Wednesday, 31 August 2011


The 'Snippets of Tonbridge Past' had a number of comments on this blog and via Twitter including the following one:-

'The Teen and Twenty moved there (Lyons Crescent) from Preston Road. I have a couple of photo's taken there, one of a fashion show and the other a Christmas party. If anyone else is from that era and would like to have a look maybe 'Tonbridge' would like to use them.'
And Tonbridge did - the two photographs were received today together with just a little more information.
Teen and Twenty Christmas Party - early 1960's
The Teen and Twenty Club started at the Working Man's Club in Preston Road at the end of Avebury Aveue and was run by P C Judd and Mr and Mrs Scott. It moved to a small hall in Lyons Crescent around the early 1960's. The hall has since been demolished and been replaced by houses.  It would have stood next to the now Stradbrook Clinic.  It is believed that the band in the front row were from a local village, maybe Hadlow or Matfield and on the night wore purple jumpers.  Does anybody remember the band?
The newspaper cutting of the fashion show was taken  around the same time in the early 1960's.  It is thought that the clothes for the show were lent by Gunners Department Store, formerly on the corner of Lyons Crescent.  The person who provided the two images does remember many of the people in both photographs, but do you?  Please get in touch if you recognise yourself in either of the pictures.

Fun Dog Day

Dog lovers were out and about on Bank Holiday Monday enjoying The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association's Grand Fete and Fun Dog Day which took place on a thankfully dry and bright castle lawn.  The afternoon was opened by the mayor and included golden retriever shows and guide dog displays, a really not too serious Crufts-style dog show and competitions that were judged by Meridian News' Jeff Moody.  As well as all the doggie events there were cake stalls, coconut shy and activities for children.

Although I was very briefly at the show I did take a few photographs of the afternoon but not before getting attacked by the Dalek's water jet.  All in good fun and spirit though!!!!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Recognising Tonbridge

The Masonic Building sign above Ellis Estate Agents

The Masonic Building by The Big Bridge

I posted this Recognising Tonbridge on a rainy day, and a number of readers who didn't know where it was located admitted to staying warm and dry at home, while zooming around Tonbridge on Google Street View. But, many of you knew where it was, and almost instantly answers were coming through on Twitter.  It pleases me that so many of you enjoy the Recognising Tonbridge posts and get actively involved in finding the answers.

I did ask if anyone knew more information about the building and apparently the 'B' Mineral Water Company began trading from this site in 1887, and in 1896 The Courier published an article concerning the mineral water following complaints on the quality of the product.  This piece is below and gives us an idea of how the different levels of the building were used over a century ago.

"Comparatively a short time ago it was a matter of complaints amongst members of the Temperance Party and others who consume various kinds of aerated waters, that ­process of their manufacture was not conducted with the requisite skills and care. The result was the production of beverages anything but tasty to the palate and all but ruinous to the digestive organs.
How greatly things have improved since the days of these well founded complaints may be seen by a glance at the well equipped of the “B” Mineral Water Company in the Centre of the High Street, Tonbridge.
From the order and booking department, through the window' of which The whirling shafts and wheels of the machinery can be seen, down to the bottle washing department, every arrangement is characterised by a neatness and system, as well as an absolute cleanliness, that speaks well for the thoroughness of the supervision. Upstairs is the syrup room where the various flavorings and essences are carefully prepared in enamel pans, spotlessly clean.
On the ground floor is the factory proper, fitted up with the most approved machinery for the purpose the whole being driven by a compact vertical steam engine. At the back is the stabling and coach- house room for the vans needed in this rapidly increasing business. besides stores, where cases and bottles apparently without number are stacked, every ­drop of water used in the preparation of the 'B' Minerals is carefully filtered, and no ingredient that is not of the finest quality procurable is used." 

I also asked an elderly resident of Tonbridge, who is in her 93rd year, if she remembered anything about the Masonic Building.  She told me that Gunners Department store occupied the site on the corner at Lyons Crescent.  Tonbridge would close for trading every Wednesday afternoon and the Freemasons met in a room above Ellis during this quiet time.  In 1934 they were meeting on the 4th Wednesday of every month.

Can anyone offer any additional information on the Masonic Building?
Or is it just too secret !!!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Snippets of Tonbridge Past

I received an email from a resident who has lived in Tonbridge all her life.  Some of the information is really interesting and throws a light on what life was like in the 1950's/1960's for those living in the town.  I especially found the paragraph about Warders Surgery fascinating as it shows how booking an appointment to see a doctor, and the waiting room experience has really moved on. I loved the idea of having to save up for a chicken at Christmas. No factory farming then.  How times have changed!!!! 

"We used to have Carnival queens, I think they held the beauty contests in Lyons Crescent (YMCA?) and the winner was paraded on a float in the carnival. There was also a river carnival for a couple of years.

You can just see a carnival queen on a float passing the old Fisher Hall in Lyons Cresent

When Higham Lane was built they were blowing up tree stumps for weeks and chickens were running about the fields.

When the town flooded Gunners had to sell all their stock that hadn't got wet, but had been in the shop, I had a lovely time rumaging and bought what had been a very expensive brolly for 1s.6d.
The delivery tradesmen:
Blakeley's delivered our beef joint every saturday.
We also had the milkman, baker, fishman, knife and scissor sharpener, greengrocer, rag and boneman in his horse and cart, and then the 'modern' rag and bone man, who came in a big van, he weighed your bundle of rags and gave you a gift depending on the weight of your rags. we all hankered after the ear-rings and necklace set in a presentation case, all gold and 'glittery', but I think we would have had to have had a shop full of clothes for that! 

Beef was the normal sunday roast and you saved up for a chicken for christmas!

I remember seeing the old guy whose photo is in the doctor's (Warders in East Street), riding around the town delivering medicine. The surgery was over the bank in East Street. We would start queuing about 8am to get an early number and then have to sit on hard chairs for hours, asking everyone who was leaving what number they were.
The 'private' patients had their own waiting room along the corridor, it was smaller, just as dark and depressing, but better chairs, I think they had arms!"

Friday, 26 August 2011

Recognising Tonbridge

The Recognising Tonbridge posts are proving really popular so I should get out and about a little more with my camera and find obscure spots to test your knowledge of our town.

However, its pretty wet outside today and so there's no chance of that, but in the meantime I have trawled through my photo files and found one for today.

I would imagine that many of you will recognise this one and know exactly where it's located.  If you don't you need to spend more time looking up.

If anyone knows more about the building and its past, post a comment below.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Tonbridge Farmers Market 11th September 2011
and then the 2nd Sunday of every month. 9.30am – 1.30pm
Sovereign Way, Tonbridge TN9 1RG
The biggest market yet!
 The 4th Tonbridge Farmers Market is happening on Sunday 11th September.
With over 55 stalls booked in already this month it is going to be the biggest market to date. More producers are showing an interest so we may have a few more by the 11th.
Customer numbers were a bit down at the last market but August and January are well known to have a lower footfall than the rest of the year. Most producers said their takings are going up month on month.
The Market Kitchen was again a great success last month with lots of the customers watching the demonstrations and also getting a taster of the food cooked plus getting an idea of what’s available at the market. Cooking this month will be Jenny from the Happy Apple, - she will be promoting the benefits of cooking with your children.

Brenda from Beech Dog Bakery will be "Cooking for your Dog" - the demonstration will show a healthy alternative that is actually cheaper than the vast majority of commercial foods. Beach Dog Bakery "Liberty" mix provides the core of the dog's meal providingthe balanced level of vitamins minerals they need to go with a raw or cooked diet. She will be cooking a selection of recipe ideas using meats and fish with veg pasta and rice. She will be making up the recipes on our leaflets and feeding guide included in the pack.... ...So bring the dog along for a taster.

Stuart and Lucy from Lucy’s Veal will be cooking using some of their great products.
Neil Scott our resident chef from The Globe and Rainbow will be making some wonderful dishes with produce he finds on the market.
Our charity stall this month is the locally based Fibromyalgia in Tonbridge Support Group. Contact details for the organisation are Group
Contact: 0844 887 2429 Dawn Weller, Coordinator -
The market is actively looking for charities or local groups to take up the offer of a free pitch which is available at every market.

Customers wishing to get a reminder for the market can do so by emailing and just put reminder in the subject box or for a text reminder, text Tonbridge to 07557739903. Steve said “The reminder service is great, - It's so easy to let a lot of customers know when the market is on”.


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Married in Tonbridge

Ruth Ellis

Interesting snippet!!!

Did you know that Ruth Ellis the last woman to be executed by hanging in England was married to George Johnson Ellis, a divorced dentist, at Tonbridge Registry Office in 1950.

Does anyone know where the Registry Office would have been situated?

Friday, 19 August 2011

Recognising Tonbridge

Where am I today and where are these chimneys?


Penshurst Place and Gardens

With all the talk of A level results yesterday I searched out my own A level folders in which I had written a piece on pastoral and country house poetry.  As regular readers of the blog will already know I have a great love of Penshurst Place, the village and the surrounding countryside.

The poem, Ode To Penshurst (1616), by Renaissance poet and dramatist Ben Jonson is now used as a model for country house poetry.  A patron would pay for a poem to be written about their property, in the same way they would for their portrait to be painted by an artist.  Ode To Penshurst compliments Robert Sidney on his property referring to its hospitality and warmth rather than grandeur, and of the pastural landscape surrounding the house and Medway, by alluding to the bountiful fruits and animals found around Penshurst.


Thou art not, PENSHURST, built to envious show
Of touch, or marble ;  nor canst boast a row
Of polish'd pillars, or a roof of gold :
Thou hast no lantern whereof tales are told ;
Or stair, or courts ;  but stand'st an ancient pile,
And these grudg'd at, art reverenced the while.
Thou joy'st in better marks, of soil, of air,
Of wood, of water ;  therein thou art fair.
Thou hast thy walks for health, as well as sport :
Thy mount, to which thy Dryads do resort,
Where Pan and Bacchus their high feasts have made,
Beneath the broad beech, and the chestnut shade ;
That taller tree, which of a nut was set,
At his great birth, where all the Muses met.
There, in the writhed bark, are cut the names
Of many a sylvan, taken with his flames ;
And thence the ruddy satyrs oft provoke
The lighter fauns, to reach thy lady's oak.
Thy copse too, named of Gamage, thou hast there,
That never fails to serve thee season'd deer,
When thou wouldst feast or exercise thy friends.
The lower land, that to the river bends,
Thy sheep, thy bullocks, kine, and calves do feed ;
The middle grounds thy mares and horses breed.
Each bank doth yield thee conies ; and the tops
Fertile of wood, Ashore and Sydneys copp's,
To crown thy open table, doth provide
The purpled pheasant, with the speckled side :
The painted partridge lies in ev'ry field,
And for thy mess is willing to be kill'd.
And if the high-swoln Medway fail thy dish,
Thou hast thy ponds, that pay thee tribute fish,
Fat aged carps that run into thy net,
And pikes, now weary their own kind to eat,
As loth the second draught or cast to stay,
Officiously at first themselves betray.
Bright eels that emulate them, and leap on land,
Before the fisher, or into his hand,
Then hath thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,
Fresh as the air, and new as are the hours.
The early cherry, with the later plum,
Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come :
The blushing apricot, and woolly peach
Hang on thy walls, that every child may reach.
And though thy walls be of the country stone,
They're rear'd with no man's ruin, no man's groan ;
There's none, that dwell about them, wish them down ;
But all come in, the farmer and the clown ;
And no one empty-handed, to salute
Thy lord and lady, though they have no suit.
Some bring a capon, some a rural cake,
Some nuts, some apples ; some that think they make
The better cheeses, bring them ; or else send
By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend
This way to husbands ; and whose baskets bear
An emblem of themselves in plum, or pear.
But what can this (more than express their love)
Add to thy free provisions, far above
The need of such ?  whose liberal board doth flow
With all that hospitality doth know !
Where comes no guest, but is allow'd to eat,
Without his fear, and of thy lord's own meat :
Where the same beer and bread, and self-same wine,
That is his lordship's, shall be also mine.
And I not fain to sit (as some this day,
At great men's tables) and yet dine away.
Here no man tells my cups ;  nor standing by,
A waiter, doth my gluttony envĂ˝ :
But gives me what I call, and lets me eat,
He knows, below, he shall find plenty of meat ;
Thy tables hoard not up for the next day,
Nor, when I take my lodging, need I pray
For fire, or lights, or livery ;  all is there ;
As if thou then wert mine, or I reign'd here :
There's nothing I can wish, for which I stay.
That found King JAMES, when hunting late, this way,
With his brave son, the prince ; they saw thy fires
Shine bright on every hearth, as the desires
Of thy Penates had been set on flame,
To entertain them ; or the country came,
With all their zeal, to warm their welcome here.
What (great, I will not say, but) sudden chear
Didst thou then make 'em ! and what praise was heap'd 
On thy good lady, then !  who therein reap'd
The just reward of her high huswifry ;
To have her linen, plate, and all things nigh,
When she was far ; and not a room, but drest,
As if it had expected such a guest !
These, Penshurst, are thy praise, and yet not all.
Thy lady's noble, fruitful, chaste withal.
His children thy great lord may call his own ;
A fortune, in this age, but rarely known.
They are, and have been taught religion ; thence
Their gentler spirits have suck'd innocence.
Each morn, and even, they are taught to pray,
With the whole household, and may, every day,
Read in their virtuous parents' noble parts,
The mysteries of manners, arms, and arts.
Now, Penshurst, they that will proportion thee
With other edifices, when they see
Those proud ambitious heaps, and nothing else,
May say, their lords have built, but thy lord dwells.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Only one person knew that the lamps sit over the entrance to Tonbridge station.  There are four of them.  Various answers included Gateway building at the Castle, Beales, Angel Walk and Tonbridge Police Station.

Tonbridge Station

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


Where am I today?
This lamp is one of a few that shine on this busy place.

Monday, 8 August 2011


Pink ribbon : Symbol for Breast Cancer awareness

The restaurant at the Angel Indoor Bowls Centre in Tonbridge was really buzzing on Saturday, as members and friends joined the fight for women's survival to help to beat breast cancer, and tucked into a appetising breakfast in support of Cancer Research.

Caterers Andi and Lisa worked hard all morning to produce an excellent spread which included bacon, sausage, eggs, potato waffles, tomatoes, fried bread and baked beans at a cost of £5 per head, with half the proceeds being donated to the “Big Pink Breakfast” Charity appeal for Cancer Research.

Chef Andi

The whole club pitched in to make the event a resounding success, from behind the scenes organisation and publicity work to the generous raffle prizes donated by members, and not forgetting those who simply turned up for a slap-up breakfast.  At the end of the morning £400 was raised for this worthwhile cause.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of all the lovely people at The Angel Indoor Bowls Centre, and do your bit for for Breast Cancer Research,  you can request your 'Join the Fight for Women's Survival' fundraising pack through


Friday, 5 August 2011

Recognising Tonbridge

Quite a few of you guessed this after I gave a clue.  
It was Tonbridge Skate Park

Monday, 1 August 2011

Makeover at the Rose & Crown Hotel

The Rose and Crown Hotel, High Street, Tonbridge

The recent War and Peace Show in Paddock Wood, and a chain of events, led me to the new refurbishment at The Rose & Crown Tonbridge.  It was when freckled faced  Mandy  from New Jersey, USA  asked me the way out of Penshurst Place, and to the nearest bus stop, that it all started.   I was going that way so Mandy walked along with me.  She looked like a child of the 70’s in her flowing dress and pigtailed hair, but it was her pink Doc Martin’s and tattoos that gave her that 21st century edge.  She told me that she and her partner had travelled to Kent for The War and Peace Show, and whilst he talked tanks and warfare, she visited castles and olde worlde England. 

In no time at all I’d offered Mandy a lift back to her Tonbridge hotel,  and as we drove through the country lanes I pointed out all the notable buildings and oddities of the area, and Mandy chatted about the enchantment of England.  It was her second visit to The War and Peace Show, and also her second visit to The Rose & Crown Hotel, but she missed that old world charm and worn look since the hotel’s makeover.  

‘What is it with you people’,  she puzzled  ‘you want everything new and updated, when we just want to have the original old thing,’  So, as I dropped Mandy outside the hotel  I made a note to return and see the new changes for myself.

I've been aware of the refurbishment at the Rose and Crown for some time now, and let's face it, it was sorely overdue, but I was pleasantly taken aback with their new look when I returned yesterday, and was shown around by the manager Richard who seemed very pleased with the hotel's makeover.

The worn floral prints, dowdy wall coverings and velvet chairs that Mandy remembered, with such American fondness, have all been replaced with leather upholstery and a glossy look.  I was impressed with the open-plan design that is an immense improvement on the former dark isolated spaces, which have now been transformed into a light and spacious area with plenty of comfy sofas and chairs to enjoy a coffee and cake, or something stronger from the bar. 

The Oak Room Bar

The Oak Room Grill

The menu has been updated and the Oak Room Grill offers local produce at a reasonable price. There is seafood from Rye and Whitstable, grilled Sussex meats and Romney Marsh lamb.  Also on the menu are handmade Kentish Sausages, locally grown vegetables and Kentish Bramley apple pie ... all very impressive.  They even serve Oaks Ale which is their own brew.

This place has been totally revamped and all for the better. My only criticism is that it lacks some colourful art or plants ... but that is just a matter of taste, my taste.  But, what an incredible improvement and just what Tonbridge needed.

I will be back and I think freckle-faced Mandy from New Jersey will too when she revisits for the next War & Peace Show.