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

Date; January 24,2017



The Victoria National School,also known as the Royal Victoria School for Boys, was a gothic style 2 sty building, constructed of local sandstone, to the design of architect Decimus Burton. The foundation stone for the building was layed by Princess Victoria on September 29,1834 at a grand ceremony. The school was built on the south side of Grover Street half way between Camden Road and Calverley Street. Shown opposite is the float of the Royal Victoria School in the King George V Coronation parade that wound its way along the commercial streets of Tunbridge Wells.

In the 1840’s the small school was bursting at the seams and so by 1849 a large extension was built to the rear of it (now gone). The original building still exists, called ‘Victoria House’ which since the mid 20th century has been used for offices. In 1901 this school no longer met the needs of the community and on a site next to it on the south west corner of Grover Street and Calverley Street a new school was built to replace it. This red brick building still exists today (photo below) and when the school closed later in the 20th century the building came into use as a warehouse, owned in 1999 by NPI, which in turn was converted into apartments in 2003 by Fairbrior Projects Ltd, a use it retains today.

The first master of the school was Charles Gray who still held this position in 1840 and by 1851 was living in Hervey Town off Calverley Road.  In 1844 Richard Coppers , a schoolmaster of the Victoria National School filed for bankruptcy.By 1861 Mr Coppers was a schoolmaster in Gillingham, Kent.   The 1848 Bragshaw directory listed John Linn as a master of the Victoria National School but by 1851 he had moved on to Somerset.

By 1867 John George Passingham became a schoolmaster at the school and was still there in 1882. He died in Tunbridge Wells in 1919 while a resident of 97 Stephens Road.

By 1871 Joseph Alfred Punton Smith joined the school as  a schoolmaster and  who was still there in 1903. In 1861 he was a schoolmaster at Market Street, Tunbridge Wells, which most likely is a reference to the same school. He died in Tunbridge Wells in 1937 while a resident of 18 Mount Ephraim Road.

This article reports on the history of both the original school and its 1901 replacement and also includes maps, plans and images pertaining to the buildings.


The Times of London announced  in their December 31,1834 issue an account regarding the Victoria National School in Tunbridge Wells regarding the laying of the first stone by the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria. As other accounts note, such as the one below, the honour of laying the first stone fell to Princess Victoria as the Dutchess of Kent looked on. Show opposite is an image of the Dutchess of Kent (1786-1861) dated 1835 by George Hayter and below is one of Princess Victoria (1819-1901) when she was a young woman. Princess Victoria inherited the throne at age 18  just three years after laying the foundation stone at this school.

The following account, from a book about the life and times of Princess Victoria, provides an interesting and quite detailed account of this historic event. “Victoria National School, Tunbridge Wells……..The period at length arrived when the Princess Victoria was called upon to fulfil her promise of laying the first stone for a new school-house in Calverley Lane, which was to be named after its illustrious Founder ; and it was with the greatest pleasure that her Royal Highness, accompanied by her beloved Mother and suite, set out for the spot on which this labour of love was to be performed. The sun shone most favourably on the undertaking, and the assemblage of company of all classes attending was immense. A commodious stage was erected, capable of containing four hundred persons, which was filled by highly respectable spectators ; the space by the side and the whole road being occupied by carriages. The children of the boys' and girls' schools were stationed next to the ropes, which enclosed the space where the building was to be erected, and within which the Royal Party assembled. The ground on every side was surrounded by a dense mass, of whom many were of that class for whose benefit the school was intended. At twelve o'clock their Royal Highnesses, attended by the dean of Chester, preceptor to the Princess, Sir John and Lady Conroy, the Baroness Lehzen, Lady Flora Hastings, and the Misses Conroy, appeared in Garden Lane, the eastern side of the intended building. On alighting from their carriages they were received with nine cheers, the band playing the National Anthem, and were conducted to the tent erected for the occasion, by the Committee of Management, the architect, (Decimus Burton, Esq.) and the Master of the Ceremonies. At the door of the tent they were met by the Ladies who undertook the arrangement of the fancy sale for obtaining funds for the building : and as soon as they had entered, the plans of the proposed School-house were exhibited and explained to their Royal Highnesses, who on viewing them, expressed their satisfaction in regard to the design, and the general economy which had been pursued. Their Royal Highnesses and suite were then conducted to the north-east quoin, where the building was intended to join the master's house, in the following order of procession : — The Master of the Ceremonies ; the Architect, bearing the trowel ; the Committee ; the Clergy ; the Ladies Patronesses, escorting the august Visitors. The party, being arranged round the stone, the Rev. H. A.Woodgate read the Collect, " Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings," &c., and a prayer suitable to the occasion. The ceremony of laying the stone then commenced by the Architect presenting the trowel in a crimson velvet sheath worked with gold — the handle, which was of ivory having the rose, thistle, and shamrock, the emblems of the three kingdoms, beautifully carved upon it — to her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria. The Princess, directed by the Architect, then spread some mortar on the lower stone, in a small cavity, in the centre of which was deposited a sealed bottle containing an account of the date and 'circumstances of the occasion. The suspended stone was then lowered upon the mortar; and her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent was presented with a plummet and a square,which were applied to the stone in due form, under the eye of the Architect ; three knocks were given with a mallet to the stone, the work was completed ; and Mr. Burton was kindly presented by their Royal Highnesses with the trowel, which was greatly admired for its beautiful workmanship. Gratifying as this sight had been, the most interesting part was yet to come ; for, before their Royal Highnesses retired from the spot where they had laid the first stone of the new building, the Duchess of Kent read an address to the Committee, which she had written for the occasion ; it was distinctly heard by all who stood near ; but the many hundreds who were at too great a distance for any words to reach them, might well guess at the purport from the feeling and emphatic manner in which her Royal Highness delivered it ; it was as follows : — " Gentlemen,  It affords me and the Princess very great pleasure to meet you here to-day to carry into effect so useful and beneficial an object calculated to afford instruction to the children of this neighbourhood; making their parents also parties to it by the moral feeling they will entertain that they contribute to that education  as their means go. Let us all join cordially in such undertakings : the real welfare of the country will be best promoted by the diffusion of religious feeling, intelligence, and comfort in the cottage, so as to imite the People of this Country by those bonds."

“This address was listened to with satisfaction and delight, and at the conclusion of it her Royal Highness added, with a tone and expression singularly earnest and energetic, '' I assure you these are the feelings and sentiments of my own heart, and of that of the Princess." Indeed, the interest and pleasure which the Princess Victoria evinced in the business of the day fully confirmed this assurance, and afforded a cheering omen to the labouring classes of the regard and watchful attention which the " poor man's weal" would ever excite in the breast of the future Queen. The Royal Party continued near the stone for a few minutes to see the workmen proceed with the building, and were then re-conducted, amidst the cheers of the multitude, the band at the same time striking up " Rule Britannia' to the tent, whence, after a few kind words to the Ladies around them, they were escorted by the Committee to their carriages ; and thus closed a scene of which the pleasurable remembrance is probably not yet erased from the minds of those who witnessed it. “

The British Magazine and Monthly Register of 1834 gave the following version of events. “ Tunbridge Wells on Monday the 29th of September, their Royal Highnesses the Dutchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria, and suite, with most of the fashionable residents, proceeded to the site of the new Victoria National School, Calverley New Town, towards which the Dutchess subscribed 100 pounds and consented that the Princess should lay the first stone. On their arrival, their Royal Highnesses were conducted by the committee to the marque, and the plans of the intended building were submitted to them, with which they expressed themselves pleased. The procession having been formed, the clergy stood forward, and the architect (Mr Burton) handed the trowel to the Princess, who took some mortar and spread it under the suspended stone. The master of ceremonies then deposited a glass bottle, containing the inscriptions, etc., and the stone was lowered amidst the acclamations of the assembly. The Dutchess was then presented with the plummet and square, and delivered a suitable address. The children of the charity schools were placed around the ropes, and the band played ‘God Save the King’ at the commencement, and ‘Rule Britannia’ at the conclusion of the ceremony”.


As noted in the account about the laying of the foundation stone ,and in other sources ,the gentleman who designed the Victoria National School for Boys was the well -known and highly respected architect Decimus Buron(1800-1881) FRS FRSA FSA FRIBA. An image of him is shown opposite. He was one of the foremost English architects of the 19th century. He was a leading exponent of the Greek revival, Georgian and Regency styles. He was the son of property developer James Burton and brother of Egyptologist James Burton.

His works include Hyde Park, London, including Gate/Screen at Hyde Park Corner and the Wellington Arch, London Zoo, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the clubhouse of the Athenaeum Club, London, Regent's Park, London, including Cornwall Terrace, Chester Terrace, and the villas of the Inner Circle (including his own residence, The Holme), Green Park, London, Carlton House Terrace, and the layout and architecture of the seaside towns of Fleetwood and St Leonards-on-Sea and the spa town Tunbridge Wells. He also worked on Buckingham Palace, where he was responsible for the removal of Nash's Marble Arch facing the building to its present site and the subsequent enclosure of the forecourt.

Burton had trained at the Royal Academy Schools and had attended Tonbridge School. By his early twenties he had his own office in Regent Street. He was commissioned to build Holwood Park, Keston by John Ward who went on to buy the Calverley Estate of about 1000 acres in Tunbridge Wells. Burton knew the area because his Scottish father had bought Mabledon, a gothic style house on an estate near Tunbridge Wells, in 1804: Ward commissioned Burton junior to develop his new estate. Tunbridge Wells had grown in size without any plan but Burton set out to change this: he started to design a layout and buildings to the north and east of the village and The Pantiles.

 A crescent of 24 villas with their own gardens were designed at the centre of Calverley Park between 1829 and 1837. The houses were all built in different styles from the local sandstone quarried from the estate, which also had its own brick and water works. As with most estates there were lodges at each entrance: first to be built was Victoria Gate – named after the Princess - in a classical style. Next was Keston Lodge in the same style, then Farnborough Lodge in a gothic style. The lodge keepers only allowed in residents, their servants or respectable visitors - the first gated community,

Burton enlarged and rebuilt Mount Pleasant House – now the Hotel du Vin – where Princess Victoria had holidayed with her mother, The Duchess of Kent. Close by he built the new parish church of Holy Trinity in the gothic style – now an arts centre – and, next door to it, The Priory. The Regency style Calverley Crescent or Promenade followed – designed with shops underneath residential apartments – Calverley Terrace, Calverley Parade and Mews, the more modest Calverley Cottages and gothic school house on Camden Road in 1834 (Victoria National School for Boys).

His style was eclectic – classical and gothic: the Regency canopy was just one of the features he embraced on his houses. His indubitable talent led to many local private commissions in and around the area. Then in London he designed the New Charing Cross Hospital (now Charing Cross Station) and later the entrance gates at Kew, The Palm House and Temperate House.

Eventually, however, Burton settled (and built) in Hastings as his father had developed land at St Leonards nearby. Decimus Burton was of the same mould as Pugin and William Morris: a man of immense talent and vision, so obsessed with his work that he had little time for alternative pursuits or his family. But Decimus Burton did reverse the fortunes of Tunbridge Wells, which to this day remains the epitome of a respectable country town.

Gothic Revival (also referred to as Victorian Gothic, Neo-Gothic or Jigsaw Gothic, and when used for school, college, and university buildings as Collegiate Gothic) is an architectural movement that began in the late 1740s in England. Its popularity grew rapidly in the early 19th century, when increasingly serious and learned admirers of neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval Gothic architecture, in contrast to the neoclassical styles prevalent at the time. Gothic Revival draws features from the original Gothic style, including decorative patterns, finials, scalloping, lancet windows, hood mouldings, and label stops.

Although the Victoria National School building of 1834 was a relatively small building, constructed with financial constraint from community donations, it does ,in an understated manner, display the gothic style of architecture employed by Burton for this project, a style he also used on the schools house for the headmaster that abutted it.


The school with abutting schoolmasters house was built on the south side of Grover Street in the middle of the block between Calverley Street on the east and Camden Road on the west. A 1828 map shows the occupancy and uses of the land on which the school was built. On this map can be seen at the intersection of Calverley Road and Camden Road (also known as Quarry Road, for it led to John Ward’s sandstone quarry from which the stone for the school was obtained) the Camden Inn public house. Next to it ,to the east on Calverley Road, was the “New Market”, later to become the Town Hall, and just to the east of it was a lane leading north into land that was nursery grounds, which later became known as Calverley Street. Calverley Street was by the early 1830’s  extended northward up to Grover Street and then to Garden Road. The  lane behind the ‘New Market” is labelled on the map as “Market Lane”.

A map of 1832  shows two buildings side by side on the land that was to become the school. There is no evidence of these buildings on the 1828 map. What they were was not established but they were demolished in 1834 to make way for the school.

The construction of the school was funded by donations. The Dutchess of Kent gave 100 pounds to the cause and while in town there was a Fancy Bazaar which was attended by both the Dutchess and Princess Victoria, at which bazaar they made several purchases, the proceeds of which were to go towards the cost of the new school. The Parliamentary Gazette of 1840 stated “ At the back if the new market house, the Victorian National School for Boys, the foundation stone of which was layed in 1834 by her present majesry then Princess Victoria and the Dutchess of Kent. This school which is chiefly supported by voluntary contributions is conducted on the principals of the British and Foreign school society”.

Colbrans 1839 map shows the location of the school and labels it as ‘Victoria School”. Gisbourne's map of 1849 clearly shows the footprint of the school at that time, which suggests that by that date an extension had been built on the rear of the school. The building is shown unchanged on maps of 1852 and 1868.

The location of the school is found in various accounts with different descriptions but all of them pertain to the same school. Examples of this are 1840 Pigots;1847 Bragshaw, and directories of 1874 and 1882  which list “ Victoria National School, Calverley Road”.  An 1847 Charity Schedule gave the listing “Victoria National School for Boys at back of the Calverley Market”. A directory for 1851 gave “Victoria National School, Calverley Lane”.  The 1891 census gave the listing “Victoria School House, Victoria School Lane”.  The 1861 census gave it on Market Street. Leigh’s pocket book of 1837 gave “ In Calverley Lane was opened in 1834 the Victoria National School”.

By the end of the 19th century it was decided that the old school should be replaced with a new one. An account by Charles Hilbert Strange dated 1946 stated “The present premises of The Holy Trinity Boys School in Calverley Street (Victoria School) date from 1901”. The 1913 Kelly directory gave in part “ Holy Trinity (Royal Victoria School for Boys) erected in 1902 on the site of the old school”.  Shown opposite is the 1907 os map on which the red arrow points to the new Victoria National Boys School referred to above and just to the west (left of it) on the map can still be seen the original building of 1834   It is believed that the headmasters home that abutted the 1834 school was actually the building demolished to make way for the new school. A photo of the new school was given in the ‘Overview’ of this article. A modern view of the old school building which today has a brass plaque on it “ Victoria House” is shown below.

It was stated in accounts that the school of 1834 was built of sandstone, which stone was obtained from John Ward’s quarry at the top of Quarry Road (Camden Road). One of these accounts was the Encyclopedia of Architects 1888 which stated that “John Wards sandstone was used towards the Victoria Nation School”. Burton often used the same stone in the town for other buildings he was commissioned to do for John Ward. The stone unfortunately had the disadvantage of darkening to an unattractive colour, and although this discolouration can be removed or lessened by proper cleaning few building owners bothered. Victoria House, as it presents itself today does not show on the Grover Street frontage the original stone, but rather is now finished in a white stucco, underneath which is presumably the original stone. Shown below are two early 20th century photographs of Calverley Street, one of which appears to be looking north up the street towards Garden Road. Unfortunately the new school on Calverley Street is not clearly visible in these photos. The photo on the right bears a postmark of 1905.

The 1903 Kelly directory stated “ Holy Trinity (Royal Victoria Schools) for boys erected in 1902 on site of the old school, for 255 boys; average attendance 230; Joseph Punton Smith, master, Calverley Street, Tunbridge Wells”. The 1913 and 1922 directory gave “ Public Elementary Schools managed by the Borough Education Committee, numbering twelve members of the Town Council and seven co-opted members. Meetings held at the Town Hall monthly. Holy Trinity (Royal Victoria School for Boys) erected in 1902 on the site of the old school”.

An article, under the heading of ‘Huntleys School 1952’ is an account by its headmaster who stated in part. Three very old boy’s schools, King Charles, ROYAL VICTORIA, and St James, all C of E schools, were to be disbanded and pupils out together to form a brand new school-‘Tunbridge Wells County Secondary School for Boys’. The Royal Victoria School was very similar to King Charles school. The Royal Victoria School building in Calverley Street has been sold long ago and is now a warehouse.  A contradictory account from the National Archives is a listing of photographs for “Holy Trinity (Royal Victoria) School for Boys” for the years 1954-1957.

A review of Planning Authority files was made for the years 1975 to 2016 from which the following information about ‘Victoria House’ was obtained. In 1979 Mr D. W. Dunn was the applicant for alterations and additions to form offices. The application was approved with the stipulation that the new materials were to match the existing. When this building was converted into office use initially was not determined but no doubt circa 1902 after the new school was built. In 2005 Jordan Media, who occupied offices in Victoria House was given approval for an office extension from premises of 150 sm to 166.57 sm (about 1350 sf). The delegation report and other input to the application provided no historical information about the building except to state that it was not listed by English Heritage and that “The building is best seen from the car park at the rear of the former school building/warehouse in Calverley Street (referring to the new school of circa 1902) and refers to the building having a slate roof. Shown below are two architects plans for this building. The top one shows the existing elevation plans and the one below it shows what was proposed.

Regarding the new school of circa 1902, shown opposite is a site plan from 1999 showing both Victoria House on Grover Street and the former school (now warehouse) on the corner of Calverley Street. Sometime before 1975 the new circa 1902 school became a warehouse, It was already a warehouse in 1975 and the earliest application for Planning Authority since then was in 1979 when NPI applied for a new loading platform for “ Warehouse (former Royal Victoria School) Calverley Street”.

In 1999 NPI received approval for external alterations, bathroom work and extended office accommodation for this building and in 2003 Fairbrior Projects Ltd received approval to convert the warehouse into seven 2BR apartments. The top two plans below show the existing building and the last two show what was proposed.


Below is a list of schoolmasters as recorded in directory and census records.

1840 Pigots directory…. “ Victoria National School, Calverley Road, Charles Gray, master”.

1844 London Gazette……..Report regarding a petition of bankruptcy filed by Richard Coppers, master, Victoria National school, Tunbridge Wells.

1847 Bragshaw……..”Victoria National School Calverley Rd, John Linn, master”.

1867 Kelly………”Victoria National, Camden Rd, John George Passingham, master”.

1874 & 1882 Kelly…….”Victoria National. Camden Rd, J.G. Passigham, master”.

1903 & 1913 Kelly…………Holy Trinity (Royal Victoria School for Boys), Joseph Alfred Punton Smith, master, Calverley Street”.

1909 Herbert Stranges Annual 1910…….A hardcover book with a nice prize label inside front cover stating “ Royal Victoria School Tunbridge Wells/ Presented to Leslie Greenwood for obtaining highest marks in his class’ J. A. Punton Smith, Headmaster Xmas 1909”.

[1] CHARLES GRAY……….No definitive information found for him apart from his listing as the master of the school in the 1840 Pigots directory.

[2] RICHARD COPPERS……Richard was born 1827 at Brenchley, Kent. His wife was Ann Elizabeth Coppers, born 1808 in Frittenden, Kent, who was his second wife. Information about him is inconclusive apart from the 1861 census, taken at Gillingham,  Kent where he was a schoolmaster. Living with him was his wife Ann E. and one boarder. He may be related to Richard Coppers who died in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1839. Richard was not found in the 1851 census of Tunbridge Wells. It is known from the London Gazette that in 1844 he was of the Victoria School, Tunbridge Wells, when in that year he filed for bankruptcy.

[3] JOHN LINN….. The  1847 Bragshaw directory gave the listing ”Victoria National School Calverley Rd, John Linn, master”. John was born December 21,1814 at Battersea,Surrey. He was baptised January 13,1815 at Saint Mary Magdalene, Richmond, Surrey the son of David Linn (1785-1866) and Elizabeth Linn.  In the 2nd qtr of 1847 in Tunbridge Wells, John married Martha Lewis, who had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1811.

The 1851 census, taken at Easton in Giordow, Somerset gave John as a “National Schoolmaster”. With him was his wife Martha , their sonb David James Linn (1850-1932) and one servant.

The 1861 census, taken at 4 St Martins Place in Birmingham, Warwickshire gave John as a clerk to a wire drawer. With him was his wife Martha and this son David James, age 11 and his father David, age 75, a widower.

The 1871 census, taken at 4 St Martins Place gave John as a widow and clerk. With him was his son David James Linn, a jewellers clerk and a niece Elizabeth Davis, age 30, born in Tunbridge Wells.

John Linn died in the 4th qtr of 1873 at Birmingham, Warwickshire. His wife Martha died there also in 1868.


Local directories of 1867 to 1882 gave him as the master of the school. John was born 1835 at Greenwich, Kent, one of at least three children born to schoolmaster William James Passingham, born 1816 and Mary Ann Passingham, born 1816, a schoolmistress.

The 1841 census, taken at Chertsey, Surrey gave John and his two siblings living with their parents. John was still with his parents at the time of the 1851 census.

In 1859 John married Sarah, born 1833 at Lambeth,Surrey. After the marriage John and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells, where in 1860 they had a son William John Passingham.At the time of the 1861 census the three of them were living at Market Street where John’s occupation was given as “schoolmaster certification”.

The 1871 census, taken at the Victoria National School House gave John as a schoolmaster. With him was his wife Sarah; his sister in law Elizabeth Smith,age 43, a lodging house keeper. Also there was John’s three children William, age 10; Charles, age 9 and Bertram, age 8, all born in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1881 census taken at the Victoria School House gave John as a schoolmaster. With him was his wife Sarah and their son Bertram, a clerk. The 1891 census, taken at the same school gave John as a C of E teacher. With him was his wife Sarah and 30 year old son William.

John George Passingham died in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1919. No probate record was given for him but he was likely survived by his wife. His son William John Passingham is found in probate records as born 1860 Tunbridge Wells who was of 97 Stephens Road, Tunbridge Wells when he died September 25,1919. The executors of his 359 pound estate was his brother Bertram Walter Passingham, finance clerk.


Joseph is found in records at the school from 1903 to 1913. Joseph was born 1862 in Brighton, Sussex and was baptised October 18,1863 at St Nicholas, Brighton, Sussex, the son of Joseph and Maria Smith, nee Punton.

The 1871 census, taken at 139 London Road in Brighton, Sussex gave Joseph Smith as a plumber and printer master employing two men. He had been born 1834 in Lewes, Sussex. With him was his wife Maria, born 1833 in Lewes, Sussex as well as seven of their children, including their son Joseph who was attending school.

The 1881 census, taken at Bridgewater Street in Lymm, Cheshire, gave Joseph Smith as a decorator master. With him was his wife Maria, his son George, age 23, a painter; Edward, age 20, a painter; Joseph, age 19, a schoolmaster’ Annie, age 17, a dressmaker and four younger children who were attending school. The whereabouts of Joseph at the time of the 1891 census were not established but by 1901 he had taken up residence in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1901 census taken at 6 Princess Street, Tunbridge Wells, gave Joseph as a schoolmaster. With him was his wife Julia, born 1861 at Dorking ,Surrey.

The 1911 census, taken at 39 St James Road, Tunbridge Wells, gave Joseph as a “schoolmaster of the Boys School KCC”. With him was his wife Julia Ellen; their son Sydney Printer Smith,age 20, born at Wallington, Surrey, a student and one domestic servant. The census recorded that they were living in premises of 7 rooms; that they had been married 23 years (1888) and had just the one child.

Probate records for Joseph Alfred Punton Smith of 18 Mount Ephraim Road, Tunbridge Wells gave him passing away December 21,1937 at the Kent & Sussex Hospital. The executors of his 3,255 pound estate was his wife Julia Ellen Smith and his solicitor. Probate records for Julia Ellen Punton Smith gave her of 41 Upper Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells when she died Mary 27,1943. The executors of her 9,077 pound estate was Lloyds Bank Limited and Sydney Punton Smith, schoolmaster and her solicitor.


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

Date: September 25,2017


George Albert Chalklin had been born 1862 in Penge, one of several children born to George and Annie Chalklin. From the 1870’s to the 1890’s George lived with his parents and siblings in Lewisham, London, where his father worked at times as a porter. At the time of the 1871 census George was attending school. By 1881 he was working as a photographer but by the time of the 1891 census he was the proprietor of a cheesemongers shop.

In about 1882 George moved to Tunbridge Wells where he met Ada Turner, who he married in the 4th qtr of 1893. Ada had been born 1867 in Camberwell, London. At the time of the 1901 census George and his wife Ada and their son Albert George Chalklin (born in Tunbridge Wells in 1898)were living above their shop at 35-37 Calverley Road where George was working as a clothiers salesman and Ada was a drapers shopkeeper employing others.

By the time of the 1911 census George had taken over the clothiers shop at 35-37 Calverley Road and his wife Ada was still the proprietor of a drapers shop.

Directories of 1913-1914 listed George as an outfitter at 5 Camden Road but by 1922 had expanded his business to  include 5-7 Camden Road. Ada continued to operate her business from Calverley Road, with directories of 1922-1926 listing her as the proprietor of a milliners shop at 35 Calverley Road and the proprietor of a drapers and milliners shop at 7 Camden Road in directories of 1927 to 1935.  

George Albert Chalklin passed away at Beuna Vista on Powder Mill Lane, Tunbridge Wells May 10,1929 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery, leaving his wife Ada the executor of his 2,209 pound estate. Ada was still living at Beuna Vista when she died December 12,1944 while in Staplehurst and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery . A brief but informative obituary for Ada appeared in the Courier December 22,1944 which, apart from her business interests, referred to her association with the Purley School and the Monson Swimming Club and her interest in “everything concerning the progress of the town”.


George Albert Chalklin was born in Penge in 1862. Penge is a suburb of south-east London, in the London Borough of Bromley. It has entered popular culture as the archetypal commuter suburb, but was a fashionable entertainment district in the 19th century and saw notorious murders in the 1870s. Census records gave George’s birth as either Penge, Kent (1901) or Penge, Surrey (1871 to 1891 and1911).

George was baptised December 31,1962 at Saint Johns, Penge and recorded as the son of George and Annie Chalklin. His birth was registered at Croydon,Surrey in the 3rd qtr of 1862. His father George had been born 1828 in Seal, Kent and his mother Annie was born 1837 at Newnham, Surrey.

The 1871 census, taken at Wellington Terrace, High Street, Lewisham, gave George Chalklin senior with no occupation. With him was his wife Annie and their five children Minnie G,age 10; George Albert, age 8; William,age 7; Joseph E,age 5 and Annie M, age 3. All of the children’s place of birth were given as “Penge, Surrey”.

The 1881 census, taken at 18 Fransfield Grove in Lewisham, London gave George senior as a porter. With him was his wife Annie and their five children, including their son George who was working as a photographer. George’s sister Minnie was working as a photographers assistant. Also in the home were five members of the Rutley family who were all nieces and nephews of George senior.

The 1891 census, taken at 30 High Street in Lewisham gave George and Annie with no occupation. With them were three of their children namely George who was a cheesemonger employing others; Annie who was a teacher and Minnie G who as a photographers assistant. There were also two members of the Rutley family living there.

Sometime after the 1891 census and the 4th qtr of 1893 George moved to Tunbridge Wells where he married Ada Turner and began his career as a clothier.


In the 4th qtr of 1893 George Albert Chalklin married Ada Turner in Tunbridge Wells. Based on her death records and census records it is know that she was born in Camberwell,London in 1867. Her obituary of 1944 stated that she had been a resident of Tunbridge Wells “for some 50 years) which coincides with the year of the marriage, suggesting that she had not lived in Tunbridge Wells long before she came to know George Albert Chalklin. No definitive information about her and her life before 1893 was found.

In 1898 George and Ada had a son, namely Albert George Chalklin,born in Tunbridge Wells, who by 1911 was their only child and no record of other children born to the couple were found.

The 1901 census, taken at 35-37 Calverley Road (postcard view opposite) gave George Albert Chalklin as a clothiers salesman, suggesting that he was not the proprietor of the shop but rather just worked there. With him was his wife Ada who’s occupation was given as “ drapers shopkeeper employer” indicating that she was running her own business and hired assistants.Also present was their son Albert George Chalklin and one servant.

The 1911 census, taken at 35-37 Calverley Road gave George Albert Chalklin as a “clothier employer” indicating that he had taken over the clothiers shop at that address from its previous proprietor. With him in premises of 5 rooms was his wife Ada who’s occupation was given as “ draper, employer” and their son Albert who was in school. The census recorded that the couple had been married 17 years and had just one child.

An “outfitter or clothier” is a person who makes or sells clothing or cloth. A “draper’ is a person who sells cloth, clothing and dry goods. A “milliner” is a person, usually a lady, who designs, makes and sells women’s hats. Most men’s apparel shops were run by men. Draper’s shops were run by both men and women although the type of cloth and clothing sold by them was usually gender specific. Milliners were typically women with men’s hats were made and sold by men in “hatters shops”.  In Tunbridge Wells there were many drapers, clothiers, outfitters, milliners and hatters shops catering to the needs of local residents and visitors to the town, many of which were concentrated in the town’s main shopping areas of Camden Road, Calverley Road, Mount Pleasant Road, High Street and the Pantiles. Advertisments for these shops often appeared in the local newspapers, directories and town guides.

A review of local directories covering the period of 1913 to 1938 gave the following listings.  No. 5-7 Camden Road was located just north of its intersection with Calverley Road. A postcard view of this part of Camden Road from the early 1900’s is shown opposite.

1911(census)……George Chalklin, clothier, 35-37 Calverley Road and Ada Chalkin, draper employer of the same address.

1913-1914……….George Chalklin, outfitter, 5 Camden Road

1922………………..George Chalklin, outfitter 5-7 Camden Road

1922-1926………..Ada Chalklin, milliner, 35 Calverley Road

1927-1935………..Ada Chalklin, draper and milliner, 7 Camden Road

1927-1935…………George and Ada Chalklin, Buena Vista, Power Mill Lane (private residence)

George Albert Chalklin died in Tunbridge Wells in 1929. Probate records gave him of Beuna Vista, Powder Mill Lane, Tunbridge Wells when he died on May 10,1929. The executor of his 2,209 pound estate was his wide Ada Chalklin. George was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on May 15th. His funeral service was attended by his widow and son and many other friends and family members.

Ada Chalklin died in Tunbridge Wells in 1944. Probate records gave her of Buena Vista, Powder Mill Lane, Tunbridge Wells when she died December 12,1944 at Milestone House, Staplehurst, Kent. The executor of her 6,652 pound estate was her son Albert George Chalklin, company representative, and Albert Jeffray Mitchell, solicitor. Ada was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on December 18th.

The Courier of December 22,1944 reported the following “ Late Mrs A. Chalklin----A large number of old friends will regret to learn of the passing of Mrs Ada Chalklin of Buena Vista, Powder Mill Lane, whose funeral took place at the Borough Cemetery on Monday. Mrs Chalklin was the widow of Mr G. Chalklin, who for many years carried on a clothier’s and outfitter’s business at 5 Camden Road. She herself was also a keen business woman. For many years she had a drapery business at 35 and 37 Calverley Road. She was an enthusiastic supporter of the draper’s Purley School, of which she was a steward, was for some time secretary and treasurer of the Monson Swimming Club and took and interest in everything concerning the progress of the town in which she had resided for some 50 years. Much sympathy will be extended to the son , Mr. A. G. Chalklin”.


Thomas More Catholic School celebrated its Golden Jubilee last year and the building that is now Thomas More Catholic School is set on a hill within Purley,Surrey, in a housing estate that grew up around the school in the inter-war years. It was originally designed by Birmingham architect John George Bland in the Venetian Gothic style. The original school was opened in 1866 and was known as the Warehousemen and Clerks New School. In 1962, the site was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Southwark and two new schools were opened, namely Thomas More Catholic School and Margaret Roper Catholic Primary School. The building was Grade II listed in February 1983.

In 1853, a group of clerks from the wholesale warehouses in the City wanted to help the widow and young family of one of their colleagues who had just died. They met in The George Hotel, in London, and set up a charity to look after orphan children from the families of their trade. Within a year they had more than a thousand subscribers and a school was purchased in New Cross. Lord John Russell, the youngest son of the Duke of Bedford, and ex-Prime Minister, consented to be president of the new school founded by subscriptions. The school was established in 1853 as the Warehousemen, Drapers and Haberdashers School and opened by Edward, Prince of Wales with John Russell, Lord Russell as its president.

By 1866, the school had grown considerably and moved to its present site in Purley, to new buildings that were opened by the Prince of Wales. The demand for more places for children orphaned by the First World War saw the school need to expand to a new campus. In the 1920s, the estate of Charles Hermann Goschen, Lord Lieutenant of the City of London, was donated to the trustees of the school. The school remained in site at Purley and, in 1924, Edward, Prince of Wales, laid the foundation stone(designed by Eric Gill and carved by his assistant Joseph Cribb) for the chapel on the Ballards site. Initially, it was only the boys who moved up to the Ballards site, the girls remaining at Purley.

During the Second World War, the boys and girls changed venues as it was thought safer to have the girls farther away from Croydon Airport. The school operated on two sites until it was decided to sell the Russell Hill site and combine girls and boys in 1961.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark bought the site in 1961 and in 1962 opened two new schools – Thomas More Catholic School and Margaret Roper Primary School – which are still operating on the site to this day.


The Monson Baths (now gone) were located on the south side of Monson Road just east of its intersection with Mount Pleasant Road.This indoor swimming pool was constructed by Council to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It underwent improvements over the years, and in the 1950’s could still be described as “unmatchable in cleanliness, service and civility, and all necessary facilities”. An interior view of the pool is shown opposite from the 1950’s along with an earlier postcard view of the exterior.

From my article ‘ Swimming in Tunbridge Wells and Area’ dated March 17,2016 I wrote the following.

The foundation stone for this building was laid on Tuesday Jan 27,1897 by Tunbridge Wells Mayor Charles Robert Fletcher Lutwidge who was the mayor from 1895 to 1898 and again in 1901-1902.The building was completed in 1898 and opened that year and proved to be very popular among those interested in swimming indoors.

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Swimming Club was founded in 1901 and the Monson baths became their headquarters but in 1974 moved to a new pool on St John’s Road.

Peltons 1912 guide states “Indoor public baths in Monson Road, the property of the corporation, 90 feet long, depth of water 3’ to 6’-6”. For times and prices apply at the Baths and also the special times set apart for ladies”.

The Monson bath was demolished in 1974 to make way for a new office block called “Monson House”.

In 2002 the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council issued a news release asking residents to submit  their swimming memories as part of a reminiscence project by the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery.These stories were collected and made into a book by the Museum as part of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations.




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

Date: September 26,2017


Carey Thomas Brown (1822-1877) was born in Winchester, Hampshire, one of several children born to Henry Carey Brown (1792-1864) and Mary Ann Brown, nee Baker (born 1798).

Henry Carey Brown was born in Winchester, one of several children born to Thomas and Mary Brown. In 1820 Henry married Mary Ann Baker in Winchester Hampshire. Henry lived all his life in Winchester and in the period of 1830 to 1844 he was a builder, carver and gilder, operating his business from 82 High Street in Winchester. By the time of the 1851 census Henry was working as a surveyor and his son Carey Thomas Brown became an architect and surveyor also.

In the 4th qtr of 1852, at Southampton, Carey Thomas Brown married Ann Oakley (1833-1915) and with her had 9 children between 1853 and 1865. In the 1850’s Carey joined the Royal Engineers where he appears in a list of Clerks of Works with them in Chatham. He went on to achieve the rank of Captain.

Directories of 1853 gave him as an architect at 16 Clifford Street in Southampton and that of 1855 gave him as an architect and surveyor at 1 Hanover Buildings in Southampton. By 1857 the family moved to Lewisham where a son, Henry Carey Brown was born in 1857. He died in Tunbridge Wells of a disease in June 1867 and was buried in the Woodbury Park Cemetery when only age 10. His family had been visiting the town at the time of his death and while in the town Carey Thomas Brown had his portrait taken by David Robert Everest at his studio located at 40 Grosvenor Road.

In 1858 the family was living in Plumstead, Lewisham but by 1860 had moved to Woolwich. In the period of 1861 to 1864 Carey worked as an engineer at St Heliers, Jersey, where his wife had three daughters. The family was back in Southampton by 1865.

By the time of the 1871 census the family were living in Gillingham,Kent where Carey was an architect and surveyor.

On May 1,1872  the immigrant sailing ship HALCIONE left London May 1,1872 and arrived at Wellington, New Zealand July 27th with 267 passengers, including Carey and his wife and eight children. Apart from occasional visits to England the family remained in New Zealand.

While living in Wellington Carey worked as an engineer for a railway company(the Hutt Railway Line) and as a draftsman and later resident engineer for the Public Works Office. His son Charles Thomas Harold Brown, who was born in Lewisham in 1858,had come to New Zealand with his parents and siblings.He had been educated in Chatham.He continued with the Public Works Department until 1879 when he then joined the District Survey Office as a draughtsman. As a Volunteer he served for many years (until 1882) with the Makara Rifles, achieving the rank of Lieutenant. .  He married Charlotte Vickers in 1885 while employed as a surveyor and worked most of his live as a Civil Servant in Wellington. He and his wife had 4 children. He died in Wellington in 1938 .

Carey Thomas Brown died 1877 at Porirua ( a coastal town north of Wellington) where he committed suicide after a financial setback. Carey’s wife died August 5,1914 at Karori, New Zealand and was buried at St Mary’s Anglican Burial Ground at Karori, Wellington.

This article reports on the life and careers of the Brown family with a particular emphasis on Carey Thomas Brown(1822-1877) and his son Henry Carey Brown(1857-1867) as it relates to the time the family resided in Tunbridge Wells, albeit only a short period in their lives. Of particular interest in this regard is the photo of Carey Thomas Brown taken in Tunbridge Wells and the death of his son Henry Carey Brown in Tunbridge Wells and his burial in the Woodbury Park Cemetery.


I begin my coverage of the Brown family with Henry Carey Brown who was born 1792 in Winchester, Hampshire. He had been baptised at Stg Maurice, Winchester on April 12,1792 and given as the son of Thomas and Mary Brown.

Henry grew up in Winchester and on December 4,1820 the final reading of the bans was taken at Trowbridge, Wiltshire. The marriage took place December 18,1820 at Salisbury St Martin with St Mary Magdelene Mission Church in Wiltshire. Henry was a bachelor, and his wife, Mary Ann Baker was a spinster, born 1798 in Sarum, Wiltshire. The couple were married by licence by Thomas Davis, Rector of the church.

Directories of 1830 to 1844 gave Henry Carey Brown as a builder, carver and gilder, operating his business from premises at 82 High Street in Winchester, Hampshire.

Between 1821 and 1839 Henry and his wife had seven children, including a son Carey Thomas brown (1822-1877), all of whom were born in Winchester, Hampshire.

The 1841 census, taken  at High Street,Winchester gave Henry with his wife Mary and six children, including their son Carey Thomas Brown. No occupations were given for Henry or any member of the family in this census.

The 1851 census, taken at 36 Tower Street in Winchester gave Henry as a surveyor. With him was his wife Mary Ann and their six children, including their son Carey Thomas Brown. No occupations were given for any of them in this census. The couple also had a seventh child, namely Mary Ann Brown who was baptised October 13,1823 but she does not show up in any census records and may have died as an infant.

By the time of the 1861 census most of the Brown children had left home. In this census, taken at St John’s Hospital in St Maurice, Winchester, only Henry and his wife Mary Ann and their daughter Louisa Blance Brown were listed.

Henry Carey Brown died in the 1st qtr of 1864 in Winchester. His wife Mary Ann Brown died in Winchester in the 4th qtr of 1877.


Carey was born in Winchester, Hampshire in 1822. He was baptised  at St Maurice, Winchester on October 31,1822.  Information about his parents and siblings were given above and as noted above he lived with his parents up to at least the time the 1851 census was taken.  He received his basic education in Winchester. Details about his training and education to become a surveyor, architect and engineer were not found and not doubt his training was more hands on from work experience than from any formal education. His father had been a surveyor and no doubt much of what Carey knew about survey work was knowledge he gained from his father.

In the 4th qtr of 1852 Carey married Ann Oakley (1833-1914) at Southampton, Hampshire. Ann had been born 1833 at Southampton, Hampshire. On September 13th she was baptised at All Saints Church in Hampshire and was given as the daughter of John and Sarah Oakley.

The 1841 census, taken at Waterloo Terrace in Southampton gave John Oakley born 1805 Hampshire, a builder. With him was his sons John, age 10 and Benjamin,age 5. Listed below them was Benjamin Oakley, born 1806 Hampshire, a builder, and most likely John seniors brother. Below Benjamin was his wife Sarah, age 38; Catherine,age 13 and Ann,age 7 (born 1834 in Hampshire).

The 1851 census, taken at 4 Wimble Street gave John Brewer, a 50 year old widow and governor of a goal and house of correction. With him was his son John,age 12 and  a general servant. Also there, given as John’s niece was Ann Oakely age 18.

The 1853 directory gave the listing Carey Thomas Brown, architect, 16 Clifford Street, Southampton. The 1855 directory listed Carey as an architect and surveyor at 1 Hanover Buildings, Southampton, Hampshire.

In about 1855 the Royal Engineers were moved from the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich to Chatham, Kent, and Carey Thomas Brown and his family moved with them. Shown opposite is a cigarette card showing a captain of the Royal Engineers in 1854. The Royal Engineers were initially established in 1716.

Carey and Ann had the following children (1) Alice Emily Brown (1853-1933) who was born in Southampton and died a spinster in Sutherland, NSW (2) Katherine Louisa Brown (1855-1943) who was born in Southampton and died a spinster at Marlborough, New Zealand (3) Henry Carey Brown (1857-1867) who was born in Lewisham and died in Tunbridge Wells and buried in the Woodbury Park Cemetery. More information about him is given later. (4) Charles Thomas Harold Brown (1858-1938).Born at Plumbstead, Lewisham, London.  He emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1872; got married in 1885 and had 4 children and died in New Zealand. More information is given about him later. (5) Percy Brown, born 1860 at Woolwich,Kent and emigrated to New Zealand in 1872. He married Agnes Maude Graham 1883 in Wellington and had children. He died November 14,1939 at Kyeburn Diggings, Otago NZ. (6) Florence Jean Brown, born 1861 at St Heliers, Jersey and emigrated to New Zealand in 1872.In 1881 she married Edgar Arundel Lewis and had children. She died July 3,1948 as Florence Jean Lewis at Wanganui, Rangitikeiht and was buried in the Aramoho Cemetery at Wanganui age 87. (7) Ethel Maud Brown (1862-1949), born at St Heliers, Jersey. Emigrated to New Zealand 1872 and died a spinster May 31,1949 at Wellington, New Zealand (8) Mary Ada Brown (1864-1948) born at St Heliers, Jersey. Emigrated to New Zealand 1872. Died as a spinster  April 1948 at Wellington, New Zealand. (9) Emma Oakley Brown June 3,1865 at Southampton. Emigrated to New Zealand 1872. In 1896 she was living with her mother and some siblings at Karori,Wellington.She died January 18,1943 in Karori,Wellington and was buried in the same cemetery as her mother as a spinster (St Mary’s Anglican Churchyard).

At the time of the 1861 census Carey and his family were living at St Heliers, Jersey, Channel Islands at Havre de Pas  Ordnance Cottage where Carey worked as a “clerk of works Royal Engineers Department”. Living with him at that time was his wife Annie and his children Alice Emily,age 7; Katherine Louisa,age 6; Henry Carey,age 4; Charles Thomas Harold,age 2 and Percy,age 1.  Also there was one general servant. From the census it can be seen that the families place of residence was one of several at that location in “Engineers Square” where various members of the Royal Engineers lived.

In 1867 Carey Thomas Brown and his family spent the summer vacationing in Tunbridge Wells and during that time Carey had his photo taken at the studio of David Robert Everest and in that year his son Henry Carey Brown (1857-1867) died of disease and was buried in the Woodbury Park Cemetery. Details about the family during their time in Tunbridge Wells is given in a later section of this article.

The 1871 census, taken at Gillingham, Kent gave Carey Thomas Brown as a surveyor, With him was his wife and seven children. A 1871 list of Clerks of Works 2nd class  Royal Engineers Department at Home and Abroad” gave “C.T. Brown, Chatham”.

On May 1,1872 the sailing ship HALCIONE sailed from London and arrived at Wellington, New Zealand on July 27,1872. Among the 267 passengers were 32 cabin passengers including  Carey Thomas Brown, esq.; his wife Ann and their children Alice Emily Brown, Katherine Louisa Brown, Charles Thomas Brown, Percy Brown, Ethel Maud Brown, Florence Jean Brown, Mary Ann Brown and Emma Oakley Brown. Most of the passengers on the ship travelled in steerage and consisted of families and single men and women who were emigrating to New Zealand to live and work. On board the ship was also a large quantity of cargo for the colony that had a need for residents and workers. Many of the men went into farming and mining.

The Halcione was a full rigged iron ship of 878 tons that was engaged in the New Zealand immigrant ship service from 1869 to 1896. She had completed 26 voyages to New Zealand until wrecked January 8,1896 in Fitzroy Bay, Wellington Heads, 90 days out from London with a cargo of general merchandise. The ship was built in 1869 by R. Steele of Greenock  being almost 192 feet long. She had been built for J Parker & Co and acquire by Shaw Saville & Albion in 1880. In 1888 her rig was reduced to that of a barque. The 1872 trip on the ship was not salubrious as passengers on the ship claimed that some of the meat was putrid and unfit to eat and that it had been thrown overboard. The surgeon on the ship conceded that one piece had been slightly tainted but that it was still perfectly wholesome. Many of the passengers became quite ill from the rough seas the ship encountered on the long voyage.

Shown opposite is an early postcard view of Wellington. The Wikipedia website gave the following “Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 405,000 residents. It is at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. It is the world's windiest city, with an average wind speed of over 26 km/h, and the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state”.

Upon the families arrival in Wellington they took up residence in the city. Carey Thomas Brown obtained a position as an engineer with a railway company and later as an engineer with the Public Works Office. From a newspaper (Argus) announcement about the death of Carey in 1877 it was stated “Mr Carey Thomas Brown, was for some time well known in that city (Wellington) as an engineer on the Hutt Railway Line. He was afterwards engaged by the Government in Mr Clayton’s department in the Public Works Office…” . The article goes on to state that he resigned his position due to a cut in salary and that ‘for some time past had been residing at Porirua and died by committing suicide “on the Porirus Road near Wellington”.  Further information about his suicide is given later in this article.

The New Zealand Gazette of May 1,1873 recorded the appointment of Carey Thomas Brown as a draftsman at the Wellington Public Works Office effective May 1st. The same publication dated November 6,1873 reported the appointment of Carey Thomas Brown as a resident engineer  to the Wellington Public Works Office effective November 6th.

Shown below left is a photo from 1930 showing the workshop of the Hutt Railway Line and to the right of it is a map showing the railway network in New Zealand. The following information about the Hutt Railway Line is from Wikipedia. “The Hutt Valley Line is the electrified train service operated by Transdev Wellington on behalf of Metlink on the section of the Wairarapa Line railway between Wellington and Upper Hutt, New Zealand. The Hutt Valley line was the first railway out of Wellington. Brogden & Sons received a contract to survey and construct the first portion of the line, from Wellington to Lower Hutt, and construction began on August 20, 1872, with the first sod turned at Pipitea in Wellington”. In subsequent years the line was extended. See the Wikipedia website for further details.

Carey Thomas Brown lived most of his life in Wellington but he found himself in financial difficulties, and although the reasons for his suicide are not known it is speculated that it was for financial reasons that he decided to end his life. The following report from the “News of the Day” which was based on a telegram received from the Argus Newspaper, dated July 11,1873 provides what information is known. “ The late suicide at Wellington-------A recent telegram reported the suicide of a Mr Brown, who had hanged himself by his handkerchief from a rail fence on the Porirus Road, near Wellington. From particulars given in the Argus it appears that the deceased, Mr Carey Thomas Brown, was for some time well known in that city as an engineer on the Hutt railway line. He was afterwards engaged by the Government in Mr Clayton’s department in the Public Works office, at a salary of 400 pounds per annum. Owing however, to certain changes being made in the department, he was reduced to 200 pounds, and this caused him to resign. He had for some time past been residing at Porirua. No cause can as yet be assigned for his rash act. He was seen at Porirua, and was not under the influence of liquor, and appeared to be all right. The deceased was about 50 years of age and leaves a wife and family behind him”.

The New Zealand Electoral records of 1875-1875 gave Carey Thomas Brown living at Karori in leasehold premises and that his occupation was “farmer at Karori”. From this one can conclude that after he resigned from the Public Works Office he went into farming at Karori. It is known, since his wife died at Karori that he and his wife lived there on the farm and it appears from the death of his daughter Emma Oakley Brown at Karori that she and not doubt some of her siblings also lived at Karori with their parents.

Porirua is a city in the Wellington region of the north island of New Zealand. It is almost completely surrounds Porirua harbour at the southern end of the Kapiti Coast. This harbour city is just today a 15 minute trip north of Wellington. An aerial  photo of Porirua is shown above.

Death records show that the death of Carey Thomas Brown was registered July 14,1877 at Wellington,Otago, NZ and that he had died on July 4th. Where he was buried was not established. It is known however that he was not buried at St Mary’s Anglican Burial Ground at Karori where his wife and daughter Emma Oakley Brown were later buried. The National Archives of New Zealand have in their collection

Records of the St Mary Anglican Churchyard in Karori note the burial there of Annie Brown (Carey’s wife) and his daughter Emma Oakley Broan. A review of the cemetery records show that they were the only two members of the family buried there. Shown  to the rightis a photo of Annie Brown’s grave marker.

Annies grave marker reads “ In loving memory of Annie Brown, relict of the late Capt. Carey Thomas Brown R.E, died 5th Aug. 1914 aged 84. Rest in Peace. This cemetery is located at 170 Karori Road, Karori, Wellington. Emma Oakeley Brown was buried in the same cemetery on January 18,1943 with her date of birth given as June 3,1865.


Charles birth was registered in the 3rd qtr of 1858 at Plumstead, Lewisham, London and was the eldest son of Annie Brown, nee Oakley, and Carey Thomas Brown. As noted in the previous section he lived with his parents in England and emigrated to New Zealand with them on the ship HALCIONE, which arrived at Wellington New Zealand on July 27,1872.  Upon his arrival in Wellington he lived initially with his parents and siblings in Wellington. A photo of Charles when he was in his twenties is shown opposite.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand for the Wellington Provincial District Lands Office gave the following. “Charles Thomas Harold Brown was born in Lewisham in 1858. He emigrated to New Zealand from England, arriving on the ship HALCIONE in 1872. It arrived in port on 29 July 1872. Charles was only 14 when he came to New Zealand in the company of his family, including his father Capt. Carey Thomas Brown. Papers relating to the inquest into his father’s death in 1877 are noted ibn the New Zealand Archives dated July 11,1877”. The researcher requested a copy of the inquest documents but they were not received. The Cyclopedia continues “ Charles Thomas Harold Brown married Charlotte Mary Vickers (1844-1939) in 1885 and with her had seven children between 1886 and 1903. When they married he was working as a surveyor. He was a Civil Servant in Wellington. He was the Commissioner of the Native Land Court. The Maori Land Court was established in 1865 at the Native Land Court of New Zealand under the Native Lands Act 1865. The court encouraged Maori to sell land to private buyers but the Crown remained the largest purchaser. Most Maori owned land was sold during the economic recession of the 1890’s. Mr Charles Thomas Brown, Draughtsman in the Wellington District Survey Office, who was the son of the late Capt. C.T. Brown, of the Royal Engineers, was born 1858 at Woolwich, and educated at Chatham. Upon his arrival in Wellington in 1872 he entered the Public Works Department, where he continued until 1879, when he joined the District Survey Office as a draughtsman. As a Volunteer Mr Brown served many years, being appointed sub-lieutenant in the Makara Rifles in 1880, and lieutenant two years later. He served till the corps was disbanded, and received land-grant-scrip for his services. In 1886 Mr Brown was married to a daughter of Mr. S.C.G. Vickers, of Khandallah, and has two sons and two daughters. Details of his early service as a Volunteer are found in the NZ Archives”. A record from 1896 noted that Charles was living at Khandallah with the occupation of “surveyor”. He died in Wellington, New Zealand November 21,1938 and was buried in Wellington.


Last but not least, this section provided information and photographs about Carey Thomas Brown and his family in 1867 while they were spending the summer on vacation in Tunbridge Wells.

No census records for the family in Tunbridge Wells and no directory listings were found for them, including the 1867 directory. It is known from relatives of the family that Carey Thomas Brown and his wife Annie and their children were staying in a lodging house on Mount Ephraim during the summer of 1867.  Mount Ephraim is the site of many lodging houses and was/is a popular location for visitors to the town to stay, particularly since the buildings along it sit on an elevated position overlooking the lovely Commons.  Shown below left is a postcard view of the lodging houses on Mount Ephram and to the right is a view of the Commons from Mount Ephraim.


While in Tunbridge Wells Carey Thomas Brown decided to have his portrait photo taken (shown opposite) at the studio of David Robert Everest located at 20 Mount Ephraim, not far from where the Brown family were staying. This image found on the Sussex Photohistory website is also in possession of the New Zealand Archives and shows Carey as a rather distinguished gentleman of slim stature. David Robert Everest had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1852 and was the son of Mary and David Everest, a piano tuner, piano repairer and music seller. By 1845 David senior and his family moved from Camberwell, London to Tunbridge Wells and by 1855 he had established a ‘music warehouse’ in Chapel Place and was still there in 1858. Buy 1881 most of the children had left home and in the4 1880’s David senior was a pianoforte tuner at 7 Montacute Road and his wife Mary was a stay maker at the same address. Mary died in Frant in 1882 and David senior carried on working as a piano tuner until his death in 1887 at the age of 73.

David Robert Everest had trained as a hairdresser but by the mid 1860s was a photographer. David was recorded as a photographer at 20 Mount Ephraim until about 1875. He had married Fanny Winnifrith (born 1855 Tunbridge Wells) in 1874 and with her had children. David had taken over the studio of Edward Sims called the Alph Studio at 40 Grosvenor Road about 1876 and at the time of the 1881 census he was recorded as a photographer and hairdresser at 40 Grosvenor Road living with his wife Fanny and his two children Catherine and Herbert. At that time he was employing three people in his studio. About 1881 he sold his photo studio to Henry Jenkins and moved to Worthing, Sussex where he set up his studio at Connaught House, 53 Chapel Road, Worthing. While in Worthing he had another son. In 1883 David stepped back from the operation of his studio and it was overseen by a manager he had hired and by the end of 1883 or early 1884 he sold the studio, which became the Royal Art Studio, a London firm of photographers. David moved to Devon and set up a studio there but within a year of two became a commercial traveller in Portsmouth, Hampshire. By 1891 he was a commercial traveller with a hardware firm. By 1898 he returned to his original occupation as a hairdresser in Southsea. David died in Portsmouth in the 3rd qtr of 1925. Further details of David’s career, with an emphasis on the time he operated his studio in Tunbridge Wells can be found in my article ‘The Photographic Works of David Robert Everest’ dated February 29,2012, which article gives several examples of his studio photographs.

Another event in Tunbridge Wells which shook the family was the death of Carey’s 10 year old son Henry Carey Brown (1857-1967).

Henry Carey Brown was born 1857 in Chatham and was the eldest son in the family. His birth was registered in Lewisham, London in the first qtr of 1857. He had been baptised April 10,1857 at Greenwich, Woolwich at St Mary Magdalene Church and given as the son of Carey Thomas Brown and Ann Brown.

Henry Carey Brown became ill during his visit to the town. What he died of was not established but in 1866-1867 England was swept by a Cholera epidemic. In any event he died in Tunbridge Wells June 1867 and was buried in the Woodbury Park Cemetery on June 19th with F.W. Stow officiating. A photo of his grave is shown opposite, a rather impressive one, on which is inscribed “ M.S. Henry Carey Brown son of Carey Thomas Brown esq. R.E. Dept. Chatham. Nephew of William Canley”.  He was buried in “Grave 452” according to Jan Holly who was kind enough to provide the burial details to me.  Interestingly his death was registered not in Tunbridge Wells but in the 2nd qtr of 1867 at Bourne, Lincolnshire.

The death of Carey’s eldest son must have weighed heavily upon him and his wife. Whether any family members returned to Tunbridge Wells to visit the grave is not known but it is sad to think that his family left England for New Zealand in 1872 and that perhaps the grave of the young boy was not  visited by the family. An attempt was made, without success, to find further details about his uncle William Canley, but nothing conclusive was found, although many references to a William Canley were discovered.



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

Date: February 23,2018

As was the case with aviation in general Britain was late in developing airships, with France and Germany leading the way. The first British attempt at producing an airship was the rigid airship designated as H.M.A ( His Majesty’s Airship) 1r , also known as the Mayfly. This airship was designed and built by Vickers, Sons and Maxim at their works in Burron-In-Furness, Cumbria as an aerial scout airship for the Royal Navy. It began trials September 24,1911 but broke in half due to strong winds and never flew again.

Between 1912 and 1917  seven non rigid airships were built, assigned numbers HMA 2 to 8, four of which were built by Vickers, one in France and one in Germany. Each airship was also assigned a name but all of the airships were referred to generically as ‘Silver Queen’ due to the silver appearance of their covering.

Shown above is a postcard view of one of the aforementioned non rigid airships by Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer and publisher Harold H. Camburn and shown opposite is an enlarged view of the airship.  The airship shown was identified by Camburn as HMA ‘Silver Queen’  but he failed to identify the location at which this photograph was taken and did not give the card a number, which he usually (but not always)did with all his postcards. Although the back of the card clearly shows Camburn’s Well Series logo of a well with a rope and bucket suspended it uncharacteristically did not include his name.  Although the postcard was never posted it is known from various records of airships, and the fact that Camburn served in WW 1, that he must have taken this photograph in the pre WW1 era.

Britain resumed production of rigid airships with HMA 9r, which was ordered from Vickers in 1913 did not fly until November 27,1916, which airship was dismantled in June 1918 after being flows for about 165 hours, mainly for experimental purposes. It is clear from comparing photographs of rigid and non-rigid airships that the one captured by Harold Camburn was of the non-rigid type.  A photograph of a non-rigid airship in Canterbury April 23,1915 can be seen on the internet which looks exactly like the one photographed by Camburn.  The image by Camburn is a rare one indeed for it is the only known photograph by him of an airship, despite producing over 5,000 photographs,primarily in Kent and Sussex,over his 40 some years in business.

These airships were used by the Admiralty for training purposes and for aerial observation, particularly in spotting submarines. At the outbreak of WW 1 Britain had only a handful of airships in service namely HMA 2,3 and 4 and four former Army airships 17,18,19 and 20. During the war more were built and put in service, some of which were used to escort troopships of the British Expeditionary Force while on their way to France.

Several websites, such as Wikipedia, and several books have been written about the history of airships in Britain which provide details about this interesting aspect of British history.



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