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Local and Topical

Published on May 31st, 2020 | by Joan Hamilton-Smith



  Calverley Grounds in the 1930s

     They built a bandstand in the Calverley Grounds, surrounded by a glassed-in area where people could sit in comfort out of the wind and dances were held there every Thursday night. Nobody dressed up for these dances, they just wore their ordinary frocks. There was also dancing on the Pantiles once a week, on a Saturday night. Various well-known orchestras and regimental bands visited Tunbridge Wells and stayed for a week to play for us. The Cadena Café also held tea dances but they had a small orchestra of their own.

     Pierrot shows called Bernard Brain’s Concert Party, were held in Grove Park. May Tappenden’s father used to go along every night with another gentleman and join a small crowd who stood outside the park, in Buckingham Road, and watched the concert from there. They couldn’t hear the words, but he liked being there for the atmosphere and the company.

     There were two bus companies operating in the area in the early twenties, the Autocar and the Redcar service (which was run by Dr Elliott’s brother), and there was a real bus war between them. They tried to outrun each other and they put their prices down. Later they were taken over by the Maidstone and District and became part of their regular service.

  Maidstone & District bus                 

     The Saunders family left The Royal Oak in 1933 and took a pub in Chatham. They returned to Tunbridge Wells at the beginning of World War II, but not to St. Peter’s.


     There were numerous small shops in St. Peter’s, some of them being the converted front room of the shopkeeper’s house. Old Mrs Andrews, one of the fairground family, sold groceries and hand-made sweets from her house on the corner of Park Street and George Street. Mr Hurd the barber had premises in North Street; Mr Longstaff ran a combined grocer’s and Post Office, also in North Street. Mr Jessop owned a baker’s in Park Street. And in George Street Mr Williams had the off-license next to the butchers. The butcher, Mr Miles, employed an assistant, Mr Jenner, who later took over the shop when his boss retired. The stretch of pavement on one side of George Street, where it ran between The Forge and Bayhall Road, was raised some five feet or so higher than the road at one point and was known as ’the high walk’. On the corner at the Forge end stood a small sweet shop and tobacconist run by Ted Hollander, who also sold a few basic grocery items. On the corner at the Bayhall Road end stood a dairy owned by the Wisby family.

     On the opposite corner of George Street to Wisby’s stood a sizeable general store at No 12 Bayhall Road. From 1930 to 1953 the proprietors were Pat and Michael’s parents, Joseph Arthur Peters (always called Arthur) and Mary Ada, (known as ’Sis’). Pat (Patrick George) had been born on 19th April 1928 when Arthur was a bailiff at Cheswick Farm, Horley. Michael Arthur was born in Tunbridge Wells on 14th April 1933.

To be continued…..            

Joan Hamilton-Smith

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