Posted in April 2012

Charity Farm

Charity Farm

This view is from the Grosvenor part of the Park towards the Hilbert Playing Fields. Until 1931 this land was all part of Charity Farm, and this row of trees mark the border. I’ve talked to a lady who grew up living in my road in the 1920s, and she can remember cows being kept on these fields. The playing fields were levelled out of the hills during the 1930s, a time when work was scarce. The flat football pitch is also a popular place for dog walkers to meet and chat! Nice weather for it today.

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RITZ, Tunbridge Wells

RITZ, Tunbridge Wells

We went to investigate round the back of the cinema today while out for Sunday-coffee. It’s long time since I’d been there, but our Doctors was there when we lived near the Pantiles, so sad to see it all boarded up and ready for demolition – even if it was a grim modern building. The sun was out after the 24 hours of rain, so here is The Ritz, set against a blue sky, a reminder that not everything is forever.

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Goods Station Yard

Goods Station Yard

I talked this morning with a gentleman born in1940, who lived in Tunnel Road, Tunbridge Wells, and whose father worked at the Baltic Saw Mill in Goods Station Road and Western Road. Brian can remember his days at St James old-infants school and St Barnabas school for the Juniors. He can remember when the surrounding area was coal yards, scrap metal yards and the steam trains shunted their trucks along the line during the night.

This postcard comes from the Coal merchant T. C. Allen who had his coal delivered to the Goods Station. Mr Allen was a Mayor for Tunbridge Wells after the war, and we understand he used to go for a daily swim in the open-air pool in Grosvenor and Hilbert Park.

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Quarry Road

Quarry Road

I had to pass by “Bryan’s Barber Shop” today, at the end of Quarry Road. Bryan has retired now, but Neil kept the signage, and cuts the hair of the male members of our family. I went in for a chat with Neil and he’s given me an old photo, when there was a house to the left, not the modern Mitsubishi garage there is now. We commented on how nos 44, 46, 48 Quarry Road are made from traditional sandstone, rather than bricks, like the houses in the rest of the row. I’ve had a look at the Tunbridge Wells 1881 census, and Alfred Brown, stone mason was living at no 44, and by the archway at no 46 was Edward Gillingham, fly proprietor… Now I’m wondering if there is a story here? Did they build these houses to suit their business needs? A story for another day…

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Ritz cinema and Beechings Bank.

Ritz cinema and Beechings Bank.

This has been the view from Trinity Theatre in Church Road for several years now.

The building in the background is Lloyds Bank, but was originally Beechings Bank. The row of shops and flats next to the bank lead down the hill to Tunbridge Wells Railway station. The Ritz cinema in the foreground was opened in 1934. The site had previously been residential, with first Belvedere House and then Parham House. Below the 1,600 seater cinema were 15 retail units, possibly the most famous being the newsagents next door. The cinema had many names during it’s life, lastly becoming the ABC in 1996, and closing in October 2000. Many of the shops continued trading for a while, and it is only recently the hoardings have gone up. The current owners have now asked a number of companies to submit formal tenders for the demolition work, and I’m sure visitors to Tunbridge Wells will be as pleased as the residents to see something different on this corner, even if it is an empty space….

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Silverdale Road

Silverdale Road

This morning on the way to work I bought a newspaper from “Silverdale News”, set in this fine block of High-Brooms-Brick shops and flats. The road is in the valley of the High Brooms area, with another set of shops at the top of the hill. The Silverdale shops are next to the former St Luke’s Church School, which was closed a few years ago . The shops are set with the decorated tiles that the Brick Company was well-known for producing. The row now is mainly taken by fast-food take-away outlets, and a modern Co-op supermarket is very near by.

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St Georges Day

St Georges Day

Sunday evening, in the chilly drizzle, just caught the Pantiles without people – some were huddled round the corner of the Duke of York pub, and the others were just out of view browsing in shop windows…

This timeless view of Tunbridge Wells, the gentlee colonnade where once the in-crowd paraded, seems fitting for St Georges Day and all things English. With few signs of modern life, be taken back to the good-old-days before cars, telephone wires and other street furniture filled your photographs. It is this history which makes each town unique, and not the identi-kit of McDonalds and Starbucks, so pop out today and find your English-ness.

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From Jarvis Brook in spring.

From Jarvis Brook in spring.

Our son was playing football this morning at Jarvis Brook Sports Club, and we were struck by this view over the countryside. Some map-searching pin points the church to Rotherfield, a building dating back to about 1060, and sure the view has not changed much in the last thousand years.

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Grosvenor Swimming Pool

Grosvenor Swimming Pool

Now the Friends of Grosvenor and Hilbert Park group is getting established, we are being passed on anecdotes from people. We have just received our first old photos, which was really exciting.

In 1865, before the park was founded, The Local Water Board bought out the Calverley Water Company, and turned the reservoirs into swimming pools. This photo is from the 1940s, and gives an excellent view of the pool and surroundings, including a diving board on the right.

We have also been lent a book from the 1940s, a proposal by the Civic Society to develop Tunbridge Wells after World War Two. They suggest that sunbathing was as important as swimming, but that the Grosvenor pool was uninviting, and the surroundings depressing.

Not long after World War Two the pool was closed following a polio scare. It was filled in with, apparently, rubbish from the war, and is now under our kids cycle track and playground.

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