Weatherspoons In Kent
Opera House, Tunbridge Wells
The building was designed by Frank Matcham and is an excellent example of the unique style of his buildings. It features a stunning interior complete with a grand staircase, marbled halls and sculpted balustrades. Matcham’s work is still evident all over the building including chandeliers which were specially shipped from Belgium to match the building’s design. Climb about twelve steps up to the balcony of this beautiful building and you’ll find yourself in a room that has been kept almost exactly as it was during its days as a cinema complete with film paraphernalia and ornately decorated walls.
I was born in Tunbridge Wells and lived there for twenty years, This is Margate (thisismargate.co.uk). It is a small market town in Kent, England but it has some great history from being a spa town in the 18th century to having a Turkish bath which is now consumed by the Elder Conservatorium of Music at The University of Western Australia. I still have some family living there so I visit at least once a year. When I imagine the kind of person who used to visit the Opera House in its hey-day, I imagine people puffing on cigars and drinking brandy.
This might be because they had fine dining available even during films. It might also not be true at all, but that’s what I think about when I’m using the toilets here so, it must be right?. I'm a big fan of art deco buildings. This building was originally built as an opera house in 1902 before becoming a cinema in 1931. “It’s an art gallery, a lecture hall, a theatre and sometimes even a church; it’s Tunbridge Wells; social center of the town.
Samuel Peto, Folkestone
Reverend Thomas French commissioned the building in 1837 for the sum of £1,200, but by 1840 he had found himself in financial difficulties. A loan of £1,065 had been advanced to him from Morton Peto and £170 from other sources, including a free gift of land valued at £160. This was still not enough to pay for the chapel which cost a total of £2,085 including furnishings. As a result French had resorted to borrowing and interest on interest accumulated to such an extent that after his death his widow fell into debt of over £5,000.
There was strong opposition to the vacant land being used as a cemetery at first. Samuel Peto, the banker who had financed it, had himself been made a freeman of the borough in 1842; but he was from then on to be profoundly disappointed in Folkestone and its affairs. He is said to have named his grave after an unidentified member of this family. In 1885, the Local Board bought the land for their cemetery and arranged for Morton Peto's remains to be removed there.
Samuel Morton Peto is arguably the most important name in the history of our town because he funded everything. The town owed him so much money that as an act of gratitude, it was decided to give him the honour of having a chapel built and named after him. The act was more than just a thank you, it was a way for the town to be able to buy back some of the money they owed — although they would have to pay an annuity until Samuel died.
The chapel opened in 1814. Sir Samuel Morton Peto (3 Jun 1809 26 Apr 1899), son of Dr Michael Frederick Peto and Anna Morton Peto née Vyner, was the main financier behind the building of the new Salem Chapel. The chapel was built between 1845 and 1846 and has been the home of St Mary's Church ever since. It is an unusual building because it was built as a Baptist church, but in 1855 a Jewish congregation moved in the building and they have remained there ever since (see below).
The new Salem Chapel was funded largely by a loan from Samuel Morton Peto (later Sir Samuel), who arranged for his first cousin, Sir Richard Bickerton Pemell, to be chairman of the trustees. The Peto family was a major influential force in the town. Sir Samuel Morton Peto financed the building of the landmark Salem Chapel as well as a library at his nearby home, The Elms. ”. The photo I have used is from 1928 which shows the outside looking down on the building.
The Belle And Lion, Sheerness
The Belle and Lion was built in 1750 by John Randall for the Peckham family. The Roosters were the original brewers but, in 1881, Edward Harding took over ownership. He was the last owner to own one of the three Mile Town breweries (the other two being Cribb and Webster and Randall). The stout he brewed from 1881 until his retirement in 1913 was a particular favourite in the Canterbury area and some of it is still drunk today.
In 1837, The Belle and Lion was the first public house to be built in Mile Town. Charles Hollis, who lived at 33 William Street, was an auctioneer and agent for the numerous shipyards around Sheerness. The following year he built the Ship Inn on Cliffe High Street so he would have a venue for his business guests and friends to enjoy an evening drink once shipbuilding was finished for the day. Many people say the history of Mile Town started with its founding father, Baron Piers de Dog and his old wooden ship; but they're wrong.
You don't have to read too far into the town's history to discover that Mile Town began with a building situated on the site now occupied by The Belle and Lion in Sheerness. The Belle and Lion, Sheerness. Not the kind of pub you find in London these days. This one was a classic English country style pub with wooden beams and tables, an open fire place and two affectionate lions carved on either side of the front door that greeted all visitors to Mile Town.
The Belle and Lion is a traditional pub set in the heart of Mile Town. It is a Grade 2 listed building with large rooms and authentic features. The first public house to be built in Mile town (the original name for Sheerness). I spent some time wandering the beach and harbour walls at Margate, just a couple of miles from Margate town centre. The east-facing beach is big and open, with safe swimming in water that's deeper than at the Main Sands.
The Flying Boat, Dartford
The Flying Boat, Dartford is the most spectacular building in a small group of commercial buildings in Garden Street, and was built as a showroom and offices for the Dartford works of John Clayton Beedle. The former showroom is particularly impressive, with its original faience tiled tower crowned by a statue of Saint George slaying the dragon. It is notable as one of the few examples in Kent of the Italian Renaissance Revival style (sometimes called Palazzo style), which had its roots in Florentine Renaissance architecture.
The building may have been inspired by a design in an American architectural magazine. The Flying Boat is one of the most famous buildings in the Dartford area. This unique structure inspired the design of the current post office building and sets itself apart from others due to its visual impact, its creative and decorative use of brickwork and its overall scale and style. It was this building that Steve Jobs visited when he was at school which gave birth to his ideas about computers.
Being a Grade II listed building, The Flying Boat is protected by law, which means that any changes to the structure or appearance of the building need planning permission. Thankfully being a listed building has not put off the current owners from giving it a bit of love. Better known as the 'Flying Boat', this historic building, built in 1910, is thought to be the oldest purpose built aircraft factory in the world. It was originally a showroom and offices for John Clayton Beadle, the motor trade pioneer associated with Steam Cars.
The Golden Hope, Sittingbourne
In June 1967, a four year old child of Sittingbourne, Andy Davis wandered into the derelict drainage tunnels of the town. The previous year, due to complaints from locals that their houses were flooding when it rained heavily, a coring operation was set in place by local and county officials. This was to see if the aging drainage system was becoming clogged or if it required maintenance. However there was no indication that there were tunnels running under the town as well as run off channels up stream along the High Street, Red Lion Street and Dame Dorothy Street.
One business that has survived is J. W. Kirk & Sons who, at the start of the 20 th century, started making hoops for oil-barrels. When they needed timber for this purpose, they would go to what was known at the time as ‘The Golden Hope’ or ‘Golden Hope Plantation’ to cut down some trees. The golden hope was an area of Lombardy poplar trees which had been planted in 1792 to mark the coronation of King George I.
This special planting was funded by local families along with a group of Scottish landowners. Once full of life, today Sittingbourne is a rundown town. The once bustling shipyards have shut down, the zoo has fallen into disrepair and the locals are not talking to each other. There is however one remaining light in this town of darkness. The Goldsmiths Arms; a beacon of hope in a seemingly hopeless town. A true life saver for the locals.
The Golden Hope is a former public house, now converted into flats. It is Grade II listed with Historic England and stands at the junction of Golden Street and St James'Lane (formerly North Street). The Golden Hope was built in the early 19th century by William Sanders as a coaching inn for travellers on the Faversham to Canterbury road. The history of Sittingbourne could argue it was always destined to have a gym. The industrialised town offered no attractions or entertainment for the working men who needed a place to relieve their stresses.
The Golden Lion, Rochester
The Golden Lion is a historic public house in the old town of Rochester, Kent. The building was constructed by 1575, rebuilt in 1798 and became a Grade II listed building on 28 June 1950. Over time, it has undergone various re-decorations and renovations, including a modern extension at the back. In December 2010, floodwater from the adjacent River Medway caused the ground floor to be partly submerged for four weeks. The watermark is still visible on the bar counter.
The Golden Lion is undoubtedly one of the most interesting pubs in Rochester. Although it stood at 147 High Street, it was more famously known as the ‘Minnows’ because of the silvery fish which adorned its sign. Because of its popularity and history, the Minnows will be one of the first buildings to be redeveloped on Albion Place as plans for Rochester’s town centre move forward. The Golden Lion was situated at 147 High Street.
This was just beneath the crossroads with Rochester High Street and Stroud Green Road. During that period, there were always a number of public houses in Rochester close to this junction: the George and Dragon, the Archbishop’s Wine Vaults, the Black Horse, the Star and Garter, and others. The Golden Lion, Rochester. The great thing about buildings in our area is that they are so well preserved. This building which was built in the early 19th century boasted a private bar where members of the ‘Kent Club and Athenaeum Society’ could enjoy their meetings with the beer provided by Walter Taylor & Co.
The Humphrey Bean, Tonbridge
The main thoroughfare through Tonbridge is the High Street, which was as in all English towns named for its main purpose a high spot where a gallows once stood to hang malefactors (until they were no longer considered legal). A mile or so off to one side is King Street and there at the end is the Humphrey Bean. It has been that way for centuries, except in its latter years as a post office.
Back then it had a sign above its door, The Post Office, deep red on ivory board with ornate lettering and the royal crest of the day. By 2016 it had become one of those modern places that calls itself a gastropub but in truth has very little besides some very fancy beers. The Humphrey Bean, or more commonly just The Bean, is an olde world pub down a small lane in the centre of Tonbridge.
The building has been repurposed numerous times and was even once one of the busiest post offices in the country. Having been built for use as a post office in 1904, The Bean did not get its pub licence until 1977 when it was known by its current moniker. It’s this unique history which continues to draw us to the Bean years after it lost its license as one of the best post office cafes around.
The Humphrey Bean pub, as it is now known, was the location of the local post office since 1896. In 1968, though, when Royal Mail moved the post office to a new location, it left behind its sign which remained hanging above the pub for 37 years. The Humphrey Bean name comes from a character in Dickens'Pickwick Papers. Built in the early 1890s, this was the Humphrey Bean in Tonbridge. It began as a post office and general store, with the first Postmaster appointed on September 20th 1894.
Named after the local MP Humphrey Higglesby-Brown, the building served as a post office until 1961 when it was taken over by a brewery company. The Humphrey Bean, once a Post Office, Sunday Times, 17th November 2016. So the opportunity soon presented itself for people like John Smith to enter the area with all of his expertise. However, it has been said that within the brickwork of many Sittingbourne properties there is, in fact, a nugget of gold.
The Leading Light, Faversham
This historic pub in Faversham is nicely situated at the top of a flight of steps on the corner of Albert and Westgate and has an interesting history. Wreight was an early Victorian entrepreneur whose greatest achievement was to transform Faversham from a small fishing village into a major port designed for the export of timber. Watering hole, social centre, meeting place, whatever you call it – the pub has a long history as a gathering point for locals.
The leading light that was Henry Wreight, having been born in Paris in 1823, left France for England at 14 years of age due to his revolutionary ideals directly after the French Revolution of 1830. Wreight was a prominent local citizen who, among other activities, set up Faversham's first brewery in 1829, and established a tannery in the town. Henry Wreight died in 1835. The name of the pub commemorates his contribution to his adopted home town.
This pub, originally the Cannon Brewery, was built by Henry Wreight, a member of a prominent Kent family. In 1836 he was living in the county with his wife and three children. He had moved to Faversham where he became a major local landowner. Henry Wreight was a civil engineer who planned and built the sewage system for Faversham in the mid-1800s. He also designed and built the water pumping station at Swale Creek, which ensured that Faversham’s water supply could be kept pure.
The Mechanical Elephant, Margate
The Mechanical Elephant was a vast programme of novelty machines and gadgets on wheels designed by John Dixon Muspratt, which toured the resorts of South East England in the 1890s, and delighted countless thousands of children. It caused such a stir that 'Mechanical Elephant Day'at Margate was considered to be a national event. Margate’s most famous pub, the ‘Mechanical Elephant’ is said to be shaped like the huge mechanical beast that trundled up and down the town’s once popular glass-floored pleasure pier.
It was supposed to have been built as a barber shop but, due to its bizarre appearance, it was later used as a public house. Half a century old, the wooden elephant would proceed up a ramp, then charge down onto the promenade where children hopped aboard for a ride. Millions of visitors rode the elephant during its lifetime. It was a popular destination in Margate's heyday as one of England's premier seaside resorts. Before the days of fairground rides, the Mechanical Elephant was placed on the beach.
It carried up to ten children at a time in its trunk and could be made to raise an eyebrow or nod a head. Unfortunately, its popularity soon waned…. The Mechanical Elephant is one of the RAC's most rewarding pubs and B&Bs, the only pub in South East England to achieve five stars in every category. The price you have to pay for this luxury? A mere £500 a night. One day, perhaps someone will find this golden treasure and strike it rich.
The Royal Victoria Pavilion, Ramsgate
The Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate is a building so magnificent, it’s easy to forget that it is actually two buildings. It’s split into East and West pavilions, separated by a grandiose central concert hall. Both pavilions are based on the Alhambra, but while the East pavilion is a more beautiful example of architecture, the West pavilion has more rooms which means it also had more of its original furniture than the East. The building has, over time, become arguably as famous as the park it was built for and has also been visited by some notable figures over the years including King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
The Royal Victoria Pavilion, also known as the People’s Palace is one of the earliest seaside pleasure palaces. T he Royal Albert Hall may be the most famous Victorian building but for me, this building tells a much more complex story. I’ve been reading in depth about the building and I thought I’d share some notes on it here, including some interesting historical facts about this building. The Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate is one of Britain ’s most important remaining examples of seaside architecture from the Victorian era.
The Grade-II listed building was at risk of being fully demolished and replaced with a storage warehouse. The Royal Victoria Pavilion, Ramsgate is a Grade II listed building built in 1896. The building's location at the seafront of Ramsgate on the Kent coast makes it very vulnerable to coastal erosion, storm-damaged and a target for vandalism. The Royal Victoria Pavilion (RVP) lies on the Isle of Thanet in Kent, England. It is an example of the Orientalism movement and was a very controversial building when it was constructed.
The Saxon Shore, Herne Bay
Herne Bay is one of six towns in metropolitan Kent that retains its own historic quarter, an area of old and distinctive shops, restaurants, and pubs along a street called the Parade. The typical houses of Herne Bay form a mixed architectural collection featuring classical Victorian town houses and other terraces as well as a number of modernist buildings. In the 1950s a group of local residents formed the Herne Bay Society with the intention of preserving the town's character and beauty.
Since then Herne Bay has been successfully "preserved" to now resemble an open air museum where any building project or change of use must be referred to the society for consideration. Herne Bay was a Roman port and there, among the crumbling remains of Saxon shore forts, you can still find Roman coins and pottery. But you might not recognise these forts because their walls have been built into later houses, shops and hotels. Only recently have the remnants of the Roman defences begun to reveal themselves once more.
In Herne Bay, a second century fort has emerged as the foundations for flats. The Saxon Shore, Herne Bay. In Kent the impact of the Claudian invasion is most clearly illustrated by the fact that no ancient British names are to be found in the coastal districts south of the Thames. The name of the locality and that of the river come from Old English, but many of the hamlets and farmsteads bear Roman or Saxon additions to their original names.
The Roman defences are to be found in most of the principal towns along the coast, but at my local beach, Herne Bay, it is mostly the Saxons who have left their mark. The town itself is a mixture of old and new but only the very oldest parts form part of The Saxon Shore Way, which follows a route that can be traced from Dover to Hastings. Although Herne Bay on the south coast is far inland, it is also one of those Roman relics.
The Society Rooms, Maidstone
Back in 1744, William Shipley set up the Maidstone Society (or "Spark Society") which was explicitly formed to help educate “artisans” on useful topics otherwise not covered in their normal schooling. It is an old fishing village where boats have been built since Noah was shipwrecked. Herne Bay is a town in Kent with good transport links, only one hour by train from London. There is plenty to see here with small seaside resort and an historic harbour.
The Thomas Ingoldsby, Canterbury
The Thomas Ingoldsby, Canterbury. This is a free-house at the west end of Burgate Street, on the corner of Anchor Lane. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1904. A passage runs from the bar to Anchor Lane, doubtless for quick escape in the event of fire. The main entrance is through a porch on the north side of the building, which is next to two houses. The inn sign depicts Thomas Ingoldsby. By tradition this sign was cut out of oak wood from All Saints’ Church at that time it was demolished in 1785 and made into a signboard by an antiquarian draughtsman who had been employed by a Mr Fairman (a relative of Sir William Fairman) whose name.
Randomly, I decided to go into The Thomas Ingoldsby, but I didn’t realize it was named after a writer. We stood in the bar and looked up at his portrait on the wall. I would have loved to have spoken to the landlord about Richard Harris Barham, but he seemed too busy serving customers. I had to wonder, "if he were alive today, what would Richard Harris Barham think of this establishment?" I think there's a good chance that he'd be as equally disgusted with the state of British drinking as he was with the city of Canterbury.
The Thomas Waghorn, Chatham
Thomas Waghorn was a pioneering mail coach operator and postmaster. He began his career by carrying the mail between Bristol and London in 1810, then extended his service to the Continent. In 1836 he developed a more streamlined postal cart that carried mailbags on its roof, speeding delivery again. He also mounted letterboxes on various milestones along main highways, making it possible to deliver within one hour of mailing. These innovations helped bring about savings in postal charges and facilitated swift communications between distant areas – for both business and pleasure.
His statue was placed in 1994 by the Chatham Postal Heritage Group who led local efforts to re-establish Penny Post services to the town from 1994. The statue is part of a Victorian-era memorial to Thomas Waghorn. He was born 1850 in Gillingham, Kent (England). Thomas became famous for pioneering the use of mail coaches on the overland route from Britain to India. He helped change mail delivery times: it used to take 4. 5 months from England to India, but Waghorn helped reduce that time to 23 days.
He's also remembered for establishing a daily mail service between Alexandria and Cairo, a new town in Egypt, and returning from a hunt in Africa with the only diamond seen since the discovery of diamonds there by missionaries in 1871. Like the railroad hundred years later, the mail was of prime importance to 1800s western development. Thomas Waghorn (1800-1850) was a founder of the telegraph and regarded as an innovator in international mail delivery. He improved mail transport between London and Asia where the East India Co.
had trading outposts, including Calcutta. The company’s headquarters were at the Chatham store. The statue on the bridge over Railway Street is of Thomas Waghorn, the promoter of fast mail services between Britain and the East. He broke the monopoly of the Post Office with his service to India in 1838 by leaving from a pool of horses at Chatham. He settled in Canterbury as a hatter and died there in 1861. The Thomas Waghorn, Chatham.
A statue by the bridge over Railway Street commemorates the postal pioneer Thomas Fletcher Waghorn. He was the first man to send a letter from England to India in a record time of sixteen days. The statue of Thomas Waghorn by the bridge at Chatham was constructed in 1864 and paid for by public subscription. The Thomas Ingoldsby is a traditional English pub located in the historic town of Canterbury. The pub was originally a coaching inn which gained its license in 1651 and has long since been repurposed as a Wetherspoons bar.