Monday, 30 April 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Angells the Jewellers was established in 1830 and is probably the oldest business in the town.

In the early 1900's the business was run from 112-114 High Street which was tragically demolished in the 1960's for road widening. The shop would have been found between the War Memorial and the Chequers Inn. Angell's has traded from their current premises since 1960.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Tonbridge Ghost Sign Update

After a reader alerted me to the evidence that a ghost sign had existed on a building at 48 Shipbourne Road, there were number of comments on the blog, which helped to solve the mystery of the strange parallelogram.

This odd shape obviously revealed part of the original painted advertising sign.

Martin left a comment that a tool-hire company had fixed the parallelogram shaped sign, which read 'Tools for Hire' and the wall was painted after it was in place.  At that time a tool-hire company traded from the premises.

He also added that the building was owned by H.V. Wildash & Sons (Brkrs) in the late 1940's.

Today as I was walking along Shipbourne Road I noticed that a driveway along the side of the building was open, which gave me the opportunity to look at the complete side of the house.  At the bottom of the wall there were a number of large letters.  The first letters seem to read WHEATEN ...  the next larger letters only DR and possibly A is legible. The white paint covering the words is peeling and so, given time, more of the letters will be revealed.  It is also possible that these words are part of a separate sign advertising another business.

And so the mystery continues ...

High Street Herbs

Ramsons - Allium Ursinum - Wild Garlic

For those of you who know your herbs and culinary uses, you will recognise this as Ramsons or more commonly known as wild garlic or wood garlic.  The leaves are edible, and characteristically smell and taste like mild garlic, so they are brilliant to add to salads, or to use in soups or sauces. It is a wild relative of chives.

The first time I tasted wild garlic was in Denmark during asparagus time.  It had been added to a sauce as an accompaniment to the thick white variety of asparagus, that is more common in Denmark and Northern Germany, than the green variety we know.  The two are in season at the same time, and the wild herb sauce was fragrant and delicious.

So what has this to do with Tonbridge you might ask?  Well, I spotted the wild garlic this afternoon in The High Street, and there was plenty of it too.  I'm not going to reveal where it is though.  I can't give all the interesting Tonbridge spots away!!

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Town Lock House, Lyons Crescent, was opened by HRH The Princess Royal - Princess Anne on the 11th October 1993. Her helicopter landed in the grounds of the Weald of Kent School

L Harlock sent a comment via Twitter
 'I was at school there when that happened, they made us line up on the field'

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Recognising Tonbridge

Cleanliness is next to Godliness
Where in Tonbridge am I today?

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

 Port Reeves House was once the home of the Fiscal Officer who levied the toll for entering the Old Postern Gate.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

The close up detail of the female face with her hair flowing above ornamental tendrils is a feature either side of the large window on Pizza Express by the Big Bridge.

She was recognised very quickly by a number
of readers via Twitter, email and a comment
on the blog.

Remember to look up next time you are passing.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Tonbridge Rock Choir In Concert

Tonbridge Lions Club is to produce a Rock Choir concert that will include two of the Tonbridge based choirs who will perform a variety of pop, gospel and Motown hits.

Created in 2005 by director Caroline Redman Lusher, Rock Choir™ is the first choir to offer a very different experience in contrast to the traditional classical or community choir, pioneering a new approach to singing and entertainment for the general public to experience.

The idea for a charity concern came from four choir members whose husbands are members of Tonbridge Lions Club. Finding a local venue that could accommodate a choir of 120 was a challenge that was resolved by holding a choir practice at the River Centre in Medway Wharf Road. The Centre fully met the organising committee’s requirements and a date was set.

The concert will be at 8pm on Saturday 16 June. Doors open at 7pm, and refreshments will be available from the bar before, and after the concert as well as during the interval. Tickets are £8 for adults and £5 for children. Proceeds will go to Demelza House Children’s Hospice, chYps Children’s Hospice in the Home and other Lions Charities.

Chairman of the Concert committee, Lion Ken Thomas said,
“The charities chosen support children and young people with disabilities, giving help, advice and respite care, as well as bereavement counselling and other services.”

Tickets are available from Ken Thomas, e-mail or telephone 01732 352935.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Tonbridge Lions President runs London Marathon

Allan Mort - Tonbridge Lions Club President

Despite suffering a painful injury, Allan Mort, 61 year old President of Tonbridge Lions Club, rose to the 26 mile challenge to raise funds for Lions International Blood Research Association and Hospice in the Weald - appeals which are close to his heart. After completing the distance in just over six hours he said,

“This was my tenth and definitely my last London Marathon. There was a great atmosphere all around the route and the support, as always, was fantastic. Although I have an injury I managed to complete the full marathon route which was a brilliant feeling. I was beaten by a short head by one of the rhinos! Raising funds for LIBRA and Hospice in the Weald is so important to me. Doing the marathon for charity provides a great motivator as you struggle over the later part of the race. I hope to make a donation of over £1,000 to both organisations and would like to take this opportunity to thank all those supporters who sponsored me!”

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Canoe Mystery Solved

After a number of ideas of where this picture was taken, it seems the most popular answer was that it is on a part of the river that curves around the park ... a small building can be seen in the distance on the right, next to a footbridge, which is probably part of the old open-air swimming pool. The new building now fills the space to the bridge.

The canoe is positioned close to the newer wooden bridge that leads from the model steam railway track,which would now be in the distance behind the boys, to the inner park playing fields and former racecourse.

Thanks for all the input and the photos that were sent in to solve the mystery.

Identical spot 2012

Monday, 23 April 2012

Judd School boys are cast as girls

This has to be a rare photograph.  It is an image of the cast of HMS Pinafore who performed the Gilbert and Sullivan musical c1930 at Judd School. And yes, they are all Judd boys complete with high heels and lipstick. One cast member is known and he is to the far right of the front row.  If anyone can shed any light on the boys, or the production at Judd, please comment below or email

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Corpus Christi Church follows a 13th century Gothic design. The external bricks were supplied by Quarry Hill Brick Company of Tonbridge.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

St George's Day Parade Tonbridge High Street

St George's Day Parade
22 April 2012
Tonbridge High Street
Parade route from Tonbridge School Chapel to The Castle

Cobills Grocery Store & Post Office

No.1. Thorpe Avenue - Cobills Store and Post Office

I have been given this photograph by a reader that depicts Cobills, the former Thorpe Avenue Store and Post Office, which was open for many years on the corner of The Ridgeway and Thorpe Avenue. It has now been converted into a residential property.

It's an early 1960's image showing displays of stacked cans in the shop windows and vegetables outside in wooden boxes.  One of the boxes has TIZER stamped on the exterior.  It was a time when cigarette advertising was the norm, as one can see from the Guards advert in the upper right hand window.  I loved the little boy hanging onto, what I presume is, a sweet machine and of course that would have taken old money then ... pennies and half-pennies and threepenny bits.  Other details I can just make out are the red Brooke Bond Tea advertising strips on the bottom of each window, a yellow enamel Lyons Cake sign and brass scales to the right of the entrance for the weighing of fruit and vegetables.

Does anyone remember Cobills?  If so, please send your memories to or write in the comment box below.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Recognising Tonbridge

She watches you from above
Where is she?

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

Recognising Tonbridge Close Up
R. Allen (Tonbridge) Ltd

This week's Recognising Tonbridge was recognised within minutes, and over the week many correct answers came trickling in including from Wendy Leach, who is part of the team at Stradbrooks, and this one was easy for her as she looks out onto the sign from the practice window.

The old worn enamel sign is well known to locals and sits on the forecourt of R. Allen's garage services in Lyons Crescent. The quaint buildings and worksheds have stood on this spot since the early 1900's, and were used at this time as a boat house, stables, hayloft and workshop where carriages, carts and the early motor car were maintained.

A map dating 1866, and 1897, show that an inlet of water from the River Medway came up as far as the boundary of Lyons Crescent, but this was filled in so that the yard could be used and built on. By 1908 maps show that the inlet no longers exists, and a number of buildings including a boat house were in use. There is some evidence that secret electrical work was going on in the building during WWII.  It would be interesting to know about this.

Duncan Welch who owns the garage grew up in Lyons Crescent, and has worked in the garage for most of his life. It was a different place then before the massive development of apartments and housing that now surround the area.  He has many happy memories especially of boating on the river and playing in his father's boat shed.

There are not many places like this left in Tonbridge. It really is a gem.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Around 2 million Penguin books a year were being printed by The Whitefriars Press in the 1950's

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

A WWII Prisoner of War Camp was built on the present site of Weald of Kent School and used as temporary housing on closing

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Cage Green School Playground

I have come across an interesting black and white photograph taken at Cage Green School in 1962, featuring a group of girls playing marbles in the playground. It seems they are rolling the marbles down into a drain cover.  Apparantly, it was not about how many marbles could be won in a game, but about collecting the really good ones, the large ones and those with intricate patterns.  These were also the days when break-times were filled with skipping, chase, stamp and football card swopping, jacks, hopscotch and foursquare.

Cage Green School playground 1962

White Cottage can be seen in the distance and beyond the playground. This is before the residential estate was built and the area was surrounded by cornfields.  White Cottage was the home of Mr. Howard, the Headmaster of Hugh Christie School, for a number of years. A greenhouse is visible to the rear of the property which was later used by pupils who had lessons in gardening and farming on the site. Small animals and chickens were kept in this area.

White Cottage in White Cottage Road  2012

The above photograph shows the same view of White Cottage today - 50 years later.  It is the property to the left, but it has undergone some changes making it almost unrecognisable. The house to the right is on the site of greenhouse.

If there are any memories or additional photographs please either use the comment box below or send to

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

A painting by Tonbridge artist Mike Insley that is based on a 1903 photo of the Angel Cricket Ground  hangs in the Angel Centre.

It's well worth taking a look.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

One Thursday in August 1871 a Traffic Census counted
210 hand trucks,
694 carriages and
23 'beasts' crossing Little Bridge on the High Street

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

The towns first technical Institute was opened in 1891 at No.1 Salford Terrace with 112 students all over the age of 14 years.

Salford Terrace

It was in this year financial grants became available to local authorities for the development of technical education. A one year lease was taken by the Tonbridge Board on 1 Salford Terrace, and the first technical school was born in the town.  Here young people learned a trade in woodcarving, typing, carpentry, technical drawing, cooking, book-keeping, science and art.  Its success was evident from annual lists of achievements published in the local press.

Salford Terrace, on Quarry Hill Road, is the row of buildings from Skinners Row to the pharmacy, close to St Stephens Church.  At the end of the 19th century the terrace of town houses was occupied by a physician, surgeon and dentist, a music teacher and draper. Gone are the fancy iron railings, grand front doors, stained glass windows and stonework that have now been replaced with the shop frontages one finds in place today.

The Technical Institute would have been sited on the corner of Skinners Row and Arcadia.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Tonbridge Teen and Twenty Club

Teen and Twenty Christmas Party - early 1960's

This is a repeat post from about a year ago as recently a number of people have asked about the hall that used to be in Lyons Crescent. It was used by many different clubs and societies, and probably by The Local Health Authority as weekly vouchers and orange juice were distributed to families for their children from this site.

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 the 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 or their name?

The newspaper cutting of the fashion show was taken  around the same time, and in same hall, 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 a few of the people in both photographs, but do you?  Please get in touch if you recognise yourself or anyone in either of the pictures.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Sibling Sensation

Last weekend I visited an exhibition of photography and embroidery at The Langley Hotel, London Road by, brother and sister, Mark and Eva Charrington.

Hildenborough artists Mark and Eva Charrington

Mark became interested in photography at the age of 14 when he attended Ardingly College and it was here that he had his first exhibition.  He has come a long way since then moving from film to digital photography and his interest has travelled with him all over the world.

The photographs on display were a mix of subjects in both black and white and colour.  Mark describes himself as ...' a keen photographer'.  I found the exhibits both engaging and enjoyed the varied content, and it was an added bonus for Mark to be on hand to talk about his work, explain where in the world they were taken and relate stories to individual pieces.

Eva's embroidery was also on display and  her work is inspired by local historical buildings and places of interest, such as The Oast Theatre and a beautiful weeping willow at Foxbush in Hildenborough.  Her enthusiasm was evident as she talked me through past and future projects.

She did reveal that she wanted to make her own protest, and document the 95ft Wellingtonia in the Pinnacles pub garden that is set to be felled to make way for 20 new homes. So hopefully this beautiful Redwood Cedar will be immortalised in an embroidered image by Eva.

95ft Wellingtonia

This exhibition was probably the most interesting and warmly inviting afternoon I have spent for some time.  Eva had baked Tonbridge biscuits from an old recipe which were delicious and taken the trouble to decorate the room with an Easter theme.  Her enthusiasm for local history was infectious and Mark's tales of his photographs were so entertaining.  The afternoon was made perfect for me when their German mother dropped by and I was able to spend some time speaking in my own mother tongue for a while. Perfect!

If you missed this ... you missed a real local treat!!!!!

Recognising Tonbridge

I'm looking up today
Where am I?

Email answers to

Friday, 13 April 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

From 1922 to 1970 dances and shows took place in the Medway Hall. The wooden structure was demolished to make way for Somerfield carpark.

If you have any memories or photographs of the hall please use the comment box below, or email to

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

I knew this would be an easy close up image to recognise.  It is one of the decorative brickwork arches on The Old Fire Station, Bank Street, built in 1902.

The first person to recognise the image was Shaun Jeffries who checks in on the blog all the way from Sweden.  He always tends to be one of the first to recognise a Recognising Tonbridge post, and so he should, as Shaun has great historical interest in his home town. He has written a detailed article on the history of the fire brigade in Tonbridge which contains some very interesting old photographs.If you wish to take a look you'll find it on

Old Fire Station in Bank Street

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

A 'Great Ventriloquist & Premier Prestidigitateur' performed at Tonbridge Town Hall in March 1848. The cost of a front row seat was 2s.

Take a look at the amazing poster printed to advertise the show on the website below.  You won't be disappointed. It makes fascinating reading, and there are four more Tonbridge popular entertainment posters from 1848 on the link too.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Fire fighting equipment was kept in Tonbridge Parish Church from 1747. Two long fire hooks used to remove burning thatch remain displayed inside the porch.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

A celebration arch representing an ancient stone battlement decorated the South end of Tonbridge High Street for the coronation of George V in 1911

Monday, 9 April 2012

Treasure in the garden

These two clay pipes were found while foundations were being dug on my property which is in the conservation area in Central Tonbridge, and as the house is dated at 1896 one can assume they originate from the Victorian era.

It's not all that was found either, as an archaelogical investigation discovered traces of iron which could suggest an iron foundry or forge in the area.

Quite a find!!!

The Mystery Continues

Some months ago a photograph of two young men canoeing on the river created  a lot of speculation as to where it was taken.  The most popular answer was that the spot was around the River Walk area. I have now found another photograph taken in the same place, so it can be assumed it was taken from a landing station or boat yard as the photographer is standing in the same spot.  Any more ideas?

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

The Woodland Walk in north Tonbridge was created as a work scheme for the unemployed of the town in 1933

Sunday, 8 April 2012


Handmade bricks from the former and now demolished Quarry Hill Brickworks were used in the restoration of Hampton Court Palace

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Bringing Sunshine to Tonbridge Farmers Market

Easter Sunday, sees the Farmers Market return to the town, and no matter whether it rains or shines there is one Tonbridge stall holder who brings sunshine with her every time.

Many of you may already know Lesley from Clark & Coleman, the High Street Pharmacy, where her smile is just what we need when picking up a prescription, or needing advice on colds and flu. Afterall this is the time when a friendly face, and sunny disposition, really works its magic.  Well, this lady has a talent for making gorgeous greeting cards for all occasions, as well as hand made photograph albums, guest and scrap books,and she can personalise them too.

So stop off at this Tonbridge girl's stall, say hello and see what she has to offer. Maybe buy a card or two and send your own sunshine to someone special.  She'll certainly give you a friendly welcome, as Lesley is always full of smiles and laughter.

Recognising Tonbridge

Where is this decorative brick arch?

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

During National Rat Catching week in 1935 Tonbridge took the championship title by recording 467 kills. At the beginning of the 20th century the Rat Catcher's role was to help to control the spread of disease in areas of poor housing and sanitary conditions.  Their job was also integral in keeping down the rat population in the Wharves along the river.  Dogs and ferrets, as well as poison and traps, were used.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

The stained glass window was eventually recognised by one person, who sent me a text message telling me that they were actually standing under it.  It is one of two situated on the either side of the porchway leading to the Mansion House which adjoins The Castle.

The Mansion House

The building can easily be overlooked and is mostly unnoticed on the Cannon Lawn side as it is dwarfed by the Castle itself, but the building has its own history.  It was built under the instruction of Thomas Hooker in 1791, the then owner, and what we find today is in fact the original building, including the 18th century stained glass windows.  There is a similar window at Igtham Mote which is dated 10 years later, and one could assume that the same craftsman made both windows.

The property was a military academy in the late 1800's and later C.J.M. Warton transferred his Bordyke House School to the site and the boys prep school flourished here until 1897.  It was in this year that the site was offered for sale to the council for the sum of £10,000, and whole castle site became the property of Tonbridge.

To see a photograph of the Mansion House in during the 1910 election announcement click the link

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

In 1665 Tonbridge labourers were paid 24d daily and boys 8d. The beer allowance was 1d per day for both man and boy as in the 17thC beer was considered to be an important dietary item.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Crowds on Tonbridge Castle Lawn

Being part of a family that has lived a number of generations in Tonbridge I often come across old photographs taken in the town. 

The black and white image below is of an event that drew a large crowd on the Castle Lawn.  The clothes seem to be pre-war, and probably 1920's to middle 1930's, as when zooming in on figures in the foreground I noticed a number of women wearing cloche hats.  These came into fashion in the 1920's and were obsolete by 1933/4. Close-ups on the crowd standing on the raised area directly beneath the castle seem to show some kind of ceremony taking place facing the onlookers.

Can anyone help?

Tonbridge Castle Lawn

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

George Hooper was probably the first person to provide Tonbridge with fire fighting equipment.
In c1700 he donated 18 leather fire buckets to the town, and also left £40 in his will to provide a water engine with specific instruction that this be situated at the Parish Church

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Tonbridge Fair 1813

I love this creatively written poster for the Tonbridge Michaelmas Fair from 1813.  However, two lines  are illegible. The first is directly after 'For a New Straw Bonnett' and the second is below 'A race for a new gown piece'.  Maybe someone can work out the wording.

on WEDNESDAY, the 17th October 1813
Will take place, when there will be LOTS of FUN such as the following
For Ladies Young or Old


Climbing a Pole,

GRINNING through Horse Collars
Eating Apples out of a Pail of Water
Three to Start, or no Race
With many other Sports to numerous to mention
N.B. The above interesting Amusements will take place in front of  the ANGEL
commencing at ONE o'clock

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Several military trophies were displayed in the castle grounds after WWI, including an army tank which was sited on a concrete plinth on Castle Lawn. It was removed to be melted down during WWII to help with the war effort. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

An Old English Fair

Whilst delving through the archives at Tonbridge Library yesterday, I came across an interesting programme for the 'Old English Fair' held in the castle grounds on July 1st 1950, and as I was attending an Arts Festival meeting in the evening this really drew my attention as to how it was done in the 50's.

The occasion was to celebrate a visit by HRH The Duchess of Kent to Tonbridge, who after visiting the then Day Nursery at Hectorage Road, Tonbridge School and High Hilden was to spend the afternoon, as guest of honour, at the fair.

It must have been an amazing spectacle of colour as the Band of the 1st Battalion and the Massed Drums of the lst and 4th Battalions Beat Retreat along the River Walk.

Admission to the fair was 1s, children were half-price at 6d, and entry points were Castle Street, Water Gate, Slade and the Sports Ground.

The list of events that took place made fascinating reading.

"Country Dancing, and Display by the League of Health and Beauty at frequent Intervals. Booths, Sideshows, Pony Rides, River Trips. All the fun of the fair. Running Buffets by Letheby and Christopher Ltd. of East Grinstead.

Band displays and music during the afternoon in the Castle Grounds and River Walk.

Old Time and Country Dancing on the Lawn from 8p.m.

Old Time Dancing in the Medway Hall at 7.30 p.m.  Admission 3s 6d "

Twenty nine local organisations took part. Amongst them were produce stalls run by the National Farmers' Union and the Townswomen's Guild, Hoop-la by The Tonbridge Sisterhood and a China Stall by The Mothers' Union.  There was a Gipsy Encampment and Wishing Well organised by Tonbridge Municipal Association, a Treasure Island by Tonbridge Chamber of Trade and The Stocks were manned by Tonbridge Rugby Football Club (nothing changes).  The sale of brochures was the responsibility of the Tonbridge Ladies' Hockey Club and the turnstiles were stewarded by Tonbridge Hockey Club.

I was amazed at how many of the town's clubs and societies all came together to help to make the fair a success, and it illustrated the strength of community in Tonbridge in the 1950's.  It also is a reminder that Tonbridge Castle and grounds have been central in the history of hosting the town's events ... and long may the tradition continue.

Dog Show and Fete - Tonbridge Castle Lawn 2011

If you wish to view the original copy of the programme it is in the historical archives at Tonbridge Library.