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

Date: June 5,2018


At Langton Green, Kent, two buildings, located side by side dating back to the 19th century came into use as the Langton Green Carriage Works and a wheelwrights premises both the businesses of Walter Wood (1867-1919) who appears in census records in Langton Green in 1901 and 1911.

Walter had been born in Maidstone, the son of a police constable. By the time of the 1881 census, taken in Maidstone, Walter was living with his parents George and Emma Wood and five siblings and was working as a wheelwrights apprentice.

In the first qtr of 1894 Walter married Mary A Simmons but the couple had no children. By the time of the 1901 census Walter and his wife were living in Langton Green where Walter was a carriage builder and wheelwright, employer.  He was still there with his wife at the time of the 1911 census as a carriage builder employer.

These two old buildings were still there in the 1960’s but had ceased to be commercial premises several years previous.

In this article I present a series of photographs of the carriage and wheelwright premises, including the one shown above by Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn.  Also presented is information about Walter Wood and his family.


Walter Wood was born in the first qtr of 1867 at Maidstone, Kent. He was one of at least seven children born to George Wood, who was born 1840 in Sunbury,Middlsex, and who by 1881 was employed as a police constable in Maidstone. Walters mother was Emma Wood (1845-1917) who was born in East Peckham, Kent and died in the 3rd qtr of 1917 in Maidstone.

The 1871 census, taken in Maidstone,gave Emma Wood as the wife of an attendant. Her husband George was not home at the time. With her was her children Annie, ae 5, born in Whitechapel; Walter, born 1867 in Maidstone and Ada F. Wood, born 1869 in Maidstone. Walter and his sister Annie were both attending school at that time.

The 1881 census, taken at 121 Bower Street in Maidstone gave George Wood as a police constable. With him was his wife Emma and his children (1) Walter, born 1867 Maidstone who was employed as a wheetwrights apprentice (2) Ada,age 12, scholar (3) Henrietta, born 1872 (4) Frederick, born 1874 (5) Albert, born 1876 (6) Beatrice, born 1879. All of the children were born in Maidstone.

At the time of the 1891 census, taken at Hale Street in East Peckham, Walter was working as a wheelwright and living as a boarder with Stephen Ashby, a general labourer, and Mr Asby’s family.

While living and working in East Peckham Walter came to know and fall in love with Mary A. Simmons. The couple were married in Maidstone in the 1st qtr of 1894. Walter and his wife however had no children, as noted in the 1911 census.

Sometime after 1894 and before 1901 Walter and his wife moved to Langton Green where he opened his carriage works and wheelwright business. In this section are a selection of photographs of his premises, two buildings located side by side.

The 1901 census, taken at Langton Green gave Walter as a carriage builder and wheelwright employing others. With him was his wife Mary A Wood, born 1869 in East Peckham. Also there was 21 year old Charles Osborne who was working for Walter as a wheelwright.

The 1911 census, taken at Langton Green noted the presence of Walter, a carriage builder employer, and his wife Mary A Wood. The census recorded that the family were living in premises of 5 rooms; that they had been married in 1894 and had no children.

In in the 2nd qtr of 1919 Walter Wood passed away in Langton Green. Who if anyone took over his business was not established. The last image in the series is shown just above and is dated “1960s” but it appears that the building was just in residential use at that time.



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

Date: May 24,2018


My interest in the Hart family was aroused by a recent discovery of a silver snuff box offered for sale at auction on which was a dedication to R.H. Mills “by the supporters of the Tunbridge Wells Races as an acknowledgement of his great exertions in their revival, 29th and 30th August 1838”.  The races referred to were horse racing on a track that had been laid out on the Commons of the town in the 1730’s. These races were an on and off again affair, being popular at times and out of favour at other times. A history of horse racing in the town was outlined in my article ‘ Horse Racing in Tunbridge Wells’ dated July 24,2014, extracts of which have been included in connection with the snuff box.

The gentleman to whom the silver box was presented was Robert Mills Hart (1804-1846) who was born in Withyham, Sussex and died in Tunbridge Wells in 1846. He was found in the 1840 Pigots directory of Tunbridge Wells as an auctioneer operating from premises on Grosvenor Road and was found on Grosvenor Road at the time of the 1841 census as an auctioneer. Living with him was his wife Mary Hart, ne Weller,age 33 and one domestic servant. Mary Weller, born 1808 had wed Robert Mills Hart in Tunbridge Wells May 4,1829 at a ceremony held at Trinity Church  Robert was one of six children born between 1802 and 1815 to Jeremiah Hart (1777-1831) and Mary Kinsey Hart, nee Mills (1779-1831). The Hart family had lived in Tunbridge Wells since 1815 at the latest. Jeremiah Hart was found in Pigots 1824 directory in Tunbridge Wells with the occupation of auctioneer. Jeremiah died in Tunbridge Wells in 1831 but was buried in Withyham. The birth records of his children indicate that he had been living in Withyham in 1809 but had a son Frederick Hart who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1815.

In this article I present information about the Hart family with a particular emphasis on their life and career in Tunbridge Wells. Also featured are photographs of the silver snuff box presented to Robert Mills Hart. As mentioned above some brief information is also provided about the history of horse racing in Tunbridge Wells and some images connected to this part of the towns history in the form of some old prints and postcard views of the Commons.


For the purposes of this article the patriarch of the Hart family was Jeremiah Hart (1877-1831). Jeremiah was bon 1777 in Aldershot, Hampshire and baptised July 6,1777 at Aldershot, one of 13 children born between 1769 and 1791, to Joseph Hart (1743-1820) and Elizabeth Hart,nee Hill (1750-1829).

The birth records of his siblings indicate that Jeremiah lived with his parents in Aldershot up to about 1791.

On March 6,1801, in the City of London, Jeremiah married Mary Kensey (sometimes given as Kinsey) Mills, who had been born 1779 and died in Tunbridge Wells at age 42 in 1831. Jeremiah and his wife had the following children (1) Thomas Mills Hart, born 1802 in Withyham, Sussex (2) Robert Mills Hart (1804-1846), one of the central figures in this article who was born in Withyham (3) Mary Kinsey Hart (1806-1852), born in Withyham (4) George Edward Hart (1808-1870) born in Withyham (5) Henry Hart, born 1809 in Withyham (6) Frederick Hart, born 1815 in Tunbridge Wells. From the birth records of these children one can conclude that Jeremiah and his wife and children took up residence in Tunbridge Wells sometime after 1809 but before 1815.

The Pigots directory of 1824 gave the listing “Jeremiah Hart, auctioner, Tunbridge Wells”. His son Robert Mills Hart was not found in this directory.

Jeremiah’s wife Mary Kensey (Kensey given on her headstone) Hart died in Tunbridge Wells age 42 in 1831. Her headstone (image below left) is located in the burial ground of St Michael and All Angels Church in Withyham (image below right). Mary’s name is the first one on the headstone. There is also given he name of an infant child and her husband Jeremiah who died age 54 in Tunbridge Wells in 1831.

Jeremiah’s will was dated September 29,1820 and refers to leaving his estate to his wife and children. His father, who never lived in Tunbridge Wells, died 1820 in Aldershot and his mother died 1829 in Aldershot. The probate of Jeremiah’s will took place August 30,1831.

Moving on to the life and career of Jeremiah’s son Robert Mills Hart (1804-1846) it was noted that he had been born 1804 in Withyham, Sussex and baptised there at St Michael and All Saints Church August 31,1804.

He had lived with his parents and siblings in Withyham until at least 1809 and by 1915 the Hart family moved to Tunbridge Wells. The 1825 Pigots directory listed his father as an auctioneer on Grosvenor Road (image below left ) and following his father’s footsteps Robert also became an auctioneer, although he was not listed in Tunbridge Wells in Pigots 1825 directory and may have worked as an auctioneer elsewhere, or as a junior partner with his father in Tunbridge Wells with the business under his father’s name only.

On May 4,1829, at Trinity Church (image above right) Robert married Mary Weller who was born in 1808. Her place of birth was given in the 1841 census of Tunbridge Wells as “Tunbridge”.

In 1838 a silver snuff box was presented to Mr R.M. Hart “by the supporters of the Tunbridge Wells Races as an acknowledgement of his great exertions in their revival, 29th and 30th August 1838”. Shown below are some images of the snuff box which was sold in 2018 by Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Ltd . They back of the box was finely machine engraved and the dedication of Robert Mills Hart can be seen on the lid. Details about the “revival” of the horse races on the Tunbridge Wells Common and some information about horse racing in the town since 1750 is given in the last section of this article.

Snuff is a smokeless tobacco made from ground or pulverised tobacco leaves. It is inhaled or "snuffed" into the nasal cavity, delivering a swift hit of nicotine and a lasting flavoured scent (especially if flavouring has been blended with the tobacco). Traditionally, it is sniffed or inhaled lightly after a pinch of snuff is either placed onto the back surface of the hand, held pinched between thumb and index finger, or held by a specially made "snuffing" device. It originated in the Americas and was in common use in Europe by the 17th century. It eventually fell out of favour when other tobacco products became more popular. Snuff boxes came in many sizes and styles but tended to be small. Some were very plain and others elaborately decorated. Further information about the history of snuff can be found on such websites as Wikipedia.

The 1840 Pigots directory gave the listing “ Robert Mills Hart, auctioneer and appraiser, Tunbridge Wells.

The 1841 census, taken at Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells gave Robert M. Hart as an auctioneer. With him was just his wife Mary and one domestic servant. It was not determined if the couple every had any children, but if they did they were absent from the family home at the time of the 1841 census.

The National Archives has in their collection a record of a transfer of deeds pertaining to 9 Friars Walk in Lewes and that Walter Harry Clear, who owned the property passed away June 13,1842 and that his will was proved by his wife Mary Clear and Robert Mills Hart, an auctioneer of Tunbridge Wells and Mr Clears solicitor.

From the Find a Grave website it was recorded that Mary Hart died in Tunbridge Wells September 29,1849 and that she was buried at Trinity Church on Church Road, Tunbridge Wells. On her headstone (image above) she was given as age 44 at the time of her death and the relic of Robert Mills Hart, who had died in Tunbridge Wells in 1846 and buried in the grounds of Trinity Church.


A detailed account about the history of horse racing on the Commons was given in my article ‘‘ Horse Racing in Tunbridge Wells’ dated July 24,2014.

The Old Racecourse, shown on Bowra’s map of 1738 shows a racecourse situated right in the centre of Tunbridge Wells Common. What is now the Higher Cricket Ground is the original site of the winning post, stand and enclosure. Today, the car park, which is located half-way down Fir Tree Road, is where the original course began.

Accounts of visitations to Tunbridge Wells  in the 1730’s refers to a number of entertainments in the town including horse racing where there was an admission fee of half a crown for each gentleman and one shilling for each lady.

Other than a diary entry to the effect that cricket and racing took place on the Common in 1750, records do not reveal evidence of horse racing there before 1824. It continued until 1836. Usually there were two meetings each year. There was an interregnum for two years before racing recommenced in 1838 and as noted earlier the recommencement of these races in 1838 was largely due to the efforts of Robert Mills Hart.

Racing continued until 1849 with the final meeting being recorded as having taken place on September 11,1851. 

A number of etchings, prints and postcards record the presence of horse racing on the commons and today faint glimpses of parts of the old track can still be seen. Shown above left is a postcard with the caption " The Old Race Course Tunbridge Wells".



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

Date: May 20,2018


The name of Ashplants in Tunbridge Wells is perhaps best known in connection with the cycle shop run by Robert Henry Ashplant (1876-1954) from premises at 106 Camden Road. What makes the business somewhat unusual however is that it also advertised itself as gramophone specialists, both sales and repairs, and also had in stock a large selection of 78 RPM records that had on the sleeves the name “Ashplants”. Some may also recall the name of Ashplants in connection with the “Ashplants School of Dance” run by Marjorie Vera Maude Ashplant (1908-1979) who was the only child of Robert Henry Ashplant and his wife Maude Constance Ashplant, nee Temlett (1883-1970).


Robert Henry Ashplant had been born December 19,1876 in Ipswich,Norfolk,(image opposite) one of five children born to grocer and draper Henry Brinsmead Ashplant (1848-1922) and Charlotte Elizabeth Ashplant, nee Ames (1848-1915).

By 1879 Robert and his two siblings Charlotte Elizabeth Henry Ashplant (1873-1959) and Mabel Jane Rae Ashplant (1874-1969) moved with their parents to Ridgewell, Essex. In 1879 Robert’s sister Frances Mary Brimsmead Ashplant (1879-1966) was born at Ridgewell, Essex and she was followed by the last child in the family William Thomas Ashplant (1881-1907) who was also born in Ridgewell.

The 1881 census, taken at the Ridgewell Green, High Steet grocers shop (image opposite)of Henry Brinsmead Ashplant (born in St Giles in the Wood, Devon) listed Henry with his wife Charlotte (born at Ingham, Norfolk) and his four children Charlotte, Mabel, Robert and Frances and one domestic servant. Henry’s occupation was given as “grocer” and his wife’s occupation was given as “draper”. At the time of the census, the three eldest children, including Robert were attending school.

The 1891 census, taken at the Ashplant shop on the High Street in Ridgewell gave Henry as a grocer and draper employer. With him was his wife Charlotte (of no occupation); his children Robert, Frances and William, who were all attending school, and one domestic servant.

The 1901 census, taken at the Post Office in Ridgewell gave Henry Ashplant as a postmaster and farmer on own account. With him was his wife Charlotte (grocer and draper) and their children Mabel (grocer and draper) and Robert Henry Ashplant (grocer and draper).

In 1907 at Ipswich, Suffolk William Thomas Ashplant died at only the age of 26, a loss deeply felt by the family.
In the 3rd qtr of 1907, at Eversham, Worcestershire, Robert Henry Ashplant married Maude Constance Temlett (1883-1970).  Maude had been born October 7,1883 at Southwark, London, one of 10 children born to William Frederick Temlett (photo above) (1839-1904) and his second wife Bessie Annie (1868-1909).

William Frederick Temlett was one of the earliest Banjo Makers in England, starting in London in 1846 and unusual in producing banjos having 6 or 7 strings. He therefore had time to modify and adapt the early crude design and is credited with the ‘suspended sound board’ and a later evolution, the Zither Banjo design which became very popular in England. Although he produced thousands of banjos under his own name, he also made for the trade. Most of his instruments sere Zither-type but he did make 5-string Banjos. His son  (from his first marriage)William Ernest Temlett (1865-1921) took over the business when his father died in 1904 but he had already started a rival company to his father in 1895.  William Frederick Temlett died May 2,1904 at Guy’s Hospital in Southwark,Surrey. His wife Bessie died in the 4th qtr of 1909 in Kent, Surrey. When Maude’s half-brother William Ernest Temlett died in 1921 in Surrey, the Temlett instrument making business came to an end.

At the time of the 1901 census Maude Constance Temlett was living at ‘Glenholme’ on Whitehall Road in Croyton, Surrey with her parents and six siblings. Maude’s father was given as a musical instrument maker and although Maude was the eldest child living her parents at that time she had no occupation. Maude had been born October 7,1883 at Southwark, London. She was living with her parents and siblings at Tooting, Surrey in the early 1890’s and from at least 1895 to 1900 she lived with her family at Thornton Heath, Surrey.

Robert Henry Ashplant and his wife Maude remained in Worcestershire after their marriage in 1907 and on September 5,1908 their only child Marjorie Vera Maude Ashplant (1908-1979) was born at Evesham, Worcestershire on September 5,1908. The family remained in Worcestershire for a few years. A directory from 1910 gave the listing “Robert Henry Ashplant, domestic stores,Evgatestone Road, Croydon. By 1911 he took up residence in Tunbridge Wells where Robert established his cycle business on Camden Road.


Sometime in the period of 1910 to 1911 Robert Henry Ashplant (1876-1954) and his wife Maude Constance Ashplant (1883-1970) and their daughter Marjorie Vera Maude Ashplant (1908-1979) moved from Croydon to Tunbridge Wells.

The 1911 census, taken at 106 Camden Road (image opposite) gave Robert as the proprietor of a cycle agent shop. With him, in premises of 6 rooms, was his wife Maude; their daughter Marjorie and one domestic servant. The census recorded that they had just the one child and had been married 7 years. Camden Road at that time was one of the busy commercial districts of the town and Robert did good business there. At the time this photo was taken of 106 Camden Road it was the premises of a chicken shop, located on the east side of Camden Road opposite Kirkdale Road.

Probate records for Robert’s mother Charlotte Elizabeth Ashplant gave her of Ridgewell, Essex when she died February 22,1915. The executor of her 901 pound estate was her son Robert Henry Ashplant, cycle engineer.

Probate records for Robert’s father Henry Brimsmead Ashplant gave Henry of Richmond House in Ridgewell, Essex, a retired grocer draper and subpostmaster, when he died January 19,1922. The executors of his 2,138 pound estate was his son Robert Henry Ashplant, cycle engineer and his daughter Frances Mary Brinsmead Wiffen (wife of Charles Wiffen).

A directory of 1913 gave the listing “ Robert Henry Ashplant, 106 Camden Road, cycle engineer and cycle manufacturer”.

Directories of 1918 to 1922 gave the listing “ Robert Henry Ashplant, 106 Camden Road, cycle agent and dealer”.

A directory of 1929 gave the listings (1) R.H. Ashplant, 136 St Johns Road (his private residence) (2) Ashplant Cycle Manufacturers, 106 Camden Road”.

Directories of 1933 to 1938 gave the listings (1) R.H. Ashplant, 165 St Johns Road (2) Ashplant Cycle Manufacturers, 106 Camden Road>

Advertisments in the Kent & Sussex Courier of December 13,1935 ,May 8,1936, and May 25,1936  referred to “Ashplants, 106 Camden Road” as cycle agents and the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of May 15,1936 gave “ Ashplants-The local Humber Agents, 106 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells.

The cycle business of Robert Henry Ashplant continued throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s and appears to have ended around the end of WW II. The website “WW2 Peoples War” includes an article by Betty E. Turner who was born in Bishop’s Startford, Hertfordshire November 18,1931. She tells of her experiences with her parents in the years leading up to and during WW2. In part she stated “ On November 18,1940, my 9th birthday, I got dressed and my father gave me a shilling and promised to buy me a new bicycle. Her father had served on the front in May 1941. In May 1941 they were living in Maresfield near Uckfield, Sussex and in that month Betty stated “ a brand new ‘New Hudson’ 18” frame bicycle, the last of the pre- war chrome plated models arrived from Ashplants on Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells to the envy of my friends”.  As you will note later a 1939 directory listed Robert Henry Ashplant as a retired motor engineer, which strongly suggests that the Ashplant shop continued under his name after his retirement under new management.

As noted in the introduction of this this article the Ashplant shop at 106 Camden Road was a place where you could also purchase or have repaired gramophone and where you could buy 78 RPM records. Shown opposite is a sleeve of one of the records they sold on which can be seen the name “Ashplants” and details about the business. This part of the business was largely run by Robert’s wife Made, and her interest in gramophones and records is directly related to her father’s  musical instrument background as a maker of banjos.

A directory of 1939 listed the following residents of 165  St John’s Road (1) Robert Henry Ashplant, born December 18,1876, motor engineer retired (2) Maude C. Ashplant, born October 7,1883, unpaid domestic duties (3) Marjorie Vera Maude Ashplant, born September 5,1908, teacher of dancing.

Sometime in the 1940’s Robert and his wife and daughter left Tunbridge Wells and moved to Bournemouth, Hampshire. Probate records gave Robert Henry Ashplant of 19 Fernside Road ,Winton, Bournemouth when he died May 7,1954 at the Royal Victoria Hospital Buscombe Bournemouth (image opposite). The executor of his 6,044 pound estate was the National Provincial Bank Limited.

Robert’s wife Maude Constance Asphplant died in Bornemouth, Dorset in 1970. Robert’s daughter Marjorie Vera Maude Ashplant never married and died in Bournmouth, Dorset in 1979. Further information about her is given in the last section of this article.


As noted earlier Marjorie was born September 5,1908 in Evesham, Worcestershire. She came to live in Tunbridge Wells in 1911 with her parents. She was an only child and like her mother took an interest in music, particularly in dance. She lived with her parents for most if not all of her life.

In the 1930’s she lived with her parents at 165 St John’s Road. A 1931 article referred to “ Miss Marjorie Asplant, Member of the P.8 T.D. Riby Oinner Reviver Greek Dance and of the Operatic Association   teacher of dancing , Holder Operatic Greek General Teachers and Ballroom certificates. Classes held at the King Charles Hall (photo opposite) and Theosophical Hall, Tunbridge Wells”.

A directory of 1934 gave the listing “ Miss Marjory Ashplant M.I.S.T.D Croylands, St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, teacher of dancing”. The initials M.I.S.T.D. stands for “Member International Society of Typopraphic Designers”. Founded in 1928 by Vincent Steer, ISTD has pioneering roots. From as early as 1911 Steer described himself as an ‘advertising typographer’ on his business card. His background in printing had given him the opportunity to observe the trade in America, and he astutely recognised the need and potential for the creative typographer’s skills in a world where most ‘design’ was carried out through compositors’ layouts. He determined to develop the profession of typography in the UK and, to that end, brought together six other like-minded colleagues, for the first meeting of the British Typographers Guild, held at an Italian restaurant in Holborn, London. Steer’s book Printing Design and Layout was published in 1934. Described as the ‘typographer’s bible’, and a powerful case for the profession of typography, it sold some 18,000 copies over the following 20 years, and was subsequently translated into several languages. The Guild was a pioneer in education, holding examinations in typography long before the City and Guilds Institute. Also ahead of its time, the Guild instigated a series of lectures on typography and type design, delivered by a variety of speakers.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of April 13,1934 referred to “Miss Marjorie Ashplant of Tunbridge Wells who judged and gave awards to Miss Best and Mr Reynolds (modern waltz) and Miss Whats and Mr Scales (old waltz) and during the evening pupils of Miss Marjorie Ashplant gave a dancing display”.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of June 7,1935 reported “ Ashplant-Croylands School of Dancing Tunbridge Wells passed with very high marks. Operatic Section-Grade 1- Barbara Bates, Patricia Bates. Grade 3-Mary Jarrett, Pauline Summers. Grade 4-June Carey (honours) , Jean Norton, Peggy Nurried (honours). Grade 5………..”

The Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of July 19,1935 gave “ Promised by Miss Marjorie Ashplant and the Croylands School of Dancing has now been given and our grateful thanks to the following pupils and friends who have subscribed to this. Miss Hyde, Miss Tucker, Mr and Mrs Ashplant, Miss Marjorie Ashplant, Jessie Norton………….”

The Kent & Sussex Courier of April 24,1936 referred to a School of Dancing at St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells where the following pupils passed with high marks…”

It would appear from the above articles that Marjorie ran her school of dance from premises on St John’s Road, perhaps at the family home at 165 St John’s Road and it is clear that she gave demonstrations of dancing at various venues in the town.

Marjorie gave up her school of dance in Tunbridge Wells when she move with her parents to Bournemouth. She never married and died in Bournemouth in 1979.


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