Tag Archives: Tunbridge Wells Family History Society


Written By; Edward James Gilbert – Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Nugent Sisters

Nugent Sisters

Sisters Ruth Hannah, Esther Mary, and Grace Nugent were three of ten children born to Francis William Nugent (1846-1922), a grainer and painter of Lambeth London, and Barbara Hannah Nugent, nee West (1848-1930). All of the Nugent children had been born in Brixton, Surrey and it was sad to note that of the ten children only six had survived by 1911,five daughters and one son, and that none of the daughters ever married.

By 1891 Ruth left her parent’s home and worked as a drapers assistant in Hove,Sussex and by 1901 worked for a drapers business in Huntingdonshire as a bookkeeper and cashier. In 1891 her sister Esther Mary Nugent was still living with her parents and six siblings at Streatham, London where at that time she was attending school.

By 1901 she moved to Tunbridge Wells where she worked as a drapers assistant at a large shop at 45 to 57 Calverley Road. The third sister Grace, who was the youngest of the three, was living with her parents and siblings in Streatham, London in 1891 but by 1901 she was working as a milliner on the High Street in St Michael, Sussex.

By about 1905 the sisters Ruth, Esther and Grace decided to make Tunbridge Wells their home and place of work and they opened a drapers and milliners shop at 177 Silverdale Road under the name of R & G Nugent, for Ruth and Grace Nugent. Why Esther’s name was not included is not known for by the time of the 1911 census, taken at their shop only Ruth and Esther were living there and operating the business, as Grace was working as a draper at that time in London. At their shop on Silverdale Road the Nugent sisters sold a wide selection of good pertaining to ladies apparel including a selection of lovely hats.

Silverdale Road, flooded during 1920

Silverdale Road, flooded during 1920

Local directories recorded “Misses Ruth & Grace Nugent, drapers and milliners, 177 Silverdale Road up to 1922 and sometime after that the business ended for there is no trace of the Nugent sisters in Tunbridge Wells by 1930. The departure from their shop is most likely connected to a devastating fire that gutted the premises.

It is interesting to note however that the sisters mother died and was buried in Tunbridge Wells in 1930 ; that Ruth Hannah Nugent died and was buried in Tunbridge Wells in 1944. The sister Ester Mary Nugent was buried in Tunbridge Wells in 1956 and the sister Grace, who died in Thanet, Kent was buried with her sisters in Tunbridge Wells in 1968.

This article reports on the Nugent family with a particular emphasis on their time in Tunbridge Wells when they ran their drapers and milliners shop.


Tunbridge Wells had many shops in the drapers and milliners trade, some of which I have reported on in other articles, such as Weeks (later Hoopers) at the corner of Grove Hill Road and Mount Pleasant Road; Waymarks on Calverley Road;Testers, run by Edmund Allen on Camden Road; Noakes on Calverley Road;Frederick Wickham on Mount Pleasant Road,just to name a few. They were to be found in every shopping district of the town, frequented by ladies looking for the latest fashions.

Some milliners shops made ladies hats on the premises,but some did not, and there is no information about the Nugent sisters to establish whether or not they made hats on the premises or just brought them in for resale.

Unlike today, ladies in the 19th and early 20th century, dressed up in the finest attire they could afford given their station in life. Wonderful hats with feathers,fruit and all manner of decoration were all the style until a movement to stop killing birds to make feathered hats gained momentum.

Most drapers and milliners shops at that time were owned and run by men. It was not considered acceptable in society for married women to work outside the home although those in the poorer class, out of necessity, had to. It was quite acceptable for single ladies like the Nugent sisters to work although it was not common for them to run their own businesses and if they did so they were normally expected to give up their employment or business when they got married.

Why the Nugent sisters never married is not known but the fact that none of the five sisters did so suggests it was perhaps not by choice. They did not come from a wealthy or upper class family where a life of living in leisure with their  income derived from dividends or investments, or money received from parents and brothers. They unfortunately had been born at a time when the prospect of war loomed and by the time Grace Nugent was 31 WW 1 had begun, with most young men serving their country at sea, in the air and in the trenches. There certainly was an opportunity for them to have married when they came of age but did not do so and instead decided to work  in the drapers and milliners trade as spinsters.

Shown above is CDV of a lovely lady in a wonderful gown taken at the portrait studio of G. Granville In Tunbridge Wells and second photo of a lady in a fantastic hat and gown, typical fashions of the times by those who could afford such finery.

I begin my account of the Nugent family with the 1871 census, taken at 41 Geneva Road in Lambeth,London in which Francis William Nugent(1846-1922) is given as a grainer, born 1846 in Camberwell, Surrey. Francis was actually both a grainer and a painter. For those unfamiliar with the term ‘grainer’ a grainer is a person who produces painted, stamped or printed designs that imitate the patern found in wood, leather or stone. By 1891 Francis was both a Baptist minister and a painter/grainer operating his own business. At the time of the 1871 census living with Francis was his wife Barbara Hannah Nugent, nee West (1848-1930). Born in Dorking,Surrey, and their daughter RUTH HANNAH NUGENT,born 1870 at Brixton,Surrey (one of the central figures in this article).

Shown above is a photograph from a Nugent family tree which on the back is dated 1912 taken at the photographic studio of local Tunbridge Wells photographer Percy Squire Lankester. The handwritten note on the back of the photo gives “1912 Tunbridge Wells Ruth and Esther Nugent”. As  the photograph does not bear the name of the photographer on the front in typical CDV style this image must be a cropped image of the original. Shown elsewhere in this article are generic images of ladies in fine hats. Also shown is another CDV by Percy Lankester from his Great Hall Studio on Mount Pleasant Road of a lady in a lovely dress taken in the early 1900’s.

The 1881 census, taken at 6 Santley Street, in Lambeth London, gave Francis William Nugent as a grainer/painter. With him was his wife Barbara and his children RUTH HANNAN,age 11; Barbara Sarah,age 9; ESTHER MARY,age 6; Florence Elizabeth ,age 5 and  Ebenezer,age 1. Both RUTH and Barbara were attending school.

The 1891 census, taken at 4 Victoria Terrace,Bedford Hill Road in Streatham,London gave Francis William Nugent operating his own grainer/painter business but that he was also a Baptist minister. With him was his wife Barbara and his children ESTHER MARY,age 16; Florence Elizabethm,age 15; Ebenezer,age 10; GRACE,age 8; Augustus L, age 7 and Edith Priscilla, age 2. The two eldest sisters were not employed suggesting that the family was reasonably well off financially. The younger children were attending school.

By the time of the 1891 census the older sister RUTH HANNAL NUGENT had left the family home . She was found in the 1891 census at 23 Western Road in Hove,Sussex where she was working as an assistant(drapers bookkeeper) in a drapers shop run by Silk mercer William J. Austin. Mr Austin had a large business and at that time he employed several assistants in his shop.

The 1901 census taken at St Ives, Huntingdonshire gave RUTH HANNAH NUGENT as a boarder living on Bridge Street. She was single and working as a bookkeeper cashier in a drapers shop. By 1901 Ruth’ sister ESTHER MARY NUGENT had moved to Tunbridge Wells. Esther is found in the 1901 census at 45 to 57 Calverley Road, where she was working as a drapers assistant in a large shop along with at least 20 other drapers assistants. A postcard view of Calverley Road is shown opposite. Calverley Road at that time was a busy commercial location with both sides of the road lined with shops . The road then was open to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic but in recent times the road was closed off to vehicles, but still thrives with many fine shops.

The shop that Esther worked at was that of “Noakes”. The history of the Noakes family businesses was described in my article ‘Noakes Family Drapers of Tunbridge Wells’ dated October 5,2011. A photograph of the shop where Esther worked is shown above.The memory of Noakes will be  fresh in the minds of many residents of Tunbridge Wells as the last store closed in 2009 after more than 150 years of business in the town.Some may remember that there were actually two Noakes stores,each one operated by a different branch of the family.The first and longest operating store was on Calverly Road and later Grosvenor Road was founded by Elias Noakes(1813-1877) and the second by his brother William Noakes(1823-1893) who had his store on High Street.Elias and William came from a large family of eight children born to Joseph Elias Noakes and Harriet Cox. Elias and William and their decendents established their respective drapers stores as family institutions in the town. Elias Noakes had been born 1813 at Lamberhurst, Kent .He later married and had had children.After the census was taken in 1851 the family moved to Tunbridge Wells and Elias began his drapers business in a weather boarded cottage on what was a fairly rural Calverley Road at the time and operated his store under the name of E. Noakes. By 1861 the business was doing well and by 1871 the shop operated from premises at 27 and 28 Calverley Road.By 1881 the shop employed 14 assistants and apprentices with many of the Noakes children working in the shop. Elias son Frederick ,the only other man in the premises, took an increasing role in the operation of the business. Elias passed away in 1877 but his wife Amy and his son Frederick continued the running of the business, until Amy passed away in 1890 and Frederick took over entirely. In 1896 Noakes had a new 3sty building constructed on the same site as the old shop, which is known today as ‘Calverley House’, a building designed by local architect Herbert Murkin Caley (1859-1938).In 1891 the store,now known as F.E.Noakes Limited occupied 45,47,49 and 51 Calverley Road was doing a good trade and as noted above, by the time Esther worked there the premises had been expanded to include 45 to 57 Calverley Road. For more information about his business please refer to the original article.

R.G. Nugen fire Silverdale Road

R.G. Nugen fire Silverdale Road

The 1901 census taken at 176 High Street at St Michael, Sussex gave GRACE NUGENT boarding at the home of Jane Fears along with two other drapers assistants. Grace was also drapers assistant, and it was not long after this that she and her sister RUTH HANNAH NUGENT opened a shop on Silverdale Road in Tunbridge Wells under the name of R & G Nugent, drapers and milliners, further information of which is given below.

A photograph of their shop taken at the time that a great fire gutted the building in the 1920’s is shown above.

The 1911 census taken at 177 Silverdale Road,Tunbridge Wells, was taken at the drapers and milliners shop of R & G Nugent. Surprisingly one of the founders of the ship (Grace) was not living or working in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the census was taken, suggesting that she and her sister Ruth had moved to Tunbridge Wells by about 1905 to open their shop, but for some reason Grace left the premises, although her name continued as part of the business name. At the time of the 1911 census, living in the apartments above the shop was RUTH HANNAH NUGENT, a draper, and her younger sister ESTHER MARY NUGENT, who’s occupation was given as drapers clerk.

The 1911 census, taken at 21 Ryde Vale Road in Wandsworth,London gave Barbara Hannah Nugent, age 62, born 1849 in Dorking. With her living on private means were her two daughters Barbara Sarah, age 39 and Florence Lizzie,age 35. Also there was her daughter GRACE NUGENT with the occupation of draper, and her sister Edith Priscilla, of no occupation. There was also commercial traveller living with them as a visitor. The census recorded that Barbara had been married 42 years and that of the 10 children she had, only 6 were still living.

The shop at 177 Silverdale Road was part of a row of shops in one large 2 sty red brick building above which were living quarters. The 1911 census recorded that they had 5 rooms a above the shop. The bricks for the construction of this fine looking building had been made by the High Brooms Brick and Tile Company, as so many other buildings in High Brooms had been. Details about the history of this brick and tile company can be found in my article ‘Brick Making in Tunbridge Wells’ dated October 12,2012. This company had been founded by John Smith Weare in 1885. Details about him can be found in several articles I have written pertaining to the history of the residences he occupied and his involvement in the Ferndale residential development.

A review of local directories in 1913 showed that there were several shops in the vicinity of the Nugent shop. Directories of 1913 to 1922 gave the following listing “ Ruth & Grace Nugent (Misses),drapers and milliners, 177 Silverdale Road,Tunbridge Wells”. No record of the business was found in the 1930 directory and it appears that their business closed in the latter part of the 1920’s perhaps as a consequence of the great fire that gutted the interior of the shop, as shown in the photograph above.

As I noted in the ‘Overview’ the sisters Ruth,Esther and Grace never married, and for that matter nor did their other sisters. As there is no record of the sisters in the Tunbridge Wells directories of 1930 to 1938 is the view of the researcher that they left the town but it is known that they did return at a later date, based on death and burial records. Electoral records for Ruth in the late 1920’s gave her living at 20 Wolstonbury Road in Hove,Sussex.  Directores of the 1930’s and 1940’s record her living at 72 Holland Road in London.

Probate records for Ruth Hannah Nugent gave her of Chilston Lodge, 1 Chilston Road,Tunbridge Wells when she died as a spinster, on October 6,1944. The executor of her 3,013 pound estate was her sisters Esther Mary Nugent and Florence Lizzzie (Elizabeth) Nugent, spinsters. Ruth was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on October 11,1944.

No. 1 Chilston Road was one of the large single family homes built in the Woodbury Park Development, a development that is described in detail in the Civic Society Book ‘ The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells’. This development dates back to 1856 when the Conservative Land Society became owners of a large tract of land in the area and on which many fine homes were constricted. By about 1887 all of the homes had been built and originally Chilston Road was called Woodbury Court. Sometime before 1909 the road became Chilston Road and  in the 20th century No. 1 Chilston Road became a nursing or retirement home . A modern view of the home, located on the north west corner of Chilston Road and Woodbury Park Road, is shown above. It is somewhat interesting to note the John Smith Weare , who’s company ,The High Brooms Brick and Tile Company, supplied the bricks for the Nugent sisters shop, was also involved in the construction of homes at 2-12 Park Road, just a stones throw away from where Ruth Hannah Nugent died.

Probate records for Esther Mary Nugent gave her of Ryde Vale, Gloucester Place in Wadhurst,Sussex, spinster, when she died January 29,1956. The executors of her 3,255 pound estate were her spinster sisters Florence Lizzie and Grace Nugent. Esther was buried at the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on February 2,1956.

Death records for Grace Nugent gave her passing away in the 2nd qtr of 1968 at Thanet,Kent. She was buried at the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on April 29,1968.

It was also interesting to note that although the sisters father died and was buried  in London in 1922, that their mother Barbara Hannah Nugent was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery  in 1930.She had died in Tunbridge Wells January 25,1930.

Shown above is a modern photograph of the shop at 177 Silverdale Road, occupied at the time by Green Fish Consulting. No.177 is the shop on the far right with the green awning and on the left is the Magenta Design & Print shop. Previously No. 177  it had been the florist shop ‘Daisy Chain’, operated by Hazel Parsons, which may well account for the green awning. This row of shops is located between Upper Grosvenor Road and Denbiegh Street.



The following article detailing the family history of the Day family in High Brooms and the surrounding area was written and supplied by Edward James Gilbert from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: July 8, 2014


In the 1890’’s William Gilbert Day (1836-1918) operated a greengrocers business at 54 Auckland Road, prior to that he had been a gardener. He and his wife Mary Ann Webb Wyman had three sons and one daughter. One of the sons George James Gilbert Day (1871-1932) had been born in Tunbridge Wells ,and after marrying Mary Jane Matthews in 1893 had 9 children. George and his son in law Joseph William Matthews were living in Southborough in 1901 with the wife and children of George, and at that time George and Joseph both worked for the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company as ‘brick pressers’. By 1911 however, George became a fruit merchant and in 1911 he and his family resided at 41 Holmewood Road, where his wife and sons Frank Gilbert Day( 1895-1918) and George Francis Day (1896-1918) worked as assistants in the family business. Both Frank and George were killed in WW 1 and their names are among the 801 names given on the plaques of the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial. George also had a son Percy Gordon Day(1899-1977) who served in WW1 and lost an eye in combat.

Two of George’s other sons Bertram John Day (1906-1985) and Leonard Aubrey Day (1907-1973) started up Day Bros Dairy in about 1945 with premises in 1953 at 33 Quarry Road, Tunbridge Wells. Although details about this dairy are lacking it appears it was still in business in the 1970’s.This article traces the life and times of members of the Day family in the 19th and 20th centuries.


George was born August 12,1871 in Tunbridge Wells, one of five children born to William Gilbert Day (1836-1918) and Mary Ann Webb Wyman, who was born in 1844. At the time of George’s birth his father was a clog maker,but when George was married in 1893 he was a greengrocer. George was baptised in Tunbridge Wells on April 27,1874.

William Gilbert Day had married Mary Ann Webb Wymann December 5,1858 at Lambeth St John the Evangelist. In 1861 he was living at Aldershot,Surrey. In 1871 he and his wife Mary and children Mary and William were living at 34 Wood Street,Tunbridge Wells, and at that time William was a clog maker.

[insert scanned image of 42 Auckland Rd}

The 1881 census, taken at 42 Auckland Road  (photo opposite) recorded the presence of William Day as the head of the household and working as an under gardener with his year and place of birth given as 1844 “British subject”.Family members who have made recent inquiries about the reference to “British Subject” are of the opinion that William was born in England.  Living with him was his wife Mary, born 1844 in Oxford and their children (1)  Mary Ann Elizabeth Day, born 1865 at Bermondsey (2) William Henry Day,born 1867 at Bermondsey (3) George James Gilbert Day (1871-1832), born in Tunbridge Wells (4) Frederick Charles Day,born 1875 in Tunbridge Wells (5) Ernest Reginald Day, born 1880 in Tunbridge Wells.  It is recorded that this is all the children born to the couple. At the time of this census William’s wife Mary was working as a fruit seller and her daughter Mary was an unemployed domestic servant. The only other working member of the family at that time was their son William Henry Day, but he was given at that time as an unemployed errand boy. The rest of the children were attending school. Today 42 Auckland is a private residence, one of many on the road of modest terrace houses.

The 1891 census taken at 54 Auckland Road recorded the presence of William Day as a greengrocer and his wife Mary. Also present in the home were their children William,George,Frederick and Ernest,who were all working as general labourers. Also present in the home were two boarders. The 1899 commercial directory gave the listing “ William Day, greengrocer, 54 Auckland Road. When contacted about the location of William’s business, Daniel of the High Brooms Historical Society was of the opinion that it was located at 54 Auckland Road, and although just a private residence now,it was back in 1891 his shop, indicating if that is the case that the family were living above the shop.

[insert ‘Mary Jane Matthews)

On December 30,1893 George James Gilbert Day married Mary Jane Matthews (1875-1939) at Southborough. George at that time was a labourer and his father was given as a greengrocer. Mary’s father was a labourer also. Shown opposite is a photo of Mary Jane Matthews.Mary had been born 1875 at Chittem,Wiltshire and died June 1939 in Tunbridge Wells. She was one of seven children born to Frederick William Matthews (1830-1891) and Ann Stokes (1834-1930). In 1881 Mary was living at 48 Lower Village in Bradford On Avon. In 1891 she and her sister Sarah were working as domestic servants in Tunbridge Wells. Mary was a house maid and her sister a cook.

[insert scanned image of 54 Auckland Rd)

The 1901 census, taken at 54 Auckland Road listed William Day born 1843 Cranbrook,woking as a greengrocer on own account at home. Living with him was his wife Mary and two boarders. Sometime between 1901 and 1911 his wife Mary passed away. The 1911 census, taken at 5 Providence Place in Pembury recorded William as a widow, living with John Cheesman (a builder’s labourer) and his family in 4 rooms. William, interestingly , was given as an army pensioner. William died in Pembury in 1918. William Gilbert Day was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery January 5,1918.

The 1901 census, taken at 1 Cambrian Road, Southborough records George James Gilbert Day as the head of the household and working as a brick presser  for the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company. Details about this business can be found in my article ‘Brick Making in Tunbridge Wells’ dated July 18,2012.Livign with George at that time was his wife Mary Jane and their children (1) Frank Gilbert Day (1895-1918) (2) George Francis Day (1896-1918) (3) Percy Gordon Day (1899-1977) (4) Beatrice Mary Eleanor Day (1903-1984).Beatrice was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery April 19,1984.Beatrice had worked with her brothers Bertram and Leonard in their dairy business but never married. She had died as a result of a cerebral vascular accident. See the last section of this article for a photo of her. (5) Cecil James Day (1904-1977).Cecil had been born December 15,1904 in the general shop at 10 Woodbury Terrace in High Brooms. In 1911 he was living with is parent s and siblings at 41 Holmewood Rd, On December 17,1926 he married Elsie May Sivyer (1901-1992) and with her had three daughters,

[insert Cecil James Day’ and ‘Elsie May Sivyer’]

Shown opposite are photos of Cecil and Elsie. Elsie had been born May 29,1901 at 30 Holden Park Road, Southborough, one of two girls born to Walter Sivyer (1861-1925) and Alice Kate Pratt (1873-1947).In 1911 she was living with her parents in Southborough. The couple were married December 1926. She died February 1992 at Maidstone, Kent. Cecil  was cremated at the Kent & Sussex crematorium January 11,1977. (6) Bertram John Day (1906-1985) (7) Leonard Aubrey Day (1907-1973). Also present in the home was Georges son in law Joseph W. Matthews, age 31,born 1870 at Imber, Wiltshire, who was also working as a brick presser.

Not given in the 1901 census was Phyllis Lilian Day born to George and Mary in the 4th qtr of 1905 but who died in the 3rd qtr1906. The couple had one other child, namely Ronald Francis Day(1911-1956).Ronald had been born in the 3rd qtr 1911 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1937 he married Florence M. Gould (1907-1972) and had two daughters with her. The couple were married at the registry office in Tunbridge Wells.  Ronald died in 1956 at Hawkhurst, Kent of a heart attack. His wife Florence died at 32 Park Cottages in Hawkhurst.

[insert scanned image of 41 Holmewood Rd)

The 1911 census, taken at 41 Holmewood Road, Tunbridge Wells, records George James Gilbert Day as a fruit merchant. Living with him was his wife Mary who was assisting her husband in the business. Also present were his sons Frank, George and Percy, who were also assisting their father. The remaining four children were also in the home of 5 rooms.

It is not clear what became of the marriage between George James Gilbert Day and his wife. George died February 24,1932 at Edmonton and no record of his burial could be found in Tunbridge Wells. His wife Mary appears to have continued to live in Tunbridge Wells for she died in the town in January 1939 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on January 12th.

No attempt has been made to fully research the Day family but in the next part of this article I refer to three of his sons that served in WW 1 and in the last section I refer to two of his sons and one daughter that were associated with Day Bros. Dairy.


[insert postcard of Tunbridge Wells war memorial}

The three sons of George James Gilbert Day who served in WW 1 were George Francis Day (1896-1918) ; Frank Gilbert Day (1895-1918) and Percy Gordon Day (1899-1977).Details of each of them are given below. George and his brother Frank were both killed in the war in 1918, but Percy survived .The Tunbridge Wells War Memorial on Mount Pleasant Road has a series of brass plaques upon which are the names of 801 men who made the ultimate sacrifice in WW1, as well as the names of those lost in WW II. Last year I undertook a detailed study of the war memorial and provided in an article I wrote about it transcriptions for all the names on these plaques, among which were the transcriptions for George and Frank Day, which I give later. Shown opposite is a postcard by local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold Hawtrey Camburn, taken at the time of the unveiling of the memorial.

[insert ‘George Francis Day photo 1 to 3 ‘and ‘Poxieres Memorial’ ]

  • GEORGE FRANCIS DAY (1896-1918)…………George had been born in the 4th qtr of 1896 at Southborough. He had been baptised December 13,1896 in Southborough. In 1911 he was living with his parents at 41 Holmewood Road. Shown opposite is a photo of George. Below is a photo of his death notice; a photo of his medals, which included the British medal, the Victory medal and the 15 Star. The last image in the series is of the Pozieres Memorial. Given here is the transcription I did last year.” G.F. DAY ……….[George Francis]……..George was born in Southborough October 1896 and was a resident of the town before enlisting at Maidstone, Kent. He was a private (#225555) with the 1st Bn attached to the 2nd/4th Bn London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) who died in France March 21,1918 at age 21. He is recorded at the Pozieres Memorial (panel 85 or 86). He was the son of George James Gilbert Day and Mary Jane Day of 41 Holmewood Rd., Tunbridge Wells. He had formerly been #2596 with the Hurts Cyclist Btn but posted to the 2/4th London Regiment.He is also listed on the plaque at St James Church as George F. Day.   He is also listed on the High Brooms memorial plaque as Private G.F. Day. His brother Frank Gilbert Day was also killed in the war. George was baptised December 13,1896 at Southborough. He was one of 9 children in the family and worked in the family fruit merchant business in 1911 as an assistant in business. His death notice was published in the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser on April 23,1918. The Posieres British Cemetery is enclosed by the POZIERES MEMORIAL, which relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918.The Memorial commemorates over 14,000 casualties of the United Kingdom and 300 of the South African Forces who have no known grave and who died in France during the Fifth Army area retreat on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918.

[insert ‘Frank Gilbert Day’ photo 1 to 3}

  • FRANK GILBERT DAY (1895-1918)……….Frank had been born in the 1st qtr of 1895 in Southborough. He had been baptised in Southborough on April 14,1895. In 1911 he was living with his parents and siblings at 41 Holmewood Rd,Tunbridge Wells. He was awarded the same medals as his brother George. Shown here are two photos of Frank and one of a document from Frank during Christmas. Also given is a photo of the Pernois British Cemetery at Halloy-les-Pernois. Given here is the transcription I did for him last year. “     G. DAY………..[Frank  Gilbert]……..He is also listed on the plaque at St James Church as Frank G. Day.He is also listed on the High Brooms memorial plaque as Private F.G. Day.In the 1911 census he was living at 41 Holmewood Rd., Tunbridge Wells. He was born at High Brooms, Southborough in the first quarter 1895  and enlisted for service in Tunbridge Wells. He was a Private(#G/3964) with the British Expeditionary Force who died of wounds in France August 14,1918. He is recorded at the Pernois British Cemetery, Halloy-Les-Pernois (III.D.11). He was one of 9 children in the family and his brother George Francis Day was also killed in the war. He and his siblings worked as assistant in business for their father who ran a fruit merchant business in Tunbridge Wells. He was the son of George James Gilbert Day (1871-1932) and Mary Jane Day(nee Matthews 1872-1939). In December 1917 he sent his mother a Christmas Card with his regiment ( 8th Royal Sussex) printed on it.  He had been baptised in Southborough August 14,1895. The Pernois British Cemetery was opened towards the end of April 1918, during the German advance, for burials from No.4 Casualty Clearing Station. The cemetery was closed in August. The cemetery contains 403 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 17 German war graves.

[insert ‘Percy Gordon Day’ and ‘Cicely Laurel M Hawkins’0

  • PERCY GORDON DAY (1899-1977)……….Percy was born February 4,1899 in Tunbridge Wells and was baptised April 9,1899 at Southborough. In the 1911 he was living with his parents and siblings at 41 Homewood Rd, Tunbridge Wells. His service records have not survived and therefore it was impossible to establish any reliable details about his military service. Several medal index cards have survived but there was nothing on them to establish which one pertained to him. An attempt was made to determine which regiment he was in from the cap badge in one of his photos (shown opposite) but without success. A request was made for information with a decendent of the Day family who had posted his photos to the family tree but the person did not reply. A note attached to the photos of him state that the image was taken before he lost his eye. All that can be established is that Percy was badly wounded in the war, resulting in the loss of an eye. When this event occurred was not established but it resulted in him being discharged from the army and returned home. Details about his private and working life after the war have not been established except to note that  in the 4th qtr of 1927 he married Cicely(sp) Laurel M.  Hawkins at St Matthews Church, High Brooms. Cicely, who’s name is given also as “Cesily’ on her burial records, was born May 5,1901 in Tunbridge Wells and died  in the 3rd qtr of 1978 at Cambrian Road, Tunbridge Wells. Percy and Cicely are known to have had a daughter Margaret L.R. Day (1928-1997) and probably had other children as well. Percy died in September 1977 in Tunbridge Wells and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on July 7,1977. Cecily Laurel May Day was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on September 20,1978. A descendent of the family offered this information “Percy volunteered after his two  elder brothers George and Frank were already in the army. Both brothers were killed but Percy had shrapnel wounds and lost his eye, My father was his younger brother and said he was never the same when he came home. Before the war he had been a bright lad and worked for the post office after the war he married had a daughter Margaret Day but never worked.”He said he still had shrapnel in his brain which they were unable to move. I don’t think the family believed this but when he was in his 70’s he developed a septic sore on his head and when it discharged out came a piece of shrapnel much to the surprise of the doctor and the family.


The two sons of George James Gilbert Day who started up Day Bros Dairy were Bertram John Day (1906-1985) and Leonard Aubrey Day (1907-1973). Descendants of the Day family report that Bertram and Leonard established their dairy business in 1945 at 33 Quarry Road, in premises that were empty at the time,  and that “ their sister Beatrice worked for them until they sold the dairy when they retired. They used to collect the milk from two farms in Pembury. They had to agree to take all the milk that the farmer produced whether they could sell it or not. Pre WW II Len had a milk round in Tunbridge Wells”. A descendant of the family said they had rounds in Rusthall, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells and Pembury and that they never really used the shop much.

A directory for 1953 gave “ Day Bros, dairymen, 14 Clifton Road, Southborough and 33 Quarry Road, Tunbridge Wells. There is also a directory listing for B.J. Day (Bertram James) at 14 Clifton Road from 1968 to 1970. A relative of the family stated that Bertram lived at 14 Clifton Rd but later moved to Charles Street in Southborough and Leonard lived at 41 Holmewood Rd.

A family descendant offered the following. “Day Bros Daily -they took milk from two farms in Pembury and the bottle washing and filling was out back of the shop in a separate building, with the vans parked at the rear. They had quite a large number of rounds and about three vans. Bert did all the books etc., Eventually they sold out to John Browns Dairies in St Johns Tunbridge Wells, at the time Express dairies were trying to buy up all small dairies and John Browns wanted to make theirs bigger so as not to be taken over. They sold to John Brown’s circa 1970 for a good price as J.B wanted to stop Express Dairies having an outlet in Tunbridge Wells. J.B had a larger organisation in St John’s. Day’s shop & bottling plant was never used by the new owner but became a car hire outlet”.

[insert ‘Beatrice Day’)

Shown opposite is a photo of Beatrice Mary Eleanor Day( 1903-1984) who the family say worked in Day’s Dairy on Quarry Road for her two brothers.

[insert’Leonard Aubrey Day’)

Shown opposite is a photo of Leonard Aubrey Day with a lady (his wife? ) beside one of the company’s milk vans. Leonard had been born December 25,1907 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1911 he was living with his parents and siblings at 41 Holmewood Road and it is stated by family members that he lived at that address his entire life. In 1939 he had a milk round. In 1940 he was in the Royal Army Service Corps and was in the desert. He also saw service in France and Germany. Family members state “He told the Germans to give up their cameras and then the British brought them all home with them” Leonard died at the Kent & Sussex Hospital September 1973 of prostate cancer . He was cremated at the Kent & Sussex crematorium on September 26,1973.

[insert ‘Bertram John Day’)

Shown opposite is a photo of Bertram John Day, who had been born August 5,1906 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1911 he was living with his parents and siblings at 41 Holmewood Road. In December 1939 he married Lillie M. Taylor (1903-1960) at St Matthews Church in High Brooms and with her had a daughter. He was married a second time in 1960. No records were found of the name of his second wife or of any children born to Bernard. At some point in time he left Tunbridge Wells. He died in Eastbourne, Sussex in the 4th qt4r of 1985.His wife Lilly M Day ,who had been born in Tunbridge Wells died 1960 at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

Continuing with family history  it is stated by a descendent “ George James Day (1871-1932)…In circa 1904-1907 General Stores,10 Woodbury Terrace, Silverdale Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Cecil James Day, son of George James, was born here in 1904.. George James Day, Cecil’s father, had a general stores here according to the Kelly Commercial Street Directory. He rented the property and bought stock on a weekly basis, many people were doing this at the time. The shop was in a row of town houses. Next door was a greengrocers, the proprietor of which eventually took over both shops in 1907. The number of the shop kept changing. In 1906 it became 128 Silverdale Road and in 1907 it was 142 Silverdale Road, which it remains today. It is now converted back to a house and next door is a pet food store.1908-1909 Fruiterer, Hastings Road, Pembury, Kent. Bo Peep Stores, Pembury, Kent. George owned these stores at one time and sold the business to his brother-in-law, John Cheesman. John is here in 1911.William Gilbert Day (1836-1918) George James father.1893 From his son’s MC: Greengrocer.

According to Sheila, Cecil told her that he thinks he was his grandfather’s favourite. He used to go out with his grandparents in the back of their horse and cart. Sheila does not know who was driving the horse. If WG was discharged from the Army as unfit to do his duties as a Driver, would he now be able to drive a horse and cart or did he teach his wife to drive? Cecil was able to drive the horse, he would sit up front with his granddad. 1891 & 1901 lived at 54 Auckland Road, Tunbridge Wells. Greengrocer own business. Location of shop unknown. 1881, 42 Auckland Road, Tunbridge Wells, William was an under gardener. His wife, Mary Ann was a fish seller. I hope that’s of interest….Ben”.

Edward has been a regular contributor to this site and his detailed research into family history is very much appreciated, hopefully I will be able to add some of the images to compliment the text at at later date.

If you have something to contribute to this blog, or just want to let me know you are enjoying it feel free to comment below, email me at HighbroomsSociety@gmail.com or send me a message on twitter to: @HighbroomsSoc

Copyright for all images belongs to Daniel Marsh @danieljmarsh unless otherwise stated – please do not replicate or use in any form without prior permission being granted.

An expanded history of the Highbrooms Hotel

Edward James Gilbert is a member of the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society and a researcher and writer of articles about the history of Tunbridge Wells, he has written the following article giving an excellent history of the Highbrooms Hotel building upon my previous blog entry.

Many thanks once again to Edward for all his hard work and I hope you all enjoy this entry!

The Highbrooms Hotel

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

Date: May 17,2013

Situated on a high plot of land on High Brooms Road, overlooking the countryside  was the High Brooms Hotel, built in 1899 from red bricks supplied by the High Brooms Brick and Tile Company, which had been founded in the town of High Brooms  by John Smith Weare in 1885. Many of the patrons of the hotel were employees of the Brick and Tile Company. This three storey hotel, with mock Tudor and exposed brick still exists today as the High Brooms Tavern and although extended and otherwise altered, it looks for the most part much as it did when constructed ,it is now just as popular a spot as it was when it first opened. Shown opposite is a view of the hotel as it looked in the early 1900’s. Shown below is another view of the hotel from a Photochrom postcard postmarked 1906.

Highbrooms Hotel

Highbrooms Hotel

Not only has the hotel been a good place to stay, it has been a favourite local spot for a meal and something to drink. Like most pubs/hotels some form of entertainment was held there from time to time. Records of the Tunbridge Wells Billiards League, for example, shows that the hotels team produced a number of winners and runners-up throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s with such names as Pete Mercer, Chris Jeffrey, Dick Reader, John Heason in the ‘open singles’ category. The hotel was also the champion in the ‘knockout competitions’ of 1982/3 and 1983/4. There were even “ladies singles’ events in which Rose Huntley (wife of the proprietor J.W. Huntley) was the runner up 1984/5. Mary Heasman was a winner in 1982/3. In men’s pairs Mike Betts and Ted Walters were runners up in 1981/2. The hotel has been represented by many other talented players as well.

The website of the High Brooms Historical Society adds “ It wasn’t just the decor, nor the beer, that made this a great pub-it had a pulse of its own and if you turned up after 8pm on many a night you would be greeted by a room of local musicians playing a variety of instruments  and performing to each other. The nights ranged from the Diddley Diddley’s-traditional acoustic folk or more modern covers performed solo by individuals accompanied by guitars, harmonicas, and the accordion-through the acoustic jam nights and of course the ever popular ukulele nights. ’Twunt’ made the pub their home for several years, often filling the bar with people clutching their under-sized instruments and joining in with the energetic group play-alongs and songs, proper happy shiny people moments. And we mustn’t forget to mention that it was also a home to the Brooms Bricks and Bowlers Morris dancers, traditional morris with a twist and very unique in their bowler hats, green and black painted faces and of course with more musicians in tow…they even performed outside alongside ‘Twunt’ ….”

In the 20th century the hotel/tavern became a place of great amusement for upon its walls and ceilings could be found an eclectic collection of items, mostly thanks to Roy Gibb, who was the proprietor in 2012 and who kept everything until the building was sold. Previous proprietors had each added something to the décor.

A complete list of owners of the establishment is not known to the researcher but the archival records of Beards Brewery, Lewes notes that they “bought” the hotel in 1925 and owned it until 1980. Articles about the closing of the pub in 2012 make reference to “Greeneking brewery pulling out so they could invest in a budget foot and bar in a neighbouring ward”.

The website of the High Brooms Historical Society has this to say about the future of pubs. “ The Great British Pub was once at the center of every community but sadly it is an institution that has been in slow decline over the last few years, with public houses closing down at an alarming rate right across the UK. I guess this is partly a reflection on the recession hit punters, the rising costs (and increasing duty) on beer and the cheaper alternatives for home drinkers available at the big supermarkets. It may also reflect a change in attitude towards alcohol and the work/family life balance with many mothers working full time as well as the fathers these days with longer working days and often both travelling greater distances to work”.

The hotel/tavern has had many proprietors over the years. Below is some brief information about each of them . The occupancy dates given are approximate only and are based on directory and census records:

1)      CHARLES WALLOND (1899-1902)

2)      RICHARD BUTCHER (1905-1910)



5)      WILSON BROWN (1918)

6)      HENRY NOAKES (1922)


8)      MRS ELDRIDGE (1930)


10)   B.E. ANDERSON (1938)


12)   T.E. SMITH (1952-1955)

13)   NOEL and NELL GIBB(1968-1975)


15)   ROY GIBB (1985-2012)

16)   PETER and GREG WHITAKER (current)

Charles Wallond was born 1845 at Maidstone, Kent .He was one of seven children born to Thomas Wallond (1807-1891) and Ann, born 1811. In 1869 he married Jane Waters, and with her had six children. Before coming to High Brooms he was, based on the 1891 census, the innkeeper of the Queens Head pub in Wateringbury, Kent. The 1901 census, taken at the High Brooms Hotel records Charles as the licensed victualler and living with him was his wife Jane and their children. His son Harry was an apprentice to a carpenter and his son Frederick a bricklayers apprentice. On November 2,1902 Charles passed away at the High Brooms Hotel leaving an estate valued at about 1,545 pounds. The executors were his spinster daughter Clara Agnes Wallond and son Harry, a carpenter.

Richard Butcher is found in the directories at the High Brooms Hotel throughout the period of 1905 to 1910. Richard was born 1849 at Chiddingstone, Kent and was one of eight children born to John Butcher (1807-1861) and Harriet Butcher (1807-1884). He had been baptised at Chiddingstone December 2, 1849 and continued to live there until at least 1871. In September 1875 he married Avis Ingram (1842-1900) at Sevenoaks, Kent and with her had two children, Bertha and Arthur. In 1881 Richard was working as a cricket ball maker. The 1891 census, taken at #1 Quarry Hill Road, Tonbridge records Richard as the innkeeper of the Station Bridge Inn. Upon the death of his wife he remarried, this time to Jane Ayling, born 1875 and with her had a son Albert in 1902. The 1901 census, taken at the Bridge Hotel #1 Quarry Road, records Richard as the publican and living with him was his wife Jane and two servants. By the end of 1910 Richard left the High Brooms Hotel. He is found in the 1911 census as the publican of the Rising Sun Hotel in Sunninghill, Berkshire .Living with him was his wife Jane and son Albert. Richard Butler died March 1925 at Exeter, Devon.

Albert Victor Brasher Smith was born 1869 at Lambeth, London .His father Walter Brasher Smith was a caretaker at the time of his sons marriage to Martha Sarah Butler July 31,1889 at Bermondsey St Anne Southwark. Martha , the daughter of William Butler, a decorator, was born 1867 at Bermondsey. At the time of the marriage Albert was working as a tobacconist. The 1891 census, taken in London records Albert as a tobacconist living with his wife Martha and a lodger. The 1901 census, taken at Paddington, London records Albert as a tobacconist on own account. Living with him was his wife Martha and his 10 year old son Walter and one servant. The 1911 census records Albert and his wife at the High Brooms Hotel where he is the licensed victualler. The census records that the pub had 13 rooms. He left the hotel by 1913.

William Walter Swatland  is listed at the High Brooms Hotel in a 1913 directory as Walter William Swatland. He had been born 1871 at Goodhurst, Kent and was the son of William Swatland, an agricultural labourer and Eliza, and was one of several children born to the couple. William wed Mary Ann Gaskin, born 1874 at Marden, Kent in July 1897 at Maidstone. The 1901 census, taken at the Brick Makers Arms in Staplehurst records “Walter” W. Swatland as the beerhouse keeper. Living with him was his wife “Annie”(Mary Ann) and their two children Arthur and Gertrude. A review of records shows that his name is often transposed as either William Walter or Walter William but the names of his wife and children remain the same. The 1911 census, taken at the Rose & Crown Hotel, in Riddlesdown Kenley, Surrey records William as the licensed victualler. Living with him was his wife Mary Ann and their four children. William and his family moved to High Brooms by 1913 and remained there at the hotel for a few years but was gone by1918. William was living at Moreland House on London Road, Tunbridge Wells at the time of his death at the General Hospital, Tunbridge Wells on June 23, 1925. He left an estate opf about 782 pounds. His two sons William Arthur Swatland, manager, and Norman Edwin Swatland, shop assistant, were the executors of his estate.

Wilson Brown followed William Swatland at the High Brooms Hotel. He is found there in a 1918 Kelly directory. He left the hotel by 1922.

Henry Nokes took over the hotel from Wilson Brown and is found there in a 1922 directory. He was gone by 1924.

Edmund Henry Howard Eldridge is found at the hotel in the directories of 1924 to 1929. Edmund was born 1885 at Brighton, Sussex, one of twelve children born to John Walter Eldridge and Charlotte Eldridge. He is found living with his parents and siblings at Hove, Sussex in the 1891 census. In the 1901 census,taken at Brighton,Sussex Edmund is working as a hosiers assistant and living with his parents and five siblings. Edmund served in WW I in France, having enlisted, while a resident of 84 Tideswell Road, Eastbourne, Sussex, as a private in the army. He had enlisted December 9,1915; was mobilised May 1916 and was discharged November 19,1916 and returned to civilian life. His occupation at the time of his enlistment was “outfitter”. Probate records give that Edmund died at the High Brooms Hotel November 13,1929. He left an estate valued at 154 pounds to his wife Gladys Caroline Eldridge. After his death his wife took over the High Brooms Hotel and is listed in a 1930 directory as “Mrs Eldridge, High Brooms Hotel”. She left the hotel by 1934.

John William Burbanks is found at the hotel in a 1934 directory. John was born in the 1st qtr of 1892 at Basford, Nottingham and was one of several children born to William Burbanks, born 1870 Kimberley, Nottinghamshire and Elizabeth Annie Burbanks, born 1869 at Knebworth. In the 1901 census, taken at Derby, Derbyshire he was living with his parents and two siblings. In the 1911 census, taken at the same place, John was age 19 and working as a grocer’s shop assistant. He is found in the census living with his parents and two siblings. His father was an engine fitter and the census records he and his wife had been married 20 years and had five children but only three had survived. John served in WW I and enlisted for service while a resident of 8 Railway Terrace, Derbyshire on December 11,1915. He served with the Royal Garrison Artillery from 1915 to 1920 as a sergeant and a captain. After the war he wed Mary and they raised a family. John was a resident of 117 Queens Road, Tunbridge Wells when he died October 26, 1953 at St Leonards Hospital in East Grinstead, Sussex. He left an estate valued at about 7,500 pounds to his wife Mary.

By 1938 B.E. Anderson took over the High Brooms Hotel. It is not clear how long he remained at the hotel and further information about him is lacking.

William Arthur Kilpatrick is found in directories of 1946 to 1950 as the licensed victualler of the hotel. William was born March 8,1907 at Plumstead, Kent. He is found in the 1911 census at #1 Whitworth Road, Plumstead, Woolwich, Kent living with his grandparents James and Phebe Russell. His grandfather worked at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. William married a Miss Bowyer at Bromley, Kent in 1932 and was living up to that time at Woolwich. Records indicate that his first wife died and that in June 1962 he married a Miss Cottenham in Tunbridge Wells. William died in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1991,age 84.

Directories record that T.E. Smith was at the hotel from at least 1952 to 1955. Due to his name being so common no further information was obtained for him.

Noel and Nell Gibb were at the hotel from 1968 to 1975. The source of this information comes from an account that appeared on the blog of the High Brooms Historical Society and is based on an interview with their son Roy Gibb who later ran the hotel. The account reads as follows “ Mr Gibb’s (Roy Gibb) family links to Tunbridge Wells go back almost half a century. Born in Wadhurst, he moved to High Brooms Working Men’s Club with his parents Noel and Nell Gibb in 1967.After about a year, they took over the pub and ran it for eight years. When they left they wanted me (Roy Gibb) and my late wife Maureen to succeed them, but I was having too much fun doing my own thing. Back then he was a machine driver by day and a member of comedy folk group The Three Bums at night. Roy Gibb said “We had long hair, orange shirts with big collars and thick cords”. Further information is given about Roy Gibb later in this account.

James William Huntley is found at the hotel in 1976. He had been born November 10,1911 at Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland. He married a Miss Octon in the 1st qtr of 1936 at Newcastle upon Tyne. He died there February 1998.

The strangest real pub in Tunbridge Wells

The strangest real pub in Tunbridge Wells – photo courtesy of John Neller

Roy Gibb was perhaps the longest serving licensed victualler at the hotel in its history for he was there from 1985 to 2012. He had turned down an opportunity to take over the hotel from his parents in 1975 as he had other interests at the time. The blog of the High Brooms Historical Society is the source for the following information based in part upon an interview with Roy Gibb. “Mr Gibb and his wife eventually took over the pub which, he stressed, “has been about having fun”…”This has always been a good pub, and in the early days it was packed. People are staying at home now because they can’t afford to come out. Some have lost their jobs, and a lot tell me they’re getting paid less now than they were 10 years ago. In order to survive, I think pubs need to do things very differently in future. I’d rather this place stayed open but if it doesn’t, I’ll be quite pleased to go down in history as the last landlord of the High Brooms Hotel”. Shown above is a photograph via John Neller of The High Brooms Tavern before it was closed.

I have referred at the top of the article to the eclectic collection of items that form part of the décor of the pub. The Kent and Sussex Courier of February 3,2012 gave the following “ Landlord Roy Gibb is to auction off the unique memorabilia housed within the High Brooms Hotel. The pub in High Brooms Road is home to an eclectic range of items including a Superman figure, a Second World War gas mask, a tank of silvery fish and a bicycle which dangles from the ceiling. In the saloon bar next door, a ship’s figurehead sails high above the vintage radios. Fading Victorian signs, the pool table and comfortable chairs are overlooked by an ageing water buffalo skull. The old fireman’s bell hanging in the bar was used in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day. For ten minutes, beer was sold at 1945 prices. “It all started with a few keys.” Recalled Mr Gibb, who is retiring with his daughter and her family this spring to the country after 27 years”. Shown below is a photograph of Roy Gibb in the pub taken in 2012 by Steve Collins.

Roy Gibb and Jack, the last landlord calling time

Roy Gibb and Jack, the last landlord calling time – photo courtesy of Steve Collins

The photograph opposite shows the send- off party celebrations outside of the High Brooms Tavern, held on the occasion of Roy Gibb’s retirement Monday July 9,2012. An article about the event gives the following. “ One of the biggest send- off parties I’ve ever seen. The Tunbridge Wells Ukulele Night Thing filled one bar, locals filled the other bar, and outside saw The Brooms, Bricks and Bowlers Morris Dancers, as well as some members of the Orange Circus Band. Visitors and neighbours were not short of music, and thanks to an express delivery, beer either. Roy’s artifacts are being got ready for auction, and the pub is “For Sale”. We can only wait now and see what happens next…..”. The pub was put on the market with an asking price of 310,000 pounds but it seems that the price was later reduced. The website of the High Brooms Historical Society adds “ The previous landlord retired in 2012…We were left with a shell, an empty Victorian Hotel with boarded up windows, but full of the happy memories of so many and the sounds of music and laughter still echoing through the empty bar. The last landlord was Roy Gibb, who ran the bar as a traditional pub, refusing to follow the thousands of drinking houses across the UK that ripped out their heart and soul to become a standardised but sterile pub or trendy drinking venue, wine bar or gastro pub. This pub was famous for its décor that had been built up over decades, rather than purchased as a job lot at an auction in order to create a ‘theme’. The ceilings and walls were hung with many bizarre oddities, tankards and keys, bikes and canoes, a life ring, a tortoise shell that had been converted into a banjo, a moose head, helmets and gas masks and much more and dusty shelves were lined with ancient books. It was like stepping back in time into the 1940’s with many larger items reflecting a manual history of agriculture or relics left over from world war II, often thought it was like walking onto the set of Nicholas Lyndhurst’s ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’. ..” Shown opposite is a view of the High Brooms Tavern with its windows boarded up. This photograph was taken January 2013 by Daniel Marsh.

The boarded up, closed hotel

The boarded up, closed hotel

Residents were very pleased to learn that despite proposals for redevelopment of the site that the High Brooms Tavern had been saved and that its new owners Peter and his son Greg Whitaker had acquired the premises with plans to keep it as a pub. The High Brooms Historical Society gave this report “The closure was a real loss to the community. The pub joined the businesses for sale listed as ‘the strangest real pub in Tunbridge Wells’ and the locals watched intently as offers flew about with developers touting to buy it at a known down price, with knock down intentions of flat building to gain the higher prices commanded by housing within two minute walk of a mainline station direct into London. Luckily none of these bids came through, and the locals continued to watch, and watch..and protest and campaign groups were formed to try and save the tavern (along with a group called TITS the “Tavern is Touring Society’).

In February 2013 news came through the grapevine that the pub had been part scaffolded on the front, curtains twitched and then it was official, a local father and son team were taking the pub on ..as a pub… and even better they were intending to open up a traditional British boozer with darts, pool and music. The opening date should be some time over the summer months and it is looking increasingly likely that a new name will be hung over the door, with the latest rumours suggesting ‘The Brick Works’. Actually I quite like that, if it must change then keeping it in line with local history is the next best thing and I am sure a change in name will reflect the change in ownership and interior. New name, new start…”. Shown opposite is a photograph of the new owners, courtesy of thisiskent.co,uk.

The BrickWorks Pub

The BrickWorks Pub

Shown opposite is a photograph of the interior of the pub in 2012 with “Barbara pulling pints for punters. This photograph was by Darren Whittaker via the Highbrooms Tavern Face book page.

Behind the bar

Behind the bar – Barbara pulling pints for punters

The Kent and Sussex Courier of March 20,2013 ran the following article. “Thirsty inhabitants of High Brooms have been cheered by the news that the community will soon have its own pub again. Residents were distraught when the historic High Brooms Tavern shut its doors in July last year after long-standing landlord Roy Gibb retired. Locals were desperate for the pub to reopen as a traditional watering hole rather than a block of flats-and their wishes have now come true. Peter Whitaker, 54, and his son Greg, 23, of nearby Sandhurst Road, have bought the site and renovation is already under way, with an opening date of June of July the target. Peter, who owns properties in Tunbridge Wells and who used to run bar-restaurants in London, said they couldn’t resist investing in the old site “it’s the original hotel and has a lot of history to it” he said. “We weren’t looking to buy a pub, to be honest, but just thought this was an amazing building and there was a real strength of community support.

This is a really interesting community pub, and very community-orientated. We thought about it and Greg said “I’d like to give it a shot”. Greg will be the live-in manager of the pub, which will have a new name, and his dad will help out when required. The pub was renowned for having a galaxy of bizarre and historic artifacts hanging from its roof and walls. Many of the more expensive items were auctioned off by Mr Gibb when he left, but some of them have remained, said Peter. “A lot of the stuff’s been left behind. We’re going to give the pub a good clean up-the nicotine’s unbelievable, you could almost cut it with a knife” he said. “But we don’t want to fundamentally alter the character. We’re going to keep some of the nick-nacks but will bring it into the 21st century. The pair are looking to bring traditional elements such as pool, darts and music back to the pub and contact has already been made with pool leagues and local darts association. ’We’re looking for it to be a traditional pub and we just want to get the place buzzing again’ said Mr Whitaker .High Brooms councillor Dianne Hill was delighted it would be a boozer again…”.

A blog posing April 9, 2013 reported on the progress that was being made to the renovation of the pub and said in part “ Just finished a knock through from bar area into the saloon lounge today, gives the whole pub a new feel and brings the two rooms together. We are restoring the original bar that was hidden behind the brown tongue and groove boarding on the existing one and getting a new bar top. Looks really grand so far. Jukebox and Harvey’s look set to be on the agenda. Haven’t got an opening date but hopefully 2.5-3 months. Keep you all regularly posted.”. And so since then the new owners have been busy at work bring the old tavern building back to life.

If you also have something to contribute to this blog, or just want to let me know you are enjoying it feel free to comment below, email me at HighbroomsSociety@gmail.com or send me a message on twitter to: @HighbroomsSoc