Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Recognising Tonbridge

Where in Tonbridge am I today?
It's a little obscure and situated close to a place of worship.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Tonbridge Farmers Market

A warm and sunny morning welcomed the September Tonbridge Farmers Market to town, and it was the busiest I have ever seen it.  The number of stalls seem to be slowly growing, and I am already recognising and getting to know many of the stallholders who are always willing to chat about their produce and the time of day.  They really are a very friendly bunch of people and it beats the supermarket any day.

My first stop, as always, was for the hog roast.  It was only 12.30pm and there had obviously been a run on the filled rolls, and I joined the fairly long line of eager diners pleased that we had arrived early enough to savour the warm and freshly carved pork.  Crackling is always on offer for those not watching their weight, together with a tasty stuffing and apple sauce.  The market only comes to Tonbridge once a month so it can't do much harm to the waistline to fill the rolls up with everything on offer and have a treat. I certainly did.

No sooner had I eaten every last crumb of the hog roast, and moved on from the Market Eatery, an amazing aroma of bacon drew me towards the cooking at the Roundwood Orchard Pig Farm stall,       where fat sausages and pork steaks were sizzling on a griddle.  All their pork comes from orchard reared pigs on a diet that includes apples and pears.  The meat is of the highest quality and I was assured that the animals are reared without the use of growth promoters, or in-feed antibiotics, and lead the best possible quality of life.  This corner of the market is certainly not for the vegetarians amongst us.  Everything on offer was from their farm, the relishes from the chilli stall and the bread from the market bakery - and that's what we all like to hear -  a market partnership where we know where all the produce has come from.  The food certainly looked tempting and I'll certainly give it try it next time.

The Happy Apple
Next was a trip over to talk Jenny at The Happy Apple who makes the most perfect Rowan Jelly.  I have had my own disasters with making this aromatic bitter-sweet preserve, but Jenny's jelly tastes divine and has a sublimely clear rose coloured tint.  She did let me know her secret ingredient and even offered me the recipe.  Not only does she makes jellies, but skillfully produces jams, chutneys and sauces too. Jenny also offers personalised wedding favours which I think is a fantastic and novel idea.  You can try all the flavours of her carefully prepared preserves, and she will offer advice on recipes too.  Even Jenny's super cake demonstration on the day using her blackcurrant jam was a roaring success. Clever girl this Jenny!!!  I am going to be in touch about your Rowan Jelly!!!!!

Pick-A-Lilly Cup Cakes

 My last stop was to talk to Kathleen Jitjarak of Pick-A-Lilly who bakes the oh-so-very tempting and delicious cupcakes.  Kathleen's cupcakes are proving so popular she had virtually sold every single one with still an hour of the market to go until closing.  Kathleen is a born and bred Tonbridge girl, and it's great to see her doing so well at her own local market.  Look out for her sister, who may also have a stall in October.  She will be selling a variety of silks including beautiful scarves that can be used by nursing mums.

Hog Roast

There are far too many stalls to mention, but I will say that they all come together to bring Tonbridge a hugely diverse variety of local produce in a relaxed and friendly market environment. And, just think, you can even cut down on your food miles - that has to be good. The next market is on Sunday October 9th.


I've just returned from the start of the first ever Tonbridge Half Marathon, and a brilliant start it was.  The band was playing, the atmosphere was infectious, cameras were at the ready and even a balloon artist was entertaining the children. Under clear blue sunny skies the runners were raring to go and awaiting the start, which our own Dame Kelly Holmes had the honour of getting under way.  I am not a runner myself, and so know little about perfect weather conditions for these events, but I did hope that the warm temperatures at the starting grid wouldn't take their toll on the competitors as they travelled around the country lanes and highways surrounding Tonbridge.

Although Dame Kelly has a slight and petite frame she certainly did not have a voice to match as she wished all the competitors good luck, towering high above the runners on the roof of a car her mighty voice carried the length of Brook Street and beyond, and with one blow of the starting horn they were off.

A great day and a first for Tonbridge.

Dame Kelly Holmes

A pic for Twitter

On your marks - get set (check the time)

and GO

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Local Villages on Film

Local Villages on Film

On Wednesday October 5, Tonbridge Film Makers will be showing a number of members films of local villages.  These have been made over a period of time and show the varied activities taking place in each village with its own style of events.  One thing in common for all the villages is that most people contribute in some way, and therefore feel they are a part of the community.

The evening will also include a review of the rushes of the project 'Kit Kat' which was shot, all in one evening, at the previous meeting a fortnight earlier.

Tonbridge Film Makers club meetings are held on the lst and 3rd Wednesday of the month at Tonbridge Baptist Church, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge at 7.30 for 8pm.

New members are welcome.

For further information about the club contact the Club Secretary, Tony Smith on 01892 863271

Friday, 23 September 2011

Back Home

Tonbridge Daily has been out of the country but is now back in town and hoping to post more regularly.  Watch this space!!!!!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

There was only one person - JUST ONE - who was able to identify where the little figurine is situated.
I thought that the straw-wrapped chianti bottle in the upper right-hand corner would be a massive clue as there isn't much that is Italian-related in Tonbridge.  Tom Carradine (via Twitter)  was the eagle-eyed one to identify that I was at Mamma Mia the Italian restaurant in the High Street.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Recognising Tonbridge

This little figurine probably depicting an actor wearing a mask of the Commedia Dell'Arte is centrally placed in a window and in full view of all passers-by.  Maybe the shape and style of the bottle in the upper right hand corner will give a clue as to what country this is related to, and lead you to where I am today.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Tonbridge Talk

River Walk

If you are interested in the history of your town Pat Mortlock from the Tonbridge Historical Society will be speaking about the growth of Tonbridge as a market town at the main town library in Avebury Avenue.

The talk will take place next Wednesday, September 21, and begins at 2pm.  Tickets are £1. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Spot of Archery Anyone?

Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling - Councillor Brian Luker

Whilst at the Medieval Fair on Saturday, and sheltering from a short shower, I was joined by our very own Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling, Councillor Brian Luker and his spectacular Chain of Office.  I had never met our Mayor before, but had heard rumours and read of tales of 'The Hairy Mayor' and 'Brian Whiskers Luker, and so I was pleasantly surprised to be confronted by a rather well groomed gentleman with a neatly trimmed moustache.  We discussed pleasantries such as William Tell and the Olympic sport of archery, whilst commentating on the brave few in front of us who were propelling arrows from their bows, some meeting their target but others landing off-target and on occasions bouncing off a model deer.  I did mention to our Mayor that I really didn't approve of the ethics of this, but thought that the animals may merely have been used to create the ambience of an authentic forest, and after all it was a Medieval Fair and they did hunt to eat in days gone by!!!  I wonder if he had-a-go when I left?  I somehow don't think he did.  I think like me he was simply sheltering from the rain.

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

The elongated shapes in shades of pastel are part of the Tonbridge School Leisure Centre opened in 2008 by Olympic  gold medallist Sebastian Coe.  On seeing the new facilities for the first time he said, 'Fantastic! The first word that passed my lips as I came up the drive was WOW!  And it certainly does have the wow factor.  Behind the coloured glass is the centre's cafe with fantastic far reaching views over Tonbridge.  A number of you recognised it very quickly.

Tonbridge School Leisure Centre
Cafe Terrace

View over hockey pitch towards park and Quarry Hill
View over track towards The Slade

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Tonbridge Castle Medieval Fair

Chainmail, swords, longbows and arrows were at the ready at Tonbridge Castle yesterday.
I was in the midst of a Medieval Village that circled the lawn in the shade of the sandstone turrets of the Norman Castle. Here I came face to face with with the men and woman who were practising crafts from times gone-by and I was transported into 15th century life.
Medieval dishes were prepared over open fires, the smell of hog roast was in the air and the costumes worn by the villagers carried me into life 600 years ago.  There were brave and gorey stories of battles and plenty of advice on how to use a shield in battle or strike sword to armour.

The market included pottery, children's costumes, pewter goblets, tankards, wooden bowls, jewellery, rare precious stones, tapestries and hand made belts - far too many Medieval items to mention here.

I was tempted to look into the future and try the tarot card reading and Bosco the Jester was pulling in a crowd of happy children as was the static owl display. To add to this olde-worlde atmosphere, folksy entertainment  by Rough Musick provided feel-good foot-stomping folk music that had the crowd jigging and foot-tapping.

All this and free tours of the castle as part of English Heritage Weekend, and an art exhibition in the Council Chambers, make this an event not to missed especially for the little ones.  Admission is free.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sequins and Sparkles - Exhibition of Danny La Rue's Costumes

Today I visited the exhibition of Danny La Rue's costumes at the Oast Theatre in Tonbridge, and was lucky enough to talk to Annie Galbraith who was La Rue's costumier and close friend. She told me how her house in Tunbridge Wells is crammed full of the late Danny's costumes and memorabilia.  Over the last weeks she has been preparing for the exhibition by framing theatre posters, programmes and reviews of La Rue's performances, and planning the showing of a number of costumes worn by him throughout his flamboyant career as Britain's most loved female impersonator.

The petite and unassuming Annie spoke with great warmth of her friend Danny, and she told me about the costume she had secretly designed and made for his birthday.  She revealed that La Rue was bowled over by the stunning black sequined gown, and exquisite pink and white feather boa which became his favourite costume. Apparently he had chastised her for spending her own money, but Annie explained that she had made it from materials already in the workshop and he was accepting of that.  Not only was he overwhelmed over with the beauty of the gown, but he said it fitted perfectly as it felt as though he had nothing on.  That had to be down to Annie's dressmaking expertise.  The gown remained his favourite costume and is on prominent display at the exhibition.

Annie Galbraith and Danny La Rue's favourite costume

Not only was Annie there to tell me tales of Danny's stage career but I was able to talk to his wig maker too.  A set of La Rue's dressing room has been constructed for the exhibition which contains personal memorabilia including a small collection of religious artefacts,obviously important to the Roman Catholic Danny, placed amidst his makeup and toiletries.

Annie is hoping that the next stop for the exhibition will be Eastbourne. 

Recognising Tonbridge

Tucked away with a good view!
Where am I today?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Queen Of The Stage

Something very exciting will be happening at The Oast Theatre this weekend.  As part of English Heritage Weekend an exhibition of Danny La Rue's costumes and memorabilia will be on show to the public.  La Rue who was probably Britain's best known female impersonator was known for his sequined gowns and extravagant pantomime costumes.  His final years were spent in Tunbridge Wells at the home of his long time friend and costumier Annie Galbraith, and it was Annie who designed the spectacular glitzy costumes that coined La Rue as 'Queen of the Stage' although he always referred to himself as a 'comic in a frock'.

Not only will the public be able to view the exhibition of elegant costumes, there is the opportunity to see inside and learn more about our local theatre.  There will be children's activities, a small number of classic cars parked in front of the oast and refreshments, including ploughmans, will be on sale in the cafe.

This is an opportunity not to be missed and as it is English Heritage Weekend this fantastic experience is free of charge.

Tonbridge Comforts Funds

Tonbridge residents have always been a good bunch of people and ready to support others in times of crisis.  In the aftermath of the floods in 1968, and the devastation this brought to the High Street and residential areas, and the hurricane of 1987 help was readily at hand and the town came together to support those who were affected.  

Even as far back as the second world war Tonbridge people got together to send parcels to local men in service at home and abroad.  This was the brainchild of two Tonbridge men Robert Pease and Alf Smith, who organised and conceived the Tonbridge Comforts Fund, to benefit those Tonbridgians in service in the BEF, Ships at Sea, Stations in Gibraltar,  Malta, Egypt, Aden, Palestine and Stations in Scotland, Wales and all over England.  The idea was that all servicemen received a parcel from their hometown, in the hope it would bring some home comfort and joy into their war-torn days.  It is not sure what would have been in the parcels, but they most probably contained items of food such as sweets, tobacco, clothing and toiletries ... similar to the parcels that are prepared and sent out to servicemen in far flung corners of the world today.

The letter below is a rather special document as it marks the 1000th parcel sent to serving Tonbridgians, and even more unusual is that the letter is addressed to Lance Corporal Allan Pease, the son of the founder of the Tonbridge Comforts Fund.  According to a family member the document was received in France on retreat to Dunkirk, and it is quite amazing that it still survives today. It could be unique and the first time one of its kind has been published.

copyright P Robynns

Lance Corporal Allan Pease, and his four brothers, all served in the army during WW2 and each one returned to Tonbridge when discharged.  Allan, the recipient of the letter, is the last surviving and is now in his 92nd year.  He was formerly Assistant Head Master at The Ridgeway School, and still lives in the area with his wife.  His father, and initiator of the Tonbridge Comforts fund, served as Regimental Sergeant Major Robert Pease of the Royal West Kents.  He was stationed in Tonbridge about 1925 as the Officer in Charge of the Territorial Army in Avebury Avenue.  When he left the Army he was employed as the Local Truant Officer for schools in the Tonbridge area.

Robert Pease founder of The Tonbridge Comforts Fund and his wife Annie

It would be interesting to find out what the comfort parcels contained, and therefore if anyone knows one of the packers listed on the letter, or received a parcel themselves or has any further information please leave a comment below or email with contact details.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Charity Good As New Adults Clothes Sale

If you're looking for a bargain this weekend head on down to the Good As New Adults Clothes Sale at the Scouts Hut, Lamberts Yard.  (That's the small walkway, opposite Angel Walk, that leads to the park.)  The sale starts at 10.30am on Saturday and all the clothes on sale are reasonably priced and everything is £5 or less.

The event is organised by Fun-dRaisers, a collective of Tonbridge based people, who organise all kinds of events locally for a variety of charities and causes whilst having fun themselves. Profits from the Saturday sale will be donated to the Royal Brompton Childrens Cardiac Center.

So take the opportunity to kit yourself out at a bargain basement price and at the same time help a good cause.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


On Wednesday 7 September, Tonbridge film Makers return after the summer break and commence with showing films made by members that fit the heading of 'All Creatures Great and Small'.  These may include anything from lions and tigers on an African Safari to ants in the back garden. Also to be shown will be films made by members on a visit last month to Knole Park in Sevenoaks.

At this meeting members start planning a new project for a one minute film to be shot at a club meeting in one evening.  Members are asked to bring their ideas for this to the meeting.

Tonbridge Film Makers club meetings are held on the lst and 3rd Wednesday of each month.

Anyone with an interest in film making is welcome to join the meetings.

For further information about the club contact the Club Secretary Tony Smith 01892 863271

Tuesday, 6 September 2011



Swimathon raises over £10,000 for charity
Swimathon 2011 took place at Larkfield Leisure Centre and Tonbridge Swimming Pool on
Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 April. Over 80 people took part in this year’s event across both sites
and raised an amazing £10, 464 for Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Swimathon Foundation.
Congratulations and thanks go to all those who took part.
580 swimming pools across the UK supported this event and raised a total of £1.7 million for the
two charities. Research carried out by the Swimathon Foundation into event participation rates
showed encouraging results:
* 9% of participants started swimming following entry into Swimathon
* 81% increased or maintained the number of times they swim each week
* 90% increased or maintained the length of time they swim each session
The statistics clearly show that Swimathon events encourage people to start swimming and to
swim more often.
Gary Littlejohn, General Manager for Tonbridge Pool said: "We were really pleased by the
number of swimmers who took part this year. Participants had a lot of fun whilst raising money for
good causes. I would encourage others to consider taking part in the 2012 event – both Larkfield
Leisure Centre and Tonbridge Swimming Pool will be running sessions on Saturday 28 and
Sunday 29 April.”
Swimathon 2012 swimmer entry will open in January when you can register online by visiting, or pick up a registration form at reception.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Recognising Tonbridge

This place is a little bit fishy!!!!!
Where am I today?

The fishes and the trees are part of a very large mural/poster on the side of the Methodist Church in East Street.  It seemed to frustrate many of you who had seen it, but couldn't place it. It is noticeable from the High Street.
Does anyone know why it is there?

English Heritage Weekend

English Heritage Open Days celebrate England's fantastic architecture and culture by offering free access to properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission. It is a once-a-year chance to discover hidden architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities which bring to life local history and culture, and it's happening this weekend on the 10th and 11th September.

Organised by volunteers - usually property owners or managers - for local people, Heritage Open Days is England's biggest and most popular voluntary cultural event, attracting some 800,000 people annually. English Heritage gives central co-ordination and additional voice to the event. Locally the event is co-ordinated by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council in partnership with Tonbridge Civic Society and The Malling Society.

Aylesford Priory The Gatehouse
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
                2pm - 4pm
St Mary's Old Church
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
               10am - 4pm (both days)
Heritage Centre and Victorian Classroom
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
               10am - 2pm (both days)
East Malling
St James the Great Church
Sunday 11 September
               3pm - 5pm
East Peckham
St Michael's Church
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              10am - 4pm (both days)
St Mary's Church
Saturday 10 September
              10am - 4pm
St John the Evangelist
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              9.30am - 6pm
              9.30am - 1pm
Fosse Bank School
Sunday 11 September
              12 - 4pm
Ightham Mote
Saturday 10 September
              10am - 4.30pm
St Lawrence's Church
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              10am - 6pm 10am-5pm
Tonbridge Castle
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              10am - 5pm (both days)
The Oast Theatre
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              10am - 4pm (both days)
Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              10am - 4pm 11am - 4pm
Town Walk
Saturday 10 September
St Saviours Church
Saturday 10 September
              10am - 6pm
Schools at Somerhill
Sunday 11 September
              2pm - 5pm
West Malling
Baptist Church
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              11am - 3pm (both days)
West Malling
Clout Institute
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              10am - 4pm (both days)
West Malling
Twitch Heritage Centre
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              11am - 4pm (both days)
West Malling
The Pilsdon at Malling Community
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              10am - 4.30pm (both days)
West Malling
St Mary's Church
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
              12 - 5pm (both days)
West Malling
St Mary's Abbey
Saturday 10 September Sunday 11 September
Tours at 1.50pm, 2.10pm, 2.30pm, 2.50pm *please pre-book your place by calling Tonbridge Castle on 01732 770929


Nationally the scheme is organised by English Hertiage and the Civic Trust.. For more details visit

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A Bygone East Street

East Street Tonbridge

I was recently looking through the 1932 Kelly Directory for Tonbridge and noticed how the quiet East Street we know today was once a thriving row of small businesses.  How times change!!

Below is a list of occupants from the corner building which is now Lloyds Bank to the properties directly opposite Lyons Crescent.  The sights and smells I will have to leave to your imagination.

(The Kelly Street Directories and the South Kent Traders Directories are available for the use of the general public and are kept in the Reference Library in Avebury Avenue)

No.2.    Bunting, Herman, Dewey, Tuckett,  PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS
No.4     Mrs E Coote, CONFECTIONER

No.6     Smith,  FRIED FISH SHOP

No.8     Burrs,  BOOTMAKER

No.10   Lockyer & Sons, WATCHMAKERS

No.12   Allen Osborne & Son, BLACKSMITHS

No.14   Jack Wheeler, BEER RETAILER

No.16   Isaac Race, AUCTION ROOMS

Here is Church Street


No.20   Joseph Goodland, MOTOR ENGINEER

Friday, 2 September 2011

Recognising Tonbridge

A welcoming sight and known by everyone
Where have I been today?

After many guesses via Twitter which included the cattle trough in the High Street and 'something probably around the castle' it was correctly spotted by eagle-eyed Andrew Paulson.  This time it was fairly challenging and a view not often seen, as it is the rear of one of the Boars Heads at Tonbridge School.  I'm so pleased that at least one person managed to identify it.