegant private residences and excellent lodging houses, and a row of neat lodging houses facing the common called Clarence Terrace. Bishops Down Grove, the residence of D.J. Robertson esq., was once the property of Sir George Kelley, knight, an eminent physician, from whose descendents it was purchased by Major York who resided there for upwards of 25 years. George Kelley, esq., resided at Tunbridge Wells and served the office of High Sheriff of Kent in 1767, in which year he was knighted.He died possessed of the Manor of Rusthall in 1777 leaving his three sisters his co-heiresses. The site of the original manor house of Rusthall is lost in obscurity. The residence of Miss Sheppard on Bishops Down called “The Manor House” has but little, if any, pretensions to be so considered,but there is reason to believe that a moated house once stood at the extremity of the pleasure ground of William Wix, esq., who lives at “Lloyds House”, next to Miss Sheppard’s, and which might have been the Manor House of Rusthall.The spot alluded to is at the corner of his land where it adjoins the property of D.J. Robertson, esq. On Mr Wix’s land there are still remaining what is evidently one half of the moat, the other portion of it being on corresponding land on Mr Robertsons’ property, but now dry.The area which this moat enclosed is distinctly marked. It is nearly square, and of ample dimensions for a mansion of some consequence. The width of the moat in the narrowest part is about 20 feet and in the widest part about 30 feet. The generally received opinion is that the original manor house stood upon Rusthall Common.About 50 years since, two ancient of them a stone building, were pulled down.Two of them stood on Mr Robertson’s pleasure grounds, to the right of the turnpike, where there is now an ornamental spire, and the other, some 2 or 3 hundred yards below it, on a spot nearly covered with holly. There was a square built brick house in the corner of the Common on the opposite side (in a field near the poor-house) which was pulled down a few years since, and was thought by many to have been the Manor House”.

Although the mystery about where the Rusthall Manor Mansion was located makes for interesting investigation and debate, the relevant part of Colbrans account is its reference to Miss Sheppards residence and that next door was Lloyds House being on part of the site of a former moated mansion, and so clearly there was a structure on the site dating back before 1746 when Lloyds house is believed to have been built.

English Heritage gave The Mansion House, No. 6 Bishops Down a Grade II listing on May 20,1952 and reads as follows “ 1746-C18 in American Colonial style. 2 storeys and attics fronted with tiles, at one time painted. Steeply pitched hipped tiled roof having 3 dormers with C19 gables.Eaves cornice. 3 sashes with glazing bars intact. Modern glass verandah on the ground floor in front of the house and conservatory at the north end.” The photograph I provided above of the house reflects the information in this text but makes no mention of a large single sty wing that was added to the east end of the house, that is shown on site plans I present later, and which replaced the feature at this end of the house shown on the 1867 map. This later extension was a large one sty double garage with steeply pitched roof in the style of the original house. Modern images of the house (particularly its roof details and front façade, and the garage addition) are shown in this section of the article.The house itself is set well back off the road and is situated on large and very lovely landscaped grounds, with extensive lawn area and mature shrubs and trees, complete with flower gardens. The entrance to the house is off Bishops Down Road by way of two gated entrances which form a circular drive and access to the double garage and parking area on the east side of the residence. Shown above is a 1909 OS map showing the location and outline of “The Mansion House” which I have highlighted in red. As can be seen, nothing had changed in the footprint of the house between 1867 and 1901.

The November 2000 Tunbridge Wells Area Report gave the following information about Bishops Down. “ On the north side of the common, Bishops Down is green and leafy;the common seems to permeate the grounds of the villas and mansions as lush garden planting, and woodland trees largely obsure them”.

One can see from the photo of The Manor House and of Lloyds House (taken 1965), that they shared the same design of dormers on the roof,based on the view of The Manor House  in the photo shown in the "overview". Some changes to the dormers were made later .The  modern photo shown above right  of “The Manor House “ roof and its attached garage show the change. A colour image of “The Manor House” shows its red brick exterior, tiled roof, massive brick chimneys, with its windows and trim painted white. The  photo of Lloyds House is shown above  left .

Shown opposite is a site plan that applied to a 2001 Planning Authority application for Whites House which clearly shows the location of The Manor House and Manor Lodge to the right of it. The same image of all of these houses also appears on a map of 2006 indicating that nothing had changed during that time. A comparison between these maps and that of 1867 shows that an extension had been made to the right side of The Manor House sometime after 1867. A review of Planning Authority applications from 1974 onward show that no work was done to the exterior of the building and there is no mention of any additions to the residence. So this means that the garage was added in the 20th century sometime before 1974.

In terms of Planning Authority applications there have been only six since 1974 . The 1974 application was for minor alterations, which was approved.The applicant at that time was Mr R.F. Barbour,but it

appears he was the agent rather than the owner/occupant of the building. The next application was in 1997 for work on trees. Another application for work on trees was made by Mr David Osborn, the occupant, in 1999, 2002 and 2006. In 2008 an application was made to replace the two sets of wooden gates and gate posts at the driveway entrances. This application was strongly objected to and approval was not given. Shown above are images of the gated entrances. The photo on the left is of the west gate and the one on the right is the east gate. Shown in the image on the left is also a view of “Manor Lodge” and to the left of it a partial view of “White House”, formerly known as “Lloyds House”. Documents in the planning file state that the wooden gates were not original to the house but were more in keeping with the character of the area than the modern brick posts and electric operated metal gates proposed by the applicant. Also shown later  is an aerial view of the area showing “The Manor House” with the attached garage. The photo shown opposite gives a better view of the existing gates.

Roger Farthing, in a letter to the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, in connection with Lloyds house, stated in part “ They (Lloyds House and The Manor House) formed part of George Kelley’s estate because he bought them at about the same time he built the Spa Hotel”.

Shown here is a modern photo of “Bishops Court” , which I have referred to earlier as being next door to “The Manor House”. In the last section of this article I provide images and information about “Manor Lodge” to the west of “The Manor House” as it shares in the history  of the site. It should be noted that the grounds of “The Manor House:” were more extensive than they are today and that there were two main ancillary buildings associated with the original estate, namely a gardeners cottage and a carriage house. It is the opinion of the researcher that the gardeners cottage was located next to the eastern driveway entrance and was demolished to make way for “Bishops Court” and that the carriage house became “The Manor Lodge” to the west of the main house. Further information in this regard is given in the last section of this article under the heading of “The Manor Lodge”.


Given here is a list of known occupants of The Manor House from 1746 onwards. The list is by no means complete particularly for the 18th century and most of the 20th and 21st centuries which were not investigated completely. What is given is based on a review of historical accounts, census records, probate and related records, local directories, Planning Authority files and other miscellaneous sources. Since a full set of directories by year were not available to the researcher , and since census records are by ten year intervals , it is to be expected there some “short term” occupants have been missed.

Details about the ownership of the Rusthall Estate can be found online and in other sources, which I do not provide here, but the person from whom Sir George Kelly purchased the estate, was John O’Connor who had obtained the estate on the death of Maurice Conyer in 1740/1. It is stated by others that John O’Connor decided to dispose of it due to it being in bad repair and did so in 1758 to George Kelley (later Sir George Kelley), whose descendants have held it ever since. Shown above is an aerial view of The Manor House, not a very clear image, but at least it gives a view of the site not available elsewhere. A better colour image can be found on the internet which I was unable to copy and present here.

1738…………………….Ben Skinner (occupant) owned by Maurice Conyer up to time of his death 1740/1

1740-1758……………John  O’Connor (owner of Rusthall Manor estate)

1758-1771…………… Sir George Kelly (owner)

1800-1822…………….Mrs Anne Shorey (as “The Great House”, became “The Manor House” in 1822.

1840-1849……………Miss Sheppard (given also as Mrs Shephard)

1851…………………….. Amelia Kell

1861…………………… George Hitchcock

1867-1878…………....Leonard (Leo) Currie

1881……………………...Richard Bradshaw

1891……………………. John George Bone

1901……………………..Frederick Lendron

1913-1959……………John Westall Pearson

1999-2008……………Mr David Osborne


From an article about the Rusthall Manor is the following “. In addition to the manor, George Kelley also acquired the strip of land with houses now known as Bishops Down: this included the property now called the Manor House, although it was never used as such. In 1765, having acquired his knighthood and the position of Sheriff, he pulled down what is presumed to have been his old residence and replaced it by the more grandiose Bishops Down Grove.On Sir George's death in 1771 the manor and the property at Bishops Down passed to his three sisters, Hannah Tanner, Martha Spragg and Anne Shorey. None of them chose to occupy Bishops Down Grove and it was sold to Major Yorke in the following year. Hannah died in 1780 and after the other two sisters' death in1796 the estate was inherited by Anne's daughter Elizabeth Shorey, who though unmarried was known as Mrs Shorey according to the convention of the period. She lived in a house on Bishops Down no longer surviving and is best known for building the Bath House behind the chalybeate spring at the Pantiles in 1804.”

The website of the Tunbridge Wells Common Tours gives “MANOR HOUSE -- Not a true manor house, but a late seventeenth century lodging house acquired along with other property at Bishops Down by George Kelley at the time when he purchased the Manor of Rusthall. In lodging house lists of around 1800 it appears as Mrs Shorey's Great House, after the then Lady of the Manor. The present name dates from c.1822.”

Bowras Map of 1808 provides both a map and index to lodging houses in the town. On Bishops down the following lodging houses are given (1) White House (2)Little Grove House (3) Mr Chapman (4) Mrs Shorey’s –Great House (5) Mrs Shorey’s –Lower House.

Cliffords 1822 guide gave a list of lodging houses,with the following ones in possession of Mrs Shorley (1) Chili Cottage (3 siting rooms;five best beds, four servants ) (2) Manor House (3 sitting rooms; five best beds; seven servants) (3) Jessamine Cottage (2 sitting rooms; three best beds; two servants) (4) Grove Cottage (2 sitting rooms; three best beds; three servants) (5) Ashburnham House (two sitting rooms; five best beds; five servants).

Colbrans 1850 Guide gave a J. Robinson,esq., at Jessamine Cottage,Bishops Down, that in 1922 was in possession of Mrs Shorley.


The following first -hand account ,making reference to Bishops Down, a Miss Sheppard, Liet General Elias Walker Durnford  and William Wix comes from a book published in 1868 entitled ‘Family Recollections of Liet. General Elias Walher Durnford’, from which I give but a small part of the publication . “Miss Sheppard had the Manor House on Bishops’ Down, Tunbridge Wells. It was a lovely spot, always in perfect order, though the flowers were not in first-rate style. Its mistress was a city lady, born, as she said, within the sound of “ Bow Bells.” She was rich and High Church,very active, very charitable, and indefatigable in every good work. She gave a handsome font to Trinity Church. Papa took Archdeacon Bridge to call on her, and she gave him £10 for the cathedral at New-foundland. A lady artist, a miniature painter, whose drawings were exhibited at the Royal Academy, often resided with her, this lady lent me several of her pictures to copy. She was a most religious and amiable character; on my expressing a fear that I might injure the drawings, “ Do not distress yourself,” she said, “ if you were to spill a glass of water over one of them, I should only say, ‘ such is life.’Mr. William Wix, the old bachelor city beau, possessed the scat adjoining Miss Sheppard’s. The turf in front of his house was smooth as velvet; a fine elm tree rose up on one side from a little mound, and at its foot in the early spring, tufts of snow-drops, crocuses, and polyan-thuses were the first to attract our eyes. Mr. Wix was brother to the rector of St. Bartholomew’s, who was so anxious to bring about a union with the Roman Catholics, and both brothers were considered very High Church. Mr. Wix was kind, friendly and hospitable. He often told the history of his being, in his youth, one of the city volunteers, in which troop every private possessed £500 a year; it was in 1802, when Bona-parte threatened England with invasion, that this corps was raised, and of his having an opportunity of rendering a service to a gentleman in  Italy, who in return begged leave to order rooms for Mr. Wix at a hotel in Rome, and turned out to be the Duke of Gordon. He used to say, that it was through his exertions an English Chapel was allowed at Rome. When Mr. Wix was no longer able to walk, he used to stop in his brougham at the gate of Clarence Villa, and beg papa or mama to go out and talk to him. He always called papa his general, taking pleasure in saluting him in the military style ; he once told me he was going to town, and required a furlough from papa, asking if that was the proper term, when I said, he should have asked for leave of absence, the term furlough being only used by the soldier. He bequeathed his gold- headed cane to his general.”

The 1840 Pigots directory gave the listing “ Mrs Shephard”, Manor House,Bishops Down. Despite the difference in marital status and the spelling of the surname these two women are one and the same. William Wix at Lloyds House is given in the same directory.

Colbrans 1843 Guide, which I gave earlier, also refers to a Miss Sheppard at “The Manor House”.

Colbrans 1850 guide gave “Miss Shephard, Manor House, Bishops Down”.

Herbert Fry’s Royal Guide to the London Charities dated 1917 referred to “homes funded by Miss Sheppard in 1855”.


Amelia is listed at “The Manor House” in the 1851 census. Her name appears more like “Bell” then “Kell” in the listing but was transcribed as Kell. She was a schoolmistress born 1835 in Tunbridge Wells. With her was her single sister Catherine, born 1830 Tunbridge Wells who was a governess. Also in the home was three scholars; five boarders, and two servants. In the same census was a listing for “Manor House Cottage” in which was the gardener and his wife and son, and at “Manor Lodge” was Anna M. Scott, gentlewoman, a visitor born 1807 London along with another visitor and five servants. Obviously at this time Manor Lodge was associated with “The Manor House” as was the “Manor House Cottage”. There is no mention in this census of a coachmans cottage.


George is found at “The Manor House” in the 1861 census. He was born 1805 at Southmalton,Devon and was a merchant. With him was his wife Elizabeth, born 1815 in Plymouth,Devon. Also present was his 27 year old son George, a clergyman; seven more of his children, and six servants. Also in this census were listings for (1) Manor Lodge  with a civil servant and wife and three servants(2) Coachmans Cottage with a coachman and his wife and son(3) Gardeners Cottage with a gardener and his wife.

George Hitchcock was born December 26,1804 at South Molton,Devon, one of seven children born to George Hitchcock (1781-1818) and Ann Verney (1781-1847).

His first marriage was to Anne Nancy Maunder (1815-183) with whom he had five children between 1831 and 1836. Their marriage had taken place at Exeter,Devon, September 15,1831.

His second marriage was to Elizabeth Mary Armstrong (1815-1896) with whom he had seven children between 1842 and 1858. Elizabeth had been born at Plymouth,Devon, and died march 5,1896 at Hyde Park,Middlesex. Their marriage had taken place at Weston Super Mare,Somerset on August 31,1840.

The 1841 census was taken at Lambeth,Surrey.At that time he was a warehouseman and with him was his wife Elizabeth and five children. As noted above ,at the time of the 1861 census he was living at The Manor House in Bishosp Down.

George died 1863 in Middlesex. His probate record gave him late of St Paul’s Churchyard,London and of Norfolk Crescent in Hyde Park, a silk mercer, who died with an estate valued at under 60,000 pounds on Septbner 22,1863 at 22 Norfolk Crescent. The executor of his estate was his wife Elizabeth.


As noted in the list Leonard (Leo) Currie was an occupant of “The Manor House”. Given below is a detailed account of the Currie family provided by another researcher.

“CURRIE, John (1797-1873), of Essendon, nr. Hatfield, Herts. and 14 Hill Street, Berkeley Square, Mdx.Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009.

Family and Education..........b. 28 May 1797, o.s. of John Currie of Bromley, Mdx. and Essendon and Isabella, da. of Robert Parnther, merchant, of 47 Bedford Square and Bird’s Place, Essendon. educ. ?Trinity Coll. Camb. 1814. m. 1 Jan. 1823, Elizabeth, da. of N. Pattison, 7s. 3da. suc. fa. 1829. d. 19 May 1873.Currie was descended from a branch of a Scottish family which had settled at Dunse in Berwickshire by the early seventeenth century. William Currie (1653-1728) migrated to Berwick-upon-Tweed. His grandson William Currie (1720-81) became a banker at 29 Cornhill, London, married Magdalen Lefevre, the daughter of one of his associates, and with her had six sons. The eldest, William Currie (1756-1829), succeeded to his partnership in the bank (Lefevre, Curries, Yallowby and Raikes, later Curries, Raikes and Company), bought Surrey property at East Horsley and Gatton, and was Member for the latter borough, 1790-1796, and for Winchelsea, 1796-1802. His next brother Mark Currie (1759-1835) was in business as a distiller at Duke Street, Bloomsbury by 1791. His firm had moved to nearby Vine Street by 1822, and after his death was carried on by E. and C. Tanqueray and Company. John Currie, the fourth son of the banker, and father of this Member, was born in 1762. He too became a distiller, with premises at Bromley, on the eastern fringes of London: they were on the east bank of the River Lea, in an area, known as Three Mills, where the main activity was the processing of corn brought by river from Hertfordshire. John Currie appears to have been in partnership with his younger brother Leonard Currie (1772-1844) and one Waymouth.1 He acquired property between Hatfield and Hertford and had a London house at 17 Bedford Square until the early 1820s, when he took possession of one in Hill Street, Berkeley Square. His wife, the daughter of a fellow merchant and county neighbour, died, ‘aged 27’, 2 Jan. 1802, after bearing him a son and namesake and two daughters, Isabella and Catherine.2 If this John Currie was the youth who entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1814, he did not take a degree. He became a partner in the Bromley distillery, and applied himself diligently to the procreation of a large family. On his father’s death, 29 Mar. 1829, when he seems to have been living at Gatton, he received £2,000 for his immediate use and the residue, which was taxed at £21,740, of personal estate sworn under £60,000. He succeeded to the leading interest in the distillery, which became known as John Currie and Company. His uncle Leonard continued as a partner.

At the general election of 1831 Currie stood for Hertford as a supporter of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, professing ‘an ardent desire to be instrumental in carrying into law, a measure so strongly based on equity and justice’. He was anonymously attacked as ‘a reformer of a day’s growth’, who had ‘sprung up like a blade of corn upon his own steeping vat’, and who had never previously taken any part in local politics. It was suggested by his opponents that he had offered the debt-ridden reforming sitting Member, Thomas Duncombe, a better financial deal than the more authentic local reformer who stood down after being first in the field. Lord Grey was interested in his success and sought support for him. He and Duncombe ousted the nominee of the marquess of Salisbury, who was accustomed to return one Member for the borough.

Currie voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831, and was a steady supporter of its details, though he was in minorities for the disfranchisement of Saltash, 26 July, and (on Duncombe’s motion) of Aldborough, 14 Sept. He divided for the third reading, 19 Sept., and passage, 21 Sept., of the bill, and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. He sent apologies for his absence from the Hertford meeting to petition the Lords to pass the reform bill, 27 Sept., when he was detained at Dover;5 but he was in the House to vote for Lord Ebrington’s motion of confidence in the ministry, 10 Oct. He voted in the minority to postpone the issue of the Dublin writ, 8 Aug. On 11 Aug. he supported Duncombe’s call for information on the case of a man who had allegedly been kept in Hertford gaol for several days after being granted a reprieve. When Duncombe presented the petition of 35 Hertford electors complaining of their eviction by Salisbury for their votes at the last election, 21 Sept., Currie condemned the marquess’s ‘tyrannical, inhuman and oppressive’ conduct and denied an accusation that he had personally promised to pay the rent of those who voted for him. He was appointed to select committees on the use of molasses in distilleries, 30 June, and the effects of a malt drawback on spirits, 5 Sept. 1831. He voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and was again a reliable supporter of its detailed provisions. He denied allegations that there had been a reaction against reform in Hertford, 10 Feb. 1832, when he expressed misgivings about the nomination of revising barristers under the bill being vested in assize judges; he would have preferred the home secretary. He voted for the third reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar. He voted with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., and against inquiry into military punishments, 16 Feb. He divided for the motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May. At a social meeting of Hertford reformers, 16 May, he reaffirmed his attachment to the cause and proclaimed that ‘the time was fast approaching when the death blow would be given to the boroughmongering faction generally, by the adoption of the great measure of reform’.6 The same day he was admitted to Brooks’s. His only other known votes were with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12, 20 July 1832. By then he had made it known that he would not be seeking re-election for Hertford, where Salisbury was ostentatiously preparing to put up two candidates. At the borough’s reform festival, 4 July, he gave as his reason for retirement his refusal to resort to ‘disgracefully extensive bribery’ in order to retain the seat.7 In the House, 6 Aug. 1832, when Duncombe tried to add a clause to the bribery at elections bill to outlaw interference by peers, Currie accused Salisbury of perpetrating direct and indirect bribery at Hertford, and drew from Lord John Russell a general condemnation of the practice.

After prevaricating for several days, Currie accepted a requisition to stand for Hertford as a second Liberal at the general election of 1837, but he finished in third place, nine votes behind Salisbury’s nominee. His defeat was blamed on his own indecision and a lack of co-operation by the supporters of the successful Liberal, who had plenty of votes to spare89 Little is known of the remainder of his life. He died at 19 Queen’s Square, Bath in May 1873. By his will, dated 12 Nov. 1872 from the Union Club, Trafalgar Square, he confirmed the terms of his marriage settlement (though there are indications that he had separated from his wife), and devised all his real estate and the residue of his personal estate to his second son, Michael Parnther Currie. He wished his money invested in the distillery at the time of his death to remain there until the expiration of the current partnership, and directed that, like himself, Michael should receive interest on it at five per cent. By the turn of the century the distillery was owned by J.W. Nicholson and Company.”

Returning now to my own research w.r.t. “The Manor House”. Leo or Leonard Currie are listed in the 1867 and 1874 Kelly directories at “The Manor House”. Leonard was born 1800 at Bromley Middlesex, as recorded in the 1871 census taken at Manor House,Bishops Down. He is given as a widow with no occupation. With him was his widowed daughter Frances G.H. Gull,born in Bromley 1834.also present were six servants.

The 1841 census, taken at Oakley House at Marcham,Berkshire recorded Leonard and his wife Caroline and three of his children living with Leonards parents Edward and Margaret Currie.

The 1851 census, taken at 7 Clarendon Place in Paddington London gave Leonard as a corn distiller. With him was his wife Caroline; three of his children, and several servants. The 1861 census was taken at the same place and living with Leonard was two of his daughters and six servants. He was again given as a corn distiller.

Probate records gave Leonard Currie, esq, late of Tunbridge Wells (The Manor House) who died December 2,1878 at Tunbridge Wells (probably at The Manor House). The executors of his under 75,000 pound estate was Sir Edmund Henry Currie, brother, of Bromley, Middlesex.


Richard is found at “The Manor House” in the 1881 census where he was given as a solicitor born 1833 in Hackney,London. Living with him was just four servants.Next door to this house was “The Beeches” which you will find referred to in the information for John George Bone, suggesting that the Beeches was not “The Manor House”,but the 1891 census only gave listings for (1) Manor House gardenrs cottage (2) Manor Grange (3) The Beeches Manor House (4) Manor Lodge. No listing for simply “ The Manor House” was given.

Richard was born June 26,1832 at Hackney,Middlesex, one of seven children born to William Bradshaw, born 1808 at Spitalfields,London who in 1857 had the occupation of “conveyancer”. Richards mother was Mary Ann (maiden name unknown) born 1805 in St Georges, London. Richard had been baptised August 10,1932 at South Hackmey St John of Jerusalen. His father was given as a gentleman of Well Street.

At the time of the 1851 census, taken at Upper Homerton,Hackney John was working as an articled clerk.

On September 24,1857 he married Elizabeth Lesesne Kongstone Butler, born March 17,1836 at Finsbury,Surrey. She was one of seven children born to Charles Salisbury Butler,born 1812, and Elixabeth Butler, born 1812. She had been baptised April 27,1836 at St Bothoph without Bishopsgate,London. Her father was a solicitor of Finsbury Square, London. At the time of the 1861 census, Elizabeth was living  with her parents. She is seldom found in census records with her husband.

The 1861 census, taken at Stamford Villa at Stamford Hill in Hackney London gave Richard as a solicitor. Richard and his wife had four children between 1858 and 1861, all of whom were born in Clapton,Hackey,Middlesex. The 1871 census, taken at Clapton Road, Hackney,London gave Richard as a solicitor

The 1881 census taken at The Manor House,Bishops Down,Tunbridge Wells gave Richard as a solicitor. Living with him was just four servants. The 1883 Kelly directory listed him at Clapton High Road.London. The 1901 Kelly directory gave him as a solicitor at 228 Evering Road in Hackney. What became of him after this date was not established but it is likely he is the same Richard Bradshaw that died in the 1st qtr of 1904 at Lambeth,London.


This gentleman is found at “The Beeches Manor House”  in the 1891 census. He was born 1819 at Holloway,Middlesex. Living with him was his two sons George Arthur Bone,age 32, a stockbroker,  and Lewis Charles Bone ,age 26, a stockbroker, and a daughter Mary Bone,age 10.Also present were two grandsons and five servants. In the same census there was also listed a gardener and his family at “Manor House Gardeners Cottage” and nearby were listings for “Manor Lodge” and “Manor Grange”.

John George Bone was born 1819 at Holloway,Middlesex,the son of John and Sarah Peters Bone. He was baptised at Islington St Mary November 9,1818.

The 1841 census, taken at St Mary Islington East on Holloway Road recorded John living with his parents and two siblings. His father John Bone was born 1776 and his mother Sarah in 1794. A court case w.r.t John Gord, accused of theft, recorded John George Bone as a witness who testified about what he knew and stated that his father was a stock broker conducting business from premises at No. 5 Bank Chambers, and that John had put some money in an envelope containing stock certificates and that someone (the accused) had interfered with the contents of the envelope and money had gone.

An early account about this family is given w.r.t. a property called Parklands. It states that it had been owned by John Bone who married Sarah Peters Price, William Peters niece, about 1818; that John had lived at Holloway and that one of his sons was John George Bone, born 1819. John Bone senior was a stockbroker as was his son John George Bone. John Bone senior died sometime before 1848 and upon his death Parklands passed to his widow and on her death in 1871 it passed to her two sons John George and Henry.On the death of John George Bone in 1897 Parklands passed to his children.

On October 3,1846 John married Elizabeth Whittenbury (1829-1886) and with her had seven children between 1848 and 1869.

A directory of 1860 gave John George Bone as a stockbroker with offices at 5 Bank Chambers in London. The Observer of August 10,1856 gave him with the same occupation.

The 1871 census, taken at Kingston,Surrey gave John as a stockbroker. With him was his wife Elizabeth ; his seven children, and 9 servants.

The 1881 census, taken at Kingston on Thames,Surrey gave John as a stockbroker.With him was his wife and his two sons (both stockbrokers) and five servants.

The 1891 census, I have given above recorded him living in Tunbridge Wells at “the Beeches Manor House”. Probate records gave John George Bone of 7 Calverley Park Tunbridge Wells when he died May 12,1897. The executor of his 8,112 pound estate were George Arthur Bone, stock and share broker, and Henry Peters Bone, gentleman, and Lewis Charles Bone,stock broker.


Frederick is found at ‘The Manor House’ in the 1901 census as born 1834 in London. He was given as a retired accountant and living with him was one visitor and four servants. An 1881 tax record for him had him at No. 11 Kilbrook Villa at Shooters Hill Road in London.


 John is listed in directories from 1913 all the way to 1938 at “The Manor House. Bishops Down”, but probate records show that he lived there all the way to 1959 when he and his wife both died at this residence. John was born in the 1st qtr of 1873 at Gainsborough, Lincolshire, one of eight children born to Isaac Pearson (1841-1907) and Ellen Pearson ,born 1845 at Gravesend,Kent. Isaac had been born at Tickhill,Yorkhisre and had married Ellen in 1870. He was living in Scotland at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census and in London in the 1901 census. In 1901 he was the managing director of a British Solk Mill. He died May 15,1907 in Middlesex.

At the time of the 1881 census at 18 Westbourne Gardens in Scotland John was living with his parents and six siblings and four servants. In 1901 John married Agnes Alice Erskine(maiden name unknown) who had been born 1878 at Hill Glasgow,Scotland and died Feburary 17,1959 in Tunbridge Wells. John and his wife had two daughters.

In 1901 John and his wife were living in Govan,Lanarkshire,Scotland with his wife and two servants. The 1911 census, taken at 7 Wadham Gardens, in Hampstead,London gave John as a managing director of an unspecified company. With him was his wife Agnes and daither Dorothy; one visitor and five servants. The home was of 13 rooms and the census recorded that they had been married 10 years and had two children that were both still living.

Probate records gave Agnes Alice Erskine Pearson of Manor House, Bishops Down,Tunbridge Wells, died February 17,1959. The executos of her 16,151 pound estate were Matilda Agnes Alice Corbet, married woman, daughter, and Dorothy Marion Westall Pearson,spinster.

Probate records for John Westall Pearson gave him of Manor House,Bishops Down, and that he died April 17,1959. The executors of his estate were the same as those of his wife.


As noted in the previous sections, “The Manor Lodge” was in the 20th century situated on a rather narrow piece of land between “The Manor House” on the right and “The White House”/”Lloyds House” on the left. As can be seen from the maps presented, the building was constructed right up against its west property line, in a position closer to the road than either of its neighbours. Shown in this section are two modern views of this house. The colour version of the same photos show the building with a tile roof and grey-toned stucco exterior. The building is old in appearance and features two bay windows on the main floor front elevation and on the second floor front elevation are three two pane wooden windows. The windows and the architectural feature above the second sty windows are painted white. In a photo given earlier showing the west driveway entrance to “The Manor House” can be seen a 20th century detached garage to the east of The Manor Lodge, which is also shown on the maps I presented above. The grounds of the house appear nicely landscaped but the exterior appearance of the home is rather neglected.

The 1851 census, recorded at Manor Lodge the presence of Anna M. Scott as a visitor, gentlewoman, age 44, born 1807 in London. With her is one other visitor and five servants. See the complete census report under the section “The Manor House”

The 1861 census recorded at Manor Lodge a Starr Douglas, born 1828 in Ireland who’s occupation was given as “late civil service Mauritious”. With him was his wife Janet M. born 1830 at Leeds,Yorkshire and three servants.

The 1871 census, taken at Manor Lodge recorded Jane Cartwright as the occupant with four servants She as an annuitant,born 1835 at Liphoofn,Hampshire.

The 1874 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Mrs Cartwright, Manor Lodge, Bishops Down”.

The 1881 census, taken at Manor Lodge gave Martha Suton, born 1852 Reading Berkshire as a coachmans wife.With her was her son Thomas,age 14. This listing provides proof that Manor Lodge was the carriage house for “The Manor House” and that her husband was the estates coachman.

The 1882 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Ebenezer Howard, Manor Lodge, Bishops Down”.

The 1891 census gave the occupant as Frederick Waham, born 1835 at Ightham,Kent , living on own means with two servants, who is obviously the same person as the Frederick W. Ever’s given in the 1901 census and the Frederick Wooham Elen given in the 1911 census. The 1891 census also gave a listing for “Manor House Garden Cottage” occupied by James Quelch, a gardener, born 1854 in Surrey and his wife Anne. The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Frederick Waltham Elers, J.P., Manor Lodge, Bishops Down”.

The 1901 census recorded Frederick W. Evers as the occupant and living on own means with just two servants. He was born 1834 at Ightham,Kent. The 1911 census gave ,Frederick Wooham Elen (Evers?) The Manor House,which was described as being an eleven room home. He was given as born 1837 at Ightam,Kent and living there with him was just two servants.Also listed in the same vicinity was a “Manor House Garage” in which was a chauffeur and at “Manor House Cottage” was the estates gardener. The 1913 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Frederick Wadham Elers, J.P. Manor Lodge, Bishops Down”.

The 1938 directory listed “ Mrs Constance Napier, Manor Lodge, Bishops Down”.



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

Date; February 24,2015


Cycle-making became concentrated in Birmingham, Coventry and Nottingham, where mass-production techniques had already been applied to the manufacture of textile and sewing machines, clocks, watches and handguns. Wolverhampton also became a cycle manufacturing centre, and others across England got into the business on some scale. Output soared and, at the outbreak of the First World War, Britain was a world leader in cycle exports. Many of the cycle companies also went on to become noted motor-vehicle manufacturers.By 1900 Birmingham had the largest number of bicycle and bicycle accessory firms in the UK. Unfortunately every manufacturer who could work steel tube had tried to get into the market, either making bicycles or bicycle accessories, or both. Too many bicycle companies coupled with the new public interest in motorised transport spelt bankruptcy or a change in direction for many.

The Raleigh Bicycle Company is a bicycle manufacturer originally based in Nottingham, UK. Founded by Woodhead and Angois in 1885, who used Raleigh as their brand name, it is one of the oldest bicycle companies in the world. It became The Raleigh Cycle Company in December 1888, which was registered as a limited liability company in January 1889. From 1921 to 1935 Raleigh also produced motorcycles and three-wheel cars, leading to the formation of the Reliant Company.

From about 1820 onwards came three and four wheel cycles. The first mechanically propelled 2-wheel vehicle is believed by some to have been built by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Scottish blacksmith, in 1839. The first really popular and commercially successful design was a French invention and the term bicycle was coined in France in the 1860s.In the 1870’s came the penny-farthing(shown opposite left) or ordinary bicycle with its large front wheel and small wheel at the back. The advent of the safety bicycle in the 1880’s was arguably the most important change in the history of the bicycle. It shifted their use and public perception from being a dangerous toy for sporting young men to being an everyday transport tool for men—and, crucially, women—of all ages. Throughout the years leading up to WW I hundreds, if not thousands of cycle making shops sprang up all over England and Tunbridge Wells had its fair share of them, although the town did not come close to being a manufacturing centre for bicycles or motorbikes. They were mainly small one man run shops with, in some cases, one or more assistants, and some busineses, such as that of the Criterion Cycle & Photographic Company, on Monson Road in the 1890’s and early 1990’s, diversified into making/selling more than bicyles to keep the business going.

Motorbike  history begins in the second half of the 19th century. They are descended from the "safety bicycle," a bicycle with front and rear wheels of the same size and a pedal crank mechanism to drive the rear wheel.] Despite some early landmarks in its development, motorbikes lack a rigid pedigree that can be traced back to a single idea or machine. Instead, the idea seems to have occurred to numerous engineers and inventors around Europe at around the same time.Many of those who described themselves as cycle makers in directories of the 19th century were bicycle makers and motorized cycle makers, or one or the other. The earliest forms of the motor bike were crude afffairs which essentially were nothing more than bicycles with a small motor. It was not until the early 20th century that purpose built motorbikes/motorcycles came into being, separating themselves in style and function form the pedal powered bicycle.

The impact of the bicycle on female emancipation should not be underestimated. The “safety bicycle “ gave women unprecedented mobility, contributing to their larger participation in the lives of Western nations. As bicycles became safer and cheaper, more women had access to the personal freedom they embodied, and so the bicycle came to symbolise the New Woman of the late nineteenth century, especially in Britain and the United States. Feminists and suffragists recognised its transformative power. Susan B. Anthony said, "Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.". Shown above left is a postcard view of Pembury Road in which can be seen two girls on bicycles.

Cycling steadily became more important in Europe over the first half of the twentieth century.with  bicycle racing, commuting, and "cyclotouring" being all popular activities. In addition, specialist bicycles for children appeared before 1916. Bicycles continued to evolve to suit the varied needs of riders. The 21st century has seen a continued application of technology to bicycles: in designing them, building them, and using them.They have become lighter, faster and more comfortable to ride.


The manufacture of cycles of all types in Tunbridge Wells did not take off in a big way until the late 19th century. The 1882 Kelly directory for Kent listed eleven companies in the county that were in the business of making bicycles, but there were none from Tunbridge Wells. In the 1890’s the making of bicycles in Kent became an important part of the county’s growing economy, as did the manufacture of motorbikes.

The 1899 Kelly directory for Tunbridge Wells listed seven businesses namely (1) Edwin Powell, bicycle maker, 12 Grove Hill Road (2) Charles A Cole, cycle maker, 32 Crescent Road (3) Criterion Cycle Co., Garden Street (4) Herbert Ernest Hall, cycle maker, 27 Ye Pantiles (5) Walter Herbert Johnson, cycle maker, 5 Beltring Road (6) Frederick “Kendel”, cycle maker, 31 Albion Road (7)Charles Timberlake, bicycle maker, 41 High Street.  By this time the transformation of the pedal bicycle into a motorized cycle had begun, as illustrated by the motorized tricycle ridden by David Solomon at the 1895 Tunbridge Wells motor show , an image of which is given opposite. The tandom bicycle also became popular as demonstrated by the photo opposite of two men riding one in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1903 Kelly directory gave the following list of companys in the cycle trade. (1) William John Davey, cycle maker, 100 Calverley Road (2) Sydney Ganney, cycle maker, 33 Grosvenor Road (3) Frederick Rendell, cycle maker, 39 Albion Road (4) Charles Timberlake, bicycle maker, 41 High Street (5) George Ernest Tonbridge, cycle manufacturer, 21 Vale Road (6) Criterion Cycle & Photographic Co. (Albert R. Wickens, proprietor), manufacturers of high grade cycles; engineers and machinists.; cameras and photographic accessories kept in stock, 24 Monson Road.

The book ‘Tunbridge Wells in 1909 by Chris Jones/The Civic Society gave the following: May 31,1909 was Whit Monday. There was beautiful weather for Sports Day at the Nevill Ground organized by the St John’s Cycle, Motor and Athletic Club. There were gymnastic sidplays, and walking, running and cycling races. The most exciting events though, were the two motor cycle races. The racing was eventful, with falls, and belts slipping off, and delayed riders making up many lapsto eventually win. Motor cycling was popular at St Johns. One of the members there represented the Rex motor cycle(photo above) manufacturer in hill climbs in the Midlands. The previous year A.J. Sproston (photo opposite left) of the Invicta Motor Co entered the London to Edinburgh rally-4oo miles, which had to be completed in 22 hours (ie 18mph). “ Shown opposite is a photo from this book with the caption “ C.E. Bennett (with the cycle),winner of the 5 mile race at the Nevill on Whit Monday.W. Hodgkinson,in the stripes, came third”. I recently written an article about the Sproston family, which contains a great deal of information about the life and racing career of A.J. Sproston.

By 1913 the age of the automobile had arrived and a review of the 1913 Kelly directory shows a significant downturn in the number of cycle makers with a corresponding increase in business engaged in the motor car trade. The 1913 Kelly directory gave the following list of businesses in the cycle trade. (1) Robert Henry Ashplant, cycle engineer, 106 Camden Road (2) Thomas James Neale, cycle maker 10 Monson Road (3) Philpot & Sons, cycle agents, 9 St John’s Road  (4) George Ernest Tunbridge, cycle manufacturer, 2 Vale Road.. The same directory gave a listing for former cycle maker Edwin Powell who was now an electric light engineer. Of those listed in the 1913 directory as cycle makers, most of them were actually making motor cycles and not pedal bicycles, as motorcycles had become increasingly popular. Both bicycles and motor cyles were used extensively during the war by such military groups as the local Kent Cyclist Battallion, whos drill hall was on Victoria Road. Shown on the right  is a photo of J. Fermer’s  bike repair premises on Cambrian Road in High Brooms  in 1920.

Although the making of bicycles locally had wained, this was not an indication of a downturn in the popularity and utility of the bicycle. Apart from its use for pleasure and travelling to and fro for work or shipping, the bicycle was still in use by the police constable and the mailman. As time passed the manufacture of cycles of all types became more concentrated in the large centres and the variety of brands made declined, much as it did in the motorcar industry.

Cycling clubs became popular, such as the Southborough Cycling Club for which a photo is given opposite dated 1922 ,and in Tunbridge Wells there was a club called the Tunbridge Wells Albion Club, still active in the 1930’s. The Tunbridge Wells Motor Cycle Club was also formed in 1911 and still operates today as one of the oldest in the country.

Today in Tunbridge Wells there are about five bike shops , among them are (1) World Wide, 77-83 Camden Road (2) The Velo House, 5 St John’s Road (3) Velocipede Cycles, 122-124 Camden Park (4)Cycles UK, 96-99 Mount Pleasant Road.

When the days of the usefulness of a bicycle as a mode of transportation have come to an end, local residents find novel ways to make use of them. Last year for example one of the local shops won a prize in the Tunbridge Wells in Bloom competition with his display of a bicycle on the roof of his shop on which was growing some beautiful flowers. Bicycles or bicycle parts have sometimes, in the world of modern art, found their way into pieces of sculpture.

The Bicycle Bakery (photo opposite) is a  fairly new bakery-come-café in town and is really sweet, hidden up the far end of Camden Road at No. 120, the small interior is covered in pictures of bicycles, the cherry on top being a full size ‘Hercules’ bike in the window, complete with basket.  The bakery makes all its own bread and cakes (of course) and the friendly staff are smiling and laughing as they bake in the kitchen, which is visible from the tables. The bakery also sells a wide range of hot and cold drinks (including a Strawberry Cream Tea which sounds amazing!) Though small, this quirky café has a lot of personality and an extremely talented baker or two make it perfect. Cyclists often stop in for a break.

Although there are lots of places to cycle in the town it is against the bye-laws to ride bicycles on the Commons because of the danger to other Commons users.  The exception to this is the restricted byway running from Cabbage Stalk Lane to Major Yorks Road, on which cycling is permitted.  This byway has recently become part of the National Cycle Network.

Although I have just touched on the history of the bicycle in the town, I have included some interesting local photographs and postcard views of Tunbridge Well to add some interest to the narrative.


In this section I  provide a thumbnail sketch of the various cycle businesses I listed above from the directories.

1)      EDWIN POWELL………. A detailed account of him and his business can be found in my article ‘Edwin Powell-From Bicycles to Motor Cars’ dated August 18,2013. Edwin Powell(1856-1951) was a rather industrious chap who in the 19th century,began his career as a gunsmith and  then a bicycle maker/seller. At the turn of the century he became one of the first in Tunbridge Wells to enter the motor car industry and when he left motor cars he finally presented himself as an electrical engineer/contractor.He had been born in Tunbridge Wells, and apart from a short departure from Tunbridge Wells in the early 1880’s, lived and worked the rest of his life in Tunbridge Wells,becoming well known in the community. He had opened his bike shop in the 1880’s at 12 Grove Hill Road. A photo of his shop front is shown opposite at the tiome he occupied both 10 and 12 Grove Hill Road. In 1891 he was described in the census as a cycle maker and electrical engineer, who was employing assistants in his business.He promoted himself as an electrical motor and cycle engineer carrying all the leading makes of cycles, with “25 years of experience in electric lighting and specializing in motor repairs and the provision of accessories with premises at 10 and 12 Grove Hill Road. By 1900 he was making motor cars.The shop front photo mentioned that he was selling Singer Cycles, Swift Cycles and Rover Cycles .In 1909 Edwin moved his shop premises from Grove Hill Road to new premises on the High Street. The 1913 Kelly directory records  “Edwin Powell, electric light engineer, 41 High Street.Edwin died in Tunbridge Wells January 17,1951.

2)      CRITERION CYCLE CO   ......A listing for this business by this name is given in the 1899 Kelly directory but the 1903 directory gave it as “Criterion Cycle & Photographic Co. (Albert R. Wichens, proprietor) which continued by stating the business was “a manufacturer of high grade cycles; engineers and machinists, cameras and photographic accessories, kept in stock, 24 Monson Road”. It certainly struck me as odd that a shop would combine  cycles with photography but in researching Mr Albert Robert Wickens, its proprietor, it all became clear. Albert was born 1854 in Tunbridge Wells, one of four children born to farmer Joseph Wickens and Mary Ann Wickens, nee Skinner. In 1871 Albert was living with his parents and siblings at Brightridge Lane in Southborough where he was working as a printer. By 1881 the family had moved to 44 Taylor Street. In 1881 Albert married Julia A Gooding, born 1859 in Edenbridge,Kent, one of six children born to John Gooding (1825-1900) and Mary (1830-1915).Albert and his wife had only one child by 1911 namely a son Albert born in Tunbridge Wels in 1887. At the time of the 1881 census Albert was an unemployed grocer.The 1882 Kelly gave him as a grocer on London Road.  The 1891 census gave him as singe and living at 38 Beulah Road with the occupation of bicycle manufacturer. Where Albert was at the time of the 1901 census was not determined but the 1911 census, taken at 10 Calverley Park Crescent listed Albert as a photographer. Living with him was his wife Julia, a lodging house keeper, and their son Albert who was working for his father as a photographers assistant. Despite best efforts the researcher was unable to find any examples of photographs attributed to Albert. Albert died in the 2nd qtr of 1941 at Ticehurst,Sussex. As noted earlier his cycle business at 34 Monson Road ,that was there in 1903 ,was not there in 1913 and it is obvious from the 1911 census that he had given up anything to do with cycles sometime before 1911. Although no early 20th century photo of his cycle shop was found, shown opposite is a recent photo of 24 Monson Road, now occupied by the Ryman Stationary shop. The word Criterion is Greek in origin and in England is used in one meaning to describe a bicycle race of short length (about a mile) and fast speed in which a large group of cyclists compete.This is different to a traditional road race of longer duration and distance conducted as more of a slower speed endurance race. In the 18th and 19th century the name “Criterion” was in common use by various businesses in the cycle trade such as George Dugmore’s Criterion Cycle Shop at 253-257 Bilston Road in Wolverhampton, operating around the same time as Mr Wickens in Tunbridge Wells, and so the name is more “Generic” in use rather than referring to a specific make of bicycle.

3)      CHARLES A COLE…………Charles was listed as a cycle maker at 32 Crescent Road in the 1899 Kelly directory but was gone by 1903. Charles had been born 1843 at Rigner,Sussex, one of eleven children born to Daniel Cole (1821-1871),a grocer,  and Emma Smith (1824-1866). He was living with his parents and siblings at Rigner the 1850’s and early 1860’s. On July 5,1863 he married Sarah J. Blackman at Brighton,Sussex. His wife had been born 1842 at Winchester,Hampshire. He and his wife had 5 children. By 1881 he and his family moved to Tunbridge Wells and are found in the 1881 census at 18 Crescent Road where Charles was a master grocer.He was still a grocer at the time of the 1891 census, taken at 1 Quarry Road. Charles occupation in the cycle business was a short one, and quite a departure from being a grocer, for at the time of the 1901 census he was a lodging house keeper at 85 London Road, where he lived with his wife Sarah, two children and one servant. Charles died in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1913 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on September 1,1913.

4)      HERBERT ERNEST HALL………..Herbert was listed as a cycle maker at 27 Ye Pantiles in the 1899 Kelly directory but was absent from the 1903 directory. Herbert had been born1866 in Auckland,New Zealand, one of two children born to Thomas E.C. Hall, a master baker, born 1833 in Kentish Town,Middlesex, and Ruth Hall born 1833 in Tunbridge Wells. In the 1881 census, taken at 38 High Street,Tonbridge Herbert was living with his parents and one brother. The family was living at the same place at the time of the 1871 census. The 1891 census, taken at 92 Uxbridge Road in Hammersmith gave Thomas E. Hall living on own means with his wife Ruth ,son Horace and son Herbert E. Hall who was working as a cycle maker. The 1901 census, taken at 13 Hill Park Road Tonbridge gave Herbert “Ellis” Hall as born 1866 in Auckland,NZ, and working as an electrical engineer employer. With him was his wife Maude Margaret Hall, who had been born 1870 at Leigh,Kent and who had had married in the 3rd qtr of 1898 in Tunbridge Wells. Also present in the home was a son Herbert Ellis Hall, born 1900 Tonbridge. Probate records gave Herbert “Ellis” hall of 1a Park Road,Southborough who died January 18,1945 at 37 West Hill, Dartford,Kent. The executor of his 1,583 pound estate was his wife Maude Margaret Hall.

5)      WALTER HERBERT JOHNSON……..Walter is found in the 1899 Kelly as a cycle maker at 5 Beltring Terrace on St John’s Road.He was gone from the trade by the time of the 1903 Kelly. Walter was born 1872 at Winchester,Hampshire.He was one of twelve children born to Charles Johnson, an accountant, born 1834 at Winchcomb,Gloucestershire, and Henrietta Johnson, bo5rn 1840 in London. The 1881 census, taken at 33 Hyde Street in Winchester gave Charles as an accountant and living with him was his wife Henrietta, their twelve children (including Walter) and two servants. The 1891 census,taken at 27 Albion Road,Tunbridge Wells gave Walter H. Johnson living as a boarder and working as an ironmongers apprentice. He is not found in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1901 census but the 1911 census, taken in Prittawell, Essex gave Walter as a cyclestyle manager. Living with him was his wife Mary Emily Johnson, born 1875 at St Leonards,Sussex; two of his children (one of which Violet was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1898); one domestic servant , and his sister in law Miss McCowan.Probate records gave Walter Herbert Johnson of 55 Brancaster Lane, Purley,Surrey who died October 17,1939 at Charston Sunnydale Hinkley Leicestershire. His wife Mary Emily Johnson was the executor of his 262 pound estate.

6)      FREDERICK KENDAL (RENDELL)……..Frederick was listed in the 1899 Kelly as Frederick” Kendal”, a cycle maker at 31 Albion Road, but in the 1903 Kelly he is given as  Frederick   “Rendell”, a cycle maker at 39 Albion Road. These are the same person and his proper name was Frederick Roydson Rendell, who was born 1876 at Petersfield,Hampshire. He was one of seven children born to Samuel Rendell, a gardener domestic, born 1843 at Pitchaton,Dorset and Ellen Rendell,born 1849 at Foxfield,Hampshire. The 1901 census, taken at 96 St James Road,Tunbridge Wells gave Frederick Rendell living as a boarder and working as a cycle maker. In 1904 he married Isabell Russell in Tunbridge Wells. By 1911 he moved to Pembury and is found on High Street there in the 1911 census in which he is given as a motor and cycle engineer employed at home. With him was his wife Isabella, born 1880 at Brenchley,Kent and two of his children. They were living in premises of 5 rooms; had been married in 1904 and had just the two children. Directories of Pembury for 1922 to 1938 record “Frederick Rendell, motor engineer”. Frederick and his wife had another child after the 1911 census, bringing the total to three. Probate records gave Frederick Roydson Rendell of 18 Hastings Road,Pembury when he died January 30,1962 at the Kent and Sussex Hospital,Tunbridge Wells. The executor of his 1,844 pound estate was his spinster daughter Isabell May Rendell.

7)      CHARLES TIMBERLAKE……..Charles was listed in the 1899 Kelly as a bicycle maker at 41 High Street. He is found at the same address in the 1903 Kelly and with the same occupation. Two other listings in 1901 for Charles gave him as a cycle agent at 53 London Road and as a cycle maker at 150 High Street in Tonbridge. Charles was born 1858 at High Wycombe,Buckinghamshire .The 1861 census, taken at Buckinghamshire gave Charles living with his father Henry, born 1826 at Wycombe, a chair and seat maker; and his mother Mariene, born 1827 at Buckinghamshire. Also there were Charles six siblings.The  1871 census taken at 13 Albert Road in Maidenhead Bray,Berkshire gave Henry; his wife Jesse R, born 1845 at Tilverton,Devon and their three children,  as well as Henry’s brother Charles who was working for his brother as a bicycle maker. The 1881 census, taken at 8 Primrose Street in Bethnal Green,London gave Charles as a visitor and working as a bicycle maker. The 1891 census, taken at 41 High Street,Tunbridge Wells gave Charles as a cycle maker and agent employing others. With him was his wife Clare JaneTimberlake, nee Smith, born 1862 at Lowestoft,Suffolk.Also present was their three children and a niece. The 1901 census, taken at 41 High Street,Tunbridge Wells, gave Charles as a cycle maker and agent. With him was his wife Clara; six children and two servants. The 1911 census taken at 47 Willington Road in Eastbourne,Sussex gave Charles as a cycle agent employing others. With him was his wife Clare and three of their children. They were living in 10 rooms; had been married 25 years (1886) and had eight children, all of whom were still living. What became of Charles after 1911 was not established.

8)      WILLIAM JOHN DAVEY……….William is found as a cycle maker at 100 Calverley Road in Tunbridge Wells in 1903 but was gone by 1913. William had been born 1875 in Hastings,Sussex, one of seven children born to Richard Davey (1836-1921) and Selina Ellen Saxby (1846-1934). In 1881 he was living with his parents in Hastings  where his father was a coach builder. The 1891 census taken at 66 Emannuel Road,Hastings gave his father as a carriage maker worker and William was working as a porter. In the 3rd qtr of 1899 William married Annie Quaif in Hastings. Annie had been born in Hastings in 1878. The 1901 census, taken at 100 Calverley Road,Tunbridge Wells gave William as a cycle builder employing others. With him was his wife Annie and his wifes sister Lilian Quaif. The 1911 census, taken at 34 Grosvenor Road,Tunbridge Wells gave William as a manager of a cycle company. With him was his wife Annie ; three of their children; one visitor and one boarder. They were living in premises of 6 rooms; had been married 12 years (1899) and their three children were all living. What became of William after 1911 was not established.

9)      SYDNEY GANNEY………..Sydney was listed in the 1903 Kelly as a cycle maker at 33 Grosvenor Road. He is also found in the 1899 Kelly as a cycle maker at 16a Grosvenor Road. Sydney was born 1874 in Tunbridge Wells, one of six children born to George William Ganney (1847-1932) and Sarah Ganney, born 1842 at Longwellon,Leicestershire. His father was a watchmaker and details about him and his business can be found in my article “G.W. Ganney-Watchmaer”. The 1881 census, taken at Queens Road,Tunbridge Wells gave George William Ganney with his wife and children with George as a watchmaker. The 1891 census, taken at 11 Thomas Street,Tunbridge Wells gave George William Ganney as a watchmaker. With him was his wife Sarah and their five children, including Sydney who was working as a cycle maker. The 1901 census, taken at 55 Grosvenor Road,Tunbridge Wells gave George William Ganney as a watchmaker. With him was his wife Sarah; his son George, age 32, a watchmaker; his daughter Ada, age 30, a dressmaker; his son Sydney,age 27, a cycle maker and his 18 year old son Charles a carpenters apprentice. What became of Sydney after 1901 was not established but clearly he was still working as a cycle maker in the town until at least 1903.

10)   GEORGE ERNEST TUNBRIDGE………George is  listed in the 1903 Kelly as a cycle manufacturer at 21 Vale Road; in the 1899 Kelly as a cycle manufacturer at 21 Vale Road; in 1913 as a cycle manufacturer at 2 Vale Road and in directories of 1918 to 1922 as a motor car dealer. He was born in the 3rd quarter of 1865 in Dover,Kent. Probate records show that he had been living at the time of his death at 2 Vale Road,Tunbridge Wells and that he passed away September 17,1925 at the General Hospital Tunbridge Wells.He left his estate of about 5,000 pounds to his wife Matilda Jane Davis Tunbridge.George was busied in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery September 21,1925.George is found in an 1899 directory as a cycle manufacturer at 2 Vale Road and was still in the same business at the same address until just before 1918.In the 1901 census,taken at 21 Vale Road gave  his occupation is listed as 'cycle agency employer'. Living with him was his wife Matilda and his sister in law.From 1918 to the time of his death he was at the same address but was advertising his business as a 'motor car dealer' so he seems to have gotten out of motorcyles in favour of selling motor cars.The business of G.E.Tunbridge Limited however did not die with George for it is found in directories up until about 1991 when the company was dissolved.A 1962 directory for example gives "G.E.Tunbridge Limited-28 and 30 St John's Road and from 1918 until 1991 the company,carried on by his decendents,was in the business of selling motor cars in Tunbridge Wells. George had been born 1865 in Dover and was one of several children born to John M Tunbridge, a builder, born 1824 at Lydden,Kent and Anne Tunbridge,born 1826 at Alisham,Kent.In 1871, at 74 Biggin Street in Dover, George was living with his parents and siblings. In 1881 George was living with his parents and sibllings at 40 Southwater Road in Hastings where his father was a builder employing eight men and three boys. The 1891 census ,taken at Sunnyside, Hastings gave George as a watchmaker living with the Pulland family. The 1911 census, taken at 2 Vale Road,Tunbridge Wells gave George as a cycle and motor dealer. With him was his wife Matilda Jane Davis Tunbridge, born 1873 at Winchelsea,Sussex ; his two sons and one servant. They were living in premises of five rooms; had been married 11 years (1900) and of their three chiidlren, two were still living. Marriage records show that George married Matilda Jane D. Cooke in the 3rd qtr of 1899 at Rye,Sussex. His wife Matilda is given in the probate records as being of 7 Claremont Gardens,Tunbridge Wells when she died October 8,1960 leaving an estate valued at 14,720 pounds. The executor of her estate was her son Alan Frank Howard Tunbridge,company director and also a solicitor. She was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on October 12,1960.

11)   PHILPoT & SONS ……….This business is listed in the 1913 Kelly directory as cycle agents at 9 St Johns Road. They were not given in the 1903 Kelly.  The head of this business was Fred Philpot, born 1872 at Brighton,Sussex, one of seven children born to his parents Isaac and Lydia Philpot.Beginning with the 1881 census, the head of the household was his father Isaac Philpot, a boot and shoe maker, born 1843 at Brighton,Sussex. The census was taken at 43 High Street in Tunbridge Wells where Isaac had operated his business at various locations in the town since at least 1874. Isaac passed away in Tunbridge Wells February  1932 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on February 6th. Living with Isaac in 1881 was his wife Lydia, born 1842 in Tunbridge Wells ; two servants, and his six children, including Fred,age 9. The 1891 census,taken at 63 High Street,Tunbridge Wells gave Isaac and his wife Lydia with their seven children , including Fred who was working as an apprentice boot and shoe maker in his father’s business. In 1897 Fred married Florence Caroline  (maiden name unknown) in Tunbridge Wells. Florence had been born 1878 in London and with her Fred had four children between 1899 and 1906, all of whom were born in Tunbridge Wells. The 1901 census ,taken at Rotherfield,Sussex gave Fred Philpot as a shoe and boot maker on own account. Living with him was his wife Florence and two of their children as well has his brother Colbert,age 25 and his wife. Colbert was assisting his brother in the shoe business. The 1911 census, taken at 9 St Johns Road,Tunbridge Wells gave Fred Philpot as a cycle dealer. With him was his wife Florence and four of his children, including a son Frederick Royston Philpot who was best known as “Freddie Philpot”.Freddie Philpott was a member of the Tunbridge Wells Motorcycle Club.He was born as Frederick Royston Philpot 1906 in Crowborough,Sussex .He passed away in the 3rd qtr of 1982 in Tunbridge Wells.He had a business selling motorcycles initially and eventually went into selling motor cars.Probate records show that Fred Philpot was of 11 St Johns Road Tunbridge Wells when he died on January 13,1928. The executor of his 1,788 pound estate was his wife Florence .Fed was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery January 17th. His wife Florence died in 1968 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery March 19,1968. His son Frederick Royston Philpot continued the cycle business of his father and is found in the directories of 1934-1938 at 12 St John’s Road as a motor cycle agent and dealer.

12)   ROBERT HENRY ASHPLANT……….Robert is listed in the 1913 Kelly directory as a cycle engineer at 106 Camden Road. He is also listed in the directories of 1918 to 1922 as a cycle dealer at the same address. Robert was born 1877 at Ipswich,Suffold, one of five children born to Henry Brinsmead Ashplant(1848-1922) a grocer, born 1848 in Devon and Charlotte Elizabeth Ames (1848-1915)born 1848 at Ingham,Yorkshire. The 1881 census, taken at Ringwell,Essex recorded Henry with his wife and four children, including Robert. Henry was a grocer at that time . The 1891 census taken at the same place on High Street gave Henry as the proprietor of a grocers shop. With him was his wife Dharlotte, three children, including Robert and one servant. The 1901 census taken at the post office in Ringwell gave Henry as a postmaster and farmer. With him was his wife Charlotte,a grocer and draper;  his daughter Mabel, a grocer and draper; his son Robert , a grocer. After 1901 Robert left the family home and the rest of his family were still at the post office in Ringwood at the time of the 1911 census. In 1907 Robert married Maude Constance  E. Temlett, who had been born October 7,1883 at Southwark,Surrey, one of eleven children born to William Frederick Temlett (1839-1904) and Elizabeth Nash. The 1911 census, taken at 106 Camden Road in Tunbridge Wells gave Robert Henry Ashplant as a cycle agent on own account. With him was his wife Maude; one daughter and one servant. They were living in premises of 6 rooms and had been married in 1907 and had only one child. Probate records gave Robert Henry Ashplant of 19 Fernside Road in Winton,Bournemouth when he died on May 7,1954 at the Royal Victoria Hospital Boscombe, Bournemouth. The National Provincial Bank Ltd was the executor of his 6,044 pound estate.

13)   THOMAS JAMES NEALE……….Thomas was given in the 1913 and 1922  Kelly as a cycle maker at 10 Monson Road,Tunbridge Wells. He had been born in the 4th qtr of 1862 in Tunbridge Wells, one of several children born to James Neale, a carpenter (in 1891) who had been born 1836 in London, and Mary Neale, born 1836 in Frant,Sussex. The 1871 census, taken at 2 Avon Place in Tunbridge Wells recorded James Neale as a carpenter and living with him was his wife Mary; their three children, and William Avery, a brother in law, born 1851 in Tunbridge Wells who was also a carpenter. The 1881 census, taken at 43 Newton Road,Tunbridge Wells gave James Neale as a master grocer. With him was his wife Mary and son Thomas James Neale who was working as a carpenters apprentice for his father.  The 1891 census, taken at 49 Western Road gave Thomas James Neale and his wife Annie. Thomas at that time was operating a grocers business. He had married Annie Strange March 29,1885 in Tunbridge Wells. The directories of 1899 to 1903 gave Thomas James Neale as a grocer at 47 and 49 Western Road. The 1901 census, taken at 49 Western Road gave Thomas as a cycle maker employing others and with him was his wife Annie and a nephew Arthur who was a cycle maker worker. The 1911 census, taken at 48 Western Road gave Thomas as a cycle engineer employing others. With him was his wife Annie and his nephew Arthur who was a cycle engineer. The family were living in premises of 5 rooms and the census records that although the family had been married for twenty five years they had no children. His wife Annie died in 1918 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on July 5,1918. Thomas James Neale was of 47 Western Road when he died February 12,1920 at the Pembury Infirmary. The executor of his 502 pound estate was a law clerk. Thomas was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on February 27,1929.


The following is a list of other articles I have written that relate to this one.

(1)    Edwin Powell-From Bicycles to Motor Cars…….dated August 18,2013

(2)    Charles Timberlake-the Cycle Manufacturer …….dated July 7,2013

(3)    J. Fermer Bikes-High Brooms…………dated March 31,2014

(4)    Motorcycling in Tunbridge Wells………….dated March 28,2012

(5)  The Sproston Family-A Tunbridge Wells Saga.......dated November 7, 2013

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