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

Date: August 4,2017

The Pantiles Gardens, located in the Upper Walks, was not an original feature of this commercial district but rather was installed on the site of a former shop(s) located to the north of 38-42 Pantiles (photo opposite) built in 1856 by William Willicombe.

A booklet by Philip Whitbourne entitled ‘The Pantiles Royal Tunbridge Wells’ produced for the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society as ‘Occasional Paper No. 3’ has this to say about the The Pantiles Gardens “ Shortly before the last war (referring to WW II), nos. 30-36 The Pantiles were thought to be in such poor condition as to need replacement. However, rebuilding was interrupted by the war, and there remained a gap in the Upper Walk, which was laid out as a garden for a time. The present buildings numbered 30-36 were erected in 1985 to the designs of the architects Manning and Clamp and skillfully respect the considerable difference in height between their older neighbours”.

Shown above left is a photo in which the red brick buildings of 1985 are shown occupying the site between No. 28 on the north and 38 on the south. Just beyond this building can be seen 38-42 Pantiles with its three levels of bay windows shown in the photo top right. Shown to the  right is another view taken looking in the same direction which shows the entrance to the gardens.

Shown opposite right is a photo dated 1955 in which the columns along the front of the garden can be seen, with a glimpse provided of one of the benches in the park visible between the columns. Also visible to the right of the gardens can be seen the clock of the Cadena Café who occupied No. 26-28 from about 1918 and were still there in 1938, which clock has for many years been referred to as “The Pantiles Clock”. Shown opposite left is another view of the entrance and Mr Mercer's shop sign on the building at No. 38.

Exactly when the former buildings on the site of the gardens were demolished to make way for them was not established but based on postcard views of the Pantiles it had to be after 1945 and before 1955 and most likely circa 1950. Shown below is a multiview postcard recently offered for sale on ebay in which can be seen in the bottom left a view from within the gardens looking through the columns into the Upper Walk. The sign above the archway reading "The Pantiles" strongly suggests that access to the gardens, apart from within the Pantiles, was also by way of Eridge Road, otherwise the sign would be redundant.

A review of local directories in the period up to 1938 show that the shops of 30-36 Pantiles had seen a number of tenants as given in the table below.

No. 26-28 Cadena Café (1914-1938)

No. 30 R.S. McIntosh (private residence 1914); Frederick William Sturt, optician (1911-1934)

No. 32 Tunbridge Wells Literary Society (1914); Tunbridge Wells Natural History & Philosophical Society (1918-1922)

No. 34 George Park, tobacconist (1918-1934)

No. 36 Isaac Philpot, boot and shoemaker (1903-1918); George Philpot (1930-1934)

Shown below are two postcard views of The Pantiles Gardens, taken within the gardens. Towards the right can be seen the columns in the Pantiles and within the gardens is a small fountain. Amidst the walkways and flower beds in the garden were arranged benches where people could sit and relax from a busy days shopping.

The view on the left was by local postcard publisher photochrom and is undated although the ebay seller incorrectly dated it to the 1920’s. The view on the right was dated “1950’s” by the ebay seller.

One of the postcard views shows the shop of Mr Mercer at 38 Pantiles. This was the shop of George Mercer, a tailor born 1846 in Frant. He had a shop in the Pantiles for many years. In 1881 he occupied No. 21; in 1891 he was at No. 27; in 1901 he was at 42 and 44. The 1911 census gave him as a tailor at No. 42. At No. 38 in the 1911 census was W. Miller at bank official . No. 38 at the time of the 1901 census was occupied by Arthur H. Bateman, a 44 year old bank manager.

A review of Planning Applications sheds further light on the location of The Pantiles Gardens, which is labelled on maps from 1983 to 1990 as the “Rest Gardens” and the redevelopment of the site. The first application was in November 1983 entitled “Colonnade 30-36 Pantiles regarding listed building consent for renovations and repairs, which application was approved. Shown above is a plan, highlighted in red, from this application.

An application dated July 1986 , by Spehawk Land and Estates, for two shops ; 4-2BR flats and 2 bed sit flats at The Walks House 30-36 Pantiles. This application was approved but the work did not go ahead.

An Application dated September 1986 was for demolition of rear part of existing colonnade The Walks House 30-36 Pantiles, This application by Spehawk Land and Estates was approved.

The next application, Spehawk Land and Estates was in June 1987 for 2 shops; 4-1BR flats; 4-2BR flats and 1-3BR flat. This application was approved.

An application for a new shop front at The Walks 30-36 Pantiles was withdrawn. The last application was by Mrs P. Scubert of Unit 2 30/36 The Pantiles for a new shop front, which application was approved. Shown above is a plan from this application.



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

Date: February 4,2015


The Grosvenor Brewery was located in the area of Grosvenor Road and Tunnel Road with an address of 43 Tunnel Road. The brewery was begun in the 1870’s by the brothers William and Thomas Edwards, and later by their older brother Robert Edwards (1826-1891). These three brothers had another brother in the town by the name of Obadiah Edwards (1832-1905) who in the early 1870’s was the licensed victualler of the Grosvenor Tavern/Hotel at 1 Calverley Road. For anyone interested in Obadiah Edwards and the history of the pub he ran see my article ‘The Grosvenor Hotel’ dated October 17,2014.

William and Thomas Edwards ran their brewery on Tunnel Road until 1900, when in that year the brewery and two pubs were put up for sale and bought by William Edward Young, operating as W.E. Young & Co, a local coal and coke merchant business. The brewery only lasted until 1902 when in that year it went out of business.This article reports on the Edwards family and the history of the Grosvenor Brewery .


The patriarch of this family was Robert Edwards(1805-1883) who was an agricultural labourer and farmer in Hartfield,Sussex in the 1820’s. In 1830 Robert was appointed a looker by the Commoners Association of Ashdown Forest to enforce the regulations. In 1831 he became a tenant of Lines Farm in Hartfield and in the same year took over Rist Land adjoining Lines Farm. He was still at Lines Farm in 1841 and in 1849 he hired Little Parrock Farm. He is shown in the 1851 census at Lines Farm where he was looking after 130 acres of land and employing two men. The 1867 directory listed him as a farmer and brickmaker at Lines Farm and a 178 directory gave the lising “ R.E. & Son,farmers & brickmakers, Lines Farm”. The 1881 census recorded him at Farming Lines Farm of 156 acres where he employed 5 men and 1 boy. Robert died in 1883 and was buried January 26,1883 at St Mary the Virgin, Hartfield.

Robert had married Hannah Cottinton (1806-1896)  on November 26,1825 and with her had six sons and six daughters all born in Harfield,Sussex, between 1826 and 1850. His wife had been born in Framfield,Sussex and died November 6,1896 at Andrews Bank, Hartfield,Sussex. Of the six sons four ended up, at least for a time, in the brewery business or as licensed victuallers of public houses, with the rest largely remaining in agriculture.

The four sons of particular interest, who found their way to operate businesses in Tunbridge Wells were Robert Edwards (1826-1891), who for a time in the 1890s worked as a brewery assistant for his younger brothers William and Thomas: Obadiah Edwards (1832-1905), who in the early 1870’s was a brewer and licensed victualler of the Grosvenor Hotel/ Tavern at 1 Calverley Road (photo opposite); William Edwards, who was born 1844 in Hartfield and his younger brother Thomas, born 1846 in Hatfield, the latter two being the proprietors of the Grosvenor Brewery at 43 Tunnel Road,Tunbridge Wells.

The Edwards son who took a leading role in the operation of the Grosvenor Brewery was William Edwards. William had been born May 12,1844 at Hartfield,Sussex and was baptised at St Mary the Virgin, Harfield. In 1847 he was assisting his father in his work as Reeve. The 1861 census finds his at his father’s farm (Lines Farm) where he was working on the family farm. He was still at the 152 acre farm at the time of the 1871 census. With him was his brothers Thomas ,John and George and one of his sisters. Also there were two hired farm labourers.

Sometime between 1871 and 1881 William and his brother Thomas moved to Tunbridge Wells and established the Grosvenor Brewery. The book ‘Yesterdays Bottles’ by Tucker and Heatherignton, published in 1981 by the Kent & Sussex Bottle Club gave the following listing in the directory “ William and Thomas Edwards, Grosvenor Brewery, Tunnel Road, 1870-1900” but in 1871 the two brothers were still on the family farm. It is known from the birth records of his children that the latest he arrived in Tunbridge Wells was 1876.

In 1875 William married Emily Hannah Luck in Tunbridge Wells, and his wife was from the well -known local Luck family. Those familiar with the history of the Pantiles will recall that  J. Luck and Son were importers and merchants of fine English and foreign china and had a shop in the Pantiles. Other members of the Luck family are also known to local historians. Williams wife was related to this family.William and his wife had two sons and five daughters, between 1876 and 1888, all of whom were born in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1881 census, taken at the Grosvenor Brewery, 43 Tunnel Road recorded William as a brewer. With him was his wife Emily, their sons Thomas William Edwards, born 1876; Egbert George Williams, born 1878 and daughters Emily Harriet Edwards, born 1879 and Evelyn Charlotte Edwards, born 1880. Also present in the home was Williams brother Thomas Edwards, age 34 who was a brewer.

Sacks of barley and hops were delivered to the brewery from local farms by horse and wagon. When turned into beer it was put up in wooden kegs, stoneware bottles and glass bottles and sold on the premises and also transported by horse and wagon to the local public houses. A generic photo of beer being delivered is shown opposite. For information on hops and the process of beer making see my article ‘The History of Hops Growing’ dated May 8,2012.

William left Tunbridge Wells sometime before 1891 and left the brewery in charge of his brother Thomas. William is found in the 1891 census working as a brewers drayman at Gardner Street in Hertmonceux,Sussex. His wife and some of his children were living with him.

The 1901 census, taken at No. 7 North Terrace at Holbourn Hastings St Clement, recorded William as a fish hawker on own account. With him was his wife Emily and this three youngest daughters Eva Blanche Edwards, born 1885; Lillian Ethel Edwards, born 1886 and Florence Minnie Edwards, born 1888.Both Eva and Lillian were working as general domestic servants.

The 1911 census, taken at 28 Emmanuel Road in Hastings,Sussex, recorded William as a fish salesman on own account. With him was his wife Emily and a grandson. The census recorded that they were living in 8 rooms; that they had been married 37 years and that of the 8 children born only 5 were still living. It is not known when William died but likely in the 1920’s in Hastings,Sussex.

Turning now to his brother Thomas , he was born in July 1946 at Hartfield,Sussex. He was baptised there at the St Mary the Virgin Church on July 12,1846. The census records of 1861 and 1871 show him living with his parents and siblings on the family farm in Hartfield.

As noted above, he came to Tunbridge Wells with his older brother William and is found living with his brothers family at the Grosvenor Brewery at 43 Tunnel Road where he was working as a brewer. When his brother William left Tunbridge Wells Thomas took over the running of the business.

The 1891 census, taken at The Grosvenor Brewery, 43 Tunnel Road, recorded Thomas as a brewer employer. With him was his wife Catherine Mary Edwards, nee Finch (1862-aft 1912) and his older brother Robert Edwards (1826-1891). Robert had been born in Hartfiled,Sussex and died at the brewery in 1891 and was  buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery. Robert was given in the census as an assistant brewer. The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Thomas Edwards, Goods Station Road,Tunnel Road, beer retailer and brewer.

As noted in the overview Thomas Edwards sold the brewery in 1900 and left Tunbridge Wells. He is found in the 1901 census at Lodge Farm at Mark Cross St Mark, Rotherfield where he was given as a farmer employer. With him was his wife Catherine. Catherine had  been born in Reading,Berskshire  and it was not established when or where she died but most likely in Sussex in the 1930’s.

The 1911 census, taken at the same farm as in 1901 gave Thomas as a farmer employer and living with him in an eight room residence was just his wife Catherine. The census recorded that the couple were married 21 years and that they never had any children. It is not known when or where Thomas died but most likely in Sussex in the 1920’s.

W.E. YOUNG & Co.

As noted in the overview and above, Thomas Edwards sold the Grosvenor Brewery in 1900. The Bottle Book I referred to earlier gave the following. “ In 1900 this brewery and two pubs were put up for sale and bought by W.E. Young & Co., a local business dealing in coal and coke.The brewery only lasted another two years before going out of business.

The company referred to was that of William Edward Young. William had been born 1863 in Reculver, Kent and was one of 11 children born to George Young (1817-1906) and Mary Crayford (1832-1911).He was baptised at Reculver October 18,1863 .

The 1871 census, taken at Oxendens Corner in Chislet,Kent Recorded George Young as a farm labourer, born in Reculver,Kent. Living with him was his wife Mary, born in Elham,Kent and  four of their children, including William Edward Young. Also in the home was William Crayfiord, age 87, a widower.

William continued to live in Reculver for many years and was married but his first wife died and it is believed that there were no children from the marriage.

On April 12,1899 William married Alice Servier, born 1865 in Marchwood,Hampshire, one of several children born to Robert Servier, who at the time of his daughters marriage was a gardener. The couple were married at St Peter and St Paul church in Teddington. William was given as a widower and a coal merchant who at the time was resideing at 2 Cumberland Gardens in Tunbridge Wells. His wife was a spinster living at Fulwell Road in Upper Teddington. William and Alice had to children Raymond Edward Young, born 1901 in Tunbridge Wells and Kathleen Alice Mary Young, born 1903 in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1901 census, taken at Cumberland Gardens (photo opposite), Tunbirdge Wells, recorded William as a coal merchant employer. With him was his wife Alice , their son Raymond and Williams 24 year old sister Edith Fanny May Young (1876-1961)and one servant. The 1901 Kelly directory gave the listing “ William Edward Young. Coal/corn merchant, Cumberland Yard”.  

The 1911 census, taken at 448 Fulhan Road in Fulham,London recorded William Edward Young as a dining room keeper. With him was his wife Alice; his two children and his sister Edith Fanny May Young. Alice was shown as assisting her husband in the business as was his sister. Probate records show that William Edward Young was of Thirnhill 13 Elms Avenue in Ramsgate,Kent when he died May 19,1938 at St Marks Hospital. The executors of his 729 pound estate was his wife Alice and his son Raymond Edward Young, a commercial traveller. With this I end my coverage of the history of the Grosvenor Brewery.



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

Date; February 1,2015

I lead of my coverage of this topic with the image opposite of the Mount Pleasant Brewery in Tunbridge Wells as presented in the book ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’ by Roger Farthing, published in 1990. The text associated with this image reads “ The Mount Pleasant Brewery was started by William Baines who leased the site in December 1689. He died in 1720 and the brewery passed to William King. Robert Friend and his descendants had it from 1750 until at least 1808. It had become Bell’s Brewery by 1845 when it was demolished to make way for the Central Station”.

A plan from 1844 shows the proposed route of the railway line  to Tunbridge Wells  in the section between the Powder Mill Viaduct to the Grove Tunnel. Accompanying this plan was a book of reference  listing the affected landowners and occupiers and in this list appears a reference to the site of the Mount Pleasant Brewery , then run by William Bell and referred to at that time as Bell’s Brewery, although the name on the building, as shown in the image above was ‘Mount Pleasant Brewery”. 

Shown below left is an image of the “up” Central Station from the book ‘Then and Now Tunbridge Wells’ by Phillip Burgess, published 1999. The associated text reads “ The railway line first came to Tunbridge Wells in 1845, three years after it reached Tonbridge. On September 19,1845 a ceremonial train arrived at Jack Woods Station , which was the old Goods Station. However, it was not until 1846 that a tunnel (the Wells Tunnel) under Mount Pleasant was dug and the Central Station opened, on the site of the Mount Pleasant Brewery.At this time there was a building on the “up” platform only, which is the building on the left. The building on the “down” platform, on the right with the clock tower, was opened in 1911.The yard in the foreground has made way for a taxi rank and customer’s car park”.  Shown below right is a view of the station looking south.

The book ‘Yesterdays Bottles’ by Peter Tucker and Keith Heatherington,published by The Kent & Sussex Bottle Club in 1981 gives the following “ The coming of the railway to Tunbridge Wells marked the end of two breweries; William Bell had a brewery at the bottom of Mount Pleasant, now the site of the Central Station. The station was opened in 1846 and although the brewery continued for a few years, the railway expansion soon devoured it”. The article continues by referring to the second brewery affected, namely that of Thomas Newman, which was lost when the Tunbridge Wells West Station was built and opened in 1866, being that of the LB & SCR line.The Central Station was part of the SER line.Later the two stations would be interconnected by the construction of a branch line from the Grove Junction, south of the Grove Tunnel  westward to the site of the Tunbridge Wells West Station. The brewery directory , given in this book, listed “ William Bell, Mount Pleasant, circa 1824-1850”. No images of any beer containers for this brewery were presented in the book.  The same book stated “ There are records of breweries in Tunbridge Wells as early as 1700, unlike today when there are none in operation”. For information, including a brief reference to the Mount Pleasant Brewery, a general early brewing history of the town and a detailed coverage of the history of Kelsey’s Culverden Brewery , see may article ‘Early Brewing History and The Culverden Brewery, St John’s Road’ dated May 5,2012.

With respect to beer containers the Bottle Club book referred to above states “ Beer was generally sold from the barrel but early in the 19th century, bottles of rough stoneware were used for ale, stout and porter, a good example being the bottle from Smith & Son a grocer in Tonbridge circa 1860. With the repeal of excise duty on glass in 1845, the glass beer bottle became an economic proposition, although it was not until the mid-Victorian era that it began to emerge as the main conveyor of the beverage. The first beer bottles were stoppered with a cork held in place by wire, but the invention of the internal screw stopper in the early 1870’s meant a more reliable sealing”. To read more about the evolution of beer containers after 1870 I suggest reading this book or others on the topic. Shown opposite is a photo of old beer bottles with related legend covering the period from 1770 to 1900.

There were four essential products necessary for the production of beer, namely a good source of water,hops and barley to make the beer and wooden barrels, made by coopers in which to make and transport it. Most if not all of the barley and hops used to make beer in Tunbridge Wells was grown locally, and Kent certainly had the reputation of being a major producer. In the 19th century, for example, some 46,600 acres of hops was grown in Kent, representing 2/3 of the national acerage. The hops was dried , usually on the farm, in an oast house and transported to the brewery in sacks piled high on wagons pulled by a team of horses. The same was done with the barley, both of which being stored inside the brewery until needed. Shown above is photo, taken at the local Culverden Brewery showing the storage of hops and barley. For anyone interested in the  hops industry and the process of making beer see my article ‘The History of Hops Growing’ dated May 8,2012. Charles Hilbert Strange in his 1946  “The History of Tunbridge Wells” stated that on the site of the Central Station once stood a brewery “ and against it a large pond”. Where the brewery got its water from is not known but rather than the pond referred to by  C.H. Strange it was most likely a spring, of which the town had many.

The appearance of horse drawn wagons, loaded with grain or beer, would have been a familiar sight in the town during the 18th and 19th century and the intersection of Mount Pleasant Road and the High Street would have been a busy spot as they came and went from the Mount Pleasant Brewery. As there was no river or stream at this location, the brewery must have relied upon a good source of spring water, something that was plentiful in the town.

Returning to the location of the brewery, the brewery and other buildings were located where the station is shown on grounds between Lonsdale Gardens to the north and High Street to the south., and due to the dominance of the site by the train station it is hard to believe the claim by the authors of the Bottle Club book that after the train station was built in 1846 “the brewery continued for a few years(after 1846) until the railway expansion soon devoured it. What “expansion” the authors are referring to is unknown but most definitely was not the construction of the “down” building in the early 1900’s, for the brewery was long gone by then. Where exactly the brewery building was on this site, relative to the corner of Mount Pleasant Road and the High Street, has not been established.  Shown below left is a map of 1808 on which the brewery is labelled as " Friends Brewhouse". Below right is a map of 1828 on which the brewery is labelled "Bell's Brewhouse". A map of 1839 labels it as "Bells Brewery.

In terms of compensation for  land expropriated for use by the railway, the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act and Railway Clauses Consolidation Act, both of 1845, provided the method for determining compensation in the absence of agreement. The English  “Clauses” acts contained very little substantive law about the measure of compensation or the criteria by which it should be computed and as a result, common law principles helped to develop and evolve the measure and criteria for determining the amount of compensation to be paid. As noted earlier ,Thomas Newan, who lost his land to permit the construction of the Tunbridge Wells West station, ended up suing the Railway Company for compensation after losing several acres of his land. He had sued for 1,200 pounds but only received 300 pounds plus costs against the railway. William Bell was offered money for his land but what amount he received is not known.

As noted at the top of this article, “ The Mount Pleasant Brewery was started by William Baines who leased the site in December 1689. He died in 1720 and the brewery passed to William King. Robert Friend and his descendants had it from 1750 until at least 1808. It had become Bell’s Brewery by 1845 when it was demolished to make way for the Central Station”.The Bottle Club book directory also lists “ Friend, Mount Pleasant, circa 1740” and “Kings, Mount Pleasant, circa 1740” but no other information is given about them . It is clear that there is a connection between the Robert Friend who had the brewery in 1750 is the same “Friend” given with a brewery on Mount Pleasant in 1740 and it would also appear that there must have been a  business connection between Mr Friend and Mr King who were at Mount Pleasant at the same time.

So what is known about the occupants of this brewery? It is claimed that  William Baines ran the brewery from 1689 until his death in 1720 .Little definitive information is known about him except from a probate record dated March 14,1719 in which a William “ Banes” had passed away, who was a resident of Tunbridge Wells. His will, quite a long detailed one,he states he was “infirm of body but sound of mind”, and  tells of substantial land and building holdings in the town and for the times significant assets, who he left to a number of people. Most notably was  “a brewhouse” to his eldest son William Banes. He also left part of his estate to his wife Ann, his youngest son Thomas (house ,barns,stables) and his daughter Sarah, the wife of Thomas Dupley of Chatham. It is the opinion of the researcher that William Banes is the same person as William Baines.

After this gentlemen the historical account refers to the brewery being in the possession of William King who no doubt bought the brewery from Thomas Banes who had inherited it from his father in 1719. Based on information already given William King must have left the brewery sometime before 1740 when Mr Friend took it over. There is a death record for a William King in Kent indicating he was buried on April 21,1853 but it has not been established if this is the same man.

After Mr King the brewery was reported to be run by Robert Friend and his decendents from 1750 until 1808. As I have noted the Bottle Club book listed a Mr Friend at Mount Pleasant circa 1740.The 1823 Pigots directory for Tunbridge Wells has only one listing for anyone in the Friend family and that was James Friend, a Tunbridge Ware maker, who may be related. James Friend (1782-1862) and his brother John Friend(1780-1867) were active in the Tunbridge Ware trade from about 1822 to 1861. There was a Robert Friend baptised February 6,1717 at Speldhurst, the son of Robert and Hanna Friend and another baptised July 6,1746 at Speldhurst, the son of Jeremiah Friend. Also a baptism of a Robert Friend in Tunbridge Wells April 18,1760, the son of Robert and Elizabeth Friend, and a Robert Friend baptised in Tunbridge Wells April 6,1750, the son of William and Mary Friend. Two deaths are known, namely Robert Friend buried in Speldhurst February 18,1763 and another in Speldhurst on January 25,1769. Whether any of these apply to Robert Friend the brewer is not known but there is one definite record from the Kent Archaeological Report of 2012 in which it was recorded in a document dated November 17,1761 that there was a bond to pay money and perform covenants in mortgage of Robert Friend of Tunbridge Wells, brewer, to Elizabeth Gott of Goudhurst. There is also a record of Robert Friend (1760-1820), a brewer and silhouette artist of Tunbridge Wells who married Ann Wood, a decendent of Nicholas Wood, a fellmonger. The same Ann Friend, nee Wood died in 1832 and her will was proved in London on April 9,1832, with Ann Gilbert mentioned as a beneficiary. Ann Friend was given as a widow in 1832. Robert Friend had married Ann Wood by licence , in Tunbridge Wells on May 21,1792.

Of all the occupants of the brewery, the one for which the most information is known is that of William Bell. William Bell was born 1788 in Kent. On April 10,1818 he married Ann Maryan, born 1796, in Tunbridge Wells. The 1824 Pigots directory listed three brewers in the town namely (1) William Bell, Mount Pleasant (2) George Denyer (original brewery (3) Sarah Mary Pittock. The 1840 Pigots directory listed these breweries (1) William Bell, Mount Pleasant (2) Lidbetter & Newman, London Road (3) John Stringer, Victoria brewery, Eridge Road. The 1826 Pigots directory gave three breweries namely (1) William Bell, Mount Pleasant (2) Charles Kettel (3) Richard Pittock. The 1835 directory listed William Bell as a brewer and coal merchant in Tunbridge Wells. With reference to Lidbetter & “Newman”, the name in quotes is how it appears in the directory but the Bottle Club book gives it as Lidbetter & “Newnham” who were both brewers and coal merchants.The correct name for this company was Lidbetter & Newnham with Mr Newnham being John Newnham. Thomas Newman, who I refer to elsewhere, had no connection with this brewery business.

The 1841 census, taken at “Mount Pleasant” listed William Bell, born 1788 Kent, a brewer. Living with him was his wife Anna, born 1796 Kent, and their three children (1) Maria, born 1821 Kent (2) Amelia, born 1826 Kent (3) Herbert, born 1832 Kent. They also had a son William Thomas Bell, baptised November 20,1820 in Tunbridge Wells and although it is known he was alive in 1841 and for many years after he was not living with his parents at the time of the 1841 census.  Also missing from this census was Williams son Frank Bell who had been baptised in Tunbridge Wells on August 21,1829. Frank is found in Sevenoaks in the 1841 census, living at the Military Academy. The 1851 census recorded Frank as single, age 29, living on Eridge Road near the slaughter house and working as an agent for some company. Also missing was William’s daughter Catherine Bell who had been baptised in Tunbridge Wells February 9,1827. William had another daughter by the name of Amelia Bell who was baptised in Tunbridge Wells on February 25,1822. His son Herbert Maryan Bell had been baptised in Tunbridge Wells October 26,1831 but he died in Bromley,Kent in the 4th qtr of 1854. There was also a daughter Maria Ann Bell, baptised in Tunbridge Wells May 7,1819. So William Bell and his wife had a total of seven children, all born in Tunbridge Wells between 1819 and 1831.

The 1847 Pigots directory gave the listing “William Bell, Victoria Brewery” and “Lidbetter & Newnham, London Road”. No directory or census records were found for William Bell after 1847 and it is believed by a decendent of the family that William Bell ,a brewer, died at Fulham, Middlesex on January 31,1858.

The Sussex Advertiser of February 21,1846 gave the announcement “ The workmen are now actively engaged in pulling down the brewhouse, lately rented by Mr Bell, and also the other buildings in front of Mount Pleasant Terrace”. This refers to the work being undertaken to make way for the railway line and the train station.

The 1851 census, taken at Bishops Down, Tunbridge Wells listed two of William’s spinster daughters living together, namely, Amelia Bell, a schoolmistress, and Catherine Bell, a governess. Also present in the home were three scholars, five visitors (lodgers) and two domestic servants. This indicates that the Bell sisters were operating a small girls school. Both sisters are found in the 1881 census at Heighton, Sussex where both were given as annuitants.

William Bell’s eldest son William Thomas Bell married Frances Ray at Bromley,Kent on February 26,1848 and at the time of his marriage he was living in Tunbridge Wells and was a maltster. His father was shown in his marriage records as William Bell, brewer. Frances Ray had been born at Bromley,Kent June 17,1822 and at the time of the marriage was living in Bromley with her father Thomas Ray, a corn merchant. Her mother was Sarah Ray. At the time of the 1851 census William Thomas Bell, an assistant brewer,  and his wife and two daughters were living at Green Street, Green,Chelsford, Kent. Also with the family was his brother Herbert, a clerk to a corn merchant.  When William Thomas Bell’s daughter Edith was born in 1848 ,when the family was living at Kingston,Surrey, William Thomas Bell was given as “gentleman. When Kate Fanny Bell was born in 1850 the family were living at Chelsfield, Kent and at that time William was a clerk to a brewer. At the time of the 1881 census four of his daughters were living in Swansea, Glamorgan. It is not known if he had any more children, but he was still alive when his daughter Edith Bell married John Henry Bolitho in Swansea on April 23,1873 when at that time he was given as a clerk on the wedding certificate. The three other daughters found on the 1881 census for Swansea were Mary Bristow (agre 32), Kate Fanny (age 30) and Louise, age 28. All three were living together and were spinsters.

After the SER took over the Mount Pleasant Brewery property in 1845/1846 William Bell took over  the operation of the Victoria Brewery. As noted above he is found there in the 1847 directory. Although the Victoria Brewery is a topic for a separate article I have given here a brief introduction to it to fill out the story about William Bell before he left Tunbridge Wells.

The brewers directory from the Bottle Club book gave the following “T.Newman, Victoria Brewery, circa 1850-1866. Indicating that he had acquired the brewery from William Bell sometime after 1847 but before about 1850. John Stringer is given in the 1840 Pigots directory as the propriety of the Victoria Brewery on Eridge Road.Thomas Newman of the Victoria Brewery  on the Parade was born 1815 at Wasling,Surrey.He is found listed in the 1861 census,taken on Eridge Road,Tunbridge Wells as a 46 year old brewer living with is three daughters Elizabeth,age 26;Mary,age 36 and Clementina,age 12, all born at Wasling.It appears that by 1861 his wife had passed away leaving Thomas to look after the children as well as his brewery business. William bell passed away sometime between 1851 and 1858 for he is not found in the 1858 directory of Tunbridge Wells. An ancestor of his reports that William Bell,a brewer, passed away at Fulhan,Middlesex on January 31,1858 and is sure that this is the correct William Bell. With this I end my coverage of the Mount Pleasant Brewery.



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

Date: January 31,2015

George Richard Rains Turner (1924-1898) (photo opposite)was decended from the well-known Turner family of Penshurst . It was Geroges grandfather William Turner (1762-1828) who took over the ownership and operation of the Chafford paper manufacturing mill in 1796. The Chafford Mill was located in Fordcombe, which was until 1848 in the parish of Penshurst and located near the turnpike road, 4 miles from Tunbridge Wells and about the same distance from the town of Tonbridge. Details about this mill and its operation by the Turner family ,and by others ,can be found in my article ‘The Life and Times of Henry Warden’ dated June 1,2013. Henry Warden became involved himself in the operation of the Chafford Mill through his marriage to Arabella Eliza Turner , one of the granddaughters of William Turner (1762-1828) who began in 1796 the Turner family dynasty at this and other mills in the area.

Arabella Eliza Turner, baptised at Penshurst June 2,1831 was one of six children born to Richard Turner (1801-1872) and Eliza Turner, nee Edwards (1807-1891). Her father and brother Richard David Rains Turner (born 1833)were actively involved with the ownership and operation of the Chafford Mill until Henry Warden took it over in 1881. Richard Turner (1801-1872) was one of five children born to William Turner (1762-1828) and Elizabeth Barton (1757-1837). He and his brother George William Turner, born 1788, along with their father William were initially partners in the paper manufacturing business with each of them operating different mills. George William Turner was most associated with operating the mill at Bermondsey but on May 5, 1835, he and his partner Henry Davey went bankrupt and this branch of the family appears to have fallen on hard times

George William Turner had married Frances Otway Rains (1802-1836) at St Lukes,Chelsea, and with her had two sons and one daughter .His eldest son  George Richard Rains Turner (1824-1898) is  the central figure in this article. Born in Speldhurst and baptised there on January 19,1825, he was only 10 years old when his father went bankrupt in his paper manufacturing business. He had been born both deaf and dumb and began life at a great disadvantage. To what extent he was educated is not known but he lived most of his early life with his parents and siblings in Speldhurst.

At an early age he turned his interests to working with wood and became a skilled wood turner and carver.On December 29,1858 he married Mary Burrows at St Alphenge,Greenwich(image opposite). The marriage records gave him as a bachelor with the occupation of wood carver and a resident of Speldhurst. His father was given as George William Turner “Gentleman”.  Mary Burrows was a spinster of Morden Grove, the daughter of James Burrows, and engineer, and Sarah Burrows. Mary had been baptised at Speldhurst on December 31,1823. Her parents were married in Speldhurst June 20,1821 and her mother’s maiden name was Sarah Jemima Learner.

The only child known of George and Mary Turner was Harriette Fanny Turner, who had been baptised at Speldhurst on July 10,1861. She never married and died a spinster ,with her death registered in the 1st qtr of 1881 in Tunbridge Wells. She was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on March 14,1881. The 1871 census, taken at 4 Elizabeth cottages recorded George R.R. Turner,born 1825, as a turner and carver of wood. Living with him was his wife Mary, born 1824, a teacher of drawing. Also present was their daughter Harriette, given as born 1862 East London, St Georges, a scholar.  This residence was located in Tunbridge Wells next door to No. 1 Poona Place in the Grove Hill area of town.

Poona Road is a private dead end gravel road that extends south from Grove Hill Road. Most of the homes on it are 2 sty red brick terrace homes, like the one shown opposite. Estate agents records describe Poona Road as a “leafy private road” and that No. 5 Poona Road is a 2sty end terrace residence having two bedrooms and finished space in the attic with a 58 foot yard.

The 1881 census, taken at 5 Poona Road recorded the Turner family as the occupants with George given as “George N. Turner,age 56, born 1825 Tunbridge Wells , and working as s turner and carver. Living with him was his wife Mary, born 1824,Tunbridge Wells, an “artist painting”, and one general servant.

Death records noted the passing of “George Richard R. Turner, born 1825, with his death registered in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1898. The records of the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery recorded that George Richard Rains Turner was buried there on February 15,1898. No probate record for him was found and no definitive information about what became of his wife was found.

There are three photographic images relating to George Richard Rains Turner. The first is a small  photo of him from the book ‘Tunbridge Wells As It Was’ by Jean Mauldon , who the author describes as “George Turner the deaf and dumb photographer of Poona Road circa 1880. As one can see from this image George appears to be a rather disheveled man either unhappy or deep in thought,set in a  garden scene with a garden space standing upright behind him. This photo was most likely taken in the garden of his home at 5 Poona Road. This photograph is shown at the top of this article

The second photograph that relates to him is also from the same book, and appears on pg 28. The image (shown opposite) is that of the Tunbridge Wells West Station which the author gives as circa 1880. The caption with the image states “ This station was opened in October 1866 to serve the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. It was not actually named the West Station until 1923, being most often referred to as the “Brighton Station” before that date. Built on palatial lines, the frontage here depicted was 195 feet long. The entrance is into the main booking hall. “Growlers” are waiting on the cab rank. The photograph was taken by George Turner, a local deaf and dumb photographer who is reputed to seen Queen Victoria crowned in 1837”.

To what extent he took photographs is unknown but what is known is that he was an amateur photographer for his name does not appear in any trade directories as a photographer and for that matter is not found in any directories as a wood carver/turner. It is obvious that he did not operate his own business but instead worked for others. A large number of local men who were wood carvers and turners worked for the local Tunbridge Ware industry and it is most likely that George worked for one of them, who were involved in making wooden bowls, spindles etc where he would have done turning on a manual lathe.

Shown below is the front and back of another photograph by George of hop pickers in Kent.

It is likely that George was a self -taught photographer, for although The Tunbridge Wells amateur Photographic Society existed during the life of George Turner, the society was not formed until January 1887, which puts is formation some seven years after Georges photo of the West Station given above.

The craft of wood carving and wood turning is an ancient one, that in most cases was a skill passed down from father to son, but in George’s case he must have begun as an apprentice to someone outside the family for there were no others in the Turner clan known to possess these skills. Perhaps his selection of trade was born out of his physical disabilities which would have made it all but impossible to work in many other professions and the financial status of the family, as result of his father’s bankruptcy, no doubt was another factor.Shown above and elsewhere are two images related to his trade, one showing a woodworkers bench with the tools of the trade and the other a man doing some turning on a pole lathe. Wood turners of the district had been famed since the seventeenth century and as Tunbridge Wells developed as a fashionable spa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries so visitors expected to purchase souvenirs produced by local craftsmen. Most of the items produced however were more utilitarian in purpose.

A review was undertaken about George's wife Mary Turner, nee Burrows, who in the census records of 1871 gave her occupation as “teacher of drawing “and in 1881 as” artist painting”. No online records could be found for her as an painter, artist of teacher of drawing but one interesting literary reference was found. In 1883 the Lewis Hepworth printing company of Tunbridge Wells published a book  entitled ‘Sketches of our village and other rhyms of early and later years’ by Mary Turner. The book does not contain any illustrations but evidence indicates that the author of this book was George’s wife, for she is given in a number of records pertaining to this book  as “Mary Burrows, afterwards Turner”, suggesting that her maiden name was Burrows and when married became turner, which is certainly the case with Georges’ wife. The references also indicate she was active from 1852 to 1883,which ties in with George’s wife, yet I could not find any other literary work by her. Her maiden name of Burrows is also of interest for anyone who has studied the history of Tunbridge Ware making in Tunbridge Wells will be well aware of the significant role that the Burrows family played in the history of making Tunbridge Ware in the town, and it is believed that Mary Burrows was related to this family, even though her father James Burrows was given as an engineer on her marriage records. This would also perhaps explain George Richard Rains  Turner’s occupation was in a Tunbridge Ware related trade.


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