ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Page 5

 

MATTHEW ANDREW HARRIS EDWARDES THE NEWSPAPER MAN

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

Date: September 23,2016

OVERVIEW 

Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes (1841-1902) was born in Guilsfield, Montgomeryshire, Wales. Baptised October 22,1843 at Guilsfield, he was the son of William Harris and Sophia Edwardes. The fact that his surname was that of his mother suggests that his mother had been married previously; that her second marriage was to William Harris; that Matthew was adopted by him, and that he incorporated the name Harris into his name. This is confirmed by the 1851 census where Matthew Edwardes and his mother Sophia Edwardes were living with John Lloyd, who was given as Sophia’s father and Matthew’s grandfather.

At the time of the 1861 census, taken in Chester Matthew was living as the nephew of William Roberts and his family. William Roberts was at that time a bookbinder and Matthew was working for him as a clerk. It was from this early exposure to bookbinding that Matthew became interested in the printing/publishing trade.

In 1868 Matthew married Susannah (Susanna) who had been born sometime between 1843 and 1847 at Strand, London. With her Matthew went on to have seven children between 1869 and 1882, all of whom were born in Tunbridge Wells.

When Matthew arrived in Tunbridge Wells after his 1868 marriage he began work in the town as a newspaper reporter. He is found in this occupation at the time of the 1871 census residing with his wife and daughter Ethel at 21 Windsor Villas.

By the time of the 1881 census, taken at 32 Dudley Road , where he was living with his wife Susanna  and six of his children, his occupation had changed to that of  “newspaper printer/publisher”, denoting the fact that he was the printer/publisher of the Kent & Sussex Courier with premises on Grove Hill Road and later acquired the Tunbridge Wells Gazette from Charles Bishop (1830-1899). This is confirmed by the 1899 Kelly Directory where Matthew is listed as the publisher of both papers from premises as 21 and 23 Grove Hill Road.  Sells Dictionary of The World Press dated 1887 gave Charles Bishop as the proprietor of the Tunbridge Wells Gazette and Matthew H.A. Edwardes as the proprietor of the Kent & Sussex Courier, a paper which this source states was established in 1872.

‘The Builder’ of 1887 announced the tender results for the construction of a new house for Mr M.A.H. Edwardes on the Meadow Hill estate in Tunbridge Wells and that the low bid of 909 pounds was given by W.H. Cantry, based on the plans prepared by local architect William Barnsley Hughes. In the same year Matthew was admitted to the Pantiles Lodge of the Freemasons, as a journalist.

Mr Edwardes is found with his wife and children living at 20 Sutherland Road at the time of the 1891 and 1901 census with the occupation of newspaper proprietor, employing others. Probate records show that Matthew died at this residence December 11,1902 leaving his widow Susannah, the executor of his estate, some 9,000 pounds. Probate records show that his wife Susannah died at that home on January 21,1926 leaving an estate valued at some 16,000 pounds. Both of them were buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.

Shown at the top of this section is a photo of the original Courier building on Grove Hill Road dated 1872.

THE EDWARDES FAMILY

Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes (1841-1902) was born in Guilsfield, Montgomeryshire, Wales. Baptised October 22,1843 at Guilsfield, he was the son of William Harris and Sophia Edwardes. The fact that his surname was that of his mother suggests that his mother had been married previously; that her second marriage was to William Harris; that Matthew was adopted by him, and that he incorporated the name Harris into his name. This is confirmed by the 1851 census where Matthew Edwardes and his mother Sophia Edwardes were living with John Lloyd, who was given as Sophia’s father and Matthew’s grandfather. John Lloyd had been born 1811 in Wales and at the time of the 1851 census he was employed as a highway labourer. Mr Lloyds stepdaughter Sarah Parcel,age 37 was also living with him. Sophia Edwardes was given as being born 1826 at Guilsfield, Mongomeryshire, Wales. This family unit were residing at the time at Chapel House in Montgomeryshire, Wales.

The 1861 census, taken at 2 Citywalls, Chester Street, in Cheshire England gave William Roberts, age 38, a bookbinder, as the head of the household. With him was his wife and other members of the family and Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes, as his nephew. Matthew at this time was working as a clerk, perhaps for Mr Roberts, and it was during this time that Matthew took a keen interest in books and the trade of printing and publishing.

In 1868 Matthew married Susanna/Susannah, who’s birth in census records is given variously as 1843,1845 and 1847 at Stand, London. Matthew and his wife went on to have  seven children between 1869 and 1882, all of whom were born in Tunbridge Wells. The first five children were all girls and it was not until  1881 that his first and only son Harold W.M. Edwardes was born. His birth was followed in 1882 by a sister Margaret. Where the marriage took place was not confirmed but most likely in London where his wife was from.

Right after the marriage in 1868 Matthew and his wife took up residence in Tunbridge Wells. The 1871 census, taken at 21 Windsor Villas in Tunbridge Wells gave Matthew as a newspaper reporter. Living with him was his wife Susannah and their daughter Ethel Elizabeth Edwardes,born 1869 in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1874 Kelly directory gave the listing “Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes, 25 Cambridge Street, which was his private residence.

The 1881 census, taken at 32 Dudley Road,Tunbridge Wells gave Matthew as a newspaper proprietor and publisher. Details about his business activities are given in the next section of this article. Living with him at that time were two boarders, one of which was an apprentice compositer and the following children (1) Ethel E, age 12 (2) Idan M,age 9 (3) Lilian,age 7 (4) Violet M,age 4 (5) Eva M,age 3 (6) Harold W.M. age 8 mths. The four eldest children were attending school.

‘The Builder’ of 1887 announced the tender results for the construction of a new house for Mr M.A.H. Edwardes on the Meadow Hill estate in Tunbridge Wells and that the low bid of 909 pounds was given by W.H. Cantry, based on the plans prepared by local architect William Barnsley Hughes. Bids had ranged from a low of 909 pounds to a high of 1,090 pounds. Local builder James Jarvis had the second lowest bid of 914 pounds and there were three other bidders for this work. This home was the one given in later census records as 20 Sutherland Road. A photo of Sutherland Road is shown opposite.  No 20 Sutherland Road today is referred to as “Legend House”. It is located on the west side of Sutherland House, being the last house on the street and very near where Matthews business premises were located on Grove Hill Road. When I visited Tunbridge Wells in the summer of 2015 I walked the full length of Sutherland Road observing the buildings there while my friend and travelling companion Mrs Susan Prince did some shopping at a little fabric and glass shop on the south west corner of Sutherland Road and Grove Hill Road.

Details about the architect William Barnsley Hughes is given in my article ‘Weeks and Hughes Architects’, originally published April 21,2012 but updated November 1,2013,which notes for a time that James Weeks and William Barnsley Hughes operated as independent architects but also in partnership during part of their careers and that both of them were involved in the design of many buildings in the town.

The records of the Freemasons note that Matthew was admitted to the Pantiles Lodge of the Freemasons, as a journalist on August 10,1887.

The 1891 census, taken at 20 Sutherland Road gave Matthew as a newspaper proprietor employing a staff. With him was his wife Susannayh; seven of their children, one pupil boarder and one domestic servant. Five of the youngest children including Margaret, born in 1892 were attending school.

‘The Animals Defender and Zoophilist’ dated May 1,1891 published a list of names associated with a memorial to the Board of Trade under the heading of ‘The Proposed British Institute of Preventative Medicine’. Among the list of names opposing the memorial was “ M.A.H. Edwardes (newspaper proprietor Tunbridge Wells”.

‘Pitmans Journal of Commercial Education’ dated 1891 gave the results of a phonographic competition held by the special committee of the Tunbridge Wells Tradesmens Association (of which Mr Edwardes was a member) that was held at the Town Hall on Calverley Road on December 3,1890. On the list of committee members was M.A.H. Edwardes and six others. Prizes were awarded to the winners of this competition.

The 1901 census, taken at 20 Sutherland Road gave Matthew as a newspaper proprietor employing others. With him was his wife Susanna and their son Harold W.M. Edwardes who’s occupation was given as “actor”.

Probate records for Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes gave him of 20 Surtherland Road when he died December 11,1902. The executor of his 9,774 pound estate was his widow Susannah. Matthew was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on December 16,1902. 

Details about the death of Mr Edwardes was given in the Kent & Sussex Courier of December 19,1902 and December 26,1902, which are given below.

The Courier of December 19th under the heading “Personal’ contained a notice “Mrs Edwardes (the proprietor of the Courier) and her family desire to tender the grateful thanks to all who kindly sent wreathes, letters of condolences, or lent their carriages on the occasion of the funeral of the late Mr.  M.A.H. Edwardes”. The same edition of the Courier published a lengthy article entitled “Funeral of the Late Mr M.A. H. Edwardes which in part stated “ On Tuesday afternoon last, amidst a remarkable scene of public sympathy etcetera, which has been profoundly gratifying to the members of the family of the late Mr. M.A. H. Edwardes, the last and solemn rites of the Church have closed a long, honorable, and, it may be added, an honoured journalistic career in this town, as the proprietor and editor of the journal which has suffered an irreparable loss in the removal from our midst of its founder, whose sudden demise will long be mourned by all who were associated with the deceased gentleman, who enjoyed the respect and esteem of all who knew him…”

The Courier of December 16th gave a long article entitled “The Late Mr. M.A. H. Edwardes” in two parts name4ly “An Evangelical Tribute” and “An official Tribute”. As this article is too long to reprint here, I suggest obtaining from the Tunbridge Reference Library a copy of the entire article for it contains a considerable amount of information regarding his journalist career and other aspects of his life.

Probate records for Susannah Edwardes gave her as a widow of 20 Sutherland Road when she died January 21,1926. The executors of her 16,403 pound estate were her son Harold William Matthew Edwardes, gentleman, and William Charles Cripps, solicitor and Edmond Thomas Simmonds, editor. Susannah was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery January 26th.

THE NEWSPAPER BUSINESS.

Sells Dictionary of The World Press dated 1887 gave the listing “ Kent & Sussex Courier, published Wednesday and Friday, Conservative newspaper. Circulated in Tunbridge Wells and in the nearby towns and villages. Circulation 7,000. Proprietor-M.A.H. Edwardes, Grove Hill Road”. As noted in the ‘Overview’ The Tunbridge Wells Gazette in 1887 was run by Charles Bishop but he later sold the paper to Mr Edwardes. Details about the Tunbridge Wells Gazette and Mr Edwardes, in connection with that newspaper is given in my article ‘Charles Bishop and The Tunbridge Wells Gazette’ dated September 23,2016. From that article I noted that Mr Edwardes took over the Tunbridge Wells Gazette from Charles Bishop after 1887 and before 1891. Shown opposite is an advertisement from Peltons 1876 guide.

Willings Press Guide of 1894 records that the Kent & Sussex Courier was established in 1872. The person who established it was Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes, who had taken up residence in Tunbridge Wells in 1868 who in the 1871 census  was recorded as a newspaper reporter.

The 1892 publication entitled ‘Pictorial History of Tunbridge Wells and District’ published by Walser & Gristg of Hove, a copy of which was kindly sent to me last year by Fred Scales , had the following to say about ‘The Courier Printing and Publishing Company’. Two images from this publication are given below.














 “ The Courier Printing and Publishing Company with premises on Grove Hill Road are the proprietors of the Kent & Sussex Courier-a newspaper founded over twenty years ago, during which time it has been several times enlarged. It now consists of sixty-four long columns, and is guaranteed to have circulation at least six times greater than any other paper printed within twenty miles of Tunbridge Wells. It is but one of the few papers in the home counties that has the courage to give an auditor’s certificate of circulation, the following being the copy of one given by Messrs Thorpe & Cronk,chartered accountants, of 43 and 44 Lombard Street, London:-“We hereby certify that we have examined the publishing books of the Kent and Sussex Courier, and we find that the numbers actually sold during the six months ending the 29th March, amounted to 311,667, giving an average of 11,987 weekly”. The premises are situate in the Grove Hill Road, and, as will be seen from the illustrations, occupy considerable area. The composing room is 52 ft by 56 ft., with a height of 60 ft; the machine room is 52 ft by 30 ft, and a height of 40 ft. There are also a separate engine room (containing a modern xix HP gas engine), a bindery, store room and other offices. The establishment being replete with a large stock of modern type and machinery6 of every description, is capable of turning out with rapidity any amount of commercial and general printing, plain or artistic”.

The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes, 19, 21, 23 Grove Hill Road (Printers) and Mr Edwardes was also listed at his private residence at 20 Sutherland Road. Shown below are some views of Grove Hill Road looking north on which can be seen the sign of the Courier office on the left. These images also show the Advertiser newspaper premises in the foreground on the right.








 
From my article ‘Roller Skating Palaces of Tunbridge Wells’ dated June 23,2013 I reported in part the skating palace located on Grove Hill Road that corresponded with a site next door to (west of) the Courier premises. This skating palace ended operations in 1885. Also stated was “An 1876 advertisment for the Courier has them located at #4 Grove Hill Road which would place it on the same side of the road as the current Brittons shop. They obviously moved from there to across the street and it is my view they did so about 1885 when the roller rink site was put up for sale. It is known that the Courier took over its competitor, the Gazette, in 1892, a date which probably coincides with it moving to larger premises on Grove Hill Road. The Courier building was destroyed by fire in 1932 and a new building of art deco design was constructed in 1932 by local builder T. Bates & son, which building was later torn down and replaced with another building”. Details about the history of the Kent & Sussex Courier after the time of Mr Edwardes will be the subject of a future article. Shown here and above is a selection of postcard views of Grove Hill Road showing the Courier offices on the north side of Grove Hill Road.The Kent & Sussex Courier of February 28,2016 presented an interesting retrospective article about the Courier, from which the 1872 photo of their original building, which I presented in the ‘Overview’ was obtained. This article confirms that the Courier began operation on Grove Hill Road in 1872 and the building shown in this photo is the one they occupied initially at 4 Grove Hill Road before moving to the larger premises on the opposite side of the road that is shown in the postcard view given above. This article also stated “ Founder Matthew Edwarde’s late Victorian vision of a two-county newspaper covering both Kent and Sussex had spawned two more papers, the Sevenoaks Chronicle and the East Grinstead Courier, and the Courier’s old rival, the Advertiser, had also been swallowed up. To mark the switch to the powerful new press (in 1960) the Courier published a special supplement tracing the paper’s 92-year history in the town”. A copy of this supplement should be available for viewing at the Tunbridge Wells Reference Library or perhaps on an online newspaper archive website. 
 

CHARLES BISHOP AND THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS GAZETTE

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

Date: September 23,2016

OVERVIEW

Charles Bishop (1830-1899) was born at Ringwood, Hamsphire, one of several children born to John and Mary Bishop, who came from an agricultural background.

Charles spent his early life in Hampshire but by 1871 he was working as a printer in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. In 1872 he married Elizabeth Matilda Heath (1840-1908), at the  Congregational Church in Brighton, Sussex, but the couple had no children. Elizabeth had been born in Tunbridge Wells.

By 1876 Charles and his wife and one servant were living at 59 High Street, Tunbridge Wells where Charles was the proprietor of the Tunbridge Wells Gazette, Tonbridge Chronicle and the Kent and Sussex Advertiser.  Peltons Guide of 1876 described it as a 10 page paper and “The leading and first paper printed in Tunbridge Wells, with the largest circulation….”.

Willings Press Guide of 1894 recorded that the Tunbridge Wells Gazette was first published in 1828. Colbrans 1863 guide, when commenting about the High Street, stated that the Tunbridge Wells Gazette and the Visitors Arrival List were being printed and published on the High Street “by the proprietor of this work (Colbran). Hubbards Newspaper and Bank Directory of 1882 lists the Tunbridge Wells Gazette as having been established in 1855, as does the Sells directory and that the paper sold for 2d and had a circulation of 3,000.

Charles Bishop and his wife were still at 59 High Street at the time of the 1881 census, with Charles’s occupation given as newspaper proprietor.  The 1882 Kelly gave the listing “ Tunbridge Wells Gazette (Charles Bishop, printer publisher,published Friday ) 59 High Street. His running of the newspaper ended between 1887 and 1891 when it, along with the Kent & Sussex Courier were being  put out by printer and publisher Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes (1843-1926) from premises at 21 & 23 Grove Hill Road. The continuing story of the Tunbridge Wells Gazette after the late 1890’s is given in my article ‘Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes- Newspaper Printer & Publisher’ dated September 23,2016.  

Having sold off his newspaper to Mr Edwardes, Charles and his wife moved to Brighton, Sussex. Charles is found there with his wife and one servant in the 1891 census when at that time they were residing at 5 Ditching Rise, where Charles was living on own means. Charles died at that residence July 13,1899 leaving his 88 pound estate to his wife Elizabeth, who died in Brighton in the 4th qtr of 1908.

THE BISHOP FAMILY AND BUSINESS 

The story of Charles Bishop begins with his birth in Ringwood, Hampshire in 1830. His father John was an agricultural labourer born in 1802 and his mother was Mary, born in 1806.

Ringwood is an historic market town and civil parish in Hampshire, England, located on the River Avon, close to the New Forest and northeast of Bournemouth. It has a history dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, and has held a weekly market since the Middle Ages.The town is situated in the extreme southwest of Hampshire, on the border with Dorset. A postcard view of part of Ringwood is shown above.

The 1841 census, taken in Ringwood, gave John Bishop as an agricultural labourer. With him was his wife Mary; and their children John,age 10, CHARLES,age 11 and Ann, age 5.

Charles spent his early life in Hampshire where he received a basic education. Under what circumstances he decided to make his career in the printing/publishing trade is now known but by the time of the 1871 census, taken at Cavendish Cottage in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, he was working as a printer. Still single at this time, despite being age 41, he was living there as a lodger with the Ezra Marriott family. Ezra was a manufacturing chemist assistant.

On June 27 1872 at Saint Nicholas Church in Brighton, Sussex, Charles married Elizabeth Matilda Heath (1840-1908), at the  Congregational Church in Brighton, Sussex, but the couple had no children. Elizabeth had been born in Tunbridge Wells. A view of the church from 1800 is shown opposite.

Sometime after his marriage he and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells and took over the printing and publishing of the Tunbridge Wells Gazette. This newspaper, according to records, was one of if not the earliest newspaper published in Tunbridge Wells. Willings Press Guide of 1894 gave the listing “ Tunbridge Wells Gazette, established 1828. Published on Wednesday, price 2d, M.A.H. Edwardes, publisher, 19 Grove Hill Road. The same source also listed M.A.H. Edwardes as the publisher of the Tunbridge Wells Courier, at the same address. More about Mr Edwardes is given later. Another source of information about newspapers is ‘Sells Dictionary’ which listed the Tunbridge Wells Gazette as being established in 1855. ‘Hubbards Newspaper and Bank Directory’ of 1882 gave the listing “ Tunbridge Wells Gazette (Ind) published Friday, circulation 3,000 in Tunbridge Wells and neighbouring towns, price 2d”.

A publication by J. Colbran, High Street, Tunbridge Wells entitled ‘The Rocks of Tunbridge Wells and Neighbourhood’ dated 1857 is described as a geological sketch from the pen of a gentleman formerly residing in Tunbridge Wells, and communicated by him to the Tunbridge Wells Gazette August 1855 and reprinted by the proprietor with footnotes November 1857.

In an account about the History of the new St James Church in Tunbridge Wells, a reference is given to the Tunbridge Wells Gazette in 1861 is given. Colbrans Handbook of 1863 , in referring to the High Street, stated “ The Tunbridge Wells Gazette and Visitors Arrival List is printed and published in this street by the proprietor of this work”.  There was also a report in the Tunbridge Wells Gazette in 1863 about a meeting of the Archaeological Society at Penshurst July 1863.  Other early references to this newspaper can be found. Shown above is an advertisement of the newspaper from Peltons 1876 guide which notes Charles Bishop as the proprietor; that the paper was 10 pages; that it was the leading and first paper printed in Tunbridge Wells”; and that it had a large circulation among all segments of the population.

Shown above is an advertisement for the Tunbridge Wells Gazette from the publication ‘The Archers Register’ dated 1878, a publication devoted to the topic of archery. Charles Bishop is given in this advertisement as the proprietor of the newspaper, operating from premises at 59 High Street. From this and the above accounts one can estimate that Charles Bishop took over the production of the Tunbridge Wells Gazette in or about 1875 and certainly by 1876, no doubt from Colbran.

The printing of newspapers and other publications in this era was a labour intensive job as all typeset was arranged by page by hand. My grandfather Francis Reginald Gilbert worked as a printer for the Lewis Hepworth Company on Vale Road in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and he related to me that working as a printer was a noisy and dirty job, and one which no doubt largely contributed to his hearing impairment.

As stamp, paper and other duties were progressively reduced from the 1830s onwards (all duties on newspapers were gone by 1855) there was a massive growth in overall circulation as major events and improved communications developed the public's need for information. The development of the press was greatly assisted by the gradual abolition of the taxes on periodicals as well as by the introduction of a cheap postal system. Both of these developments made the newspaper more affordable to a greater percentage of the population. From 1860 until around 1910 is considered a 'golden age' of newspaper publication, with technical advances in printing and communication combined with a professionalisation of journalism and the prominence of new owners. With literacy rising sharply, the rapidly growing demand for news led to changes in the physical size, visual appeal, heavy use of war reporting, brisk writing style, and an omnipresent emphasis on speedy reporting thanks to the telegraph. Newspapers increasingly made their profit from selling advertising. In the 1850s and 1860s the ads appealed to the increasingly affluent middle-class that sought out a variety of new products. The advertisements announced new health remedies as well as fresh foods and beverages. The latest London fashions were featured in the regional press. The history of printing as it relates to the production of newspapers is an interesting one, and much has been written about it. Shown above are some photos of typical printing equipment employed in the 19th century in England. Shown in the Edwardes article at the top of this page are two interior views of the Courier Printing Company on Grove Hill Road from an Illustrated guide of Tunbridge Wells dated 1892.

Charles Bishop established his newpaper business from premises at 59 High Street which was located on the east side of High Street between Paynes Jewellers at No. 37 and the bottom end of High Street. Unfortunately no photograph of his premises taken at the time he was there was located, however an early 1900s’ postcard view of this part of the High Street is shown opposite. The printing equipment he employed would have been the same as or similar to those shown above by other newspapers of that era.

The 1881 census, taken at 59 High Street gave Charles Bishop as a newspaper proprietor. Living with him above the shop was his wife Elizabeth, given as born 1837 in Tunbridge Wells, and one domestic servant.

The 1882 Kelly directory gave the listing “Tunbridge Wells Gazette (Charles Bishop, printer, publisher, published Friday) 59 High Street,Tunbridge Wells.

The 1899 Kelly directory shows that Matthew Andrew Harris Edwards was the printer and publisher of both the Tunbridge Wells Gazette and the Kent & Sussex Courier from premises at 21 and 23 Grove Hill Road.

Sells Dictionary of World Press dated 1887 gave Mr Edwardes as the printer/publisher of the Kent & Sussex Courier noting that it had been established in 1872, and also recorded that the Tunbridge Wells Gazette, established in 1855 was and independent newspaper circulated in Tunbridge Wells and the villages of Kent and Sussex, and that the printer and publisher of it was Charles Bishop.

From this one can estimate that Mr Edwards had taken over the Tunbridge Wells Gazette from Charles Bishop sometime after 1887 and before 1891.

After selling his newspaper Charles Bishop and his wife left Tunbridge Wells and moved to Brighton, Sussex. The 1891 census, taken at 5 Ditching Rise, Brighton,Sussex gave Charles as living on own means with his wife Elizabeth and one domestic servant.

Probate records gave Charles Bishop of 5 Ditching Rise, Brighton, Sussex when he died on July 13,1899. The executor of his 88 pound estate was his widow Elizabeth. Elizabeth died in Brighton, Sussex in the 4th qtr of 1908.

For the continuing story of the Tunbridge Wells Gazette by the Courier Printing and Publishing Company on Grove Hill Road see my article ‘Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes-The Newspaper Man”, dated September 23,2016.

 

 

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS ADVERTISER AND ROBERT HENRY MARTIN CLEMENTS

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

Date: September 25,2016

OVERVIEW


This article provides a brief history of the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser newspaper with a concentration on the time in which the newspapers proprietor and publisher was Robert Henry Martin Clements (1856-1944), who took over the newspaper in 1881.  The last publication of the paper was in 1954A photograph of the Advertiser building is shown opposite. Other views of the building are given in this article as well as the Edwardes article at the top of this page.

It is a story about a man who had great success as the proprietor of the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser and the tragedy of losing two sons in WW 1. He began life in Chesterton,Cambridgeshire , the son of John Harvey Clements a printer and newspaper reporter. Robert and his brothers entered the printing and publishing trade at an early age and made it their lifelong career.

In the 1870’s Robert was living with his parents and siblings in Cambridgeshire and working as a clerk. His older brother Claude was working as a printers apprentice and his father was a printer and reporter.

By 1881 Robert had left the family home and struck out on his own, and is found at the time of the 1881 census as a single young man working as a journalist in Hastings,Sussex. It however  was announced in The Printing Times and Lithographers  publication of November 1881 that Robert had become the new proprietor of the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser and had taken up residence in the town of Tunbridge Wells. The newspaper premises at that time were located on Mount Pleasant Road, about half way up Mount Pleasant Hill .

In 1881 Robert married Eva Neal, a young lady born in Tunbridge Wells in 1865 and with her had six children (1girl and 5 boys). Three of his sons went on to serve in WW 1 but two of them were killed with their loss recorded on the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial and elsewhere.

Robert  H.M. Clements had formed a partnership with a distinguished gentleman by the name of Harrison William Weir(1824-1906) and carried on business in the town at 36 Mount Pleasant Road , as newspaper proprietors, under the name of Clements & Company. This partnership was dissolved June 1891. The Mr Weir referred to ,who I have written about before, was an artist, an illustrator, a journalist, an author, a poet, a champion of animal rights, a poultry-man, a omitholigist, a horticulturalist, a lover of dogs,cats,horses,birds and all manner of farm animals. He is officially acknowledged as the “Father of the Cat Fancy” due to his key role in the establishment of cat shows in the country, including those in Tunbridge Wells. His role in the book and newspaper publishing business is well recognized and his partnership with Robert H.M. Clements was certainly a match between two very competent men. It therefore is no wonder that glowing reports were made in various publications about the rapid increase in the newspapers circulation and its stature in the publishing industry. Later in time the Advertiser relocated to its best known spot-namely 1 Grove Hill Road, right at the corner of Grove Hill Road and Mount Pleasant, across the street from the equally well known Weekes Department Store and just a stone’s throw from the Courier premises on the opposite side of Grove Hill Road. Clements not only published the newspaper for there is a very long list of books and other publications which he turned out from his premises. Shown below are two images showing the Advertiser building at 1 Grove Hill Road taken May 1907 on the occasion of the opening of the new High Street Bridge.
















By 1911 Robert H.M. Clements ,his wife ,and one of his sons had taken up residence at Bedford Villas in the sleepy little village of Langton Green ,where Robert was a journalist and editor of a newspaper. His son Claude Cashburn Clements (1885-1918) had a fascinating but short 33 years of his life, having taken up the publishing trade with his father and later with a commercial firm in London. His work experience later took him to Paris and Moscow and then the Hague.When war broke out he returned to England and enlisted but sadly he was killed in 1918, cutting short a very promising career, a great tragedy shared by many other families in the town who had lost sons and fathers.

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS ADVERTISER

Over the years the town of Tunbridge Wells has been served by a number of newspapers and with the passage of time many of them came and went in short order. Alternatively, some were absorbed into the more successful papers of the times.

When the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser first began publication is not well defined. Some have stated that the newspaper was founded in 1847 but no listings of it in newspaper records appear until after 1881 by that name until Mr Clements took over as proprietor and publisher in 1881. Willings Press Guide of 1894 , for example, lists five newspapers in Tunbridge Wells including the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser, which records that the newspaper was established in 1881. Sells Dictionary of the World Press lists the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser as established in 1881 and that it was published on Friday and sold for 1d.It was listed as a “Liberal” newspaper with circulation largely in Tunbridge Wells and throughout the extensive district and that it gave “full and reliable reports of all local accurances, as well as judicious selection of general and agricultural intelligence, with telegrams being received up to the hour of going to press. Blocks and display type inserted. Proprietor and publisher-R. Clements, Tunbridge Wells”.

The premises of the newspaper began on Grosvenor Road. Listings for the paper were given in 1881 at 36 Mount Pleasant Road; in 1884 and 1886 at 24 Mount Pleasant Road and in 1891 at 36 Mount Pleasant Road. Shown opposite and above are two advertisments for the newspaper dated 1884 at a time Robert Clements also put out two other papers, namely the Sevenoaks and Tonbridge Observer and the Kent and Sussex Herald. The Peltons Guide of 1881 stated “The leading paper in Tunbridge Wells is the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser, the Sevenoaks & Tonbridge Observer and the Kent & Sussex Courier, being 64 columns published for 1d every Friday and that it was the recognized medium for all classes of advertisement. Advertisments of the wanted, for sale, to let etc,comes before 60,000 readers. Proprietor-R. Clements 36 Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells”.

 The directories of 1899 and 1903 noted that TheTunbridge Wells Advertiser was opearating from premises on the High Street, but those from 1909 to 1954 show the business operating from premises at 1 Grove Hill Road. A selection of photographs of the premises at 1 Grove Hill Road are given below. This was a busy location,being right on the corner of Grove Hill Road and its intersection with High Street and Mount Pleasant Road. Some disruption of the business at the Grove Hill Road location occurred in the early 1900’s when the old bridge was replaced by a new one.

 












 

In 1948 the newspaper put out a pictorial souvenier regarding the visit of H.R.H. Princess Margaret at the Christophers Training College dated October 19,1948 (image above left).Above right is a 1945 page from the newspaper announcing VE Day.

When Mr Clements ended his association with the newspaper was not established. When he died in 1944 his probate record gave him as a retired proprietor of the newspaper, so presumably retired sometime during WW II. By at least the early 1950’s its editor was Nigel Chapman, a gentleman who is perhaps best remembered as the creator of “Disgusted Tunbridge Wells. In 2014 a book entitled ‘Outraged of Tunbridge Wells’ by Nigel Cawthorne’ was published contained about 300 letters of complaints among which are those sent to the editor by “Disgusted”. These letters began to appear in the Advertiser in 1953 when the editor (Nigel Chapman) became concerned by a lack of letters from readers and insisted that his staff pen a few to fill space, one of which signed his/her name as “Disgusted ,Tunbridge Wells”.

In 2008 Bob Friend (photo above ) passed away at age 70. Details about his life and career can be read in full in his obituary dated October 14,2008, in which it was stated that Bob (Robert Francis Friend) and been born in Rusthall and became a journalist at the age of 15 (1953) as a junior reporter on the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser, having left the Skinner’s School with no qualifications. He went on to have a great career with the BBC as a correspondent.

Another noted former employee of the Advertiser was a lady by the name of Cherry Pentelow, later Cherry . She is shown bottom right in the amusing  image opposite dated 1957. She had worked for the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser until it was taken over by the Courier and continued her career with the Courier afterwards.

In the sections following I report on the history of the Clements family and the association of Robert Henry Martin Clements with the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser.

THE CLEMENTS FAMILY  IN CAMBRIDGSHIRE

The account begins at the time of the 1871 census at Ely Holy Trinity, Cambridgeshire where the patriarch of the family John Henry Clements is working as a printer and reporter. He was born 1813 in Ely,Cambridgeshire. With him was his wife Marianne, born 1814 at Barwell,Cambridgeshire, who Robert had married in Cambridgeshire. Living with them were their children Harriet, age 24, an unemployed governess; Helen, born 1850 at Chesterton,Cambridgeshire; Claude, born 1853 in Chesterton, a printers apprencice working for his father, and the central figure of this family, his son ROBERT HENRY MARTIN CLEMENTS, born 1856 at Chesterton, who was working as a clerk,

Robert Henry Martin Clement’s birth was registered in the 2nd qtr of 1856 at Cheserton, and he was baptised there on August 11,1856 and given as the son of John Harvey(Henry) Clement and Marianne Clement.

By the time of the 1881 census John H.M. Clement had left his parent’s home and is found living as a boarder as a single man at 137 Mount Pleasant Road in Hastings,Sussex. At that time he was working as a journalist. Soo after this time, as noted in the next section he left Hastings and moved to Tunbridge Wells.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS

As noted above , in 1881 John H.M. Clements was working as a journalist in Hastings,Sussex, having gained his initial experience in the newspaper world at his father’s business, supplemented by his experience during the time he spent in Hastings.

The Printing Times and Lithographers publication of November 15,1881 announced “ We are gratified to learn that the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser is making considerable headway under the able administration of its new proprietor and editor Mr R. Clements. The circulation has already doubled, while the advertisments show a corresponding rate of increase”.  The newspapers biggest competitor at this time was the Kent & Sussex Courier located in 1876 at 4 Grove Hill Road with its publisher at that time being Thomas Ablott. The Tunbridge Wells Advertiser was founded in 1880. It is obvious from the account of 1881 that Robert H.M. Clement had a  big impact on the success of the newspaper upon his arrival and taking over the position its proprietor and editor.

Peltons Guide of 1881 reported “The leading papers in Tunbridge Wells is the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser , Sevenoaks & Tonbridge Observer, and the Kent & Sussex Courier weeklys. The Tunbridge Wells Advertiser has 64 columns every Friday at a price of 1d. It is the recognized medium for all classes of advertisement….Proprietor: R. Clements, 36 Mount Pleasant Road,Tunbridge Wells.

For those unfamiliar with the town, No. 36 Mount Pleasant, at this time (renumbering of the road later) was located on the stretch of Mount Pleasant Road between Grove Hill Road at the railway station on the south to Crescent Road on the north. Shown here is a postcard view of this area. This stretch of Mount Pleasant Road was a popular and busy spot for shopping, particularly with the arrival and departure of hundreds of people a day at the railway station.

The year 1881 was a busy year for Robert H.M. Clements, for in that year he married Eva Neal, who had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1865.Eva was the daughter of the late Henry Neal.The marriage took place in Tunbridge Wells.

Robert and his wife had six children in total between the years of 1882 and 1894, all of whom were born in Tunbridge Wells. Their children, for which further details are given later in the article, were (1) Sydney Robert, born 1882 (2) Eva Mary, born 1883 (3) Claude Cashburn,born May 23,1885 (4) Charles Alfred ,born 1888 (5) Wilfred Henry,born  1893 (6) Robert William, born October 11,1893. It appears that the last two children were twins.

The Tunbridge Wells Advertiser of 1884 included an advertisement for the newspapaer which stated that “it gives full reports of local news and lists of visitors to the town and has a circulation guaranteed to be equal to nearly all the other local and district papers subscribed. It is the medium for official and all classes of advertisments”. This was followed by a long list of testimonials by satisfied customers and closed by noting that the proprietor was Robert Clements of 24 Mount Pleasant Road.  Shown here is a photograph taken of a Hospital Sunday parade opposite the Advertiser office on the SE corner of Grove Hill Road and Mount Pleasant Road.

The Dictionary of World Press of 1886 included an advertisement regarding the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser, which in part gave “60,000 readers, the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser,Sevenoaks & Tonbridge Observer and Kent & Sussex Herald,every Friday 1d. The Tunbridge Wells Advertiser enjoys the reputation of being the best paper published in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding district….Chief offices; 24 Mount Pleasant Road,Tunbridge Wells; Proprietor: Robert Henry Martin Clements”.  During this time Robert was in partnership with Harrison William Weir (1824-1906), who brought considerabe skills and experience to the business. The official name of the business was Clements and Company.

Harrison William Weir(image opposite), was an artist, an illustrator, a journalist, an author, a poet, a champion of animal rights, a poultry-man, a omitholigist, a horticulturalist, a lover of dogs,cats,horses,birds and all manner of farm animals. He is officially acknowledged as the “Father of the Cat Fancy” due to his key role in the establishment of cat shows in the country, including those in Tunbridge Wells. His role in the book and newspaper publishing business is well recognized and his partnership with Robert H.M. Clements was certainly a match between two very competent men. It therefore is no wonder that glowing reports were made in various publications about the rapid increase in the newspapers circulation and its stature in the publishing industry. I have written two articles relating to Harrison William Weir .The first is  entitled “All About Cats” dated April 13,2014 and the second ‘The Life and Times of Harrison Weir’ dated April 3,2014. Harrison was born May 5,1824 at Lewes,Sussex and died January 3,1906 at Appledore,Kent. He was the son of John Weir and Elizabeth Weir, nee Jenner. Harrison had been married three times and had two sons and two daughters. In addition to publishing a newspaper Clements and Harrison were also involved as printers and publishers of books. One example was Harrison William Weir’s own book  about cats.  The publishers name was given as “ R. Clements & Co” dated 1889. The same company, also in 1889, published the book ‘The Journal of Microsopy and Natural Science’. Many other examples can be found on the internet or at the library.

The 1891 census, taken at 74 Upper Grosvenor Road,Tunbridge Wells (photo opposite) gave Robert H.M. Clements as a newspaper proprietor. With him was his wife  Eva and children Eva Mary,age 8; Sydney,age 7; Claude Cashburn,age 5 and Charles A ,age 2.  The eldest three children were all attending school. Also in the home was one domestic servant.

The London Gazette of August 25,1891 gave notice that the partnership between Robert Henry Martin Clements and Harrison William Weir was dissolved by mutual agreement on June 30,1891. The announcement noted that the two men were in business as newspaper proprietors at 36 Mount Pleasant Road and operating “ under the style of Clements and Company. Harrison William Weir was age 67 at this time and no doubt decided to retire, at least from this business.

The 1901 census, taken at 27 St James Road,Tunbridge Wells gave Robert H.M. Clements as an author, and editor employing others. With him was his wife Eva; his daughter Eva Mary, who was working as a stationers shop assistant; his son Sydney, a compositor printer; his son Claude Cashburn, a printer compositor; his son Charles, age 12 and children Wilfred and Robert, age 7. The three youngest children were all attending school. Also in the home was Robert’s sister in law Beatrice Neal, age 18, born 1873 in Tunbridge Wells.

Sometime after 1901 Robert H.M. Clements and some of his family left Tunbridge Wells and moved to the quaint little village of Langton Green, just a short distance along Langton Road from Tunbridge Wells proper. Shown here is  a  view of Langton Green. In 2015 my friend and I had the pleasure of attending the Langton Green Fete and a nice cup of tea at The Hare public house.

The book ‘Tunbridge Wells in 1909’ by the Civic Society noted that by that time the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser was operating from premises on the south east corner of Mount Pleasant Road and Grove Hill Road (No,. 1 Grove Hill Road). A photo of their building is shown below.

The 1911 census, taken at Bedford Villas, Langton Green, gave Robert  H.M. Clements as a journalist and editor of a newspaper. It does not specify which newspaper but presumably it was still the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser. Living with Robert was his wife Eva and their son Robert William Clements, age 17 who’s occupation was given as “on poultry farm”. The census recorded that the couple had been married 17 years (1884), a mistake, and that they had six children all of whom were still living. The census also recorded that the family was living in premises of five rooms, obviously a relatively small place, but big enough for Robert, and his wife and son, for at this time Robert was age 55 and must have been nearing retirement.

The First World War had a major impact on the Clements family. Three of Roberts sons enlisted for service and two of them did not survive. His son Claude Casburn Clements, who started life with a very successful and promising career, and who was married , was killed in France in 1918. Robert’s son Robert William Clements was killed in 1916.

It appears that Robert H.M. Clements and his wife lived out the remainder of their years in Langton Green.

The death of Robert Henry Martin Clements was registered in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1944. Surprisingly no probate record for him was located. His will however states that he was a retired publisher. The records of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery report that he was buried there January 24,1944. The Tunbridge Wells Advertiser continued in publication until 1954.

THE CHILDREN OF ROBERT H.M. CLEMENTS

In this section is given information about some of his children with an emphasis on the two sons killed in WW 1.

[1] CLAUDE CASBURN CLEMENTS.

Claude was the second eldest son, born Mary 23,1885 in Tunbridge Wells. He was baptised in Tunbridge Wells on August 9,1885.  A review of census records show that he lived with his parents up to at least 1911. In the early 1900’s he and his brother Sydney worked for their father as  printer compositors at The Tunbridge Wells Advertiser. By 1911 Claude had left the family home.

On September 14,1912 he married,in Tunbridge Wells,  Nellie May Grinyer, the only daughter of William Charles Grinyer(1864-1935) of Tonbridge School and with her had two children (1) Betty Denise Clements who was born May 14,1914 (2) Dorothy Madge Clements, born December 15,1915. In 1917 he enlisted for service in the war. Nellies mother was Ellen Eliza Grinyer, nee Russell (1865-1946). At the time of the 1891 census Nellie was at the Grammar School, Dry Hill, Tonbridge. In the 1901 census she was a student at Tonbridge School and in 1911 at Tonbridge School where her father was a science teacher.

The following information is provide from De Ruvingny’s Roll of Honor 1914-1919. “CLEMENTS,CLAUDE,CASBURN-2nd Lieut.,4th (Territorial) Bttn. Princess of Wale’s (royal Berkshire Regt). Attached to 7th (Sevice) Bttn. The Northamptonshire Regt., 2ns son of Robert Henry Martin Clements of 4,Christ Church Avenue,Tunbridge Wells,editor of the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser, by his wife Eva, daughter of the late Henry Neal; and brother to Private R.W. Clements. Born Tunbridge Wells,Kent May 23,1885. Educated Skinner’s School there; subsequently spent some time in the office of the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser, and later obtained a post with a large commercial firm in London. He afterwards went to Paris, where he was connected with the firm of Massey-Harris & Co., Agricultural Machine Makers, being chief English Correspondent and Cashier, and was eventually transferred to Moscow, where he had control of the shipping department, and acted as Principal English Correspondnet. After two years in Russia he went to The Hague, to take up an appointment as manager, but returned to England on the outbreak of war in August 1914,obtaining an appointment as Private Secretary to Mr. R.s. Gardiner, of Lombard Street,E.C., and being later appointed Secretary to the Melros Colleries Ltd, Cardiff.He joined the Queen’s Westminster Rifles in March, 1917, being gazetted 2nd Lieut. the Royal Berkshire Regt in April 1918; serve d with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from May 1918, attached to the 7th Northamptonshire Regt. And was killed in action near Cambrai October 9,1918.Buried at the Cagnoucles Communal Cemetery in France.He married in Tunbridge Wells September 14,1913, Nellie May, only daughter of William Charles Grinyer, of The School, Tonbridge, and had two daughters; Betty Denise born May 14,1914 and Dorothy Madge, born December 15,1915”

Probate records gave Claude “Castrian” Clements of Oakwood Red Dore Road, Coulston,Surrey. Late Lieut. Royal Berkshire Regiment attached  7th Northamptonshire Regt. Died October 9,1818 in France. The executor of his 631 pound estate was his widow Nellie May Clements.At the time of his death his wife was living at 116 Marine, St Leonards-on-Sea.

His name appears on one of the plaques of the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial and on a plaque at Christ Church.

Shown here is a photo of  his headstone. The records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission noted the same regimental information as his probate record; that he was killed in action October 9,1918; 2nd Lieut. and that he was the husband of “N. May Gringer Clements” of 116 Marina St Leonards-on-Sea.  His wifes full name was Nellie May Clements, who ‘s maiden name was Gringer.

Both of his daughters married and had children. His daughter Dorothy died in 1985 in Tunbridge Wells and his daughter Betty died in 2002.

[2] ROBERT WILLIAM CLEMENTS 

Robert was the youngest son of Robert H.M. Clements. He was born in Tunbridge Wells October 11,1893. He is found living with his parents and siblings in census records up to an including 1911. The census of 1911 gave his occupation as “on poultry farm”.  Robert never married.

De Ruvingny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1918 gave the following; “ ROBERT WILLIAM CLEMENTS-Private, No. (-),3rd (Reserve) Battn. The Royal Warwickshire Regt. Twin son of Robert Henry Martin Clements of 4 Christ Church Avenue,Tunbridge Wells,Editor of the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser, by his wife Eva, daughter of the late Henry Neal; and brother to 2nd Lieut C.C. Clements. Born Tunbridge Wells October 11,1893; Educated at King Charles School,Tunbridge Wells. Enlisted in the R.G.A. in 1913. Served with the Indian Expeditionary Force in Mesopotamia from 1915, and was killed in action there April 9,1916. Buried there “.

Robert’s name is recorded on one of the plaques of the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial along with that of his brother Claude.  A transcription of his name and that of all the others on the war memorial (contributed by me) can be found on the Roll of Honour Website.

Robert’s name is also given as Robert W. Clements on the plaque at Christ Church,Tunbridge Wells.

Robert is recorded on one of the plaques of the Basra Memorial. The Basra Memorial was originally erected in the city of Basra but was dismantled and re-erected in the Desert by Saddam Hussein's regime. The panels were poorly fitted and in some cases have now been destroyed. Many names are obscured by cement or damaged. There are no individual headstones at this memorial. The Basra Memorial commemorates more than 40,500 members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the operations in Mesopotamia from the Autumn of 1914 to the end of August 1921 and whose graves are not known.

[3] SYDNEY ROBERT CLEMENTS  

Sydney was the eldest son of Robert H.M. Clements having been born in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1882. He lived with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells from the time of his birth until at least 1901. In the 1901 census he and his brother Claude were working for their father as compositor printers.

Military records show that he signed up for military service in London November 9,1902 and became a tropper with the 1st Life Guards (service No. 2442). His occupation was given as printer and he gave his next of kin as his father Robert Henry Martin Clements of 27 St James Road,Tunbridge Wells. He as a man 5’-11” tall; pale complexion; hazel eyes with light brown hair. He had previously been with the West Kent Yeomanry. In terms of education he recorded 2nd class with two GC badges. The 1st Life Guards was a cavalry unit.

On December 28,1902 he was transferred to 1st Class (reserve). From November 6,1901 to October 5,1914 he was home.  He rejoined on mobilization August 5,1914.He was with the Expeditionary Force from October 6,1914 to November 5,1915 and home for the remainder of 1915. He was discharged with pension, having served 13 years and seven days. He had been in hospital for boils, sprains and other relatively minor problems from February 1903 top February 1907. On discharge he gave his intended address as Langton Green. During his military service he was single. He was mentioned in despatches and gazetted June 18,1915 for gallantry and distinguished service in the field.

On September 24,1917 he married Annie Constance Jennings (1886-1994) at Canterbury,Kent. Annie had been born July 8,1885 at Canterbury,Kent and was one of nine children born to John Adolphus Jennings and Annie Jennings. Her father, born 1854 at Canterbury, was recorded in the 1911 census at 6 Hawk Lane,Canterbury as a newspaper proprietor, general printer, employing others in his business. Annie’s mother had been born 1865 at Sandwich,Kent. At the time of the 1911 census Annie was living with her parents ; four siblings and one servant.

The 1922 directory recorded Sydney and his family living at 12 Mereworth Road in Tunbridge Wells.

Probate records gave Sydney John Clements of 1 Wilmer Road,Tunbridge Wells when he died on April 25,1954 at The Clarence Nursing Home in Tunbridge Wells. The executors of his 10,197 pound estate was his widow Annie Constance Clements and William Tristan Templar, solicitor. Sydney was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on April 29,1954. His wife Annie died in May 1974. She was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium  May 13,1974 and buried in the same cemetery as her husband on June 25,1974.

[4] CHARLES ALFRED CLEMENTS

Charles was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1888 . He was baptised in Tunbridge Wells on Jul 8,1888. He was living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1901 census.

Sometime after 1901 Charles emigrated to Canada, taking up residence in one of the prairie provinces and worked on a horse ranch. The 1911 census, taken at 11 Brandville Road, West Drayton recorded Charles as a visitor with  the Taylor family with his occupation given as “farm labourer Canada, horse ranch worker”.

The shipping records show that he sailed from Quebec,Canada to Liverpool on the Empress of France arriving at Liverpool December 5,1920. He had travelled back to England to visit his relatives but returned to Canada. It  appears he remained in Canada. There are no records for him serving in WW 1 in England.

[5] WILFRED HENRY CLEMENTS

Wilfred was the twin brother of Robert William Clements and was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1893. He was baptised in Tunbridge Wells October 8m1893.He was living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1901 census but was gone from the family home by 1911.

The 1911 census, taken at 15 Knightside St, Maidstone at the Church Arms Labour Home gave a listing for a Wilfred Clements born in Tunbridge Wells in 1893 and that he was working there as a farm labourer.

Death records for Wilfred Henry Clements, born 1883 show he died in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1978. No probate record was found for him. He was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium July 11,1978. No marriage record for him was found.

[6] EVA MARY CLEMENTS

Eva was the eldest child and only daughter born to Robert H.M. Clements. She was living with her parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1901 census and at that time had no occupation.

In July 1907 she married in Tunbridge Wells Sydney Herbert Irish. Sydney had been born January 7,1883 in Tunbridge Wells and was one of five children born to Charles Frederick Irish (1843-1930) and Alice Julia Irish, nee Gladwin (1848-1926). Charles Frederick Irish was a successful Tunbridge Wells businessman who ran a large drapers shop at 27 to 31 High Street.

Sydney Herbert Irish was living with his parents and siblings, and a number of shop assistants and domestic servants in the flat above his father’s draper shop, which in 1891 was at 31 High Street but by 1911 had expanded to include 27 to 31 High Street.  At the time of the 1911 census Sydney was working as an accountant.

There is no record of Eva and her husband in Tunbridge Wells after their marriage and no death records for them in England.  The probate record for Sydney’s mother in 1926 gave her of 31 High Street,Tunbridge Wells and the wife of Charles Frederick Irish. The executor of her 416 pound estate was her son Sydney Herbert Irish who’s occupation was given as “secretary”.

A passenger list shows that Sydney and Eva departed from Mombassa, Kenya and arrived in London May 13,1958, indicating that perhaps they had emigrated to Africa and made their home there.

 

A HISTORY OF THE KENT & SUSSEX COURIER

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

Date; September 25,2016

OVERVIEW 

This article provides a brief overview of the early history of the Kent & Sussex Courier published in the late 19th and early to mid - 20th century by the Courier Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd from its premises on Grove Hill Road. As is the case with most ,if not all, newspapers its history involves a series of expansions, acquisitions and changes in managerial control.

The newspaper was founded in 1872 by Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes (1841-1902) who came to Tunbridge Wells in 1868 and worked initially as a newspaper reporter but in 1872 established the Courier at 4 Grove Hill Road. Within a few years later operations were moved to new premises on the north side of Grove Hill at No’s 19-21 and 23.

When Mr Edwardes passed away in 1902 the editor of the paper became Edmond Thomas Simmonds (1865-1927) who is most often recorded in accounts as “Teddy”  Simmonds, a man stated to be one who “lived and breathed his newspaper”.

The company premises as reported in a 1892 account , with interior views, described and showed the large 4 sty brick building on Grove Hill Road as extensive and the paper itself consisted of sixty-four long columns with a circulation of about 12,000 papers weekly. The printing machines and related equipment were powered by an engine which drove the belts and pulleys they were connected to.

The newspaper, in addition to editorials and articles about the events of the times also contained private and commercial advertising. During WW 1 sad reports about the events of the war were given extensive coverage including the ever increasing of number of local lads who went off to war and made the ultimate sacrifice.

In the 1920’s the old building was bursting at the seams ,and as noted on local directories ,the company took on additional space in the Great Hall Buildings and had a branch office on the High Street in Tonbridge.

Although the companies printing equipment at that time was “primitive’ compared to today’s high speed presses it none the less did the job. A retrospective article in 2016 reported “the paper’s creaky old press, bought from the Daily Mail soon after the First World War, was replaced by state-of-the-art new machinery in 1964 (machinery which must have survived the great fire of 1932 )which turned their building on Grove Hill Road into a pile of rubble. The Managing Director of the company at that time was W.R. Murray.

A new building of modern art deco design (image opposite) was quickly erected on the site by local builder Thomas Bates & Sons, a building which served them well for many years until it was pulled down circa 1960 and the company moved to premises in the Longfield Road Industrial Estate. In 2011 the company moved back into premises in the town centre.

Within this article are a number of photographs and postcard views of the newspapers buildings on Grove Hill Road, one of which shown above is a view of the newspapers first premises on Grove Hill Road in 1872.

EVENTS FROM 1872 TO 1956

Tunbridge Wells has been served by a number of newspapers over the years, some lasting for a brief moment, and others with a long history dating back to the early 19th century. The three largest newspapers in the town in the 1870’s were the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser; the Tunbridge Wells Gazette and the Kent and Sussex Courier.

The history of the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser was described in my article ‘The Tunbridge Wells Advertiser and Robert Henry Martin Clements’ dated September 25,2016’. Information about the Tunbridge Wells Gazette was given in my article ‘Charles Bishop and the Tunbridge Wells Gazette’ dated September 23,2016.

The early history of the Kent & Sussex Courier from the time of its foundation in 1872 up to the time of the death of its founder Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes in 1902 was given in my article ‘Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes-The Newspaper Man’ dated September 23,2016, the overview of which is given below.

“Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes (1841-1902) was born in Guilsfield, Montgomeryshire, Wales. Baptised October 22,1843 at Guilsfield, he was the son of William Harris and Sophia Edwardes. The fact that his surname was that of his mother suggests that his mother had been married previously; that her second marriage was to William Harris; that Matthew was adopted by him, and that he incorporated the name Harris into his name. This is confirmed by the 1851 census where Matthew Edwardes and his mother Sophia Edwardes were living with John Lloyd, who was given as Sophia’s father and Matthew’s grandfather.”

“At the time of the 1861 census, taken in Chester Matthew was living as the nephew of William Roberts and his family. William Roberts was at that time a bookbinder and Matthew was working for him as a clerk. It was from this early exposure to bookbinding that Matthew became interested in the printing/publishing trade.”

“In 1868 Matthew married Susannah (Susanna) who had been born sometime between 1843 and 1847 at Strand, London. With her Matthew went on to have seven children between 1869 and 1882, all of whom were born in Tunbridge Wells.”

“When Matthew arrived in Tunbridge Wells after his 1868 marriage he began work in the town as a newspaper reporter. He is found in this occupation at the time of the 1871 census residing with his wife and daughter Ethel at 21 Windsor Villas.”

“By the time of the 1881 census, taken at 32 Dudley Road , where he was living with his wife Susanna  and six of his children, his occupation had changed to that of  “newspaper printer/publisher”, denoting the fact that he was the printer/publisher of the Kent & Sussex Courier with premises on Grove Hill Road and later acquired the Tunbridge Wells Gazette from Charles Bishop (1830-1899). This is confirmed by the 1899 Kelly Directory where Matthew is listed as the publisher of both papers from premises at 21 and 23 Grove Hill Road.  Sells Dictionary of The World Press dated 1887 gave Charles Bishop as the proprietor of the Tunbridge Wells Gazette and Matthew H.A. Edwardes as the proprietor of the Kent & Sussex Courier, a paper which this source states was established in 1872; that it was published Wednesday and Friday; was a Conservative newspaper; Circulated in Tunbridge Wells and in the nearby towns and villages; Circulation 7,000. Proprietor-M.A.H. Edwardes, Grove Hill Road”.

“‘The Builder’ of 1887 announced the tender results for the construction of a new house for Mr M.A.H. Edwardes on the Meadow Hill estate in Tunbridge Wells and that the low bid of 909 pounds was given by W.H. Cantry, based on the plans prepared by local architect William Barnsley Hughes. In the same year Matthew was admitted to the Pantiles Lodge of the Freemasons, as a journalist.”

“Mr Edwardes is found with his wife and children living at 20 Sutherland Road at the time of the 1891 and 1901 census with the occupation of newspaper proprietor, employing others. Probate records show that Matthew died at this residence December 11,1902 leaving his widow Susannah, the executor of his estate, some 9,000 pounds. Probate records show that his wife Susannah died at that home on January 21,1926 leaving an estate valued at some 16,000 pounds. Both of them were buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.”

The 1892 publication entitled ‘Pictorial History of Tunbridge Wells and District’ published by Walser & Gristg of Hove, a copy of which was kindly sent to me last year by Fred Scales , had the following to say about ‘The Courier Printing and Publishing Company’.

“ The Courier Printing and Publishing Company with premises on Grove Hill Road are the proprietors of the Kent & Sussex Courier-a newspaper founded over twenty years ago, during which time it has been several times enlarged. It now consists of sixty-four long columns, and is guaranteed to have circulation at least six times greater than any other paper printed within twenty miles of Tunbridge Wells. It is but one of the few papers in the home counties that has the courage to give an auditor’s certificate of circulation, the following being the copy of one given by Messrs Thorpe & Cronk,chartered accountants, of 43 and 44 Lombard Street, London:-“We hereby certify that we have examined the publishing books of the Kent and Sussex Courier, and we find that the numbers actually sold during the six months ending the 29th March, amounted to 311,667, giving an average of 11,987 weekly”. The premises are situate in the Grove Hill Road, and, as will be seen from the illustrations, occupy considerable area. The composing room is 52 ft by 56 ft., with a height of 60 ft; the machine room is 52 ft by 30 ft, and a height of 40 ft. There are also a separate engine room (containing a modern xix HP gas engine), a bindery, store room and other offices. The establishment being replete with a large stock of modern type and machinery6 of every description, is capable of turning out with rapidity any amount of commercial and general printing, plain or artistic”.

The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes, 19, 21, 23 Grove Hill Road (Printers) and Mr Edwardes was also listed at his private residence at 20 Sutherland Road(An 1876 advertisment for the Courier has them located at #4 Grove Hill Road which would place it on the same side of the road as the current Brittons shop-see photo of this location in the ‘Overview’ above).

Having covered in brief the history of the Kent & Sussex Courier during the period of 1872 to 1902 while under the director of its proprietor Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes, I now turn to his successor Edmond Thomas Simmonds, who is often referred to in accounts as “Teddy” Simmonds.

Edmond Thomas Simmonds, who’s first name is sometimes given incorrectly in records as “Edmund”, was born in 1864. His birth was registered in East London in the 4th qtr of 1864. Census and marriage records give his year of birth variously as 1863 or 1865.

The 1871 census, taken at 12 Brook Street in London gave Edmond H. Simmonds as born 1818 in Broughton,Kent with the occupation of artificial stone maker. With him was his wife Sarah, born 1817 at Norwich, Norfolk. Also in the home was their son EDMOND THOMAS SIMMONDS, who was given simply as Edmund T Simmonds, born 1865 at Bishopsgate Square, London. Edmond junior was still living in London with his parents at the time of the 1881 census and was attending school.

Sometime after 1881 and 1891 Edmond moved to Tunbridge Wells. He is found in the 1891 census at 13 The Pantiles as a single gentleman living as a lodger with the family of William Meggy, a greengrocer. Edmond’s occupation at that time was given as “newspaper reporter worker”. A view of the Pantiles by Judges is shown above.

On October 19,1895 Edmond married Katherine Annie Wood. Edmond’s father Edmond (given incorrectly as Edward) was noted in the marriage records as a “deceased scale maker. At the time of the marriage Edmond was given as a bachelor, age 32, with the occupation of “journalist” and living in Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells. Katherine was given as a 25 year old spinster, and the daughter of Henry Hill Wood, a superintendent of the Crystal Palace Company. The three witnesses to the marriage were Henry Hill Wood, Ernest Harry Wood and Sarah Wood. The marriage took place at St Michael’s Church, Woodsworth Common, Battersea,Surrey (photo opposite).

The 1901 census, taken at 3 Claremont Road,Tunbridge Wells, gave Edmond as “Ernest T, Simmonds”, born 1865 London, with the occupation of “journalist worker”. His wife was away at the time visiting friends and family. This home, being a 2 sty residence constructed of red brick, still exists today, being located on the east side of Claremont just south of Grove Hill Road and not far from the Kent & Sussex Courier premises to the west of it.

The 1911 census, taken at 3 Claremont Road listed Edmond Thomas Simmons, age 46, born 1865 London with the occupation of “journalist and newspaper editor” noting that he had taken over from Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes. Living with him in premises of 7 rooms was his wife Katherine Annie Simmonds, age 41, born 1870 at Battersea, Surrey and one domestic servant. The census recorded that they had been married 15 years and that they had no children.

The Simmonds family continued to live at 3 Claremont Road for the remainder of their lives, as noted in local directories. The directories of 1913 to 1926 record Edmond and his family there.

Probate records gave Edmond Thomas Simmonds of 3 Claremont Road,Tunbridge Wells, when he died May 9,1927. The executors of his 9,177 pound estate were Frank Shearne Harris, solicitor and William Ralston Murray, company manager. Mr Murray was the company manager of the Kent & Sussex Courier or more correctly The Courier Printing and Publishing Company. Edmond was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on May 13,1927. His wife Katherine was buried in the same cemetery on October 6,1923.

WILLIAM RALSTON MURRAY 

William Ralston Murray (1882-1956) became the Managing Director of the newspaper. He was born 1882 in Mere, Cheshire and was one of several children born to William Murray, born 1846 in Scotland, and Elizabeth M. Murray, born 1853 in Cheshire. His birth was registered at Cheshire in the 3rd qtr of 1882.

The 1891 census, taken at Mobberley Road in Knutsford, Cheshire, gave William Murray, age 45, as a “taper maker employer”. With him was his wife Elizabeth M; six of their children, including WILLIAM RALSTON MURRAY, who was attending school; Robert Glossford, age 72 , an uncle, born 1819 in Scotland and a retired farmer; George Glossford, age 70, born 1821 in Scotland, father in law, retired farmer, and Helen Glossford, mother in law, age 67, born 1824 in Cheshire. Also in the home was one domestic servant.

The 1901 census, taken at 77 Artwright Street in Nottingham gave Elizabeth M. Murray,age 48 as the head of the household. With her was her son George King Murray,age 22, a clerk in a sewing machine company; her son WILLIAM RALSTON MURRAY, a clerk; her son John G. Murray, age 16, a laboratory assistant; two daughters Maggie,age 14 and Emily,age 10. A friend of the family was also living there.

William was married twice. His first marriage was to Violet Mabel Edwardes (1876-1935) in the 2nd qtr of 1909 in Tunbridge Wells. Violet was one of the daughters of Matthew Andrew Harris Edwardes who was the former proprietor of the Kent & Sussex Courier, details of which I gave earlier in this article. Violet’s birth was registered in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1876 and she was baptised in the town on July 10,1876. Violet was living with her parents and siblings at 32 Dudley Road at the time of the 1881 census and with them at 20 Sutherland Road when the 1891 census was taken. She had left the Edwardes family home by the time of the 1901 census.

The 1911 census, taken at 40 Woodbury Park Road (photo opposite),Tunbridge Wells gave William Ralston Murray as born 1881 at Knotsford,Cheshire, with the occupation of “accountant newspaper publisher worker”. With him was his wife Violet Mabel Murray. The census recorded that the couple had been married 1 year (actually 2 years) and that they had no children and were living in premises of 6 rooms.

Probate records for Violet Mabel Murray gave her of 63 Claremont Road,Tunbridge Wells when she died December 15,1935. The executor of her 1,347 pound estate was her husband William who was given as a commercial manager. Violet was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery (photo opposite) on December 18,1935.

William’s second wife was Kathleen Mary Doreen Ingram Robinson (1897-1960). They were married in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1938. Kathleen had been born in Tunbridge Wells, her birth being registered in the 2nd qtr of that year. She was baptised in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1897.She was the daughter of Ingram Robert Robinson who was born 1870 at Tenbury, Worcestershire, and Eliza Kate Robinson who was born 1872 in Tunbridge Wells. The 1911 census, taken at 16 Eridge Road, Tunbridge Wells, gave Ingram Robert Robinson as a “draper buyer worker”. With him was his wife Eliza; their daughter Kathleen Mary Doreen Ingram Murray, who was attending school, and their daughter Jean Mabel Murray, born 1907 in Tunbridge Wells. The family were living in premises of 7 rooms and had been married 14 years with just the two children. Also in the hope at that time was Mary Jane Ellis, mother in law,widowed, age 69, born 1847 in Marylebone London, and Ethel Bessie Ellis, sister in law, age 38 born 1873 in Tunbridge Wells, who was working as an assistant draper.

Probate records for William Ralston Murry gave him of 63 Claremont Road when he died August 1,1956. The executor of his 9,008 pound estate was his wife Kathleen Mary Doreen Ingram Murray. William was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on August 3rd.

Probate records for Kathleen Mary Doreen Ingram Murray gave her of Flat 5 Cambridge House, Cambridge Gardens, Tunbridge Wells when she died April 11,1960. The executors of her 8,006 pound estate were Amy Wainwright Hart (wife of John McGregor Hart) and Christopher Mills, solicitor. Kathleen was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium on April 14th.  

THE 2016 RETROSPECTIVE ARTICLE

The Kent & Sussex Courier of February 28,2016 gave the following retrospective article about the newspaper, which I have reproduced in its entirety. “On an October day in 1964, the usual clatter of the Courier's printing room was stilled, to be replaced by a babble of voices.That week's paper had just gone to press and, catching breath before work started on the next edition, the printing staff stood by their machines to watch a special ceremony taking place.For this was the day when the paper's creaky old printing press, bought from the Daily Mail soon after the First World War, was replaced by state-of-the-art new machinery (photo opposite showing Courier printers at work in the 1960s type setting)

“After years of struggling to manage with presses that could only handle a limited number of pages at once, the arrival of the Goss, with its capacity to churn out a 32-page paper at the rate of 30,000 copies an hour, was a huge relief.”

"There was only one printer who had the knack of wiggling the old machine to make it work," recalled one former reporter."And when it did finally get going, the whole building shook."These were the days when print was king.

“Year by year, as circulation increased and advertisers clamoured for space, the reach of the Courier group of newspapers was growing.”

“Founder Matthew Edwarde's late Victorian vision of a two-county newspaper covering both Kent and Sussex had spawned two more papers, the Sevenoaks Chronicle and the East Grinstead Courier, and the Courier's old rival, The Advertiser, had also been swallowed up.”

“To mark the switch to the powerful new press, the Courier published a special supplement tracing the paper's 92-year history in the town.”

“Half a century later, it paints a vivid picture of the paper's growth from the first day, on October 4, 1872, when the printing press broke down, to the confidence of the 1960s, when special guest Sir Linton Andrews stressed the key role of the provincial press in ensuring the "sanity, tolerance and stability of the British way of life".

“Comparing the role of local newspapers like the Courier to the nationals produced in far-away Fleet Street, the influential former Yorkshire Post editor said: "One of the pleasures of working for a local newspaper is that...it fulfils a deep human need...helping to create and preserve among many thousands of people the sense of belonging to a community."

“Delving into the Courier archives, the supplement recalled the early days of hand-set metal type, when individual letters were picked out and put into position by a compositor.”

“Once that week's paper was printed, every letter was returned to its case. It was skilled work, and the compositors wore silk top hats to distinguish them from their apprentices, the "boys" who scurried around doing odd jobs, including fetching lunchtime beer from a local pub.”

“The editor in the first part of the 20th century was Teddy Simmonds, a man who lived and breathed his newspaper.Walking all over town in search of stories, he was much-feared by the editor at his nearby rival, the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser, who would send his own reporter to trail him when he was spotted walking off down Grove Hill Road. With a passion for news, Simmons had little time for advertising, insisting for many years that no advertisement should be set in type larger than 18pt – just a quarter-of-an-inch.Not surprisingly, this led to many clashes with his advertising manager.”

“It was not only local newspapers which poured off the Courier presses in those days. It boasted that it could print just about anything, from glossy colour catalogues or company Christmas cards to theatre programmes and advertising material. Royal invitations and tickets for Ascot were delivered each year to St James' Palace, and the Courier also printed Eton College's annual school magazine, along with material for local auctioneers and estate agents.”

“However, one organisation which refused to allow the paper to print its papers was Tunbridge Wells Council, on the basis that it "got too much inside information anyway".Quite a compliment for the reporters of the day.”

THE GREAT FIRE OF 1932  

The following report about the fire was given in the Kent & Sussex Courier August 26,2011

It was a quiet Monday lunchtime in June 1932. With the previous Friday's paper already consigned to history, Courier staff were hard at work on the following Friday's edition in their Grove Hill Road offices, just across the road from Tunbridge Wells' main station.

The first sign of the drama to come was thick black smoke belching in from the back of the building.

Within an hour, the newspaper's composing room, where printers were busy putting together pages of heavy lead type on the vast linotype machines, would be blazing from end to end; by mid-afternoon, the Courier headquarters would have been reduced to a red hot pile of twisted scrap metal and burning rubble.

As the paper returns to the town centre after almost four decades on the Longfield Road industrial estate, it is timely to remember that summer day, more than 80 years ago, when the Courier itself made the headlines in the most dramatic fashion.

The Grove Hill Road office had been the paper's base for generations, since its launch in 1872, and was a familiar landmark.

The fire, described as "one of the biggest and most disastrous" in the town for years, had started at Goodwin's woollen garments factory next door.

Employee Tom Smith had just sat down to his lunch in his flat nearby when his wife noticed smoke curling through a factory window.

He raised the alarm but soon, reported the Courier, "the factory was a blazing inferno".

It went on: "The wooden structure blazed to white heat and roared like a furnace" and smouldering woollen garments sent out choking black smoke.

Goodwin's was linked to the Courier building by an archway, and it soon became clear to the hundreds of onlookers, who had gathered to witness the startling spectacle, that it was only a matter of time before the flames raced across to the newspaper premises.

"Like a furious monster let loose, the fire enveloped the whole of Messrs Goodwins' workroom," reported the paper.

It went on: "A Courier reporter who watched the flames of destruction from a doorway in the already overpowering smoke-filled composing room saw them leap wildly along the roof and within less than five minutes they burst through."

Desperately trying to save the building, reporters and printers grabbed every available fire extinguisher to form a human barrier, but dense smoke eventually forced them back.

They grabbed what they could before retreating, but there was nothing they could do about the thousands of pounds worth of machinery which, in a short space of time, would be utterly destroyed."

The Courier report went on: "With the floor of the composing room giving way, one by one the linotype machines – each weighing not less than a ton – went hurtling through to the warehouse below, where a large number of reels of paper was stored."

It noted: "The greatest crash of all came when the giant guillotine fell.

"Its bulky frame of steel tottered for a moment, and then with a reverberating clatter it found a resting place on top of a comparatively new automatic cylinder printing machine which was also immediately reduced to a worthless tangle of metal."

By four o'clock, firemen, aided by nearby department store RW Weekes' private fire brigade, had the fire under control.

Sadly, the Courier reported: "All that remained of one of the most up-to-date newspaper and general printing works in the south-eastern area was a gigantic heap of rubble, twisted steel and machinery and gaunt walls which were likely to collapse at any moment."

Two days later, however, managing director WR Murray defiantly announced: "We will come out as usual on Friday" and, working from temporary offices, the staff succeeded in producing that week's edition on time.

AFTER THE FIRE

Soon after the site of the 1932 blaze had been cleared, an architect was hired to prepare plans and specifications for a new building. What the architect came up with is the art deco style building shown opposite and below which was hurriedly constructed on the site by well-known local builder Thomas Bates & Sons. Thomas Bates (1864-1930) had been born in Uckfield, Sussex, one of six children in the family. He had trained as a carpenter. He married in 1891 and switched to building while employed by local builder Louis Beale for about seven years before setting up on his own and developed into one of the leading builders in Tunbridge Wells, with his sons assisting in the business. A photo of Thomas Bates is shown opposite and more details about him can be found in an article I wrote about him a few years ago as well in the Civic Society book ‘The Origins of Warwick Park and the Nevill Ground’ as well in certain editions of the Civic Society Newsletter.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of August 26,2011 reported “The art deco building which replaced the burned building was eventually demolished half-a-century after the paper had moved out of town.” The place the paper had moved to was the Longfield Road industrial estate which the above edition of the newspaper was “almost four decades ago” and  that in 2011 the paper was returning to the town centre.

The Kent and Sussex Courier is an English regional newspaper, published in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.The paper was the result of an amalgamation of a number of Kent and East Sussex local newspapers, and hence has always been published in at least two editions, one of which covered the western parts of Kent while the other covered the eastern part of East Sussex.

After its purchase by Northcliffe Newspapers, part of the Daily Mail and General Trust news group, its publishing company was renamed Courier Newspapers. After the 1998 acquisition of, and the 2007 acquisition of the Kent regional assets of the Mirror Group, it was renamed the Courier Media Group, part of Northcliffe Media. In 2012, Local World acquired Northcliffe Media from Daily Mail and General Trust.

A local directory from 1971 gave the Courier Printing and Publishing Company on Grove Hill Road with branch offices at 26 Ashford Road in Tenterden; Cheri, Pilmer Road in Crowboro; 6 Colonnade in Hawkhurst and at 78 High Street in Tonbidge. Earlier directories of 1924 to 1931 gave the Courier and Gazette at Grove Hill Road with branch offices at 78 High Street in Tonbridge and also at the Great Hall Buildings in Tunbridge Wells. Directories of 1938 and 1944 just listed their premises on Grove Hill Road.

In 2011 the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society rescued a collection of the Kent & Sussex Courier newspapers dating back to 1872, which were in peril of being destroyed when the company was about to make its move to smaller premises. Thankfully they were saved as they make a wonderful record for historians to conduct research from. Copies of the newspaper can also be seen on microfilm at the Tunbridge Wells Reference Library and there is an online British Newspaper Archive that can be subscribed to. I had attempted to  locate the 97 page supplement of the paper referred to in the 2016 article given earlier that was published on the newspapers 92nd anniversary but was unable to locate a copy I could purchase on the internet. A copy of it however should be available for local residents to view at the Tunbridge Wells Reference Library, a document which no doubt covers aspects of the newspapers history no given in my article.

 

 

 

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