ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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FRANCIS BRIAN JEWELL -A MAN WITH STRANGE IDEAS

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

Date: June 11,2016

Francis Brian Jewell (photo opposite) was born August 2,1925 at Bromley,Surrey.He spent most of his life working as a historian and author of books written under the name of just  "Brian Jewell".

In the early 1960’s he took up residence in Tunbridge Wells, and continued his work writing books and by 1968 was also reported by others as  a property developer and the operator of a local tavern. In the 3rd qtr of 1964 he married Patricia Corrigon in Tunbridge Wells and began to raise a family.

Information about him among his family for some unknown reason must be difficult to find for on the website of the Tunbridge Wells family History Society his son, who identified himself as Lut from Belgium asked “ I am the son of Brian Jewell. Brian was born August qtr of 1925 in Surrey, Kent. He was a military historian and lived in Tunbridge Wells. It seems he died some years ago. He was the man who tried to persuade the people to walk sideways on the pavement. Maybe someone can help with this…Thanks….Lut…Belgium”. It seems odd that his son did not know his full name and when he died and did not know more about his father when he made this inquiry on September 25,2012.

Yes indeed “Lut’s “ father was the originator of the idea of walking sideways and his idea hit the newspapers internationally. The Toledo Blade in the USA for example, of March 11,1968 gave the following report “ Tunbridge Wells- Brian Jewell has come up with a radically simple answer to the problem of overcrowded pavements-let’s all walk sideways. The town council here will study his plea that special sidewalks be set aside for sideways-walkers only. “ I have made a serious study of pedestrian congestion and my way of walking has many advantages “says Mr Jewell, a 42 year old property developer. “People can talk to each other face to face. And after practice they can get about just as quickly”. By way of proof, Mr. Jewell and his family can often be seen strolling sideways through the busy streets of his southern England town. The art, they say, is never to cross the feet or bring them quite together”.

This was not the only strange idea Mr Jewell had while living in Tunbridge Wells for the Milwaukee Journal of December 31,1967 ran an article entitled “School Goes to Dogs” which stated “A tavern keeper in Tunbridge Wells, England, organized the first event in what he envisioned as the Tunbridge Wells Festival of Tavern Sports; pushing a pea 15 yards uphill over a cobblestone course with the nose. Rules prohibited kneeling or standing on the opponents pea and ,to save face, tape could be applied to the nose”. 

A second article on the same wild idea entitled “Pea Pushing Tunbridge Wells” dated May 19,1967 stated “ Brian Jewell is trying to revive an old custom in Tunbridge Wells, the ancient art of pea pushing with the nose. The ancient custom came to light when a Mr Hone discovered a piece of paper with the rules written on it and a number of wooden peas. Mr Jewell would like to put Tunbridge Wells on the map by reviving many old customs, amongst them would be head-butting and shin-kicking, but feels that perhaps the police would have something to say about this”. Shown above and opposite are two photos pertaining to the pea pushing idea of Mr Jewell that were taken in Tunbridge Wells.

One has to wonder what other crazy ideas Mr Jewell came up with. His interest in ancient customs is understandable given his work as a historian, but few people attempt to put their research into practice. However Mr Jewell was not alone in the idea of pushing peas with the nose.

The British Pathe website for example has a film online from the 1950’s entitled “Pea Pushing Race” where a wooden pea was being pushed along a rolled out cloth on a lawn by several contestants as some young ladies encouraged them to go faster. Where this race was held was not identified. The same website shows images of another Pea Pushing contest dated 1968 where a man is pushing a wooden pea with his nose along the pavement.

Shown opposite  is a photo of Walter Cornelius trying for the Pea Pushing Championship in March 1968.

Shown below left is a photo dated August 8,1969 of the National Pea Pushing Derby organized to raise funds for helping the aged in the USA. Shown below right is a photo dated August 28,1969 of Pea Pushing in the City where a Charles Smith decided to use his umbrella to push the pea instead of his nose during a race.

It seems the idea of pushing peas goes back even further in time, for the Milwaukee Journal of August 23,1928 ran an article “ Pea Pushing feat left the victor with a scratched nose in Peterborough, England. It was possibly the pea-nuttiest way anyone ever tried to set a world record, but 23 year old Helga Jansens succeeded recently in reaching her goal-pushing a pea with her nose for more than 1-1/4 miles along a river bank.

A Helen McDonald is found in World Records statistics for pushing a pea with the nose a distance of 100 yards in a time of 4 min and 30 seconds and the same women held the record for pushing a pea a mile with her nose in 6 hours and 40 minutes.

Is there no end to the crazy ideas and nutty things some people get up to in their lives ? Perhaps this is where the expression of having a “pea brained idea” comes from.

On a more serious side Mr Jewell was actually a very good historian and writer. On the internet one can find about 15 books he wrote dated between 1976 and 1985 (many of them have been republished) including such titles as Veterans Talking Machines (1977) ; Fairs and Revels (1976); Smoothing Irons (1977); A Book of the Motor Museum (1985); Foot-Ball-its history for five centuries (1977);Antique Sewing Machines (1978); Down Line to Hastings (1984); Sports and Games (1977) and Over the Rhine (1985) just to name a few. All of the books were published in Tunbridge Wells  by such companies as Midas Books and A.J. Costella (publishers) Ltd. of 43 High Street.

News and Notes of November 1974 also reported “ Veteran Machinery-This is a new magazine edited by Brian Jewell of the Broadwater Collection Trust, which has a museum in Tunbridge Wells. It is published by Grade Magazines, Sheldon Way, Larkfield, Maidstone,Kent. 

Mr Francis Brian Jewell and his wife Patricia Jewell were named in a legal case entitled ‘ Broadwater Court Management Co Ltd vs Mrs Sylvia Jackson-Mann in 1997 where the Jewells were identified as ‘former freehold owners” of some property. Details of the case were not given but it appears that the company referred to was that of Mr Jewell and may be related to his role as a property developer in the town.

Probate records gave Francis Brian Jewell born August 2,1925 who died  April 29, 2006 in York,Yorkshire and that his will was probated June 30,2006  (No. 2188265) and registered at Newcastle Upon Tyne. When he and his wife left Tunbridge Wells was not established.

Wouldn’t pushing peas up Mount Pleasant Hill be an interesting challenge!. I had enough trouble walking up this hill on my visit to the town in 2015 never mind pushing anything up it . Something to think about as the towns next tourist attraction- I wonder ?

 

BREWERS -DECORATORS OF TUNBIRDGE WELLS

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

Date: May 20,2016

OVERVIEW

In 2014 Brewers Home celebrated their 100th anniversary. The business was begun by Clement Brewer (1860-1940) in Eastbourne,Sussex in 1904 with a paint and wallpaper shop at 28 Pevensey Road. In 1911 two more shops were opened in Redhill and in 1924 the company opened a shop in Tunbridge Wells at 86/90 Calverley Road, a building which today is located next door to the Courier building on the south side of Calverley Road about half way between Crescent Road and Monson Road in ‘Hargraves House’.

Although this shop closed  in the 1960’s today there is a Brewers Home shop in the High Brooms Industrial Estate on North Farm Road where a large selection of builders merchandise is sold.

Clement Brewer had been born in Hackney, London, the son of George Brewer (1819-1881), a teacher/schoolmaster, and Emma Brewer, nee Roome (1820-1880). In 1889 Clement married Mary Pritchard, the daughter of John Pritchard, and together they had eight children, including five sons who entered their fathers business after WW 1 and operated under the name of C. Brewer & Sons Ltd. (incorporated 1925). The business continued to grow throughout the following years and after four generations of the Brewer family management the company has over 150 branches.

This article reports on the Brewer family and their business empire, with an emphasis on the company’s operations in Tunbridge Wells.

THE BREWER FAMILY

Clement Brewer was born in 3rd qtr of 1860 at Hackney, London, one of two known children born to teacher/schoolmaster George Brewer (1819-1881) and Emma Brewer, nee Roome (1820-1880).

At the time of the 1871 census, the family was in Hackney, London, where George and his sister Lily (1859-1901) lived with their parents.  At the time of the 1881 census, taken at 13 Mayola Road in Hackney, Clement and his sister were living with their parents and Clement was working as a ‘clerk colonial broker’.

By the time of Clement’s marriage to Mary Pritchard on July 21,1889 at Tetbury, St Mary, Gloucestershire, Clement was working as a builders bookkeeper in Eastbourne, Sussex. His father was deceased at the time of his marriage. Mary Pritchard had been born 1861 at Farrington, Berkshire and was the daughter of John Pritchard, gentleman. Shown opposite is a photograph of Clement and his wife.

The 1901 census, taken at 13 Pevensey Road in Eastbourne,Sussex gave Clement Brewer as a builders bookkeeper. Living with him was his wife Mary and their children Christopher,age 10; John Pritchard, age 9; Olive Mary,age 8; George Kenneth, age 6; Robert Gordon,age 4 and David Kath,age 2. All of the children had been born in West Green, London. In 1902 the couple had another child, Geoffrey Paul Brewer who was born in Eastbourne,Sussex in 1902.

The 1911 census, taken at 28 Pevensey Road, Eastbourne (photo opposite) gave Clement as the proprietor of a wallpaper merchants shop. With him was his wife Mary ; their daughter Olive Mary, a nursery governess; George Kenneth, a clerk in his father’s business; Robert Gordon, at school; David Kath, at school and Geoffrey Paul, age 9. The census recorded that the couple had been married 21 years; that of their eight children seven were still living, and that the family were living in premises of seven rooms. The shop at 28 Pevensey Road was Clement’s first shop, which he opened in 1904.

As you will read later Clements sons entered the business as did subsequent generations of the family and the business continued to expand with shops in several locations.

Probate records gave Clement Brewer of Easton Grey Ringley Park Avenue in Reigate,Surrey when he died August 16,1940. The executors of his 14,771 pound estate was his account and his two sons George Kenneth Brewer and John Pritchard Brewer, company directors.

THE BUSINESS HISTORY 

The following information about the business is from the company’s website, which I have provided in its entirety. In the next section I expand upon it by providing further information about their shop(s) in Tunbridge Wells.

“2004 marked a double celebration for Brewers: our 100th anniversary and a century of Brewers branches! Now just a few years on this figure has grown to 150 outlets reflecting our commitment to professional decorators throughout the Midlands, East Anglia and the South of England.

Giving the decorator everything that could possibly be needed for a perfect finish was Clement Brewer’s dream when he opened his first shop in Eastbourne on the Sussex coast, in 1904. Selling mainly wallpapers and all the materials necessary to make up a wide range of varnishes and paints.

He stuck to his ideals and so have all the subsequent generations of Brewers. After over 100 years of successful growth and service to painters and decorators alike, we hope that you find the same friendly support, advice and service that Clement Brewer strived to offer.

Clement was a Quaker and a man of strong business principles. His customers appreciated his unfailing reliability; his heavily laden delivery bike was always on time, whilst suppliers welcomed his excellent payment record.

In 1911 the company opened their second shop at Redhill; in 1920 they introduced their first motorized delivery vehicle  and in 1924 they opened a shop in Tunbridge Wells on Calverley Road.

Before and after World War One, five of Clement’s sons came into the business, which made possible expansion beyond Eastbourne. Soon branches were thriving at Redhill, Tunbridge Wells, Guildford, Horsham and Bexhill.

Operating as C. Brewer & Sons when Clements sons entered the business, in 1925 it became a private limited company under the name of C. Brewer & Sons Ltd and the name ‘Albany’ was first used in wallpaper pattern books.

At the close of World War II the huge programme of rebuilding and repair work saw Brewers grow to meet the demand for decorating materials. During this period branches opened throughout the South of England and South London – with the third generation of the family picking up the baton. Later the fourth generation has seen moves into the West of England, North London and, more recently, East Anglia and the Midlands. Shown opposite is a photo of their Redhill shop in the 1940’s

In increasingly competitive times Brewers have always valued the loyalty of their customers. But that was no accident – establishing good relationships with customers, suppliers and staff has always been at the heart of our philosophy.

Today’s employees – now a thousand strong – are continuing to build the company’s reputation through their friendly, helpful advice and their knowledge of decorating products, techniques and trends.

How the decorating trade has changed since 1904! In those days the decorators’ merchant did many of those things that a manufacturer does today. For example, wallpaper was received from the manufacturers in large hessian-wrapped hand sewn bundles. The Brewer ‘boys’ would then carefully unwrap them and make up the pattern books.

Wallpapers had to be hand-trimmed to size by Brewers, a process calling for some skill, where the odd mistake could prove expensive. A ‘piece’ of wallpaper was made by joining 12 sheets of ‘Double Demy’ (22” x 35”) which measured a length of 11 yards. This size standard is almost identical today.

Clement Brewer’s paint stock included White Lead, a pigment that was mixed with linseed oil to make paint. Colours were supplied both dry and ground in oil; you could choose from 16 different coach varnishes, 22 kinds of decorative varnishes, 14 stains and polishes – and others specially to order. A milestone of those early years was the arrival in 1908 of the first supplies of Halls Distemper, the revolutionary wall treatment in pre-determined colours. Clement prided himself on having everything the decorator would ever need. Nothing’s changed!

If service and expertise are at the heart of Brewers, then the backbone is surely the unbelievably wide product range – an A to Z of leading brand decorating materials, paints, papers, tools and accessories, plus Brewers’ highly regarded in-house brand of Albany Paints and Wallcoverings.

The Albany brand has flourished for over 70 years. The name was originally chosen by Clement in the 1920s for our wallpaper collection to reflect the highest standards of interior decor which were to be found in the flats just off London’s Piccadilly.

The brand is just as strong today because there’s consistent quality in every can that the decorator can trust – and because of the depth of range which all adds up to the complete painting system.

Available for interior and exterior applications, every finish is represented – traditional gloss, vinyl matt, vinyl silk, soft sheen emulsion, eggshell, masonry point and the latest water-based acrylic gloss and eggshell finishes. Every colour too: over 700 shades, including the traditional 100 British Standard colours that would surely have turned Clement Brewer green with envy.

At the celebration of a centenary of supplying decoration materials it was time to look back and reminisce – but only briefly. The Company has prospered by our readiness to anticipate market needs, nurturing a hard-won reputation for having everything the decorator will ever need, with knowledgeable, well-trained staff in the branches.

We have steered a steady course through some momentous changes in trading conditions in recent years – preserving services that put the long-term benefits of customer loyalty ahead of short-term gain. This is why, for instance, Brewers trade decorators continue to enjoy best value with free daily deliveries, free technical advice and on-site representation.

‘Can we do it any better?’ is a question we continuously ask ourselves. The answers come with initiatives such as the development of on-line shops selling quality designer wallcoverings and paints. Whilst decorators searching for specialist industrial coatings or looking to move into spray painting will find that the products and expertise are now available at Brewers.

Looking further, chairman Mark Brewer says, “By retaining our status as an independent family business, we have been able to grow at our own natural pace. This has enabled us to build teams of knowledgeable and helpful people at each branch and to ensure that new outlets are always launched with competent staff ready to give our customers all the decorating help and advice they need.”

THE BUSINESS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS

As noted in the records of the company ,Clement Brewer opened a branch in Tunbridge Wells in 1924 on Calverley Road where they sold paint, varnish and wallpaper to the general public. Calverley Road, one of the town’s main commercial districts proved to be a good location and the business was successful and continued there until about 1960.

Local directories throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s listed “C. Brewers & Sons Ltd, decorator merchants, 86/90 Calverley Road. Advertisments for the business appeared at this address during the 1930’s in the Kent & Sussex Courier. Directories of 1950 to 1959 gave ‘C. Brewer & Sons Ltd, decorator merchants, 86 Calverley Road. No records for the business after 1959 were found.

Shown above are two photographs showing 86/90 Calverley Road, as it looked in 2014. Although a number of old postcard views of Calverley Road can be found, none showing the location of Brewers shop were found. Today 86/90 Calverley Road is known as ‘Hargraves House’ and is located next door to (east of) The Courier office, on the south side of Calverley Road about half way between Crescent Road and Monson Road.

Today there is still a Brewers shop in operation in the High Brooms Industrial Estate on North Farm Road. A photo of this shop is shown opposite. They sell a wide selection of paint, wallpaper and other materials for the builders/ home improvement industry.

 

THE PHILLPOTTS FAMILY OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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

Date: May 28,2016

OVERVIEW

James Surtees Phillpotts (1839-1930) had been born in Martley, Worcestershire, one of several children born to Rev. William James Phillpotts,the one -time Archdeacon of Cornwall and Chancellor of Exeter. The family were well-off financially and all of the children received a good education, with James having attended Winchester College and obtained his MA at New College, Oxford in 1877. James was an author: Fellow of New College, Oxford;the assistant master of Rugby from 1862 to 1874 and from 1874  until his retirement in 1903 he served as the headmaster of the Bedford Grammar School in Bedfordshire.

In 1868 James  married Marian Hadfield Cordery (1844-1925) and with her had four sons the three daughters. His surviving sons all graduated from university and his daughters were educated at home, with some going on to university also. All of the children went on to have important careers.

Upon his retirement from the Bedford Grammar School in 1903 James and his wife and the younger children moved to Tunbridge Wells and took up residence in a grand home on Sandhurst Road called  ‘Springshaw’ which he renamed “The Ousels”, a name derived from the Bedford School magazine called ‘The Ousel’. James was still the occupant of this home  at the time of the 1911 census,although at the time of the census the family was a away and the home was occupied by a caretaker. James  was still there in 1913 but left the home in 1918. James appears in directories from 1925 to 1930 at ‘The Ousels’ on Dudley Road,Tunbridge Wells, a home which can be seen from the Commons near or at the corner of Dudley Road and London Road. His wife died there in 1925 and he died there in 1930.Both of them were  buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.

While living in the town, during failing health in the 1920’s ,his daughter Dame Bertha Surtees Newall, nee Phillpotts (1877-1932) moved to Tunbridge Wells to care for him. She had been educated at home and then graduated from the Cambridge University, having studied languages. She worked as a librarian at Girton College (photo opposite)from 1906 to 1909, and in 1913 she became the first Lady Carlisle Research Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford. During WW 1 she worked at the British Legation in Stockholm and during that time her brother Owen Surtees Phillpotts (1870-1937) was the Commercial Attache at the legation. Bertha was Principal of Westfield College from 1919 until 1921 and a member of the College Council from 1922 to 1932. Following the death of her mother in 1925 she left her position as Mistress of Girton College to look after her father in Tunbridge Wells. However, she was elected to a research fellowship and continued to be an active Fellow of the college, commuting between Tunbridge Wells and Cambridge in her Morris Cowley motor car. In 1931 she married astrophysicist and educator Hugh Frank Newall but she died in 1932 and was buried beside her parents in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery, having no issue.

James son Owen Surtees Phillpotts, had been educated at Bedford Grammar School and obtained his MA in the Classics at Worcester College,Oxford. In 1888 he began a seven year apprentiship with James Cordery,an armourer and brasier of London. From 1906 until the declaration of war he was the Acting Council General in Vienna and afterwards was with the American Embassy to safeguard British interests. He had a distinguished career with the foreign office. In 1928 he married Harriett O’Flanagan, the eldest daughter of the late Colonel O’Flanagan and Mrs O’Flanagan, Vienna and died in Vienna in 1937. Owen visited his father in Tunbridge Wells occasionally and one of the photographs he took in the town of his parents sitting in the Commons is shown in this article.

James son Brian Surtees Phillpotts (1875-1917) had been educated at the Bedford School where his father was headmaster. He then attended the RMA Woolwich and was Commissioned 2nd Lieut, in the Royal Engineers in 1895; promoted to Captain 1904 and Major in 1914.When war broke out her enlisted for service serving in France and Belgium with the rank of Lieut. Colonel .He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the DSO. He died of wounds September 4,1917 while commanding the 38th Division Royal Engineers and was buried in the Dozinghem Military Cemetery in Belgium. He never married and his father J.S. Phillpotts of The Ousels Tunbridge Wells was given as his next of kin on military records. He ,surprisingly, is not recorded on the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial.

This family is a fascinating one, and this article reports on them, with a particular emphasis on the time when some members of the family were residents of Tunbridge Wells.

THE YEARS BEFORE 1903

James Surtees Phillpotts (1839-1930)was born in Martley, Worcestershire on July 18,1839 one of at least ten children born to Rev. William James Phillpotts (1807-1888),the one -time Archdeacon of Cornwall and Chancellor of Exeter.  James father had been born atg Middleham, Durham and his mother Louisa Phillpotts ,nee Buller, (1805-1871) had been born in Crediton, Devon.

James was living with his parents and siblings at the time of the 1841 and at the time of the 1851 census he was away attending school. The 1861 census, taken at the Vicarage in Cornwall gave William James Phillpotts as the archdeacon of Cornwall and Chancellor of Exeter. Living with him was his wife Louisa and their children (1) Henrietta C,age 24 (2) James Sertees, a fellow New College, Oxford (3) Septimus,age 19, a scholar at Eaton (4) Georgiana M. age 16, a scholar at home (5) Catherine M, age 16, a scholar at home (6) Sibella,age 11, a scholar at home. Also in the home were one governess and four domestic servants.

On August 4,1868 James Surtees Phillpotts married Marian Hadfield Cordery(1843-1925) at Belsize Park in the Borough of Camden. At the time of the marriage James was a fellow of New College, Oxford and lving at Rugby,Warwickshire. Marian had been born August 5,1843 at Hampstead, Middlesex and was the daughter(one of seven children) of John Cordery, a merchant born in 1794, and Henrietta Cordery (1804-1889).Marian had been baptised November 25,1843 at St. Anns,Blackfriars, Middlesex.

James and his wife had the following children, details of which are given in the last section of this article (1) Maurice Kynvett Surtees Phillpotts (1869-1874) (2) Owen Surtees Phillotts (1870-1932) (3) Maud Surtees Phillpotts (1872-1968) (4) Brian Surtees Phillpotts (1875-1917) (5) Geoffrey Surtees Phillpotts (1876-1952) (6) Bertha Surtees Phillpotts (1877-1932) (7) Marjory Surtees Phillpotts (1879-1965). Maurice, Owen and Maud were born in Rugby, Warwickshire and the rest of the children were all born in Bedford, Bedfordshire.

The 1871 census, taken at Hillmorton Road, Rugby, Warwickshire, recorded James Surtees Philllpotts as a classical assistant and master “BCS Oxford”. With him was his wife Marian ; his children Maurice and Owen; and three domestic servants. A multip-view postcard of Rugby is shown opposite.

The 1881 census, taken at 7 St Pauls Square (the Bedford Grammar School) in Bedfordshire, gave James as the headmaster of the Bedford Grammar School. With him was his wife Marian and his children Owen, Maud, Brian,Geoffrey,Bertha, and Marjory. Also there were a nurse, a nursemaid, a cook and a housemaid.

The 1891 census, taken at 7 St Pauls Square, the schoolhouse, gave James as the headmaster of the Bedford Grammar School. With him was his wife Marian; his children Brian, Geoffrey, Bertha and Marjory; one visitor and there domestic servants.

The 1901 census, taken at 2 St Augustine Road in Bedfordshire gave James as the headmaster of the Bedford Grammar School. With him was his daughter Marjory and three servants. His wife was away visiting family at the time of this census.

In 1903 James retired as headmaster of the Bedford Grammar School and upon his retirement he and his wife and his daughter Marjory moved to Tunbridge Wells, details of which are given in the next section.

To summarize James education and career; he was educated at Winchester College and at New College,Oxford (matric March 22,1858,age 18). He was elected as a Fellow (1858-1869). He received his BA in 1863 ; B.C.L. 1864; and MA in 1871. He was Assistant Master at Rugby School between 1862 and 1874 and headmaster of Bedford Grammar School(photo opposite) from 1874 to 1903. James was also the author of six books namely (1) Stories from Herodotus in Attic Greek, Longman, 1874 (2) King and Commonwealth: A History of Charles I and the Great Rebellion, 1876 (3) Shakespeare’s Tempest, Rivington, 1876 (4) Homer without a Lexicon for Beginners, Rivington, 1876 (5) Psalms Chronoligically Arranged, Macmillan, 1880 (6) Selections Adapted from Xenephon, Oxford University Press, 1883.

James had been appointed the 22nd headmaster of the Bedford Grammar School in 1874. A photo of the school is shown opposite. The school magazine was called ‘The Ousel”, a name which James and other members of his family used to name their residences. As most will know, an Ousel is a type of blackbird.

THE PHILLPOTTS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

When James Surtees Phillpotts retired as headmaster of the Bedford Grammar School in 1903, he and his wife and his youngest daughter Marjory moved to Tunbridge Wells and took up residence in a fine 12 room red brick home on Sandhurst Road which at that time was called ‘Springshaw’ (sometimes given as ‘Spring Shaw’). Details about the homes constructed on Sandhurst Road/Sandhurst Park are given in my article ‘A Study of The Original Homes in the Sandhurst Development’ dated January 16,2015. Construction of homes in this development began in the latter part of the 19th century and although many fines homes were built, redevelopment of the area unfortunately resulted in the demolition of most of the original homes, including ‘Springshaw’.

Springshaw was built about 1875 and appears on a map of 1878.There are no known photographs of the home but its location is shown and labelled on the map opposite, obtained from the files of the Planning Authority. Shown to the south of Springshaw is a home called ‘Penfro’ which was formerly known as ‘Broadviews’ given as a 14 room home in the 1911 census, occupied at that time by Major (retired India Army) William Legh Boswell, age 51 with his wife and two servants.

The grounds of ‘Springshaw were originally extensive and included the entire corner block at the intersection of Sandhurst Road and Sandhurst Park and included the buildings Springshaw Lodge, the original gate house/gardeners cottage of the main house and the buildings Stonworld Place and Springshaw Court that were built later then the grounds of Springshaw were subdivided during redevelopment. Until well into the 20th century Springshaw was a private residence but was converted into a number of flats, a fate common to many large homes in the town. In 1974 Planning Authority approval, regarding Springshaw, was given for a change in use from flats to a nursing home on the ground and first floor.Today on the site of Springshaw can be seen a row of 20th century red brick detached homes with tile roofs.

In 1903, when James and his small family came to Tunbridge Wells Springshaw was the residence of Miss Saunders. When the Phillpotts moved in that year James renamed it ‘The Ousels’ after the name of the Bedford Grammar School magazine ‘The Ousel’. The home continued as ‘The Ousels’ up to the time James left the home and moved to Dudley Road by 1918, and the name of the home on Sandhurst Road reverted back to ‘Springshaw’. James was listed at The Ousels on Sandhurst Road in the 1913 Kelly directory.

Below is a table summarizing the known occupancy of Springshaw from 1900 to 1922

1900-1903 …….Miss Saunders (as ‘Springshaw’)

1903-1918……..James Surtees Phillpots ( as ‘The Ousels’)

1918-1922………Mrs Crabtree (as ‘Springshaw’)

The 1911 census, taken at ‘The Ousels’ Sandhurst Road, described the home as having 12 rooms. No members of the Phillpotts family were there at the time but the census record gave J.S. Phillpotts as the owner or occupant of it. The only person in the home at that time was Mary Ann Dale, a 75 year old lady identified as the caretaker of the house while the Phillpotts were away.

In or by 1918 ‘The Ousels’ became the home of Mrs Crabtree, who renamed it ‘Sprinshaw.

When James and his family vacated their home on Sandhurst Road they took up residence on Dudley Road, Tunbridge Wells in a home they also names ‘The Ousels’. Shown opposite is a postcard entitled ‘The Commons ‘The Ousels’ Tunbridge Wells,which was recently offered for sale on eBay. This postcard was unposted and the back of it shows only that it was a typical divided back card with a place for the postage stamp, a mailing address and space for a message. No information is given on the back of the card as who produced it. The front of the card is very interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it shows that that the photograph was taken by “O.S.Phillpotts” who was Owen Surtees Phillpotts, the eldest surviving son of James Surtees Phillpotts. Secondly, the elderly gentleman and the woman beside him is James Surtees Phillpotts and his wife, which is confirmed by other photographs of James. Thirdly the view was taken from The commons looking towards the intersection of London Road and Dudley Road, with ‘The Ousels’s being the name of the Phillpotts residence at or near the corner of Dudley Road and London Road. Fourthly, the path beside which James and his wife are sitting  is the path leading to St Helena Cottage, being the middle one of the three cottages in the Commons. The location from which this photograph was taken is shown on the 1909 os map opposite as noted by the red arrow.  Owen Surtees Phillpotts who took the photography was not a photographer by profession, as you will read later, and it was indeed interesting to find a captioned postcard by him of his parents rather than just a typical family photo. No other examples of photographs or postcards by Owen were found on the internet.

Directories of 1924 up to the time of the death of James Surtees Phillpotts in 1930 gave the listing ‘ J.S. Phillpotts, ‘The Ousels’, Dudley Road,Tunbridge Wells”.

Probate records for Marian Hadfield Phillpotts of The Ousels, Tunbridge Wells (wife of James Surtees Phillpotts) died March 4,1925. Her husband was the executor of her 11,436 pound estate. Although which ‘Ousels’ is not specified in the probate record it refers to their home on Dudley Road based on a 1924 directory listing for the family there. Accounts pertaining to the family state that Marian was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery, which is most likely, although the website deceasedonline does not give a record for her there.

Probate records for James Surtees Phillpotts gave him of The Ousels, Dudley Road,Tunbridge Wells when he died October 16,1930. The executors of his 10,353 pound estate was Isaac Henry Gosset, medical student attorney of Geoffrey Surtees Phillpotts (James son) and William Sealey Gosset. James was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on October 20,1930.

The London Gazette of March 6,1931 gave a death announcement for James Surtees Phillpotts of ‘The Ousels’ Dudley Road and that he died October 16,1930. This announcement however states at it was proved by his daughter Bertha Surtees Phillpotts, as attorney of Geoffrey Surtees Phillpotts and William Sealeu Gosset, executors.

Shown opposite is a death announcement that appeared in a Cornish newspaper. The Courier of March 6,1931 posted a death notice for him also but only indicated his place and date of death and details about his estate.

Some other records referring to the presence of James in Tunbridge Wells are given below;

1)    Proceedings of the Classical Association June 1914…J.S. Phillpotts, MA, BCL, The Ousels, Tunbridge Wells (a member of this association)

2)    The Churchill Archive has two records from January 22,1922. The first is a letter to Winston Churchill by James Surtees Phillpotts of The Ousels, Tunbridge Wells, and the second from the same person and address is a memorandum that suggested a propaganda campaign among the Fellaheen in support of the British presence in Egypt and the establishment of a mobile police force there.

3)    As you will read later James daughter Bertha moved to Tunbridge Wells to care for her father. In a list of subscribers to ‘Essays and Studies Presented to William Riadgeway ‘is listed as a subscriber “ Miss B.S. Phillpotts, The Ousels, Tunbridge Wells.

4)    An letter to the editor of The Spectator dated September 6,1913 by J.S. Phillpotts, The Ousels, Tunbridge Wells, provides lengthy comments by James regarding “The Six Panics” by Mr Hurst dealing in part with preparations for safeguarding Great Britain.

5)    The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies dated 1927-1928 listed as a member ‘J.S. Phillpotts, The Ousels, Tunbridge Wells”.

6)     The proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland listed as a member  for 1921 “Miss Bertha Surtees Phillpotts,The Ousels, Tunbridge Wells”.

A great deal of information is available online about James daughter Dame Bertha Surtees Phillpotts, a summary of which is given later, but accounts about her state that with the death of her mother in 1925 and with her father James in advanced age and growing deaf, Bertha resigned her position at Girton College forfeiting her pension, and moved to Tunbridge Wells to care for her father. Finding out that her father did not need constant care, she commuted to Cambridge from Tunbridge Wells each week in “Freda” the name she gave her motor car. She made the weekly trips to Cambridge regardless of the weather and attended to the maintenance of her motor car. Shown opposite is a photo of Bertha driving her motor car. Shown with her in the photo is her father (the elderly gentleman with the white beard) in the front seat and two other ladies in the back seat. She was often seen in the 1920’s and 1930’s driving this motor car (a Morris Cowley)on the streets of Tunbridge Wells.

The website Wikipedia states that Bertha Surtees Phillpotts married an astrophysicist and educator, Hugh Frank Newall, FRS in 1931 and that she died in 1932 and ‘was buried as Bertha Surtees Newall next to her parents in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery while Hugh Frank Newall was buried in the Parish of the Ascention Burial Ground in Cambridge”. Burial records confirm that Bertha Surtees Newall was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on January 23,1932.

THE CHILDREN OF JAMES SURTEES PHILLPOTTS

[1] MAURICE KYNVETT SURTEES PHILLPOTTS………..Maurice was the eldest child in the family, having been born in the 3rd qtr of 1869 in Rugby, Warwickshire. He as living with his parents and brother Owen at Rugby at the time of the 1871 census. He died from an illness in the 3rd qtr of 1875 in Bedford, Bedfordshire.

[2] OWEN SURTEES PHILLPOTTS ……..Owen (photo opposite taken in the 1930’s)was the eldest surviving son. He was born October 9,1870 at Rugby, Warwickshire. He was baptised December 3,1870 at Saint Andrew, Rugby, Warwickshire. He was living with his parents and siblings at the time of the 1871 and 1881 census. He was educated at the Bedford Grammar School and matriculated from Oxford University October 14,1889 at age 19. He was an exhibitioner in 1889 and received Honors in classical studies in 1891.

The London Freedom of City records show that Owen Surtees Phillpotts, the son of James Surtees Phillpotts was admitted February 9,1888. His master (7 year apprentiship) was James Cordery an armourer and brasier of London.

Owen was Acting Consul General in Vienna from 1909 (some sources say1906) up to the declaration of war and thereafter he worked with the American Embasy to safeguard British interests. An announcement in the London Gazette from the Foreign Office dated May 28,1909 stated “ The King has been graciously pleased to appoint Owen Surtees Phillpotts, esq., to be His Majesty’s Council at Vienna”.

In the 3rd qtr of 1928 Owen married Harriett or Henrietta O’Flanagan in Tunbridge Wells. Owen was a frequent came to Tunbridge Wells to visit his parents and sister Bertha and it was while on one of these visits that he took the photo I presented earlier of his parents in the Commons.

Probate records gave Owen Surtees Phillpotts of Wohllebenyarse 7 Vienna IV, Austria, when he died September 21.1932 at sandwitzgase 3 Vienna, Austria. The executors of his 29,899 pound estate were his brother Geoffrey Surtees Phillpotts and William Sealy Gosset, brewers.

The Bodleian Library has a collection of Owen’s lecture notes. They describe him as “Commercial Secretary6, British Legation Vienna, who read literate humaniores at Worcester College. His notes were mainly Greek philosophy. The collection was donated to the library in 1954”.

[3] MAUD SURTEES PHILLPOTTS……Maud was the eldest daughter in the family. She was born in Rugby,Warwickshire June 24,1872.She was living with her parents and siblings at the time of the 1881 census but was not with them in later census records.   In 1907 she married Rev. Percy Enfield Dawson (1873-1934) in Tunbridge Wells. She and her husband were living in Hertforshire at the time of the 1911 census. She died in 1968 at Hendon, Middlesex and her husband died June 16,1934 in Hertfordshire.

[4] BRIAN SURTEES PHILLPOTTS………..Brian was born in Bedford, Bedfordshire in 1875.  Brian lived with his parents and siblings at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census. He had been educated at the Bedford School where his father was headmaster. He then attended the RMA Woolwich and was Commissioned 2nd Lieut, in the Royal Engineers in 1895; promoted to Captain 1904 and Major in 1914.

At the time of the 1911 census taken at Crossjhaven Hill, District of Templebreedy, County of Cork, Ireland. Brian was living at a boys boarding school.

When war broke out her enlisted for service . He entered the war in France  September 11,1915 and later served in  Belgium with the rank of Lieut. Colonel .He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the DSO. He was wounded September 2,1917 and died of wounds September 4,1917 while commanding the 38th Division Royal Engineers and was buried in the Dozinghem Military Cemetery in Belgium. He never married and his father J.S. Phillpotts of The Ousels Tunbridge Wells was given as his next of kin on military records. He ,surprisingly, is not recorded on the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial. A photograph of his headstone is show above.

Probate records gave “Brian Surtees Phillpotts of The Ousels, Crawthorne, Berskshire, Lieut. Col. Royal Engineers, DSO, died September 4,1917 in Belgium on active service. Probate Ireland to Geoffrey Surtees Phillpotts, esq., 1,203 pounds in England”.

Recently an auction house offered for sale his “Officer’s full dress red tunic and undress overalls from the Royal Engineers. A photo of the uniform is shown above.

[5] GEOFFREY SURTEES PHILLPOTTS…….Geoffrey was born August 31, 1876 in Bedford,Bedfordshire. He is found in the 1881 and 1891 census living with his parents and siblings. He married Hilda Chichester Hart and with her had five children. He died December 14, 1952 in Dublin,Ireland.

[6] BERTHA SURTEES PHILLPOTTS……..Of all the Phillpotts children Bertha is perhaps the best known. A number of photographs, including the three shown here, and various accounts of her life and distinguished career can be found on the internet.

Bertha was born October 25,1877 in Bedord. She is found living with her parents and siblings in the 1881 and 1891 census. As I have noted earlier she moved to Tunbridge Wells upon the death of her mother in 1925 to care for her aged and ailing father and lived with her father in the period of 1925-1930 at The Ousels on Dudley Road. She could often be seen driving around town and back and forth between Tunbridge Wells and Cambridge in her motor car, a photo of which I gave earlier.  

Given here is one account “Dame Bertha Surtees Phillpotts (1877 - 1932) was an English scholar in Scandinavian languages, literature, history, archaeology and anthropology. Bertha Phillpotts was born in Bedford on 25 October 1877. Her father, James Surtees Phillpotts (1839-1930), was headmaster of Bedford School and instrumental in turning it from a relatively obscure grammar school to a top-ranking public school. Her mother, Marian Hadfield Phillpotts née Cordery (1843-1925), was a competent linguist. Bertha was educated at home before going to the University of Cambridge. She studied medieval and modern languages, Old Norse and Celtic at Girton College between 1898 and 1902, and then travelled to Iceland and Copenhagen as a research student. She worked as a librarian at Girton College from 1906 to 1909, and in 1913 she became the first Lady Carlisle Research Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford.During the First World War she worked for some time at the British Legation in Stockholm, on a largely voluntary basis. Her elder brother Owen Surtees Phillpotts was Commercial Attaché at the legation. Bertha Phillpotts' services were requested by the head of mission Sir Esmé Howard, and she undertook both clerical and research work for him.Bertha Phillpotts was Principal of Westfield College from 1919 until 1921, and a member of the College Council from 1922 until 1932. She became the Mistress of Girton College in 1922, succeeding Katharine Jex-Blake (1860-1951) who happened to be her first cousin (the daughter of her mother's sister Henrietta Cordery and Thomas Jex-Blake, sometime Headmaster of Rugby School). She held this post until 1925 when, following the death of her mother, she resigned in order to look after her elderly father who was living in retirement in Tunbridge Wells. However she was elected to a research fellowship and continued to be an active Fellow of the college, commuting between Tunbridge Wells and Cambridge in her own car.

From 1926 until her death in 1932 she was director of Scandinavian studies and university lecturer at Girton College. Her research included translations of old Icelandic sagas and studies on the influence of Old Norse and Icelandic on the English language. She is particularly known for her theory of ritual drama as the background to the Eddic poems. Bertha Phillpotts was born in Bedford on 25 October 1877. Her father, James Surtees Phillpotts (1839-1930), was headmaster of Bedford School and instrumental in turning it from a relatively obscure grammar school to a top-ranking public school. Her mother, Marian Hadfield Phillpotts née Cordery (1843-1925), was a competent linguist. Bertha was educated at home before going to the University of Cambridge. She studied medieval and modern languages, Old Norse and Celtic at Girton College between 1898 and 1902, and then travelled to Iceland and Copenhagen as a research student. She worked as a librarian at Girton College from 1906 to 1909, and in 1913 she became the first Lady Carlisle Research Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford. In 1929 she was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to education.

In 1931 she married an astrophysicist and educator, Hugh Frank Newall, FRS. Bertha Phillpotts is buried (as Bertha Surtees Newall) next to her parents in Tunbridge Wells Cemetery January 23,1932 while Hugh Frank Newall is buried in the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge. The Dame Bertha Phillpotts Memorial Fund for the promotion of Old Norse and Icelandic Studies at the University of Cambridge awards grants and scholarships for postgraduate students and other scholars in the relevant fields.

Among Dame Bertha Phillpotts's published works are:

•Kindred and Clan (1913) (Reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-108-01050-4)

•The Elder Edda and Ancient Scandinavian Drama (1920) (Reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-107-69484-2)

•The Life of the Icelander Jón Ólafsson, Traveller to India (written in Icelandic in 1611 and translated and edited by Bertha S Phillpotts in 1923)

•Wyrd and Providence in Anglo-Saxon Thought (1928, reprinted in Interpretations of Beowulf: a critical anthology. R.D. Fulk, ed. Indiana University Press, 1991)

•Edda and Saga (1931)

[7] MARJORY SURTEES PHILLPOTTS……..Marjory was born May 27,1879 in Bedford, Bedfordshire. She is found in the 1881 and 1891 census living with her parents and sublings. In the 1901 census she was just living with her father and three servants at 2 St Augustine Road in Bedfordshire. She married William Sealy Gossett and with him had one daughter. She died December 12, 1965 at Oxford, Oxfordshire.

 

LAMPLIGHTERS OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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

Date; May 17,2016

Long gone are the days when lamplighters could be seen on the streets of Tunbridge Wells making their rounds lighting and turning off the gas lamps scattered about the town but concentrated in the main business districts. Streets in the 19th century were not light up as brightly as they are today and what streets lamps there were, were few and far between.

An article in ‘Wales Online’ dated August 26,2009 provides an insight into this bygone time. “ For 100 years gas-powered lamps graced street corners in every city in the UK, lit in the evenings and doused in the early mornings by an almost unseen army of workers. With the introduction of electric lighting in the 1930s the gas lamps were gradually phased out and as a result they disappeared from public memory.So museum workers were left a little perplexed when Cardiff resident Brian Geeves gave them a gas worker’s cap and two sticks used to light gas-powered street lamps. Gas lamp expert Chris Sugg, 68, of Tunbridge Wells, was called in to make sense of the finds.His great-great grandfather founded William Sugg & Co, one of the major gas companies of the 19th and 20th centuries. Thousands of its lamps can still be seen in London’s streets and royal parks. When the historic company was sold Chris decided to set up his own firm, Sugg Lighting Limited, which provides gas lamps for the Houses of Parliament.The retired gas engineer said the two 7ft sticks, which are made of wood and drilled with small holes, would have been used to unhook and then light the lamps. He said: “The lamps were quite high up so the gas lighters carried a long stick with an air pump at one end and a flame at the other, with which they lit the lamps.“They were introduced to speed up the lighting and dousing of the gas lamps as, originally, workers had to climb up and down ladders.“The workers had to go around maybe a dozen of these on one shift.“The story goes that a lamp lighter could ride his bicycle past the lamps and turn them off without stopping – it became a fine art.”The many different gas lamps used between 1830 and 1930 mean it is hard to date the lighting sticks, but a petition handed to a Cardiff gas company on August 24, 1899, might provide a clue. Residents of Cowbridge Road collected 39 signatures on their petition calling for new Bray’s lamps to replace the old ones, which were said to be unreliable and dim. According to Chris Sugg, Bray was a gas company from the Midlands, the main rival to his family’s firm.Cardiff historian Bill Twamley wrote about gas lighters in the 1920s and 30s in his book Cardiff and Me, 60 Years Ago.He said: “He would appear again in the evening on his bike and a long pole to hook the chain to turn the gas on.“One of the stages of growing up was the ability to shin up the lamp post and hang from the arm.”The gas lighter’s hat, hook and lighting stick will be displayed in The Cardiff Story museum when it opens next year.”

Gas to residents of the town was supplied from a central gas plant, such as the one shown opposite that was the “new” gas works of 1880. According to an account of the town’s history by Charles H. Strange." In 1843 a gas
company was formed in the town and a network of gas pipes installed to provide gas to homes, businesses and street lamps."

A few old postcard views of Tunbridge Wells (early 1900's)show street lamps but most of them appear to be electric lamps. some gas lamps  were still in use in the 20th century before WW II but most and eventually all of them were replaced by electric lamps and scrapped, and with their demise came the end of lamplighters in the town. The ‘Electrical Review’ of September 27,1895 reported “ Tunbridge Wells……On the 19th inst. The electric current was switched on to the Town Hall for the first time”, indicating  that at least part of the town became electrified in that year.

Roger Mercer who wrote a book entitled ‘A Wartime Childhood (1939-1945) states that he was born in 1932 and in 1939 he and many other children were evacuated to Tunbridge Wells by train and says “When we arrived there was a fleet of double decker buses waiting for us and a cup of cocoa (which was cold). We were then taken to the village of High Brooms by bus where we were billeted………I used to like watching the lamplighter come round on his bike balancing his short ladder on his shoulder to light the gas lamps”.

Although Ancestry Uk is a useful tool for conducting research it unfortunately does not make provision for searching census records(except the 1911 census) by occupation and therefore I made no attempt to troll through thousands of census records for 1901 back in time looking for residents of the town describing themselves as lamplighters. It was interesting, and somewhat surprising to find however  that in the 1911 census there was only one person listed as a lamplighter in the town, namely William Baley, age 52 who was living with his brother at 8 Bassinghall Street.

Accounts pertaining to the destruction of the Nevill Cricket Ground Pavilion in April 11,1913 by fire state that the fire was discovered by a passing lamplighter and that the fire brigade was then alerted. Shown above is a photo of the fire by local photographer  Percy Lankester who had his studio at the Great Hall and later in his career on the High Street. This was one of two known views of the fire taken by him.

How many lamplighters were employed in the town at any one time is not known to the researcher but there must have been several of them. Unfortunately no photograph of a Tunbridge Wells lamplighter at work was found, but shown opposite is a photo of Harry Ernest
Wigley at work, who was born 1884 in Ramsgate,Kent.

 

 

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