West  Malling  Resource  Centre

West Malling Memories

Please note that this website will be closing down in July 2019. Since starting in 2002, social media sites such as Memories of Malling on facebook have become more popular and easier to use for sharing memories and photos.

We'd like to thank everyone who has shared their memories with us. If you have any comments, or would like a copy of the PDF book of these memories that we'll be compiling then please contact us using the link below.


There is a fab Facebook group for Memories of Malling where people are sharing stories, photos and reconnecting with old friends

Hi there,­

I live in Meadow Bank,­ at the end of Police Station Road.­ I was wondering if you knew when Meadow Bank was developed? My guess was the 70s perhaps? I see on old maps that the railway bridge has been around a while,­ but just lead to the fields that were here previously I live in the block of flats directly next to the railway line,­ that apparently was a nursing home before being developed into flats.­

Any info you have on Meadow Bank would be greatly appreciated!



Comments posted 26 Dec 2018 by David Williams :

Not sure when the flats were built but about 70 years ago we used to buy lovely fresh fruit and veg from Mr. Mills who owned several large greenhouses there.


The family were chatting recently about various things and people we all remember and the subject of the Clout's Memorial Institute came up and nobody knew who Mr, Mrs or whoever Clout was.

We would be most grateful if anyone could enlighten us.

Kind regards,

John Kitchener.

Comments posted 5 Feb 2019 by Shaun Hood :

If I remember correctly the Clouts had a jewellery shop on the corner of West St & King St.

Hope this helps.

I am searching for Barry Crowe, a former Russian Teacher in the RAF back in the 1960's. I have a friend who would like to contact him so they could reminisce about old times in the RAF.

I believe he lived with his wife Valerie at 13, Townsend Square, West Malling, until about 2011 and wondered if anybody might know where they moved to after this date.

Many thanks.

Can anyone tell me where Mairs Nest is/was?

Somebody I am researching was living in this street (?) on the 1901 census. Swan Street appears on the same page of the census. Is this perhaps a former name of an existing street, or is it a street that no longer exists?


Comments posted 27 Feb 2019 by Dawn Waterfield :

Mairs Nest,

My husband and his mother lived in number 3 Mairs Nest cottages and his grandfather and grandmother Mr and Mrs Waterfield lived at number 2. There were six terraced cottages in total, situated at the bottom of the passageway which runs between what is now Tesco and Boots chemist in West Malling High Street. Mr and Mrs Kingsnorth lived at number 1, Mr and Mrs Lindsey lived at 4, Mr and Mrs Smith lived at number 5 and number 6 was occupied by the Higginbottom family.

The cottages were built as a "nest egg" investment by the builder of Leybourne Grange Estates house, a Mr Mair, hence the name. The cottages were owned in 1978 by Whitbread Trafalgar properties. The local Tonbridge and Malling council compulsory purchased the whole block of Mairs Nest to supposedly re-establish a market in the village but despite moving out all the occupants one by one and demolishing the cottages, the proposed market area was never effected and was just integrated into the surrounding car park. Subsequently the farmers market now held monthly in West Malling is currently situated in the closed off for the day High street.

Comments posted 30 Aug 2018 by Ron Martin :

Mairs Nest was at the bottom of an alley off the High Street between The Fire Station and the upper chemist shop with the houses situated at the back of the chemist shop. The houses were demolished when the Tesco Car Park was built in the 1970's?/1980's?. The alley still exists between Tesco's and Boots Chemist.

Ron Martin

Researcher for the Malling Society

My grand mother was a Bates from East Malling. Her niece Pamela married into the Taylor family and had 2 boys. Byron and ? One died.

Does anyone know how and where Mr Taylor may be, or any family

Under the POLICE FAMILIES IN 1959 posts SGB posted the following:

"In my grand fathers grandfathers generation - they lived for a time at Fatherwell of West Malling and his grandmother came fromm Ryarsh - I think I know little more than this but it does appear Thomas came from West Malling. I have family tree from another cousin with some Bates members I will check it up if you are interested"

I am currently compiling my family history and my Grandmother's Grandfather William Bates worked on Fatherwell Farm and later lived in West Malling.

I would like to find out more

Comments posted 28 Aug 2018 by Vannessa :

Bates family was prominent in east and west malling. Annie Bates married Edward Brooks. My grandparents. Mollie Bates was nan's sister in law and lived in Larkfield.

Please advise any info

Comments posted 26 Aug 2018 by Catherine :

Thank you both for you replies.

So far I have traced my family to Joseph Bates (1833 - 1903) and have not come across Harry, Arthur or Kate. Also I have not come across Douces Manor in my research so far.

Comments posted 25 Aug 2018 by Vanessa :

My grandmother was a Bates from East Malling. Her father worked at Douces Manor West Malling. She has 6 brothers.

Any help?

Comments posted 18 Aug 2018 by Matthew :

I was related to a Harry and Mary Bates, her maiden name was Mayatt. They had a son called Arthur Roderick Bates,born 1897, died in 1970. Yes they did live at Ryarsh. Is that any relation? There was also Kate Bates who married William Sutton and had a large family, lived Fartherwell Avenue in West Malling

The name of Pvt L A Webb appears on the WW1 memorial in West Malling Baptist Church. His name does not appear on the town war memorial. I can only assume that he lived elsewhere but may have had family members who worshipped at West Malling Baptist Church during WW1.

The church would be very interested to know about the family of L A Webb (Royal West Kent- Queens Own) who died in Iraq in 1915.

Comments posted 2 Oct 2018 by David Allchin :

The only Webb known to be killed in the first world war was my mother's brother Ernie Arthur Webb of 73 Ryarsh lane.

He was 25, killed in Egypt then part of the Ottman empire his body was never found and he is remembered on the Jerusalem memorial the north end of the mount of olives.

He served in the Royal West Kent Regement died 19th April 1917 aged 25.

Hope this is of interest.

David allchin

We are trying to find information regarding the following names who appear on the West Malling War Memorial and also in West Malling Baptist Church:

Edward John Barwood of the Yorkshire Hussars

Charles Bull of Royal Engineers

Charles Thomas Ford of Royal West Kent

John Huggett of the Labour Corp

Alfred Leeves of the Rifle Brigade and his brother William Leeves of the East Kent Reg.

Ralph Startup of the Royal West Kent

Ernest George Wooff of the Royal Sussex Reg.

I already have information from the CWGC, but would be interested to know any other more personal information.

Comments posted 22 Aug 2018 by Ron Martin :

Details of the men mentioned are contained in the book published by the Malling Society entitled "West Malling and The Great War" which can be obtained from the Society - see our website for details. Ron Martin - Researcher for the Malling Society.

The name Private W R Lane - Kings Royal Rifles appears on a WW1 memorial in West Malling Baptist Church. His name does not appear on the town war memorial. This leads me to believe that he was connected to a member of the congregation attending the Baptist Church during WW1. I cannot find any trace of W R Lane through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The church is seeking to find who he was.

I am of the conclusion that his family (parents) may have been resident in West Malling or in the surrounding area and he himself lived elsewhere. There are many Lanes listed in the 1911 census for West Malling!!!

If you have any information about W R Lane or family of that period I would be very interested to hear.

Thank you


When my husband and I were first dating almost 40 years ago we often visited a friends parents home in Meopham. After a visit we would drive around taking in the countryside and one day stopped for a bite to eat at a restaurant called the Bakery. We really enjoyed it and managed to stumble across it again once more time in 1982. We have recently moved into the Sevenoaks area and have been searching all around Meopham for this restaurant but have had no joy. This morning while walking the dogs I met an elderly lady and she told me that there was a restaurant by this name in West Malling. The way she described it sounds the same. I’m not sure why this place brings back such nostalgia but we’d love to visit again if it’s still there, even if it’s changed hands etc. I’m assuming it must have once been a bakery? I’d love to know it’s history and if it’s still a restaurant please.

Thank you in advance.

Comments posted 22 Jan 2019 by Tony :

The Bakery is still there and is still a restaurant. Many know it now as Frankies.

It was originally a bakery an was owned by the Briggs Family in the 1940's but I cannot recall the previous owners.

Comments posted 27 Aug 2018 by Steve Upton :

The Bakery restaurant has changed hands, it is now a fish restaurant, sorry can't remember what it is called. We have had many good meals in the Bakery, sad it's not the same now. The owner was quite a character, playing his violin and singing Merry Christmas (Christmas day dinner there was brilliant).

Comments posted 13 Aug 2018 by Janice :


There is still the Bakery restaurant in West Malling - almost on the corner of Swan St and High St junction. They specialise in mussels. You may want to search their website.

Can anyone help, town malling club , swan street, west malling, was this ever called a "working mans club " I have looked on old sites and can not find anything but being from malling as a child I thought I recalled it being a working mans club.if you have any photos of the sign I would appreciate that as well.

Comments posted 3 Aug 2018 by Stephanie :

Town Malling Club was know as West Malling working Mens club, my Dad used to be a member in the 80s and play for their Darts team.

Hi i was wondering if anyone know if the five pointed star is haunted? Or known of anyone who have died there in maybe the 60s?

Formed over 100 years ago, it is currently looking bleak for Borough Green FC. The secretary and manager are wishing to retire, and with no one to replace them, the club looks about to fold.

In the 1949-50 season, BG defeated Eccles FC by a score of 5 goals to 1, in the Kent Junior Cup Group 'A' Final. The first Sevenoaks area team to win this particular cup, since Holmesdale FC in 1899!

In the 1960-61 season, the Green won the same trophy by the same 5-1 score, versus Dover Wanderers. Can anyone mention the player's names, and positions that they played, on that 1960-61 Final winning team? Or anything about the game?

With the folding of the Maidstone and District League, has anyone heard if Town Malling Club FC will be joining the Sevenoaks & District League? Malgo FC and West Farleigh Reserves joined same, in recent years - and I can assure you that TMC would be most welcome to join, also.

Please do your best to respond to my questions. Thanks!!

Comments posted 17 Jan 2019 by Donna Rice-Banfield :

The whole of West malling High Street is known to be haunted, so yes the five pointed star is also.

Comments posted 28 Jul 2018 by Brian Mummery :

Re : Some recent Malling district grassroots football happenings.

Unfortunately, Town Malling Club FC have folded.

New officials were finally installed, and Boro' Green FC has survived. They missed relegation from Div. 2 by the skin of their teeth - and have been promoted to Div. 1, Sevenoaks & District League!

Newly formed APM Rangers have been accepted into Div. 1. And Malgo FC have been relegated to Div. 1, from the Premier Division. APM and Malgo's 'home' grounds will be at Cobdown.

Kings Hill FC Reserves have been accepted into Div. 2; and Larkfield & New Hythe Wanderers Reserves Division 4.

Thank you!

I think Snopper Pete Hopgood has closed shop following 'topic now closed.'

In spite of this, it is said he will come back with a farewell cavalcade of classic comments. And that he enjoyed appearing here.

So did many others. Many thanks to Peter, and West Malling Memories!

I'm looking for my great maybe great great grandfather. I believe his name was either William Fredrick Milner, or William Fredrick Milner. He was a solicitor in West Malling, Kent. I do think circa 1920s - 1930s.

Comments posted 22 Mar 2018 by Sonia :

Did he have a mum called Emma and sister called Isobel?

He would have been born about 1909, do you know Carole Milner who lived up at ham hill. there are still milners living in west malling up to recently

I am trying to find more information on the WELLS who appear in the Ryarsh Parish church registers in the mid-late 1700s. Specifically, there is a James WELLS bap. 13 Mar 1792, father Nicholas. I would like to know if it is possible he emigrated to America by Dec 1810.

My 'brick wall" is James WELLS. According to his headstone he was born 13 Mar 1792. The first proven fact I have of him is when he married a Persis EARLE on 21 Dec 1810 in Windsor Co., Vermont, USA. Vermont borders with Canada, so it may be possible that he emigrated from England to Canada.

I have checked all the immigration records in Eastern Canada and Easten America between 1792 and 1810 but did not find any WELLS with the correct age. Course, it is possible that not all passenger records have been recorded.

I would like to prove or disprove that James' bapt. in Ryarsh is the same as my brick wall.

Bonita Hillmer

Comments posted 24 Oct 2017 by Val Brown :


Don't know if this helps but there was an error in the register regarding the baptism of James 13 March 1792. He was listed as father Nicholas & mother Lydia but it was in fact his brother William Wells who married Lydia Herbert on 18th June 1791 not Nicholas. William and Lydia subsequently had other children baptised at Ryarsh as indeed did Nicholas Wells who married Ann Fremlin in 1806.

There is a burial of a James Wells in 1799 but as there is no "son of" beside it I would think this was actually the father of Nicholas and William.

There is a note in the register stating that baptisms were continued in another book with a subsequent comment saying that they had later been transcribed in to this register. This may account for the error in name?

There are no records of burial or marriage for James at Ryarsh. With the change of father's name does this confirm your James.

Does anyone remember - or have any information about - the Loud family who lived in Police Station Road?

George Loud (born in Somerset but relocated to London) moved from Peckham to WM and was living in Police Station Road in 1911. I believe he died in 1931 and have no reason to assume he moved prior to his death. His wife, Matilda, died in 1914. Again, I assume she lived in Police Station Road until her death.

Their daughter, Mary Loud, born in 1879, was unmarried and living with her parents in Police Station Road in 1911, carrying out 'domestic duties at home' (according to the 1911 census). Mary appears to have still been in West Malling prior to World War 2 as I have seen a "Miss Loud" listed on a "West Malling Women's Institute" photograph depicting '21st Birthday Party - November 9th 1938'.

George and Matilda's other children were:

George A Loud (b. 1876 d. 1966 - Ashford)

Frank (b. 1882 d. Mar 1964 - Cuckfield)

Frank Loud, warrant number 94044, joined the Met Police on 10 Dec 1906 and left on 13 Dec 1931. His last post was to V Division as an Inspector.

My sister and her 2 children had the misfortune of having to live here from Dec 1965 until mid 1967. My boyfriend used to take me to see them every Sunday and what a dire place it was. They lived in one of the nissan huts and it was freezing!!! No males over the age of 12 were allowed to stay overnight and if you were there for 3 months and hadn't found anywhere to live, the children would be put into care. Some of the mums, including my sister, protested about this and, having taken their protest to the House of Commons, they won the day and the time limit was lifted!!! The main objection to this rule was that, being in the middle of the country and with no transport at all, how were the mums supposed to look for work or a place to live? She is in a much better place now. Has her own home with money in the bank but she still remembers that place. OK it was a roof over their heads but in no way was it home!!!

If anyone has photos I would be so grateful if you could put them on here. Many thanks.

BTW I do family research and if anyone wants any help, I am more than willing to do so.

Comments posted 12 Oct 2018 by Tony Davis :

I was at the West Malling Hostel in 1965 along with my Mother and seven siblings. It was pretty grim but I was five at the time and me and my siblings would play on the old airfield that was near to the "camp"

At such a young age I remember it as an adventure but for my parents, it must have seemed hellish as it looked like a WW2 prison camp, with its long huts, big fences and draconian visiting rights for Dad's.

My children cannot believe me when I them that families were locked up in these camps until the Father found somewhere to live. Another time, another world!

Comments posted 16 Mar 2018 by Trevor :

I have a photo from the air of the King Hill workhouse, or Malling Union as it was called, also commonly known as "The Spike":

The Workhouse (or The Spike)
The Workhouse (or The Spike)

Comments posted 25 Nov 2017 by Janet Karnovski :

This is for Andy. Sorry but Kings Hill Hostel was at West Malling and the reason that I would like to see photos is that my niece who was only a baby at that time has heard so much about the place and would love to see what it was like. Also, although it was the home from hell, it was part of my sisters life and she made some good friends there. She would like to be reminded of the place.

Comments posted 25 Nov 2017 by Jeanaette :

I lived there as a child and have fond memories of running up the walk way when it was thunder and lightning, going to the big house for mail. I expect parents have a different idea but childen loved it.

Comments posted 28 Oct 2017 by Denise :

RAF were there prior. I knew it as King Hill hostel. Then renamed as Kings Hill with development.

Comments posted 11 Oct 2017 by Andy :

I thought RAF West Malling became Kings Hill and, therefore, did not exist in the 1960s?

Why do you want photos of somewhere you are so derisive about?

My name is Gary in Australia and I am looking for info about William Clarke for my wife, including the following. Any help would be fantastic.

William Clarke:

groom's birth date:

groom's birthplace:

groom's age:

bride's name: Jane Woodgare/Woodger

bride's birth date:

bride's birthplace:

bride's age:

marriage date: 29 Jan 1692

marriage place: East Malling,Kent,England

Gary Frank Allison

Comments posted 25 Sep 2017 by Gary Frank Allison :

Hi Graham.

Thanks very much for the info. Cannot find any other info.


Comments posted 25 Sep 2017 by Graham Johnson :

Dear Gary

This Jane Woodger COULD HAVE been the daughter of John and Hellen Woodger, baptised at Addington, a parish close to East Malling, on 14 October 1669. John Woodger is shown as having one hearth on the Hearth Tax returns for Addington in 1664. John Woodger was buried at Addington on 7 Jan 1674/5.

The following baptisms/burials for the children of John and Hellen are recorded at Addington:

Ann Woodger (b. 25 Mar. 1659, buried 6 Nov. 1674)

John Woodger (b. 2 Feb. 1661/2, buried 30 May 1719)

Thomas Woodger (b. 4 May 1663, buried 30 Dec 1726 at Strood)

Elizabeth Woodger (b. 8 Aug. 1665, buried1 may 1703 at Offham)

Robert Woodger, (b. 12 May 1667)

Jane Woodger (b. 14 Oct. 1669)

Mary Woodger (b. 12 Nov 1671, buried 24 Apr 1681)

Charles Woodger buried 17 Aug. 1712).

I am descended from John (7th great-grandfather). I should point out that this is not my own research, but that of another descendant living in the west of England.

Graham Johnson, Crowborough, Sussex

Comments posted 22 Aug 2017 by Janet Karnovski :

I've looked in all the sites I use but, apart from the marriage details, there is only this info on these people I'm afraid.

Jane Woodgate

England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975

christening: 7 February 1659 Penshurst, Kent, England

residence: Penshurst, Kent, England

father: Walter Woodgate

Penshurst is about 20 miles from West Malling and a bit more from East Malling

This info I found on the familysearch web site.

Good luck with your search!!!

As mentioned previously, Peter became Leisure Services Director with Malling Rural District Council.

Can anyone entice him to submit a few interesting comments? Or tell us a little more about him?

Thanking you in advance, and with fingers crossed, I'm hoping for a positive outcome!

Comments posted 28 Jan 2018 by Tony Collins :

I'm told that Peter is chuffed about his looks being favourably mentioned - and thinks one of the best things about getting older, is that there is nothing left to learn the hard way.

Comments posted 20 Nov 2017 by Tony Collins :

Larkfield Boys FC were formed in 1976. Their number of age-group teams were gradually increased.

Peter was the first Hon. Secretary of the club. Also, one of the early team managers.

Comments posted 9 Oct 2017 by Tony Collins :

Re: Basted Cricket Club - at one time captained by a teenaged Peter Hopgood. As a friend and neighbour, please bear with me! Have received a few phone calls about this.

That was the hamlet of Basted, not Brasted village. The club had its idiosyncratic ground on a hillside overlooking the Bourne Valley. There are photos from 1903 of the team, and with opponents, on several websites.

They moved years ago from that rough hewn venue to the more manicured surroundings of Tonbridge Sports Ground. I wonder if the club is still going.....

Comments posted 29 Sep 2017 by Tony Collins :

Ladies admire mature men who look so youthful for their age.

And Peter really catches their eye when dancing the night away.

I'm told, that at Leybourne 'Early Rock n Roll Revival Dances,' he is known as 'Young Pete Hip-Hopsgood.'

He is unbelievably cool and modern!

Comments posted 14 Sep 2017 by Tony Collins :

Peter generally suffers from S.A.D. Syndrome when the dark days of winter arrive.

Hope his new computer doesn't get it earlier....

Comments posted 12 Sep 2017 by Tony Collins :

A popular post during the last 7 days : Peter's January, 2012 tour of Offham; in the company of Barney his golden retriever, who didn't retrieve.

Peter played for Offham FC, when not representing Platt.

Comments posted 9 Sep 2017 by Tony Collins :

Hope Snopper Pete might be extending a stay in counties west of West Sussex.

And not affected by an early onset of S.A.D. syndrome - which sometimes brings his blog writing to a halt.

All the best Peter - come back soon!

Comments posted 6 Sep 2017 by Tony Collins :

One of the favourite blogs (in my household) at is "SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND, SIR?" It appeared Saturday, August 18, 2007.

Click the label 'Hairdressing (6)' down right side.

Comments posted 29 Aug 2017 by Tony Collins :

Former Basted CC captain, Peter Hopgood : I think cricket table ryegrass is growing out of my ears.

Doctor : How did that happen?

Peter : I don't know. I planted British Columbia (BC Bud) marijuana seed.

Comments posted 16 Aug 2017 by Tony Collins :

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Yes, indeed folks. Peter 'Snopper' Hopgood returned to his blogsite today. ENJOY!!

Comments posted 5 Aug 2017 by Tony Collins :

You can find Peter's Leybourne-famous blogsite at

You are in for a treat!

Comments posted 3 Aug 2017 by Tony Collins :

From Peter's blogsite :

Tuesday, August 01, 2017.

I am experiencing some serious computer issues which I fear may mean that I will have to invest in a new one and which might mean that I will be absent from these pages for a while. I hope to resume 'normal' service - whatever that might be - before too long.

Pass round the hat, folks! [PH said that, not TC].


I was born Kelly Allingham and I'm trying to find out info bout my Great-Grandparents.

So far as I know, my Great-Grandmother was called Margaret Ella Allingham, born 1903...

She gave birth to my grandad Richard Laurence Allingham in 1920....

We were told that Richard was born outside of marriage and poss his father was the husband of a house she worked in,she was 17 when gave birth. I've found her and her siblings, but can't seem to go any further back.

If anyone has any info or links I would love to hear frm u. thank u.xx

Comments posted 23 Jul 2017 by Kelly lee :

Oh that's lovely of u.

My email is

I am on ancestry my family tree is under name Boddy. Not sure if that any use to u pretty new to this lol.

Thank u very much. Very kind if u.xx

Comments posted 23 Jul 2017 by Tracey :

Hi Kelly,

Probably easiest if I give you access to my tree on Ancestry. If you let me have your email address I will give you access.



Comments posted 22 Jul 2017 by S Carlton :

You are also related to the Crowhurst family , Roy Crowhurst was a science teacher over malling school /clare park for many years. You must also be related to the Driver family from west malling, their descendant was Jenny Campbell who died aqed 33 in 2008. Any info would be appreciated as I can't find a death certificate for her

Comments posted 21 Jul 2017 by Kelly lee :

Ok thank you. And yes if i can that would be lovely...thank you.xx

Comments posted 21 Jul 2017 by Tracey :

Hi Kelly,

Sorry, I don't have any further information about Margaret or her descendents - only about the generations before. It's such a big family that I've just tended to concentrate on my direct ancestors. I'd be happy to let you have access to the tree if that would be helpful.



Comments posted 20 Jul 2017 by Kelly lee :

Oh great, very useful, thank u.

I've found links to my great-grandmother maragret ella to Birmingham, we not sure if she married someone called frank warren.

My dad remembers as a child something bout Birmingham, do u know anything???

My dad was only ever told that his father Richard Laurence allingham was born outside of marriage when maragret was 17, but we have no idea who Richards father was.

any info would be lovely.

thank u.xx

Comments posted 20 Jul 2017 by Tracey :

Hi Kelly,

Ann Goble and Thomas Gardner were my great-grandparents. I know that Harriet was born two years before Ann married Thomas. They went on to have 7 further children including my grandfather Herbert. Ann was indeed a midwife like her daughter Harriet, and lived with Harriet at the time of her death in 1912.

I hope that is useful information.


Comments posted 16 Jul 2017 by Kelly Lee :

O lovely...thank u. That's where I got the name Gardener from then. R u on ancestry or anything like that?? Would be lovely to see what u ave found out. Thank u.xx

Comments posted 16 Jul 2017 by Laura :

No problem Kelly. If any thing else crops up, feel free to ask :)

I have Harriet's birth certificate and she doesn't have a father written on it. Just her mother who was Ann Goble. I think Ann married a man called Thomas Gardener abit later on however.

Laura X

Comments posted 16 Jul 2017 by Kelly Lee :

Oh wow....

Thank u...yes i am very interested.

I found a few things linked to the names u mentioned but wasn't sure. I found the name Harriet Gardener and Globe but kinda got stuck at that bit lol.

As far as i know my great grandmother Margaret moved to Birmingham and married but am not sure. I'm new to the family tree thing lol. Thank u for ur info.xx

Comments posted 15 Jul 2017 by Laura :

Sorry I meant your great great grandparents. X

Comments posted 15 Jul 2017 by Laura :

Hi Kelly,

You are related to my family.

I have a huge family tree dating back to the 1500's, if you are interested?

Your great grand parents for Margaret would be Thomas Brooker(Allingham)1862-1908 and Harriet Goble 1863-1922.

Harriet was a midwife and they had 9 children together including your grandmother Margaret. Their son Edward is my great grandfather.

Thomas was born to a Thomas Brooker but used the surname Allingham from his mother's first marriage to William Allingham. Thomas died in Dover at the age of 45, in a mining accident in Guilford Colliery.

Laura xx

Hi there.

I am researching my ancestry and have come across the 1851 England Census which divulged information about my ancestor William Fremlin. It seems that at the time he had been living in Comp Road in the district of Malling, in Kent. He was a farmer who had been born around 1793 and had 100 Acres of land (as said in the census) and employed 12 labourers and one housemaid. He married a Elizabeth Jones Norton and had five children (from what I know of- 2 sons and 3 daughters).

I would greatly appreciate it if you can find any information about this family.

Thank you so much for your help.


Comments posted 24 Oct 2017 by Val Brown :

Hi Emmerson,

We may well be distant cousins. William Fremlin born 13th March 1792 in Ryarsh married Elizabeth JORDAN Norton on 25th December 1817 in Wrotham. They had at least 8 children although I haven't researched their family in depth as yet. They lived firstly in Wrotham and then moved to Wateringbury.

William himself was the son of John Fremlin & Elizabeth Heaver and one of 13 children. Our common ancestors would be John's father William Fremlin 1709-1774 and Eleanor Tomlin 1724-1781 (my 6x Greatgrandparents). John & Elizabeth and William & Eleanor's gravestones are still in situ at Ryarsh St Martins.


Comments posted 2 Jun 2017 by Tony Collins :

During the mid-1950s, William (Bill) Fremlin was the Treasurer of the high flying Borough Green FC.

When it was found out that hundreds of pounds had mysteriously disappeared, Bill ceased to be Treasurer (1957-58 season, I believe).


I have a long history of relatives living in the West Malling area and I was wondering if anyone could give me any information or memories of my relatives.

My grandmother was Evelyn Bessie Davies nee Brooker and she lived most of her life at 69 Ewell Avenue, although she lived in Back Street for some of her younger life. She married Harold Davies in 1948.

Her parents were Edward Thomas Brooker and Frances Sarah Outram.

Their parents were Thomas A Brooker and Harriet someone and Henry Outram and Jane Allingham.

Thanks :)

Comments posted 11 Jul 2017 by Laura :


I have found further information about my great great grandmother Harriet Ann Brooker (Allingham, Goble)

She began enrolment as a midwife on the 27th of April 1905 and continued to live in Back Street and Gammans Yard until she died until 1922. Does anyone have any idea where she would have enrolled to become a midwife in the Malling area?



Comments posted 17 May 2017 by Denise Jones :

Hi Laura, The information of my Great Grandparents Frederick and Lilian is correct. Still looking into more details. I know when and where married.

Strange all them years growing up. Not only knowing your mum and family but being related as well.

Many Thanks



Comments posted 17 May 2017 by Laura :

Hi Denise,

I've found your great grandfather Frederick on my tree. He was born in 1896, is that right? And married a Lilian Gladys Dickety. I know that Frederick's father was Albert Outram born in about 1870. He was brother to Henry Outram who is my great great grandfather. And their father was another Henry Outram born in 1817 and he married a Sarah Reeve.

So it looks like our family trees are joined.

Comments posted 16 May 2017 by Matthew :

Tony, Lyn etc was you a east/west malling person ? Did you know my nan Maisie and Bill Robinson? if so I would love to share memories with me

Comments posted 16 May 2017 by Denise Jones :

Hi Laura, My great grandfather had one brother called Frank and one sister. Frederick was married to Lilian my nans parents.

Maybe our grandmothers parents might have been cousins.

Would love to know more details of your Outram family tree,

Comments posted 16 May 2017 by Laura :

Hi Denise,

Thank you for your reply.

I have Frederick Outram on my family tree, he was brother to my great great grandfather Henry Outram. I believe Frederick's wife was Emma Harriet Barton?

It's great to discover all of these connections :)


Comments posted 15 May 2017 by Denise Jones :

Hello Laura,

I grew up in West Malling and knew your Nan Bessie very well. My nan also lived in Ewell Ave and always told me that Bessie was her cousin. My nan whose maiden name was also Outram her father was Frederick. Wasn't until I read these I knew the connection.

I am currently looking into my family grandparent's family tree.

Hope this helps


Comments posted 15 May 2017 by Tony Collins :

Well, since the name Collins has been mentioned.

During the 1950s/60s, there was a Collins family living at Clare Park Estate, East Malling - and a Collins family living in Offham. Two Collins brothers had married two sisters.

There was a family living in West Malling who were very close to them. I'm wondering if that family's surname was Collins, or was the same as the 2 sister's maiden name. The East Malling Collins family included Mick, who played centre half for East Malling FC.

Comments posted 14 May 2017 by Tony Collins :

Lyn Pilkington. Several are wondering why that might be. Is it something you feel comfortable shedding light on?

Thanking you in advance/look forward to your reply.

Comments posted 13 May 2017 by Lyn Pilkington :

Yes my daughter Shauna married Darren Webley, but since he died in 2006 I have not had contact with the Webley family

Comments posted 11 May 2017 by Carol Underhill :

Didn't you have daughter Lyn called Shauna who married into the Webley family. What happened to old Jimmy Webley ? He married Pat Spittlehouse didn't he? She was quite well known lol , you must be related to Wayne Allingham who lives with his boyfriend in Hildenboro, he was slightly disabled, his dad was Frank Allingham .

Comments posted 9 May 2017 by Lyn pilkington :

Ellen and Eddie Maytum were my aunt and uncle. Yes I knew John Collins too

Comments posted 9 May 2017 by Steve :

You must be related to Ellen Allingham who married Edward Maytum then Lyn? They had John Maytum, Susan and was it Sandra ? did you know old Ellen Maytum who lived at Norman Road in West Malling and John Collins. Were they related?

Comments posted 9 May 2017 by Lyn Pilkington :

I do have a Jane Allingham in my family. She was the mother of my great grandfather Stephen Allingham. She was with a Richard Large who I believe was Stephen's step father.

I will email the photo I have of John to this website as they emailed and said they can then put it in my post.

John was bit younger than me but used to come to my house to play with my brothers train sets. I believe his brother Paul had something wrong with his arm. He had an older brother called Teddy I believe. Also think Bessie had a daughter quite late in life but I might be wrong there.

My mum and Bessie always stopped for a chat whenever they met up. My nan always referred to her as Bessie Brooker because I think she knew her before she got married as they both lived in Back Street

Comments posted 9 May 2017 by Laura :

Hi Lyn,

Thanks for your reply.

John is my uncle, being one of my mum's brothers. It's lovely to know you were a friend of the family.

I believe my great great grandmother was a Jane Allingham. She was Bessie's grandmother. Would be interesting to know if it is the same Allingham family as your own.

Comments posted 9 May 2017 by Lyn Pilkington :

Hi I replied yesterday but since then I have found a photo of John Davies as a little lad in my garden with me and my brother. Don't know if it can be uploaded to this site or not

My name back then was Linda Allingham as I see another reply mentions the Allinghams

Comments posted 8 May 2017 by Lyn Pilkington :

i went to school in the 1960s with a John Davies and he had a brother called Paul. They lived in Ewell Ave possibly 69. I lived at 57. His mum was known to my family as Bessie Davies, lovely lady

Comments posted 7 May 2017 by Laura :

Thank you for your replies.

Peter, I didn't live in the Malling area but my mum was born and grew up there.

Do you have anymore information on Frances Gorham? When she was born possibly?

Tony, interesting stuff. I'll try to find out if the gentlemen were related in any way to my great grandfather.

Comments posted 7 May 2017 by Tony Collins :

Peter: A Crowhurst family lived at Whiffen's Farm, Borough Green, and were stalwarts of Boro' Green CC from the 1900s to the 1960s.

In 1915, Dan Crowhurst was captain of the team - his brother George was a teammate.

In 1938, Dan was still the captain - his son Frank, 2 son-in-laws, and Alf Large were also on the team.

Comments posted 6 May 2017 by Peter :

You are cousin to my relatives, the crowhurst family, you are related to a lady called Frances Gorham. Did you live in the Malling area? The Allingham family are a wide family who still live in the area now, originally from Wateringbury. Other names you are related to include Maytum, Large, and Beadle.

Have you looked at ancestry pro quest site? there are photos of your grandparents on there

Comments posted 5 May 2017 by Tony Collins :

Laura, Re : Cricketing Brookers from Offham.

During the 1950s/60s, brothers Norman and John Brooker were the main pair of bowlers for Offham Cricket Club. Norman was known as 'Nigger' - nothing offensive about it; nicknames often started in primary school because of the first letter of a Christian or surname. John wore a hearing aid - but so did the great Johnnie Ray, just prior to rock 'n roll. During this Century, Nathan and Mervyn Brooker have been playing members of Offham CC.

Don't know how enthusiastic you are about cricket! But being in the West Malling area, I hope this might help.

I am searching for information of my father who was stationed at West Malling RAF in 1954. I was born in West Malling 1954. His name was Patrick Collins, married to Irene Collins with 2 children Lynda and Catherine.

I would be glad to hear from anyone who has any information.

Comments posted 26 Apr 2017 by Catherine Ireland :

Hi Tony, that is a coincidence or two. Thank you for looking. I will keep checking.

Regards Catherine

Comments posted 26 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

Catherine: Sorry I am unable to help you at the moment. (a) A Lynda has been mentioned in, and submitted, quite a few comments; (b) she lived in West Malling; (c) was born in 1954; (d) has 2 sister-in-laws named Catherine; (e) her father was stationed at RAF West Malling during the early 1950s; and (f) her grandmother's name was Irene. Isn't that quite a few coincidences?

I will understand if you tell me to get a life!

HELP! Is Brian 'Oaky' Kennard the father of Digby Kennard, and grandfather of Jack Kennard?

I cannot sleep properly at night, while continually thinking about this.

And related trivia will be most welcome. Thanks a lot!

Comments posted 25 Dec 2018 by John Shears :

I remember Oaky Kennard, used to live in Fatherwell Avenue, West Malling, a good footballer for Malling Town FC. His Mum was Nancy Kennard and Dad was Steve. Nice people, both well respected people !

Comments posted 24 Apr 2017 by Denise Jones :

In Reply to your question. Brian Kennard "Oakey" did have a son called Digby. Not sure if he had a grandson called Jack.

Comments posted 24 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

Wakey! Wakey! here's some help for you.

I'm fairly confident that Brian - the former Town Malling Utd and Maidstone Utd right half, was born in 1935 and married in 1961.

Digby was a member of the Maidstone and Mid Kent Sunday League representative team, during the late 1980s. And with Holtwood FC.

Jack was a talented youngster from the 'Ben Mills Acadamy,'and with Ightham FC during his teens.

My mother who was born in 1916, came to live with the Bates family as a foster child along with their 2 orphaned grandchildren (Margery & Alethea). I am not sure exactly when but it will be c1920. The grandchildren's mother May Robinson, my grandmother Annie Pickup (from Maidstone) and their friend Chrissie were all dressmakers and may have met at a sewing 'school' which could have been in a house opposite the old dairy in the High St. I would like to know if any records exist of such a place, who ran it? I would also like to find out when my mother came to West Malling. I have yet to look at the school roll which I think has been archived.

Is there anywhere in West Malling where old documents are kept that I can search before I get to the Maidstone record offices?

Thank you.

Comments posted 15 Aug 2018 by Bonita Thomson :

Thank you. I know your grandmother! I am her foster sister's daughter. We have already talked about how the girls met when we've visited her. Give her our love & thank you for getting in touch.

Comments posted 15 Aug 2018 by Catherine :

Hi Bonita

My Grandmother is Alethea and she is 97 years old. She does not live locally to me however, I shall be visiting her tomorrow. If you tell me your mother's name I shall ask about her.

My great grandmother was Elizabeth Francis Allchin (B1857) and her parents were Robert John Allchin and Frances Norris. In turn their parents were Robert Allchin/ Fanny Baker and Joseph Norris/ Elizabeth Williams. This takes it back to about 1788.

Any one out there who might have records and be related to me?

My grandmother Rosa Allchin married Joseph William Aitken-Smith in 1905.

Comments posted 2 Oct 2018 by David Allchin :

Yes I am a Allchin. Looked up records

Robert born 1783 died Sep 1852 married Fanny Baker(laundress)12/4/1807 all saints Maidstone.

Many of the Allchin lived in lower Birling known as Ham Hill.

Comments posted 29 Aug 2017 by Ron Martin :

Dear Mr. Aiken-Smith

My name is Ron Martin and I am the Researcher for the Malling Society. I have transcribed some of the records which may be of help to you i.e. Parish Registers and Census Returns for West Malling, East Malling and Birling and these can be purchased in CD form from the Society - please see our website. for details.

I have had an initial trawl through the records and have found that Robert Allchin baptised at East Malling in 1783 was the son of William & Margaret of whom I have found no further recorded other than Margaret died at East Malling in 1856 aged 85. Robert had 10 children the last of whom was Robert born at Birling (Ham Hill) in 1838 who appears to have been an afterthought. Your ancestor Joseph Norris was born at West Malling in 1797, although I have not found a record of his baptism. I believe he was the son of Thomas Norris who married Mary Widby at West Malling in 1792.

If you would like me to prepare you an initial family tree which you could then expand, please e-mail at

PS our heritage centre is open on Saturday and Sunday 9th and 10th September, where the records can be purchased - please see our website.

Ron Martin

Researcher for the Malling Society

The Malling Society wants to do an exhibition on the former West Malling Police Station in 2018 and is hoping people who visited the Police Station many years ago when an open day was held just before it was sold and converted into residential accommodation may have taken photographs when they visited or even any other photos of the former Police Station in its heyday.

If you can help, please contact me, Barbara Earl, Secretary, The Malling Society on 01732 847678 email : I was a serving Police Officer myself at West Malling from 1973 - 1979 - people may remember me as Barbara Hyslop. Thanks!

Comments posted 3 Nov 2018 by Jean Crombet-Beolens :

Hi Barbara,

Do you remember my Dad Eric Crombet-Beolens he was station officer until 1975 when he retired to New Zealand. My mum Phil died in 2005 and Dad died in 2008. Don't think I have any old photo's of the Police station but I will look tomorrow. We used to live in the police house left side of station. The gardens (allotments) were at the back of the police yard. My brother and I had many happy times playing around there.

Regards Jean.

Comments posted 19 Nov 2017 by Tony Collins :

Barbara : I'm thinking that Bob Ladbrook married 'a Sue', during 1965 or '66, at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, W. Malling.

The Ladbrook surname arrived in the Malling Rural District during the mid-1930's; when Bob's dad Bill arrived as a teenager from Swindon, Wiltshire, to enter domestic service.

Thank you.

Comments posted 18 Nov 2017 by Tony Collins :

Barbara : Is Sue Ladbrooke (should be Ladbrook?) of the Malling Society, the daughter of/related to, Robert Ladbrook?

Bob is a grandson of William Hardiman. Mr. Hardiman was choirmaster and organist at St. Peter's Church, Ightham for 40 years - and very good friend of Benjamin Harrison (1837-1921), the renowned amateur archaeologist.

During the 1950's, Bob served a 5 year gasfitting apprenticeship under the wing of Frank Bangay, the well-known Borough Green historian.

Comments posted 19 Jul 2017 by Paul Narramore :

Many happy memories when serving there during the 90s.

Comments posted 2 Jun 2017 by Cherise Merralls :


Do you remember my grandad Ron Broad ?

Comments posted 22 Mar 2017 by Andrew :

I would be fascinated by this. I live opposite the site however I moved to WM after the retirement home was already completed. I have found two pictures of police station: one from 1999 and another from the 1960s. I would love to see more photos and hear some stories!

CHARLIE DUNCKLEY : Chairman of MRDC during the mid to late 1960s. Resided in Trosley. During the 1950s/60s he published the Borough Green-based 'Mid Kent News.' Were there many readers from east of Offham?

RON RENDLE : Housing Department Chief, during the 1950s/60s/70s. For some reason, Ron always referred to his son Dave as 'Burbrook.' Does anyone know why?

RON SOUTER : His name was very well known. I'm taking a total guess that he might have been "Head of Council Housing Maintenance & Repairs." Would be great to hear from his daughter Maggie about this.

PETER HOPGOOD : Born 1939 and living in Leybourne. Not sure what his job title was at MRDC. During the mid to late 1950s - his father-in-law Bill Webb, was proudly mentioning Peter's quite rapid advancement, and that he had an important job. Parish Councils were sending cheques for the Queen's Jubilee Fund to Peter's attention.

Comments posted 10 Jan 2018 by Tony Collins :

Some people (like me) complain on cloudy days when the sun doesn't shine. At any one time, clouds cover between 60 and 70 percent of Earths land and oceans.

But look at poor, talented Pete - with his S.A.D. Syndrome, still churning out impressive comments/opinions for us to enjoy.

Did you know that Pete's parents ran the Royal Oak, Wrotham Heath at one time? And all Pete drank was Vimto, to wash down his Smith's Crisps?

Comments posted 10 Jan 2018 by Tony Collins :

Salesman : Try this new watch young man. You can water ski, snorkel or scuba dive with it on.

Peter : That's great! I can't do any of those things now.

Comments posted 31 Dec 2017 by Tony Collins :

One of Popular Pete's mates was Brian Webb - he was BCC scorer. It's been several years since Peter last used to see him - while shopping in Tesco's, Larkfield. I wonder if Brian will leave a comment?

Charles Dickens used to be the scorer during the annual cricket match between Gad's Hill Place and local Gad's Hill-ites. He was next best thing to being Squire. Basted's closest matches to Gad's Hill were versus Mockbeggar CC - like Gad's Hill, also in the Parish of Higham.

Brian might be able to recollect some highlights of Peter's cricket career, during the mid to late 1950's.

Comments posted 30 Dec 2017 by Tony Collins :

With a shortage of players, Skipper Peter Hopgood and Basted CC just about managed to scrape together a skeleton team.

Following the match, one of their players walked into the Plough, Basted.

Bar Tender : "What will it be for you then, Sir?"

Skeleton : "A pint of mild, please - and a mop."

Comments posted 17 Jul 2017 by Tony Collins :

Peter Hopgood played as a defenceman for St. Mary's Platt FC.

Pat Webb used to make the half time tea at King George's Field, Platt's home ground. She and Peter, her future husband, first 'exchanged glances' at this time. During the second half, he admits to only thinking about her big brown eyes - nothing about the half time team pep talk.

This year they celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary.

Comments posted 14 Jun 2017 by Tony Collins :

'Now in my evening years but still a child at heart.'

"Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be."

Apparently, Peter Hopgood has been saying this now for 13 years - isn't that sweet?

Comments posted 22 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

Barbara Earl : Thank you for 15 Feb info. I can't quite place you, but seem to recollect Barb Hislop being mentioned quite often.

Peter Hopgood : TMBC Leisure Services Director. And he has always pleaded poverty; almost penniless; forever struggled to survive!

Comments posted 21 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

During the mid to late 1950s, Peter Hopgood was a popular all-rounder with Basted Cricket Club.

At the tender age of 18 (in 1957), he had the honour of being appointed captain.

I remember his 55 runs versus Odhams Press CC (Basted), and 5 wickets for 9 runs versus Sennocke CC (Sevenoaks). And that was during the days when the Basted 'double' was 100 runs and 10 wickets in a season!! West of West Malling, he is legendary!

Comments posted 16 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

There ought to be a law....On the 21st of July 2014, Peter Hopgood protested to Leybourne Parish Council about "a big deposit of horse dung right in the middle of the path" used by himself and many others.

Several villagers were lamenting that they hadn't known about this - it was just what their roses needed.

Comments posted 19 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

A little controversy. Some are saying that the proprietor of the 'Mid Kent News' was George Dunckley, from Trottiscliffe. To be more emphatic, most of those, George Dunkley without a 'c.'

A similar number insist that it was Chairman Charlie. A few claim that Peter Hopgood agrees with the latter viewpoint.

Comments posted 15 Feb 2017 by Barbara Earl :

Charlie Dunckley lived in Addington (Dunckley Villas etc) and was the most brilliant Magistrate at West Malling Magistrates' Court - he took no prisioners when presiding over Means' Courts.

Peter Hopgood at TMBC ended up as Leisure Services Director - a really lovely man.

My dad grew up in West Malling in the 50s and 60s and has mentioned a person called 'Bob Dog' who was part of either the West Malling United or Maidstone United football team, nicknamed because he could catch a rabbit with his bare hands. I was wondering if anyone knew his real name as dad has forgotten and would like to know? Much appreciated!

Comments posted 25 Dec 2018 by John Shears :

I remember Bobdog, or Bob Hooker, as was his real name. He was a local celeb, he used to play barefoot football West Malling.

He was a real character, he was a Gypsie guy, he was revered for for his ability to score goals in bare feet, lovely character !

Comments posted 2 Jan 2018 by Tony Collins :

Paul :

The 'M25 Motorway'? I thought that was the 'M26' installation works, and diggers on East Street, Addington. I seem to be getting more senior moments, nowadays!

Happy New Year to one all!

Comments posted 4 Sep 2017 by Tony Collins :

Well, Mr. Hooker was certainly a very well known character, especially in the Borough Green, Addington and Ryarsh areas of Malling Rural District.

Wonder how many other names he was known as - besides Bob, Frank, Harry and Roy?

Comments posted 30 Aug 2017 by J Terry :

BoB Dog has kow was a chap by the name of ROY HOOKER lived in EAST STREET ADDINGTON KENT

Comments posted 2 Jun 2017 by Paul Foreman :

Hi Tony, no not related to Richard Foreman,but had a uncle Les Foreman in the 50s in Offham. I lived in Addington in the 50s 60s and 70s

Comments posted 2 Jun 2017 by Tony Collins :

Paul: Are you related to Richard Foreman? He was born approximately 1942-43, and lived in Offham or Addington.

He attended Wrotham County Secondary Modern School (bit of a mouthful in those days!) and played for their football team. Later he played for Offham FC in the Maidstone & District League.

Comments posted 31 May 2017 by Paul Foreman :

Bobdog lived in East Street Addington, he had a bungalow on top of hill in the 60s. He objected to the building of M25 and he laid in front of the diggers on East St in protest, there are many stories about him.

Comments posted 16 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

Michael: I don't know if Roger Barnden, the speedy former Offham FC and Town Malling United FC outside left, was having me on. But he said that Bobdog only turned cartwheels on the football pitch, because the laws of the game prevented him from charging around with a hod full of bricks. Malcolm Mills agreed with him.

Comments posted 25 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

It seems like natural inclination that Bobdog resided by Redlands Farm, Ryarsh Lane, at one time - what with his party trick of heading house bricks, etc.

Redlands Farm would have been named for the type of soil - the red clay which was used in manufacturing brick and roofing tile in the Malling Rural District. One of the several prominent manufacturing companies was named Redland Tile; they were based in Ightham.

Comments posted 2 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

Many have moved over the years, from the Borough Green area to the West Malling area. So I will mention the three F.P.Caine Ltd. workers, who I most often heard talking about Bobdog. This was during the mid to late 1950s.

Johnnie Geddes : born 1901, lived in St. Mary's Platt; Horace Heaven : born 1899, lived in Borough Green; Frank Usher : born 1896, lived in Wrotham Heath. It might help to trigger the odd memory or 2, with a relative, friend, or acquaintance. Ginkgo biloba tablets are supposed to be good for the memory.

Comments posted 1 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

'Bob' would have been to represent the idiosyncratic movements that he made.

Comments posted 26 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

Just a little thing - but keeps seeming bigger! Everyone called Frank Hooker 'Bobdog'/not Bob Dog.

Comments posted 15 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

I mostly used to hear the older workers, who were born prior to WW1, speak enthusiastically about a 'Bob Dog.' I'm inclined to think that he was the Frank Hooker who was born (and lived) in East Malling in 1901; lived in Ditton in 1911, and died in 1970.

Comments posted 15 Feb 2017 by Robert Lucas :

My 93 year old Aunty well remembers the 'Bobdog' who lived in Ryarsh Lane. He lived in the solitary cottage on the A20 side of the railway line, behind what used to be known as Redlands Farm. His real name was Harry Hooker. Tragically he was killed when he fell from a roof when he was a fireman in the West Malling Brigade.

Comments posted 6 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

I heard about a 'Bob Dog' who worked for the builders Curtis & Caine (later F.P.Caine Ltd.) of Borough Green.

He used to run head first into the side of the moving company lorry, driven by George 'Bandy' Fuller. Also head first into brick and stone walls.

He played football for a few teams in the area.

Comments posted 20 Jan 2017 by Jack White :

Frank Hooker lived at the junction of East Street and Woodgate Road, Addington. He played football for Ryarsh when in his fifties. One of his party tricks was to throw a house brick in the air, and then head it.

Comments posted 13 Dec 2016 by Michael :

I knew of Bob Dog when I lived in Ryarsh. His surname was Hooker and I assume his first name was Bob. He was quite a character and was supposed to have turned cartwheels on the football field but I don't know which team he played for.

I am trying to find out when Belmont Villas (the row of terraces in Police Station Road) were built, since I live in one of the houses and I'm intrigued. These are the terraces directly opposite where the police station was once situated.

The date on the paper work when I bought it reports '1890' as the year of build. However, I have been unable to find these houses on maps until approx 1907. However, detailed maps are hard to come by and the only earlier ones I have are from pre-1890! A detailed map from 1895-1900 would be very useful!

I have found Belmont Villas on the 1911 census. But I cannot find them listed anywhere in the 1901 census. Yet, I am quite certain these houses were built before 1901. They share more similarities with 1890's Victorian properties than Edwardian or later homes, such as full height coal cellars and bay windows.

To complicate matters, the addresses used to be 1-8 Belmont Villas, but are now 54-68 Police Station Road. I have no idea when this change took place. Furthermore, I don't believe the road has always been named "Police Station Road". No map, until the 1907 one, which I referred to earlier, lists the road as Police Station Road. It's always unmarked.

Can anyone shed any light? In summary, it's on maps from 1907 but I'm sure it's older than this. I've found it on 1911 census but can't find it on 1901 census - however this may be due to it being an unnamed road. At one time, the addresses were no's 1-8 Belmont Villas but later changed to 54, 56, 58 etc. Police Station Road.

Thank you,


Comments posted 25 Dec 2018 by John Shears :

I lived in the Malling area 1960’s to 1980’s, I actually gave evidence as Police Officer in the West Malling Magistrates Court, behind the Police Station.

It was a very important Court, I recall attending the Nick on many occasions for various cases!

Comments posted 23 Mar 2017 by Andrew :

Hi Ron. I've sent you an email. Best wishes, Andrew.

Comments posted 23 Mar 2017 by Ron Martin :

Dear Andrew

Unfortunately we do not have any photographs of Belmont Villas,(apart from 1 of Freda Bartons son leaning over the wall looking at workmen on the railway),indeed we have very few photographs at all of Police Station Road. We have only a few photographs of the Swan Street end taken in the 1970's and some of the Police Station taken around 2000.

Please let me know if these would be of interest to you. My e-mail address is if you wish to contact me direct.


Ron Martin

Researcher for the Malling Society.

Comments posted 22 Mar 2017 by Andrew :

Hi Ron,

Thanks for your reply. I'm sure I thanked you earlier but one way or another, it's not on the site. So, thanks again. I'd still love to find a map with a reliable date that would confirm more precisely when they were built. It's also a pity that before 1911 the census data is so tricky. I've seen properties listed under Brook Fields in the 1901 census but it wasn't clear which properties were referred to.

Better yet, I'm sure Freda Barton must have photographed Police Station Road over the years she lived there. Is there any means of finding out whether she did? It would be incredible to see the terrace/street in earlier times.



Comments posted 20 Nov 2016 by Ron Martin :

Hello Andrew

From the number of houses listed in the various census returns for West Malling it appears that Belmont Villas were probably built between 1881 and 1891, so your guess as 1890 for their building may be about right. They were certainly not built by 1881 when other houses in Police Station Road are listed as in Swan Street. The number of houses between the Police Station and Prospect Place in the 1891 Census indicates that they had been built by then but again are listed in the entries for Swan Street. In the 1901 Census they are almost certainly among the entries listed as Brook Fields. The renumbering of properties I believe was carried out around 1970.

I hope this helps in your search.


Ron Martin

Researcher for the Malling Society

I am looking out for my brother John. I haven't seen him since the year 1999. His last sighting was at Tonbridge. He's aged about 84 years of age. His real name is John Dutt. If you can seek him it will be very much appreciated.

My telephone number is 01303 254107, my name and address is Ronald Dutt, 4 Sherwood Trust Homes, St Michael's Street, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 1LN. The best time to give me a ring is in the afternoon.

Comments posted 16 May 2017 by Tony Collins :

And I see your varied involvement over the years as a member of the Folkestone & District Local History Society.

Well done Ron!

Comments posted 16 May 2017 by Tony Collins :

So you must be the famous Ron Dutt, with your 2010 story and photo at "Memories of Cheriton Cottage & Horn Street School in the late 1930s and 1940s."

You looked good Ron!

My dad went to the school in the West Malling Village during 1968/9 and lived on King's Hill. Does anyone know what the name of the school was or where abouts it is now as he wants to go back and see where he used to go to school.

Comments posted 25 Dec 2018 by John Shears :

I lived in West Malling from 1958 to 1964. I recall that there were two Schools, one Primary School in Church Fields and one Junior School at The Meadow in West Malling.

I have Photos of WM juniors if you want, hope this will help you.

Comments posted 30 Jun 2018 by Kevin Butcher :


I went to school during those years in West Malling, you had the primary school near the church and then on to the infant school in Norman Road Cricket ground in those year you ask about.



Comments posted 16 Dec 2017 by Tessa :

There are two schools in WestMalling - there was the old school up by the Churchyard - still there but not a school and West Malling Primary down Norman Road that is still a primary School - if I remember rightly the head mistress of the School by the church was called Mrs Curzon but I can’t remember the head of the other School but one of the teachers was Miss Reed - hope this helps

Comments posted 6 Dec 2017 by Tony Collins :

82 years old Mrs. Shirley Fuller, nee-Goldsmith - who lived at 119 Norman Road at one time, and now Larkfield -travels to 'near Chatham' at present, to attend Age Concern.

Does anyone know if the West Malling Age Concern is overflowing with attendees - or Shirley won a scholarship to the Medway Towns area?

Thank you.

Comments posted 19 Sep 2016 by Denise Jones :

The infant school was behind St Mary's church and Junior School is down by Age Concern the Cricket Ground. They have just celebrated 60 years. It used to have old oast house in front of it. Hope this helps.

I was in the 1st West Malling boys brigade in the mid to late 60s. I was solo bugler in the band,and I seem to remember we won the North Kent battalion band competition on two occasions.

The band master was a Mr Hickmott and the captain was David Hollands. I would love to know if any one has any pictures of the company from those days as my photos were accidently destroyed. And has any one got any memories.


Comments posted 17 Feb 2019 by Jenna Elliott fka Bambi Barnes :

Looking for something else entirely I came across this site.

I feel very very emotional that even after all these years my brother Mickey is still remembered so fondly.

Derek Shears I remember you and your family as I spent a lot of time at your house. Your mum was lovely.

Mickey did the big drum in the band but the last thing I remember him doing was the baton and how good he was. I was only young but thought it very thrilling.

I was only just talking to my youngest daughter about Mickey's funeral and the all night vigil over the coffins in the church.

My sister Laura took all the photos and she doesn't talk to me anymore but if you come across her ask her about them.


Comments posted 26 Dec 2018 by Clive Robins :

Hello John Shears: You must be Dereks brother if I remember who lived opposite Michael Barnes. Derek & I spent a week up north. Gretna Green. Liverpool (The Cavern) & Manchester where we met Hughie Green. Kent Walton (the wrestling promoter) & the model to wear the first topless dress in England....good times wink wink. Michael & I were the first to join the 1st West Malling B/B, only the two of us turned up at the first meeting. Michael died at East Malling opposite Goldwells on his scooter with his girlfriend, collided with a bus & both died instantly. That's how I remember it anyway. Happy new year.

Comments posted 25 Dec 2018 by John Shears :

I was a member of the Boys Brigade in the 1960’s. I sadly recall the tragic death of Clive Beale and Mickey Barnes, tragically killed on a Scooter at Kings Hill when they collided with a Bedford Dormobile at Kings Hill, West Malling, both died instantly.

We sat in the church on an all night vigil to remember the two boys, so very sad, still remember both boys well, R.I.P.

Comments posted 1 Jul 2017 by Tony Collins :

Non-identical twins, Neil and Nigel Fuller:

Herewith, an early reminder about sending a birthday card to your Mum, Shirley (nee-Goldsmith), for September 28th.

Of course, she will be 82 years of age. She actually looks about 69, and men still battle to sit beside her at Age Concern.

Comments posted 17 May 2017 by Tony Collins :

Peter Hobden; Re: A past happening at the venue of the BB reunion.

During October 1889, an exhibition of touring fleas at the Bull Inn, Town Malling caused great mirth and amusement and attracted many inquisitive townsfolk.

The talented and highly respectable trained and educated troupe of fleas walked tight ropes, rode tricycles, pulled timber wagons and performed many other marvelous feats.

I'm feeling a bit itchy mentioning this.

Comments posted 7 May 2017 by Tony Collins :

Peter Hobden : So how did the Boys Brigade reunion go? I've been so looking forward to hearing about it!

Comments posted 20 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

Clive Robins : Yourself and the late Michael Barnes "were the first pair to join the good ole Boys Brigade." When was this? How old were you? What BB age groups were there then?

The great audience I mentioned, that unforgettable evening in 1954 at the Badminton Cinema, seemed to be mainly 9 and 10 years of age. Or maybe our 'humour' appealed to that age group, so they were the ones who were laughing so much. Us 'comedians' were 13 and 14 years of age.

Comments posted 10 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

Need some oldsters to help out on this. I've been asked to come up with some 'rough guess details' about the lady connected with running the Boys Brigade.

OK. Ms. Randall; late forties in age; lived in West Malling; jacket/skirt BB uniform type clothing; worked on Wrotham School accounts/secretarial activities; drove car. Was 1954 remember.

Comments posted 3 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

Clive Robins : Sounds like you were a BB old-timer? Was it a Miss or Mrs. R----- involved with running the Boys Brigade in 1954? In her day job she was sharing the headmaster's office at Wrotham Secondary Modern. The School's drama group put on a play that year, at the Badminton Cinema, which was attended by just boys of the Brigade.

I was in a 'comedy' sketch which opened proceedings. It was more or less ad-libbing about Badminton Cinema cleaning ladies putting on a film show for themselves. We were sort of dreading it, didn't expect to get a single laugh. But the boys were great, laughing non-stop - without a thought, we squeezed out our limited range of words to keep it going. Arguably my happiest school occasion. If you can remember being in the audience - thanks a lot!

Comments posted 14 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

Mid to late 60s. Hmm, so a couple of candidates in the Anchor Section, 5 to 8's maybe. Does anyone have memories of non-identical twins (born January 1961), Neil and Nigel Fuller? They were fully paid-up Union members of the Boy's Brigade. They married non-identical Kates - Neil in 1984 and Nigel 1983.

Any lurid details that can be dug up, will be most welcome. Thank you!

Comments posted 14 Jan 2017 by Peter Hobden :

Hello Kelvin, do you remember me and my brother Mick Hobden. Remember Mick played the cymbals in the band. If you are interested there is a bb reunion at the Bull public house West Malling on 21st Jan at 7.00 pm

Comments posted 25 Nov 2016 by Clive Robins :

Myself & sadly the deceased Michael Barnes were the first pair to join the good ole Boys Brigade. I can remember climbing in the back of a truck up Fartherwell Ave that took us to Tonbridge Rail station, then onto Difryn Ardudwy in North Wales by steam train for a camping week. It was orrible, spud bashing & parades is all l remember.

Mr Hollands was creepy but his wife was very nice. I got expelled from the brigade for stripping his moped down behind the Baptist church, he did not see the funny side of it. It was more fun than polishing the giant belt buckle & hat badge. Good times.

Comments posted 15 Sep 2016 by Pete :

Do you recall Ewart Austin? He was in the boys brigade and married a girl from the girls brigade called Nicky at West Malling chapel

Comments posted 13 Sep 2016 by Evelyn Church :

My brothers, Trevor and Dennis Payne were in the Boys Brigade at that time. Somewhere I've got a photo of one of them ready for a hike - I'll see if I can find it if it would be of any interest.

I know they went on a camp in Wales with the Boys Brigade and may have some memories of that.

I am trying to trace a hostel that my mother was placed in back in 1960-1961. She was living in Erith at the time but after the birth of her 5th child the family were made homeless and she was placed in a hostel (with the 5 children) in West Malling.

I remember stories that boys over the age of 12 were not allowed to stay at the hostel and neither were husbands. She said she had to leave the hostel daily and could return in the evenings. She remembers a communal laundry, bathroom and toilet and always said the place was filthy and that there were many downtrodden families there.

I am thinking this may have been the King Hill hostel and am looking for any pictures and information regarding this place or any other hostels for homeless families in that area which were around in 1960-61, any help would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks


Comments posted 26 Jan 2018 by Michael Howard :

From 1964 to 1966 I lived in the married quarters at RAF West Malling. I attended Clare Park sec mod and travelled to and from the school by bus. A comment from Sarah grabbed my attention in relation to a young girl who was run over and killed by a bus outside the hostel entrance. My recollection is that she ran out from behind the bus and was hit by another vehicle. I was on that bus and have never forgotten that incident.

Comments posted 8 Jun 2017 by Bob Donovan :

Our family also had the misfortune to be placed in the hostel at Kings Hill, and you are correct in that there was a large brick built Victorian building which I believe was once a workhouse and the Matrons name was Mrs Lynch.

We were originally placed in the flats in the workhouse building before being moved to one of the timber Nissan hut buildings.

There was also an old chapel/ Sunday school which all the children were expected to attend. I was 4/5 at the time and I am now 63 but remember it very well, unfortunately none of our family have any photos, we were probably too poor to afford one!

Comments posted 14 Jan 2017 by Mary Stewart :

That would have been King Hill. It had been a workhouse but was converted into temporary accommodation for mothers and children.. No Dads.... not heard of the 12 years for boys but possibly correct. It was only short term accommodation in wooded chalet style accommodation. The old workhouse was still there and was flats and the offices etc. All been gone for many years now. Wonder if some who now live there realise they live on a horrid cruel Victorian Workhouse....

Hope this helps a little...

Regards Mary

Comments posted 23 Nov 2016 by Sarah Darling :

When I was a child I lived in the hostel at King Hill Hostel in West Malling in 1964 - 1965. I have vivid memories of the place, its wooden huts, the freezing cold, the obvious poverty of all who lived there, my family included and certain incidents that occurred such as when one little girl had got run over by a bus just outside of the entrance. I remember my father visiting occasionally yet not staying. It isn't a place that warms my heart as I remember it but more a step back in time as if in a bygone generation.

Our hut was close to the chain link fence and felt as if it was out in a vast wilderness as nothing of civilization appeared to be nearby, our hut was shared with another man-less family. There are no external memories that I have of the place, no leaving it for any reason, no day trips out, no excursions, no bus trips anywhere and as my mother didn't drive (I'm not sure many mothers or indeed women drove at that time) it became a place of internment and existence but certainly not one of living life as one would choose - yet mother had to pay rent to stay!

It was a place where destitute women and their children survived (although suicides were reported as taking place there), without the support of their men or indeed of anyone. It was squalor, and play took place in the dirt as there certainly wasn't toys about, that was an unaffordable luxury. We slept in large metal beds that were quite some way off the floor, and having looked at the photos of when the site was an RAF camp, I'm convinced that the beds were left over as they are exactly as the ones we slept in. In summer the huts were too hot as many of the windows didn't open, in winter it was incredibly cold, I still remember how cold. There was no effective heating.

My mother had just lost her five year old son, and now had to manage the three remaining children and babies without her husband, my father. I've never lived in a prison for women and children - but I can't imagine it felt any different to King Hill Hostel.

Comments posted 5 Aug 2016 by Steve :

Wow Heather that took me back. I think the flats were for families and the huts were for single mothers. There was many of these Nissen huts across Kent, they were from the second world war where the army kept prisoners of war from Germany but when the war finished the army left and prisoners of war went home so then homeless families flocked to them as there was a shortage of council houses after the war. The council then charged them a small amount of rent rather than evict them

There was one in Matfield called Sandhole camp.

Heather have you tried 192 to look for your mum?

Comments posted 3 Aug 2016 by Angie :

Hi Heather, Thank you for the picture and for the information you give. I am sorry to hear about your Mother.

I am not sure that this picture is the same place that my mum stayed as she described a brick building, she said families had a small wood burning stove in their rooms and that the place was a hovel.

I realise she wouldn't have been there long, its just a shame that there is so little information on the hostel.

Comments posted 28 Jul 2016 by Heather Murphy :

Hi Angie

I found a photo of the hostel of the old army base in west malling, I wonder if it was your mum in the same block as me. Did you have a brother about 10 at the time the mum was having her fifth baby. I used to help out and baby sit. My mum was called Dilys Donnelly, I hope this might help you. I been looking at all the places I live as a child to show my grandchildren


Homeless hostel in the early sixties
Homeless hostel in the early sixties

Comments posted 28 Jul 2016 by Heather Murphy :

Hi I was at a homeless hostel back in 1961- 62 at West Malling. I was 11 years old, my sister was a baby, it was an old army base. It was nice, the best hostel I been in, there was three families in our block we had two bedrooms and a living room, I remember we had to cook on a fire you could put pots and pans on it, there was a other room which we all shared to wash up and to do your washing, then there was bathrooms and toilets.

I remember a man used to come on a Tuesday with a big van you could buy all you food for the week that was the day mums got their child benefit you could give him the coupon, there was no shops we was in the middle of nowhere. In our block there was a lady with a baby and a family of 4 or 5. I remember to go to the village was about 3 miles to walk,to go and watch a movie it was in a church hall, I did not go to school as you could only be there for months you would go in to care if you had not found a place to live, we went to another hostel in London called Kingsmead at Chelsea for 3 months. There was about 10 family's shared a big room we all had to sleep there it was like a big hospital ward, then me and my sister went in to care children home called Shirley Oaks at Croydon.

Then that's another story in itself. My name is Heather, my mum went missing in 1985 and still not found her, she would be 90 now it was very hard in that time.

Comments posted 27 Jul 2016 by Angie :

This message is for Carol who kindly gave me more idea of the King hill hostel.

Firstly thank you very much for that Carol, is it you that came across the name Swanson?

Comments posted 26 Jul 2016 by Carol :

Hi, I remember four blocks of black shed like places and two newer blocks. The children used to come to our school in West Malling. One of my friends lived in one of the new blocks until the family moved to London. The flats were brick built and stood behind the wooden shed places. I remember the shed like were very long. I lived in Fartherwell Avenue, West Malling.

Comments posted 25 Jul 2016 by Angie :

Hi there Hill, wondering now who your friend is? I have also researched the name Beer, Julia Ann Beer was the one I was interested in, can you ask if this rings any bells. Also it would be fantastic if you could ask her if it would be OK for me to contact her directly.

It was indeed Kidd and Swanson I would love to know any information her research has brought up,but am in need of a definite year that my mum was in West Malling.

So excited now, thank you so much for your help with this.


Comments posted 22 Jul 2016 by Hill :

Sorry I have been a long time replying, it is so hectic with work etc. My friend is researching her family tree and she came across the name Swanson so asked me to ask if the was a William and Elaine Swanson. I think she said their dad's name was William Swanson and his wife was a Kidd but they were a London family. She is actually researching the name Beer. I doubt if they were related to your Swansons as they had no links to around here in West Malling.

Comments posted 14 Jul 2016 by Angela :

Hi Hill

Just found out that yes Both Elaine and William were there. How did you know?

Comments posted 14 Jul 2016 by Angela :

There was an Elaine and I think William

Comments posted 13 Jul 2016 by Angela :

Re Swanson family, just wondering who you are, was you living there at some point or are you researching.

Comments posted 13 Jul 2016 by Angela :

There may have been, couldn't say for sure, why do you ask?

Comments posted 12 Jul 2016 by Hill :

Was there an Elaine Swanson and a William Swanson living there ?

Comments posted 11 Jul 2016 by Angela :

Mum's name would have been Swanson but she doesn't remember the names of any of the other families.

Comments posted 8 Jul 2016 by Hill :

What was your mum's surname? Does she recall the Franks family up there?

Comments posted 7 Jul 2016 by Angela :

Thank you for your answers. My Mum would have been there sometime between 1960 and 1962.

She had five children and may well have been pregnant with me at the time. Mum is now 89 years old and is a little confused about the place as she moved around a lot over the years. She would have had three boys and two girls ranging in age from 10 years down to maybe a few months.

The thing is she keeps saying it was a building, not Nissan huts and says she remembers wooden barrels with flowers in, this doesn't sound like the sort of place that would have flower decoration.

Anyway, I wanted to find out if the children had to attend school in that area or if there was a type of school within the hostel that they attended. I would really appreciate an idea of where this place was exactly as I drove to Kings Hill last weekend and was greeted by a mass of brand new houses and just the old RAF buildings. I have searched for pictures on the net to jog Mums memory, but there isn't much on the King Hill Hostel.

When you say there were flats as well, where these temporary too, was it a whole flat? Mum describes a room which sounds a bit like a bedsit.

Comments posted 7 Jul 2016 by Steve :

The Flishers, the Spittlehouse and the Shilling families were living up there

Comments posted 7 Jul 2016 by Steve :

YES that was king hill hostel. One resident said it was like a concentration camp. What year was your mum up there? They were mainly Nissan huts, long tunnel like huts with cement floors. I don't think they had hot water or even electric. They all shared the toilet and washing facilities. She may have been in the actual hostel though. There were flats up there as well. Someone I knew back in 1975 said she saw stealing, lying, fighting, and a suicide during her time there.


My husband has memories of staying in West Malling in what he describes as Anderson Air Raid shelters in 1966 or 1967. He was only 4 at the time so can't remember much but remembers going to the school and walking over cattle grates to get to it. The shelter has shared facilities as his parents told him this but nothing else. As they are now both passed away he is looking for answers as this is a chunk of his life he cannot get answers for. If anyone has any answers or can point us in the right direction it would be a great help so thank you.

Comments posted 2 Aug 2016 by Caroline Rivers :

Hi, I just stumbled upon this site while doing some research into King Hill Hostel, I lived there sometime between 1966/67 with my mum, brother and two sisters, I don't think husbands were allowed to live there, but remember seeing my dad's scooter inside the building, I don't know if it was inside for safety reasons though....or if he secretly stayed overnight. My dad had left the RAF and we were evicted from the house where he was based in Wiltshire and after staying with relatives for a short time, we ended up in the hostel.

I'm sure the building we were in was a brick building, although I do remember wooden buildings being there too. I remember running out eagerly one evening (I think it might have been bonfire night) to buy toffee apples from the ice cream man, there were upright poles outside the building and someone had tied wire across two of them outside the door and I ran straight into the wire which gave me a nasty red welt across my throat.

My brother went to Clare Park School, one of my sisters and I went to a school near the church and I went on to the school near the cricket field. I remember other children and women being at the hostel, but sadly, not names. It's been so good to read of other peoples memories. Caroline.

I am researching my family history. My father, Harry Bailey, married local girl Caroline Saunders in 1915. She was a domestic servant and he was a chauffeur working for Sydney Richardson Christie-Miller of Britwell Court, Burnham, Bucks.

I assume that the couple met when Harry drove his employer to Malling to stay with Caroline's employer. Does anyone know the names of landowners or landed gentry in the area at that time, or where I can find out?

Comments posted 7 Dec 2016 by Roy Bailey :

Thank you for your help, Robert. I have a certified copy of the marriage certificate which shows that Harry and Caroline were married at the Register Office in Malling on 17 Feb 1915. She was a General Domestic Servant aged 27 and living at 14 Churchfields, West Malling. Her father, who was deceased, was Thomas Saunders, a bricklayer's labourer.

Caroline is also listed in the 1901 census as living at the Post Office, Plaxtol.

Comments posted 7 Dec 2016 by Robert Lucas :

Hello again

I have looked through my CD copy of the West Malling 1911 census to see if Caroline Saunders was listed. Unfortunately she is not, so she may have moved into the area after the census or did not actually live in West Malling. As she was not married here, the latter seems more likely. I have found on some 'Caroline Saunders' living in nearby villages at that time, but none appear to be young and single. They nearly all appear to be more elderly married ladies.

The West Malling census does though list all the households, large & small, so this may help you pin point some well to do house holds where servants were employed.

Sorry I cannot help any further.

Regards, Robert Lucas.

Comments posted 6 Dec 2016 by Robert Lucas :

Hello Roy. Your post doesn't really indicate where in the Malling area your parents married. I've looked through the West Malling Parish Register for 1915 and they are not listed in the register for the parish church of St Mary the Virgin.

I can see on though they indeed did marry in the Malling Registration District, which comprises of several parishes, but evidently not in West Malling.

Do you have a copy of their marriage certificate, which may list your father's occupation / employer?

If you do not have a copy, I can guide you through the procedure if required.

Regards, Robert Lucas


My name is John Terry and I have been researching for some time my ancestry tree. Both my father's family and some of my mother's are former residents of West Malling and Birling. On the 1851 census my Great Grandfather Thomas Terry was living at 51 Back Street as I read it, in West Malling. Does anybody remember if such a street existed in West Malling or am I reading the census wrong. Be very grateful for any help.

Thanks in advance


Comments posted 29 Dec 2018 by Keith Crittenden :

I lived in Back Street, West Malling for the first 10 years of my life from 1939. My 3 times g.grandfather was William Usmar, a watchmaker, born 1813-1879 he married Bridget Terry from Ditton 1811 - 1890 I believe she was a milliner, The marriage certificate shows her father as John Terry, a Farmer. I wonder if this may be a connection. I used to go to Leybourne school with a lad whose father was Ron Terry of Castle Farm , Leybourne.

Comments posted 26 Nov 2016 by Barbara :

Thank you John for placing this post as I too am researching my family from West Malling who also lived in Back Street in 1871 and was wondering the exact thing - Where was Back Street, but the replies to your post have answered my question. Good old google maps is getting used constantly at my house (in New Zealand). What did we do before Google??

Kind regards,


Comments posted 18 Jul 2016 by Ann Turner :

I am 71 years of age and have lived in West Malling all my life.

Back street as it was known then, ran parallel behind the high street. It is now called King Street, although I still call it Back Street.

Obviously it has changed over the years, and many run down cottages have been pulled down and replaced with a block of flats.

There was a sort of square witch I particularly remember, where every year everyone would collect their rubbish and have a massive bonfire night on the 5th November.

Having said that, quite a lot of "Back Street" remains the same with old renovated properties remaining.

Comments posted 28 Jun 2016 by West Malling Resident :

I think the Terry family was from Addington, I recall Joan Terry. Yes King Street was originally Back Street. It was a slum area and the cottages were pulled down in the late 1950s

Comments posted 28 Jun 2016 by John :


Thanks for the information, really interesting, I have no Reuben in my family that I am aware of however does not mean they are not related, the family tree is a long slow process but so interesting. I have many family members from West Malling and Birling on both my mum and dads sides so the hunt goes on. I will use the information you gave me to see if I can find some historic photos of the area. Again thank you for the information.



Comments posted 27 Jun 2016 by Mat :

Yes it existed. It is now King Street, about that time there was a murder around there. Actually there was two murders around there regarding the Atkins family. One was very well known, he murdered a police officer called Israel May from Snodland. My family the Underhills came from there. The homes were hovels, tumbled down old cottages with no electric or hot water. It was a slum area where crime was high.

Do you know the area well? The only Terry I knew of was Rueban and Ivy Terry from West Malling

My Great Grandmother Mary Ann Day was born in the workhouse in 1839, Mother Eliza Day. I know the workhouse no longer exists but wondered if anyone has any information. I have information about my Gt. Grandmother but haven't been able to find her mother. Mary Ann Day was brought up as a ' Nurse Child ' by a couple in Shipbourne.

Comments posted 23 Jun 2016 by John Terry :


Do not know much about the workhouse but have just discovered the 1881 census for West Malling where my great great grandfather comes up as an inmate at the age of 67, he is listed as a shoemaker and widowed, Our family come from West Malling. Not sure if this helps.



I have lived in KRW for over 20 years but know nothing of its history other than it was originally a woodland. Can anyone help?

Comments posted 8 Aug 2016 by Ros :

They were origionally occupied by army staff in WW2 I believe. Then Leybourne Grange bought them at some point before the 70's ( I can't remember any further back from that). I know I stayed in one for a week with friends whilst our house in Park Road Leybourne was being treated for woodworm. As everything the site was sold to developers early eighties at a guess. Hope this helps.

According to the 1939 Register, a relation of mine appears to have been living here. She was a poor widowed charwoman from Southwark, so I am wondering, if this was her, what type of accommodation this was and why she would have been there. Does anyone know more about Hermitage Farm Huts, please?

I am looking for information about any police family living in the area who had a daughter born perhaps between 1958 and 1961. My family are from West Malling. I lived in Leybourne in the 1960s and East Malling in the 1970s and with my Grandmother Grace Bates again in the 1980s.

Comments posted 6 Jun 2016 by S G B :

Thank you Peter - this is possiby a further connection - the Hamhill (Lower Briling) Bates were Thomas Bates and his children Sydney (later builder of Addington) Harold (a carpenter but died as a young man) Owen Joseph - also carpenter and latterly builder of Leybourne) the children of Harold continues to live at Ham Hill.

Grace- was surname Taylor (her Mother of the Usmar family)variously over approx 100 years watchmakers/clockmakers and fruiterers in King street and High street.

It would be interesting to know of a connection with the other Snodland Bates.

In my grand fathers grandfathers generation - they lived for a time at Fatherwell of West Malling and his grandmother came fromm Ryarsh - I think I know little more than this but it does appear Thomas came from West Malling. I have family tree from another cousin with some Bates members I will check it up if you are interested

Regarding the East Malling Bates - they are my great grandfather Thomas cousin's family

Comments posted 3 Jun 2016 by Peter :

Was that Charles and Grace Bates formerly Wenham ?

Comments posted 3 Jun 2016 by Peter :

We were related to Arthur Bates, who had sons Dennis Bates and Donald Bates. They lived in Snodland but were related to the West Malling Bates family. If you go back far enough I think most people who have the same surname are related as people did not move out of their area much in those days and tended to marry local

Comments posted 2 Jun 2016 by S Bates :

Yes..I knew Ken, Freda and her sister whose name I am trying to remember. They are I think my great grandfather's brother's family. Freda attended St James East Malling when I was also there, and Michael in Mill street was only a little older. I think they have moved long since. Some of the Bates of the generation that gave rise to both the East Malling and the Hamhill/Leybourne families lived near Fatherwell in the late 1800s so my grandfather told me, but I think there may be an odd mystery there as the census records are a little inconclusive... but perhaps you may know more clearly of these things. I do not know Kate or the Sutton though.

Comments posted 31 May 2016 by West Malling resident :

Did you know Ken Bates from Mill Street in East Malling? And Kate Bates who was the mother to a lot of the Sutton family?

Are you from these families?

Hello, would anyone have any insight into the history of "White Ladies" house, Teston Road, Offham?

I live in West Malling & recently discovered this beautiful old house whilst out dog walking...sadly it is now abandoned due to leaking gas from the quarry but have not been able to find anything out about the history of the house or who built it and for what purpose and who lived there.

All I know is it was built in 1914, so if anyone could give some insight that would be greatly appreciated.

Comments posted 20 May 2016 by Tim Baldock :

White Ladies.....Very large Mink Farm....many escaped...still live around Offham

I am trying to locate this place to help a friend with their family history research. I am wondering if it has been renamed as Wickens Place. If anyone can help with my query I would be most grateful. Thanks Carole

Comments posted 22 May 2019 by Ray Hall :

Brian, I see in the 1939 register that Ada Driver lived in no. 11 along with young Arthur. My grandmother Florrie Hall lived in no. 9. I have a photo of the cottages after the bombing in Nov 1940. Would love to see a photo of the cottages prior to the bombing if you find one.

Comments posted 21 May 2019 by Brian Driver :

I believe my grandmother (Ada Driver) died in the bombings suffered there in November 1940, I’m researching my dads (Edward John Driver) side of the family and very interested in any information or pictures of their home or mother as they are very limited.

Thanks In Anticipation

Brian Driver

Comments posted 4 Sep 2016 by Ray Hall :

My grandmother Florrie Hall was killed by a bomb in Wickens Row Nov 1940. Any information and photos would be appreciated.

There is an earlier enquiry from my sister Christine on this site in 2009

Comments posted 21 Jul 2016 by Carole Nunn :

Thank you to everyone who replied to my query. I have located Wickens Row/Place and I was able to take friends from Canada to see their ancestor's birth place. Needless to say they were delighted to add to their family history data. Good wishes Carole

Comments posted 20 Jul 2016 by Sooz Sowery :

Hi my nan lived at Wickens Row. She was born 1926. Her parents were Edward and Agnes Hodge. Loved hearing stories as a kid, wish I had written them all down x

Comments posted 18 May 2016 by Carole :

Thank you for replying to my query about Wickens Row. It was the Filmer family c1911 who lived there and other members of the family lived at Ham Hill, Birling and East Sutton.

Good wishes Carole

Comments posted 18 May 2016 by Steve Underhill :

Yes it is the same place. It has been called Wickens Place for years though. It was even called that when the Mcdowells lived there, they were sort of step cousins to us. Their gran Alice married George Underhill. What family are you researching?

Comments posted 16 May 2016 by Matt :

I had a cousin there called joan McDowell. She was born joan newman in king square , west malling and she lived there with her husband called Stanley McDowell. Next door was mildred Hyde, the mother of alan hyde who married my other cousin called Pamela davies. I think it was just off the high street West Malling

I am having difficulty finding any information or history of Malling House, Town Hill, West Malling.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank You

John Boness

Comments posted 29 Aug 2016 by Zita Williams :


I'm having trouble too. From 1981-1984 I was one of the "naughty" girls that were sent to board at the school as it was then. I think it ceased as a school approx 1986, but I can find no records and or photographs of that time.

I actually loved that school the building itself was magnificent

Comments posted 20 May 2016 by Sam Harnden :

Good afternoon.

I currently work in Malling House and we have a small amount of history on the property. Unfortunately this is in PDF format and as such I am unable to copy it here, however if you are local please feel free to come to the rear entrance and buzz for Aston Scott Insurance and ask for Sam and I will bring you a copy up. Alternatively drop me an email (rustyreptile at gmail dot com) and I will forward you a copy.

Kind Regards

Malling House History - 1Malling House History - 2Malling House History - 3Malling House History - 4Malling House History - 5Malling House History - 6Malling House History - 7Malling House History - 8

Greetings from New Zealand,

I am in the process of researching my family history and I had hoped I would find some relevant information on the Austin family who lived in West Malling on 4, Police Station Road. Sadly, I have not found anything to help with my research and wondered if you were able to advise where might be a good place to look online.

My great grandmother Winifred Emily Austin and her twelve siblings lived in West Malling at one time and it has said her brothers were in the newspaper for all eight of them returning home safely after World War 1.

Any and all help would be much appreciated.


Comments posted 25 Nov 2018 by Mike Austin :

Hi Clive. Which brother would that be? Would you like a copy of the letter from the King to great grandfather Thomas Austin?

Comments posted 25 Nov 2018 by Clive Austin :

Hi my grandfather was one of the eight brothers who returned from World War one.

Comments posted 20 Oct 2018 by Leah Cushen :

Hi Mike

I too am on Ancestry but for some reason can not find your user name in search. Maybe you look for me-Leah Cushen :) Ps my email address is

Comments posted 20 Oct 2018 by Mike Austin :


Yes, I would be happy to send a copy. You may also like to see my tree on You can sign up for a free account and ask for access. My user name is TowerhouseMike.

Comments posted 20 Oct 2018 by Leah Cushen :

Hi Mike,

I’m sorry to hear of your father’s passing.

I appreciate you sharing all this wonderful family history with me!! I know so very little and researching from half way across the world makes it all that much more difficult. I had heard about the King’s letter but could not find any reference to it in the newspapers. It is quite very exciting. Would you mind sharing a scanned copy of the letter or photo of it? I could give you my email address. Many thanks Leah

Comments posted 20 Oct 2018 by Mike Austin :

Leah - I don't know if you are still following this thread.

Just a bit more information about 4 Police Station Road. This is an end-of-terrace house with a largish wooden structure to the side (see Google Street View). It was therefore a bit bigger than the other houses in the terrace.

Winifred Emily Fowler (nee Austin) was living there with seven of her thirteen siblings on the 1911 census and with her husband William Alfred Fowler and daughter Joan on the 1939 census. I don't know about the intervening years.

My father, John Trevor Austin, was born on 27 June 1927 in Greenwich. His parents Bertie and Frances returned a few days afterwards to stay at 4 Police Station Road with Winny. They stayed in the attic. A year or so later, they moved into number 3, which was next door.

Note that the numbering of this terrace has changed since those days. Today, coming from Swan Street, they are numbered 2, 4, 6, 8. In the old censuses they were numbered 1, 2, 3, 4.

Comments posted 17 Oct 2018 by John Austin :

In reply to your request Mike; im sorry to hear of your sad loss; that is right we moved in 4 police station road 1937 until 1947 before then Doreen and myself was born at Eden farm West Malling; then we moved to Fatherwell avenue, Doreen and myself did live with our mum and dad at police station road.

My dad was called up in 1939 in the RAF so in that time we didn't see a lot of him. I have been looking for my dads date of birth for 7 years and cant find it anywere if u could help me, I have payed a lot of money to look for it and got nowhere .

We are family your granddad and my granddad are brothers ALFRED JAMES AUSTIN if you wish to e-mail me im Johns wife Sandra.

Doreen and myself remember many happy years at police station road. im looking forward to hearing from you soon. John

Comments posted 14 Oct 2018 by Mike Austin :

John, re your post on 13/10/18.

I presume your father was Alfred Augustus Austin (1901-1962) and your mother was Emily Rosina Bourner (1909-1998), and you were born in 1935. The 1939 Census shows Alfred and Emily living at 4 Prospect Place - just the two of them.

On the previous page of the 1939 Census, my father John Trevor Austin (1927-2018) is living at 3 Police Station Road with father Bertie Matthews Austin (1897-1954) and mother Frances Ada Eliza Silver (1903-1971). On the same page, William Alfred Fowler and Winifred Emily Austin are living next door at 4 Police Station Road. Winifred was Bertie's sister.

When did you live at 4 Police Station Road? Where were you and sister Doreen in 1939?

Comments posted 13 Oct 2018 by John Austin :

My name is John Austin and my sister Doreen Austen we lived at that address.

Comments posted 14 Jan 2018 by Mike Austin :

I have quite a comprehensive tree of the Austin family of West Malling on I see my cousin Helen Nash (nee Dawson) has also posted here. I saw her at my father's funeral at West Malling on 21 December 2017. John Trevor Austin (1927-2017), my father, was the first son of Bertie Matthews Austin (1897-1954) and Frances Ada Eliza Silver (1903-1971).

I have a copy of a letter written on behalf of the king dated 1st February 1915 commending Thomas Austin (1857-1920) on having five sons and three sons-in-law serving their country during the First World War.

Your great grandmother, Winifred Emily Austin (1895-1973), married William Alfred Fowler (1891-1965).

Comments posted 10 Jul 2017 by Helen Nash :

I've never been in this site before but was reading through as I used to live in West Malling. My grandmother's name was Austin and Lived in police station road. Was married to William who did have siblings who all survived WW1. My mother is an Austin. When I was a child I had an "auntie Win" who was not actually an aunt but a relative I think of my grandfather.

Comments posted 9 Apr 2017 by Mark Owen :

Hi.My maternal Grandmother's name was Winifred Austin and she was married to Allan (Jack) Spain. They lived in Woodgate Road,Ryarsh. They separated in the 30s I believe, having had several children (Barbara,Irene (Mum) Gill,Vera and Terry.The Spain's were a big family in the area.

My mother went to live with my Great Grandmother Eliza and Grandad Jimmy Buggs,and their daughter Gladys in Ryarsh Terrace. I guess this might be the Austin family you are looking for- but I'm not 100% sure

Comments posted 18 Nov 2016 by Richard :

Another piece of info for S Carlton.

Sorry I don't come onto this site very often and have just read your article of 16 July. In this you mention William and Mabel West. They had two children John and Patricia. Actually he was Alfred William one of my Dad's brothers and therefore my uncle. He and Mabel lived at The Laurels in Norman Road couple of houses along from Blenheim House where my grandfather Alfred Thomas lived and in fact where I was born! William and Hilda were my parents and soon after my birth moved to Alma Road.

In another post you mentioned Roy Crowhurst. He was Eric Roy if my memory serves me correctly and as you say was a teacher at Clare Park, (now Malling School)was a science teacher and sure you will know at some stage his sister attended the school while he was teaching there, can't recall her name. He probably started there about 1963 as he wasn't there when I started in 1960.

Just for your interest my Dad's other siblings were Arthur Gordon, known as Joe, Cecil Sydney and Nora. Joe married a woman first name Ivy and they had one son Robert. Cecil's wife worked at Leybourne Grange as did Cecil and my father plus me for a time! They didn't have children. Nora married Jack Ashdown and they had two boys Brian and Norman and two girls Jean and Ann.

Incidentally I can find two Isaac's in the tree passed to me by a Liz West. one born 1774 which is as far as her records went back and the other being his son born 1803 who is shown as marrying Frances Randal, they had a daughter Mary (1836?). This goes on to show Mary had a son William who married Mary Waghorne who had seven children including my grandfather.

Hope this is of interest if you didn't already have this info.

Comments posted 16 Jul 2016 by S Carlton :

Yes I think so. Do the names William and Mabel West who lived at west malling mean anything to you? They married in 1937, and there was also William and Hilda west from west malling?

Did your granddad have relatives Henry West, Jane West, Ernest, Florence, John, and Edwin. if so then yes. Also did you know a lot of the West family become the whole Sutton family / did you know the Crowhurst family from west malling as well? They all came from West family.

Other names we are related to include Flisher, Kistner, Collision, Wooden and Beal and of course the Austin family.

We all originate from two people Issac West and Mary Webley

Comments posted 8 Jul 2016 by Richard :

Hi, this is directed to S Carlton. I am a West originally from West Malling. I note your comment about Ewart Austin and am sure you will know he had a sister Pamela who last I knew was in the Deal/Dover area. I don't have access to my family records at the moment however my grandfather was Alfred Thomas West, was he related to your Isaac? I obtained a great deal of family detail from another West family member which if it is of any interest to you I can let you have it.

Comments posted 19 Apr 2016 by Matt :

if you know the actual date of any newspaper article then you can go to the archive of the Kent Messenger. They have the archives going back to 1800

Comments posted 14 Apr 2016 by Leah :

Yes, the information I have found has both the Austin and Austen spelling variations. I have yet to start searching the Wooding and West families. At the moment I am trying to find as much information (including newspaper articles/photographs etc) of the Austin family. I am aware that there were Austins in West Malling and Snodland but not in East Malling. Are you on Ancestry? I can be contacted directly there. I would love to hear more about the Austin family.

Comments posted 14 Apr 2016 by S Carlton :

William had a son called Cyril Austin who was born in 1904. He had a son called Norman Austin born in 1927. He married a German woman and they had son Ewart. Ewart married Nicilca Carlton in 1975

Comments posted 12 Apr 2016 by S Carlton :

I have seen pictures of New Zealand and it looks beautiful . Yes I descended from the same ancestors. There are still Austen in West Malling to this day. Have you found the Wooding family? They would be related to you and some of them are still in nearby East Malling. On the West/Sutton side if you go to ancestry site and put the name Isaac West or Mary Webley and make the search in Kent, England then it should show you lots of leaves. Look for my descendant Emily Rhoda West.

Can I ask the further back you have gone on the Austin side was it spelled Austin or Austen?

Comments posted 11 Apr 2016 by Leah Cushen :

Thanks so much S Carlton for responding to my query. I would very much appreciate your help :) As you can imagine it is very difficult researching from the other side of the world and you can only do so much online. Oh how I wish I could hop on a plane and come and visit West Malling. My husband jokes I would spend most of my time in the local library/research centre and cemetery.

Ps Are we related? Do you know of any other Austen/Austin descendants

Comments posted 6 Apr 2016 by S Carlton :

I believe the family you are talking about is that of Winifred Austin born in 1895 who had siblings William, Alfred, Ronald, Edith, Minnie , Maud, George, Frederick and Agnes. They had parent Thomas Austen and mother Frances Wooding.

His father was James Austen but I am confused because they spelled it Austen sometimes and then Austin on other occassions, which makes it difficult to establish the right family. And his mother was Frances West.

The whole West family originated from Birling near West Malling. We all descended from Isaac West and Mary Webley. The West family are still around West Malling to this day and some became the whole Sutton family.

Our old teacher Mr Roy Crowhurst who taught at Malling school for many years was originally from the West family. I can email my mate who comes on here about them if you want to know more.

I hope at least some of that was helpful

I am researching the life of a woman who was a foundling. Her name was Mercy Draper. She spent many years in Dr. Perfect's Madhouse in West Malling. I should be grateful for any information that might be available about Mercy Draper herself, and about Dr. Perfect and his Madhouse. Mercy Draper was resident there in the late eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries.

I would be happy to come to West Malling to look at any buildings, sites, etc. which might be to do with either Mercy Draper or Dr. Perfect.

Thank you, Barbara Prynn

Comments posted 24 Mar 2016 by Ron Martin :

Dear Barbara

We have recently established that Dr.Perfect's asylum was in Swan Street, West Malling but as yet we have been unable to pintpoint the exact location. He did have a house in the High Street from 1777 where a blue plaque has been erected. The asylum would still have been in Swan Street in 1818, run by William Prefect's son George, when Mercy died, aged 61 and was buried at West Malling Church. The asylum was moved to Malling Place about 1820.

There is an excellent book about Dr. William Perfect "An 19th Century Mad-Doctor" by Shirley Burgoyne Black (ISBN 0 9507334 7 4) which you might find interesting.

I have mounted a very small photographic and text exhibition at The Twitch Inn about Malling Asylum, see the Malling Society Web site ( for location and opening times.

If there is any further information I can help you with please e-mail me at

Ron Martin

Researcher for the Malling Society.

A cousin of my husband Keith Wallis is doing a family history and we are trying to find out where the Cottage Home was in West Malling as my husband's mother and her sisters Lucy, Winifred and Rose Growns went into the home after their father died. Lucy married Bob Wallis and lived in Chuchfields.

We would be grateful if anyone knows where the home was would let us know.

Thank you, Diana Wallis

Comments posted 18 Nov 2016 by Richard :

Ron I think you would be correct in your assumption the Cottage Home being demolished when Woodlands Close was constructed. Certainly wasn't a gap in the houses when I lived in Alma Road 1948/1971 and further knowledge up to 1984!

Comments posted 24 Mar 2016 by Diana Wallis :

Dear Ron

Thank you so much for your information on the Cottage Home, which we have found very useful.


Diana & Keith

Comments posted 24 Mar 2016 by Ron Martin :

Dear Diana

The Cottage Home was situated in Alma Road. It was established between 1901 and 1911 by the Kent County Council and there are records of it at the Kent History and Library Centre.

The Cottage Home ceased to exist in 1948 when KCC converted it into two staff houses. These houses were probably demolished when the entrance to Woodlands Close was constructed.

Ron Martin

Researcher for the Malling Society

Does any one have information about Molly Bates who worked at Chimneys, Leybourne.

She had a daughter Pamela and a son David.

Pamela married Tony Taylor who worked for Kimberley Clark and they had 2 sons, Byron and ?

Comments posted 6 Jun 2016 by SGB :

Pam was seen by my aunt some years back living locally. I am happy for the correspondent to have my email address

Comments posted 1 Jun 2016 by Vanessa Sharp :

Thank you. If you have any further details, where they are now, what they are doing, BMD etc I would appreciate your help

Comments posted 30 May 2016 by Stuart Bates :

PS forgot to say my aunt knows more about Aunt Molly .. I remember her quite well myself but not sure exactly how we are related. . I can ask for more info if you need.

Comments posted 30 May 2016 by Stuart Bates :

Indeed Byron and Mark were children of my aunt (a distant cousin of some sort) Pam they lived with her mum Molly Bates in Rectory Lane, Leybourne in the 60s and 70s. Byron and Mark went to Leybourne cof e primary. I was talking with my aunt (now 83) about them earlier this month.

I am looking for anyone who knows the names of families of West Malling policemen with a daughter born between 1957 and 1960.

Comments posted 16 Mar 2016 by West Malling Resident :

It was Mark They were part of the Chambers family. It was Joseph and Ivy Bates nee Chambers. They had Pamela and David. Pam married Tony Taylor and had Bryon and Mark

I am trying to trace my grandmother's family history. I have found her in the 1881 census at the Union Workhouse in Malling aged 7 weeks. There is also a Francis Allchin aged 1 year (I presume her sister) and Elizabeth Allchin aged 24 whom I think must be the mother. There is a death certificate for Elizabeth who died on 23 June 1883 at the Union Workhouse age 26 from an abscess of the hip joint. I have also found an entry in the 1861 census for Elizabeth Allchin age 4 shown as grand daughter to Joseph and Elizabeth Norris living in Back Street, West Malling. This is as far as I go.

Any Allchins out there that can assist going further back?

Comments posted 15 Feb 2016 by Steve :

Have you read the comments about the Allchin family on here ?

Comments posted 14 Feb 2016 by Ron Aitken-Smith :

Hi Helen

Arthur Aitken-Smith was my uncle, a younger brother of my father Charles. He married Rose Lucioni (her name was actually Edith Rose)in Greenwich in 1941. Arthur died in 1995 and Rose in 2003. (They had one son Peter.) I would imagine this would make us 2nd cousins by marriage. If you require any more information on the Aitken-Smith family just let me know.



Comments posted 13 Feb 2016 by Helen Finch :

I was just looking for my relative who is a Lucioni and clicked on this link to find you are an Aitken-Smith. My aunt (my mum's older sister) was Rose Lucioni who was married to Arthur Aitken-Smith and he didn't know much about his family. We must be connected through this marriage. Look forward to hearing from you.


Hi, I wonder if anyone knows how to find patient records for those that lived at Leybourne in the 1930's. I am trying to trace my grandad's family, and I believe that his mother was a "fallen woman" that was housed there. From his description, and place names I am quite sure that this is the right place!! Many thanks.

Comments posted 19 Feb 2016 by Pete :

and Kate Bates was the mother to the Sutton family . She married William Sutton and had Michael, Chad, etc. they lived West Malling. Michael married Peggy Barrow and had Lee, Trina and Janine.

Comments posted 19 Feb 2016 by Pete :

We was related to the Bates family from Snodland. The was also Bates up at mill street in east malling. He was a taxi driver /. The Bates at Snodland was Ivy Arthur Bates and their sons Donald and Dennis Bates

Comments posted 18 Feb 2016 by Vanessa :

My grandmother was a Bates and lived in Mereworth.

The Bates family had associations with East Malling West Malling and Mereworth

Comments posted 31 Jan 2016 by Denise :

Leybourne Grange was not only a Mental Institution it was also for young girls and unmarried mums who were expecting.

Comments posted 29 Jan 2016 by Lucy :

Thank you so much for looking into that for me. My granddad is adamant that her name was that (but he's going to dig out his birth certificate to check. She would not have been born there, I would hope she didn't die there too so maybe she's not on birth/death records? But she did have a son there, who I believe was born there (as he wasn't well), his name was Charlie Ball (or so we think)!

Comments posted 27 Jan 2016 by P Carlton :

She would have been mentally impaired to be at the Grange for that time. Where did you get the fallen woman from? you sure it was Ball and not Bull. ? I did some research for you and cannot find any Elizabeth Daisy Ball birth or death

Comments posted 25 Jan 2016 by Lucy :

Hi. She may well have been "mentally ill", her youngest son Charlie was according to my grandad quite physically handicapped/deformed and lived there with her. Unfortunately I have very little information as I don't think my grandad knows much about her (as he was fostered out in Bath), she was incredibly tall and was possibly from Croydon (he mentioned Croydon)

Comments posted 25 Jan 2016 by S and P Carlton :

Leybourne grange was not a home where fallen women or prostitutes would be. It was a mental institution for mentally handicapped people or people with severe mental health problems for example, suicidal people or bipolar etc

Sadly men took advantage of some of these mentally handicapped ladies and continuously got them pregnant whenever they were let out for weekends. Was Ball her maiden name? Was she born in Kent or London ?. The Balls we know of are from romany background

Comments posted 22 Jan 2016 by Lucy :

The only thing I know is that her name was Elizabeth Daisy Ball, she had 3 sons: one I don't know the name of, the second was John (William) and the third was Charlie (who apparently had a hunch or a limp or something). She was definitely still there in 1948 (when my granddad showed up at 18 in his army uniform, one of the last times he saw her).

Comments posted 22 Jan 2016 by Matt :

Do you have your great nana's name or your granddad's name. Remember a fallen women then was a woman who had had sex before her wedding night

Does anybody have any information of Harriet (nee Allchin) of Wateringbury, and Thomas Henry Baker. After their marriage in 1868, they lived in Back Street, West Malling. Their daughter Clara married Henry Bailey in 1887 I believe that Henry's family lived at 61 Ryarsh Lane. I read somewhere that Back Street was a rather rough area. If anyone has photos of that area from back then, that would be terrific. If anyone has photos of any of this family, that would be unreal! Thank you for any little bits of info you may have- I will certainly appreciate any snippets.

Comments posted 21 Jan 2016 by Christine Stanhope :

Hi Steve, Thank you for the info. I am actually in Australia, but I will give it a try. Many thanks.

Comments posted 21 Jan 2016 by Steve :

It is free from any library on their public computers but otherwise you do have to be a member of it. Loads of people have done a family trees on the Allchin families from Wateringbury along with photos.

Comments posted 20 Jan 2016 by Christine Stanhope :

Hi Steve, Thank you for your kind offer of help if I need to know more. I have not seen your family tree on Ancestry pro quest. I have a subscription to Ancestry - is that a different branch to it? And if it is alright with you I would love to see your family tree - I'm sure I will learn heaps from it. How do I get on to it, or do I have to be a member?

Comments posted 20 Jan 2016 by Steve :

No problems at all. If you would like to know more please let me know. Have you seen our tree of Allchin /Long family on ancestry pro quest?

Comments posted 20 Jan 2016 by Christine Stanhope :

Hi Steve, I was just looking through the 1891 census for my branch of the Allchin family and found the grandchildren you mentioned. I saw the father was Thomas William Allchin. His mother Elizabeth would be my 3xGreat Grandmother. It is lovely learning a little more of my family and I just wanted to thank you (& Matt) for answering some of the questions I had.



Comments posted 17 Jan 2016 by Christine Stanhope :

Hi Stephen and Matt, I'm not quite sure what to do next. Do you think either of those families might have any further information about the Allchin family? I mean, is it likely that they would know names and dates from before William and Elizabeth Allchin (Harriets parents?). Would they know their occupations etc? Would they be good enough to send me a photo of people, or the surrounding countryside, if they have one? I don't want to annoy anybody, and it does seem to be a bit of a cheek to ask if they would send anything to a stranger.

About Harriet's husband Thomas Henry Baker. His parents were Thomas Baker from Tonbridge, and Sarah from East Malling. Thomas Henry was born in East Malling in 1847. He had at least two brothers - Frederick born in 1843 and William born in 1850.

Harriet's parents were William Allchin born in East Peckham about 1821, and Elizabeth born in Teston in 1819. They lived at Fullers Corner Wateringbury, and had Sarah A, Harriet, Eliza, Maria, Thomas, Emma, Elizabeth, Catherine, Louisa, Emily, and James.

Comments posted 14 Jan 2016 by Mathew Hill :

I don't know if related. we had Stephen. He had children Stephen jnr. then Mary. then William then George then Elizabeth , Edward and Thomas

Comments posted 14 Jan 2016 by Steve :

Thank you for your reply. It is the same family. Grandkids Thomas and Ellen Allchin came to live with them. They were their grandchildren. Yes Larkfield is right next to east/west Malling

Comments posted 14 Jan 2016 by Christine Stanhope :

Hi Steve, Thank you for your interesting post. In answer to your question - I have never been to West Malling or Wateringbury.

I remembered William and Elizabeth Allchin's address and I believe it was New Road,Fullers Corner, or something similar. According to the 1871 census they did have a Thomas and a James but not Ellen, Susannah or Florence. It may be a different family - my goodness with five Allchin families in the one town, surely they would be related. A lot of their children seem to have the same names, which makes tracing them a bit tricky.

After Harriet Allchin married Thomas Henry Baker in Wateringbury in 1868, they moved to West Malling and they lived in Back Street. You certainly make it sound a rather grim place. I looked up those murders you mentioned and the son was named Thomas with the father called John.

I don't think the Norman and Joan Bakers you mentioned were part of 'our' Baker family. Harriet and Thomas had Sarah, Alice, Thomas, Frederick, William, Fanny, Lily, Eliza, Bertie and George. (Also Clara before they got married).

Clara married Henry Bailey in 1887 and they moved away to Camberwell, London. (The Bailey family came from Newbury in Berkshire and hadn't been in the district for that long) Funny enough, Clara had a baby before marriage (another Clara) but Harriet seems to have brought her up in West Malling.

Is 'Larkfield' close to Malling?

Comments posted 13 Jan 2016 by Steve Underhill :

There was five Allchin families. There was William and Elzabeth and they had Thomas, James, Ellen, Susannah and Florence. They lived in Wateringbury. I don't know if that is the same family. I think they were all related to the other Allchin families. I know Allchin family in Larkfield to this day.

Back street in West Malling was renamed King Street. My close family lived there. It was the scene of two murders. One was very well known. A police man named Israil May from Snodland was killed by an Atkins boy (don't know his first name ) who lived in King Square, his father Thomas Atkins had already been hung before for murdering his wife Mary in King Street. Even when my family lived there in the 1950s it was a slum like area. The homes had no electric or hot water, had outside toilets and tin baths and were cold and damp and they were tumbled down. They were eventually pulled down because they were considered unlivable.

There was Baker family in West Malling. There was Norman Baker (his mother's maiden name Sales) and his wife Joan Baker. They lived Offham Road in West Malling. Do you know Malling well?

Comments posted 13 Jan 2016 by Christine :

Matt, I was thinking about your Stephen Allchin - if you didn't mind, would it be too much trouble to get you to send me a copy of that photo. At the moment I have nothing at all, and I was thinking that a snap of (maybe) a cousin would be a lot better than what I have now! Harriet's parents were William and Elizabeth and they lived up Dann's Lane/Road. Harriet had twin girls before she married Thomas Baker, with one of them dying at a few days old. The surviving baby was Clara. Do you happen to know the name of the Parish Church in Wateringbury? All Harriet's children were baptised at St.Mary in West Malling.

Comments posted 12 Jan 2016 by Christine :

Thank you Matt. I think Stephen Allchin was another branch of the family unfortunately, and I have no idea how closely related they would be.

Comments posted 12 Jan 2016 by Matt :

We had one but she was of Stephen Allchin and Susannah Long. They did live in Wateringbury

Has anybody got or know of any info on the Parris family, mainly come from Snodland but I'm checking everywhere. Don't matter how little it seems, its all worth it. cheers kevin

Comments posted 24 Oct 2017 by Val :

Hi Kevin

My Parris/Paris family go back to John Paris 1696 & Jane Neville.

Their son Robert Paris 1739 married Mary Large in Plaxtol.

Their son Robert was born in Ightham, married Rebecca Wickenden in Offham and moved to Cuxton circa 1810 where my 3xgt grandmother Ann was born.

Ann married in to the Hucks family who went back to Plaxtol then later generations returned to Snodland.

My great Aunt who was a Hucks married a Parris whose father was Ebenezer, grandfather Richard (Halling), greatgrandfather William. To cut a long story short my Great Aunt and her husband were both descended from my 6xGreat grandparents John & Jane!!

A very large family with roots all over the area.


Comments posted 3 Nov 2016 by John Coomber :

There was a Parris family who lived about half way down Lee Road, Snodland.

Comments posted 7 Jan 2016 by Steve :

and Alfred Thomas Parris married Alice Allingham in 1915 lived Bullfields Snodland. They had Joyce, Elsie, Brian, William, Royston, Harold , Kenneth, Vera, Irene, Terence, Derek, and Alice Parris

Comments posted 7 Jan 2016 by Steve :

Have you got William H J Parris born 1914, married Edith Dyke had son Harry who married Irene Grice? They had a son called Anthony Parris born 1946 and Kenneth Parris born 1941 married Daphne Davis in 1969 had Esther Parris born 1973.

Comments posted 5 Jan 2016 by Kevin Parris :

Yes my father was Cecil and all the names mentioned so far are part of my family tree. :)

Comments posted 5 Jan 2016 by Steve :

Yes I think your dad was Cecil Parris and your granddad was James Parris. I use ancestry a lot to do my tree which includes Parris. I think Ernie Parris was James brother. The tree on ancestry goes back generations. There was Parris in East Malling as well. I knew Sarah Parris

Comments posted 2 Jan 2016 by S Carlton :

The Parris family are one of the largest families in the west malling area. I was related to Ebeneezer Parris from Ryarsh.

I also knew Ralph Parris and Ernest Parris. Ernest used to work in Safeways, now Morrisons.

The parris family were also related to the Allingham and Sutton family . . my mum also knew Brian Parris from Tree Estate

I can find out more if you want have you checked out ancestry proquest .


during the war,I went hop picking with mum aunts grandmother, and I remember USAAF bombers flying over head,did they ever use the airfield ?

Alan Moore

Snake Valley



Comments posted 25 Nov 2018 by Clive Austin :

Yes the American airforce did use West Malling Air Field

Comments posted 20 Aug 2018 by Alfred (Bill) Robinson :

Hi Alan, nice to know you. During the war my father had a Nursery in West Malling, and one day while picking flowers a couple of Dam Busters flew down very low over us and I as a boy just threw myself flat on the ground. I have many memories of the war times. If you care to do so we could mail to each other. This I would like to do very much.

All the best, regards Bill.

(I used to live in Bexleyheath Kent)

Hi, I am trying to find the whereabouts of a lady that I believe lived in the West Malling area back in the 1960s..I believe her name is Marg Mallins or Macllows

Many thanks, Dawn.

I was wondering who else remembers the following people: 'Dink' who cycled around with a ladder and bucket on his bike cleaning people's windows. Also there was Ben Baker the one armed postman. I lived in Norman Road and these two characters and their bikes would regularly pass me as I played in the road!!!

Comments posted 30 Oct 2017 by Tony Collins :

Richard Carter:

Re: Old Mr. Worlsey singing out of the side of his mouth.

According to Alan Fuller, he used to add sugar to his Wrigley chewing gum to make it last longer, and it became too tasty to remove....

Comments posted 4 Jul 2017 by Tony Collins :

Richard :

Re : That old man with one leg, called Mr. Orchard. Did you ever find out what the other one was called?

As you mentioned, he could sure walk very quickly. I never found out what happened to him either - I couldn't keep up with him to find out.

Comments posted 15 Feb 2017 by Robert Lucas :

'Dink' Kelvie worked for my grand parents delivering grocery orders when they owned a grocery shop in the area known as 'Newtown', Norman Road. They employed 2 'errand boys', of whom Dink was one. He stayed with them for the longest period of time.

Comments posted 17 Dec 2015 by Dodgy Bill :

Dink's real name was William Kelvie and the one-armed postman was Ernie Baker, not Ben.

Comments posted 5 Dec 2015 by Richard :

I definitely don't remember Shuffle. I used to race down Norman Road to the High Street to see the Fire Engine off. I remember theme cycling at full tilt to get there.

I remember an old man with one leg, Mr Or hard, who would always stop and talk to me whenever he saw me. He had wood crutches and could walk very quickly. Never ever discovered what happened to him. Mum never knew or never told me.

Comments posted 4 Dec 2015 by Tim Baldock :

Shuffle. His main aim in life was to stop the traffic in the High St whenever the siren went off for the fire station lads to attend a incident. He was depressed for ages if the engine beat him


Comments posted 3 Dec 2015 by Richard Carter :

I'm not sure about Shuffle although the name does ring a bell. There was also Old Mr Worlsey who sang in the church choir out of one side of his mouth as if it was an aside.

Comments posted 2 Dec 2015 by Tim Baldock :

What about Shuffle?????????

Help ..I am trying to sort a list of residents in King St(Back St) before the site was turned into the flats. Names I have so far..Bill Aukley, Fred Stone, Kennards, Col Higgens, Roy Collingson, Fred Wallace, Len Hoare's mum, Len Bell, Vaugne, Sonny Wiffen, Steele, Aire, Nellie Joan Wood, Dump Randal, Ted Driver, Lissie Bush, Bob and Wynn, Jessie Pierce, Miss Hodge

Any memories, any additions, any stories, any PHOTOS????

Thanks so much Tim Baldock

Comments posted 21 May 2019 by Brian Driver :

I’m interested to understand the Ted Driver as I believe this could be my dad or grandad as they were both called Edward Driver, in fact there has been a Edward Driver in the family for many years in around West Malling and Wateringbury area. I’m interested to hear more or any pictures you may have.

Thanks In Anticipation

Brian Driver

Comments posted 30 May 2016 by Stuart Bates :

Hello Tim... are you interested in all former residents of King Street. . My grandmother's family lived there perhaps for as long as 100 years. My grandmother tells the story of an old lady who subsisted on pennies from the use of a washing mangle before WW1.. Children would go to help turn it for her. My great grand parents were given a wedding gift of three Stevenson silk pictures by possibly your great grand parents... they are still on my wall

Comments posted 17 Dec 2015 by Matt :

To dodgy bill - please could you email me at you knew my gran and granddad and you have said that you recall Geraldine living at king square. I thought Geraldine only came home when she was 15 up at the house at columbine was joyce there as well? anything else you knew about nan and granddad please could you let us know. I was told people took advantage of me nan as she liked to please and would do anything for anybody. it was said she would not hurt a fly. I know she worked as a farm worker. granddad bill died in 1964 of tb . gladys newman janet, daphne and rons mum was maisies sister

Comments posted 17 Dec 2015 by Dodgy Bill :

You can add these names to your list:

Mrs Vaughan with sons Dick and Alfred

Mr and Mrs Nettlingham with sons Gary, Graham and Paul

Mr and Mrs Newman with daughters Joan, Daphne and Janet

Mr Robinson the road sweeper with wife Maise and daughter, Geraldine

Bob and Wynn Randal

Mr and Mrs Collison with sons Pat and Roy and daughter, June

Mr and Mrs Reynolds

Mr and Mrs Broad with daughter, Janet

Mr and Mrs Skinner with daughter, Jean

Comments posted 17 Nov 2015 by S and D Carlton :

The murder referred to was one of two. The first one was a man murdered his wife around there. I think he was called thoman atkins and his wife I think was Mary. Then their son murdered a police officer in Snodland but that happened in Snodland even though he was brought up In King Street

Comments posted 10 Nov 2015 by Steve :

My grt Gran was Alice Underhill. she had seven children. there was Percy, and she had married Charles Bull and had Gladys, Ellen and then she married George Underhill and had Maisie , Alfred, Edith and Frank.

They lived in King Square in a house that had no electric, hot water or central heating. they had outside toilet and a tin bath. the area was known for crime and gambling.

Maisie wasa lovely kind lady who would do anything for you, she was a timid type person who would not literally hurt a fly. she got taken advantage of because she would give anybody anything . she worked as a farm worker as was hers sisters Gladys and Ellen.

Alfred Underhill only died four years ago. my email address is

Comments posted 7 Nov 2015 by Tim Baldock :

Thanks Mathew I am sure I will come back to you. Len Wooding is giving info as well.

Thanks, Tim.

Comments posted 6 Nov 2015 by Mathew Hill :

I have lots to tell you about my family. My gran Maisie Robinson lived there as did my great gran Alice Underhill and my great aunt Gladys Newman. Maisie in particular had a troubled life. She was born there in 1915 to George and Alice Underhill and married in 1940 to William Robinson but in 1955 she came back to King Square to live with her mum Alice Underhill. Maisie had all her children removed from her and she had gone to prison for child neglect, despite this people said she was a lovely kind lady who would not hurt a fly. Also did you know there was a murder around there? any more info please contact me if interested

I have a photograph of the VAD Hospital in West Malling from the 1914-18 war.

Does anyone know where it was? I think it was Fartherwell House which is no longer there.


VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) Hospital
VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) Hospital

Fartherwell Hall
Fartherwell Hall

Comments posted 14 Nov 2015 by Ron Martin :

West Malling VAD Hospital was definitely at Malling House on Town Hill, as reported in the Kent Messenger of 14th November 1914.

More details about the hospital can be found in the Malling Society's publication "West Malling and the Great War", available from the Society price £6.00. See the Society's Website - - on how to place an order.

Ron Martin - Researcher for the Malling Society

Comments posted 29 Aug 2015 by Michael :

I knew Mr Wingfield-Sratton when he was a sidesman at Ryarsh Church in the 1940/1950s. He lived at Fatherwell Hall.

The postcard I have is addressed VAD Hospital and sent to Miss Neville at Birling Manor. It is dated 10-1-15 and says "Owing to absence of chairman there will be no committee meeting this week" and is signed RWS -presumably R Wingfield-Stratton.

My mother lived in St Leonard's Street until around 1916 and always referred to Malling Place as "The asylum" -which may well have had an isolation ward.

The Blackburne- Mayes family owned Leybourne Grange around this time.

Comments posted 28 Aug 2015 by John :

More information on the VAD Hospital West Malling:-

Kent 150, West Malling. On the outbreak of war Malling House, West Malling, was kindly offered by Mr. Percy Nevill as a V.A.D. hospital. In November this house, then standing empty, was prepared as a hospital with fifty beds.

Residents in the neighbourhood responded generously with donations, also with loans of equipment.

On November 16th the first patients arrived, and since that date the hospital has never been empty.

Besides men from the Expeditionary Force and Belgian soldiers, a great number of sick from the local troops have been treated.

Three trained nurses are employed, and the detachment is strongly reinforced by voluntary helpers.

Commandant - Mrs. C. Wingfield-Stratford.

Medical Officer - Dr. Pope.

Lady Superintendent - Miss Kelly.

Quartermaster - Miss K. Hardy.

Members - Edith Adam; Ethel Adam; Doris Alston; Rosalind Blackburne-Maze; Violet Cator; Camille Doucet; Cicely Englefield; Celia Gauntlett; Norah Hardy; Ellen Hayton; Ruth Hayton; Margaret Lawson; Florence Pope; Agnes Roberts; Madge Roberts; Isabel Rust; Isabel Smyth; Margaret Stedman; Edith Timins; Ada Viner; Dorothy Wood; Elsie Wood; Marjorie Wood; Hermione Wingfield-Stratford.

From: Kent's care for the wounded by Creswick, Paul, Pond, G. Stanley; Ashton, P. H published 1915

Comments posted 27 Aug 2015 by John :

With regards to my original posting I have just received the following:-

"It's not Malling House, it's Malling Place in St. Leonard's Street. I've been to many gatherings in that garden in past years! I recognised the house straight away!"

"It was also a TB Clinic and has a small isolation 'room' in the garden"

Comments posted 11 Aug 2015 by Michael :

I was told that the VAD hospital was in Malling House at the top of Town Hill.

I believe it was owned by the Neville family - Miss Neville moved there from Birling Manor when it burnt down about 1916. I also have a postcard of the back of the house.The card was addressed to Miss Neville at Birling Manor and was dated 10.1. 1915 and addressed VAD Hospital.I also have two postcards of Fatherwell Hall and the roof and chimneys look quite different to those of the hospital

My uncle, Flying Officer John Didmon White, died on 19th Oct 1953, flying from West Malling.

Does anyone have any details of his death?

I hope someone can help.­

Peter Fuller

Comments posted 30 Mar 2016 by Peter Fuller :

Dear Robert

Thank you very much for your help,my mother never talked about her brother's death but my father told me what he knew and I wanted to find out if any of it was true.

I am now 66 and was told this about four years after uncle John's death. His plane had been having fuel problems and it had been in the workshops, they were on a test flight when they got into trouble. His colleague who was rescued told the family that he got snagged up and John released him before going down with his plane, his body was never recovered.

Once again Thank you very much for your help.


Comments posted 29 Mar 2016 by Robert Lucas :

Hello again, further to my earlier reply. I have found some details of John Didmon-White's death in a publication entitled 'By Day and By Night, the men & machines of West Malling Airfield'.

In October 1953, a 25 Squadron Vampire spun into the sea off the Goodwin Sands from 20,000 ft. FO Didmon-White was killed, but FO Breeze was rescued from the sea by a Swedish ship and was later returned to the squadron at West Malling.

As he does not appear to have a marked grave in St Mary the Virgin at West Malling, perhaps he was returned to his family's place of residence for burial or perhaps he was cremated?

If I can be of further assistance, please contact me.

Comments posted 29 Mar 2016 by Robert Lucas :


I have searched through all the UK death records for 'John Didmon White' who died in 1953. Sadly I cannot find any deaths registered in that year for Kent.

Comments posted 16 Nov 2015 by John :

I have been to West Malling Church to see if John is buried in the Churchyard but no record of him, sorry.

I will contact a friend who was stationed at the airfield in 1956 and see if he has any recollection of the name for you.

I'm asking for a look at any photos of the flower shows that were at the Grange prior to it shutting, also any football teams at same place. My father showed flowers there and also I remember him standing next to a football team. Sorry but no dates for any, only that I know they may be black and white photos.

His name is Cecil Parris, he drove the coach there and he lived in the nurses home and he died there as well. Many many thanks in advance.


Comments posted 25 Jan 2016 by David Bellchambers :

Hi, Richard, Excuse me Kevin for using this page to contact Richard. Glad you are well Richard. Yes still living in NZ. It has been a wonderful country to us and with all the troubles around the world I believe it is the best place to live. I have three daughters born here and now four grandsons. I still miss the English countryside and in 2011 took three daughters and a son in law plus Sue and myself back to UK for extended holiday which was most enjoyable.

Had the pleasure of seeing NZ beat Pakistan yesterday, played in Wellington.

My email is which you may have. Would be good to keep in touch occasionally

Kind regards, David

Comments posted 1 Jan 2016 by Richard :

Hi David

How are you getting on? I take it you are still in New Zealand. From watching Sky TV when they are showing NZ cricket it looks a great place to live. After I left the Grange I worked in local government for Gillingham, then Horsham in West Sussex (where I have been living since 1977) and finished with 18 years for the London Borough of Sutton. Ended up doing nearly five years for a local charity group and spent the past few years doing not a lot.

I am sure you know that the Grange site is now housing. I still remember my time at LGH and as far as I am concerned it was the best place I worked at, so many fond memories.

I do hope you are keeping fit and well and I send my best wishes to you for 2016 and beyond.


Comments posted 1 Jan 2016 by David Bellchambers :

Hi Kevin, I worked in admin section at the same time as Richard and recall your father along with the other drivers such as Jack Packman, the Head Driver and his son Ray. I do not have any photos I'm afraid but have fond memories of the drivers and other staff during my time at LGH. Regards, David

Comments posted 10 Aug 2015 by Richard West :

Kevin, I cannot help you with any photos from my time at the Grange but I certainly well remember your late father. I always got on very well with him as did my father who eventually became head storekeeper.

In addition to driving the various coaches there were a number of lorries that delivered goods etc to the villas scattered around the site which he would have driven. During the latter part of my employment there the hospital provided transport to and from the Medway towns, mainly for nursing staff but I was allowed to travel on the coaches too. I am sure after all these years nobody will mind me saying that despite the "official" drop off points some drivers including your father went the extra mile and would take me as close to my front door as possible. At the time I lived on the edge of the Parkwood estate in Rainham otherwise I would have been dropped off in Gillingham and left to catch a bus the rest of the way. There was one driver, who shall remain nameless, that stuck to the "rules" and everyone use to complain at how slowly he drove which often resulted in missing buses!

Sorry I cannot help with photos but I will always remember your father for being a pleasant person.


I was recently told a family tale about the arrest of the West Malling Doctor during the Second World War as a Nazi sympathiser.

The Doctor was not at home when the Sergeant and Constable arrived. Upon searching the house, a Nazi uniform was found, upon which the Constable was dressed up in it, and marched back down the High Street to the Police Station by the Sergeant at gunpoint. (For a bit of a laugh).

I assume that if no one can shed any light on this story, that it didn't happen and I will stop telling this story about my great-uncle, the Sergeant.

I am researching the Homewood/Holmwood family in West Malling and the surrounding area in the 17th century. Parish registers for West Malling are not extant prior to 1698, which is not helping! I should be grateful for any assistance. Thank you.

Comments posted 27 Apr 2015 by Carl :

Was you related to Dennis Gay who died two years ago. his mother was a homewood. the was also homewood family who lived at snodland. the are homewood famuily still living in east malling to this day.

70 years on!

Baldocks and the ski store would love to put on a window display for VE day MAY 8th. Should any one have photos or memories of that day could you contact us on 01732 529637...and we will tell the town about the day 70 yrs back...Thanks Tim.

Please when will the good people of West Malling stop parking in the bus stop? I have to drive a bus into West Malling and turn it around and without fail the bus stop is full of cars. All it needs is a disabled person in a wheel chair to be there and they will be unable to board the bus.

Regards John

Comments posted 1 Jan 2016 by Richard West :

Hi Barbara,

And I used to know you too! As you will well know I lived in the same road as you.


Comments posted 31 Oct 2015 by Robert Lucas :

Hi, I totally agree with your comments. I have long thought that it must be a nightmare trying to turn a bus or lorry in this area. Just 'popping into the shops' is no excuse for ignoring the Highway Code which prohibits parking at bus stops.

Your best bet is to contact TMBC who are responsible for enforcing the no parking areas of West Malling and also contact our local Borough Councillors, they sought election, make them earn some respect!

Comments posted 22 Oct 2015 by Barbara Church (nee Foad) :

Sorry, not related to bus stop. Saw your name and wondered whether you're related to Richard or Stephen Hickmott. I used to know them when I lived in Alma Road, West Malling.

Harold was orphaned by 8 years old (possibly by the age of 5) and having learned his trade confined at Brentwood Industrial School,as a youth was employed in Hackney by a German born Boot Finisher- William Young. He later moved down to West Malling in Kent where he boarded with a harness maker's family,the Drakes,in the High Street.

In 1910, by then in his middle 30's, he was married to the eldest daughter of Thomas a gardener and his wife Mary, from Clare House cottage in neighbouring East Malling. She was called Edith Holder (1879- ?) and the couple lived at 31,the High Street,West Malling- which may also have been Harold's workshop.

Harold himself died in retirement in 1952 living at Mullion in Cornwall near to Helston and to Penzance where a niece (the daughter of his eldest sister Isabel Mildred) had recently moved, but nothing is known of Edith and whether the couple had any children.

Any additional information will be well received.

Hi I am looking for information on John Walter b abt 1684 and married Elizabeth Enscum b abt 1687.Their daughter Elizabeth married Alexander Blunt in 1743.

Thank you, Patricia

Comments posted 5 Apr 2019 by Jan Browning :

Hello Patricia

I have only just discovered West Malling memories because I am researching my family tree. I was looking for information about the cottage home in West Malling and I came across your message from 2015. I’ve searched for your names on Ancestry and came up with the following:

1. Name: John Walters

Gender: Male

Marriage Date: Sep 1714

Marriage Place: Cuxton,Kent,England

Spouse: Elizabeth Enscum

FHL Film Number: 992537

2. Name: Elizabeth Walter

Gender: Female

Marital status: Married

Burial Date: 11 Sep 1722

Burial Place: Marden Parish, Kent, England

Spouse: John Walter

FHL Film Number: 1736878

Reference ID: item 1

3. Name: Elizabeth Walter

Gender: Female

Baptism Date: 3 Oct 1716

Baptism Place: East Malling,Kent,England

Father: John Walter

FHL Film Number: 992508

4. Name: Elisabeth Walter

Gender: Female

Marriage Date: 14 Mar 1743

Marriage Place: All Saints, Maidstone, Kent, England

Spouse: Alexander Blunt

FHL Film Number: 1736876

Reference ID: BK1/DC6/BRI/152/468

5. Name: Alexander Blunt

Gender: Male

Spouse: Elizabeth Walter

Child: Thomas Blunt

None of these records have an image to look at on Ancestry, but No.1 and No.4 are definite as the names match up. No.2 could be John’s wife - I have searched a lot of records on all of the names you list, but still can’t find anything to confirm this record. No.3 might be daughter Elizabeth's birth, but on her marriage record her name is spelt with an s instead of a z and again I can’t find anything to confirm this. The date is the nearest, but there is no mother’s name on the record. No.5 can’t be confirmed as there is no date!

I hope this small amount of information helps!

Kind regards, Jan

Hello, I am trying to locate relatives to the Fosberry family formerly residing at 87 Ewell Drive, West Malling. They would be children or grand children of Vera and Norman Fosberry.

Thanks in advance.

Jonathan Vaughan, 2508 Clayborne Place, Oakville, Ontario, Canada L6M4C3

Comments posted 13 Mar 2015 by Barbara Earl :

Trevor Fosberry, son of Vera and Norman, lives at 13 Church Fields, West Malling. His sister Diane Hart lives on the Estate : Google West Malling Parish Council and you should be able find her address etc. Diane is a Parish Councillor.

They will be able to tell you where their sister Jan can be contacted.

Good luck!!

Comments posted 12 Mar 2015 by Jonathan Vaughan :

Hi Diane...Great to hear from you,I do remember Janice taking me over to your house when I visited. I will be in touch via Facebook. Jon

Comments posted 12 Mar 2015 by Diane Hart (was Fosberry) :

I seem to remember your last visit Jonathan, such a long time ago. I still live in the same house. My father died in 1990. And my mother died 2010. My siblings are all ok. I am on face book under Diane Hart. Please get in touch. I have got the whole of my father's family history. Look forward to hearing from you. Diane

Comments posted 14 Feb 2015 by Jon :

This message is to Steve. I have never lived in England (West Malling) just visited. Unfortunately I didn't travel that much when my kids were growing up so I missed out on keeping up with family. I notice a lot of people talking about the Douces Manor. The first time I visited W-Malling I stayed there and it was a B&B at that time. I guess it's been through a lot since then.

Also I believe Janice had another brother David, I presume he passed away. I was aware that he had been in some sort of accident prior to my first visit.

Comments posted 13 Feb 2015 by Steve :

I think Janice lives in the Aylesford area

Comments posted 13 Feb 2015 by Steve :

The Fosberry family lived next to my relatives the Underhills and to the Wests. Janice had another daughter as well called Amy. Trevor was still living in West Malling but I haven't seen him for a while.

Are you a former West Malling man ?

Comments posted 13 Feb 2015 by Jonathan Vaughan :

This message is to thank Carol Underhill for the information given re the Fosberry family. Now that I have Janice's married name I can begin to track. I am planning a revisit England and Wales in the future and perhaps I can reconnect with some of my long lost relatives...many thanks

Comments posted 12 Feb 2015 by Carol Underhill :

My husband does recall them. They were Norman and Vera. Her maiden name was Palmer and they married in 1940. They had Diane Fosberry in 1943, Trevor in 1947 and Janice in 1950.

Janice married Glenn Sturgess in 1983. Had one daughter Sophie in 1988. Trevor married in 1989 to Jessie Marfell and had two sons, Ashley in 1990 and James in 1991.

Diane married David Hart in 1966 and had Maria in 1967 and Brent in 1970 . David Hart was killed when he got struck by lightning during a thunderstorm and hubby reckons Diane has also died now.

Hope this is some use



I lived in Ryarsh from 1948 to 1971 and one of my earliest memories was seeing a crashed Meteor from West Malling Aerodrome in a field in Leybourne. I was on the number 53 bus with my Mum at the time. Anyone else remember seeing it??


Comments posted 4 Feb 2015 by Michael Spain :

Thanks Michael. Your timings would tie up with mine as I was on the bus (number 53??) with my Mum and would have been very young. I was born in 1948 so early 50's would be about right.

My Dad was a builder and did a lot of work at West Malling aerodrome. It was very exciting for me as a kid, if I went up there with him. One time we stopped in the Aerodrome at a set of traffic lights and a Meteor landed right in front of us.

Comments posted 3 Feb 2015 by Michael Church :

I lived in Ryarsh and remember seeing the crashed meteor in the grounds of Leybourne Castle. I was at secondary school at the time so it must have been between 1951 and 1956. I believe it ran out of fuel and was trying to get to West Malling airfield early on a Saturday morning. Luckily the pilot managed to clear the houses in New Road Leybourne and made a wheels up landing in the Castle grounds. I'm sure he survived the landing and the plane wasn't badly damaged. On the Sunday I walked to the crash site but was not allowed too close to the plane which was guarded by an RAF airman with a rifle.

Comments posted 25 Jan 2015 by Alan Guntrip :

Yes on the school bus coming from Trosley to Snodland. I asked lots of people and nobody seemed to remember it. It was in the castle orchard, belonging to the Ogilby and Finella Fosters family.

Comments posted 5 Jan 2015 by Mick Spain :


Barry Spain may be my cousin! My Uncle Les had a son called Barry. The family lived in Snodland.

Comments posted 27 Dec 2014 by Matthew :

Hi. was you related to Barry Spain? she married my mums cousin Daphne Newman and had David and Donna Spain. i was related to the Robinson family in Ryarsh as well. we have been doing family research


Looking for any family name who lived at "Clare House" West Malling from 1870-1940. I have a photo of Clare House about 1900-1920 and outside there is a surname Melville, Knox, Garrett, Clay, Holborn, Leigh, Crawley, Austin.

Beresford Valentine Melville and wife surname Clay lived at Clare House in 1911, lots of servants so Melville/Clay anyone know if any of the surnames in graveyard or could anyone help with information on surnames in East/West Malling

It's a long shot, but did any of these surnames live at Clare House? Any help I would be most grateful.

John Kemmery

Clare House
Clare House

Clare House families
Clare House families

Comments posted 19 Dec 2014 by Steven :

I think there was a lady peek who owned it . it spread all over to east malling . she owned the land where winterfield estate now stands

Some time ago someone was asking for help to identify people in an old photograph related to the First World War. I have a photo of my grandfather, a soldier who served in this war. He was Charles Souter, and he lived in Norman Road. I also have small drawings that he sent to my grandmother from Gommecourt on the Somme and from the Ypres Salient. They were at the top left hand side of letters that he wrote to my grandmother during the First World War. The places were identified on the drawings after he came back from the war, as soldiers writing home in WWI were not allowed to say where they were writing from.

Unfortunately, I don't know any details about my grandfather's life at this time as I have no documents. He died when I was quite young.

It would be quite nice if I could find out a bit more about my Grandfather's life during World War 1. He appears to have spent most of it on or near the Somme theatre of operations. If anyone could help with that I'd be grateful.

Maggie Clark (nee Souter)

Charles Harry Souter with Lily
Charles Harry Souter with Lily

Charles Souter trench art - 1Charles Souter trench art - 2Charles Souter trench art - 3Charles Souter trench art - 4Charles Souter trench art - 5Charles Souter trench art - 6Charles Souter trench art - 7Charles Souter trench art - 8Charles Souter trench art - 9Charles Souter trench art - 10Charles Souter trench art - 11Charles Souter trench art - 12Charles Souter trench art - 13Charles Souter trench art - 14Charles Souter trench art - 15Charles Souter trench art - 16Charles Souter trench art - 17Charles Souter trench art - 18Charles Souter trench art - 19Charles Souter trench art - 20Charles Souter trench art - 21Charles Souter trench art - 22Charles Souter trench art - 23Charles Souter trench art - 24Charles Souter trench art - 25Charles Souter trench art - 26Charles Souter trench art - 27Charles Souter trench art - 28Charles Souter trench art - 29Charles Souter trench art - 30Charles Souter trench art - 31Charles Souter trench art - 32Charles Souter trench art - 33Charles Souter trench art - 34Charles Souter trench art - 35

Comments posted 16 Feb 2017 by PB :

Thank you for that. Very sad to hear she had that life. I do recall Claire having behaviour problems. She lost her mum at a terrible age. I don't know who her dad was.

I don't know if Heather was living in Martin Square when she died. I was told she died in Greenwich, London. I wonder if her smoking and drinking contributed to her death at a young age. Heather never seemed happy to me. Very sad

Comments posted 11 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

PB: Heather's birth father died when she was young. Her step father was a miserable/surly type. She left her Clare Park Estate home when she was 17, moving to Maidstone. Her former neighbours said she had spent some time in a mental health facility. Heather's mother was always very nice and supportive of her.

I'm not sure about the day job that she had at that time. She started to work evenings as a waitress in a Maidstone restaurant. She was polite, attractive, nicely dressed and a relationship developed with a customer who was a married, Jewish businessman. He was generous to her, but she was unhappy being alone when he was with his family. Their relationship continued for several years. Heather later became friendly with his wife.

During 1965-66, Heather was in love with Charles Ward who lived with his mother in Sutton Valence. The relationship was doomed - Charles was a 'mummy's boy' and in love with his sports car; Heather was drinking heavily and smoking 80 cigarettes a day.

Heather had an abortion when she was about 22. She always wanted a baby, and was happy later when ladies would peep into the pram at Claire. Heather's drinking prior to Claire's birth, caused her to become a slow learner at school. I don't think that Heather always had a full time day job while at Martin Square. While doing some typing for local small business types, she mentioned she could never accept being strapped for money. I think that she died from a brain aneurysm.

Comments posted 10 Feb 2017 by pb :

What did she die of? She always looked worried about something I used to think. She looked like she had been through some tragedy. She was on her own with her daughter...never married, I think she lived above the paper shop.

Very sad she died all those years ago. She died in Greenwich, London.

Comments posted 9 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

Yes PB, the same Heather. Thanks for that. Claire was then brought up by Mrs. Hazel Crawford (Heather's sister).

Comments posted 9 Feb 2017 by P B :

Heather Mortimer has passed away I think. She had a daughter Claire. Is that the same one? She lived in Martin Square. She died in 1990 and was 50.

Comments posted 9 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

Maggie: I should have mentioned your grandfather's impressive drawings. Thank you for sharing them with us. Were you able to find out more about his WW1 experiences?

Comments posted 9 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

Maggie: The name Ron Souter has been large in my mind, however much I tried I could not place him. That is until seeing that he is your father and 'worked in the council offices.' "used to have a good job." [Alan].

I am aware that Ron Rendle was the Head of the MRDC Housing Dept., and that Heather Mortimer worked closely with him. Was your father possibly Head of Council Housing Maintenance/Repairs?

And did you live at Elm Crescent, Clare Park Estate, East Malling? [Matt]. At noon lunchtimes, Ron Rendle used to take Heather to her parents' home at Elm Crescent, Clare Park Estate.

And was Mrs. Dale-Clark (known as Mrs. Clark) possibly your mother-in-law? She lived with her husband Stan at St. Mary's Court, West Malling during the 1980s.

Thank you!

Comments posted 21 Oct 2014 by Matt :

we had ronald as marrying annie douglas in 1940 and having a daughter called margaret a m souter in 1944. she married in 1967 to andrew clark . did they live at elm cresent in east malling many years back ?

Comments posted 21 Oct 2014 by Mathew :

The ones we had connections to was charles souter . he had a dad called henry souter and was born in london but lived west malling. he married matilda wilford and had charles henry souter and nellie souter. charles wife was andrews . is that any connection? did you know my nan maisie robinson nee underhill . ? she lived west malling then east malling . we have been trying to find out about her for years as mum would never speak of her .thank you for any help , mathew and family

Comments posted 20 Oct 2014 by Maggie Clark :

Dear pstephen, Thank you for your feedback. As you will see in my comments to Alan, that the Charlie that you knew was in fact my grandfather's son and indeed Gerald (my cousin) is his son.

Comments posted 20 Oct 2014 by Maggie Clark :

Dear Alan, Thank you for your feedback about my grandfather. The Charlie, who are thinking of was one of my grandfather's son's (the eldest) and Maurice was one of his son's. My grandfather's sons were Charles, Jack, Vernon, Ronald (my father who worked in the council offices.} and lastly Headley. who died at the age of eight I think. As seen in the drawing of 5 boys.

Comments posted 20 Oct 2014 by Alan Underhill :

Charlie and Maurice were brothers i think. Maurice has died now. there was also one who used to have a good job at the council offices at west malling but i cant recall his name now. Maurice lived at kingfisher road

Comments posted 20 Oct 2014 by pstephen :

I knew charlie well. i think his son was Gerald Souter. he was painter i think. i know one day charlie came home from the pub and accidently put dog food on his sandwiches lol. he and his wife seemed to live sperate lives. they had no electric at one time . Gerald Souter still lives in East Malling. He married Rita Jenner. They had a daughter Jacqueline. she married shaun kettle and had nathan and natasha. Last I heard Jacqueline lives in Lily house in a hostel and the kids were with Gerald.

There is also Maurice Souter who died. he had a daughter called Sharon Souter who lives East Malling.

My personal memories are just of 1953 and 4 when I arrived in the UK from Australia and stayed with my Aunt and Uncle Nellie and Ern baker along Norman Road. Over the years since I have collected numerous records of my branch of the family and I hope that posting them here will be helpful to any others who may have links to the family. I have other names on the family trees but it is too difficult to note then all in this format. I hope that this will be of interest to any with links back to the past in the Malling area.


Compiled by Donald Skinner from family trees originally compiled by Margaret Hilda Spooner b 1932 nee Baker and Robert George Skinner b 1959

Note: Although there is a grave stone in the West Malling church with the date 1644 the records from the family trees date from 1753.

1 Robert B 1753 d 4-6-1834 - Rebecca nee ? B1756 d 10-8 1823

1-1 Rebecca d 26-4-1836

1-2 Son ?

1-3 Robert d 16-12-1838 - m Elizabeth nee? D 3-4-1840 ---

Son ?, Son ?, Daughter ?.

1-4 Son ?

1-5 George b Approx 1790 (Bricklayer) -m Susannah nee?

1-5-1 Daughter Fances B 1814

1-5-2 Son Thomas

1-5-3 Son George B 1816 – Ann nee ?

Son Thomas George B 1839

Daughter Elizabeth Emily B 1831

Son Arron B 1843

Son William – Annie nee ? B 1847 (Lived in Tonbridge)

Daughter Harriet Ann B 1851

Daughter Fanny B 1853

Daughter Ann Sarah B 1854 ( References to Walter Napier Stuart)

Son Albun John B 1857

Daughter Phoebe Susan B 1860

Son Henry Jane B 1863 d 1945 – Alice Jane nee Morgan (of Offam)B 1867


( for continuation of this line see later at 1-5-3)

1-6 Daughter ?

1-7 John B 1801 d 25-8-1854 -m Mary Anne nee Pain b 1787 d 8-10-1861

Daughter - Louissa b 1827 d 6-12-1844

Daughter – Sara

1-8 Son ?

1-5-4 William B 1819

1-5-5 Elizabeth Ann B 1822

1-5-6 Robert B 1825

1-5-7 Mary Ann B1835

1-5-8 Sarah Elizabeth B 1837

1-5-9 Charlotte B 7-9-1838 D 20-8 1909 M John Henderson B 6-2- 1834 D 2-4-1884

Son Vincent Henry died in infancy

Son Alfred John

Daughter Ellen Charlotte B 20-2-1869 D 5-3-1869

Daughter Mabel Rose B 16-5-1877 D 20-7-1877

Daughter Kate Ethel B 10-4-1819 D 6-5-1819

Continuation of the line 1-5-3

1-5-3-1 Edith Alice B 1892 D 1983 M Leslie Mac Tyler

Daughter Jean Hilary

1-5-3-2 Nellie B 1894 D 1993 M Ernest Baker

1-5-3-2-1 Dorothy Alice B 20-9-1920 D 9-1987 M Philip Peck D 9-1987

Daughter Anne M Allan Walsh

Son Simon

Son Michael M Anthea nee ?

Son Mathew

Daughter Sarah

1-5-3-2-2 Margaret Hilda B 1932 D 2003 M Trevor Spooner

Son Andrew M Diana



1-5-3-3 Harold B 1896 D 2003 M Rosannah nee Luckhurst

1-5-3-4 George B 1898 D 1986 M Elsie Gertrude nee Sudds B 1898 D 1993

(Emigrated to Australia 1926)

1-5-3-4-1 James Henry B 1926 D 2014 M Leslie nee Mooney D 2010

Daughter Kim aka Sage

Daughter Tennile aka Ashley

Daughter Naomi aka Nicola

Daughter Aimee aka Jemma

Daughter Cody

1-5-3-4-2 Donald B 8-12-29 M Adrienne nee Kemp B 3-1-1937

(Now living in New Zealand)

Son Robert George B 1959 M/sep Christine Anne nee Hillier B 1958

Daughter Bronwyn Elice B 1988

Daughter Jennifer Anne B 1990 (Twin)

Daughter Erin Georgette B 1990 (Twin)

Daughter Christina Mary B 1961 M Paul Lyndon Marcroft B 1960

Daughter Grace Haeata B 1991

Daughter Frances Joy B 1995

Daughter Glynis Lucinda B 1963 M/sep David Tatu te Maipi B 1967

Daughter Bailey Rose B 1996

Daughter Kanan Rei B 2000

Janine Margaret B 1965 M Derrick Donald Bingham B 1964


Son Declan Donald B 1990

Daughter Caitlin Sarah B 1996

1-5-3-4-3 Margaret Alice B 1931 M Daniel Godfrey Tynan B 1926

Daughter Peta Jane B 1957 D 1981

Daughter Penny Margaret B 1959

Adopted daughters Lilly & Pia

Daughter Melinda Jane B 1961 M/div Thomas Yabsley

M Christopher Whyte

Daughter Peter Jane Yabsley/Tynan B 1988

Son Daniel James B 1964 M Kathryn nee Nordon B 1959

Daughter Alexis Kaye B 1995

Son Jack Flynn B 1998

1-5-3-5 Arthur B 1903 D 1982 M Edith nee Wilson

Comments posted 5 Dec 2015 by Caroline :

Hi Donald

We are related, and I have further information about the Skinner line which I would be happy to share - it was shared with me by others who have done considerable research on this line. My direct ancestor was Aaron Skinner b 1843 - confusingly there are two Aaron Skinners born within a couple of years of each other, but all the details you have given tie up with my Gt gt grandfather Aaron. Please do email me if you are interested. Caroline

Comments posted 24 Oct 2015 by Lynn Pearsall :

Hi I am related to the Skinner Family. There are two Skinner Families in Malling who are supposedly unrelated. My family of Skinners lived in East Malling in the Miller Cottages. My Great Gran was Adar Skinner, who married and lived in both West and East Malling, Kent. She had 2 brothers William and Albert Skinner who both died in WW1 and are named on the war memorial. There were 2 other brothers who both migrated to Adelaide in South Australia who were called Alan and Alfred (Fred). Each had 9 and 11 children.

Please email me for more information if this is any help.

Comments posted 31 Dec 2014 by Richard West :

Hello Donald, just seen your post about the Skinner family. Not that I know any Skinner's but I can tell you that my Grandfather lived next door to Ernie Baker, he of the one arm who I recall worked as a postman. Ernie owned a piece of land that was used as allotments but now is housing, it's at the rear of his house in Norman Road and Alma Road.

I know that Ernie had a daughter Dorothy whose married name was Peck. I cannot remember her husband's first name but they had two children Ann and Michael. In fact they lived in Alma Road diagonally opposite to my parents. We occupied the council houses on the corner of Fartherwell Avenue. In the early days for some reason these were numbered 80-83 but during the early 1960's became 31-34!

One memory I have of Ernie is that at the annual Malling flower show Ernie often had a bowling for a pig competition. A real pig too and usually it ended up housed on one of the allotments I mentioned above!

Comments posted 18 Oct 2014 by Donald Skinner :

Reply to postings by Matt and Mathew:- Sorry but I have no records that help you along the lines of your enquiries. There are only 2 male descendants in the line from George B 1816 , Aaron B 1843 of whom I have only the names of his children and Henry James B 1863 is my grand father.

Comments posted 17 Oct 2014 by Matt :

the was a minnie and james skinner that used to live in new hythe lane in larkfield. they had a daughter called nellie. is that related?

Comments posted 17 Oct 2014 by Matthew :

the is skinner family still living near west malling in a place called east maling. the is a peter skinner . if you scroll down on here the is also skinners mentioned as part of the brook family. do you rememebr my nan and grandad william and maisie robinson or my aunt gladys newman and her kids joan, ronald, daphne and janet . they lived king square west malling

If anyone knows or has the surname Dennett in the West Malling area. I would be really interested in talking to you .Please message me back if you have any information on this family?

I am looking for a photograph that I know exists of the crash site of a RCAF Wellington bomber that came down in fog July 2/3 1943 in Henhurst Road,­ Cobham near Gravesend.­

The aircraft was returning from a raid to their base in Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire and encountered bad weather. Diverted to West Malling, in heavy fog and with low fuel they crashed onto a house in Henhurst Road.

I live in that house the Wellington hit and I have seen a photo of the recovery work but just can't find it online.

I'd be interested to see if anyone knows anything.

Comments posted 4 Dec 2017 by Jason :

Comments posted 10 Dec 2015 by Mark Nicholson :

Thanks Wendy and apologies for the delay in replying, the email telling me had been sent into junk mail so I have only just found it!

I would love a copy of the photo and it's great to hear more about the history of the house. We've only been here for 3 years but love its location, it must have been great to have been here so long.

Did the house next door survive relatively intact? From the brickwork it's obvious how damaged this one was but the other one looks fairly original. I'd love to know more and sorry again for the delay in my reply.

Comments posted 12 Nov 2015 by Wendy Hiltunen :

Hi, I was born in this house in 1947 after it had been rebuilt ,my maiden name was GOLDSMITH and my family lived here for over 40yrs. The DINES family who lived there at the time of the crash moved to the adjoining house , Mrs Dines having died in the incident, her husband & sons remained neighbours and friends for many years but are now all deceased.

I have a photocopy of the crash and a civilian war casualty certificate for Mrs Dines if you would like a copy.The strange thing is I married an American airman in 1970, and some of the wellingtons crew were from the U.S.A. We now live in West Sussex.

Photocopy of Wellington crash photograph
Photocopy of Wellington crash photograph

I worked for a Laundry in Gillingham, and one of our drop offs was to the Airdrome.

I was there when the Beatles were filming scenes from Magical Mystery Tour, be it they were other side of the field. The next week I was offered a Map used by the Band on their Coach with Various scribbling's from the Boys, But it would have cost me 5 pounds, which amounted to a weeks wages back then, me being a lowly Van Boy and all. So an opportunity went Begging. But on another occasion I did have the honour of being dived by the Red Arrows who we were told rehearsed a few Moves before going onto displays. We walked out onto the peaceful Runway and awaited them, 5 minutes later we were spread out flat on the floor after their very low fly past. Fantastic times.

Comments posted 9 Jan 2017 by Simon Mitchell :

As for my sister and I , we were lucky enough as children NOT to miss out on the Magical Mystery Tour. We were both used as extras in the Film and the Making of MMT. I was only seven years old at the time, my sister was only five but I remember most of what happend and what we did during filming. We did the Marathon, Tug of War and were in the Hangar for Your Mother Should Know. Because of this I started collecting everything I could about the Film including an Original Magical Mystery Tour Bus.(I probably have the world's largest MMT Collection.) All of this I'm intending to put to good use to help gather donations at exhibitions to donate to help children with cancer. I am always looking for rare items and Pictures from the Film for my collection.

For more about my project see This year in September, I have set up a tour from Germany-where I now live, all the way to London and on to Newquay. We will drive the whole original Tour, meeting up with several of the Original Passengers who are still alive. We of course will be coming to West Malling and will hopefully have live music playing. Unfortunately we have to use a Modern Coach as mine is being Restored at this time and will not be ready in time for the Magical Mystery Tour 2017 as there is a lot of work to be done.

If anybody can help me with my MMT Museum in any way please contact me through my Website or at

Thank you all very much.

Comments posted 6 Apr 2016 by Kathy Schumann :

I too was in West Malling when the Beatles arrived. I was a young girl of about 13. While we were waiting outside the News agents for the Beatles to appear, John Lennon and a crew member came out and John Lennon said "there's one" and pointed to my Grandfather who was wearing a hat. They asked to borrow his hat and John wore it for the scene that was being filmed in the news agent. My Aunt, Uncle and cousins also were at the Aerodrome during the dance sequence in the film. Great memories.

Comments posted 13 Oct 2015 by Jean Crombet-Beolens :

I was lucky enough to be in West Malling when the Beatles were making Magical Mystery Tour. They came into town in a brightly painted bus and went to the local News agents by the five pointed star (what for I don't know). I remember seeing a brief glimpse of Paul( my favorite) in a velvet outfit and thinking he was much shorter than I imagined. They waved to the crowd on their way in and out but didn't sign any autographs.

does naybody recall, my nan and grandad william and maisie robinson. they originally come from west malling. maisie was born in 1915 raised at king square in the town. she was 24 when she married my grandad william in 1940. they moved to larkfield and had hazel. then to east malling and had joyce in 1943, then they moved to birling and had jean and geraldine in 1948. they then got homeless and had to live a nissan ex army hut ona field called sandhole camp at matfield .

maise found it hard to cope. she couldnt cook and the hut became crawling in rats. the children lived in very dirty conditions and they were starving hungry especailly when grandad was taken in hopital with jaundice . the nspcc got involved after jean, geraldine and joyce were all banned form school becauee insects were dropping from their hari onto the school desks . she had two more kids there dennis in 1951 and sheila in 1953. all the kids were taken into care and maisie stood trial for child neglect in july 1954. the judge told her it was one of the worse cases the bench had had before it. rats were found in the childrens beds and fleas hopped from their underclothes. she was even burning the childrens clothes trather than wasjing them. she was jailed for six months

despite all this people remember nan maisie as a lovely kind lady.she would not hurt a fly a lady who would help anybody out and who got taken advantage of because she she would give people anything. she was very timid and very meek but i was wondering if she had learning difficulties.

Comments posted 1 Aug 2014 by Sarah :

Hi there, I was interested to read your post. Do you know more about the family? Do you know of a Doreen Robinson who moved to the US with an American? Or do you remember a child called Alan? Thanks and best regards

Comments posted 1 Jul 2014 by Steven :

Yes i knew them,. maisie was my aunty. she was a lovely kind lady. she wouldnt hurt a fly. she mainly kept herself to herself. people took advantage of her because she would give people anything. she was never very clean. her house was always dirty . in the mid fifities she went back to live with her mothers alice underhill at king street. those houses are now pulled down becazuse they had no electirc, hot water nor were they livable . they were tumbled down . thats how she and bill got housed at east malling . columbine road i think it was called . bill robinson had tb and died in a home aged 52 . maisie got a flat later on by the green at east malling just round the corner from the house at columbine. she was very poor. infact although she would do anything for you she was a "bit of a drudge." because she never had nothing. she was always so hard up . she never went anywhere other than the local shops. she used to put her shopping in an old pram instead of a shopping trolley. she later had alzheimers and had a heart attack. and then had excess fluid on her lungs caused by her heart problems . she died in a home at wrotham in march 1994 aged 78 bless her

Hello, does anyone know if anything untoward ever happened at Dr. Bates office at Wisteria Lodge? Or what it was before it became a medical surgery office?


I'm doing some research on a ww1 solider from the town. The Lyon family came to West Malling around 1907 from Brentwood Essex and John went to West Malling Boys school in the high street. From the 1911 census his father William Henry Lyon was a furniture salesman. They lived at Newtown cottage, Offam Road. When the war broke out, John volunteered in 1914 and joined the Royal Field Artillery at Kennington London. Sadly John was killed in action on 28th October 1917.

The reason for this post has anybody got any information of the family and any photos, Did John join up with any of his 'pals'??

I have managed to track John from when he joined up across to France and Belgium to where he fell! (just need to get it double checked with the RFA museum before I write it all up)

Any information on John and his family would be very gratefully received,

Thank you very much


Comments posted 25 May 2014 by Ron Martin :

Rachel - I promised to send you details of the war memorials on which the West Malling men are recorded but have mislaid your e-mail address. Please e-mail me on and I will send it to you.

Ron Martin.

Comments posted 12 May 2014 by Rachel Powell :

Hello Ron

That's absolutely fantastic. I was starting to think I would never see a picture of John let alone his whole family, can't stop smiling.

Look forward to seeing you again on the 24th

Thank you once again


Comments posted 12 May 2014 by Ron Martin :


I have now located a photograph of the Lyon family and am in the process of identifying those in the photo.

I also have some further information about the family that I am checking, which I hope to have done by the time of our next exhibition date on 24th May.

If you e-mail I can update you on what I have established so far.

Ron Martin

Researcher for Malling Society

I'm looking for anyone who went to Malling house school for girls.

Yes I know it's offices now, but would like to get in contact with any of the teachers or girls, housemothers that was there around the same time as me which was in 1979 to 1982. Been in contact with a few but there are some that I've not seen since I left in 1982. Any help would be good.

Thanks. Sue

Comments posted 23 Aug 2015 by Julie williams :

Hi I went to Malling House. Girls that were there when I went were Tracey Smith, Donna Miskin, Sarah Jarvis, Dawn Watts, among others. Teachers were Mr Todd. Mr Blackford. Head teacher. Miss Stewart. Etc.

Comments posted 4 May 2014 by Ronald Dutt :

I was at Leybourne Grange Colony. It was a terrible place to be in. It was like a prison. You was kept on proper security. You wasn’t allowed to leave the grounds unless you got permission from the authorities. I didnt like it at all. You had to bath altogether in one bathroon, two at a time. It was absolutely horrible.

My address is 4 Sherwood Trust Homes, St. Michaels Street, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1LN. Telephone number 01303 254107

Comments posted 2 May 2014 by Peter :

Was your dad tom and mum pauline did you live sittingbourne. you had a brother tony abit younger than you. maybe wrong one but it was sittingbourne not west malling.

i am still enquiring after my brother john dutt.who lives somewhere in tonbridge area.

he is aged about 82 years of age. he was born in the year 1932. they called him wishbone, because he always had a beard on him. that is what his mates called him.

if you can find his ware abouts i will be satisfied. my address is 4.sherwood trust homes st.michaels street folkestone kent ct201ln telephone number is 01303 254107 any time in the afternoon

Comments posted 21 Dec 2017 by Tony Collins :

Hi Bill :

Your fans have been constantly thinking about you since your last posts in December, 2015. We look forward to hearing from you again.

All the best!

Comments posted 21 Dec 2015 by Bill :

John Dutt lived at 17 Royal West Kent Avenue, Tonbridge but moved about 4 years ago. No trace since.

Comments posted 22 Apr 2014 by Steve :

17 west kent royal avenue tonbridge

Comments posted 22 Apr 2014 by Steve :

nan rang and left a messge for you, and there is messages left on here for you as well


Does anyone know of another statue of Guy Gibson apart from the one at the airfield? I had heard that there is one in West Malling town.

Thanks, Viv

Comments posted 7 Dec 2016 by Robert Lucas :

Hello Viv

No there are no specific statues attributed to being a likeness of Guy Gibson in either Kings Hill or West Malling. The Running Airman statue at the lower end of Gibson Drive is not attributed to a Guy Gibson likeness. There is however a statue of Group Captain Peter Townsend in Townsend Square within the Kings Hill complex.

Regards, Robert Lucas

Comments posted 10 Apr 2014 by Denise Jones (nee Hobden) :

To my knowledge there is no statue of Guy Gibson in West Malling or the Kings Hill. The statue is that of an Airman which stands on the roundabout next to the community hall.

Does anyone know the history of the above Asylum which was in St Leonard's Street? I believe it is now called Malling Place but was a private Asylum up until the 20th Century sometime. TIA

Comments posted 16 Nov 2014 by Cosier :

See his write up in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Your West Malling library number will give you free access on line.

Read the Book The Mad Doctor Of West Malling by Shirley Black. He was Grand Master of Kent,poet, midwife, psychiatrist and doctor-- a truly fascinating and inportant 18th. c character.

Please can you let me know the where abouts of John Dutt. I haven’t seen him since the year 1999. All his mates call him wishbone. He normally gets in chequers inn in tonbridge high street. He is aged about eighty two.his birthday falls on january 28th please let me know as soon as you get to know his where abouts.i am interested to know.

please give me a ring on 01303 254107 any time in tre afternoon my address is 4.sherwood trust homes st.michaels street folkestone kent ct201ln

Comments posted 17 Mar 2014 by Steve :

Its 17 royal west kent avenue tonbridge

Comments posted 17 Mar 2014 by Steven :

Nan left a message on your answer machine. John lived in tonbridge. west kent something, nan knows more about it. if you play your answer machine it should be on it unless she phoned the wrong number lol

I live in another part of the country, but whenever I stay at my favourite place just outside West Malling and walk into town, I'm always intrigued by the tall wooden post and 'pub sign' frame in which hangs the nameboard for the Village Hall at the end of Norman Road. This post and sign - at the front by the entrance to the car park - appears to be older and more weathered in comparison to the relatively modern-looking Village Hall behind. Was there once a public house on this site and is this wooden post a last reminder of it?

Comments posted 31 Jan 2017 by Nick Gilman :

Thanks for your comments everyone - looks like the origins of the 'pub sign frame' will always be a mystery!

Comments posted 31 Jan 2017 by Steve Steel :

I lived in church road offham since 1960 and frequently walked the footpath past the woods, through the fields into West Malling and can never remember a pub standing where the village hall now stands.


Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

There has never been a pub in Norman Road, only a shop.

Comments posted 10 Apr 2014 by Penny Miller :

There was a pub in the 1960's just down the lane from King Hill Hostel, heading into the village of W.Malling. Stood near a crossroads, fields all around. No other houses. It was called the Startled Saint - known as the Startled Fart to grownups. Great memories of 2 times we were homeless in the 60's and sent to King Hill.

Comments posted 15 Mar 2014 by Nick Gilman :

Thanks Richard. I suppose my logical supplementary question thus now becomes: "I wonder if that wooden post and frame was obtained from a pub that went out of business elsewhere or whether it was designed and built solely for the Village Hall?"

Comments posted 12 Mar 2014 by Richard Carter :

The Village Hall is built on a greenfield site.

Hi, I'm searching for my adopted son who was born on the 25th febuary 1982 i understand he grew up in kent and left in 2003 to go abroad im not sure if he is still there or back in the uk but would be grateful if anyone knows of his where abouts could contact me as im very concerned for him. His name is Jack Alexandre Criag Tandy thanking you

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Robert Lucas :


Was Jack's birth name Tandy or was it his adopted name? I ask because I cannot find anyone by that name in the England & Wales birth register for that year.

I am looking for any information concerning the Dairy which used to be in West Malling. I believe the dairy was pulled down, when I don't know and it is now a car park.

George Dodd was the owner and he had two children, Janice and Peter, I'm not sure of his wife's name - Vera?? This would have been in 1950's and 60's

Many thanks.

Comments posted 23 Jul 2014 by Janice Norman :

My mother and father Vera and George Dodd ran the dairy as early as 1945 when I was born.My father didn't own the dairy but was the manager as it was owned by Jack Wickens who also owned Primrose and Len dairy in Romney Place Maidstone.

The dairy was compulsory purchased by West Malling council around 1965 so as to accommodate the car park,the dairy now being a veterinary practice.

I now live in Otham Maidstone and my brother Peter in Norfolk.

Comments posted 24 Feb 2014 by Steven :

Does anybody recall the Shilling family? their gran was a Lucus . . also Susan did you know Michael Brook? Leslies son. do you keep in touch with Leslie and Elsies family ?

Comments posted 20 Feb 2014 by Peter Bullion :

When i was a kid growing up in West Malling in the 1940's there was a Primrose and Len dairy. The milk was delivered by horse and cart . The cart must have had a technical name but i don't know what it was . Any way when i was a kid the milk was delivered door to door and 2 women did the milk round with this horse and cart. My brother and i used to go round with the horse , we both loved horses,during school holidays, and the 2 women used to sit on the cart at the front and tell my brother and i how many bottles of milk to leave at customers doors. The 2 ladies had it easy during the holidays and my brother and i loved going round each morning with the horse and leaving the milk at the doors.The horse knew what doors to stop at and what doors to miss out all by himself, he must have been doing it for a few years. Peter Bullion ex West Malling

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Robert Lucas :

The site of the former Primrose & Len Dairy, was where the Abbotsley Vetinary Practice currently is, which is adjacent to the entrance to the short stay car park. I remember going in there with my mother in the early 1950's when she paid the milk bill. A grocery shop was next door, right where the roadway to the car park, now is.

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Susan Reece :

Thanks so much for your reply.

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Richard :

I remember that our milk was delivered by horse and cart from a dairy named Primrose and Len based in the High Street. Certainly that would have been early 1950's onwards but I cannot recall when it ceased.

I have noticed from a previous post that Robert Lucas' family lived at Abbey Gate House in Swan Street, West Malling during the late 1930's and 40's. My late mother, Daphne Brook/Nield also lived there with her parents and gave birth to a son in 1947 whilst still at that address. I am trying to find out during which period my mother's family lived there and would be grateful for any information. I think I remember her mentioning a Bobby Lucas and wonder if the house had been shared at any time by two families.

With many thanks.

Comments posted 13 Mar 2017 by Jon :

Hi Robert,

I have just seen your post.

My great grandfather is shown as lodging with your grandparents in the 1939 register at Abbey Gate House.

His birth name was Alexander Colman but at some point between 1922 and 1939 changed his name to Joseph Alexander Coleman.

I am trying to find out more about him and wonder if your mother or aunts might still be alive and remember him?

We really would love to find out more about him. He died in 1941 and was buried in West Malling.

Thank you,


Comments posted 15 Feb 2014 by Susan Reece :

Hi Robert,

Many thanks for your input, what you have said sounds very likely. I am really glad that I found this wonderful web site, it has been so nice to piece things together.

My late mother spoke fondly of her time in West Malling and of playing in the brass band and although you hear the stories when you are younger, it is only now when trying to write them all down that I realise my memory is a little hazier than I would like.

Once again, thank you.


Comments posted 15 Feb 2014 by Robert Lucas :

Your mother would have know my paternal grandparents who lived next door to Abbey Gate House. They lived in the white cottage which is located to the rear of the Swan Hotel. 'Bobby Lucas' may well have been my dad's younger brother Robert Lucas, after whom I was named. He was one of my dad's brothers who played in the WM brass band. As a teenager, he used to play the bugle solo at WM war memorial each November, during the Armistage Day celebrations. Early on in WW2, he joined the RAF, but died of meningitus in 1942.

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Susan Reece :

Hi Robert

Thank you, you are very kind to take the time to answer my questions. It would appear that the house was split in to two dwellings. I remember my mother mentioning someone she knew with the surname of Lucas so maybe you or someone from your family did know her.

Many thanks, Sue

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Robert Lucas :

Hello again

I've just had a chat with my Mum's younger sister (now 91) who was brought up with my mum in Abbey Gate House. When my grand parents moved in during 1933, another family did indeed live in the rear part of the building. There was an adjoining door through from one of my grandparent's bedrooms to the rear of the house, which was sealed off. The rear part of the building had its own staircase, but the main (spooky) staircase was just off to the right of the front door. None of us 6 or so grand children liked that staircase. It had an evil feel about it. My mother saw a ghost in there one morning, when she was preparing to start a 6 am shift in the WM Police where she was stationed. The figure of a old man was sitting in her father's rocking chair.

The entrance to the rear property, was via an external door on the side of the house. The family living in the rear property at one time were a Mr & Mrs Humphrey with children Reginald, Nigel & Olive. When the Humphrey family moved out, a Mrs Bunce and her daughter moved in.

Hope this helps!

Robert Lucas

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Susan Reece :

Thank you very much for answering my questions, I really appreciate it.

I am researching my family tree and have found an old driving licence belonging to my late father which indicates that he was living at Abbey Gate House during 1947/8. My mother was there at that time too, along with her parents, George & Emily Brook. I'm guessing that the house must have been shared by two families if your grandparents also lived there.

It's a lovely house and I remember my mother had fond memories of it.

Did you know her? Daphne (Pat)

I'm not sure what band she belonged to, only that she played the trumpet and they used to march through West Malling. I believe she also carried out fire watch duties during the war too. It's just nice to build up a picture of her time in Malling.

Once again, many thanks.

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Robert Lucas :

My maternal grandparents who lived in Abbey Gate House, were Frank & Elizabeth Salmon. They had previously owned a grocers shop in New Town, West Malling. My mother and her 3 sisters grew up in Abbey Gate House. She moved out in late 1946 when my father was demobbed from the army and he returned from Italy, but my grandparents continued to live there until the very late 1950's (maybe early 1960's).

My late mother Daphne Dodd (nee Brook) played the trumpet in a Marching Band in West Malling during the war or just after. I would be most grateful if anyone has any information of that time. I believe that she was living at Abbey Gate House in Swan Street, West Malling.

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Robert Lucas :

There was indeed a brass band in West Malling in the 1920's and 30's. It was probably not a marching band though. My father and his 2 younger brothers were all in the band. My father played a drum, and his brothers played cornet & trumpet. To quote from my father's memoirs. (Ronald Lucas) ........" They (the band) practised on Tuesday evenings in a room over the top of the laundry in King Street, then 3 nights a week in a room at the back of The Bear and then later in the Tap Room of The Swan. They entered a band contest in Calverley Gardens in Tunbridge Wells and won a prize. The band would lead processions through the town for example on Armistace Sunday. The first Sunday in May, was called Band Sunday, when they played in the church". Freda Barton took a picture of the band in the cricket meadow in the 1920's which has been published by the Malling Society, in a publication entitled, "I Remember West Malling", volume 2.

I recall my father telling me that the band disbanded at the outbreak of WW2.

There was a band that marched, run by the Baptist Church Boys Brigade, possibly in the 1970's.

Could anyone tell me the actual date/year the Startled Saint PH closed please? Many thanks.

Comments posted 3 Feb 2014 by Nick :

Brilliant! Many thanks for answering my query Richard.

All the best


Comments posted 3 Feb 2014 by Richard Neve :

The startled saint closed approx one month prior to me moving in on the 16 September 1992

I have records showing that my late mother lived with her family in Abbey Gate House, Swan Street, West Malling during 1947. My mother had very fond memories of the house and I believe they had to take in another family?? If anyone has any memory of George and Emily Brook who rented Abbey Gate House for the sum of £1 per week I would be most grateful to hear. (George and Emily, my maternal grandparents, had moved to Kent from Sussex just before the war)

I also would like any information on King Hill Hostel during 1949. Does anyone know when it finally closed.

Comments posted 3 Feb 2014 by Alan :

I meant to say george was born in 1890s, not 1800. emily eliza and george married in west malling even though they came from sussex. i know emily's name was skinner

Comments posted 31 Jan 2014 by Susan Reece :

Thank you so much for all this info, much appreciated. This will really help me to piece together family history.

Comments posted 31 Jan 2014 by Alan :

we had daphne marrying twice. we think she married in dodd and had two children martin 1947 and susan .1953 is that right ? we were also related to the west, sutton , and of course the underhill families

Comments posted 31 Jan 2014 by Alan :

Hi Susan. george thomas brook was born in 1800 east sussex. he married emily elza skinner in 1915 at west malling. witnesses were james lewin and amy hodges. they then went to live back in sussex and had harold brook in 1918. leslie in 1921, clifford and daphne in 1923. they also had a younger son called john . he possibly married a lady called mary kitney . they were living in west malling in the 30s . before the war. george died in 1977 ?

Comments posted 31 Jan 2014 by Susan Reece :

Thank you so much for info.

I would also be grateful for information concerning George and Emily Brook (Leslie's parents) who came to West Malling from Sussex at the beginning of the war and lived with their family for a time at ABBEY GATE HOUSE, West Malling. I was trying to find out when they moved there and for how long. My late mother Daphne also played the trumpet in a Marching Band in West Malling and I would love to hear if anyone has any memories of her or that time. She also took part in Fire Watch Duties during the war.

Comments posted 31 Jan 2014 by Alan :

HI I'm Alan Underhill. i know lots about the brook family. leslie married elsie grant. they later got housed at carnation cresent . their grandson keith did fall in the river in maidstone . he was 42. he was drunk. one of the other grandsons tevor married a woman who was convicted of child neglect following the death of her child michael. trevor had left her by then. i remember a lynch mob after her at the time in maidstone. the shop keeper had to hide her in the back. another one alan is in jail at the moment for stabbing a man at the traffic lights in larkfield. he was a known burglar and had convictions for stabbing a man before . missing his heart by inches . its funny because leslie and elsie were alright. elsie moved into her daiughters house at shatfsbury close in east malling they were relation to us . thats how i know so much about them. leslie was born in hampshire . the was also a david brook and a rodney brook as well. clifford brook married deborah flisher and had tow children . trevor is married agian to candy gilbert . leslie and elsie split up int he mid 80s and he lived up four acres . i think leslie died in the mid 80s and elsie died in 2000 . i will ask a relative on the savage side if they can know more .

Comments posted 30 Jan 2014 by Susan Reece :

Thank you for comments re my request on Abbey Gate House.

I think I remember my late mother talking about a Bobby Lucas in connection with Abbey Gate House and I have noticed that a Robert Lucas posted a comment in 2012. I was wondering if there is any connection and if maybe the two families shared Abbey Gate House during or just after the war.

Leslie was my late mother's brother.

Comments posted 30 Jan 2014 by Steve :

they later lived east malling. they had a son called michael and i know they had grandsons trevor and keith. keith died a few years ago. he fell into the river at maidstone aged 42 . leslie died in 1985 and elsie died in 2000

Comments posted 30 Jan 2014 by Steven :

I knew of a leslie brook who lived at that address. he had a wife called elsie . they later lived at king square .


I'm hoping that someone might be able to help me, I'm the 3rd x great grand daughter of Jane Orpin and John Hilliard, Jane was the daughter of Phoebe and William, William's father was Thomas, whose fathers was Nicholas as was his father.

John Hilliard was a journeyman butcher, Jane and John are buried in St Marys. If anyone had any family information or indeed any photos I'd love to hear from you.


Vanessa Howell

Can anybody help, I have a memory of staying in an aircraft hangar with beds lining the walls and it being in West Malling and it had the prominent smell of vicks vapour rub, ...was there such a place? I've spoken with my younger sister who has no memory of this, I'm sure the place was used for abused wives, many thanx for taking the time to read this

Comments posted 2 Jul 2016 by Stephen :

Hi. I remember this place. I would have been about 4 at the time. My parents refused to ever speak about it but now they have passed away and I would like more info. If anyone can help me find any info could you please contact me.

Comments posted 5 Aug 2014 by Sarah :

Hi again. Yes, Alan is my father and he will be 66 on October 26th, he did marry Ann, could you please kindly send some more information? may I ask how your related to people, as of course you can understand this is very confusing.

You may like to use my personal email:

Thanks and kind regards


Comments posted 5 Aug 2014 by Mathew :

The one we have is a very distant relative. he was the son of cyril robinson and he was born in bromley. cyrils wife was called doreen. this alan would be 66 ?

he had a sister called sue robinson who was much younger. this alan married ann willoughby. ?

Does any of that ring a bell?

Comments posted 5 Aug 2014 by Sarah :

Hi there, i'm sorry to say that I really don't know, the names don't ring any bells unfortunately. What I do know is that there was also a surname of Mullins, and possibly Grant in my family, if that sounds familiar?

thanks, best regards

Comments posted 4 Aug 2014 by Mathew :

Sarah was your dad related to william and maisie robinson. i am trying to find out about them. they were my grandparents

Comments posted 1 Aug 2014 by Sarah :

Hi there, my father Alan Robinson remembers staying there as a boy with his mother, who I think was Doreen. She met an American GI and moved to the states, leaving my father in the UK. Does Any one remember them? Or does anyone have any more info please? Many thanks

Comments posted 9 Feb 2014 by Caroline Ruck [nee Shilling] :

Yes we lived in the hostel but our parents were married. not all were un married mums . I resent the implercation and to lumber the Shillings with the Spittalhouses blows my mind all us girls 11 of us went on to higher education and married well in 3 cases millionaires

Comments posted 2 Jan 2014 by Pete :

That was the king hill hostel. They were nissan huts used to house homeless people. my mother used to live in west malling years ago. my mum knew the Shilling and Spittlehouse families from there. one of the Shilling family still live in malling to this day

Comments posted 1 Jan 2014 by Ann :

You're right about the hostel it was indeed a place usually for single mothers, however I recall boyfriends there as well

Comments posted 31 Dec 2013 by Richard :

Hi Sue, if you read through the posts on the site you will find a few relating to the hostel to which you refer. I do recall the hostel and unfortunately in a different era to the current it was not a place that many wished to be associated.


I have been tracing my Chapman ancestors and have traced back to William Chapman born 1590 East Malling, does anyone know of this family?



Comments posted 8 May 2014 by Amy Wiggins :

I know a Chapman family who used to live in West Malling, they have moved now but I am still in touch with them - the lady's name is Sue and she is in her 50s now

Comments posted 10 Dec 2013 by Stephen :

I know of two. the was chapmans that lived down new hythe lane in larkfield. they owned a farm. infact where the motorway by pass is where they had their farm. they were paid millions in compensation for having the motorway cutting through it. i also knew of a traveller family chapman . i dont know if either is related to you


I am currently researching health visiting and school nursing in the Maidstone & District/Mid Kent Health Authority based in Wateringbury, Trottiscliffe and West Malling between 1975 - 1978.

I wanted to ask if any one could point me in the right diretion for photos, records, stories I could look at from that time? Particularly concerning babies, children and families and village life.

Best wishes

Amy Beeson

I have great memories of going to west malling primary school in fact I never wanted to leave. One of my favourite teachers there was Miss Hanchett. Im just asking if any one knows the history of what happened to her once she left the school. I am now a teaching assistant and I know that it was through the love of west malling school and the lessons it taught me was a big reason why I always wanted to work in a school. I went back to west malling to do my work experience and my ultimate dream would have been to work there. If anyone has any info please let me know.

Comments posted 15 Oct 2015 by Jane Gosney :

West Malling Primary School has been open for 60 years this year at the current site in Norman Road, West Malling. As part of the celebrations for this anniversary, the school would like to display the names and dates of all the Head teachers since 1955. The community have helped us with some names and approximate dates but we would love to have an accurate record.Can any one help?

Comments posted 29 Apr 2015 by Clare Painting :

I remember Miss Hanchett, but she never taught me. My sister had Mr Stapley and Mrs Bowden (spelling?) My favourite teacher was Mr Cornell. Does anyone know what happened to him? I'd love to drop him a line. He was fantastic and now I'm a teacher I try to have Nature Tables in my rooms!

Comments posted 28 Apr 2014 by Bo Beolens :

I remember Miss Hanchett, but my favourite was Mrs Anderson before she emigrated to Canada. Mr Rogers was head and Mr Johnston deputy in my time.

Comments posted 1 Oct 2013 by Robert Lucas :

Miss Hanchette lives with her twin sister in Hertfordshire. She taught my children at West Malling. I saw her at the wedding of a friend's daughter, some 3 years ago.

Has any one got any old photos or history of The Beeches , The Beech Inn , The Old Beech Inn on Seven mile Lane?

Many thanks

Comments posted 18 Nov 2017 by Tony Collins :

Maxine : Are you related to Richard Packham?

During the late 1940's he played cricket for Charterhouse School; they were captained by the future Surrey and England skipper, Peter May.

He lived at Claygate Cross/Basted Lane, Crouch. During the 1960's he occasionally knocked back a few, with his wife, at the nearby Chequers public house (at the junction of Long Mill Lane and Basted Lane).

Also seated in the Saloon bar, now and again, were Town Malling United footballers. Included amongst those, who were the most well behaved, were Brian 'Oaky' Kennard, Les Monks and Mick Bassett. Come to think of it, they still owe me a drink!

Comments posted 13 Nov 2017 by Tony Collins :

Sorry! There was a Bill Beech; but it was Bill Knowles who was his big drinking neighbour.

Comments posted 13 Nov 2017 by Tony Collins :

J.C.T.Page (1930-1990) was raised/lived opposite The Beech Inn, Seven Mile Lane, Mereworth.

He played for Kent CCC from 1950 until 1963. John was initially opening fast bowler; on switching to off-spin he became known as Colin.

His appointment as coach helped Kent's fortunes improve dramatically during the 1960's and 1970's, with young home-grown talent blossoming into world-class players.

The Colin Page Scholarship is presented in his memory.

One of his neighbours, Bill Beech, was arguably the leading consumer of beer at The Beech Inn - from the mid-1940's until mid-50's.

Comments posted 24 Feb 2014 by David Underwood :

its still there had a meal there about 2 years ago

I have fond memories of living in the air field as a child even tho we were homless. I remember Christmas very well ,going over to collect a present in the tin hall. Thay were very kind people. we had a very small room Wiv a little kitchen but our bedroom woz very long Wiv metal hospital beds,I remember going to the malling school which I didn't like,but what a memo of the 70s

Can anyone give me any information on the Dutt family who resided in West Malling during the 19th century.

Comments posted 27 Aug 2015 by Mary Williams :

Carol please email me re Dutt family. My email address is Israel Dutt born 1815 was my great great grandad. Love to exchange notes and info.

Comments posted 25 Aug 2015 by Carol Kersbergen (nee Dutt) :

I do have a lot of information on the Dutts going back to 1788.

How can I send you the information. By mail perhaps,


Comments posted 25 Aug 2015 by Carol Kersbergen (Dutt) :

Please email me. I have a lot of information on the Dutt family going back to 1788.



Comments posted 2 Aug 2013 by Peter :

There was a henry dutt who married a catherine maiden. he had a son called israel dutt . does this ring any bells ? . henry originally come from suffolk . they lived at hight street west malling. many people have done a family tree on them, if you sign up to ancestry proquest then you put in henry or israel dutt west malling scroll down to where it says family trees it should come up with some more info. hope this has been a bit useful

Did your ancestor from West Malling serve in the armed forces during World War One and is it possible that their photograph was taken by Freda Barton. If so the Malling Society would like to hear from you. The Society are planning an exhibition in 2014 to remember those who served in the Great War and particularly those who lost their lives.

In the Freda Barton Photographic Collection there are a large number of photographs of men in uniform whose names we do not know. Perhaps you could help us identify them. They will be available to look at at our current exhibition at the Clout Memorial Institute on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th September from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you can help us please contact Ron Martin at 24 Simpson Road, Snodland, Kent ME6 5QF or e-mail or post your reply here.

Comments posted 19 Oct 2014 by Donald Skinner :

Ref Comments by Caroline Coster : If your great grand mother was Annie Elizabeth born 1873 daughter of Arron b 1843 & Elizabeth Skinner we are related. See my posting of the Skinner family tree posted 17 October 2014, see also my previous postings on this site.

Comments posted 17 Oct 2014 by Donald Skinner :

Reply to Ron Martin's posting: My father George Skinner served on HMS "Artois", an armed merchant cruiser which in peacetime was the SS "Digby". Another relation, my father's cousin William Larkin also served in WW1. The family story is that he went away to sea just prior to the outbreak of the war and was in Sydney, Australia when war broke out. He "jumped" ship and and joined the Australian Army and was killed on the first or second day of the landing at Galipoli ie 25 or 26 April 1915. His name is on the Honour roll at the Australian War memorial museum in Canberra

Comments posted 13 Oct 2014 by Ron Martin :

Mr. Skinner

Thank you for responding to my request. I am compiling a list of all West Malling men who served in the First World War and will of course add your father and uncle to the list. Do you know which ship your father served on? I remember Ernie Baker, particularly for his involvement with the British Legion after the Second World War, do you know which regiment he served in - I can then also add him to the list. Thank You. Ron Martin

Comments posted 13 Oct 2014 by Donald Skinner :

My father George Skinner and his brother Harold both served in the 14/18 war. Their parents were Henry James Skinner and Alice Jane nee Morgan who lived in one of the tied cottages by the lake as James was a gardener at the Manor. Harold was born in 1896 and probably called up in 1914. I believe he served in the RAMC and returned without any wounds. My father was born in 1898 and joined the navy in 1916 prior to receiving his call up and served as an A/B until 1919. My uncle, Ernest Baker married my aunt Nellie Skinner, served in the army and was invalided out in 1916 after losing his left hand and half the fore arm. He returned to West Malling and became the one-armed postman in the village until he retired.

I will be posting a memory with some of the Skinner family history from Robert b 1753 d 1834 and Rebecca b 1756 d 1823 when I have gathered up my records.

Comments posted 11 May 2014 by Henry (Harry) Brill :

Reference is made to Caroline Coster's post. I am the grandson of Arthur Skinner and would also like to get in touch with her. My e-mail address is My home address is 20139 Vances Mill Road Abingdon VA 24211 USA

Comments posted 9 Apr 2014 by Caroline Coster :

I am related to various families from around West Malling, and Freda Barton had very close connections with one family in particular, the Hearndens. I know she took several photos of the Hearndens; I have one of the entire family in front of Dutch Cottage, Leybourne, and another of my great grandmother Annie Hearnden (nee Skinner) with her sons Cyril, Maurice and Frederick (my grandfather) and daughter Bessie hop picking. I would not be surprised to find that she also took photos of members of the family who served in WW1. I know my great grandfather Thomas Hearnden served in WW1, as did his cousin Frank William (who was killed at Ypres). I am sure there are other family members who also served. I have quite a lot of information about the family which I would be glad to share, and would also love to investigate whether there are other photos of the family taken by Freda which I have not yet seen.

Comments posted 6 Feb 2014 by John Sorrell :

My uncle, by marriage, John Tupper Foreman fought in the 14/18 war. He was the youngest son of the baker. Some details are on Google. He married my mother's sister Elsie Dartnell daughter of Arthur Dartnell, my grandfather, who lived at a house then called Pretoria towards the top of the High Street. I believe it is now called Shelborn? As children my brothers and I spent most of the 39/45 war living in West Malling.

Comments posted 18 Sep 2013 by Richard West :

I don't suppose you are the same Ron Martin who played football many years ago for Leybourne Grange?

Comments posted 24 Jul 2013 by Ron Martin :

Dear Mr. Underhill

Sorry the people you mention are not related to me as far as I know.

Ron Martin

Comments posted 24 Jul 2013 by Alan Underhill :

Are you related to steve martin and corrinnne martin i think they had a mum called marion martin. there was also alan martin whose daughter died in a house fire on clare park estate in east malling in 1977?

Comments posted 18 Jul 2013 by Ron Martin :

Message for Mrs Jones. I have done some research on the names on the West Malling War Memorial. If you could let me have the name of your relative and your email address, I will let you know what I have found about him. Ron Martin

Comments posted 15 Jul 2013 by Denise Jones Nee Hobden :

Unfortunately I have no photographs. My grandmother, great grandparents were from West Malling. I was told my great grandmothers brothers name was on the monument at St Mary's church.

Hi everyone,

In 1972, thousands of Asian families were exiled from Uganda on the orders of Idi Amin, and a large number found themselves living temporarily in a resettlement camp at the West Malling air base. In November 1972 the camp was visited by the Duke of Edinburgh.

I'm keen to make contact with anyone who was a part of that camp - particularly anyone who recalls seeing the Duke on that day. We're putting together a documentary about the Duke and the positive impact he's had on communities and individuals up and down the country.

If you know anyone who may have been a part of that community, or if you have any clues that you think could help our hunt, please get in touch - my email is

Comments posted 1 Jan 2016 by David Bellchambers :

My father Douglas Bellchambers was involved in assisting the Ugandan families at WestMalling at this time. Sadly he died some years ago. Some of the refugees kindly made an entry into the book of remembrance at Vinters Park crematorium and we would like to thank them for doing this. Regards t all. David.

Comments posted 8 Jul 2013 by John Ashton :

I well remember the Ugandan Asian refugees at the Airfield. I was part of the medical practice which the authorities assumed would cope.

We had up to 2000 residents there with a total practice list of 6000 so there was some hard talk!!

I was not aware the Duke visited.

I ran across one of the residents recently. She remembers the centre -she was aged 12 at the time.

Things have changed there have they not!!

I moved with the U.S. Navy to West Malling in July 1960 and stayed until May 19673. My wife and I had two sons there. I would like to provide them with photos of where they lived for the first 3 years of their lives. Any help would be sincerely appreciated. Being in England, where my ancestors came from was the most wonderful days of my life.

Comments posted 21 Mar 2018 by Lt Richard Davis Barber, USN (Ret.) :

Reside in Airman Married Quarters #27, from May 1961 to May 1963, as a Personnelman Second Class. Worked in RAF West Malling Administrative Building. Operated RAF W/M Phone Center in WWII Bunker on base. Resided on estate near Tunbridge Wells from July 1960 to Dec 1961. Relocated to Hadlow in Jan 1961 and from there went to AMQ 327.

Formerly at Blackbushe Airport Hants with Navy Fleet Aircraft Squadron (FASRON)-200 from April 1959 to July 1960.

Comments posted 13 Mar 2018 by Anthony Moor :

I am writing a book about RAF West Malling and would like to contact anyone who lived in married quarters there, including any US Navy Personnel stationed there.

Comments posted 8 Aug 2014 by Julia :

Thanks for your message Alan. You are correct. Errol did marry a local girl (my dad's sister) and they did live in East Malling for a short while. However, they soon moved to London, but unfortunately, Errol passed away with a heart attack at 50yrs old and his wife Jill passed away two years ago. The years pass by so quickly.

Comments posted 24 Jul 2013 by Alan :

Hello Julia. Steve is my brother, he let me use his account. yes i remember errol. he married a girl on the estate down in the village of west malling. they live over east malling . they got housed over there i think. he was a londoner though . lots of girls from the estates flocked after us. they dont bother with me now though. it was the uniform lol. me and steve were based there .

Comments posted 11 Jul 2013 by Julia Hooper :

Steven: Errol Harper-Penman was my uncle

Comments posted 2 Jul 2013 by Richard Davis Barber :

If anyone has photos of the old Airmen's Married Quarters at RAF West Malling they care to share, please send in email to

See my previous email about this subject.


Comments posted 29 Jun 2013 by Angela Hill :

I am resident in the West Malling area, and work at the Kings Hill area which was previously the West Malling airfield, now heavily built on by lots of new Company buildings and new homes. If I can help with photo's of the area West Malling village etc I shall, I shall only be able to post these on my facebook page though.

Comments posted 28 Jun 2013 by Steven :

I knew a man called Eroll Penman Harper. i also knew Stanley Thornton. his wife Eileen and they has a down syndrome son called Joe. i think they arrived in 1967 or 1968 . there was also supposed to have been a big scandal at the time about airmen and the women at the king hill hostel. i leave that to your imagination lol

I lived in West Malling from c.1954-c.1964 so attended WM Infants with the amazing Miss Curzon as Headmistress and the Ferocious Miss Ginn? as deputy. Then WM Junior when Mr Rogers was Headmaster until I left for Maidstone Grammar School. I lived at 7a Police Station Road as my dad was Station Officer there. The police house had, I recall, Norman foundations. Almost opposite was a corner shop where my sister Jean and I would buy our nutty logs (2d) and jamboree bags (3d) from Mr & Mrs Cliss. Before the Kent Arms took on its present persona one could use the 'jug and bottle' entrance to buy lemonade and crisps.

We played down our road and into Swan Lane and Frog lane (which used to have frogs in the stream), playing in the cascade and stream and peeping into the abbey by climbing the cascade. We also used to spend the whole summer in 'banky meadows' playing in the stream and trying to dam it using the old (mediaeval) fishpond walls as our starting points. We used to make tunnels through the hay and roll down the hill - pretty innocent days eh?

As a young teenager I worked in West Malling garage on a Saturday and spent my hard earned in Baldock's on Dave Clarke shirts and blue jeans. My friends and I would meet in Molly's Cafe or outside the chippy scoffing our 'four penneth of chips and a halfpenny's worth of batter bits'.

I used to go down Ryarsh Lane to pick up my mate Geoff Harvey and then he, I and Dick Woodger would go and put pennies on the railway lines where there was a pedestrian crossing and pick up the flattened coins when the train had gone through.

I also remember working during a school holiday as a dustman which gave an insight into the lives of the whole village form the Vicarage and other 'big houses' to the lowly council estate. It was most certainly not the rich postcode it is now. I'd love to know what happened to my old friends... like Ealin Tedham, Linda Richardson and Geoff and Dick.

Comments posted 28 Apr 2014 by Barbara Earl :

Hi Bo. Just to let you know that I was a WPC at West Malling Police Station from September 1974 - 1979 and briefly knew your father, Eric. He was a lovely, jolly man. Did he last live in one of the Holborough Road, Snodland Police Houses before he retired and emigrated to New Zealand? Many happy memories of the Police Station!! I still live in West Malling.

Comments posted 2 Jan 2014 by Ann :

Yes I remember the Shillings im norman road- there was so many can anybody list them all? i knew of the Waghorns then there was the Codgers then Bennets then ?? then the Shillings then Bennetts then the midwife with her rattling old bike- the Gardeners the Maytums the ?? a few more i remember were the Woodgers and the Mills guess there are more but the grey cells are getting old like me

Comments posted 10 Jul 2013 by Richard West :

And do you remember a spell in hospital when you were at the junior school? I do. I remember coming to visit you with someone else, sadly not sure who that was now. You forgot the best teacher at the infant school, Miss Hughes, remember her with grey hair swept back into a bun?

Fish and chips from the Abnett's was great. Can you remember their son? He had a short career as a pop singer under the name Chips Fisher! One of your near neighbours in PS Road was John Wilmore, he later moved to Ewell Avenue. We were close friends at the time.

Others you may remember were Roger King, Vincent Howard, Valerie Porter and Jayne Butler. I cannot say I knew your mother although we both worked at LGH not that our paths crossed, seem to recall she worked nights and I was in the finance offices.

Happy Days

Richard West

Comments posted 28 Jun 2013 by Steven :

my mum went to that school she said Miss Curzon was terrible. she would have one special child she would try hard to get in the grammar but she was horrible to everybody. when my mum went up to snodland school she couldn't even do joined up writing.

did you remember the Shilling family from west malling. the was also Maytum, Newmans and Underhills

Would love to hear from anyone who remembers George & Queenie Goodger who lived at 30 Town Hill. They had two children (Frank known as Bill and Mary). I am Mary's son.

Comments posted 25 Dec 2014 by William Usmar :

We lived next door at 28, if you remember access was via the basement. Loved the garden. William

Comments posted 31 Jan 2014 by Sarah Wilson nee Owen :

Hi my great aunt Gladys Spain who lived at 23 Ryarsh lane was friends with Queenie, when I used to stay with aunt Glad in the early 1970s I played with Alison who I think was Queenies grand-daughter.

Comments posted 6 Jun 2013 by Steve Underhill :

Did they have a son called David and daughters Leonie and Margaret?

Does anyone have any information as to where claire cottage is, in east malling i think it is at the bottom of broadwater just before clare park entrance does anyone know if wing comander guy gibson live in this cottage with his wife in 1941/2 after some local knowledge, i know he used to cycle up broadwater to get to the airfeild just need to clarify that this was the cottage he live in.any of the older generation may remember this.

Comments posted 7 Dec 2016 by Robert Lucas :

Hi Philip

A book about Guy Gibson VC by Susan Ottaway, ISBN 978-0-9562176-0-8, 1st published in 1994 and reprinted several times since, is well worth a read. The book details Gibson's life and tells how much he loved living in Clare Cottage.

I am uncertain as to whether Clare Cottage still exists, but if you contact The Malling Society, which is a first class research organisation, they will be able to help you. They can be contacted via their website.

I hope this helps in some way.

Regards, Robert Lucas.

Does anyone know of a place called King Hill Institution in West Malling?. It was around in 1925 as my great aunt wrote her Will there. It was witnessed by Mabel Brading, Sister in Charge in 14 September 1925

Many thanks

Comments posted 2 Oct 2013 by Valerie Ann Campbell-Balcombe nee Daley :

i was taken to west malling institution age 3 in 1948 with my brothers and sisters. and mother we were there for 4 years altogether with a stay thanet institution. we left in 1948 i am trying to find records of that period. a Mrs Lipscome was matron also a lovely irish lady Miss Reynolds

Comments posted 17 Aug 2013 by John Coomber :

I suspect this refers to the Malling Union, which was the local Work House

Comments posted 25 Jul 2013 by George :

I think that my family lived in the West Malling workhouse in about 1956. Sadly my parents are now both dead, but they used to call the place "Heath Camp" is this the same place. I have seen one picture and it looks like dirty old wooden buildings. I would love to see other pictures please.

Comments posted 13 May 2013 by Ron Martin :

The history of West Malling Workhouse can be found on, however the Malling Society's 2013 exhibition "Serving West Malling" includes a section on the Workhouse and the later Malling Institution. This includes photographs taken in the early 1900's and an aerial photograph taken in the 1920's. The exhibition is next open on Saturday 25th and Monday 27th May at the Clout Memorial Institute, High Street, West Malling from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.

Ron Martin - Researcher for the Malling Society.

Hullo, during the 1990s, I was in correspondence with a local historian who discovered records of a number of play performances staged in the 1700s by professional players in a Assembly Room - or "Long Room" - at an inn somewhere in West Malling. My wife, Jacquie, and I have been searching for this inn recently, and are surprised to discover just how many inns and taverns West Malling has! I notice the Swan appears to have been an important inn, but the name I recall (perhaps wrongly) was the Rose & Crown, or the Rose... I may, though, be wrong about that because we couldn't find an inn anywhere in West Malling with that name. I'm clutching at straws, but the gentleman who corresponded with me back then was certain this Long Room still stands. He described it having a musicians gallery on one side, and being very small - only 20ft wide x 40ft long in plan. I've always considered the possibility of reviving one or two scenes from 18th century plays at this Long Room... But the first thing I'd like to do is identify this mysterious inn... On our walks around the town last year, we discovered a wonderful Assembly Room in one street, but couldn't find any inn with which it was associated. If this is the Long Room referred to by my previous correspondent, I'd be delighted if anyone can identify the inn with which it might have been associated. This is especially significant, because 18th century people regarded Assembly Rooms as playhouses. Theatre historians today wrongly (in my view) distinguish purpoose-built playhouses from Assembly Rooms because the earliest translations of Serlio and Palladio specifically regard these Classical Rooms as "playhouses". This implies that West Malling, like Richmond in Yorkshire, and Bristol, and Bury St Edmunds, still retains a 18th century playhouse. I've just completed and am ready to e-publish a book called "Imaginative Genius: Bristol's Old Vic." It contains a new chapter about Assembly Rooms. This will be the first of what I hope might become a series of books about eighteenth-century play revivals. Meanwhile, can anyone help identify the West Malling Inn with its eighteenth-century Long Room where play performances took place, please? Mark

Comments posted 16 Nov 2014 by Cosier :

Records show that the Assembly Rooms High Street West Malling staged Plays in 18thc(?) The builder of the rooms was local and is known. Ralph Lovegrove architect restored the rooms approx 1980.The building ar the rear in King St. known as Holly Bank (?) was known to have once been an inn and was converted to offices approx.1990 (?)

Comments posted 10 May 2014 by Mr G Hills :

We have recently purchased a property in West Malling,which is now called the Fancy Goat, which as far as we are aware from limited history of the building,was called the Rose and Crown. The assembly rooms which is attached to our building,is now a Loss adjuster's. The assembly room sign is still prominent on the front of there building.

We recently acquired an old print of the building with the Signage showing.

We are currently looking into the history of the building as we are refurbishing the upper floors and adding original features back to the property.

We have done extensive work to the lovely building so far with the help of listed buildings.

We have met a lovely retired man who is local to West Malling who used to drink in the rose and crown,when I next bump into him I will invite him in for a drink to discuss the building as it was.

The Fancy Goat, 40 High Street, West Malling, Kent ME19 6QR

From limited knowledge we believe it was formerly known as manhattans, pinch, Rose and Crown antiques, Rose and Crown inn.

If anyone else can help in our quest please email.

Comments posted 24 Feb 2014 by David Underwood :

The asmblery rooms was my grandfathers shop up untill 1947 we lived ther the rose and crowen was a few doors up it is now a restrant

Comments posted 1 Jun 2013 by David Underwood :

i used to live in what is now and was long ago the assembly rooms in west malling high st it was my grand fathers shop mr norris was his name it was long after we moved and it was renovated it was found to be assembly rooms with a gallery it is opersit the bakery restaurant

Comments posted 28 May 2013 by Mark Howell :

Dear Ann - who posted on 26 May 2013.

Thank you so much for identifying the Rose & Crown for me. Please can you send me an email direct to ? Are you able to meet my wife, Jacquie and me at West Malling so you can show us where this Toy Shop and Ind Coope pub were?

Kindly, Mark

Comments posted 26 May 2013 by Ann :

The rose and crown pub you refer to was an ind coope - i remember it well because it had this fantastic fish tank on the wall- sadly it closed and become to my knowledge a solicitors then a restaurant- the toy shop which was almost next door also closed and that to became a restaurant- the long room you refer to could have been attached to the back of either of these buildings as both had a small flight of steps that lead upto these huge doors- i recall walking past the back of the toy shop and i glanced up as music was being played- i couldnt see who was playing but i could see the legs of many chairs-

Comments posted 8 May 2013 by Ron Martin :

The Malling Society have a very interesting note by architects responsible for renovating the Assembly Rooms in the 1980's which I can e-mail if necessary.

The West Malling WI Scrapbook compiled in 1954 also has a copy of a playbill from 1808 for the Malling Theatre almost certainly at The Assembly Rooms. There is a copy of the Scrapbook at West Malling Library and the original is housed at the Kent History & Library Centre at Maidstone.

Ron Martin. Researcher for the Malling Society. e-mail r.martin978@

Comments posted 29 Apr 2013 by Tim Baldock :

Assembly rooms still exists..My family ran a toy shop there for many years in the 40s 50s 60s can bore you with all the history

Hello, I am conducting a research project on the history of West Malling. Could anybody bring to light the significant change of West Malling and also where I could access history about West Malling. Thank you

Comments posted 1 Jun 2013 by David Underwood :

i lived in west malling my grandfathers shop was in the assembly rooms we left there in 1947 and moved to 1 queens ann cottages swan st on corner of police st road i have some very old photos of west malling and know a fear bit of its history

Comments posted 21 Apr 2013 by Emily Huxley :

Thank you for the comment below Peter. If anybody has any photos from the period 1950s up until now would you mind sending them to my email as this would be great help towards my project.

Thank You.

Comments posted 1 Apr 2013 by Peter Bullion :

I moved to West Malling in 1947 when I was 6 . Ewell Avenue and Fartherwell Avenue were just being built and as each house was completed a family moved in. So there were trenches all round the place and partly built houses all round where you lived . As each family moved in you got to know the children and you finished up knowing almost every family in each house on the estate.The part of Ewell Avenue and Fartherwell Avenue nearest to the Offham road wasn't built at the same time. It was a corn field and we either walked round the edge of the corn field to St Mary's school or walked round to Fartherwell Ave. and down Ashy path and across the allotments to school.Then they did away with the corn field and built Stratford Road and took Fartherwell Avenue and Ewell Avenue across to the Offham Road.I have great memories growing up in West Malling. Regards ,Peter

Comments posted 16 Mar 2013 by Denise Jones :

West Malling Library used to hold books with pictures showing how it used to look. Remember my grandmother borrowing the books.

I am looking for possibly g,g, grandchildren of Orpin's living in West Malling in the 1800's dated from 1850's through to 1940's.

Emma and William Edward Orpin both B 1850 had quite a few children, Edward B1874, William James B 1880, Ellen B 1876, Alfred B1882, Kate B1885, Emma B 1883, Harry B1878, Clara B - , Ida B1897?,

In the 1881 census, they were living in Five Bells Street, St. Leonard.

I am hoping to find some of the above's g,g,or g,g,g grandchildren.

Tracey from Sydney Australia.

This years Text and Photographic Exhibition by the Malling Society at The Clout Memorial Institute on 30th March, 1st April, 25th May and 27th May is entitled "Serving West Malling" and is about people and organisations that have provided services to the inhabitants of West Malling and the surrounding area over the last two centuries. The services include, churches, schools, banks, post office, police, fire brigade and medical services as well as services for the poor, sick and homeless provided at Malling Workhouse and King Hill Institution. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day Admission for Adults £2.00.

Comments posted 14 Apr 2013 by Mrs Geraldine Kemsley :

I would be very interested in seeing any exhibitions regarding West Malling in the 1900's as my husband's family lived and worked there during this time.

We have a couple of old photos taken at New Barn Farm, owned by Col. Cronk at the time I think. They are of workers in a cherry orchard. My husband's grandmother is one of the ladies and his mother is a small girl at her feet. The quality of the photos is not the best condition but they are wonderful photos of that bygone era. I would love to know if there are similar photos in the collection somewhere.

I'm looking for info regarding King's Hill Institution in the early 1900. My wife's father had a document showing his mother lived there when he emmigrated to Canada as a Fagen boy. I can't find any info on King's Hill Institution.

Comments posted 8 Jul 2013 by Diane Allchin :

Hi...not sure if the same place..but when I was 13/14yrs old my dad left the army so my mum and us 5 chilren went to King hill hostel for 3 months as it was all that was allowed and no husbands.(.how sad)..I went to a senior school there called Claire Park..east malling as i remember...which I cant find now....we went there to west malling villiage this w/end 7th july to look how area changed in years....nice to see mostly the same....we as teens often walked from hostel to village to fetch methylated spirits to cook with..I have many fond memories of living there ..when time was up my dad found us a place at Gravesend.....where I still reside......

Comments posted 4 Mar 2013 by Richard West :

I couldn't resist making this post. Sorry it's not connected to the subject but nevertheless fascinating to me as I just read the post by John Ashton who I assume is better known to me as Dr Ashton and in the section immediately below on St Benedicts is an article by Rob Hamilton son of another Malling doctor of my youth. The doctors were part of the practice in the High Street where my own doctor was Dr Montgomery. Those were the days.

Comments posted 23 Feb 2013 by John Ashton :

King Hill was the old workhouse. When I joined the West Malling Practice in 1966 it was the homeless families unit for Kent. The programme Kathy Come Home was I understand based on Kings Hill. My abiding memory is the number of snotty kids!! The social workers were very caring and supportive of the residents. The huts used were the old WAAF resident huts from the war.

Do an online search for union workhouse west malling kent

This section does not allow cut and paste from the webpages

I came across this interesting website whilst looking for information on the brickfields in West Malling. I was born in Abbey Cottage, opposite the cascade in Swan Street, which in 1938 was a nursing home. My father was a doctor in Malling from 1935 to his retirement in 1967. My parents initially lived above the surgery in a house called Milverton and then moved just before I was born, into St Benedict's in Swan Street. I note that on 11th November 2007 a young lady posted her memories of visiting her grandparents Doris and Tom Marriott, who lived in St. Benedict's, so they must have moved in after my parents retired to Somerset. Yes, I would agree, this house was a rather special place to live and a wonderful house and garden to grow up in. My father looked after the nuns medically and we had a close relationship with the abbey. I have happy memories also of the monks , who were there during the war.

My second awakening was with a post dated 10th September 2011 by Roger Stagg, concerning the railway station. I have been a railway nut all my life and have built many and varied model railway layouts. I have spent many hours down at the station and remember it well. I am intigued with the idea of Roger building a model of the station and it's trackwork. I wonder if he is still doing that, I would definitely like to make contact with him, is that a possibility?

Finally, Mr Ivor Body was looking for information about houses called Park Cottage. My paternal grandmother lived in Park Cottage, East Malling, which was opposite the old mill, until the early 1960's and my uncle and aunt (my grandmother's daughter) lived in Park Cottage, Teston near Wateringbury, until the mid 1960's.

Thank you for the Resource Centre, I find it most interesting, and it is a nice link now that I live in North Hampshire!

Comments posted 4 Jun 2013 by Kelly Bowey :


I'm afraid I don't have any memories of St Benedicts in West Malling, but my family and I are about to move into St Benedicts this weekend. We are all so excited and cannot believe we are going to live in such a special place. It would be great to find out as much as possible about it. I would love to get some copies of old photo's, as have searched the internet and as yet have not found anything! If anyone has any contacts or any information we will be really grateful.



Comments posted 2 Feb 2013 by Roger Stagg :


You can find me on (01732) 845627

Roger Stagg

Comments posted 29 Jan 2013 by Ivor body :

Fancy your relations living in Park Cottage East Malling. My grandfather farmed Manor Farm and then moved into Park Cottage after failing health. Leaving the farm to one of his sons. It is now a care home and I contacted them some time ago by phone. They wanted a photo of the England Rugby team of 1873, as my grandfather played in the 2nd and 3rd offical internationals against Scotland at Glasgow and the London Oval 1872/3

I recently found an inquiry addressed to my great grandfather, James Charles Parkhurst asking his whereabouts after he moved to the United States. The letter was dated January 11, 1923 from Emily Wooden, James' sister. Her address was Addington Green, West Malling, Kent, England.

Emily's letter was a request to find out what happened to her brother. She askes that if he cannot write, "please get someone to do it for you to set my anxiety at rest." She goes on to say that there are "four new cottages build at East Sh, all occupied and I am pleased to say no one is out of work in the village. The gentlemen at the Park has presented the village with a Hall which is much appreciated by all, both rich and poor".

After many generations, I thought perhaps answering this letter might be helpful to some of Emily Woodens's relatives. I am a great-grandaughter of James Charles Parkhurst and I believe a have a partial picture of him. If anyone is interested, you can contact me via my email address.

I am making a trip to West Malling this July of 2013 to see where some of our family came from.

Phylis Reed

Comments posted 15 Jan 2013 by Steve :

Is that related to josephine wooden from west malling? she married gregory sutton andf had a daughter called julie. julie married brian berwick and had a girl called kerry ann. she then remarried to ricky clarke and had two sons paul and harley. the was also a greg wooden who lived in ewell avenue in west malling


I am researching my family history and would like some information about the old laundry that used to be in back Street (now a part of King Street). My mother was born above the laundry in 1929. I would be grateful for any information anyone might have.


Stephen Baker

Comments posted 30 May 2016 by Stuart Bates :

My great grandparents and beyond lived in the lower part of King Street. ... my grandmother remembers Turning the handle of a laundry mangle for an old lady who lived from the pennies earned... could this have been the laundry... this was before the great war. My aunt may remember the old lady's name

Comments posted 20 May 2016 by Tim Baldock :

Have you seen any photos of the slums or any of Baldocks cottages....I can just remember them in the 50s, but I never saw any photos in WM???? Grandad rented them out elecs //water?? Tell me. I'd love to know more of them

Comments posted 8 Mar 2015 by Shirley :

My ancestors lived in Back Street and the house in which they lived is still standing. I do remember my mother talking about a laundry there. My great grandparents lived there from about 1870 and their surname was Large.

I lived, as a small child, in a ramshackle cottage (Baldock's Cottages) which was eventually pulled down, further up the road.

Comments posted 15 Jan 2013 by Steve :

My great gran lived there, it was called King Square. Two of my aunts lived in Columbine Road. there was Gladys Newman and Maisie Robinson. Maisie lived in the flats at Carnation Cresent for many years. King Street was rough. There was a murder round there and there was often fights. It was so bad that police had to walk in twos round there. They pulled the houses down as they were unlivable and the area was known as a slum

I used to go to school in West Malling. It was a boarding school for girls I was there from 79 to 81. I have a lot of fond memories. I remember a Mrs Burr and Miss Plunkett, also some of the house mums.

It would be great to hear from anyone who remembers me at that time. I was a chubby kid lol thanks.

Sue Pedvin.

I'm on facebook now so come look me up or as they say friend request me,thanks x

Sue Pedvin

My dad was a Naval officer stationed at West Malling from 1961 to 1963. We lived on the base and my sister and I went to the Cedars School in Maidstone. We visited West Malling and Maidstone a few years ago and retraced some of our old stomping grounds. It was a very enjoyable visit. We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in West Malling on the main street. We plan to come back next summer for a wedding in Nottinghamshire and might try to visit West Malling again.

Comments posted 18 Mar 2014 by Jill Hamilton Mould :

I spent my very happy childhood in West Malling. I am the daughter of Dr. Geoffrey Hamilton, who was one of five physicians who had a medical practice there. During the early 60s, prior to emigrating to the U.S.A, I worked as secretary to Cdr Marvin Greenstein, USN, the commanding officer at the base. (I also waitressed in the Enlisted Men's club, and "baby sat" a newborn and 3-year old for one of the officers and his wife, when she went to Greece - unfortunately I no longer remember their name.

Comments posted 19 Nov 2012 by Jon Jones :

We lived in West or East Malling from 1961-63 both my brother and I went to school at Clair Park near Maidstone. I very much enjoyed my time in England and would love to go back sometime. My Father was stationed at the RAF base and we lived in military housing for about two years. I remember taking the bus in the mornings to Clair Park School with all the other Americans. My Father was in the Navy and was an Air Traffic Controller that worked at one of the out lying fields near the base........Jon W. Jones

Comments posted 2 Nov 2012 by Robert Lucas :


About the time your family were stationed at RAF West Malling, do you remember a lad named Thomas (Tommy) Ricter? He went to school in Maidstone with a friend who I know would be interested to get in touch again with Tommy.

Many Thanks

Dear Sir

Malling Place was in the ownership of my family from the late 1800s through to certainly the 1950s

Dr James Adam was my great grandfather and I have some wonderful family photographs taken in the garden there.

It was I know run as a private psychiatric hospital for several years. I am wondering what it's current use is and if it would be possible to visit next year when my husband and I plan to stay in Kent for a few days.

I would be extremely grateful for any information.

Yours sincerely

Katie Higgs

Comments posted 24 Sep 2015 by Judi Wills :

My family the Lowrys also owned and lived here when it was an asylum, and in 2007 I visited Malling Place as part of my family history search.(I'm from Australia) It is a private residence, however I was able to meet the owner's elderly mother who was out in the garden.

The family was not interested in my curiosity to visit. I hope this info assists.

Comments posted 29 Oct 2012 by Charlene :


This area has now been turned into a housing estate, the old hospital is still there but will over time be converted into apartments.

I am researching memories of the West Malling Airfield to use as part of a public art installation.­ It would be great to hear from anyone who would like to talk to me about this or send me an email with any particular memories you have.­ Thanks.­ You can email me on evwilson@­btinternet.­com.­

Vicky Wilson

Comments posted 1 Mar 2013 by Peter Bullion :

A brand new housing estate was built on farm land in West Malling around 1947 and no one had cars or motorbikes at the time so it was very peaceful then . We could hear the Gloucester meteor jets and Vampire jets engines screaming at West Malling airfield warming up to take off. Jets were new fangled then and had to warm up with brakes and chocks on before they attempted to take off. I was about 6 at the time,and remember the sounds well. Also West Malling airfield held a visitors day some thing like a mini Farnborough air show . We were allowed to look inside the planes and be shown inside the cock pits of the old planes of the time . Some I would imagine had been in action in the war. A lot of local people and people from other places used to go to these shows every year, and were very interesting. I remember one year 6 meteor jets fighters had been doing a sort of red arrows type fly around for the public and when they were landing one by one ,one of them had a stuck wheel and let the others land first then lifted the wheel that was down and landed succesfully on the grass beside the run way.some thing fitted to the undercarriage of the jet turned the grass over like a plough as it skidded along the grass. After the RAF left West Malling the Yanks were stationed there but I was away in the army so didn't know much about that era.

Peter Bullion

I am looking for information on the original site that the RAF West Malling Ugandan Asians were housed.­ I think it was Sportsman cottages but is there any pictures of the original site.

Please let me know if anyone has this information.

Thanks, Jaimini Jethwa

Comments posted 1 Jan 2016 by David Bellchambers :

Hi, My father Douglas Bellchambers worked at the refugee centre and I would love to hear from anyone that knew him at that time. He passed away in the early seventies.

Regards, David.

Comments posted 23 Jun 2015 by Cosier :

They were housed on the old workhouse site now called Orwell Spike where there were accommodation and medical facilities developed during the war

Comments posted 27 Feb 2013 by Jaimini :

Thanks for the feedback

Comments posted 25 Feb 2013 by John Ashton :

sorry email--

Comments posted 23 Feb 2013 by John Ashton :

I was a doctor in WM in 1966 to 1998. We had some of the Uganda Asian refugees housed in WM at the airfield. The residents were housed in the old barrack blocks now I think Churchill square. The medical centre was opposite on the road up to the control tower. The other sites for the refugees were Stradishall and Watchet.

I met by chance a lady who had been in WM camp at a chemists shop in Essex. If you contact me direct I will give you her name and contact

Comments posted 4 Jan 2013 by Robert Donovan :

Regarding the site used to house the Ugandan Asians, I believe that most were housed temporarily in the old airmans quarters opposite the old West Malling Airfield.

The entire estate was purchased by Tonbridge and Malling Council in the early Seventies (72-73) and used as local authority housing and I lived in one of these houses from 1974 for about 4 years.

Many have now been sold off to private buyers but to those of us who lived in the West Malling area in the 60 & 70s, the memories of the American air force with there big cars and brash attitude still remain.

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :


The Ugandan Asians were housed in the former single airman's living accommodation, known as the H Blocks, on the site of RAF West Malling.(They are H shaped brick built buildings, hence the name). The buildings still exist are are now used as high quality offices. Collectively the area is known as Churchill Square, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent. The area can be found on Google Street iew if you type in the postcode ME19 4YU.

I am not aware they were housed in Sportsman Cottages, which is nearby.


Robert Lucas


I am trying to locate a greengrocers in West Mailing owned by a Mr Wray. Any information would be helpful.


Comments posted 10 Oct 2013 by Rachel Wray :


Mr E. Wray was my Grandfather and, yes he did own/work in the greengrocers in west malling...

Comments posted 13 May 2013 by Ron Martin :

The West Malling parish rate records show that Ernest William Wray occupied 2 shops in West Malling High Street, the first, now the Mind Charity shop, from 1926 to 1936, and the second now the Chocolate Umbrella from 1929 to 1936.

In 1920 when Ernest married Emily Amanda Malveina Pointer he is recorded as from Lower Birling and in 1926 is shown occupying the Greengrocers shop previously occupied by his sister-in-law Violet Beatrice Pointer. From 1929, after the death of his father-in-law Henry J. Pointer, he is also shown as occupying the property next door, which had been occupied by the Pointer family since the 1860's. Please contact me at if I can be of further assistance. Ron Martin. Researcher for the Malling Society


I'm Victor Lacaille, a French landscape designer. I came to visite your lovely town few days ago and I really enjoyed the black bricks used to cover the pavements. I'm actually working in France on a private garden project for a disabled man who live in a old mill by a river. And I think that the bricks I discovered in West Malling would make the perfect material to ponctuate this project.

Could please tell me the name of this type of brick, and also, if you known, the name of the person I have to get in touch with to buy it?

I have been looking for those informations on website for a while and didn't find anything. Here is the reason I ask you some help.

Thanks a lot, Take care your such a nice place!

Regards, Victor

Comments posted 4 Mar 2015 by Andrew Protheroe :

The pavement bricks in West Malling are Staffordshire Blue Diamond Pattern Bricks.

They are still being manufactured and can be ordered online at.....

Hope this helps with your project.

Comments posted 10 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :

Your best bet to find out exactly what the pavement bricks are, is to contact the Kent County Council, Highways Dept. They are responsible for the maintenance of the roads and footpaths in Kent.

Comments posted 31 Jul 2012 by Barry Holmewood :

Hi Victor

They are not bricks but "concrete block paving" you will find numerous suppliers on line however have a look at this site I know nothing about them but they do show what I believe you are looking for.

Hope this helps

Regards Barry

Hi, I have just come across your site. I dont know if you would be able to help. My family were travellers and I have found one record of Joseph Hedges. 10.10.1914, father Henry mother Annie. page 32. entry 249/ travelling licenced hawker immigrant hop pickers. I just wondered if there was any more information about them. I appreciate your time. thankyou.

Patricia Keegan

Comments posted 27 Sep 2012 by Steve :

I knew Amy Hedges. She married a traveller called Roy Scott. They lived in East Malling and had eight children - is that related?

Dear Sir/Madam, I am researching my great grandfather, Robert W Harden, born 1846.

I believe his name is on the certificate won by St Mary's in 1894 for ringing the bells, shown on your website History Link. He was married to Jane Harden, with 7 children Gertrud, Arthur, Harold, Hebert, Louie, Robert Roland and William Fredrick.

I would appreciate any information,

Thanks, John

My great-grandmother - Emily Waters born Dec, 1877 (eldest daughter of George and Eliza Waters), was born in West Malling. I believe at that time they were living in High St and I also have been told, at one time in Normans Rd. Would anyone be able to tell me the exact address and do these homes still remain today?

I have been to Ireland last year to find my paternal roots, and I have only recently discovered that Emily was actually born in West Malling. I hope to travel there in the next couple of years. Any information regarding Emily, George or Eliza would be great. Apparently, Eliza died in 1890 of diptheria and George remarried to a woman called Elizabeth, but remained in West Malling.

I do hope that you may be able to help me.

Regards, Joanne (from Australia)

Comments posted 9 Nov 2012 by David Underwood :

ther was a famly of waters living in queen ann cotages , swan st wast malling i rember one was angla this was in the 50s may be 60s the address is now 49 swan st not quean ann cottages aney moor on corner of police station rd

Comments posted 27 Oct 2012 by Joanne Sanders :

Dear Robert,

A big thank you for your information. I am so sorry to have taken so long to reply, but we have been in Adelaide for a family wedding.

Emily Waters was my great-grandmother. According to the Melbourne records she in fact died in January of 1966. My father was born in 1939 and remembers visiting her as a boy (the one and only time). Apparently, she was a bitter old woman, who had little to do with her children. She left West Malling in ? and went to Cape Town, South Africa to work as a housemaid for the Burnetts. She met my great-grandfather Herbert Rouvray and they married 03/01/1901. My grandmother, Elsie May Agnes Rouvray was born in Cape Town in 1901 and her sister, Alice in 1904 at Johannesburg. They another daughter Eileen, who died at a young age. Then, Ian Grey, Herbert Charles (born in Croydon UK) and Benjamin Jack (possibly named after her brother Ben).

We always thought that Gran (Elsie) immigrated to Australia with her family and that was that. However, I have found that at some stage they did in fact come to Australia, but went back to Croydon Uk in 1906. They, finally made their way back sometime after 1910 but before 1913, when Benjamin was born in Melbourne.

Do you know of any decendants of George, Elizabeth or Eliza's children still live in West Malling? I would love to have any information or photos you may have.

Last year my husband and I went to Ireland for a month and stayed in the village that my paternal great-great grandparents came from. It was wonderful and I hope to have the opportunity to do so, in West Malling.

Once again, I thank you very much for finding the time to reply to my request and I hope that we can further correspond.

My email address:

Warm wishes,


Comments posted 18 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :

Hello Joanne.

I see you have had some answers already, but I may be able to help further.

My paternal grandfather's sister, married into the West Malling Waters family. Because of this link, I have added many of the Waters Family into my Ancestry Family Tree. From the marriage described above, I have many distant cousins (once / twice removed etc). One cousin, Pamela in particular has helped me with Waters photo's & stories that I have incorporated into my tree. If you wish to have access to the tree, please let me know via a message on this website.

Regarding Rose Maud Waters 1896-1970 and Dorothy Waters 1894-1980. They were the children of George Waters 1852-1931 & Elizabeth Honey 1858-1922. George's first wife Eliza Bratten had died in 1890 having had 11 children, namely George Junior 1874-1900, Thomas Elon 1874-1955, Harriet 1877-1926, Emily 1878-1938, Alice 1879-1890, Bessie 1881-1911, Walter William 1882-1890, Gertrude Ethel 1184-1974, *Charles Allen 1886-1957, Annie 1887-, **Benjamin 1889-1972.

Pamela's grandfather was *Charles Allen Waters and he married my grandfather's sister, namely Harriet Alma Lucas.

By coincidence, I have earlier this year been able to help a lady from Australia who was a descendant of **Benjamun Waters who emigrated to Australia about 1910. He married Mary OReilly in Australia on 6 April 1915. Benjamin was a Melbourne Policeman, who donated his body to Melbourne University on his death on 10 Sept 1972. My cousin Pamela kindly lent me a letter describing this event.

I hope this information helps.

Regards, Robert Lucas.

Comments posted 4 Jul 2012 by Tracey Moulsley :

Hi Joanne,

I've tried several times to email but the emails are failing each time - however short I try to make them. Can you email me and see if that works:



Comments posted 18 Jun 2012 by Joanne Sanders :

Dear Tracey,

Looking back at the census, I thought that Eliza's mother was Sophia Bratten. The George Waters (father of Emily May) had according to my records 6 children with Eliza and then, Rose and Dorothy by his second wife, Elizabeth. When, Eliza died a housekeeper by the name of Annie Kellick lived with them. I have a photo of George, Elizabeth, their children and I believe, some of Georges children that he had with Eliza. I would dearly love to chat about your info, however, I am not on the ancestry site but you can email me on my address of

With many thanks for responding to my request,


Comments posted 17 Jun 2012 by Tracey Moulsley :


I am (also) a great-great grand-daughter of George Waters and his second wife whom I believe was Sophia Bratten. George and Eliza had 5 children including Emily (or Emerly as she apears in the census records), then he went on to have 12 children with Sophia including my great-grandafather, Harry.

His grandaughter, my mother, still lives in Norman Road, West Malling.

Happy to share the family tree via Ancestry if you let me know your contact details.



Hi, I worked at Leybourne Grange Hospital from 1966 to 1982 and over the years I made a lot of friends. I always wonder about Valerie Richardson, the girl I used to go out with, she was a cook at the nurses home kitchen. The only thing I remember was that she reside near Ryarsh, so please I know it is a long time ago but I am sure that some people must have some information about Valerie.

Thanks for your help in advance, sincerely Pedro Rodriguez.

Comments posted 14 Jan 2016 by Pedro Celeiro Rodriguez :

Notify me of changes please thanks for everything.

Comments posted 22 Dec 2014 by Michael Spain :


I used to live in Ryarsh and I went to Ryarsh school with Valerie Richardson. If it's the same Valerie Richardson, her father was Tom Richardson who worked at Hooson's farm. My Mum also worked on the farm and I knew Tom well. They lived in one of the farm cottages just to the north of Ryarsh Church. If you stand just outside the main gate into the Church, with the Church on your right, the Richardsons lived in the left hand cottage of the pair of stone cottages you can see.

Hope this helps


Comments posted 8 Oct 2013 by Richard West :

Jean, I worked at LGH 1966/1972 and knew all of the drivers. In fact for the last couple of years I paid them every week as they were all on my half of the weekly payroll! I am now trying to recall all the names but it was a long time ago. Is your dad's surname the same as yours? The name I have in mind is Parrish or something close to that.

Comments posted 6 Aug 2013 by Bev :

Sorry jean... Can't find you on fb

Comments posted 6 Aug 2013 by Bev :

Sorry pedro... Bev

Comments posted 6 Aug 2013 by Bev :

Hi Pedro, my mum's email-Val Richardson

Comments posted 5 Aug 2013 by Jean :

Hi Bev, Thanks again for replying. I have looked on FB to add your mum but there is so many that I don't know which one is the correct one. Would it please be possible to let me know what her profile pic is of or if she would rather add me it is Jean Underdown I don't think there is many with that name but just in case I have a picture of a tiger as my profile photo. Look forward to talking to your mum thank you so much Jean x

Comments posted 5 Aug 2013 by Bev :

Hi Jean, if you would like to add my mum on FB, she will be happy to answer your questions... Val Richardson x

Comments posted 5 Aug 2013 by Hayley :

Yes Pedro I am Val's daughter. My email address is if you would like to speak more :-)

Comments posted 5 Aug 2013 by Pedro C Rodriguez :

Hi, Hayley Richardson sorry by my impertinence but are you by any chance related to Valerie Richardson that worked as a cook at Leybourne grange Hospital back in the 60s and 70s, can you reply to me please it could be very important to me, thanks for your attention. Regards from Pedro Rodriguez.

Comments posted 5 Aug 2013 by Jean :

Hi Bev

My dad Cecil worked and lived at LGH I didn't know much about him as him and mum were separated.If your mum can remember him and has any stories, info etc i would love to hear them. Thank you for reading this. Jean xxx

Comments posted 5 Aug 2013 by Bev :

my mum never worked in the kitchen,she was a carer at leybourne grange,also in the early 60's she lived in wrotham. :-)

Comments posted 4 Aug 2013 by Hayley Richardson :

Hi im vals daughter , firstly i would like to say steven thats far to much info on my family you have posted on here NOT GOOD , secondly steven underhill who are you how do you know where i live ?

Comments posted 4 Aug 2013 by Jean :

Bev please keep us informed if she remembers anything thank you.

Comments posted 4 Aug 2013 by Bev :

Oi what about me? Lol I'm her daughter I'm speaking to her at this time trying to jog her memory

Comments posted 23 Jul 2013 by Jean :

Hi Pedro, Thank you for your comments. I am asking about on Facebook to help find Valerie. If I strike lucky I will let you know. Many thanks Jean

Comments posted 23 Jul 2013 by Pedro Celeiro Rodriguez :

Hi, Jean I am sorry I do not have any fotos from those times but you must remember that in those days they were not many mobile phones like now, the only thing I can make you happy is that you father and many of us we use to meet at lunch time every day and talk about things daily as a matter of routine, this I remember very clearly you said that your father pass away in 1976 I am sure that we must notice that Cecil was not around and an sorry about this life is very cruel sometimes my father pass away in 86 and my mother in 96 so as you can see is not escape from the fact that we all have to go sometime but dont be sad at least we are here to tell the story. I wish you could help about Val, the only they tell me is they think she lives around East Malling and that is all,OK jean thanks and regards from me Pedro Celeiro Rodriguez.

Comments posted 23 Jul 2013 by Jean :

Hi Pedro. That is great that you remember my dad. I would love to hear any stories you may have about him, Photos or info. I know very little. My mum and dads marriage broke up and dad started to live as well as work at LGH until he died there in 1976. It would be nice to find Valerie as well for both of us. If she was the cook she might remember my dad as well. I was only 10 when my dad died and as I say if you can remember anything I would love to hear good or bad. Many thanks.

Comments posted 22 Jul 2013 by Pedro Celeiro Rodriguez :

HI, Jean I think I knew your father Cecil the driver in those days every body knew every body else, even this was a long time ago I remember him, I came from Spain in 1966 and I worked until 1982 in that time I use to go out with a girl called Valerie Richardson she was a cook at the nurses home where we lived a very good residential place, 31 years ago looks like it was yesterday but I still remember that place with grand fervor like if it was part of me maybe because it was my first job and I had my first girl friend and we were very jovial in those days maybe that is why I keep looking at my past even though I am married with two children 17 and 21 I still thinking about Valerie Richardson but nobody tells me nothing in concrete about Valerie. Any way sorry about dragging you into something that it was nothing to do with you.Regards from Pedro Rodriguez.

Comments posted 21 Jul 2013 by Jean :

Hi Pedro, Thank you for replying. My father was called Cecil. He was the bus driver for years then when his eyesight started to fail he worked in the mortuary.

Comments posted 21 Jul 2013 by Jean :

Peter ?????????????? I married a Ken. How do you know him ?????????????

Comments posted 21 Jul 2013 by Pedro Celeiro Rodriguez :

Hi,Jean yes I was resident at Leybourne since 1966 to 1982 if your father was at the same time as me I am sure I must know him, but because this was a long time ago is not going to be easy to remember but anyway tell me his name and I'll do my best, was he working in the stores or was he a cook please let me know about anything at all OK.

Sincerely Pedro Rodriguez.

Comments posted 18 Jul 2013 by Peter :

Jean, were you related to Kenneth Underdown who lived at Halling?

Comments posted 17 Jul 2013 by Jean Underdown :

Hi. Sorry I can not help with your request but I am hoping you may be able to help me, I am trying to find anything out about my father who worked and lived at LGH in the 70s. If you could help it would be great to hear from you. Many thanks, Jean

Comments posted 29 Sep 2012 by Pedro Rodriguez :

Hi Steve, I am not sure if we are talking about the same person. The Valerie I knew was called Val by every body and we both worked at Leybourne Grange Hospital back in the late 60s and 70s too, and she lived in Ryarsh her place was almost inside the Hospital. I remember that her dad was a policeman is all I know. Anyway thank you very much for your help. Regards to you from someone who used to love Valerie Richardson very much.

Comments posted 29 Sep 2012 by Steve :

I think she married a Roger Elliot, Hayley lives in Brooklands I think down Larkfield. Albert went to prison years ago. Was you related to Shelley that died recently?

Comments posted 28 Sep 2012 by Stephen Baker :

That's the one I knew. It was actually Larkspur close where she lived. She had a son Gary and two daughters - Jackie and Hayley.

Comments posted 25 Sep 2012 by Steve Underhill :

I knew one. She was married first to ? Darke then to Albert Richardson and lived in Larkspur Road East Malling, she had a daughter called Hayley

I would like to post a message on your website in regards my Grandmother's family who came from West Malling. Their surname was Orpin. My Grandmother Emma Orpin was born 1883 in West Malling and came out to Australia in 1908 after getting married that same year. She died 1970 in Sydney Australia. They had 2 children: my mother Marguerite Pooley and a son James Pooley, both now passed away.

My Grandmother's mother (also Emma Orpin) nee Bedford B 1849 in Loose, Kent and father William Edward Orpin B 1850 in West Malling, had 10 children ( one passing away at birth), as follow:

Edward B 1872, D 1915 WW1 France,

Ellen, B 1876, D unknown

Harry, B 1877, D 1915 WW1

James 1880, D unknown,

Alfred, B1882, D 1917 WW1

Emma, B 1883, D 1970 Sydney, (My Grandmother)

Kate, B 1885, D unknown

Winifred, B 1889, D 1927

Amelia Claire B 1894, D1925

I was hoping someone may know of any children born to the above names, and I would like to try and find out where William and Emma are buried. I have them both dying in Tonbridge around the 1930's, I cannot seem to find out if they were buried in Tonbridge, West Malling, or Maidstone etc.

I am in Sydney Australia. Regards, Tracey Munce.

Comments posted 22 Aug 2012 by Tracey Munce :

I am answering a post from Suzanne Ward posted to me on 20.8.12 in answering my post in regards the Orpin Family from West Malling.

Thankyou Suzanne for answering my post - I am happy to hear from a distant relative.

My Grt grandfather was William Ed Orpin B 1850 and it looks as though Henry B 1821 was his Father, and Emma B 1810 was his Aunt. I hope you receive this as I seem to be in a different post for messages than when I posted last time. I have since found out both Emma and William could be buried in the Tonbridge cemetery, though this has not been confirmed.

I would love to give you my email address in Sydney but I am not sure if this is allowed on this form, would you know if this is allowed here?

Do you have any old photo's of any of the family in the 1800's? I have some of my Grandparents Emma and William and some of my Grans siblings which I could give you if you are interested.

kind regards,


Comments posted 20 Aug 2012 by Suzanne Ward :

Have just read Tracey Munce's post and although I am unable to help at this moment in time with locating the burial places of William and Emma Orpin, I am distantly related to you. William's father, Henry, born 1821 in West Malling is the brother of Emma, born 1810, who is my 4x great grandmother.

I will be visiting West Malling and Leybourne on August 24th to see if I can locate any graves of my side of the family, so I will keep an eye peeled to see if there is any sign of William or Emma.

Would be good to hear from you, Tracey!

Suzanne Ward

In 1965 there was a big fire at Saint Leonards cross destroying 6 oast houses. I can't find any information on the internet about it. We lived across the road from the Startled Saint. My dad worked on the farm for his brother in law, Hughie Batchelor.

Robert Beer

Comments posted 12 Sep 2014 by Sandy Hawke Homewood :


My Aunty lived in West Malling and King Hill (now known as Kings Hill) she managed the farm there and her son became a Fireman. He is now high up in the Fire Brigade and may be able to help with info.

I can certainly ask my Aunty if she would be willing to answer many historical questions about this area.

I came to the UK from Australia as a child and young adult then returned to Australia (born there) but now reside locally in the UK.

Comments posted 11 Jul 2012 by Ann :

I think if the memory clouds clear the fire you refer to was at new barns? I remember it well albeit a very long time ago now- the oast/s or part thereof still remain but are now house conversions

Dear Sir/Madam, I am researching my great grandfather, Arthur E Phillips, and his past in West Malling and Leybourne. I know that he was brought up at Leybourne Grange and had a house called The Lodge in West Malling. I also found him on your birth register. Would it be possible to speak to someone in order to help me with further information?

Best regards, Julian Skipwith.

I am conducting some research for a family member and I am trying to discover details of a previous institution in the Kings Hill area of West Malling. I am told there was a hostel or home for mothers and children from around 1947 until the late 1950s or early 1960s. That's all I know. Can you help, please? Thanks.

Keith Malyon

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

We called Kinghill 'The Spike'. One of my girlfriends lived there and I can assure you that all the families were not as described in some of the comments.

Her apartment was beautiful inside and as clean as a whistle.

Comments posted 13 Nov 2012 by Peter :

was that the kelly family that married into our family the maytum from norman road in west malling

Comments posted 10 Nov 2012 by Robert Lucas :

I have an aerial photograph of the Institution (or Workhouse as it was known) if it is of interest.


Robert Lucas

Comments posted 25 Sep 2012 by Steve :

Yes the was a hostel. they were nissan huts. That's where the Shilkling family and the Spittlehouse family came from

Comments posted 23 Jul 2012 by Inmate 1965 :

yes its true it was a terrible place ,they even tried to take your babys after six weeks,they should be brought to court for the way they treated people,as they would be now for any imagrint,the vilage of west malling treated the people from there like scum, they all but spat on you horrible lot lost in the dark ages,in 1965 they protested amd slung the council carr people out for trying to take a baby from one of the mothers ,but they all stuck together and through water at them,they left,they were a good lot,poor to the point of starvation,cruely treated by the council of the time a disgrace sham on them,if it wasnt for the help from our family brining food,we would have starved,we had to nick the fruit from around orcherds to get any fruit,they were basterds who ran those places,i hope some one reads this.

Comments posted 4 Jul 2012 by Ann Luckhurst :

King hill hostel had been a home for women, and children, but was a place for home-less families when I was there. It had been an RAF base. I made some good friends there, was an awful place.

Good luck with your search, Ann.

Comments posted 2 May 2012 by Diana Kelly :

Hi, my hubby recalls these huts and at the time [60s] were known as the spite?? There was a house that was the offices and these long sheds that were bedsits- and as you say "the needy" were located there- mostly single mothers-I remember my hubby saying it was all shared facilities at the time

I am anxious to find the birth details of John Bevan c.1808 in West Malling. I know of his marriage and three children plus that his mother's name was Mary.

Any help would be appreciated. Roy Wood.

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :


Looking through the St Mary the Virgin, West Malling, baptism records for c1808, I have found the following;

John Bevin (No Bevans) 17 May 1807

Also so presumably siblings; Thomas Bevin 16 Dec 1804, Charles Bevin 26 Jan 1800, Barbara Bevin 10 Jun 1810.

Hope this is of interest.

Robert Lucas.

Anyone who worked in Vye and Son High Street West Malling 1958 to 1960. I was an apprentice there. The manager was Mr Gilham. Memories of workmates Phyliss, Madge, Marjory and Jimmy Tapp.

David Ridler-Dutton

Comments posted 17 Jan 2013 by Dave Ridler-Dutton :

Thanks to M Mayer for comment.

I started an apprenticeship (3 years) in 1958,and replaced a guy named Philip (can't remember surname) who left to do his national service.

The assistant manager or first hand was a very genial man called Ron Cherry. Under Mr Gilham the manager I learnt all aspects of the grocery & provisions. He was a very strict manager but very fair , and I could not have had a better teacher,as after moving to Gloucester and transferring to Liptons I was managing my own store at the then young age of 21.

Some more names that come to mind who worked at Vye & Son at the time were Miss Webb (cashier) Mr Gilby (van delivery driver) and Mr Willy Day who was semi retired and used to bone out and slice the bacon. Maybe this will bring up a few memories.

Comments posted 7 Jan 2013 by Max Mayer :

I worked @ Vyes in West Malling for a while in 1957 & also next door @ The International Stores. I remember Mr Gilham but I can't remember who else was there @ that time.

I am trying to find out if this person, mentioned by Phyllis Stevens, was my great grandfather, as his name was John Robert Oliver, and he owned a chemist shop in the early 1900's - I just don't know where.

Is it possible someone might be able to answer this for me, or give me an idea where to start looking?

Comments posted 31 Dec 2015 by Bill :

Hi Charlene - Sorry, can't find a link between John Robert and C D Oliver. The latter must have been a relative of John but which one? Is it possible it could have been his wife?

Anyway, the shop was between the entrance to Mare's Nest and Hoad's clock shop, so, the order was; The George public house, The George yard, the fire station, the entrance to Mare's Nest and then Oliver's.

It was commonly known as 'the top chemist' and was later run by Mr and Mrs Hollamby for many years. I have photo's of the shop and bottles showing C D Oliver

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Charlene Kerr :

Hi Bill. That is what I am trying to discover. He was a chemist in the area, just not sure exactly where.

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

To Charlene Kerr

If your great grandfather, John Robert Oliver owned the chemist shop in Malling High Street,why do all the medicine bottles of that period show C D Oliver?

Comments posted 10 Nov 2012 by Robert Lucas :

I had my eyes tested in what was Mr Oliver's chemist shop in West Malling when I was about 6 years old. Boots chemist shop now occupies the same building. It is in West Malling High Street, next door to Tesco's store.

I have some photographs of the High Street showing the area in which Mr Oliver's shop once was. If you would like to see them, please contact me. regards

Robert Lucas.

Comments posted 8 Nov 2012 by Peter Hazelwood :

I remember Mr Oliver the Chemist as having a shop just one back from Swan Street corner with High Street and I can remember buying things from his shop and getting films developed there. I am talking in the 60's and up to the time I left West Malling in 1968.

Comments posted 6 Apr 2011 by Diana Kelly :

Yes he owned a chemist shop-- it was where the clock shop is now - then it was moved to an area just past what is now Tescos- I'm sure it's still a chemist but I have no recollection what it's called-- that's age for you [sorry]- Diana Kelly

Can anybody help me please. I am trying to find the baptism record of Francis Pawley, born circa 1787 Ryarsh ... I believe his father might have been another Francis Pawley, Yeoman of Ryarsh, but possibly born Hadlow or Ryarsh. Also interested in any siblings of either born in Ryarsh. Many thanks.

Lesley G

I went to school in West Malling 79 to 81, the school was called Malling House school for girls,it was a huge grey building on top of the hill. It was a boarding school. It would be great if anyone remembers being there the same time as me. I'm now a mum of two boys,16 and 22 and I've also got a grandson. I'm 45 now. I had great times and bad times there, but I always remember my time there. I also think the school is some kind of office building now,it's been years since I've been there. Please help, many thanks - be good to hear from you.

Thanks Sue Pedvin - or you could text my phone on 07858000581.

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :


The building still exists and is used as offices. In fact our son works there.

A former neighbour Molly Burr used to work there in the early 80's.

Comments posted 11 Jul 2012 by Tom :

Yes I remember it well I worked there albeit cutting grass but it is as you say now a office block of sorts

Does anybody have any memories or photographs of West Malling Station before 1966 when the goods yard and signal box were dismantled. Any information would gratefully received. The signal box and goods yard were demolished in the late 60's. I am building a model of the station as it was post war before it became a car park. Does anybody have any photographs or memories of the station during that period or indeed pre-war as it was unchanged from 1920 until 66

Roger Stagg

Comments posted 11 Jul 2012 by Bob :

If you go to google and type in west malling station folowed by the year you're interested in-then click on images- there you have the station in all its glory

I was stationed at NAF West Malling from March 1961 to Mar 1963. I worked in the electric shop which was part of the avionics division. In addition to working on aircraft, I was active in the church and teen club for the military dependants.

David l Farley DBA


Comments posted 19 Mar 2018 by Lt Richard D. Barber, USN (Ret. :

Cdr Farley:

I was a PN2 and made PN1 when I left in May 1963 and worked in the Pers. OFfice in the Base Administration Bldg. Reported to LCDR Gerald McMorrow, Admin. Off. QMCM Burns was the Ass't Personnel Officer under LT Sigfried A. Fink.

Lived in Airman's Quarters across the road from the Base. Operated, with others, the Trap and Skeet Range out on the Airdrome.

Some of the best times of my Navy career were at RAF and NAF West Malling. Retired at the Pentagom on March 1, 1979. Turned 80 today...

Have quite a few photos of West Malling, if you are interested.

Dick Barber

Hi. I have come across an old postcard of Aylesford and on the reverse is Mr Joe Mccoy, Inmate Malling Union,Kent. I thought this may be of interest to anyone researching the Workhouse.

Thanks, Sean

Comments posted 1 Jun 2013 by David Underwood :

the work house was next to st leonards tower nr the lake

Comments posted 28 Sep 2012 by Stephen Baker :


One of my ancestors was an inmate in the old workhouse so I would love to have more information about it. Please email me at the above address


Stephen Baker

A notable Eastbourne doctor, Dr Charles Christopher Hayman, died at Brooke House, West Malling, on 2 August 1874. He had married at West Malling in 1851 and clearly had local connections there. Is there any more that can be told about his connections there, or about his family?


Comments posted 4 Nov 2013 by Alison Lees :

Dr. Charles Dell Hayman's sons Henry, Philip Charles, Charles Christopher and William Edward all followed in their father's footsteps as did some of Charles Christopher's sons. This information can be found either in the British Medical Journal or in the Times newspaper articles. Henry Hayman became a media sensation as the doctor treating Ellen “The Sleeping Girl of Turville” throughout the years 1870-1880. These men are either the brother, nephews or grand nephews of my GGGGmother Susan Dell (Hayman) Dod. I have some personal information about these people but would be interested in receiving any data about them at all.

Comments posted 12 Sep 2012 by Mike Hayman Ford :

Hi Mike.

Any information you may have about my relation Charles Christopher Hayman or his father Dell Hayman would be appreciated.

Please use my email address

Comments posted 7 Sep 2012 by Michael Hayman Ford :

My Hayman family records tell me that in 1828 according to the 'Churchwardens' accounts for the year 1721-1828 that, quote, "That we appoint Charles Hayman of Axminster to be doctor for the year ensuing to take care of the poor of the parish" The book was signed by John Hayman?

I am wondering if this Charles Hayman is in fact Charles Dell Ford DOB 1786, the father of Charles Christopher Hayman.

Our family believe that the 'Dr Haymans' in question could be relations of my Grandmother, Nellie Hayman (1883)

Please contact me on if you have any information

Mike Hayman

Comments posted 7 Sep 2012 by Michael Hayman-Ford :

Family records tell me that a Charles Hayman (on my Grand Mothers side)of Axminster Devon was appointed in 1828 to be "Doctor of the year ensuing, to take care of the poor of the parish". This entry was signed by John Hayman who I assume was his brother.

Could he be the Dr Charles Christopher Hayman son of Dr Christopher Dell Hayman mentioned in the West Malling memories?

Please contact me on my email address if you have any information.


Comments posted 7 Jun 2012 by Nicholas Meade-Richards :

Surely we should remember such an infamous member of the West Malling community? As with most records unless you are researching a family tree or read articles about people - these can be lost forever without someone recording them on sites such as this.

Dr Charles Chistopher Hayman was born in Axminster Devon in 1826 and was the son of another medical professional Dr Charles Dell Hayman (1786-1858) also from Axminster. Dr Charles Hayman was, as has already been noted, a GP in West Malling and was the 4th son of 6 children to Dr Charles Dell and Dorothy Hayman.

I have enumerate stories concerning Dr Charles Christopher Hayman but most notible I feel is his work towards the health and wellbeing of the residents of West Sussex. He wrote medical articles about how the ill and poor benefited from a 'dip in the sea' and also was forefront in the water treatment and sewage treatment of West Sussex. He also, with his father and brother Philip Curling Hayman were instrumental in the health, treatment and management of the Axminster Poor Law Union before his appoinment as GP in West Malling.

If there is anyone who would like further information as to this family please contact me. I can lead you on a trail from West Malling to West Sussex to Axminster to Niagora on the Lake Ontario and links therein.

Hope this helps



Hi. I have been asked which pub was previously called the Red Lion in West Malling. I only know of the Red Lion, Offham. Can you help?

Thanks, Kindest regards, Lesley Bellew. Managing editor, The KM Group

Comments posted 1 Jun 2013 by David Underwood :

the lobster pot was the kent arms on the corner of police station rd

Comments posted 11 Jul 2012 by Joyce :

There were 2 red lions in west malling - 1 is now called the wheatsheaf the other the lobster pot

I have the reference for a birth record I am trying to find. It is Malling, ref. 1849 year. 3rd Quarter, Vol. 5, Page 364. Can you help me? I should like to purchase a copy. The name is Thomas John Vaughan. Thank you for your time.

Cynthia Doyle

Comments posted 7 Feb 2014 by Maureen Cullinane :

We are meeting in Trottiscliffe Friday 14th for pub lunch, you'd be welcome to join us

Comments posted 2 Feb 2014 by Maureen Cullinane :

Yes Cynthia, I believe it to be my Great grandfather. Although I am still trying to connect him for certain to the one on the 1871 census who married Mary Marten. I am visiting Trottiscliffe again soon with grandchildren of George (the eldest) and Joseph. How are you related? kind regards, Maureen

Comments posted 31 Jan 2014 by Cynthia Doyle :

To Maureen. I think maybe we are talking of the same person. He was registered at birth as Thomas John. Census 1851 he was 1 year old born in Trottiscliffe, and a grandson. He married Mary Marten as Thomas William, and used this name until his burial, except for the Census records when he was Thomas John.. His mother died when he was 4 or 5, and his grandmother Sarah died a year later. His son Thomas John born in 1881 married 2 sisters named Saunders. Is he yours? Regards

Comments posted 29 Jan 2014 by Maureen Cullinane :

This is (hopefully) my great great grandfather. Baptised in Trottiscliffe (Trosley) September 1849. Born to Mary Vaughan single mother. Is this the sort of information you need? I have researched her family and further back but am still trying to find the link between this Thomas and the one I know is my ancestor in 1871

Regards Maureen

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :


As you have the certificate ref no, you can purchase a copy from the General Register Website for £9.50

Came across your web site and found it very interesting. I lived in West Malling, my mother and sister still live there. Great job. Please keep it going.

Thanks. Bob Allman, Sugar Land, Texas.

Comments posted 18 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :

Hi There

We live next door to your mum!

I am trying to trace the history of my grandfather, his mother and his grandparents. His name was George Lloyd Streeter born 29 May 1868 and the illegimate son of Sarah Streeter. I believe his grandparents owned/run a greengrocers shop in the High Street. I wonder if there is any history of the Streeter family in the West Malling history archives. I am trying to trace my grandfather's whereabouts/history from 1881 to 1891.

Thank you very much, Christine Gallichan (Streeter)

Comments posted 21 May 2013 by Marion Hooker :

I have information about SARAH STREETER SHORT, please contact me on my e mail,

Comments posted 13 May 2013 by Ron Martin :

In 1881 George Streeter was living with his grandfather, John, in West Malling, his mother Sarah had married Henry Short, a greengrocer from Maidstone, in 1871. John who was born at Rochester in 1813 had a greengrocers shop in West Malling High Street, in premises that now form part of Frank's Restaurant, formerly the Bakery Restaurant from 1849 until he died in 1885.

Samuel Streeter, born at Rochester in 1808, almost certainly a relative of John's also lived in West Malling High Street. From 1849 to 1854 he was the landlord of The Joiner's Arms and also a Fruiterer. Then from 1856 until he died in 1875 he was a greengrocer in premises now occupied by the Crop Shop hairdressers, almost opposite John's shop.

I hope the above is useful, but if there is anything further that I can help with please let me know.

Ron Martin - Researcher for the Malling Society -

I have lived in West Malling all my life, but recently I have started doing my ancestry and I am becoming increasingly interested in the area. My great grandfather - Bernard Frederick Staples owned the Five Pointed star from 1949 to 1957. If anyone has some information, photos or stories to share of this period I would love to know.

Also, I would love to know more about the Churchfield Beerhouse (or off licence) I can't seem to find out when it stopped being a shop? Would love to know.

Thanks, Emily

Comments posted 30 Oct 2017 by Tony Collins :

Michael Palmer:

Bill the W.Malling car make and colour expert is likely to have been a touched miffed that you not only mentioned the posh white Ford Corsair - but had the honour of washing it as well....

Comments posted 9 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

It has been bugging me. Bernie's wife/Digby's mum, was so nice - and I didn't mention her.

Comments posted 6 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

Of course, Bernie and Digby Staples were in 'The Rising Sun', East Malling during the early 60s - wasn't they?

And to think, I was living at Clare Park Estate, East Malling at the time!

Comments posted 6 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

Bernie Staples was surely the landlord of the Five Pointed Star, East Malling, during the early 60s - or am I losing it? Last time I was there, the main record on the juke box was '19th Nervous Breakdown'. My brother was dressed ultra square and dancing like Mick Jagger. Hilarious!

Digby Kennard was playing for the Maidstone and Mid Kent Sunday League representative team, during the late 1980s. I have wondered if he was the son of former Town Malling United and Maidstone United right half, Brian 'Oaky' Kennard. And named after Oaky's Town Malling United team mate - Digby Staples.

Percy Macey, was indeed an all-time Town Malling United 'great'. I remember seeing him play a 'blinder', for the Maidstone & District League representative team versus the Tonbridge & District League on Good Friday, 1951.

Well, while I'm about it, I'm also wondering if Jack Kennard is Oaky's grandson.

Comments posted 4 Nov 2016 by John Coomber :


Give him my regards, but he will not remember me, but maybe my brother Bob and brother-in-law Dave Tyler and all their paper making drinking friends.

Trevor may have been a landlord later on, but he also worked at Brookgate Industries on the Aylesford site.


Comments posted 4 Nov 2016 by Emily :

Hi John,

Nick is my grandfather, and all what you said is correct!

He lives with my grandmother in Leybourne and runs a Otford School reunion every year :-)


Comments posted 3 Nov 2016 by John Coomber :


During my engineering apprenticeship day at APM during the 50's, there was a Nick Staples who was one of the 'cream' paper making apprentices and his father was a landlord of a pub in West Malling, or am I getting him muddled with Trevor Spooner?.

Regards - John

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Richard :

Peter, you wont know me but I well remember your grandparents, your father and your aunt who I seem to remember is Lorna or Laura. Was many years ago and memory not as good as it was! I always remember whenever your grandmother was serving as you selected one product she would say "and the next please" after each item was on the counter. Possibly your father will remember me or my sister Barbara. I recall the shop having a makeover around the time I left Malling in the early 70's although I haven't been back since 1984 as no relatives live there now.

Comments posted 13 Feb 2014 by Peter Stevens :

Re Churchfields Beerhouse

The Churchfields Beerhouse was taken over by my grandmother, Noreen Coppinger, before the Second World War (about 1936 I think). In those days it was tied to the Masons Brewery in Maidstone. Noreen's older sister had married Ernest Martin who ran the Cabin in the High Street which may be how she came to move from Southborough.

She met my grandfather Jack Stevens when he was billeted in the area before being sent to North Africa as part of the Eighth Army, having been a territorial in his native Hampshire before the war. Jack was never the licensee of the off licence - and he held various jobs after being demobbed.

On retirement, the off licence passed to my father, Adrian, by which time Masons had been bought by Shepherd Neame. My father sold the shop in 1975-ish and it continued as a corner shop until sometime in the mid-1990s. Father became a local postman as others note.

My grandparents died some years ago but are both buried in the Churchyard while my parents still live in the town, as do I.

Comments posted 1 Oct 2013 by Richard West :


I remember Digby Staples very well as a team mate on the couple of seasons I played football for Town Malling Utd. He probably won't recall me though, I was only 17/18 at the time, that was back in about 1965/66/67. I am sure he will well recall my late cousin John West, can't remember what his nickname was now but he was better known by that than John. Other players of that era I recall were Derek Brimsted who I know passed away fairly recently and Colin Wallis who kept goal. Not forgetting of course Percy Macey who was a veteran in those days but still classy, he started his footballing career alongside my father way back. And of course I remember Stevens shop in Churchfields.

Comments posted 20 Jun 2013 by Michael Palmer :

The corner shop was indeed run by Jack Stephens it was taken over by his son Adrian i know as i used to be the delivery boy on Saturdays also i had to wash Adrian's car weekly as well it was a white ford Corsair posh in its day. Had many happy times delivering all round the estates. I lived in Ewell Ave in fact my father still lives there. We moved in to a brand new house so it must have been about 1952 and i went to both schools in WM and then on to Clare park leaving in 1966 and now live in Devon.

Very happy days in WM the high st has changed the Internatial stores has gone Mollies cafe gone the fish and chip shop changed i think to Chip and Fishers also the Green Lantern cafe gone a lot has changed not always for the better still go back to see my Dad unfortunatly lost mother 10 years ago.

Comments posted 1 Mar 2013 by Emily Stevens :

Peter Bullion, Digby is my grand uncle and I can confirm he is still alive and in West Malling!

Thank you for the posts, I do have the inn keepers book but was hoping for more personal stories.

Many thanks


Comments posted 1 Mar 2013 by Peter Bullion :

The off licence when I was a kid in the 1950's was run by a man called Jack Stevens . We used to collect up the mineral bottles left in the trenches overnight by the builders building the houses which are now Ewell avenue, Fartherwell Avenue and Stratford Road and take the bottles to Jack's shop and get 3 pence each for them. When you bought a bottle of mineral then you paid 3 pence deposit on the bottle and got it back when you cashed in the empty bottle. The family moved in to a house up a bit from the Fountain Pub as it was then in Offham Road, They had a son,I think his name was Hadrian. I also remember the Staples family having the 5 pointed Star. As a kid I always thought it an odd name. They had a son ,Digby who I knew very well. If he is still alive he would be in his early seventies now, Peter Bullion

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Richard Carter :

My grandfather, Bill Wallis, used to run the dairy in the house next to the Five Pointed Star. The last time I went in the pub there was a photo of an outing leaving the Star and my grandfather's beaming face is in the middle. Later in life my grandparents moved to Rose Cottage in Churchields and the corner shop and off license was run by the Steven's family. I believe the son, Adrian, is still living in the area, he used to work for the Post Office.

I hope that this is of some use to you.

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :


A booklet detailing all the Inns, Beerhouses & their Keepers 1753 - 1974 was published in 2006 by the Malling Society. I do not wish to name the author in this forum, but if you contact me I will pass on the details via e-mail. All you wish to know is in the booklet.

Robert Lucas

Hello everyone, does anybody have any photos of Fatherwell Hall?. I lived in the groom's quarters with my father, mother and sister from 1956-1958 ( approx ) and I am in the process of writing a book about my childhood. I do remember an old gardener ( OLD POP ) who lived downstairs in another small quarter. The large house was occupied and we spent many happy days in the grounds of the house.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, Alison Lawrence ( nee Follett )

Comments posted 9 Apr 2019 by Peter Horsman :

Hi there. The head gardener was George Crittenden who worked there from 1917 to 1959.

From 1875 (when the Estate was purchased by Rev Hon Edward Vasey Bligh for £21,249 but using his wife's money (£6,249) and a loan from his wife's family trust file £15,000. His wife, Lady Isabel Mary Frances Nevill was the 4th child of William Nevill, the 4th Earl of Abergavenny who lived in Birling and died there. In 1881, the Fartherwell Estate was recorded as having 14 servants.

In December 1915, aged 84, Lady Isabel died and the interest in the Estate was granted to her daughter, Rosalind Isabel, who had in Oct 1881 married Cecil Vernon Wingfield-Stratford. Cecil died in 1939 aged 86 and Rosalind in March 1953. The 258 acre estate was then sold in various lots at auction in November 1953 with the Hall and 5 acres of land bring the principal lot.

As a matter of note, Cecil Wingfield-Stratford represented England at football (one cap) in 1877. He was an FA Cup winner in 1874-75, with the Royal Engineers. Edward Vasey Bligh played cricket for Kent in the 1850s and 1860s.

Comments posted 15 Aug 2018 by Jean Bennett :

Delighted to have read the history together with attached photographs of Fartherwell Hall.

In my family tree I have Great Grandmother Elizabeth Sarah CURD/BUGGS 1844-1890, widowed in 1874 and whose second marriage was

to James W LEONARD gardener/domestic at Fartherwell Hall.

Before their marriage 25th May 1878 at East Malling parish church Elizabeth BUGGS was said to have worked as the Housekeeper to the Bligh Family.

A legend/relic in our family is a large kitchen clock, said to have been slightly damaged in the house fire, and said to have been given as a wedding token.

Fartherwell Hall, West Malling Housekeeper Bracket Clock presnted as a wedding gift.

I also have a keepsake gold ring that had belonged to Elizabeth Sarah inscribed, “Loving Wife, Happy Life.

Further discussion and exchanges would be welcome

Jean Bennett

Kent fhs member

Family interest names include BUGGS of Meopham, CURD, LAWRENCE. And parishes of Birling, Wateringbury, West and East Malling, Nettlestead,

Comments posted 2 Apr 2018 by Cathy Hadlow :

Hi Alison,

I have some photos of Fartherwell Hall. I've attached four of them here.

My parents bought Fartherwell from Mr Hitch (Lesley Powell's dad?)in 1970, and I still live there. But as Lesley mentions in her reply, the big hall was demolished in the 50's, and we just have a house. The photo titled Fartherwell Hall in the Late Seventies, must mean the eighteen seventies. The farmhouse/barn and the stables buildings are still here, but they are converted to houses now. The massive greenhouse next to the farmhouse is gone I'm afraid.

You sent your question in 2011, so I may well be too late for your book, but I thought you might be interested to see the photos.

Best regards


Fartherwell Hall - 1Fartherwell Hall - 2Fartherwell Hall - 3Fartherwell Hall - 4

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

The 'Dowlings' and the 'Tizzards' were farmhands at the original Fartherwell Hall

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Richard West :

Lesley, have just read your piece where you gave your maiden name. If I recall correctly you had a sister Jenny we were at school together back in the 60's

Comments posted 4 Feb 2014 by Lesley Powell :

Hello Alison

I remember your family living at Fartherwell! I believe your father came from Barming, as I remember him taking me there once and being most intrigued to go via the North Pole! I have memories of some of the other people living in and around where you lived. I moved out in 1970, so was there for 15 years. The house that you remember as Fartherwell Hall was not the original house, but was built in 1955 on the site of the earlier house.

Lesley Powell (nee Hitch)

Comments posted 4 Feb 2014 by Lesley Powell :

Fartherwell Hall did not burn down! It was bought by my father in the mid 1950s and was demolished. He had a new, much more modest house built on the site and we lived there until 1971 when it was sold. If anyone has any photos of the original house I would be very pleased to see them.

Comments posted 2 Oct 2013 by Tim Baldock :

I am in touch with the family that owned Fatherwell Hall pre 1st world war..Does any one know its history from1900-till it burnt down...Thanks

Comments posted 14 Jun 2012 by John Cook :

Fartherwell Hall was burnt down in the 60's

Comments posted 15 Apr 2011 by Geoff Lee :

Hi Everyone. Having been a resident of W Malling in 1946 for a year whilst working as a farm trainee at Fartherwell Hall before attending The Kent Institute of Agriculture at Sittingbourne I was most interested to read all the comments posted. It certainly brought back memories one was the very hard winter we had in 1947. If anyone has any knowledge of the Fartherwell family or the house then I would be very grateful to hear from them.

Yours Geoff Lee

Hello. You will see by the attached that my grandfather James Alfred Body, England Rugby International died in Park Cottage and worked Manor Farm, which he passed onto his son until the lease expired. Then Mrs Lowe took over. I have tried to find Park cottage on google maps, but only newer houses come up when entering Park Cottage. I can only find Manor Farm at Wateringbury which I think is about 6 miles away from West Malling. I wonder if anyone came help me please?

Thanks, Ivor Body

James Body newspaper cuttings
James Body newspaper cuttings

Comments posted 16 Aug 2018 by ivor Body :

Sorry everyone I have found the Manor farm in East Malling where my grandfather, my uncle and my dad lived. Also where my grandfather died in West Malling. The riding stables kindly phoned me up to give me some history. My grandfather is being remembered in a new book that Brighton Football Club The Blues ( No not the football club) I was invited as quest of honour at the dinner and ball they are having in 2019 to celebrate 150 years. J A Body was there first England international and first President. Cannot take up this invite, due to my age. Thanks again everyone ivor

Comments posted 15 Aug 2018 by Cathy Hadlow :

There is a Park Cottage in Windmill Lane East, which is in West Malling, but on the East Malling side. It's on the edge of Manor Park, which presumably could have been Manor Farm in the past.

Comments posted 16 Sep 2017 by Peter Hobden :

Hi Bob Donovan ( Robert ) yes I lived at 3 fartherwell ave. I haven't gone far, I live in East Malling now

Comments posted 8 Jun 2017 by Bob Donovan :

Reference Park Cottage, I note from the newspaper cutting that the house relates to Park Cottage East Malling, and Manor farm was indeed at Wateringbury which is approx 3 miles from East Malling, I suggest you start researching the East Malling area and hope somebody there can help with your research.

Comments posted 8 Jun 2017 by Bob (Robert) Donovan :

Hi Peter Hobden, I think I remember your name from school and you are correct I was called Robert all through my school years and whenever I am called that now my memories of school life come rushing back, and not always good memories!

Did you live on the Fatherwell estate when we all went to West Malling Junior school?

Comments posted 7 Jun 2017 by Peter Hobden :

Hello Bob Donovan I remember the Jays Paul and David, I still see Paul. We had some great times as kids. I think I went to school with you Bob or as I knew you Robert

Comments posted 2 Nov 2014 by Bob Donovan :

Hello, reference your search for Park Cottage, I remember it very well as I lived near to it from 1960 until about 1964, and used to play in the sand banks just opposite. During this time I believe the residents were the 'Jay' family, Mr Jay was a retained fireman at West Malling Fire station.

Its location is at the junction of Lavenders Road and Windmill Lane East, I lived in the farm cottages in Windmill Lane which was owned by Mr Cronk until he sold out to the infamous Hughie Batchelor.

I believe the post code for this area is ME19 6HR, If you do a google search for this post code you should see Park Cottage's location.Good Luck.

Comments posted 4 Oct 2012 by Peter :

The Body family my mum always talked about was a romany family from Snodland. I think Irene Body lived in Columbine Road East Malling

A Precis and Interpretation of the Transcription of the 1718 document:

Mill and Abbey

Comments posted 9 Nov 2012 by David Underwood :

swan st was called holey rod street frog lane was tannery lane and bankey medows came right down to swan st in the 1400 ther was a plage that wiped out most of the nuns and some are soposed to be bured in bankey meddows the high st was very wide befor thay built middlrow in around 1700then it was the high st and kings st or as wee called it back st i grew up in west malling loved the place

Concerning Admiral Sir William Lowther Grant who died on 30 January 1929 at his residence in West Malling, I would very much like to contact Mr Bernard Tyson or any other person in your Historical and Conservation Society who might know more about him. I am researching the lives of the naval Commanders in Chief of the old China Station and he filled that position between July 1915 and July 1917.

Many thanks, John Parkinson

Does anyone have any information about the old Laundry that used to be in Back Street (Kings Street)? I am tracing my family history and my mother's family (Hodge) apparently lived there.

My Great Grandfather, Montague Hodge, was born and raised in West Malling. He played for Town Malling Cricket Club and from 1900 to 1937, when he died he was the groundsman there. If any one has any remembrances of him or any information concerning his connection with Town Malling CC I would be grateful to receive it. Many Thanks.

Stephen Baker

Comments posted 8 Sep 2014 by Claire Hodge :

Hi Sooz and Steve - I have only just been notified of your comments relating to the Hodge family of WM.........yes we could all be investigating the same branch although from my little bit of research there were a lot of Hodge's in WM and surrounding areas..........I am happy to meet up for a coffee on neutral ground and share what little info I have ??

Comments posted 8 Sep 2014 by Steve Baker :

Hi Sooz and Claire,

It maybe that we are related in someway - how can we correspond and share information?

Steve Baker

Comments posted 13 Mar 2013 by Sooz Sowery :

Hi My Nana Kathleen was a HODGE before marrying Patrick Turner. Sadly my Nana passed away several years ago but she grew up in WM and was married in WM Church. Her father was stationed at the airfield and her Mother is buried at WM church too. She had a brother Fred Hodge also deceased. Myself and family live on KH. I wonder if our families are connected somehow? :) x

Comments posted 17 Oct 2011 by Claire Hodge :

Family of Hodge from West Malling - hello I was wondering if anyone has any information about the Hodge family and particularly my husband's grandfather's family Jack Hodge born 1910 in West Malling with his twin Doris Hodge. We moved to Kings Hill several years ago and found out from my husband's nan that Jack and his family lived possibly in one of the cottages overlooking the lake in Manor park. I also have a lovely photograph of Jack's father's wedding Albert Hodge born 1880 to a widow called Emily Roots born 1880. Her first husband being Ernest Newman and they had 2 children called Emily born 1901 and Winnie 1903. We believe it to have been taken somewhere in West Malling I think possibly in the grounds of the nursing home opposite the lake ??

I have noticed that there are 2 Hodge men listed on the War Memorial in the village one for each of the world wars and believe they may be related to Jack and his family. I should be grateful for any information.

Claire Hodge

I am looking for any information regarding the EAGLETON families of West Malling - and the tailor and/or undertaker business they were involved with in the early 1800's there... In particular, Benjamin EAGLETON (b probably 1766 West Malling) who married Ann MAIR in 1812 at St Olave's, Southwark - Benjamin is listed in Pigot's directories of 1824 and 1840 in West Malling...

Benjamin married Ann MAIR as a "widower", and it seems that he had a previous marriage with "Elizabeth" but I cannot find any likely record of such a marriage... as a footnote, Benjamin and Ann's daughter, Maria (b West Malling 1814) went on to become a school teacher, she married a Captain Robert Miller HUNTER and they settled and prospered in Australia at Rockhampton in Queensland where she was involved in the establishment of their Benevolent Society, which, I am told, still exists today... (my ggg grandfather, also Benjamin, also emigrated to Australia and referred to Maria as his "Aunt")...

Any help most appreciated, regards, Ben Eagleton

Comments posted 21 Dec 2012 by John Sorrell :

There was an Eagleton family living in the road up from the cricket ground, (I hazily remember might have been called New Town?) from before the war. I do not think they were tailors but owned a confectionary shop at one time. The last son, Bryan,who was a church warden at St. Mary's died only a few years ago, his younger brother Ralph was killed in the last weeks of the war. The family were very old and close friends of my mother's family - Dartnell. My grandparents lived in Pretoria in the High Street, my grandfather being an architect.

Can anybody help? An ancestor, Thomas Palmer (1728 - 1792 ), moved from Hadlow to West Malling to spend most of his life in St Leonards St. (?). I am told he became an active citizen in the village having a long lease on over 170 acres of land around the streets, which could still be identified in the late 1900s. Thomas married an Elizabeth; his parents were Edward Palmer and Mary Brigden.

My questions are these:

Is there perhaps a tombstone in the church yard in West Malling which will provide more details of Thomas and his wife. Are they in fact buried in the church yard of the Parish Church?

Does anyone have a photo/s of St Leonards St or other parts linked to Thomas (or know where one can be obtained). If so, perhaps they could be e-mailed to me, or let me know of the cost of sending them; in which case I will provide my address.

Any help to 'fill-in' more details for this side of our family will be gratefully received.

Finally, congratulations on a fine and useful website, what a help to us trying to obtain 'colour' from afar.

John, Australia

Comments posted 1 Jan 2014 by Robert Lucas :


Looking at the parish records of St Mary the Virgin, West Malling, for the period 1700 - 1830, the only Thomas Palmer married there during this period, was on 1 October 1776. He married a spinster from West Malling named Mary Still.

Not quite the same wife's name as you were looking for, but of any help?

Airborne pollution over the years has taken its toll of the grave headstones in the churchyard, so it is pretty well impossible to read them in now.


Robert Lucas

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :


Town Hill in West Malling is the name of the road (it is a hill as implied by the name) that runs from the A20 London Road, up into West Malling High Street.

The Farmhouse in the High Street is the name of a pub. Until fairly recently, the pub was known as The Bear. it was in this pub that the Beatles stayed when they made Magical Mystery Tour at the local former RAF West Malling, way back in the late 60's. Thie pub dates from Tudor times and is said to be a meeting place for Sir Thomas Wyatt before the rebellion in 1554. It may also have been known as the White Bear and the White Hart.

Comments posted 27 Mar 2012 by John :

Melbourne, Victoria.

Hello Peter,

Thank you for your email. I have looked up Town Hill on Google maps, this landed me in the middle of High Street with no notice of Town Hill. Is this an area or an actual street? I also notice "Farm House" marked on the High Street, could this be Thomas' farm house as I see High St. continues on into St. Leonards Street?. The Thomas Palmer in our family was born 1728, presumably in Hadlow and died 1792 in West Malling; he married an Elizabeth and appears to have had two sons, James and George.

I am assuming you found my entry on the West Malling resource centre's web page. Just in case not, here is the gist of my entry taken from my Family CD. "Thomas moved his family to St Leonard's Street in West Malling. In 1754 Thomas was renting a house there, probably before acquiring the farm at St Leonards. The records show he became an active citizen in West Malling having a long lease on over 170 acres of land around the streets. The farmyard and fields were still easily identified in the late 1900s. The Palmers held their land for over 100 years."

Its great to have contact from someone with information; I wonder if I can push my fortune further by asking if you have any dates for the Palmer growing hops behind your house. As a youngster I used to help my grandmother and aunts hop picking at Hadlow so to possibly have a grower in the family would be good.

Once again, thank you for volunteering information about Mr Palmer in West Malling.



Comments posted 26 Mar 2012 by Peter Cosier :


A Mr Palmer owned hop gardens behind my house in Town Hill.


I am trying to find information on my grandfather George Phillips who I believe died in West Malling at a Chest Hospital linked to the army in the mid 1970's. George had TB contracted as a prisoner of War. I am not sure how he made his way to West Malling but he previously lived in Llanrhian, Wales.

I'd be very grateful for any assistance either on George, the chest hospital or graveyards he might be buried in.

Many thanks, Tasha

Comments posted 24 Apr 2013 by Peter deBullion :

The hospital you are looking for is Preston Hall hospital.It is on the A20 and comes under Aylesford. All the servicemen who came back from the war with TB were sent there. A village was formed by building little prefab type houses for ex servicemen when they were let out of the hospital after long treatment for TB. The village was called The British Legion Village.A lot of the prefabs are boarded up now but a few are still lived in.The village was just across the road from Preston Hall Hospital. The hospital is about 5 miles from West Malling , maybe a little farther.

Would you have access to the Malling Ryarsh parish records for 1933? My Uncle: Thomas Benjamin Elliott born May 1933 Ryarsh is the parish record that I am trying to obtain.

Thomas' parents were Louie Jordan and Ernest Elliott. Both from Chatham, Kent.

Are you able to advise further? Thankyou in advance, Best Regards, Ann

When I stumbled across your website, I was so excited. I am also doing family history research and my 'brick wall' is a James WELLES/WELLS that was born (according to his headstone) on 13 Mar 1792. I found Ryarsh Parish christening records and they have a James Welles christened on the EXACT date!! I was so excited but could find no other records. I did find one young woman who was descended from the same family but had several young children and was not able to help me.

I did try checking all emigration records to Canada and America without success ... as my James married a Persis EARLE in Dec 1810 in Windsor Co., Vermont, USA. Unfortunately, I have found nothing that would give me any clues to his parents and/or siblings. He does disappear for long periods so I am thinking he may have been descended from a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War and his relatives were in Canada.

I did have a cousin do a genealogy DNA test and have found that he has a "common ancestor" with Thomas WELLES, Governor of Connecticut and Edmund WELLES of England and Tolland Co., Connecticut, USA.

James has driven me crazy for several years and with finding this christening record with the EXACT date of his birth, I am in hopes of finding that the christening record is actually his.

Any help would be appreciated. Bonita Hillmer, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Hello, I thought you might be interested in these pictures.

Old London Road
Old London Road

School 1905
School 1905

School 1907
School 1907

Cricket Club 1902
Cricket Club 1902

Grange Concert Party
Grange Concert Party

Hearnden Golden Wedding
Hearnden Golden Wedding

Jack and Bill at Castle
Jack and Bill at Castle

Comments posted 8 May 2014 by Amy Wiggins :

Hi Caroline,

I have emailed you the photographs.



Comments posted 4 May 2014 by Caroline :

Hi Amy

My email address is

I would love copies if they are still on your Dad's computer - thank you!

Comments posted 10 Apr 2014 by Amy Wiggins :

Hello Caroline,

I will see if my dad still has the scanned images on his computer. If you can let me know your email address, I will send them over if we can find them.



Comments posted 9 Apr 2014 by Caroline Coster :

Thank you so much for posting these photos. The Hearndens shown are all direct relatives of mine - Tom and Annie were my great grandparents; Cyril, Bessie and Ivy were great aunts / uncle. I would love to have scans of these photos if at all possible. Many thanks.

Comments posted 18 Jun 2012 by Joanne Sanders :

Dear Amy,

Thank you for your quick response to my request. I would be keen to know any information of Rose and Dorothy and do their families still live in West Malling? My great-grandmother Emily Waters (their half sister) was born in West Malling Dec, 1877. Her father George and mother, Eliza (who died in 1890 from diptheria) had also, the following children, George, Thomas, Alice, Gertrude, Bessie and Benjamin. Emily and Benjamin both emigrated to Australia. However, would the lady you know, be aware of the whereabouts of the remaining children and possibly their family?

With many thanks,


Comments posted 18 Jun 2012 by Amy :

Hello Joanne, I'm afraid I don't have any information about these photos as they were given to my father by a friend of his who has since passed away. However, my friend's nan remembers some of the people in the photo, so I shall ask her and get back in touch if I find out any further information.

Comments posted 17 Jun 2012 by Joanne Sanders :

Dear Amy,

I have only recently found out that my great-great-grandmother, Emily Waters was born in West Malling 1877. I noticed that you have a photo of her half sisters, Rose and Dorothy Waters, taken at school. Would you please be able to email me a copy of that photo? If you are aware of any information relating to Rose and Dorothy, I would be grateful to hear about it.

With regards,


Hello, my grandfather died in Malling in 1930 of TB. Does anyone know if there was a sanatorium there at that time? Lesley Fisher

Comments posted 8 May 2014 by Amy Wiggins :

It could have been Leybourne Grange. I have found a page on it on the internet that says 'Leybourne Grange opened in 1936, was used for sixty years, and finally closed in 1996. The hospital was used for mental health patients particularly those with Downs syndrome.'

Comments posted 6 Apr 2011 by Diana Kelly :

Hi the only sanatorium I knew of was at Preston Hall- Diana Kelly

I am looking for any old photographs or history on Brooke House in Swan Street and also any photos of Brooke House which caught fire in the 70's. Brooke House is currently National Westminster Bank. Does anyone have any photos or history of who lived in Brooke House prior to the 1800s?

I have exhausted info at the centre for Kentish Studies, Medway and Chatham areas. I have one photo of Brooke House before it burnt down and shows it as one long fronted house and which sometime after the photo was split into two buildings, one is now called Abbey Gate House and the other is now National Westminster Bank. Jenny Evely

Comments posted 31 Oct 2015 by Stuart Rowles :

A lady called Leonie Mallett from Australia sent me an email about Ralph Leonard Rowles who lived at Brooke House and I deleted it in error whilst deleting some spam before I had answered it. Stupid Boy!

Would you please make contact again and I promise to be more careful.

Comments posted 28 Sep 2014 by Stuart Rowles :

If anyone has a photograph of Brooke House please email me a copy to

Comments posted 30 Jan 2014 by Susan Reece :

Re the comment left by Robert Lucas in 2012 and his memories of Abbey Gate House.

I was wondering if Robert Lucas has any memory of George and Emily Brook and their daughter, Daphne (Pat)who were living in Abbey Gate House in 1947. I seemed to remember my late mother mentioning a Bobby Lucas.

Comments posted 27 Oct 2013 by Stuart Rowles :

I was interested to read the article by Jenny Evely.

I would be delighted to have a picture of Brook House as I am writing a book about all the ROWLES that served in WW1. Ralph Leonard Rowles lived there with his parents in the 1911 census. He later emigrated to Australia and served in WW1 with the Machine Gun Battalion.

If anyone has a picture please make contact.

Comments posted 14 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :

Re Brook House / Abbey Gate House

My maternal grandmother and my step grandfather used to live in Abbey Gate House. My mother and her 3 sisters were brought up there. I remember Abbey Gate House as a child, when visiting my grandparents. the house had a 'presence' about it. All of us cousins did not like the long straight staircase just inside and to the right of the front door. My mum served in West Malling Police 1939 -1945 and one day when getting ready for a 6 am shift start, saw a ghost sitting in her step father's rocking chair. She told her mother (my grandmother), who replied " Oh you've seen him as well!"

In later years, a Solicitor had his Office in Abbey Gate House. I had to use his services once, so I took the opportunity to ask him if he had experianced anything. He said that legal documents inexplicably went missing, then would re-appear a few days later. Strange happenings in that house!

Comments posted 2 Jan 2012 by Lesley :

Dear Jenny

I was interested to see your query about Brooke House - in the last few days I have discovered Brookes in my husband's family.

We have a Francis Brooke of West Malling & a ref to his 'seat' at Town Malling.

Could this be their family home?

If you google Brooke & Malling several refs come up - marriage settlements in 1739 & 1745. The will of Francis Brooke 1782

I hope this helps you in your quest, & if it is not too much trouble I would love to have a copy of the photograph of the house which you refer to, & of course if you find anything about the house I would appreciate it if you could let me know.

From Lesley in Australia

Does anyone have any information on Annie Smithers, born 1883 in Hadlow, Kent, who was a domestic servant at the Laurels in 1905. In 1911 she was cook for a Solicitor's family named Brennan or Swellman in London Rd, West Malling.

Her Brother, Frank Smithers, born 1886 in Hadlow, Kent, was a Grocers Assistant in 1911 living in London Rd, Ryarsh, West Malling. Reading Richard West and Phyllis Stevens' memories on the West Malling site, Frank Smithers had a Grocers Shop in the colonnade, next to the cycle shop in West Malling, from the 1920s to late 1950s.

Frank Smithers had one daughter called Maisie born 1923. Does anyone remember her? Does anyone have any memories of this brother and sister and possibly photographs of Frank Smithers shop? She had a son Leonard Smithers in Southwick, Sussex in November 1905 and fostered him to the Strevens family in Southwick. Any information, however small, would be appreciated. Gwen O'Sullivan (formerly married to Anthony Smithers, Annie's great grandson)

Comments posted 1 Jan 2016 by Bill :

Sorry Gwen, can't help much - I only know that Frank had a daughter who sadly passed away at an early age but nothing about his sister only that the solicitor she worked for was a Mr. Brennan. Frank had a nice house almost opposite the gate to West Malling Cricket Ground. I have photo's of where his grocers was but, unfortunately, they were taken before he opened his shop

Comments posted 21 Dec 2015 by Gwen O'Sullivan :

Message for Bill: Thank you for your post saying that Wally Smithers was not related to Frank Smithers. Do you remember anything at all about Frank Smithers' sister Annie who also lived in West Malling? She worked as a cook and was unmarried. Regards, Gwen

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

Wally and Frank were not related. I knew Frank for many years as I did Fred Reed, Mrs Lindsey and Alfred Vaughan who all worked in his shop.

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Richard West :

I remember Wally Smithers and his taxi service. If I also recall correctly he wore a hearing aid. Not very helpful but in my mind I can see him sitting in his taxi!

Comments posted 5 Dec 2011 by Gwen O'Sullivan :

Hi Mick,

Many thanks for sending me this info. I hadn't come across a Wally Smithers before, but Frank Smithers (1886 - 1959) had the Grocers shop next to the cycle shop in West Malling up to the late 1950s. I feel sure they would have been related, but whether brothers or cousins I don't know - I'll have to check up on it.

Frank Smithers wife was called Lilian and they had only one daughter Maisie Smithers born 1923.

If you can recall any other family names that Wally Smithers might have mentioned, or family anecdotes, please do get in touch with me again!

Kind regards, Gwen

Comments posted 3 Dec 2011 by Mick Sloman :

Hi It may not be a relation but Wally Smithers ran a taxi service from the cycle shop in the High street opposite Swan street. We lived next door to him in London Rd.1940 & 50's

Mick Sloman

Hello. Could you help me? I am trying to trace the records for a Beatrice Dorothy de Bourbon, widow of Genaro de Bourbon. Beatrice died in August 1963, in a place called Malling Place, West Malling. Do you have any information on what function Malling Place had and, if anyone has any recollections of this lady, I would be most grateful to learn more about her? Thankyou, Thelma Heptonstall

Comments posted 1 Jan 2014 by Robert Lucas :

Hello Thelma

If you wish to obtain a copy of the death certificate from the General Registry Office, the references you need are, Maidstone Volume 5b, page 607, Quarter 3 1963.

Hope this helps


Robert Lucas

Comments posted 6 Apr 2011 by Diana Kelly :

Hi Malling House to the best of my knowledge- was a private house that held piano lessons on a Saturday I think? and held Sunday school on Sundays - Diana Kelly

Whenever I drive up the hill along the A228 towards Kings Hill, I see a new-looking building to my left, built in a kind of Georgian style with what looks like a small bell tower on top, and I always wonder what the place is. Looking on Google Maps, it's along Broadwater Road. Is it a functional building or a private residence? Thanks, Martin

Comments posted 29 Jan 2013 by Martin :

Interesting stuff - thanks everyone :)

Comments posted 29 Jan 2013 by Denise Edgson :

miss martin as we knew her not only had cows but ran a riding stable, which i spent many happy times at, she used to rescue a lot of horse some from the knackers yard

Comments posted 7 Dec 2011 by Lynsey S Tomkins :

It's a private residence and a famous footballer is supposed to live there

Lynsey S Tomkins

Comments posted 3 Dec 2011 by Mick Sloman :

Hi, I think the new building you refer to as seen from the new West Malling by-pass is the residence of none other than Ian Wright the former footballer.

Mick Sloman

Comments posted 6 Apr 2011 by Diana Kelly :

Hi the place you're referring to is in fact a private house- it replaced an old farm house of which mother Martin farmed some cows her - her mother and her daughter lived there till nature took its course on her and her mother. Ian Wright [the footballer] bought it, knocked it down and built what you now see in its place- to my knowledge Ian moved out and gave his son [Shaun Wright-Phillips] the actual house - Diana Kelly

Does anyone remember Michael Smith who grew up in West Malling in the 50's & 60's? His father worked as an engineer in the RAF and his mother was a nurse. He also had four younger sisters. I would love to hear from anyone that remembers the family. Thanks, Gemma Steer

Hi, I'm currently in the process of researching my family history and putting together my family tree and I've found your site so useful. You see, a lot of my family are from Malling and the surrounding area, like Ightham and Seal.

I'm planning a visit to Kent to have a look round the local cemetery to see if I can try and piece together who was married to who etc. I wondered if you might know if the parish minister or local priest may be able to help me? Kind Regards, Lesley-Anne

A nice little web site. My Kentish forebear, Edwin George Kettle, left West Malling for Australia in 1852. His family were butchers there, though which of two cousins was his father is hard to say.

A transcription of the West Malling burials would nicely complement the very useful baptism index.

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :


The West Malling 1851 census returns show the following......

Edwin George Kettle was living in West Malling High Street. He was aged 24 years and was unmarried. He was born in Rochester, Kent. His occupation is shown as 'Cattle Sales Assistant'. He was the nephew to the head of the household, namely...........

Charlotte Kettle, aged 45. She was unmarried and born in West Malling. Her occupation is shown as 'Head Annuitant'.

Hope this helps

Robert Lucas

I have researched my Waggon Family back to William Kettle Waggon who was born in West Malling in 1817. His parents were William Waggon and Elizabeth Jenner who were married at Kingsdown, Near Sevenoaks, Kent in 1816. I have been unable to find out anything more about them so would appreciate any help that anyone can give me please. From Pam Amey

Comments posted 21 Feb 2014 by Peter Bullion :

I went to West Malling boys school when I was 8 in 1949. A lad called Tony Waggon went to that school at the same time as me and lived in West Malling. I take it he is probably from the Waggon family you are refering to. He was a year younger than me. He now lives in Malling Road ,Snodland opposite the old clinic.

Can you help me? I have traced my Cheesman relatives who were very numerous around East Peckham and have found that Aaron Cheesman born 29th Oct 1798 died in the West Malling Workhouse aged 70 in 1869. Do you know how I can access the records for the workhouse? Pauline

One of my ancestors, George Richard Cass (1790-1874) was the schoolmaster at the Endowed School in Mill St, East Malling from 1815 to about 1865. I would be grateful for any information, especially photographs, about the school for inclusion in a book which I am writing about him. Steve Broadfoot

Hi, was just wondering what the place was called where I am the walrus by the Beatles was filmed, if you knew, that would be great as I'd like to visit it.

Cheers, Gareth

Comments posted 10 Nov 2012 by Hugh :

Hi , please dont treat this as gospel....only what I have been able to establish, The Magical mystery Tour was partly filmed at West Malling Aerodrome, what is now known as Kings Hill and is a newly developing housing estate, In the video you see the dancers on a wall , this wall was known as The Wallrus, and was built as a blast wall, it has since been demolished and having noticed the blast wall was a tapered design, I stumbled across large portions of Concrete placed around the perimiter field, these could be the remains of the wall, theyre the right shape and design, in the film the beatles dance within the then standing hanger and can also be seen performing in the open air, behind them is a bridle way, I believe this to be the open field where there still remains large concrete footings prob where the hangar once stood and strangely enough if I am correct this was the venue for a party extravaganza a couple of years ago by performing singers such as Mc Fly and known as The Party on the Hill . Hope you find this of interest ....Hugh

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Robertt Lucas :

A new ditally remastered DVD of The Magical Mystery Tour is now out, costing about £14.00 from Amazon. You can seen the blast walls (for the Javelin aircraft) in fully colour. Somewhere I have lots of photos of the former RAF West Malling.

Comments posted 10 Sep 2012 by Ann :

further to the comment re west malling airfield which is correct it was in / out of the blast walls- sadly all is now under concrete and housing- however the original tower is being converted to a museum and a coffe house- to my knowledge

Comments posted 11 Jul 2012 by Bill :

It was filmed at west malling airfield

Re Florrie Hall, died West Malling 11 November 1940. Hi I'd be interested if anyone has any information regarding the bombing that took place in Wickens Place, West Malling on the 11th November 1940. My paternal grandmother, Florrie Hall, was killed in that incident. Being a widow and having lost her eldest son during the evacuation of Dunkirk, her next of kin was my father. He was informed of her death whilst serving in the Navy in the Mediterranean and was refused leave to return home to attend to her affairs. We have a letter from the War Ministry advising that the property had been visited by an air raid warden who reported that the house was completely demolished.

Thanks for your help, Christine Rawe

Comments posted 7 Sep 2014 by Daniel Wilson :


My daughters 2xGrt Aunt and her whole family (excluding the husband) died on the 11/11/1940 where they lived, 10 Wickens Place.

There was five of them in the house that night.

I know it was during the Battle of Britain but have next to no other details about the shocking events of that date.

Comments posted 8 Mar 2014 by Denise Richardson :

My grandmother was also killed in the bombing there too. Her name was Ada Driver and luckily my dad and his brother did survive. I too am very interested to find out anything about that day.

Comments posted 19 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :

Some of the Wickens Place houses still exist. If you 'Google' Wickens Place, you will see some recent house valuations.

If you require further information concerning the bombing, pleae contact The Malling Society via their website. Their researcher will probably be able to help you.

My mother was in the West Malling Police when the bombing took place. I remember her telling me how people were sadly killed at the time.

Kindest Regards


I am looking for any information on the Woodger Family from West Malling, Kent. Harriet Woodger was born 1831 in West Malling. She married Edward Goldup from Ash, born 1831 from Chillham , Kent. I have the Baptism records from this site thank you, great site.

Also looking for any information on Albert Edward Goldup: Born Ash 1863 died Madras India in 1891. Mother Harriet Woodger

Kind Regards, Trevor White

Comments posted 18 Jul 2011 by Lynda Fuller :

Trevor I used to go to school with a Janet Woodger, it was Blacklands c.p. primary East Malling Road opposite the Anglican church. Also I went to Clare Park Sec. School Beech Road East Malling - she may have been there with me. If you type in Memories of East Malling Stephen Sharpe owns the site - just about all of those 2 schools are on that site and I have seen her name on there some one will know about the Woodgers. Let me know how you get on - my name is Lynda Fuller and I left West Malling when I was 17 1973 and I'm still in New Zealand. I used to live in Norman Road. Good Luck

Lynda Fuller

I visited West Malling over the weekend as I was nearby looking for any graves of relatives that once lived there. They lived on the High Street. It's a carpet shop now, but this is going back to the 1800s.

The name of the head of house was Israel Dutt. If there are any Dutts left there I would love to know, or anyone who has Israel Dutt in their family tree. Many thanks, Natalie

Comments posted 25 Jul 2012 by Carol Kersbergen :

I am a descendant of Israel Dutt. I have a lot of information on the Dutt,s. I would love to correspond with anyone regarding them.

You can email me at the above.

Carol Kersbergen(nee Dutt)

Comments posted 28 Nov 2011 by Carol :

Good Morning:

I am a direct decendant of Israel Dutt. I live in Canada but I was born in England. Are you a descendant of Israel's?. Would like to hear from you.

I know at one time several Dutt's lived on Swan Street.

Regards, Carol

Comments posted 11 Mar 2011 by Carol Kersbergen :

Good Morning, Natalie

I am a descendant of Israel Dutt.He is my great great grandfather. This Israel was born in 1847 or his father was also Israel born in 1815.

How are you related to Israel.

Would love to correspond with you, Carol Kersbergen (nee Dutt)

I would love to hear of any information on The Fountain Inn 1911, as my Great Great grandparents managed it and I am researching my family tree. Their names were Levi Trivett and Minnie Lemmon. It would be wonderful to see any photographs any one has too, Thank you. Eve

Comments posted 14 Feb 2014 by Robert Lucas :

Records show that Levi Trivett was the Landlord from 1902 to 1913.

Went to Clare Park High around 1971/72 before emigrating to Australia. Before this went to West Malling primary school. Would love to catch up with old classmates. Unable to find Clare Park High on Internet????

Laura Mouttet (nee Reggler)

Comments posted 7 Jul 2014 by Alan Mills :

If any of your classmates from West Malling were called Mills and from West Malling I'll gladly put you in touch as they'll be my older brothers and sisters :-)

Comments posted 23 Aug 2013 by Bridie North :

Hi there, the reason you can't find Clare Park High is because they changed the name it was re-named The Malling School and they knocked the old building's down and rebuilt the school. I hope this help's you in your search for old pic's of the school.

Comments posted 31 May 2013 by Lynda Fuller :

Hi my name is Lynda Fuller I was at the same school as you then, I came to New Zealand 1973 actually it may have been 1970 I was at Clare Park I think it is called Malling School now have a look under that on the net, Type in Stephen Sharp he runs a site either memories of malling or malling memories some thing like that. Has all the pupils on it all the best Lynda

Comments posted 8 Feb 2013 by Jean Crombet-Beolens :

I went to Clare Park Secondary School we were the first group of children after it opened as a brand new school around 1958. I left in 1962 you will find it on Internet at Friends re united. The first Headmaster was R Pape. Its changed its name like the others have said. Good luck with your search. Its an interesting site as I have been in New Zealand since 1975.

Comments posted 31 Dec 2012 by Ann :

My hubby went there 62/66 he said it was a dump?? he said it isn't any better now that they have built the new 1

Comments posted 29 May 2012 by Elaine Bentley :

Hi , I went to Clare Park secondary school also, I left in 1979 and I believe the reason that you're maybe having problems locating it now is that it changed its name roughly 1989 - 1984 or thereabouts to The Mallings secondary school, Beech Road, East Malling KENT . I hope this helps . Best wishes Elaine Bentley (was Milner)

I have aquired a marriage certificate dated 1859 at St Mary's West Malling for Mary McCathy and John Conden. I would be interested to know if either of these names have any connection to West Malling. The witnesses were Charles Evans and Martin Galloway.

Is there anyway of tracing the staff at Leybourne Grange? Someone mentioned foreign workers there - any idea if any of the workers were French?

Comments posted 13 Mar 2010 by Pauline Wagon :


My Mother closed up Leybourne Grange and she may be able to help you trace ex staff


Comments posted 28 Aug 2009 by Richard West :

Hi Richard, Try Friends Reunited website for names of former Leybourne Grange employees. You will find plenty there. During my time there were many Spanish and Italian working as ancillary staff. Cannot recall many from France though. Nursing staff in the early 70's saw influx from Malaysia, great badminton players! You can read my Malling memories entry. In fact this feature came about through me contacting the webmaster. About my only claim to fame.

Regards, Richard West

I have been looking with some interest at your web page and reading the comments of people seeking information on West Malling. It takes me back years as I spent my childhood and youth in West Malling. I still remember so much even though I emigrated to Australia in 1968. I lived in 10 Churchfields until I was 5 and then we moved to 61 Ewell Avenue and I lived there with my parents until I left, many fond memories.

Peter Hazelwood

Comments posted 6 Nov 2017 by Tony Collins :

Bill has a cult following among some West Malling area car enthusiasts.

There is much discussion as to the make and colour of his cars that have graced our streets. There have been quite a lot of bets wagered about this in fact.

There is much interest to hear further, and I personally can hardly wait.

Wouldn't it be great if Bill was also to reminisce about same.

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

Hi Pete - did you take your Morris 1000 van with you to Australia?

Comments posted 1 Dec 2015 by Charlie Guttridge :

I've been trying to get information about the hostel my mum past away there in 1973. I lived it there I woz 14 I lived the place fond memory's

Comments posted 16 Sep 2014 by Lynda Fuller :

To Jean Crombet-Beolens: I left Clare Park Sec. School in 1971 and came to New Zealand in 1973 and I'm still here in Papakura, South Auckland

Comments posted 14 Sep 2014 by Jan Andrews nee Vanner :

Hi I used to live at churchfields opposite the school. my dad used to work in the newsagents and was a caretaker at the council offices. I left there in 1976

Comments posted 13 May 2014 by Tim Baldock :

Peter......Remember Tim Baldock..married Ann..White??

Lots of memories....Merve Hyde...Peter Jobe...Billy Large....Sally Brigs....Dave Southy...Guy Dark..Jenny Flisher...Pete and John Robinson..When did you last come back to W..M..Catch up if you get this....Tim

Comments posted 1 Jun 2013 by Lynda Fuller :

Peter Hazelwood did you have a sister June, I used to live in Norman Road

Comments posted 8 Feb 2013 by Jean Crombet-Beolens :

Hi Pete your name rings a bell although I cannot picture your face. I went to West Malling primary and Clare Park Secondary school, same time as Marina. My Dad was a policeman. My brother Richard and I (Jean Crombet-Beolens) lived at Policestation Road. Loved my time there walking miles up the Downs and playing at the Cascade, frog lane and banky meadows. Have now lived in New Zealand for the past 35 yrs.

Comments posted 8 Nov 2012 by Marina Coombes Nee Spain :

Hi Pete remember me? I lived in Brickfields and used to hang around with Jean Stone. Now living in South Wales. Take care, best wishes, Marina

Comments posted 4 Sep 2012 by David Underwood :

i rember u dident know u well but think u went to snodland school my grandpearnts name were norris ans outher relitives in the area were souters

we lived at the end of polce station road

Comments posted 5 Feb 2010 by Robin Saxton :

Hi Pete remember me Robin Saxton? Good to know that you are still around, Alf showed me photos of you years ago and said you were doing well with your decorating business. I still remember East and West Malling but now live in Rye, East Sussex. Hope all well, would like to keep in contact to discuss "old times". Robin.

In 1891, an ancestor was working as one of a number of servants for a Mrs Akers at "The Abbey". The previous entry in the census, headed Swan St, lists a Matron and children of the Abbey Home and there are cottages listed after The Abbey. Does anyone know any more about this set up at that time?

Max Double

Hello, I am trying to gather information about my family. William Hollands, born about 1739 married to Mary Maidman. Children were Anne born 1782, William born 1785, John born 1788, Thomas born 1790, William born 1792. Don't know if there are any others.

If you could help it would be great. Thanks, Heather Bishop Nee Holland.

Comments posted 26 Aug 2009 by Richard West :

Hi Helen

Sorry I am only being nosey really. Would these be related to Hollands who lived in Norman Road and ran the (cherry) orchards on that side of the road which extended to the cricket meadow?. The house was opposite Blenheim House where my father and his family were raised. In fact that house belonged to Mr Hollands. Cannot remember his name but he had a son Ron who my father and his brothers always referred to as Cabbage, no idea why though. Just wondered if this had come up in your research?

Regards, Richard West ex WM

Can anybody remember Malling House being a girls boarding school, as I am an ex pupil who is trying to obtain photos of Malling House from the 70s.

Can anybody help please? Marie Westcott

Comments posted 2 Jun 2013 by Carla Spanton :

Hi i went to malling house school too. I left there in 1986 when it closed down i was the last pupil to walk out of the school it was a beautiful building and the grounds were fantastic,i can remember the over grown tennis courts that no one while i was there ever used also i knew mrs Burr she was one of my house mothers before she left for australia i still have the present that she gave me all those years ago! They closed the school due to the lack of girls being sent away which was a pity i am still in contact with 2 other girls that went with me and then we all went on to another boarding school together up in buckinghamshire i can still remember the splash pool also having to walk over to the other side of the field to go to the school rooms and the swings by the side.

I still live in kent and am married with 3 kids can you also remember on a friday the meeting we had to see how we had been during the week? i do and if u failed quite a few you were not going home,it seems that it has been forgotten about now it is offices which is a shame i would love to see pictures of how it used to look inside and out xx

Comments posted 11 Sep 2012 by Kevin :


I lived in West Malling for around 24 years (1960-1984)and I was led to beleive that that building was a girls home for naughty

Comments posted 23 Aug 2012 by Jayne Robinson :

My name is Jayne and I went to Malling House school for a number of years, I am 47 and would love to hear from anyone that went to school there

Comments posted 2 May 2012 by Diana Kelly :

My husband remembers Malling House being a school- he referred to it being a "special school" and recalls girls walking round the High St with matching uniforms- with badges on the front

Comments posted 6 Apr 2011 by Diana Kelly :

Yes I do remember that school- I remember the girls walking around our village- I don't have any pictures- just fond memories - Diana Kelly

The best years of my life were spent in West Malling, an idyllic place to grow up in the 1960's and early 70's. My family orinally lived in a two up two down in Offham road with outside toilet, but then moved to nr. 1, Fartherwell Avenue. My dad, Bernard worked at the Mill but also as a reserve fireman in the village. Our next door neighbours in Fartherwell avenue were the Bakers and one one of my earliest memories is standing very embarassed, as children marched arm in arm around West Malling infants school chanting "Martin loves Bridget", Bridget being one of their children. Mrs Hurn was a one of my teachers there. At West Malling juniors two of my teachers were Miss Hanchett and Mrs Burke - both remarkable characters.

I wonder does anyone remember Bobby Sloman or Ian Tilley, Colin or his sister Shona or Martin Milner perhaps? Me and my elder brother Denis - seven years older than me and my sister Patricia in turn then went to Clare Park school and eventually moved away to Larkfield.

I actually eventually became a vicar no less and I am writing this from Bucharest, Romania, but after thee years abroad I am coming back to the UK - to Durham. So much water under the bridge, but it says something that all these years later I am interested in what became of people 35 years ago in a little village in Kent. I must be getting old.

Martin Jacques

Comments posted 7 Sep 2017 by Tony Collins :

Martin : Are you related to Peter Jacques?

He was from Ryarsh. Following the mid-1950s, he married one of the Summers sisters from Hill View, Borough Green. They set up home there.

Peter previously played for Ryarsh FC, then Boro' Green FC. He had a natural thatch of pale yellow, blonde hair, in those days.

Comments posted 15 Jan 2017 by Peter Hobden :

Hello Martin Jacques. I lived at number 3 Fartherwell. I'm Peter Hobden my brother is Mick. I remember the Bakers. In fact Joan is still around living in Larkfield with her daughter Carol

Comments posted 3 Dec 2011 by Sheila Sloman :

Hi, I am the uncle of Bobby Sloman,for more details please contact me.

Mick Sloman

Comments posted 31 Jul 2011 by Lyn Pilkington :

Hi Martin

Just seen your post - I used to know your brother Denis. You may have known my brother Stephen Allingham as he was younger than me. I knew a Peter Sloman but not Bobby and my best friend at school was Marie Baker, Bridgetts older sister.



This is a request for information please. My Grandmother, Muriel Lemon (nee Kensall) moved with her family to West Malling in approx. 1938. Her father was Percy Kensall who ran the basketworks in Swan St. Granny worked in a shop owned by the Baldocks for a period of time. She remembers Mrs Baldock and her husband, the Bodkins who had a drapers shop opposite. She remembers Babs Robinson (whose Mother had a pub??), Maulve, her step sister Nora, someone called Donald Wood (who courted Granny in the early 1940's), his brother Frank and sister Florrie.

She moved to West Malling with her parents Percy & Sarah and her siblings, Ken, Dorothy & Phyllis. Granny's memories of this time are a bit gappy, so if anyone remembers her or anything relating to West Malling at that time, we would be very grateful. Particularly helpful would be confirmation of exactly where the basketworks were on Swan St and if they still exist in any way.

Many thanks, Suzie Shearer

Comments posted 6 Apr 2011 by Diana Kelly :

The basket works became the ICM factory- it is now all private flats- Bodkins in now a library, Baldocks is still there - Bodkins is now a newsagents - Diana Kelly

Comments posted 13 Oct 2009 by Tim Baldock :

Suzie....Just to let you know that BALDOCKS is still in West Malling but I have searched our logs but can't find when Gran worked with us. Will try to find out about basketmakers ...bit before my time...Tim Baldock...

Discover West Malling Village & Airfield 1956 was filmed by John Holton©, who was a navigator with the RAF stationed at West Malling Airfield in 1956. There is a DVD compilation of John's 8mm cine film which includes:

* Village scenes starting at the train station and then to the High Street and various places within the village *

* Meteors taking off from the airfield and flying over Eastbourne to the French Coast Cap Griz Nez and landing back at West Malling *

* RAF Sports Day at the airfield *

* The annual Battle of Britain event with various aircraft landing and flying by *

... and finally a few shots of the Bristol Brigand, which was used to train navigators.

Added in 2006 are shots from film found in John's loft of two airmen racing their Sunbeam Alpine cars around the perimeter road of the airfield.

This DVD is only available on DVD-R. A donation from the sale of each DVD is made to the RAF Association, Aylesford & Malling.

If this is of interest to your viewers full details can be seen at the link below.

JMC Video

Hello, I wonder if anyone can help. My grandmother, Alice Huff, was born to Alice & William Huff in 1905. Her her mother died in 1906, leaving my grandmother when she was just a year or so old. They were then living in St Mary's Road in Wrotham.

Having looked at the census of 1911 it said that my grandmother aged 5 was living as a boarder in Sevenoaks with a widow called Kate Luck and her daughter and granddaughter.

I am finding it very difficult to find out why she was living with this particular lady and why she was not with a member of her family. I would appreciate it if anyone knows anything about the Huff's from Wrotham, Kent in 1905/06. Thanks, Debbie

I live in France and managed to visit the Centre for Kentish Studies to do some family history research, but could find no trace of a marriage between Thomas Pointer (1791) and his wife Harriet, also known as Orry, Aura, Orriffe, or Aurith.

They were married c1810/1811 and I would dearly like to discover her surname. Can anyone help?

Best regards, Carole Morrow

Hi there,

We are a couple of artists/film makers who are interested in producing a documentary on Leybourne Grange Hospital and are looking for anyone who had any experiences of working there, who might like to take part in the documentary in some way.

We feel there may be people living or working in the Malling area that may be able to help.

Many thanks, Tania Kelvie and Lisa Goslett

Comments posted 27 Aug 2012 by Pedro Rodriguez :

Hi, I worked at the Hospital main kitchen from 1966 to 1982 and I was resident in the nurses home, I was twenty at the time and just arrive from Spain. Even after so many years have past I still remember this place greatly maybe because I was going out with someone very special her name was Valerie Richardson, even now that I am married with two group kids, I keep thinking of this girl like it was yesterday but in reality 30 years already gone but for me Leybourne Grange was a wonderful place I play football tennis table tennis and live was a beauty in those days a job a good girl and lots of friends I will remember them all for ever. sincerely Pedro Rodriguez.

Comments posted 1 Mar 2010 by Richard M Blunden :


I spent a year (1975, I think) working with some great people in the OT department at Leybourne Grange Hospital, before going off to do 'A'-levels.

I owe my later career as a clinical psychologist to this early experience!

Kind regards, Richard M Blunden

Comments posted 6 Jun 2009 by Lindsey Killick :

Hi Tania, I trained as a nurse and later worked as a Ward Sister at LGH. I was there from 1971 until 1979. I met my husband there when we were student nurses and living in the Nurses Home. My mother was a Ward Sister at an associated hospital, and various members of my husband's family worked on the domestic side. It was very much a family affair - everyone was related.

Regards, Lindsey Killick.

Comments posted 5 Mar 2009 by Julia Campbell :

I worked at LGH from 1973 to 1993 when it closed, several members of my family at different times. It was a great place to work and we had good fun. I worked in occupational therapy.

Julia Campbell

Comments posted 1 Feb 2009 by Richard West :

Hi Tania. I worked at the hospital 1966/72 in the Finance Department. My late father was employed there all his working life, he worked in the hospital stores. One of my uncles was a carpenter and his wife a ward sister. Strangely it was a place where family groups found employment. In my time the farm manager, his wife, sister in law and son in law all worked there. Additionally with the influx of Spanish and Italian employees, mainly catering and domestics, several family groups were to be found amongst these people.

Let me know if you wish to have any information, regards Richard West

Hi, does any one remember the old cinema in West Malling in the years of 1975 to 1985?

Ivan Hawkins

Comments posted 11 Jan 2019 by Tony Collins :

The Badminton Cinema, West Malling.

I'm trying to remember, during the early to mid-50s, the name of the lady working on accounts/secretarial activities? in the office of Wrotham School headmaster, Mr. Arthur Percy.

She lived in West Malling, and was involved with running the WM Boy's Brigade.

Wrotham School's drama group put on a play, during 1954, at the Badminton Cinema - attended by, what seemed like, just boys of the Brigade.

I was in a comedy sketch which opened proceedings. It was more or less ad-libbing about Badminton Cinema cleaning ladies putting on a film show for themselves.

We were sort of dreading it, didn't expect a single laugh. But the boys were great, laughing non-stop - without much thought, we squeezed out our limited range of words to keep it going.

The audience members enjoying our performance so much, seemed to be mainly 9/10 years of age - maybe our brand of humour was tailor-made for that age group. Us 'comedians' were 13/14 years of age. One of my happiest school occasions!

Comments posted 11 Jan 2019 by Tony Collins :

Derek Wickwar :

Dave Rendle (b. 1942/3?) played cricket and football for Offham. He was a high scoring batsman.

His father Ron, was the Housing Chief at Malling RDC. For some reason, he always referred to Dave as 'Burbrook.'

And for some reason, I have often mixed up Dave's name with yours.

Do you know of a well known Wickwar cricketer? If not Derek - possibly a Dave?

Comments posted 11 Jan 2019 by Tony Collins :

Keith Fagg :

Are you related to Peter Fagg?

He commenced a 5 year apprenticeship as a Carpenter & Joiner in 1955.

He was friendly with Ken Thwaites - an apprentice Carp. and Joiner, at the same time.

They were born in 1940, well Ken was anyway.

Peter was involved with building and driving a scaled down train. Photos in local newspapers showed him travelling with child passengers.

Comments posted 12 Sep 2018 by Derek Wickwar :

We lived opposite the cinema at 13 Council Cottages, think the numbers have changed now.

Raymond and Margaret ran the cinema. it was my job on a Sunday to go down there and buy a block of ice cream which was sold from the side door. There used to be a workshop near the cinema entrance, I seem to remember an old chap making garden stools from there.

We moved from there in 1969 to East Malling.

Comments posted 12 Sep 2018 by Keith Fagg :

Hi. I was a projectionist for 30 years at the Raymar and would love to hear from any one with connections to this cinema.

Comments posted 4 Sep 2017 by Tony Collins :

Hey Bill : You're slipping mate.

You haven't told us the colour and make of the cars, that were driven by the dentist and Mr. Halke.

Comments posted 14 Jul 2017 by Tony Collins :

How many remember seeing "Two-Way Stretch" at the Raymar during the early 1960's?

There was a photo in the Kent Messenger, which had been taken on location southwest of Offham - at Terry's Quarry, Comp lane. It showed 3 skiving stone-breaking convicts - one of them being Peter Sellers.

Lionel Jeffries stole the show in the film. Do you recollect him saying, "what's wrong, frightened of a little bang?" - just before the cliff fell on him.

Comments posted 20 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

Lynda Fuller : So you saw 'The Sound of Music' at the Raymur when you were 15. When your father was that age he saw Julie Andrews in person.

She was Patron of the Borough Green-based, 2158 Squadron ATC; attended many of its functions, and attracted a large number of people to these. She sang with her step father - they were known as 'Ted and Julie Andrews.'

Comments posted 9 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

Jackie Hart - nee Butcher : Are you sure that you saw the 'latest' movies at the Raymar? Lynda Fuller didn't see The Sound of Music there until 1971. The Raymar was showing films about the same time after their premiere, as the Rex Cinema in Borough Green.

Comments posted 9 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

The Halkes arrived in West Malling in 1951. They set to work on the hall, and opened the Badminton Cinema in January 1952 - re-naming it the Raymar during 1955. They retired in 1987, closing the cinema. Following the demolition of same, they occupied one of the homes which was subsequently built on the site.

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

The Badminton Hall was, as the name suggests, used for Badminton and also a dance hall. Later a dentists operated from there. When it first opened as a cinema, the floor was flat so difficult to see at the rear. The noisy projector was in the middle of the seating area.

Comments posted 7 Jan 2014 by Jackie Hart :

Hi, I was born in one of the houses opposite the RAYMAR cinema in 1956. I often went to see the latest movies there as I grew up. It was named the ray mar after the owners Raymond and Margaret Halkes. I used to play at their house with their daughter Elizabeth when we were little. I left home at 16 but I still live local to Malling and often use the shops there

Comments posted 11 Jun 2013 by Bo Crombet-Beolens :

I just came across this site... I well remember the Raymar throughout the 1960s co-inciding with the heyday of British cinema and seeing 'The Knack', 'Here we go round the mulberry bush', 'Morgan, a suitable case for treatment' and many more. I also remember sneaking in the fire exit to watch Frankenstein and being thrown out!

Comments posted 1 Jun 2013 by Lynda Fuller :

I remember the cinema at West Malling, I went to watch Sound of Music there I was about 15 1971

Comments posted 10 Apr 2013 by Marion Pickering (nee Wormull) :

I used to work at the cinema in W. Malling for a short while. Don't remember the names of the people who had it at the time though a Raymond does come to mind. Years unknown. I was there when they opened.

Comments posted 1 Mar 2010 by Richard M Blunden :

Hi Ivan,

I remember the West Malling cinema, The Raymar, and an older, grey-haired gentleman who used to run and/or own it with his wife.

I seem to recall a school outing to see Julius Caesar in my 'O'-level year (1972), then I used to go regularly to the very popular Sunday matinees during the mid-late 1970s.

I remember particularly enjoying a lot of Hammer Horror films!

Hope this is of some interest.

Kind regards, Richard M Blunden

Comments posted 4 Oct 2009 by Derek Wickwar :

Hi Ivan

Yes I remember the Raymar. We lived at 13 Council Cottages just across the road. There used to be a side door where a chap made wooden stools with a wicker top. I used to go there for the Saturday morning films as a child. Also It was my job on a Sunday lunch time to go and get a block of ice cream from the side door. We moved to East Malling when I was nine. To the brand new Step Stile Estate.

Derek Wickwar

Comments posted 1 Mar 2009 by Tracey Akers :

My family had a long association with the Halke's at the Raymar. My aunt, Joan Gardner, was their first usherette. I did the same job while still at school from 1984-87 and then my younger sister took over the role until it closed in 1989 - I think...

My brother was a projectionist and my mother did the cleaning. Mr & Mrs Halke were lovely people whom I remember with great affection. Raymond died a few years ago but Peggy is still going strong and has moved away recently.

Let me know if you need any more information, Tracey Akers (nee Sheppard).

Comments posted 1 Feb 2009 by Trudy Dean :

Yes Ivan. I moved to WM with my family in 1979, and we went to the cinema several times before it closed.

Comments posted 31 Jan 2009 by Diana Kelly :

I remember the cinema that was called the Raymar. It was owned by the Halkes - Raymond and Grace, and my husband's mother was an usher in there.

Hi, I wonder if you may be able to help me. I am trying to locate the grave of my grandfather, Alexander Colman, who was born in 1884 and who was apparently buried at West Malling in or about 1941. He became semi-estranged from the family in the 1920s but during WWII the family were informed he had died and was buried in West Malling.

I have been unable to locate his death certificate, which is a mystery, so the only way I can see to find him is in the cemetery registers for West Malling.

Is there anyone who may be able to tell me where he may have been buried and where the records are? I am told he converted to Catholicism in the 1920s but don't know if that may have affected where he may have been buried.

Any help would be greatly appreciated as I really would like to solve this sixty-eight-year-old riddle.

Many thanks, Jon

Comments posted 11 Mar 2017 by Jon :

Hi Lynda,

I have e-mailed you.


Comments posted 11 Mar 2017 by Lynda :

Hi Jon

I am also interested in Alexander Coleman as he may have known my grandmother. Was he in the East Malling, Kent area in June 1925? Please email me for more details


Comments posted 3 Nov 2015 by Jon Wicken :

A good while ago Robert kindly helped me with a burial at West Malling in hunt of my great grandfather.

He found a 1941 burial in West Malling but it was all a bit confusing as my great grandfather was called Alexander Colman while this burial was for Joseph Alexander Coleman.

I knew Alexander Colman was supposed to have died in 1941 in West Malling and buried there but there were no Alexander Colman deaths in the England death register, so it was all a bit confusing.

Today however the 1939 register has come online at findmypast and I did a search for Alexander Colman. He was however not to be found. Wondering if there was a transcription error or if he changed his name, I then did a search for just his birth date in Kent.

And who should show up? None other than Joseph Alexander Coleman in West Malling whose burial was found and posted here!

It therefore indeed appears this is my ancestor but why he changed the spelling of his surname I do not know. I do know that he apparently converted to Catholicism so I wonder if he took a new name then.

It is all so incredible after all these years looking for him and so more digging to do, but it does indeed seem like it is him.

Thanks so much for your help!

Comments posted 11 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :


I think I can help you.

The burial register for St Mary the Virgin, West Malling, shows Joseph Alexander COLEMAN was buried aged 58, in April 1941.


Robert Lucas

Hi, my friends have just moved into the old house on King Street and I would love to find out more about the history of the house, being one of the oldest in West Malling (it has Norman foundations).

If anyone has any information please let me know,

Thanks, Claire Martin

Comments posted 15 Apr 2012 by Barbara Morley :

Hello Claire

I've just seen your entry concerning an old house in King St. I'm in Australia and have been researching my family's origins and have photos and a watercolour painting of an old house in King Street, in which my great-great-grandfather, John Collings, his wife Mary and their family lived before emigrating to Australia in 1850.

I wonder if this is the house you mentioned. It's an L-shaped white two story house with dark criss-crossing beams, and one section juts out over the street. It may be number 2 but I'm not sure.

I'd also love to learn more about the house or even see photos of the interior so if this is the one would so appreciate any information you might have.

Thanks, Sincerely Barbara Morley

Comments posted 18 Mar 2012 by Peter Cosier :

Good evening

I surveyed your house when it was listed as Victorian Corrugated Iron Shed. It was clearly a very fine Med. Hall House and as a result of our studies it was placed on the Stat. List. We had some dealings with the later restoration. We had friends next door and we excavated the ancient well (partly) in the garden of Avicia Cottage. Our friends bought Avicia Cottage because it was listed as Victorian Cottage and we recognised that it was fine and very special Med. Hall with obscured splendid 16th.c. later additions one being the stone inglenook.

I would be happy to share any info. That you might find interesting.

Best Wishes

Peter Cosier Town Hill Cottage

I have been tracing our family history and would be grateful for any information on The Edwards and Meopham Families:

John Edwards married Ann ?. Their children were:

1. MARY EDWARDS - 09 JUN 1725 at West Malling, Kent

2. JOHN EDWARDS - 19 OCT 1726 at West Malling, Kent.

John married Mary Meopham at West Malling, 28th January 1755. Their children were also Bapt at the same Church. John died approx 1810 and was the Church Clerk.

3. WILLIAM EDWARDS - 23 APR 1732 at West Malling, Kent

4. ANNE EDWARDS - 27 FEB 1723 at West Malling, Kent

Thank you, Kathy de Vere

Is there anyone who is related to or remembers Fred and Ivy Anscombe who lived in West Malling? Ivy was my grandmother's cousin, and I have a photo of me as a little girl in Ivy's garden in West Malling.

If anyone knows the Anscombes I would love to hear from them.

Michelle Smith

Comments posted 1 Mar 2010 by Richard M Blunden :

Hi Michelle

There were certainly Anscombe's living in Stickens Lane, East Malling, when I was a child in the early 1960s.

If this is of any interest, I could probably find out more from my parents.

Kind regards, Richard M Blunden

Comments posted 18 Feb 2009 by Diane Brazier :

I'm not sure, but there used to be an F.Anscombe who ran the haulage business in East Malling. Could they be related?

With best wishes, Diane Brazier

My 4th greatgrandfather farmed in West Malling from 1769 til his death in 1813. Does anyone know how I can find where he resided during that time? i.e. land tax, rent lists, etc.? He was John Hunt and Elizabeth Town Hunt.

Any info you can give will be so appreciated. Thank you, R. M. Hunt, KFHS 12598

Village Videos is currently making a video history of West Malling that is expected to be on sale later 2008/early 2009.

Any pictures, cine film or video footage of the town, the RAF presence and later air shows would be appreciated.

Also I am trying to find the history of education in the village. In most places the church provided education until state schools were set up in the 1870s.

Terry Nunn

My great great great grandfather, Aquilino Lucioni, born 1803 in Italy, died in 1858 in West Malling. I believe he was living in the High Street.

Can anyone tell me where he is most likely to be buried? St Mary's Church was built 1901, so obviously not there. He was Roman Catholic and married to an English wife, Mary.

Many thanks.

Comments posted 1 Jan 2014 by Robert Lucas :

Hi, just browsing and found your entry. I think I can help.

Aquilino Lucioni was buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin in January 1858. (source Parish Burial records). Even to this day Catholics and other denominations are buried in this C of E churchyard.

If you require a copy of the death certificate, it can be obtained from The General Registry Office website for £9.25, quoting references, Malling Volume 2a, page 241, Quarter 1 1858.

Hope this helps

Regards, Robert Lucas.

Comments posted 29 Oct 2008 by Trudy Dean :

Sue, St Mary's Church was built in the twelfth century although it has been added to several times since then. Many of the burials are therefore well before 1901, though the Parish records of burials are far from complete except for the most recent years.

We recently surveyed all the headstones prior to them being repaired to new safety standards so it may be that we can trace your relatives if you give us the details you have. Trudy

I was fortunate to serve with USN at West Malling. We had six planes attached there and I am looking for anyone who might have photos or information about them. We had 2 C-117D planes # 12435 and 12437, 3 C-45 or SNB twin tail Beechcraft # 224, 227 and 2xx as well as a C-131 Convair used for the Admiral. We used to shine it by hand.

I have located C-117D and want to get information on the airops at the base. Any old photos of the hangar and firehouse located next to it would sure be welcomed.

Frank Kluge

Comments posted 16 Feb 2013 by Paul Wright :

Hi, I used to work at the ICI Plant Protection Division factory in Yalding. One of my co-workers [Forget his name for now] was a Fireman at the NAF and he took some colour photographs. As I am an avid aviation fan he passed them to me. I have shots of an SNB-5 [67224], R4D-8 [12437] of the NAF. In addition a selection of visitors including KC-130F [149793], FAA AT-29C [N28], P2V-7 [140978], C-121J [131635] from NAF Keflavik, C-118B [128425], HU-16D [141266] of Naval Attache, Oslo, C-131F [141021], VC-97D [49-2593], T-39A [61-0677] and an Argosy, Devon and Sea Prince. I can probably scan these images or come to another arrangment if you want copies of these. Hope this helps, regards Paul

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Vicky Wilson :

I am collecting memories, words and inspiration for a series of new embedded art commissions and a new project space to complement the refurbished Control Tower in Kings Hill. The art commissions will form a wayfinding trail for Kings Hill and will feature stories and poems gathered through workshops and from individuals.

These accounts of the heritage of the RAF West Malling airfield and its subsequent history will be embedded as text into the paved areas linking shops and businesses and some of the narratives will also be used for temporary displays on hoardings around the site.

I read your post about your connection with the airfield and wondered if you would be prepared to email me with more details – an anecdote, a strong memory, an interesting story… or send me a longer account if you have something written already.

With thanks- - we are trying to piece together as rich a history as possible, so everything is welcome.


Comments posted 14 Apr 2009 by Larry Waters :

Dear Mr. Kluge, I read with interest your E-mail about the aircraft flown from West Malling during the time it was occupied by the US Navy. This is a particular period that I am also interested in, as it is a time I remember as a boy, when I would get excited every time I heard an aircraft approaching to land. They would fly very low over our roof on the approach, I always felt that I could reach up and almost touch them. Great memories indeed.

The main reason that I am replying to you is because I have in my possession some very good colour slides of aircraft at West Malling at this time. The aircraft types are varied including Neptunes, C-121,Albatross, Expediter, Hercules, Convairs etc. If we could work something out, I would gladly share them with you. Please get in touch if interested.

Yours Sincerely, Larry Waters.

Hello, there!

Recently I discovered that my great grandmother, Dorcas EMERY was born 1852 in Malling, Kent, and am hopeful one of your readers might be able to throw further light on her and/or any member of the (BELL, EMERY, WILSON) families.

As much as I can piece together all of the available data, the following picture/time line emerges:

1. 1873 - Dorcas EMERY married Harold William BELL (b.1856 Basford Bleacher, Nottingham) and, in 1877, gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Mary BELL.

2. 1877-1881 - Harold William BELL dies and daughter Elizabeth Mary BELL is 'fostered' by her Uncle, Edgar John WILSON (b. abt 1850, Mereworth) and his wife, (Elizabeth's Aunt) Fanny Francis WILSON (nee BELL, b. abt 1851, Mereworth)

3. 1881 - UK Census - Dorcas BELL, now widowed, is listed among 90 or so others as residing at the "Mailing Union Workhouse" West Malling, Kent, UK ... an "Inmate" ... "Widower" ... "29"

4. 1881 - UK Census - Dorcas BELL's daughter Elizabeth Mary BELL is listed as "Age 4 - Step Dau" in the household of Edgar J WILSON's Family - "Lowthorpe, York"

5. 1886 - Australian Immigration Records list one "Elizabeth BELL" ... "Age 8" entering Australia in September 1886 (no other accompanying passenger details) on board the "Lord Raglan".

6. 1898 - Elizabeth Mary BELL "Age 21" marries Richard HOCKING (1871-1946)

7. 1900-1909 - Elizabeth Mary HOCKING bears 5 children, one of whom is my father, Alfred Edward HOCKING (1900-1981)

8. 1938 - Elizabeth Mary BELL dies Bendigo, NSW Australia

Thank you for the opportunity made available through your website pages to communicate my enquiry. Any information or directional advice would be much appreciated, VJ

Comments posted 22 Feb 2010 by Brian Kirke :

Hello VJ

Great to meet you on this site. We are relatives. My grandmother was Fanney Rooke nee Hocking, your father's sister. I have some information about the family. Look forward to hearing from you.

Could you help me? I'm in Nottingham but visited friends in West Malling a fortnight ago. The conversation turned to `Kate Reed Wood'. I wonder who Kate Reed was and why she has a wood named after her? Or is it a corruption of an old name?

I'd be extremely grateful if you can help. Much research so far - no luck !

Thank you, John Shaw

Comments posted 7 Oct 2012 by John Shaw :

Thank you for your posts 4 years on from my original message. I was interested that it didn't appear as a name on the OS map until so late; had it been a corruption from many centuries before, there might have been some mention unless it was a name from the oral tradition. A chum of mine who is a forester tells me that it's very common for woods/copses/thickets to be named after female members of the owner's family.

Comments posted 5 Oct 2012 by Martin Best :

More from Edward Neville, 13th Lord Abergavenny, married Katherine Tatton in 1724; she later married William Neville, 14th Lord Abergavenny. If there is a link here there are a few to choose from!

Comments posted 1 Oct 2012 by Martin Best :

Re. Robert and Betty's entry. Fascinating train of thought - seems very likely! Sir Edward Neville, 1st Lord Abergavenny married Katherine Howard in 1448; one of their 3 daughters was named Catherine... (

Comments posted 29 Sep 2012 by Robert and Betty Earl :

Someone recently told us that it was named after the wife of one of the Lords Abergavenney but we can't find any corroboration of this. Just to the east of Kate Reed Wood is "Cattering Wood." (TQ685547 - approx) It could be a corruption of this. As to Cattering, it's tempting to speculate that it's a corruption of "St Katherine" and that maybe there was a drovers' chapel dedicated to St Catherine, like the chapel dedicated to St Blaise at TQ661565. That's just speculation though.

Comments posted 30 Oct 2009 by Martin Best :

I'm looking into this question myself at the moment, without a lot of luck, I must say! What I can say is that the name "Kate Reed Wood" appears on the 1897-1900 O/S map but not on the previous 1871-1890 edition. Kate Reed Wood has been largely built-over by the original part of the Kings Hill estate.

Regards, Martin Best

CSA @ Tonbridge Library [TON]

Hi. It may be of interest to someone - I still remember it anyway. One evening at about ten to six in 1955 I think it was, I was driving a Maidstone & District double deck bus from Gillingham to Maidstone on service 20. I had parked it opposite the Bull pub and popped over for a smoke when the handbrake failed. The bus rolled across the road and crashed head-on into the pub causing great damage.

Pubs weren't supposed to open until six in those days, but the bar was littered with pints with half an inch of dust on the top. This was the biggest event in West Malling for a long time.

I never did find out if the Kent Messenger, who attended, did as they said they would, and gave the landlord a large framed souvenir picture.

Comments posted 7 Dec 2012 by Andy Souter :

I was there when it happened, I was 7 at the time and out shopping with my father. He was the one who phoned the KM to report the story.

Comments posted 14 Jun 2012 by John Cook :

I have seen a photo of this incident.

Molly Potts of the west malling history society will be able to help if required

tel 01732 841170

Comments posted 3 Dec 2011 by Mick Sloman :

Hi Bob,

I don't think it was the Bull pub as that is next to the railway bridge towards Town Hill.

I know some who will know more, I'll get back to you.


Hi there, I actually lived in East Malling but a friend of my brothers, John Tedham, lived in West Malling. In fact I think his dad ran one of the pubs on the High Street. Anyway, I live in Canada now and I lost my mum Elizabeth Jennings 2 years ago. John was a very close friend to the family and he even came to Canada for my wedding 19 years ago.

If anyone knows how to get in touch with him I would like to pass along our news.

Thank you

Comments posted 2 May 2014 by Therese Alldridge :

HI Heidi- I knew John very well and your brother Bill,having been at school with Bill and last spoke to him about 8 years ago I think.I actually went into the shop in Aylesford where he lived with his wife Jenny but he was out.

John was still friends with Bill then- surprising because they fell out badly over me many years ago!

John is still in the building trade? I now live in Somerset - you may remember me as I did live with you all in Walpole street for a while. I often wonder how you all are - Ricky, your older sister who was married to the guy who had a bike accident and of course your Mum who I am sorry to hear about.

I think your brother Bill may have gone to Aus as jenny was talking about when I visited.

Comments posted 5 Aug 2011 by Kay Rooke :

John Tedham's father was a very keen gardener and to my knowledge never ran a pub in West Malling. I was good friends with John's sister Jan for many years but we lost touch around 10 years ago. He has several other sisters as well. Theresa is one of them but is married and I don't have her married name. Sorry this hasn't been a lot of help, but I do remember the family and where they lived.

Kay Rooke

My father was stationed at the base. My parents Ted and Muriel Rice and I and my three sisters have wonderful memories of life there. It was a quiet country area at the time. We lived in housing at the base. My parents have since died, but while they lived they talked about West Malling frequently. It was there that we learned about English life and friendly English people. While we played all over the old airport we found buildings that had bullet holes in the walls. At least, that is what we were told. We four girls went to English schools.

If anyone remembers us please contact me. My sisters were Valli, Leslie and Julie.

Sincerely, Leigh Rice Darrow

Comments posted 13 Mar 2018 by Anthony Moor :

I am writing a book about RAF West Malling and would be interested in hearing about your time spent at the airfield, as your father was based with the US Naval Facilities unit.

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Vicky Wilson :

I am collecting memories, words and inspiration for a series of new embedded art commissions and a new project space to complement the refurbished Control Tower in Kings Hill. The art commissions will form a wayfinding trail for Kings Hill and will feature stories and poems gathered through workshops and from individuals.

These accounts of the heritage of the RAF West Malling airfield and its subsequent history will be embedded as text into the paved areas linking shops and businesses and some of the narratives will also be used for temporary displays on hoardings around the site.

I read your post about your connection with the airfield and wondered if you would be prepared to email me with more details – an anecdote, a strong memory, an interesting story… or send me a longer account if you have something written already.

With thanks - we are trying to piece together as rich a history as possible, so everything is welcome.


Comments posted 5 Aug 2008 by Michael Fitzsimmons :

Leigh, I was living at what we called Blackebush housing in the early 60's. I was in 5th and 6th grades at Greenham Common Air Base. I too spent endless hours exploring the old military buildings at what we called staravia. I'm sure it was the name of the salvage company that was demoing the base.

I was an altar boy at the local Catholic church in Yately. I think it was a convent and the priest was an elderly man. Does any of this sound familiar?

Hello to you. We are researching our family and have got back as far as Oliver Randall (b1785) who married Ann Pledge (b1795) in West Malling. They had many children including:

- William b1823

- Emma b1827

- Sarah b1830

- Harriot b1832

- George b1840

- Elizabeth b1835

I have found information which shows that William emigrated to Australia and George was a convict. The one I am really interested in is Elizabeth, who married Francis Louis Bamberger in 1855. We have found the usual information on Ancestry etc but I was just wondering if there are any descendants left of the other Randall children in the area.

I know Randall is a common name in Kent but fingers crossed someone may help!

Thank you, Adrienne Bamberger

Comments posted 10 Dec 2018 by Frank Brunt :

Forgot to mention your Elizabeth was Oliver Randall's Daughter So my Wife Sally Randall is a relation to your Elizabeth

Comments posted 10 Apr 2018 by Frankieb :


Have started researching Randall family tree, my wife's 5th great grandfather was Oliver Randall 1785

My wife and her family mostly still live in the close area to West Malling which is Snodland

Hi There. I am in the process of writing my Memoirs and I am stuck for the time I was stationed at RAF West Malling on 85 Sqdn from 1951/53, regarding the Startled Saint pub.

If you could put my request on your web site to see if any readers have a print of the pub sign I might copy it would be a great help.

I have managed to get photos of West Malling station crest and also 85 Sqdn badge and some aerial shots of the airfield. So if I was able to get a print of the Pub sign it would make that part of my memoirs look better with a picture instead of just writing about a place.

Thanking you in anticipation, regards, John Osborne.

Comments posted 7 Sep 2014 by Phill :

If u visit west malling by car and turn left or right depends on which way u come from its left if ur coming from west malling. Its right if ur traveling towards west malling and park they have put the sign on the outside of what used to be the startled saint hope this helps

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Vicky Wilson :

I am collecting memories, words and inspiration for a series of new embedded art commissions and a new project space to complement the refurbished Control Tower in Kings Hill. The art commissions will form a wayfinding trail for Kings Hill and will feature stories and poems gathered through workshops and from individuals.

These accounts of the heritage of the RAF West Malling airfield and its subsequent history will be embedded as text into the paved areas linking shops and businesses and some of the narratives will also be used for temporary displays on hoardings around the site.

I read your post about your connection with the airfield and wondered if you would be prepared to email me with more details – an anecdote, a strong memory, an interesting story… or send me a longer account such as an extract from your memoirs if that would be OK?

With thanks - we are trying to piece together as rich a history as possible, so everything is welcome.

Vicky Wilson

Comments posted 21 May 2011 by Richard Neve :

If I can be of any help, I own the Startled Saint - Richard Neve

Comments posted 12 Sep 2008 by Jack Field :

Here is a copy of a Whitbread Inn sign that is printed on a sheet of thin aluminium about the size of a cigarette card. Most Whitbread pubs were depicted.

Startled Saint pub sign
Startled Saint pub sign

Comments posted 21 Jul 2008 by Nicola Mairs :

Hi John, were you born 1927 in Ryde, Isle Of Wight? If so please please please contact me as you could be my great uncle!!

Nicola Mairs, Grandaughter Of David Osborne

I have found that my family tree goes to Offham and Ryarsh amongst other nearby places. My great-great grandmother was Jane Warrener, who was baptised in Ryarsh 23 March 1823. Her son, Thomas Warrener was born 16 August 1841 in Offham. She didn't marry the father. Her parents were William Warrener/Warren and Sarah Absalom. Sarah Warren, Michael, Ann and Charles Warrener were all family members and children of William and Sarah (Absalom) Warren/Warrener. The name is often spelt differently.

William and Sarah were married 30 April 1814 at Ightham but I have no date of birth for William. Sarah was born 8 October 1792 and baptised 3 June 1793 at W Malling. Her parents were John and Flora Absalom/Absolom

If anyone has any more information on the Warren/Warreners or Absaloms I would be very grateful to hear from them, thanks.

Myra Warrener

I found a clay brick with Hodges W Malling written in the frog! Does anyone know of any brick making in the area? Apparently they made bricks in Ryarsh woods in the old days!

Thanks, James Edwards, Ryarsh.

Comments posted 27 Jan 2016 by Neil Hanson :

The Ryarsh Brickworks made sand-lime white bricks which were exported all over the world because of the precision of the bricks. Look for RYK in the frog. They also made a grey coloured brick which was harder and longer lasting than a clay brick but builders did not like the colour so much as the traditional red brick. I'm afraid that I cannot remember the name of the road but it was a turn off the main street by the Lime Tree pub and past the old school and library towards the church. My father was managing director there until his death in 1953.

Comments posted 25 Jan 2016 by Coral Helsby :

Hi my Family tree is Everest from Ryarsh. My GGGGGGranfather Thomas Everest was a Brickmaker in Ryarsh Kent, his son Charles Everest run Pells Farm in West Kingsdown. Trying to find information on the Everest family if any one can help me I would be very pleased to hear from them. My maiden name is Everest.

Thanks Coral.

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

Hodges bricks were made in Cutthroat Lane

Comments posted 10 Jul 2014 by Neil Hanson :

My father Harold Hanson actually started the brick factory in Ryarsh. Not sure of the year but they made mostly white bricks known for their precision. Also sold silica sand. Dad died in 1953 and I believe that the factory continued for quite some years. The frog had RYK standing for Ryarsh Yard Kent.

Comments posted 11 Sep 2012 by Ann :

Further to the bricks - yes bricks were indeed made up at brickfields-which is now all fruit orchards-however when they ploughed this fields the soil was black with burnt ashes probably from the coal fired brick kilns

Comments posted 14 Jan 2009 by Geoff Burr :

The brickfield was on the site of what is now 25 & 26 Brickfields comprising formerly a cherry orchard with a pair of semis 25&26). I was born in 1947 at 25, then known as "Espérance". When digging the vegetable plots such items as broken bricks, clay pipes and horseshoes were found.

Comments posted 29 May 2008 by Carole :

Hi James, I live in Brickfields West Malling. I bought my house from Graeme Hodges, who's great grand father made the bricks which built my house. I think the brickyard was somewhere up Brickfields.

Hope this helps.

My dad was stationed at West Malling from 1961-63. He was a Navy pilot and the Legal Officer for the base. I attended a private school (Cedars) in Maidstone for the fourth and fifth forms. We lived on the air base. My wife and I are planning a trip to West Malling in June, 2008. We would love to hear about the places we should visit. I always remember West Malling because it was such a safe place to have grown up. Mom and dad would let us ride bikes all over the country as 10 and 11 year olds. Please email me if you have any suggestions on sites we should visit in June .

Thanks, Tom Seale

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Vicky Wilson :

I am collecting memories, words and inspiration for a series of new embedded art commissions and a new project space to complement the refurbished Control Tower in Kings Hill. The art commissions will form a wayfinding trail for Kings Hill and will feature stories and poems gathered through workshops and from individuals.

These accounts of the heritage of the RAF West Malling airfield and its subsequent history will be embedded as text into the paved areas linking shops and businesses and some of the narratives will also be used for temporary displays on hoardings around the site.

I read your post about your connection with the airfield and wondered if you would be prepared to email me with more details – an anecdote, a strong memory, an interesting story… or send me a longer account if you have something written already.

With thanks - we are trying to piece together as rich a history as possible, so everything is welcome.


Comments posted 17 May 2008 by Tim Baldock :

When you arrive in West Malling pop into the SKI STORE. I can point out many local places of interest and help out with many of your memories as I was about as a school kid in W Malling and the base the same time as you. You will find local folks are eager to tell you all about the area.

I was based at RAF West Malling in FASRON Special 200 from May 1960 to May 1961. The first part of my tour was in Blackbushe Aerodrome. Our communications office was located in a bunker from WWII. I found a large room with a big map of Europe on it. Must have been the War Room.

I loved the people and town of West Malling. They were always polite and friendly to me. I believe most of the base is gone. A pity. I wanted to visit someday. I've noticed a few other mates who were there about the same time I was. I'd like to hear from you!.

Thanks, Gene Hite RMC USN Ret

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Vicky Wilson :

I am collecting memories, words and inspiration for a series of new embedded art commissions and a new project space to complement the refurbished Control Tower in Kings Hill. The art commissions will form a wayfinding trail for Kings Hill and will feature stories and poems gathered through workshops and from individuals.

These accounts of the heritage of the RAF West Malling airfield and its subsequent history will be embedded as text into the paved areas linking shops and businesses and some of the narratives will also be used for temporary displays on hoardings around the site.

I read your post about your connection with the airfield and wondered if you would be prepared to email me with more details – an anecdote, a strong memory, an interesting story… or send me a longer account if you have something written already.

With thanks - we are trying to piece together as rich a history as possible, so everything is welcome.


Comments posted 24 Mar 2009 by Denise M. Vasfaret :

When I was a young girl, my father was in the U.S. Navy, Seabees stationed at RAF West Malling. We lived on the RAF enlisted housing from 1961 - 1964, when we returned to the U.S. on the U.S.S. Darby. My two brothers and I went to St. Francis Catholic School in Maidstone and some day I hope to return for a visit.

I remember the countryside being very beautiful and have fond memories of a peaceful existance on base where we were visited daily by the local milk man and green grocer. At that time our housing was heated by coal and our water heater by coke. We did not have any refrigeration the first year we lived in housing, and bought our perishables daily.

My maiden name was Denise Arnold and my father was William H. Hauger. Sincerely, Denise M. Vasfaret

Over 20 years ago, my Grandmother and Grandfather lived in the house St Benedicts (St Ben's as we called it) on Swan Street. Always a bustling happy place to be. On holidays we would attend the local playgroup, and often go over to the Abbey to help out, or the church (opposite).

I am looking for people who may have known my Grandparents, and also for some information about the house. I know it is Grade II listed and recently have managed to pop down and have a look at the old place (unfortunately it seems as though it has been stripped of its glorious charm and character to suit the purposes of modern living. What a shame!)

Sadly, both my Grandparents have passed away (and are sadly missed), but I am keen to find out a little more about my past (I am 24). I also have spent holidays at Portal House, Swan Street, which was the home of my auntie for quite some time. Thank you.

Comments posted 22 Sep 2016 by Jes :

Hi there, I have only just noticed that there has been replies to this thread! I wonder if those who have responded are still living in St Bens? If so, please do get in touch if you wish to hear more about the wonderful house!

I did go back last weekend and noticed that the house is lived in. The thought of that house always warms my heart.


Comments posted 6 Jan 2012 by Phil Harvey :

Hello Jes

We have recently moved into St Benedicts and are enraptured with it. A beautiful charming house in a wonderful location. I would also dearly love to learn some of the history of the house as it feels like it must have given so much joy to so many people.

Whilst it is true that some modernisation has taken place, I think it is also fair to say that it has been done quite sympathetically and maintains a vast amount of quirky, idiosyncratic features that can't help but put a smile on my face every time I enter.

You are very welcome to get in touch and my family would happily welcome you to have a proper look at the house as it now stands, and we would love to hear about your memories.

Kind regards


I am looking for descendants of William & Ella Auguster Wallace (STITCHMAN). They where married December 1910 and had at least 2 children, William H Wallace b. September 1915 and Charles J Wallace b. December 1919. Ella was also the mother of Ada Elizabeth Stitchman b.1908, (father not known), my wife's mother.

The whole family lived in and around West Malling from about 1853 to the last known date of 1919. Does anybody know of descendants of William H and Charles J? It's possible they are still alive. Please get in contact if you can help. Thanks, Chris. Bagley

Comments posted 3 Feb 2009 by David Allchin :

There was a Miss or Mrs Stichman who lived at no. 1 Chapel Street, Ryarsh, when I was a child in the 1950s.

I have fond memories of West Malling. I had to leave there when I was 17 years old and come to New Zealand in 1973, and I'm still here.

I lived at 119 Norman Road. I have just found Jackie Hart [nee Butcher] who lived in the same road, and Beverly Payne in Ryarsh Lane . Sadly to say I had to leave behind the lovely young man I was engaged to. I worked with him at Reed International Paper Mill at Aylesford, and his name was Keith Stanton or Standen. He would be in his mid 50s now. I have been looking for him for 34 years now. Can anyone help please? His mother's name was Peggy.

In those days there were about 5 pubs in the village, Five Pointed Star, The Bear, The Swan, The Fountain at Offham Road and I can't remember the one down the side street off the top of Norman road, and one in the High Street, opposite Swan Street I think. My school days were Blacklands and Clare Park Secondary School.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Keith Stanton please can you reply to this message. Thank you, Lynda Fuller.

Comments posted 22 Mar 2018 by Tony Collins :

Lynda :

So I suppose you most happily remember your grandfather and grandmother - Alf and Rene Fuller?

They thought the world of you.

Comments posted 28 Jan 2018 by Tony Collins :

People who say we should pay our tax bills with a smile are wrong. Lynda's dad tried it, but they insisted on cash.

Comments posted 9 Jan 2018 by Tony Collins :

Lynda's mum was born at Great Chart, and she has resided at 14 different abodes in Kent. She has also lived in Norfolk and New Zealand.

She said that's it. She's fed up with moving.

Comments posted 6 Dec 2017 by Tony Collins :

Bill :

During their forties, Lynda's mum and Heather Mortimer (Malling RDC Housing Chief, Ron Rendle's assistant) both drove Austin cars.

I don't know about the model types/colours of same, and wondered if you keep a separate record of the 'Austintatious.'


Comments posted 2 Dec 2017 by Tony Collins :

Lynda : Apparently your mum is now attending Age Concern 'near Chatham.' And she looks even younger - 65 now, they say!

Comments posted 2 Dec 2017 by Tony Collins :

Bill : A normally reliable source has informed me that was Carnation Close, not Rosemary Road. And that Alan then moved to 119 Norman Road, West Malling - and you proceeded to admire his 'goldy brown Hillman Avenger.'

Comments posted 17 Nov 2017 by Tony Collins :

Bill : Do you remember the car that Lynda's dad, Alan Leslie Fuller, was driving circa 1960?

I believe he was living at Rosemary Road, Step Stile Estate, East Malling at the time.

I vaguely remember that it looked to be vintage 1935. It was the second car that he owned; after the aforementioned 3-wheeled Bond Minicar, which he pranged while attempting to reach 30 mph.

Comments posted 18 Sep 2017 by Tony Collins :

Lynda : Did you by any chance go on holiday to bonny Scotland with Keith, during the early 1970's?

Comments posted 17 Jun 2017 by Tony Collins :

Lynda : Herewith, an early reminder about sending a birthday card to your Mum, Shirley, for September 28th.

Of course, she will be 82 years of age. She actually looks about 69, and men battle to sit at her table at Age Concern.

Comments posted 12 May 2017 by Tony Collins :

Lynda : Have you tracked down Keith or Kelvin, Stanton/Standen/Standing or Stanford yet?

Sometimes 2 or 3 people a month have wondered how you are progressing with your search. He would be about to start drawing his old age pension by now, wouldn't he?

"If at first you don't succeed; Try, try, again. Try and try again." Is credited to William Edward Hickson. He died in Fairseat and is buried in St. Mary the Virgin churchyard, Stansted. [a hamlet and a village, near Wrotham].

Comments posted 16 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

Goldwell Snowball - the only 5-second Snowball. one bottle, one pour, one glass.

Which was your favourite, Lynda Jayne? Goldwell's Pink Lady, Baby Bubbly, Country Manor, or Snowball? I heard that employees were allowed to get a little tipsy at times - was that anything of a sacrifice when you went to Reeds?

Comments posted 9 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it. Margaret Fuller

You Fullers never cease to amaze me!

Comments posted 25 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

Lynda Jayne : Thoughtful wisdom from the Maoris and Norman Road. A bit late for me though!

This we know : Let go of old experiences and unhealthy past relationships. Allow yourself to move on to new things. Regards, Chief Papakura.

Comments posted 16 Mar 2017 by Tony Collins :

Lynda: A shy little kiwi bird, now drawing a pension, once mentioned seeing you with 2 little boys born 1980/81. I suppose you are happily surrounded by a few grandchildren now.

Comments posted 12 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

During his early 20s, Lynda's father became a keen spectator at Brands Hatch. During the late 1970s, the Wiggins Teape paper company were about to sponsor a new car entry into Grand Prix Formula One events, and held a contest to 'name' same.

Lynda's father came up with "Paper Backed Thriller." His effort won an all-expenses paid trip for 2, to the American Grand Prix - being held that year at Watkin's Glen, New York. He took along his friend, Colin Thorneycroft.

Comments posted 8 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

An even earlier sporting claim to fame for Lynda's father, was him getting hit on the head fairly hard by a delivery from fast bowler John Page, who was from Mereworth.

The following year, John started playing for Kent CCC. After a few seasons he switched to off-spin, and became known as Colin. After his playing retirement in 1963 of course, Colin became a very successful Kent CCC coach.

Incidentally that hit on the head, marked the early retirement from cricket by Lynda's father.

Comments posted 8 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

As a teenaged member of Sevenoaks Wheelers Cycling Club, Lynda's father won the 'Grand Prix of Horsmonden' Sprint Championship, at Horsmonden Sports Ground.

Then expecting to see the World, he spent his 2 years National Service, stationed at RAF West Malling.

Comments posted 8 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

Bill: Lynda's father's first car, had been a three-wheeled Bond Minicar. Following a few months ownership, he was in a collision with a building company lorry. He 'rebuilt' half of the Bond bodywork himself, using hardboard given him by the driver of the lorry (who just happened to be his uncle). Just prior to the accident, the Bond was contending with crosswinds. His uncle used to consume 20 pints of mild and bitter daily.

Comments posted 7 Feb 2017 by Tony Collins :

Lynda: Re 'Sincerely Yours, Lynda Fuller' that you sign on those photos for your Kiwi fans.

Some people are inclined to change their names.

Have you sometimes thought that your autograph, signed as 'Lynda Jayne Kent', might look just a little more impressive?

Being a wee bit on the short side, Colin Thorneycroft has put me up to this!

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

Hi Lynda - sorry, I don't know Keith Stanton but I knew your father. He had a goldy brown Hillman Avenger

Comments posted 8 Feb 2014 by Sheila :

Try the website was the name Kelvin Stanford???

Comments posted 31 May 2013 by Lynda Fuller/Kent :

Richard Blunden yes that was me I did work at Goldwell in the office upstairs then I went to Reed international at Aylesford only just found this site again you have got a great memory you remembered my other name Kent my father ran away with me from Channel Islands he took me to Kent!!! then he fostered me out when I was 7 he signed the adoption papers he never took me back to mum I found most of my family in Cornwall area but I have not found dad he was around the kent london area im still looking Lynda hard when you live in New Zealand, my birth name is Phillips my father said he would change his name by deed poll so i couldnt find him i had an awful adoption we all came to New Zealand they went back but i wouldn't go end of story. I should have started up a support group for adopted people. I grew up not belonging having no ID or felt like it Lynda Fuller/Kent

Comments posted 12 Sep 2012 by Ann :

Hi actually there were a few more pubs than you mentioned- there was the startled saint- the fountain- the bear the swan joiners arms rose and crown, the 1 whose name evades me on the junction of station rd- then the brewery tap down swan st by the cascade then the bull top of high st and last but not least the wheatsheaf--think thats it?? Sorry i dont know the guy your searching for- have you tried freinds reunited?? just a thought

Comments posted 1 Mar 2010 by Richard M Blunden :

Hi Lynda

I cannot help you with the whereabouts of Keith Stanton, but were you previously Lynda Kent?

Did you work at Goldwell too?

If so, we were at the same primary school, and you later worked with my mum!

Hope this finds you well.

Best wishes, Richard M Blunden

Could you please tell me where the people who died at the Malling Union workhouse are buried? My ancestor Edmund Hodges was an inmate at the workhouse 1881,1891,census. He died in 1892 aged 77 Years, retired pianoforte maker. Apparently born in Offham.

Also I would love to have contact with anyone who knows about his family.

Thank you for your help, Jennifer Forster, New Zealand

Comments posted 20 Jan 2014 by Robert Lucas :

Hello Jennifer

There is only one Anglican (Church of England) church building in West Malling. It is St Mary the Virgin. If it is described in any other way, it is incorrect.

No there does not appear to be a burial plan of the churchyard. Ironically I tried to locate the burial plot of a long distant relative for some Australian relatives who visited West Malling, ealy last summer. I contacted one of the Church Wardens who looked into it for me. Evidently the church has grave plot numbers, but no record as to the physical position of the graves within the churchyard.

I cannot be sure if the Paupers / Workhous Inmates graves were kept separate from the rest of the burials. If they were, it would not have been a very efficient use of space within the churchyard. It is almost certain though that a stone headstone was not errected. The family of a Pauper / Workhouse Inmate would probably not have been able to meet the expense. Trying to track the actual grave by locating a headstone is extremely unlikely.

To compound the problem, way back in the late 1950's early 1960's, the headstones of unattended graves were removed to allow the grounds to be more easily maintained by the grass mowers.

If I can fathom out how to add pictures to this forum, I will add some pictures of the current day churchyard. Failing that, feel free to contact me at I can then e-mail you some pictures.

Hope this helps.

Robert Lucas

The Workhouse complex
The Workhouse complex

Churchyard of St Mary the Virgin
Churchyard of St Mary the Virgin

Comments posted 20 Jan 2014 by Jennifer Forster :

Thank you to Nick and Robert for your help.

What is the difference between St Mary the Virgin and St Mary churches, West Malling? Is there a plan of the church yard? Would the Union Workhouse burials be altogether in one area with no headstones?

Where was the site of the workhouse?

Comments posted 1 Jan 2014 by Robert Lucas :

Hi, I may be able to give you a little help.

Edmund Hodges who died in November 1892 is indeed buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, West Malling. His name appears in the parish burials register for Nov 1892.

If you wish to obtain a copy of his death certificate, you may do so even from New Zealand at a charge of UK £9.25 from the UK General Registry website. The references you need, are 'Malling 2a page 356, Quarter 4, 1892'. If you get into the website, the information I have given, will become self explanatory.

Hope this helps!

Regards, Robert Lucas

Comments posted 29 Mar 2009 by Nick Russell :

If you were able to visit the Centre for Kentish Studies at Maidstone they have the original records for the Malling Union Workhouse. I recently looked at those for my Great Grandfather Augustus Tidmarsh and was able to see his date of admittance (1922), date of discharge (dead) first and last meal, creed, parish admitted from, and where buried - in his case St Marys West Malling. If you are some distance away I think the staff may be able to complete limited research on your behalf - worth a try perhaps.

Nick Russell

Somewhere I read (or heard) that during WW II The Hermitage, More Park, was home to the Sergeants' Mess of a RAF Bomb Disposal Squadron. Can anyone confirm (or deny!) this? I am doing some research (for NDFAS) on the families whose memorials are in the Parish Church; the Luck family have two memorials, and Thomas Luck built the Hermitage. Thank you. Owen Taylor

I came across the site looking for West Malling. Arthur John Burville was born 13 Feb 1882 at Wickings Yard RSD. His parents were George Burville born 1848 in Loose and his wife Amelia Burville (nee Buck) born 1848 at no 7 George Street Maidstone. Her father, George Buck, was a bootmaker and married his wife Maria Anne Rogers in 1843.

If these people sound familiar to any reader I would love to hear from them by replying online or via PO Box 94, Tyabb, Victoria, Australia 3913.

I have just discovered your wonderful website and have enjoyed reading the "Memories of West Malliing". I am researching my family history and wonder if anyone has memories of my family. I lived in King Street in the early 1950s as a small child and have a few memories of going up the alleyway to a sweet shop on the High Street and a toy shop further along. I also worked in Abnett's Fish and Chip shop in the 1960s.

My relatives were the Large family and the Reynolds who lived in King Street/Back Street. I remember the swing in the back garden of my Aunt Lou (Reynolds). My G/G/grandfather was Richard Large and my G/grandfather George Henry Large 1867-1958. My grandmother Alice Rose Read(nee Large) lived in Ewell Avenue.

Can anyone help with more information?

Update: Just to let you know that I have had some replies which have proved very interesting and useful. One was from a family member that I have never met. Keep up the good work with your site!

Comments posted 14 Apr 2019 by John Read :

Hi Shirley

This is your Uncle John. Have just been going through West Malling Memories Site, it makes great reading and it is such a shame that it is going to close down later this year.

Hope you are all fit and well.

Love to all

Uncle John & Auntie Betty.

I lived with my mother and grandparents in King (Back) Street, opposite the old Laundry, West Malling from 1939 - 1947. Neighbours were the Randalls, the Reynolds, and Larges. My father was away in the RAF. My grandparents were Charles and Emily Taylor (nee Usmar). Emily's parents were George and Mary Usmar, he was a Clock & Watchmaker in the High Street. Charles Taylor was a Fireman at West Malling Fire Station (see photograph).

I attended Leybourne CofE Primary School, and can remember friends, Brian Curd, whose mother had the Tea Shop in the High Street, Stuart Weston, whose parents had a Bakers Shop, Keith Kemsley from Eden Farm and William and Richard Pearce from Comp Farm.

I remember going to the Saturday morning film show at the Babminton Hall, playing on the Cricket Meadow and watching out for the Golden Arrow train to speed by. I remember having miniature Hovis loaves for a 1d. from Foremans Bakery (Ann Usmar married Charles Foreman) the business was in the hands of Edward Foreman whom I knew as Uncle Ted. Next to the Bear PH was Newmans Greengrocers, my greataunt Ann Usmar married Arthur Newman, the shop was run by Roy Newman in those days.

I have many happy memories of my early years in West Malling. If anyone remembers me or recognises any names mentioned I should be pleased to hear from them.

Charles Taylor pictured front left
Charles Taylor pictured front left

Update: Just a note to let you know that my memories of West Malling and the Fire Appliance photo (above) have produced two interesting responses, one of which has put me in touch with an Aunt I had not seen for nearly 60 years. PS I found the attached photo of West Malling, which may be of interest.

West Malling High Street
West Malling High Street

Comments posted 3 Nov 2016 by John Coomber :


I think I can recognise your name from Snodland CSS and your are I think you are year older than myself?.


Comments posted 11 Jun 2015 by Susan Steele-Morgan :

My mother Ellen Wood lived in King Street and I remember her mentioning a Dolly Large who I think contracted TB and was in a sanatorium. My mother was born in 1928 and this would probably have been during the 40s

Comments posted 16 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :

Regarding the photograph of the Fire Engine.

My stepgrandfather was the Captain of the brigade when this photograph was taken. He (Francis Salmon) is in the peaked cap on the right of the picture. I stiil have the buttons from the tunic he is wearing in the picture. I can name most of the other fireman in the picture, but need to do some delving first!


Comments posted 31 Jul 2011 by Lyn Pilkington :

Hi Keith

I saw your notes on the West Malling website. I used to go to school with Julie Curd in the early 6os her mum ran a teashop. I was interested that you said you lived in "Back Street" and your neighbours were the Randalls and Larges. Do you have any memories of them as I have been researching my family history and I come from a long line of Randalls from Back Street.. There is also a Large in my family tree. In fact my mum still lives in West Malling where I grew up.


Comments posted 10 May 2011 by Ian Foreman :


Hi from Aussie down under.

Robert Foreman was my 4th great grandfather (1756 – 1806) married Elizabeth Webb. He had a son Edward born 1802.

I was wondering if this was the same Uncle Ted who had the Foreman’s bakery. Do you know where I might get some photos of it or more information?

Thanks in advance, cheers, Ian Foreman

Comments posted 6 Apr 2011 by Diana Kelly :

Keith Kemsley is still about though like the rest of us clocking on in years- my husband worked for him / his father for many many years- sadly they do not live on the farm anymore- but stayed local- Diana Kelly

Comments posted 1 Mar 2010 by Richard M Blunden :

Hi Keith

There was a William Usmar and a Derek Foreman at Blacklands School, East Malling, in the mid- 1960s.

I also knew of a Keith Newman from West Malling at around the same time.

Are you related to Tom and Paul Crittenden from East Malling?

Kind regards, Richard M Blunden

Comments posted 31 Jan 2009 by Diana Kelly :

I know Keith Kemsley. My husband worked for him/his father for many years. He has a sister Ann. I'm told your picture shows what was the co-op among others.

I was 19 years old when I finished Radioman school in San Diego and got orders to RAF West Malling. I believe that was around November of 1963. I have wonderful memories of the short time I was on the base. The base was closed six months after I arrived and I was transferred to Navcomunit London. I remember being quite overwhelmed by the history of the RAF West Malling base. I worked in a bunker that was actually used as a "war room" during the war. I hope to go back to West Malling and revisit a place that I will never forget. Marvin D. (Bud) Nolting

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Vicky Wilson :

I am collecting memories, words and inspiration for a series of new embedded art commissions and a new project space to complement the refurbished Control Tower in Kings Hill. The art commissions will form a wayfinding trail for Kings Hill and will feature stories and poems gathered through workshops and from individuals.

These accounts of the heritage of the RAF West Malling airfield and its subsequent history will be embedded as text into the paved areas linking shops and businesses and some of the narratives will also be used for temporary displays on hoardings around the site.

I read your post about your connection with the airfield and wondered if you would be prepared to email me with more details – an anecdote, a strong memory, an interesting story… or send me a longer account if you have something written already.

With thanks - we are trying to piece together as rich a history as possible, so everything is welcome.


I have discovered that my ancestors originated in your lovely town and there is even reference to "burial in the family vault'. I have copies of the tithe award of 1840 showing owner/occupation by Skinners but wonder whether anyone still living there shares a common great great great grandfather or remoter relation? I think my branch of the family (from John Skinner/Robert Skinner) eventually ended up in Woolwich, possibly in the 1840s and 1850s.

Update: I have made a wonderful connection thanks to your website! A lady who lives quite near me has done extensive research into the Skinner family history and she has provided lots of info I did not know previously. We are planning to come to the town in the summer for a real "family outing' !! Thanks again for your part in fitting the jigsaw together. Regards, Helen.

Comments posted 21 Aug 2017 by Helen Boyd (formerly Skinner) :

Hello again after many years! I came to visit lovely Town Malling again today and had a wander around my Skinner ancestors' old haunts, including a visit to The Bull where a Skinner - Robert- was the licence holder.

As my forebears were brickies and lime kiln burners, they seem to have had a lot of interest in various parts of the town, but mostly Swan Street and its environs. The Skinners also had some brewing interests.

My most distant Skinner in West Malling was Robert from the 17th Century coming down through 3 more Roberts and 3 Henries and ending with my dear dad born 1929 in London.

I have an extensive Family Tree on Ancestry UK, but would welcome contact with any relatives or any old photographs of this lovely town

Comments posted 11 Jul 2014 by Janice Skinner :

My husband was born in 1953 to Joan Skinner and he lived with his grandmother Florence and his grandfather who died when he was six months old they lived at East Malling The Health.

Comments posted 9 Apr 2014 by Caroline Coster :

I am the Caroline Coster referred to by Harry in the post below. I would really like to get in touch with him as we share common ancestors. I also have other information about the Skinner family, some from my own research and much passed on by others who have thoroughly researched the line.

Comments posted 9 Jul 2013 by Kammie Bowen :

I am looking for information on a James Skinner born 17 Nov. 1787 in West Malling. He married Charlotta Woolf. I would love any information on this family line. I cannot find who James Skinner's parents were. If any of you who have Skinner information for that time I would love to get your information.

Thank you, Kammie Bowen

Comments posted 19 Jul 2012 by Henry S. Brill :

My grandfather was Arthur Skinner born 1881 and imigrated to the US in 1905.

I have recently found posting on the Skinner family in the internet by a Caroline Coster. I would like to know if any Skinner or Hearndens still live locally (I somewhere have a picture of the Hearnden anniversary that you show)

I was in West malling in 1955. Eva the daughter of Martha Skinner (aunt Pops to me)took me to church there.

Harry Brill

Comments posted 29 Mar 2011 by Larry Waters :

Hello Helen,

I read with interest your message about the Skinner family. I am related to the Skinner family. My Grandfather, Harry Waters, married Charlotte Skinner. They had a child, my father, also Harry Waters. My grand father was killed on 11th Nov 1917 when my dad was 14 months old. Charlotte also lost two of her brothers in the war, these were Robert and John Henry, who were killed within four months of each other in 1918. This must have been a terrible, terrible time for her, to have to try and cope with so many losses.

If you have any more information on the Skinner family from that period I would very much like to hear from you, some photos would be particularly welcomed.

I hope this is of some interest to you, and I would love to hear from you.

Yours Sincerely, Larry Waters.

Good day, I am in research for a very important family related project and it involves (believe it or not) trying to find out what pubs were around and popular with the non-commissioned ranks at RAF West Malling during WW2-especially ground crew-aircraft mechanics.

I need to know not only which ones were used but also which ones were the most popular and any other WW2 related info on them I can get. An important note is that I am particularly keen on finding out if any of them survive today as pubs - or in any other form. Can anyone help me?

My great grandfather, Harry Baker received many postcards (one dated 1921) from relatives, a family by the name of Woods or Wooden who lived at "The Laurels" West Malling. Em Woods or Wooden, Charlie and Ted. Can anyone help me with information about this family?

My name is David Underwood. I grew up in West Malling. I lived with my grand parents, their name was Norris. First in a shop in the High St which is now the assembly rooms but in1943 when I was born it was my grand fathers hardware shop. On his retirement we moved to a cottage in Swan St on the corner of Police Station Rd, opposite the Kent Arms, now the Lobster Pot

I often go back to West Malling but hardly see any one I know, so does any one remember me or can tell me what happened to Brian Fisher, Brian Large, David and Peter Holmes, Tony Foreman and Billy Blake, all my old play mates? I lost touch after joining the merchant navy then the army.

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

Hi David - I can remember your grandparents china shop, later to become a toy shop. I often saw them in and around Swan Street, your granddad with his old cap and your grandmother wearing her little titfer(hat). I also remember you very well but the last time I saw you, you were wearing your merchant navy uniform.

Comments posted 11 Nov 2015 by Paul Foreman :

Yes I was in N/Ireland and Werl early 1970s can not place your name. I did know Brian Prentice,Mick Toms Mick Wright, Kiwi Robson, Les Duffield,I still see a few others about Kent. I live at Aylesford. Paul

Comments posted 8 Nov 2015 by David Underwood :

paul u was in my regt in werl 2nd queens

Comments posted 7 Nov 2015 by Paul Foreman :

Hi my name is Paul Foreman I am Tony's younger brother, also Mick.

Unfortunately Tony and Mick have passed away. I remember Brian Fisher have a photo of him and his mum apple picking at Terrys farm at Leybourne. I have photos of Tony at West Malling school. we moved to Addington in the 1950s. We lived at 3 Belmount Villas Brian, lived one end and Jack Allingham.

Comments posted 21 Feb 2014 by Peter Bullion :

I used to go down to police station road and play with Tony Forman in the late 40's early 50's . I have a thought in the back of my mind that he had a younger brother. Anyway Tony was at West Malling boys school and Snodland school with me. We were pretty good mates. I haven't seen him since I left school in 1956 .

Comments posted 3 Dec 2012 by Clive Robins :

Hi David; The Holmes brothers were my mates too in the 60,s. David went to USA & Peter is still in Norman Rd. Your name should be familiar but cannot recognise you. I remember David (Bellrope was his nickname)rebuilding my motorbike engine under torchlight in our shed in Fartherwell ave.. Good times. Clive

Comments posted 31 Jan 2009 by Diana Kelly :

I think the Holmes brothers live/lived in Norman Road?

I am hoping someone can help me. In the 1851 census my g/g/grandparents Edward & Mary Barden ( nee Daw) were living in Swan Street,West Malling with their children, one of them being my g/grandfather. I am looking to find out if they were married in West Malling approx 1835 & if any other Bardens remain in the town. I think their son Edward may have died as a youngster, was buried in West Malling. I am hoping to find some dates & places to go forward.

Hope someone can help me. Thanking you, Sheila.

My great-grandfather, George William Banham, died in West Malling in 1881, aged 26. He was described as a 'Scripture Reader'. My recollection as a child was that my father showed me a newspaper clipping containing obituary comments on George William, referring to his work with young people and - possibly! - a cocoa house. Family lore is that he wished to train as a missionary. My grandfather was born at Town Hill, West Malling, on 13th October 1878.

Can anyone offer any links ?

My ancestor, John George Cruwys, was born on 12/11/1824, and today I learned that he was born in Town Malling! What a lovely surprise your website turn out to be!! The photographs are just beautiful and I am looking forward to visiting your town on my next visit to England.

I have reached a stage in my research where further progress has become very difficult because his birth is prior to 1837. Can any local family history historian be able to help me?

I wonder if anybody can help with research into my family history concerning the Colegate family from the West Malling area. My great-grandmother was Harriet Colegate who was born in East Malling in 1875. She moved to Tunbridge Wells in the late 1890s and married James Henry Richardson there in 1902. She died in 1963.

Harriet's parents were Thomas and Harriet Colegate. Thomas was born in West Malling in 1842 and Harriet in East Malling in 1844. As well as their daughter Harriett, they had six other children -- Elizabeth, Richard, Alice, Ellen, George and Allen -- born between 1867 and 1887 in West and East Malling. Thomas was an agricultural labourer and later a gardener and his family lived at various addresses in the West Malling area. According to the 1881 census, they were living at Springetts Hill, East Malling, but by the 1891 census had moved to 81 Alma Road, West Malling. I think Thomas died in 1894 and his wife Harriett in 1899.

I believe Thomas's parents were William and Elizabeth Colegate. William was born in 1819 in Leybourne and Elizabeth in Mereworth in 1817. They had eight children, including Thomas -- the others were Ellen, Harriett, Ann, William, Henry, Alice and John. They were born between 1840 and 1859, all in West Malling, apart from the eldest Ellen, who was born in Mereworth. William was an agricultural labourer like his son and lived at various addresses in West Malling. In 1851 the family was living at 15 Offham Road and by 1861 had moved to 183 Brick Yard. I believe William died in 1898.

I would be particularly interested to find out the maiden names of Thomas and William's wives and when and where the couples married.

I attach a picture of my great-grandmother Harriet which sparked my interest in my family history. We believe it was taken around 1900.

Harriet Colegate
Harriet Colegate

My great grandfather, Alfred Harrington, used to own and run the grocer's, Harrington's, in West Malling.

Alfred Harrington was a shopkeeper and grocer with a shop and house at 23 High Street, West Malling, Kent. I believe the shop, named Harrington's, was in the High Street from the 1890s to at least the 1920s.

Alfred Harrington was married to Rhoda (b1866 in Tiverton, Devon) and they had three (possibly four) children: Stanley Chanin Harrington (b1893 in Burgess Hill, Sussex), Gordon R Harrington (b1896 in Addlestone, Surrey) and Alfred J Harrington (b1898 in West Malling, Kent).

Alfred J Harrington subsequently married Leonora Sales (daughter of Richard Sales). They had one child, Donald Alfred Harrington (b1923 West Malling, Kent). Donald Alfred Harrington was my father.

I am keen to trace any information that would help me develop my family history. If anyone with any information could email me it would be most appreciated.

Comments posted 14 Jan 2018 by Mike Austin :

Like Kevin Harrington, Alfred Harrington was also my great grandfather - on my mother's side. My grandfather was Stanley Chanin Harrington who inherited Harrington's grocers in the High Street from his Alfred, who died in 1933.

Stanley and his wife, May Holder (a teacher) lived above the grocer's shop until probably 1956. I remember looking out of the windows above the shop when I was a young boy (I was born in 1952).

As well as the three children that Kevin mentioned, Alfred Harrington had a daughter Kathleen Vera Harrington (1904-1986).

Stanley and May Harrington had two children - Roger and Margaret. Roger eventually went to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Margaret married John Austin (my father). He worked in the shop for a short while.

Comments posted 29 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

Julie :

James Usherwood was born in Ightham in 1786. His wife, Philidelphia, passed away during the year prior to him marrying Susanna. Thomas Usherwood became her stepson.

John Harrington may have been invited over for a cup of tea, but I don't think he owned Cob Tree Cottage. James died 5 years before Susanna, he was 75.

I grew up eating Christmas cake which included Ightham area cobnuts. I also consumed quite a lot during other parts of the year - cracking the shells with my teeth, which I now regret. They are now known as 'Kentish Cobnuts.'

Comments posted 28 Apr 2017 by Tony Collins :

Julie; Re: Your post of 18th February, 2012.

I assume you meant that Susanna Harrington married James Usherwood in 1843, and settled with him in his home - Cob Tree Cottage, Ightham.

James had earlier become the original cultivator of cobnuts.

Comments posted 6 May 2016 by Steve Harrington :

Hi Kevin

Alfred Harrington b 1863 Colchester, is on my family tree. His father James Harrington b 1831 Ardleigh, married Anna Maria Rudland in Colchester in 1862. His father William Harrington (1804-47) was a farm labourer from Ardleigh. I am descended from his elder brother John b 1797. I have more information if you are interested.


Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

Hi Kevin

I thought twice about mentioning this but, as it is so long ago, I am taking the risk. Harrington's roundsboy, who I knew but who shall remain nameless had the job of refilling Tate and Lyles Golden Syrup tins from a barrel even though it stated on each can 'This tin should not be refilled for resale'

Comments posted 2 Jun 2015 by Mike Austin :

My maternal grandfather was Stanley Harrington, who was the last Harrington to manage the grocer's shop. My father, John Austin, worked in the shop for a short time. The Harrington's moved to Folkestone in the late 50's. Stanley's son Roger moved to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

I lived in Offham Road 1953-6. I occasionally spent time upstairs in the shop. I remember looking out the bay window when an aunt and uncle drove off on their honeymoon.

Pictures of Harringtons front and back from about 1950 here:

The woman is my grandmother May Harrington (nee Holder), with Ruffy the cat.

Comments posted 27 Feb 2014 by Kevin Harrington :

Thank you Peter Bullion and Robert Lucas for adding your personal memories. I'm the great grandson of Alfred Harrington and it is lovely to hear these stories.

Comments posted 21 Feb 2014 by Peter Bullion :

Harringtons sold almost all the groceries a family needed to survive on. My mother used to make me go down to Harrington's for a few bits which turned in to a bag full so heavy I was dragging the bag by the time I got back to Ewell Avenue. I was 10 and 11 years old. She had a red book she wrote everything in she wanted me to get and the Harringtons priced everything item by item in this book and my mother called in once a week and settled the bill.

My mother promised me 3d for going but if she forgot something she sent me all the way back. Then I got my 3d, so if i wanted some sweets i had to go back to Jack Stevens off licence in Church Fields to get them.

Those days women had their own shopping bags and where i could hardly carry the groceries the bag would scrape the ground several times on the way home. So i got a clip on ther ear for that, sent all the way back for any item or items mother forgot, then had to go back to spend my 3d. I'm still here though and 72 years old.

Comments posted 16 Oct 2012 by Robert Lucas :

Regarding Harringtons.

I remember my mother taking me into Harringtons for her grocery shopping in the mid 1950's. The shop has undergone many transformations since then. It is currently a very popular Costa Coffee shop. Many of the original ceiling beams from Harringtons times still exist.

Regards, Robert

Comments posted 18 Feb 2012 by Julie :

Hi Kevin,

I am researching the Harringtons and wonder if we have any connections on our tree.

I have a Susanna Harrington who was baptised on 22/6/1806 in Sawbridgeworth. Her father was William Harrington, a farmer, according to her marriage certificate.

I haven't found her birth yet. There is a Susanna living with a Tabitha and a John Harrington on the 1841 census in Comp Borough, Leybourne but I haven't yet proved she is 'mine'.

She married James Usherwood in 1843 in Middlesex and settled in John's home of Ightham, Kent.

She died in Ightham in 1866. Have you come across her or her family ?

Kind regards, Julie

Comments posted 17 May 2008 by Tim Baldock :

I am sure you have had replies to your queries about the Harringtons. The Harringtons were friendly with the Baldocks who were and still are fellow shop owners in W Malling. Harringtons traded till the late 50s. I remember buying sweets screwed up in waxed paper and large boxes and tins full of biscuits and fruit.

Age Concern Malling have recently taken over one of the shops in the small parade at the junction of Norman Road and High Street. I remember one of the shops in the parade being the location (as an antique shop) of an episode of Roald Dahl's "Tales of the Unexpected" in about 1979/80. I think it was the same shop we are now using, but does anyone know if that can be confirmed, and what episode it was ( I don't remember the story -- just the shop front!)?

Age Concern Malling

Comments posted 31 Jan 2009 by Diana Kelly :

Pataky's antique shop was indeed used in a Roald Dahl episode - but sadly try as I might I can't recall the episode.

I am researching my family's history, and the World War I records of one of my ancestors, Harry Bailey of Burnham (Bucks), indicate that he was married at Malling Register Office on 17 Feb 1915 to Caroline Saunders of 14 Church Fields, West Malling. The bride's father was Thomas Saunders (deceased) who had been a bricklayer's labourer. Caroline was a general domestic servant and Harry a chauffeur (domestic).

I would be interested to find out the identity of the family for whom Caroline was working, and any other relevant information, and would be grateful for any local assistance.

Comments posted 17 Aug 2009 by Diana McDonald :

I am also researching my family as Caroline and Harry were my Grandparents. Regards, Diana

William Walter Driver was my grandfather and grew up in the West Malling area in the late 1800s'. He lived at the five bells St Leonard street with his grandparents Walter and Mary Driver.

Walter and Mary's children were a son, also named Walter, and daughters Eliza (I think Eliza married a Thomas Morgan) Emily, Harriet and Mary.

My grandfather, William , married my grandmother -Caroline May Eliza Cradduck in the 1920's and they lived in the Snodland area. They had two children, Walter and Dora( my mother). My grandfather died when my mother was very young and and my grandmother died when Dora was only 9.

I am hoping that maybe any descendants of Walter and Mary's children may have knowledge of my grandfather and maybe even a picture of him? If so please e-mail me. Thank you.

I was attached to the Air Navigation Office at the United States Naval Air Facility on The RAF base at West Malling from September 1963 through July 1964.

I have many fond memories of my short tour of duty there. I developed a respect and love for the English people that endures to this day. You treated us "Yanks" extremely good. This was my best tour of duty in my 21 years in the Navy.

Thank you, Bob Smith, Senior Chief Petty Officer, U. S. Navy (Retired) P.S. I am not the same Bob Smith that previously corresponded with you.

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Vicky Wilson :

I am collecting memories, words and inspiration for a series of new embedded art commissions and a new project space to complement the refurbished Control Tower in Kings Hill. The art commissions will form a wayfinding trail for Kings Hill and will feature stories and poems gathered through workshops and from individuals.

These accounts of the heritage of the RAF West Malling airfield and its subsequent history will be embedded as text into the paved areas linking shops and businesses and some of the narratives will also be used for temporary displays on hoardings around the site.

I read your post about your connection with the airfield and wondered if you would be prepared to email me with more details – an anecdote, a strong memory, an interesting story… or send me a longer account if you have something written already.

With thanks - we are trying to piece together as rich a history as possible, so everything is welcome.


I am trying to find out about "King Hill" hostel, as my late mother was a resident there in 1951. I believe that in 1952 it was ruled that residents could only stay for a maximum period of three months. At this time my mother had a 15 month old son, who she put up for a "private fostering". On his birth certificate it states his address as King Hill, West Malling.

If anyone knows anything about King Hill, no matter how trivial, I'd love to know.

Comments posted 1 Feb 2015 by Celt :

Hi, I know this is a long time after your original post, but, my partner has just found out that he lived in this hostel in 1962 (it was for homeless families, but the men were NOT allowed to stay!)

The families were allowed to stay 3 months and were then evicted and the children would be taken into care (as my partner and his brother were)If the families hadn't found "suitable" accommodation by that time.

They were eventually returned after a year (having been split up and sent to different foster homes)

Comments posted 23 Mar 2009 by Nick Russell :

Carole, I was a Police Officer at West Malling in 1980-1. I only visited the King Hill Hostel once - a young girl was in labour and there was a chance I was going to have to deliver the baby. The hostel was a dreary red brick building down a reasonably long drive off the A228. I understood that it was a kind of a short term stay place for young women only. In any event the ambulance arrived before the big event and I went back to the station for a cup of tea. I was told later that the baby was going to be named after me - because I was so nice ...

Best wishes, Nick Russell

Comments posted 29 Oct 2008 by Trudy Dean :

Hi Carole. The King Hill hostel was the site of the West Malling workhouse in earlier times, and features as the Spike in a book by George Orwell. In his day it was the place where gentlemen of the road would come to sleep at night, and they buried their valuables under the hedges of King Hill (road) before going inside in case they were robbed by fellow room mates!

When I came to West Malling in the 1970s the site was being used by homeless families waiting to be housed in council accommodation, and I guess this may have been why your relatives were there. Some families were housed there because they had been evicted from their homes, usually because they had defaulted on the rent. They were I believe housed there until the arrears had been paid, and were then rehoused if possible.

I believe the huts where the families lived were formerly built to be used by personnel on the Airfield nearby, and they were of wooden construction, comprising several families' accommodation in each hut. There was a brick built house which housed the warden, and I was told there was also an underground hospital there, built to take casualties from abroad who were expected to be flown in to the airfield from battlefields around the world.

The site was cleared and is now a small close of four houses called Orwell Spike.

Regards, Trudy

I wonder if anyone has any information on my grandparents, who lived at 75, The Bank, West Malling , surname Gower ?

Comments posted 24 Aug 2018 by Karen Steadman :

Just stumbled on this site. I am descended from Ambrose Gowar and Maria Beech? I understand their daughter Maria was raised by grandparents (from memory at the freemasons arms, Birling) and aged 15 had an illegitimate daughter Agatha 1857-1922 (whom I have a photo of. Agatha married Alfred Capon and had (14 or 16 total children)2 daughters, Edith and Gertrude who both married my great grandfather Philip Usher (landlord of Duke of Wellington Ryarsh). Edith is my great grandmother. These and the Miles family were all well known/ reputed in the area so if anyone has any information or photos pertaining to GOWAR, CAPON, USHER or MILES, it would be greatly appreciated. Also related Ambrose Gorham, grand national winner from Telscombe.

Comments posted 11 Aug 2009 by Dianne Vieceli :

I am a descendant of William Gower and his wife Mary Beeching who it is believed lived in West Malling (High Street) in the early 1800's. Their son Stephen and his wife Sarah (nee-Bramley)who are my link to this family, emigrated to South Australia in 1839. At least three other sons John, Jesse, and James also emigrated. William married again by 1865 to (name unknown).

Sarah Bramley was the daughter of William and Sarah who were shoe-makers and resided at 68 Back street, West Malling. Sarah Bramley had at least one sister (Susan) who in 1865 resided in Dover.

If anyone has any connections to this family I would love to hear from you. I will be in Kent for a few days in late October 2009 trying to gather more information.

Kind Regards, Dianne Vieceli, Adelaide, South Australia

Comments posted 3 Jul 2008 by Douglas Rees :

You might be interested that I used to live next door to a Geof Gower who still lives in the village, Douglas

Comments posted 3 Jun 2008 by Karen Brown :

Hello there. I am very curious to know who you are, as they were also my grandparents so you are obviously one of my cousins. regards, Karen

Comments posted 3 Jun 2008 by Maureen Tigwell :

Hi. Just received your details from my cousin in Australia, Karen Gower (Brown now) who I believe has also contacted you.

My husband's grandparents were Leopold Gower and Alice Ellen Gower (nee Harris) who lived at 75 The Bank, BIRLING (Not actually West Malling) - the house is still there at The Bank, Birling, but has been renamed as 69 Ryarsh Road, Birling.

Would love to know your connection, as you must be one of my husband's cousins??? My husband is Bruce Tigwell, son of Leopold & Alice Gower's daughter Alice Caroline, who is now 85 years old and living in Basingstoke, Hants.

Are you on Genes ReUnited - we have put our family tree on there.

Looking forward to hearing from you, Bruce & Maureen

I am researching my family history (from Australia) and find a note that my Gtx10 Uncle was Sir Robert Brett of Malling Abbey and buried at West Malling. He was "Gentleman Usher of the Privy Chamber to King James" and died in 1620.

If anyone can give me any information on Sir Robert, or possibly confirm if he is buried at West Malling, I would be most grateful.

Update: Many thanks for your action as Phyll Stevens has replied giving me all the information I need on Sir Robert, who was buried inside the church at West Malling. Robin Stevens is sending me a photo of the tomb next week. So this is just to let you know that your system works !! Thank you very much, Best Regards, Robin Phillips.

I was very interested to view your website, which I found in a search at Google for Douce's Manor. My interest in West Malling and the manor house goes back to 1990 when I worked as a training officer for Commercial Union. At the time the Company owned Douce's manor and used it as a training centre for our staff. My job was to run week-long residential training courses for our sales people and I have many happy memories of working in such a splendid environment

One of my most pleasant duties was showing new employees around the establishment and of particular interest was the 'Twitch Cellar' as it was known to us. The story I had been told (and subsequently recounted to all our new sales people during my 'tour') was that the signatures on the ceiling were written by fighter pilots who held a candle between their toes. I have always thought this would have been a difficult task and I would be very interested if the story could be verified. My main interest however is in establishing the current ownership of the house. I now live in Lincolnshire but I'm planning a trip down to Kent and would very much like to see the house again if this is possible. I would be grateful for any information you could give me about it and I look forward very much to hearing from you.

Comments posted 5 May 2012 by Mary Stewart :

I was born just up the road from Douce's Manor in "The Old Five Bells". I also worked in Douce's Manor when it was owned by Commercial Union and run as a training centre in the 70s. Before that it was an hotel and restaurant and it was then that the name was changed back to Douce's Manor. We had always known it before as simply The Manor.

I am sixty five now and for many years before that it was empty. In the cellar there was a bar that was used by the pilots who lodged there during the Battle of Britain. On the ceiling their names were preserved where thay had burned them into the plaster. Many famous pilots were based there, Guy Gibson for one that I can remember. Two of my close relations were Battle of Britain Pilots but were never stationed there, but in Biggin Hill.

There are tunnels under the manor leading to other areas, some say to the Abbey but that seems a long way to me, but whilst I was working there a huge hole appeared at the reception area to the rear of the building and it was also said that this was a tunnel that had collapsed.

Not suprisingly there are many ghosts in that building. There are many stories. The Manor as it stands today was rebuilt over the Old Douce's Manor. So the Manor you see is not the original building. Rooms in the building when I worked there would be completely moved around and pictures were taken down from the walls. People were seen walking in the reception area to the front but their legs were only visible from their knees up as the old building was lower down. Strange stories, but all seemed to be very true to those who saw something. I could go on for ages but good luck in your search. Hope I have helped a little.

Regards, Mary Stewart (now living in Aberdeenshire).

Comments posted 2 May 2012 by Diana Kelly :

Hi, I don't know what you have uncovered about the manor? however my hubby knows quite a bit about it- you may be aware that it was an officers mess during war time? on the ceiling in 1 of the rooms were footprints put there by some of the officers [apparently]? after the war it became the "manor" and was owned by farmers named Cronk- who apart from the farm land owned the lake / park opposite-it had its own private exit into the church yard by means of a locked metal gate behind the church- most of the Cronk family were buried in that church yard- story was rats invaded the manor and somehow a fire damaged it beyond it being habitable?? apparently homeless people broke in as well!! After standing empty for many years it was purchased by an insurance company- who turned it into a training centre-with its own putting green- it then became as you rightly say- - luxury flats-

Comments posted 3 Dec 2011 by Audrey Little :

Dear Sarah, I was interested to read about your interest in Douces Manor. My father, Frank Sloman was employed there in the late twenties and up till the beginning of the War in 1939 when he had to join the Police as a War Reservist. He was primarily the chauffeur, and I have a photo of him standing beside his beautiful car! The Manor was a convalescent home for retired shool mistresses I believe and was closed at the beginning of the War. I well remember being invited to wonderful Christmas parties for the children of the staff. These were held in the Orangery.

My father was born in the large house on the left of the Manor going towards Mereworth and used to tell us how he skated on the lake when it froze over in winter. He was the next to youngest of a family of nine (grandmother had 14 children but only nine survived).

I will look for any photographs I have and forward them to you.

Best wishes, Audrey Little

Comments posted 3 Nov 2011 by Christiana Olojo :

This link may be of interest - Christiana Olojo


Comments posted 6 Apr 2011 by Diana Kelly :

Douces Manor- you may be able to follow a link if you type in West Malling air field?? I'm sure you're aware that the manor was in fact the base for high ranking pilots - Diana Kelly

Comments posted 3 Dec 2009 by Sarah Whitney :

My parents recently moved into an apartment at Douces Manor, and are fascinated by the history of this beautiful house. We have found a wonderful article written by Phyllis Stevens, with some photographs attached, and we were interested to know whether anyone has any further photographs of Douces or the families that lived there.

I am trying to compile an archive of information about the house and any help would be greatly appreciated. Sarah

Comments posted 30 Oct 2008 by Trudy Dean :

Hi Paul. The Twitch Inn has been leased from Beechcroft, the developers of Douces Manor, as a Heritage Centre for West Malling. It is leased by the Parish Council, of which I am the Chairman, and the centre will be run by the Malling Society. It will open to the public for the first time on Remembrance Sunday Nov 8th 2008 between 10am and 5pm. It will not be equipped yet, as the builders have only just left the site and haven't finished wiring the lights yet, but you will be able to see the cartoons and signatures which have been restored and protected as a condition of the development.

Regards, Trudy

Comments posted 30 May 2008 by Mary Spencer :

Hello - Just found with great interest this website. Old and very new to computers.

Just to let you know that Douce's Manor has now been sold to a Builder who has converted the Main House to luxury apartments, and at the back new houses. Price from £500k plus. At the moment (30/05/08) the Agents are still selling them, so it would your golden opportunity to see the changes that are taking place.

My friend Molly Potts worked for many years at Douce's Manor. The Builders were not allowed to have the Cellar, and I understand that it will eventually be a Museum. Before the Builders moved in it was being vandalised, so at least it is now looking so much better.

Hope this will be of some interest to you. Mary.

Comments posted 25 May 2008 by Carole :

Hi Paul. I live in West Malling and Douces Manor has now been developed into a number of prestigious dwellings.

Comments posted 18 Feb 2007 by Ron Lee :

Hi Paul, saw your entry on the West Malling website. I did my National Service at RAF West Malling, little expecting to spend my last 17 years with CU working at Douces Manor. I went there soon after it opened in 1978, my evening CII class teaching at Wolverhampton having marked me as a possible tutor. I subsequently swapped to providing written training material, explaining both the new computer system and trying to simplify complicated policy wordings. I retired in 1995 and worked part time for a further 16 months on a special project (that was subsequently scrapped!).

The Manor was closed soon after the Norwich Union merger (takeover?) and has stood empty ever since. The main building is currently being converted to luxury apartments, and upmarket houses have been built in the old walled garden. One of these was in last week's local paper for £860,000. The Twitch Inn is being preserved and the local History Society will have access to it via the outside door. Who was the manager when you worked there? Reg Kemp went in the mass clearout in 1983 and was replaced by firstly John McBrien and then Ray Thorn. Hope this is of some interest, Ron Lee.

I remember fondly life in West Malling, during the period 1965 to 1989. My grandad Jim Warner ran the greengrocer shop on the A20 next to what was then the telephone exchange. We lived in a large house opposite the shop called Villa Suecia (after a place my grandad stayed in Spain). The land all 10 acres known as brickfields was where my grandad grew all the produce to sell in the shop, from apples to pears, plums, strawberries to potatoes he grew the lot. He used to tell me stories of him cycling up to R.A.F West Malling on his bike with an ice cream churn on the front during the hot summer months of World War II to sell ice creams to all the pilots and crew stationed there.

Later after his sad death in 1967, my Mum & Dad (Val & Mary) took over the running of the shop & soon the old shop was pulled down & a new one built on the same premises, turning half into a greengrocer & the other half into tea rooms. When this failed to see much profit they eventually turned into selling camping gear, ie. tents caravans trailers etc. then tragedy struck the family again in 1978 when my Mum died of cancer and I went to work at the shop. We carried on selling camping gear until 1981, when we eventually leased the whole lot to Gordon Songhurst who to this day runs Songhurst caravans from the same place.

I then went to work for I.C.M. (plastic moulding factory) in Swan Street where I spent five years working for George Heart who then ran the factory, before getting married in West Malling Church in 1986 and moving to Maidstone. I now live in Torquay in Devon but I will never forget my days in the garden of England.

Comments posted 4 Jan 2013 by Bob Donovan :

Hi, I used to go to school with your brother, Ralph and by coincidence should have joined the Kent Fire Brigade on the same recruit course with him in 1979 but circumstances dictated that Ralph didnt join up.

I remember meeting him in the caravan shop in the mid 80s and I hope he is in good health.

Like you I too remember the ''good old days'' of the 60s & 70s living in West Malling.

Best regards.

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Vicky Wilson :

I am collecting memories, words and inspiration for a series of new embedded art commissions and a new project space to complement the refurbished Control Tower in Kings Hill. The art commissions will form a wayfinding trail for Kings Hill and will feature stories and poems gathered through workshops and from individuals.

These accounts of the heritage of the RAF West Malling airfield and its subsequent history will be embedded as text into the paved areas linking shops and businesses and some of the narratives will also be used for temporary displays on hoardings around the site.

I read your post about your connection with the airfield and wondered if you would be prepared to email me with more details – an anecdote, a strong memory, an interesting story… or send me a longer account if you have something written already.

With thanks - we are trying to piece together as rich a history as possible, so everything is welcome.


Comments posted 27 Mar 2012 by Peter Cosier :


I was interested to read your information about the market garden.

I think we met once in court when we were witnesses to someone hitting your car in West Malling. I believe Jack Hawkes used to shoot in your land (with permission) as he lived in the bungalow in Town Hill?

Best wishes Peter

Comments posted 3 Dec 2011 by Mick Sloman :

Hi Graham,

As a young boy I lived about four houses away from Warner's shop as we called it,I spent most of pocket money there on ice lollies and lemonade.

There was a large area of land behind the house opposite where a lot of produce grew, the produce was carried to the shop in a small Morris van. One Saturday morning I heard a loud bang,I rushed out to our front gate to see what it was, the little van was smashed to bits, it being in collision with an army lorry and a coach,the lads in the van were dazed but otherwise ok.

Mick Sloman

I used to live at 8 Churchfields in the 1950's. Through the years after moving to Canada we have lost touch with old friends, I'd like to locate Margaret Crowhurst, or Margaret Shirley, both old school friends. Thanks Gillian [Boughton] Crowther.

Update: A cousin phoned to tell me about the message from Gillian Crowther nee Boughton. I have made contact with her and we have started to catch up on the missing years. Many thanks...Margaret Crowhurst

Comments posted 13 Mar 2010 by Della Beck :

Agatha Crowhurst was the second wife of my g.grandfather Capon, and the mother to my paternal grandmother one of about 15 children, her name being Marie Cecily Capon, born around 1875 or a little later. I have picture of her home where Marie and other children raised in Gower's Cottages, Ham Hill, Snodland and where Marie's husband in the late 1950's lived in same house, (built 1543 - a row of 4 cottages) after Marie had died.

My father, Frederick William Pescud owned #2 Gower's Cottages for my grandfather to reside in and sold it to an awesome young builder after grandfather passed away approx age 92. It has been renovated beautifully.

I also have photos of myself and my children in the doorway of the Gower cottage. Gowers lived there at some time too. Willing to share memories and photos. It is rumoured that the young widow Agatha Crowhurst had also been born in that home with its huge hand cut beams and cactus growing on the roof!

Della (Pescud) Beck

An introduction by her great-nephew.

On June 2004, my wife and I were on our way from Chippenham in Wiltshire to Dover to catch the ferry at the start of a touring holiday in Germany. As we were passing close to West Malling, we stopped off at the cemetery to place some flowers on the grave of Annie Couchman who was my maternal great aunt. We had done this many times before and often wondered who had kept Annie's grave so neat and tidy. As we approached the grave, we saw a lady busily clipping the grass with shears and having introduced ourselves, we found out that the lady was Mrs Maud Souter a friend of my late aunt. She told us that Annie had left with her a copy of her memories about her life in West Malling (from 1897 to 1987) and was only too pleased to let me borrow them when we returned from our holiday. I would now like to share these memories with you.

Annie Couchman was born on 3rd January 1897 at Elm Cottage, Birling Road, West Malling, Kent, along with her twin brother Richard. Her other siblings were Edith, Grace Elizabeth (my grandmother), Beatrice Violet, Harry and a female child who was Harry's twin and was sadly stillborn. Her father was Albert Edward Couchman who was born in Yalding Village, Kent. Her mother was Mary Ann (nee Hall) and she was born in Poplar, London. Albert and Mary were married in about September 1889 in West Malling, Kent.

Albert worked as a gardener at the Grange in Leybourne and apparently had a quick temper! Mary was a very gentle person and hard working.

Annie lived all her adult life in West Malling and worked for 33 years at Foreman's bakery in the High Street. She moved into a nursing home in Portsmouth where she died in 1990. She is buried in the churchyard in West Malling, near the school.

I have fond memories of Aunty Annie, she was a kind and gentle lady who spent many hours knitting hassocks for the church and doll's clothes for charity. She never forgot family birthdays and there was always a card from her at Christmas and Easter.

I would like to finish by thanking Maud Souter for keeping these memories safe and also Mrs Phyllis Stevens and her daughter Ros Dunnico, who have enabled these recollections to be published on the website.

Chris Longdon

12 September 2004


1897 - 1987

I was born at Elm Cottage at the corner of Birling Road on Sunday 3rd January 1897. My mother went up to see her mother the evening before. Granny lived on the terrace in Ryarsh Lane. Father went to the Club on Saturday nights. In the evening Granny said to Mother "Would you like a drink, Polly", and then went over to the Bull and bought Mother three-pennyworth of gin and cloves. My mother said to Granny "Don't tell Albert I have had a drink, as he may take me in on the way home and buy me another one" - and he did. When they got home she started labour. Mother made a meat pudding for Albert to cook and give to the children the next day (Edith, Grace and Violet), and they sent for Mrs Startupp, the midwife.

I was born at eight o'clock and the midwife called down the stairs "Are you there, Mr. Couchman" and he said "Yes" and she said "It is a girl". Father said "Thank God that is over". A few minutes later she called down again and said "It's a little boy this time". What a shock, as Mother did not know she was going to have twins. She had only enough clothes for one and no cradle and no layette, like they have today. She had a clothes basket for one and a drawer out of the chest of drawers for the other one.

Father left her to cope while he was having a good night's rest in the other room. One night she took one of us into him and said "If you don't take this baby, I shall throw it out of the window". He went back and had one of us his side and Mother had one on her side. She used to have one in her arms and the other laying across her feet to get us off to sleep.

A Mrs Brown, who lived at the bottom of Malling Wood, went to see Mother and asked her if she had any sewing for her, as she was deaf and her husband didn't talk to her much. Mother said "I have, can you make my babies some clothes, as I did not know I was going to have twins". Mother went upstairs and got some white chair covers and the good lady made some nice gowns for the babies.

Mother took in washing, as there was five of us to keep. My sister Edith was born deaf and dumb and nearly blind and she could not go to school with us. She had to go to a deaf and dumb school in Derbyshire. Mother had to see the Relieving Officer in West Malling. His name was Mr. Allison and he asked her if she could pay 1/- a week towards Edith's schooling. Mother said "How am I going to pay all that", but she managed to keep her there for a time. Then Edith was taken ill with meningitis and Father had to go and bring her home. On the way back he met a gentleman who was out with his baby and he let Father put Edith in the pram and the gentleman carried his own baby to the station. Edith got over the meningitis and lived until she was 26 years old.

When I began to walk the doctor called and said to Mother "Don't put the little girl on her legs as she has rickets", so Mother had to take me to Maidstone Hospital. I had lovely medicine to take, Mother told me it was just like port wine. I said in a joke "I bet I didn't have too much of it", but Mother would not have had it herself, I know.

Mother worked very hard washing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and ironing the next three days. There was always a good meal when we came home from school, although she had so much else to do and she used to send Grace up to Mr Barkaway the butcher for three pennyworth of bones and pieces. Out of this she made a lovely stew with plenty of vegetables and dumplings in it. I loved her meat puddings. My brother and I always wanted the crust off the top - my brother won every time.

When we went to Leybourne school Miss Bolton, the governess, used to ask my brother and I round and give us some food they had left over. Mother made us egg sandwiches to take to school sometimes - with one egg between the four of us. Eggs were ten a shilling and milk one penny a pint and brought to the door.

Mother was expecting another baby two years and nine months after us, but she lost one and then the doctor said there is another one and she did not lose it - so she nearly had twins again. This baby was a boy and he only lived for eleven months, he died with whooping cough. Mother was deaf and she did not hear him choke. He was a lovely boy and Mother used to bath him and sit him on a mat with the front door open and tell the dog to mind him. A friend came to see Mother and went to pick Harry up but the dog went for her. She went round to the back door and told Mother. Mother said that no-one would touch Harry when the dog was with him, in fact you could go up to Malling and leave them and know Harry would be safe.

Father had a dreadful temper. One morning Mother had a tall wooden clothes horse full of white shirts and with polished fronts and cuffs ready for us to take out Saturday morning. She used to polish the fronts and cuffs with a polishing iron on a slab of marble. Anyway, this morning Father came home in a temper and emptied a teapot over the lot and they had to be washed, boiled and starched and ironed again for us to take out in the afternoon.

One day a friend came to see Mother and asked what the mess was in the fireplace. Mother said "My Albert threw his dinner in the fire". Mrs Terry said "Don't you clean it up, he wont do it any more if he has to clean it himself". Sometimes Mother had nothing to pack for his dinner when he left for work, so she would walk over to the Grange where he worked in the garden and take him a nice hot dinner. If she was five minutes late he would eat his dinner and then throw the plates the opposite way and she would go and pick them up. I told her why didn't she leave them for him to pick up. We were all afraid of him and sometimes he would not speak to her for weeks on end after he had a row over nothing. I was the one who used to worry for her. I used to say to Mother "Speak to him, won't you" and she said "He won't answer if I do ", but I never, ever heard her get out of temper. Father kept ferrets and when he came home from work one night he found one was dead and he threw it at Mother. She was breast-feeding Harry and she lost her milk and was very ill.

Mr. Brown, the woodman, used to tell Mother there was some wood in the park at the Grange and after he showed me where it was, I used to take the hand cart up and bring it home. I had to make several journeys and it was very tiring, the others would not offer to do it.

At Christmas we had our stockings filled with nuts, oranges, pears, apples and sweets and a sugar pig. When we came down to breakfast we had to put them all back in the dishes on the table but we were allowed to keep the sugar pig. We had a lovely party at the Grange on Boxing Day. Mr Grace the cricketer was living there and we had really nice, useful presents. We loved going down to the Grange at harvest-time and helping toss the hay. The nurse used to give us good food.

We had no sink or tap indoors at home and the loo was outside shared between two families. It had to be emptied very often. Mother had to go along the land way and walk along the bottom of the garden to get to the tap. I used to get it for her sometimes for the washing. I used to put a hoop over my head and rest it on two pails, it kept the pails of water away from my legs. I filled the tubs up ready for Mother to do her washing and I filled the copper. We paid 2/6d a week for the house where I was born at the corner of Birling Road and then we moved to Rock Cottage where we paid 3/6d a week rent.

On Mondays at dinnertime we used to go up to the Rectory and pay into a Clothing Club. Cannon Howley used to take the money and he used to pay it out to Mother to buy warm clothes for us in the winter from Mr Smith, the draper in the High Street, where the paper shop is now. When we went to Sunday School and then to church, my sisters and I were dressed in blue coats, all three of us, and a policeman who was riding by on his bicycle sang "Three little girls in blue" to us.

I loved going into the woods to pick primroses on Good Friday with the teacher. We took them back to the school and bunched them up to decorate the church for Easter. They used to be arranged around the pillars and they did look nice. At Christmas Ada Hearnden and I used to go up to the Rectory a few days before Christmas and put evergreens on pieces of wood to put into the archways in the Church. We had a cup of tea at 11 o'clock and a lovely lunch and tea before we came home. It took two days to finish them.

When I was confirmed, Cannon Howley always liked the girls to be dressed alike. He bought the material for our dresses and the mothers went to George Viners to get the material, then they would send the bill to the Cannon. We went up to the Rectory to have the veils put on. He had a carriage to take us up to the Church. When the carriage pulled up at the gate , several people were there to see everyone go in and they said "Here comes the Leybourne girls". After the service we were taken back to the Rectory where we had a nice tea. The Cannon gave us all a book with the Communion Service and talked about our first communion.

At Easter we wore dresses with no coats and at Whitsun we had cream dresses and straw hats with daisies and buttercups round the brim. Mother used to give us a penny each to put in the bag and she would give us an extra one for her. I don't know how Mother did it, but she always made us look nice.

A Mrs Morgan came to live next door to us and she had a little girl. I was so pleased, and used to take her everywhere with me. I took her to school, as she started at an early age.

I left school at 14 and the governess wanted me to stay on a little longer, but Mother could not afford to let me stay. Just before I left school I had to have my tonsils out. Mother and I walked to Malling Station to go by train and then from Maidstone station to the West Kent Hospital. The doctor put a red towel in front of me. He froze the throat but I felt the second one being taken out. I bled a lot and we had to go into another room to see the doctor. He had a round looking glass on his forehead. We had to stand in a queue and I came over faint. The porter carried me out. After that we walked from the hospital to Maidstone station and then from West Malling station to Leybourne. When we were walking up Week Street, I said to Mother, "I am thirsty" but she did not want me to have a drink, though when I said I couldn't go any further we went into a shop and I had a glass of milk. I just don't know how I swallowed it.

After leaving school I went to work for Miss Bolton, the schoolteacher for 3/6d. a week. I had to get there at eight o'clock in the morning. Miss Bolton made a list of the jobs I had to do, including cooking dinner for her father, who was 80 years of age. After dinner I had to go up to Malling to do her shopping and go back and get their tea. One day I had her bicycle to go and do her shopping and I had a blackout and fell in the middle of the London Road. A gentleman who was manager for Mrs Gifford the grocer, was coming home to his lunch. He lived next door to Miss Bolton and he picked me up and was just going to lay me on the verge when I began to come round. The first thing I said to him was "Is the bicycle all right". He took it back to Miss Bolton and I went home and Mother looked at me and said "You have had another of those turns", I began to cry. My sister came home from the Grange, as it was her half day and went and did the shopping. I took it back to Miss Bolton and got the tea ready and never said a word about the fall. The neighbour called on Miss Bolton and told her what had happened. She came back and let me go home. I went back to work the next day.

My aunt was cook for a lady who lived at Harrow-on-the-Hill and she asked if she would let me go there as they wanted a house parlour maid. Mother got me a tin trunk and got my uniform, etc. ready. She took me up and I was there for three months but I had to come home as Edith had died. When I was working there I was paid £1.16s 8d a month and I had to send Mother £1 which left me 16s 8d to last a month, and sometimes I worked for five weeks till payday. I said to Auntie "How am I going to manage on that", because stockings were sixpence-halfpenny a pair, indoor shoes 1/11d, caps 1/11d and afternoon aprons 1/11d, but I did manage, though I was very homesick.

After leaving there I went to the Rectory as house parlour maid. I started having trouble with my left hip and had to go up to see Dr. Roberts. The surgery was where the Chapel minister lives, next to the chapel. He said I was to go home and straight to bed and he would call in the morning. He told Mother I had hip disease and I had to lie on my back for several months with weights fixed to my leg. The carpenter came and fixed a pulley on the bottom of the bed and the weights were put in a bag and hung down to pull the leg down. When I was allowed to get up I could only walk on crutches and had an iron fixed to the bottom of my shoe to keep the leg off the ground. Then the doctor ordered the iron to be taken off but I still walked on crutches until I began to lose the use of my arms. The doctor said it was crutch paralysis and I had to walk without them. The crutches were just broom handles with a piece of wood nailed across the top. Father made them, they were padded.

When I was better, I went to Miss Foreman to work in the house first and then in their bakers shop for 6/- a week. I was there for 33 years and was paid £1.6s.0d. a week when I left. I had good food there. Miss Jenny Foreman did the fancy cakes and iced the wedding cakes. She taught herself from Mrs Beeton. Miss Emily did the washing and the cooking, she was a good cook. Mr Foreman was the baker. He had three working for him in the bakehouse. The latter part of the time I was at Foremen's, I slept in and helped Miss Jenny in the bakehouse. I had a very bad wasp sting one day and came out in blisters and went black in the face and eventually unconscious. They sent for my sister, who was working for Mrs Davidson. I went home but came to work next day with a very swollen leg.

The War broke out in August 1939 and we made up a concert party and called ourselves the Blue Bells. We raised money for the V.A.D. hospital, which was where Miss Neville lived at the top of Town Hill. We had the Swan Room, where the Post Office is now, for the concerts. One night after the last performance when I played an old aunt in a sketch, I said to the girls "I won't change here, I'm going home as I am". On the way I met a police sergeant I knew. It was in the blackout and I went up to him as if I was drunk and said "Kiss me, Sergeant" - I got back on the path and he said "Is that you, Annie?" and I said "You are too late". In the morning, Superintendent Ford came in the shop and asked me if it was right that I had kissed the Sergeant in Swan Street. I did not live that down for some time.

I used to go to dances and one evening there was a dance at the Babington [sic Badminton] Hall, where the cinema is now, in aid of Cancer Research. I went with my cousin Ernest. He was a good partner. That was on a Friday. A lady who lived at The Lavenders came in the shop on Saturday morning and said "I have not come to buy anything but to congratulate you on your dancing, your hair was a picture and you were the best dressed in the room". Miss Foreman heard what she said and said "You have had a compliment paid to you this morning, Annie".

I organised several coach loads to go up to London to see plays and ice shows. We went to several Ivor Novello shows. The last one was taken over by an understudy as he had died a few days before the show. I arranged six coaches to go up to London to see the lights, one every night. The last one was a 42- seater and it was a new one. I hired it from a friend of mine, Bill Jenner, who lived at Lamberhurst. I used to go there many times for weekends. Bill used to take us out for a lovely lunch on Sundays. I used to help Hilda a lot, as she had a big garden and she loved to get out in it. There was a wood at the bottom of her garden and we went wooding. I loved it.

One day I hired a coach to take us to Hastings on a summer evening. We started from Malling High Street at 6 o'clock and when the coach came it turned out to be an ordinary bus. I said to the driver "We are not going in this, you get over the road and phone them to have a coach sent for us" and they quickly sent up a nice one. We all had a lovely two hours in Hastings. We started home at 12 o'clock at night. It was a lovely moonlit night and the driver turned the lights out for a while.

My mother had cancer in the womb for five years. She had to go to hospital in London to have it scraped. Twelve months after she had to have it done again. My sister Violet and I paid for her to have it done at home. The nurse was to come and take the swabs out at 4 o'clock but Mother said "Will you do it, Annie, as you have the touch". She told me so many times that I had the touch.

One day I went up to London to see a school friend. She was nurse to a Jewish family. I went for the day and in the afternoon after having lunch we went round the shops and then to Lyons Corner House to have tea. I went to a counter as I wanted to buy my sister a present of chocolates. There was a gentleman standing at the top of the steps. I said to Mabel "Don't look round but that man is staring at us". As we went by him he dropped a book and I stepped over it. Mabel said "You should have picked it up" but I said "That is just what he wanted me to do. Even if I have come up from the country, I am not that stupid; it would have been - will you come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly".

Then, once I went up to London to see a friend who was in hospital. I had to go on the underground from Victoria Station. On the way back I got into an empty carriage and then a man and woman got in. When the train started, the woman came and squeezed up next to me. I got up and sat opposite. She said "You shouldn't have done that, you may get dirt in your eyes". When we got to Victoria, I went up the steps and who should be there at the top but the same woman. She said "I wonder if you would like to accompany me to the Savoy as I have a complimentary ticket for two". I said "Certainly not, a friend lost her friend that way years ago and they never did find her" and with that, she went.

Mother died in 19[36]. Before she died, she said "God forgive me all my sins and take me to heavenly rest". She was buried at Leybourne, near Edith and Harry. The church was full.

Father took all the furniture and went down to live with my sister Grace in Wiltshire and with my brother in Winchester. I knew he would not get on with my brother's wife, Louie. I went down to see him for a few days and I went to the Post Office to post a parcel. The postmaster looked at the label and said "Are you any relation to Mr Couchman along the road". I said "Yes, I am his daughter". He said "Your father is very unhappy". I told him he would be, but he thought different. After a while, Father asked me if I could find him lodgings. I found him a place at Mrs _____ along the London Road. He had ulcerated colitis and it did not last long. She was a dear. I managed to get him lodgings again at Mrs Larking, Police Station Road. That, too, did not last long. Then Mrs Chapman said she would have him. She lived a few doors from Mrs Larking. She really was a dear, kind person. One Sunday morning a man came to the shop and told me Mrs Avis had died. I said to Mr Brown "Are you sure" and immediately a voice said "Try for the house". I went along to Miss Brice and asked her if she would let me have it, as I wanted to make a home for my father and she let me have it for 7/- a week. I had it done up from top to bottom and had electric light put in. It was a picture when it was finished.

I told Mrs Chapman and said "Don't tell Father as I want it to be a surprise". He came to the shop and said he was going to see Mr Down, the Relieving Officer. I said "Whatever for, you are happy along at Mrs Chapman's, aren't you" and then I told them that I had got a cottage and it would be ready by next Tuesday. He did not take it in at first and then he began to cry and so did I. Mrs Chapman brought him along in time for tea. He had taken his money out of his bank and put it into mine. I never touched a penny, only to pay for the house to be made nice and comfortable for him. I wrote to my aunt as she had furniture in store and asked her if I could have it and it came up from Wiltshire by rail for £5.

It was hard going, as I had to work and when I came home at night I did have a mess to clear up. I went to bed crying one night and said to myself "I have taken on too much" but another voice said "Don't worry, my dear, it is not for long" and it was not. I took the house in November and Father died in May [1938]. He had a stroke on the Wednesday and died on the Monday. I had to send for Dr Hamilton and asked him if he could go to hospital but he said no, he would have to go up to the Union. I said he is not going there. He picked up his hat and walked out of the house. I sent down to my sister Violet and we got his bed downstairs. Mrs Baily next door was another good friend. She washed him and we got him into bed. She sat up with him at night so I could go to bed, as I still had to go to work. There was no money coming in, only his Club - 7/6d a week, but we managed. It was a good thing I kept my job on. At that time my money was 10/- a week. I said to Mother once, "I wish Miss Foreman would give me another 1/- a week" but Mother said "If she did give you that, you would still want more". Bread was 4 1/2d a 2lb loaf and a 1lb one was 2 1/2d. Dough buns were 1d each.

Comments posted 29 Dec 2017 by Chris Longdon :

Since publishing these memories my email address has changed to so apologies if you have tried to contact me!

Comments posted 20 Dec 2015 by Bill :

Annie Couchman was a very nice lady - she often served me in Stripps, the tobacconists in Swan Street.

Comments posted 9 Nov 2012 by David Underwood :

i knew miss couchman she was a nabour of ours in the 50s and 60s in police station road . a lovley kind lady but very strict

In 1959-1961 I was in the US Navy Squadron Fasron Special 200. We moved our squadron from Blackbushe Aerodrome near Camberley, Surrey to share the RAF Squadron at West Malling. West Malling was a quaint little village then and the yanks were readily accepted. I have always wanted to make a trip back to see what changes had taken place, but somehow never made it.

I am retired now and have the time, but health problems make it still a far reach. I would like to extend my thanks to all of the people that resided in West Malling at the time I was there for making my stay so enjoyable.

Comments posted 31 Oct 2012 by Vicky Wilson :

I am collecting memories, words and inspiration for a series of new embedded art commissions and a new project space to complement the refurbished Control Tower in Kings Hill. The art commissions will form a wayfinding trail for Kings Hill and will feature stories and poems gathered through workshops and from individuals.

These accounts of the heritage of the RAF West Malling airfield and its subsequent history will be embedded as text into the paved areas linking shops and businesses and some of the narratives will also be used for temporary displays on hoardings around the site.

I read your post about your connection with the airfield and wondered if you would be prepared to email me with more details – an anecdote, a strong memory, an interesting story… or send me a longer account if you have something written already.

With thanks - we are trying to piece together as rich a history as possible, so everything is welcome.


Comments posted 22 Jul 2008 by Bobby Amos :

I was stationed at US NAVY FASRON 200 at Blackbushe. My wife, 3 children and I lived in Camberley Surrey from 1957 -1959. We had a son born there in 1957. Some of our close English friends were the Butlers and their three children Georgina, Bobby and Margaret who lived near Woking, Surrey. We have many happy memories of those days, and even the Queen passing by our house and waving to all of the people on the route.

I would like to hear from anyone who remembers those days.

Bob Amos

West Malling, a town I have loved and always thought of as home. I have decided to write my memories of the town when I was about 10 years old in 1925. I am now 89 years of age and in my memory I can still see myself emerging through the iron posts at the bottom of the path that came down from St Mary's Church door to the top of the High Street - alas the posts have now gone and one can get a car through.

My father, Arthur George Emmerson, who was born in Southborough near Tunbridge Wells in 1887, moved with his parents, Phillip and Elizabeth Emmerson, to Bidborough as my grandfather took employment with Mr Henry Wood who owned Bidborough Court. My grandfather had come from Dedham in Essex after marrying Mary Elizabeth Collins whose home was in Pennington Lane, Southborough. They had two sons and one daughter. My father went to school at Southborough and it was arranged for him to go to another school and then start work in the Post Office, but he was not at all happy as he wanted to work in the gardens, so Mr Wood had him trained to go into his estate. Mr Wood then bought the Manor House at West Malling, the last Miss Savage having died. My grandfather was moved there and my father went with him as an assistant. There were four or five other gardeners there and some of them lived in a bothy over the stables. They required a number of extra gardeners as the grounds had been badly neglected. This was in 1906.

My father married my mother, Ethel Tremlin Jones, in December 1911 at Lamberhurst and they lived in one of the Park Cottages at West Malling, which were opposite the Castle or Keep in St Leonards Street. They were very happy there especially when my brother Ernest Arthur was born with the assistance of Dr Pope, the town's doctor. In 1914 Dad was called up to go as Manager of a woman's factory making munitions at Cliffe at Hoo. Mum went back to Lamberhurst and I was born in 1915. My Dad joined her when he was de-mobbed in 1918.

Mr Henry Wood died in 1916 and the Manor was bought by the Trustees of Frederick Andrew, a solicitor from Lincoln, who left money in his will for a house to be bought and used as a convalescent home "for poor gentlewomen striving to earn their own livelihood". In 1919 we returned to West Malling and moved into the Lodge at the front gates of the Manor House. I was nearly four years old and my brother six or seven. He went to the Church School at the top of Church Fields and I joined him there as soon as I was five. Miss Funnell was in charge of the Infants and was helped by the Misses Hughes and Tomlin. It was a very happy school and at seven I went into the Girl's school next door. The teachers were Miss Lester, Miss Harland, Miss Neaves and two others whose names I cannot remember. I didn't settle there so my parents sent me to Elwood School, later called St Christophers, in the High Street next to Dr Robert's house and surgery. My brother went to the boy's school at the bottom of the High Street near Bull Bridge, the headmaster was Mr Cheal.

I remember the High Street so well and most of the shops. Going down the High Street from opposite the Church, next to Elwood School was the house and surgery of Dr Roberts, then what we always called Watery Lane but is now Water Lane. Then a few houses, a cottage called The Salt Box, Wellards a shoe repairer, a sweet shop, Hitchcocks dairy, a coal merchant, The Bear Hotel, Newmans greengrocer, Reeds shoe shop, Hoads watchmaker, Olivers chemist - I always remember Mr Oliver because of his long beard. Next came an alley called Mairs Nest and then the Fire Station. If a maroon went off it was exciting to see the firemen on their bikes or running to get the fire engine out. The next was the yard of the George Hotel and the George itself where the gardeners of the town including the cottagers would hold their shows every month or quarter. My school used a room in the George as a gym and played tennis on their tennis court at the back.

Next to the George was Smiths who had two shops on the same side of the High Street, the first one sold household goods such as sheets, curtains, carpets, etc., then came Wellers the jeweller who visited the large houses in the district and kept their clocks in good order. Next was Griffin the ironmonger who repaired mowers and radios when they were made popular in the early 1920's. Next was Harrington's grocers and Carman's a Gentleman's Outfitters, Kents the bakers who had a Dentist upstairs which one could visit once a week, another chemist then Smith's second shop which sold Ladies underwear, top garments and hats. So we come to the top of Swan Street, cross over and we are at the Post office and still on the same side there is Foremans bread and cake shop, selling cakes which I doubt anyone could beat. (This shop after many years was taken over by Briggs and is now a Restaurant called The Bakery.)

We are now at Mrs and Miss Brewers sweet shop which sold children's sweets and sherbet fountains. This shop was a very dark small one, children were rather afraid to go in. Once more a grocers T.D.Brice, then Stedmans a stationers who sold books, paper, envelopes, cards, etc., in fact everything that one requires for writing and they also sold toys.

I find it difficult to remember what came next, but I think there was an office connected to the Council and then the Westminster Bank. Now we are at The Cabin owned by Joe Martin and Mr Marten's the fishmonger. Cross over to the West side of the High Street which runs parallel with King Street and there is Newmans a grocer, Barkaway a butcher, Fullager and Collins, drapers, a toy shop and a dairy called Armstrongs. I was very friendly with the two Armstrong daughters and my brother with the son. In the school holidays we would go down and watch them skim the cream off the milk and in the middle of the morning would be given a glass of the milk to drink.

A passage then ran from the High Street to King Street. There were quite a lot of these passages on this side of the road. Next came Norris a china shop. I am afraid I don't remember just how the different premises were except for a Public House called "The Rose and Crown", a fruit and sweet shop and Viners which was quite a big store with a men's department, the International Stores, the Joiners Arms, a sweet shop, Blanks the grocers and on the corner Miss Barton who was a great favourite with the children as she sold balloons, hoops, skipping ropes, tops, marbles, etc.

It was in this area that the buses turned round and of course there was a lot of open decked ones which children loved in the summer in spite of the flies, maybugs and other insects. This is where West Street comes into the High street and on its corner was a butchers called H. Dunn. I was very friendly with the daughter Joan from our early years at the infants and spent many hours in the cold store of her Father's shop watching the sausages being made.

Going up the High Street on the West side it was nearly all houses except for The Five Pointed Star Public House and then mostly larger houses with a Nurses Home, The Vicarage, and ended at the Church and War Memorial which I can remember being unveiled in 1919.

Following on my description of West Malling High Street, I return to the top of Swan Street which is between the Post Office and Smith's Ladies Shop. Going down on the right-hand south side we pass the Working Men's Club which was very popular with billiards, snooker, darts, card games, etc. Next a shoe repairers, and a men's hairdresser. Then came an entrance to the back of the High Street shops for deliveries. Then the Swan Room which was let out for Whist drives, Concerts, Wedding Breakfasts and various other entertainments.

We now come to a large piece of land and the gate to the Abbey where nuns and monks have lived since 1090. The old building is hidden behind a very high stone wall. During the Second World War the monks living there came into the Town and were very popular with the local people. Further down Swan Street we come to a Cascade of water which flows through from the Abbey grounds. It is a stream which flows from the Manor Park lake which starts as springs round the Keep in St Leonards Street. From here there are orchards of Kentish Cobs, then the road divides into Station Road going to the station where we had steam trains going to and from London and the other road to East Malling.

Returning to the High Street, on the right-hand north side we see Went House followed by a lane called Cascade Avenue commonly called Frog Lane because lots of frogs would come out of the stream onto the road. Next two houses then a Public House called The Brewers Tap. I am not too sure exactly how the rest went but I know there was Goddens who repaired carriages also their house and yard, a Wine and spirit shop, the Baptist Chapel, Dr Cole's house, some cottages and the entrance to Police Station Road. On the opposite corner The Kent Arms, and a house, The National Provincial Bank, The Swan Hotel, a house, Styles Yard, a confectioners called Stripps, Hobdays, and Baldocks who sold nearly everything.

We now cross over the High Street and go up as far as Bartons corner and turn into West Street. On the right is a Colonnade under which is Rogers cycle shop and Smithers a grocers. I particularly remember Smithers because when you walked in the door you could smell all the goods which were in open containers including tea, coffee, etc. We pass an orchard and cottages until we come to the Gas Works where there is a gate which leads into the Cricket Meadow. I was told that the first recorded match was played in 1705. We always went to the Gardeners Annual Show on August Bank Holiday, which was always the first Monday in the month. They had a large T-shaped tent which was full of flowers, vegetables, fruit, cooked potatoes and runner beans as well as flower decorations and cakes. There were also drawings done by the schoolchildren. There was also the usual fair which was roundabouts, swings and stalls with different games and coconut shies. In the evening there was a Flannel Dance in the Badminton Hall. I once heard a gentleman say "On August Bank Holidays all roads lead to West Malling"

Another good thing in West Malling was the Operatic Society which put on a Gilbert and Sullivan opera every year. The performers were mostly local people. I can remember as quite a youngster going to see the "Mikado", "The Pirates of Penzance", "Iolanthe" and "Patience" also "Ruddigore" and "A Country Girl" which is not G and S. The school children went to see them on the Monday which was the dress rehearsal. They were all played in the Badminton Hall accompanied by an orchestra.

Another regular meeting at the Badminton Hall was "The Fanciers Society" showing Hens, Cockerels, Rabbits, Canaries and Budgerigars, not forgetting new laid eggs. It was a two day show having a night watchman to make sure that all the cages were kept locked up and nothing escaped. Regular Dances were put on several times in the year. Now we will leave the Badminton Hall and go into the Offham Road. This is a road which is all houses except that at the top we come to a Public House called "The Fountain." We skirt round that to go into Church Fields and come to a little shop run by a little old lady who sold Aniseed Balls, Lemonade, Sherbet Powder, eucalyptus gums and bottles of Lemonade and Ginger Beer also penny bars of Nestles Chocolate and a variety of sweets in jars. Whatever you wished to buy, she would pick a square of newspaper, screw it up like a cornet and put your sweets into it. We go up the road with cottages on the left and allotments on the right until we come to the infants school and Girl's school which had an apple tree in the middle of the playground. Now through some wooden posts like the iron ones at the end of this path at the top of the High Street.

There are such a lot of those days that I remember, being proud that my brother Ernest was solo boy in the church choir. The Rev A.W. Lawson was Vicar and Mr Cossom choirmaster and organist. One Easter Sunday morning the choirboys went on strike because they had not been paid their money for some previous Sundays, they stood outside the Church in their cassocks and surplices until they had been promised their money in the evening ------- THE BOYS WON!!!

I go down to the Iron Posts again and I am at the top of the High Street and facing me is Church House in which the Bracher family lived. I turn to the right and there is a large white house named Brome. We go round the double corner and come to the lodge at the gates of the Manor House where my parents, brother and I first lived in 1919 and to the left is the lake where my father took us in the punt to the island for picnics.

Further along the road is a cutting in the rocks which is the road to the Manor Farm, which at that time belonged to Hinge and Doubleday who had a Bailiff, Mr Waters. He never worried about us running over the farm to see the Horses, Pigs and Cows. Our greatest delight was at hop picking time when we spent most of our school holidays in the Oast houses which had three large fires on the bottom floor. The heat rising to dry the hops brought from the fields in Pokes (a sack) and spread on the top floor which was made of horse hair. The hops were then shovelled onto the floor below the Oast floor and pressed into pockets (very big long sacks), then dropped to the bottom floor where we enjoyed stencilling the date etc. on them. In the evening we would take some potatoes up to the oast house and the drier would put them in the pile of hot ashes that was under the fires and later we would fetch them and have them for supper with plenty of butter.

Those days were the happiest that I can remember of my childhood days and we were very lucky to be in such an interesting place. There are still places that I have not told you about. New Barn, Bo Peep where one of the butchers kept his sheep before sending them to the slaughter house in King Street. Banky Meadows where we tobogganed when the snow was on the ground, unfortunate for those who went in the stream at the bottom if it was not frozen. There was also a very old house called Fartherwell Hall, park and grounds.

Now I can only thank my ancestors who passed on to me a very good memory to enable me to write about "The Town of West Malling" in the 1920's.

Comments posted 1 Jan 2014 by Robert Lucas :

Hi There

Many congratulations on such a well wrritten piece of WM history!

My father who was born in Offham in 1919, but lived most of his unmarried life in Swan Street, sometimes referred to 'Bo Peep'. As you have made mention of it in your piece, can you give me some idea where it was please?


Robert Lucas

We lived in West Malling. First I remember is a garage on the A20 on the right going to Sevenoaks, then on the High Street my dad opened the fish and chip shop and green grocers on the High Street between the pub and the old fire station. My dad drove the fire engine during the war. After the war we moved to Deal then to Folkestone.

I am looking for Auntie Betty (Daughter of Henry Edward Ballard & Queenie Janet Victoria Ballard (formerly Still))

Elizabeth Mary Joan Ballard was born on the 5th October 1925 at 9 Council Cottages, near West Malling, near Maidstone. Elizabeth, also know as "Betty" was in the Maidstone Corps, Canterbury Division, in 1942. She married David John Clarke of 31 School Lane, Eaton Bray, Dunstable on the 8th September 1951 at All Saint's Church Maidstone. They made home at "Rose Cottage" 9 Padsole Lane, Maidstone. Their daughter Janet Mary Ann was born at the cottage on the 14th July 1953.

My father Leonard Edward Ballard lost contact with his family when he emigrated to the USA in the early 1960s. I've never met my Auntie Betty and would love to hear from her or anyone who remembers her. These photographs from 1942 and 1951 may prompt some memories.

E.M.J. Ballard 1942
E.M.J. Ballard 1942

E.M.J. Clarke (nee Ballard) 1951
E.M.J. Clarke (nee Ballard) 1951

Update: Many thanks for your kindness in putting my appeal onto the West Malling web site Memories section. I am happy to report that Auntie Betty herself telephoned me from Sheppey Isle on Sunday.I am so delighted and I still cannot believe my luck in finding her.

I used to live at number 9 Church Fields back in the 80's. I used to go to school at More Park and was there when the strong winds almost blew over a tree on to our class room. My mum used to do a sort of village fete which the whole town got involved in, everyone helped each other. I have vague images of the airbase. Haven't been there for a while but I will soon. I still wonder if my friend Jack Budgin lives there still. I will always have fond memories of West Malling.

Comments posted 22 Sep 2008 by Nathan :

Hi, I have been looking for some photos of Church Fields from c.1900. So far I have looked in the library and on this website. No luck yet.

Would anybody be able to point me in the right direction?

Thanks, Nathan

I used to live in Alma Road at its junction with Fartherwell Avenue. Strangely the house started life as number 81 but sometime during the 1960's it was renumbered to 33. My late parents moved into what was a brand new house in November 1948 when I was about six/seven weeks old.

In my early years the Sandown Road area was an allotment site; indeed my grandfather (my father's father) had a plot there. The houses in Alma Road built in the mid 60's formed part of this allotment site as did those on the opposite side of the road to our house where just three allotments existed - my father worked the middle one. In those days most of the plots were in use and very productive. Compensation was paid to plotholders for the loss of crops when the site was sold, but in reality most homes lost a really useful amenity. We rarely had to buy vegetables; Dad made sure of that by growing a wonderful selection of year-round produce.

Before all this building work went on I also remember the area which now includes the newer of the houses in Fartherwell Avenue (just look at the brickwork, the original houses built in white while the newer in red brick) and Ewell Avenue being corn fields.

The Infant School just along from St Mary's Church was my first school. I recall this seemed quite big at the time but in reality was small but quaint. I remember the head teacher was a Miss Hughes, typically greying hair worn in a bun. Another teacher was Miss Ginn, she went on to the new junior school built adjacent to the cricket meadow (as the old cricket ground appeared called). I think I managed to miss her teaching skills at both, but she seemed a formidable woman!

Talking of the cricket ground many a night was spent playing cricket (usually with my bat, ball and stumps) or football (with my ball) on the field. I remember Keith Kemsley offered me two shillings if I could bowl him out but I had to bowl overarm. His money was quite safe as I hadn't mastered that action, however I was glad of Keith's tuition which later enabled me to play many a game for Town Malling. I am pleased to say that I didn't inherit his rather quirky bowling action! Keith was a great guy and we played cricket and football for the Town Malling sides.

Although I enjoyed my cricket I preferred Wednesday to Saturday. The Durtnall brothers Peter and Bill readily come to mind, also Fred Hearnden, Bernie Forster, Roy Parks and someone named Don. Sadly I cannot recall his second name but he took over the Viner's Department Store in the High Street. I played football for TM for less than a couple of seasons. Derek Brimstead and Colin Wallis amongst others either had the honour or dishonour of being team mates! I played almost any position, unlike my father who everyone that new him said he was a brilliant left back in the 30's and 40's. Funnily enough one person who played with both of us was Percy Macey, who started his career just as Dad was ending his and with me about the time I started. Perce was a terrific centre half. Most of my football was played at Leybourne Grange Hospital where I worked 1966-1972.

Malling High Street was all pubs, Joiners Arms, Rose and Crown, The Bull, The George (which later with the old fire station became a supermarket), Five Pointed Star, not forgetting the Swan, Brewery Tap, Bear Hotel and of course the Working Men's Club in Swan Street. Plus a pub in Offham Road, seem to recall that was The Star.

The shopping area was practical. The Colonade contained Frank Smithers Provision Merchants and a cycle shop. Just around the corner in the High Street was Baldwin's the Butchers run by Hugh Baldwin. A couple of doors away from there was the newsagents. On the corner of Norman Road/High Street junction was the Corner Cafe, plus the little jewellers shop. Not forgetting in King Street the barbers shop run by Fred(?) Stone and later his son Barry. Good for a short back and sides! Also in the High Street was the Cabin, a sweet shop where I often used to go on Saturday afternoons with my cousin Pat. Not for sweets though, usually to sit in the shop and have a drink. Other shops that I remember were Vye and Son (later Lipton), International Stores and Co-Op - they had different shops for food and butchery. Then of course there was Swan Street with the sorting office at the junction with High Street, the post office being further along on the other side of the road. Must not forget Baldocks - how could I, there's a branch in Horsham where I live now. The only thing that seems to have changed with their shops is that they now accept payment by credit card. Strictly cash for years.

No mention of Malling would be complete without a word or two about the woodland areas, Mayes Wood where we played some fantastic games and Stubblesdown Wood. Both woods had a selection of chestnut trees and Dad and I could be found in the nut season out early on Sunday mornings, giving the trees a good shaking if the nuts hadn't fallen!

It was not very easy to get lost in West Malling, most roads simply entered at one point and rejoined the same road at a different point. Try leaving the A20 at the bottom of Town Hill turning right into Norman Road passing the Colonade and simply continue along this road. Bearing right all the way one eventually went down Sandy Lane (where my cousin John lives) and rejoined the A20 a little nearer to London! Or of course one could leave the old A228 at the Colonade turning, go left into Offham Road and by keep bearing left rejoin the same road at the point where the pub was near to the old King Hill Hostel. Not so sure about getting lost in the woods though, I vividly remember being with my sister Barbara one day and talking to her about living on berries! My sense of direction hasn't improved with age.

I'm pretty sure I could go on but these are just a few memories of my home town. I left West Malling in 1971.

Comments posted 6 Nov 2015 by Peter Bullion :

Richard West from Alma Road commented about the red brick houses being the newer houses and the White brick houses the oldest in Ewell Avenue and Fatherwell Avenue. Then he commented that Ewell Avenue was cornfields. It was cornfields once but the Ewe