The Shops and Old Businesses of Pembury
by Tony Nicholls
At one time or another we have all stood in a High Street, befuddled with doubt as to where So and So’s shop used to be, or what used to occupy the corner shop. Did the butcher take over from the barber, or was it the other way around? As time drifts on these quaint specks of trivia fade and eventually it’s all forgotten. To most of us living a fast life, trying to keep body and soul together, there are more pressing concerns. To a few, interested in the history of their local community, it is quite an interesting topic to ponder. A quick glance at the scrolling images above show some of Pembury’s retail emporiums around 100 years ago. These are from various photographs and postcards of old Pembury and hint at some of the bygone shops and the vast variety of businesses that used reside here.
This project aims to generate a few maps of Pembury indicating the locations of shops and retail businesses, past and present. Each location is tagged with a reference number. In the table following the map the reference entry will describe, as best as possible, all the businesses occupying that shop or site location. That is the plan. It is not going to be easy. It will require help from veteran residents of Pembury, and a fair bit of pestering to extract the necessary information.
I have not been here that long. My wife and I moved to Pembury in 1999 and instantly took to the village environment. Reading the assorted histories of the village furnished us with the basic development, but much was missing. As with most local histories, they seem to be written by life-long residents writing for the local community, and writing for today. As an outsider, I am lost. I do not have the background knowledge that one is assumed to have before reading these articles. Referring to ” Mr Jackson’s old butcher’s shop, now the green house with hanging baskets” is of no use to me thirty years after publication.
Local historians should have two golden rules –
(1) Do not write just for today – your words may become a legendary standard, eagerly read twenty or thirty years down the line. If it’s good enough to be published today it will be read 50 years from now. Plan for it.
(2) Do not assume your vague and poetic descriptions of landmarks will be meaningful for ever – supply a map or make your description of a location stand the test of time.
This web site is providing maps and trying to visually show where the historical sites are located. All the maps provided here will have numbers in the bottom-right corner. Please copy and re-use any map for your own use. Please make mention of any map on this web site if it aids your project or writing. Please amend any map if it helps your cause. If you wish to comment on the content of any map please quote the number in the lower corner.
The initial proposal was to list and show the locations of the village shops – it has now been broadened to encompass businesses or organisations that require the public to visit their establishment. The scope now covers garages, doctors, dentists and other such entities, not strictly shops, but a service facility used by the community. It does not cover businesses based at a home location where the trade is done online or by visiting the customer. It does not cover new developments like Tesco where there is no historic interest. It does not cover farms, but should cover farm shops. We have a way to go!
The original development was based around one large map and one long list of shops. To make navigation a bit easier we have split the village into three districts –
This is a compilation of data, drawn from many sources. Where possible, the source of information is shown. The table below contains an array of notes and references. To the casual observer it’s pretty boring stuff and a bit heavy going. For anyone wishing to research further it may give some leads.
Where information has been acquired from local residents, the contributor has been acknowledged as the source. In some cases there may be several contributors, each with different data to pass on. In many cases a complete story is not possible. Names may be recalled, but not dates. All recollections will be noted, so that one person’s fragment may spark another’s memory of the same place or person.
Directory listings are a great source of information, but can occasionally be unreliable or misleading. Addresses are sometimes incomplete – missing a vital street number of even a street. It is not uncommon to see vague listings such as F. Smith, butcher, Pembury. A specific listing for Albert Fakes Field had him as a High St hairdresser in the years 1916 and 1919, but other village records showed he died in 1917.
************************* Table *****************************
Most of these references were found at the public libraries in Tonbridge & Tunbridge Wells
|PVN|| Found from advertisments in old Pembury Village News
A.F Bruce Butcher – ?? High St PVN Issue 12 1977
|1965||Business advertisements from the Pembury Women’s Institute Scrapbook 1965 (Courtesy of Janet Ditchett)
J.H. Wilkinson Dispensing Chemist 5 High St
Notes & Extractions from the WI 1965 Scrapbook –
|1966|| From Pembury Parish Guide 1966 Copy in Tunbridge Wells Reference Library – Copy also donated by Martin Petch
G.F Penn Funeral Directors & Chapel of Rest
|Trade Directories & Local Directories|
|1840|| Extracts from the Pembury section of Pigot’s Directory of Kent, 1840
BELCHER Brymer Alex esq, Pembury
|1855||Post Office Directory 1855|
|1858|| Traders in Pembury in 1858 – Melvilles Directory Melville Directory 1858
Anderson, James, merchant
|1878||Post Office Directory 1878 – Pembury Section|
|1882|| Kelly’s Directory 1882
Listing for Pembury Population of Pembury in 1881: 1409
Traders & Businesses
Post & Telegraph Office – Stephen Neale
Sarah Baker – Fancy Repository
|1886||Kelly’s Directory 1886 Residential & Commercial entries|
|1889||Kelly’s Directory 1889 Residential & Commercial entries|
|1892||Kelly’s Directory 1892 Page 2 Residential & Commercial entries|
|1894||Pikes Publicans Section of Pike’s Directory containing Publicans of Pembury|
|1898|| Kelly’s Directory 1898 – below a few selected listing for Pembury
Alfred Woods, Baker
|1903||Kelly’s Directory 1903 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1904||Kelly’s Directory 1904 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1907||Pelton’s Directory Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1911||Kelly’s Directory 1911 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1912||Kelly’s Directory 1912 Page 2 Pembury Residential & Commercial Entries|
|1913||Kelly’s Directory 1913 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1914|| Kelly’s Directory 1914 Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4
Listing for PemburyPopulation of Pembury in 1911: 1743 Tonbridge Rural District Infectious Diseases Hospital –
Traders & Businesses
Patrick John Austin – Veterinary Surgeon, High St
|1916||Kelly’s Directory 1916 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1919||Kelly’s Directory 1919 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1924||Kelly’s Directory 1924 Pembury Commercial Entries with some Residential.|
|1927||Kelly’s Directory 1927a 1927b Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1931||Kelly’s Directory 1931 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1933||Kelly’s Directory 1933 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1934||Kelly’s Directory 1934 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1937||Kelly’s Directory 1937 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1938||Kelly’s Directory 1938 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1940||Kelly’s Directory 1940 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1948||Kelly’s Directory 1948 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1950||Kelly’s Directory 1950 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1955||Kelly’s Directory 1955 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1959||Kelly’s Directory 1959 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1961||Kelly’s Directory 1961 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1963||Kelly’s Directory 1963 Page 2 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1965||Kelly’s Directory 1965 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1968||Kelly’s Directory 1968 Page 2 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1970||Kelly’s Directory 1970 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1972||Kelly’s Directory 1972 Page 2 Pembury Commercial Entries|
|1974||Kelly’s Directory 1974 Pembury Commercial Entries|
| Advertisements from a cream coloured pamphlet in Tunbridge Wells Reference Library
Date unknown. Street numbers not given.
C.F Lambert Best Quality Ales, Stout, Cider Lower Green Road
|Pembury’s Early Telephone Numbers..
An attempt to marry together vague business addresses by a common telephone number.
The early telephone numbers were allocated as needed and ran from 1 upward.
Connection was via an operator at the exchange and a typical telephone number would be Pembury 12.
The automatic telephone exchanges introduced in the 1960s had full 4 digit numbers – here shown in [square braces].
These would still be known as the Pembury numbers – typically Pembury 2012.
The later digitisation of the number resulted in Pembury adopting 82 as an exchange number – typically 822012
It is possible to follow some businesses at the same premises from the continuity of the telephone number.
If a new business or occupant keeps an existing telephone account the number generally stays unchanged.
If there is a break in continuity the number is released and may later be used by a new account at a different location.
The best example of continued use of the same number is that of the Camden Hotel 12, , 822012
The last 2 or 3 digits of the new number sometimes hint at the old number, particularly with business continuity.
There is evidence of businesses sharing a common telephone number. Shared lines reduced costs. The purpose of this exercise is to try and piece together some of the very vague addresses of the Pembury businesses.
Many businesses followed on at the same shop but with different owners and trading names.
It is convenient to look for grocers following grocers, butchers following butchers, etc, at the same address..
The list below shows the old telephone numbers and 1960s 4 digit numbers in [square braces] if known.
The list contains a mixture of telephone numbers for private, domestic and business.
Early directories have ‘Gentry’, ‘Residential’ and ‘Commercial’ listings. Our list here contains all listings for early telephone numbers, but only business numbers for later years.
Later Directories do list the domestic telephone numbers for residents, but that is beyond the scope (and interest) of this exercise.
Of the Kelly’s Directories seen for this project the latest Not showing telephone numbers is 1919. Earliest showing is 1927.
Peltons Directories show earlier telephone numbers than Kelly’s.
This may vary depending on how the directory is printed and issued.
They have been seen in at least 3 varieties for any given year – (1) as a large, Kent & Sussex edition, (2) as a Medium sized Kent edition, (3) as a small Tunbridge Wells & Surrounding Villages edition.Multiple listings for the same number will reflect either a shared line or the transfer to a different owner at a different date.
The dates shown here indicate a single year that they were noted in a directory.
1 Alice Towner stationer Post Office Kelly 1927
2 F. Featherstone, grocer & draper, High St. Pelton 1907
2 Alfred Woods Baker Kelly 1927
2 Dorrit Waterhouse doctor Sheen Hastings Rd Kelly 1933
2 Reginald Warrener dentist Sheen, Hastings Rd Kelly 1938 (shared facility at the same address)
3 Hills butcher High St Kelly 1927 Bruce, butcher 
5 Cyril Crawford, surgeon, The Spring Pelton 1907
5 Jas. Wyper doctor & surgeon Kelly 1927
5 Raymond Chapman, doctor & surgeon Mulberry House, Hastings Rd Kelly 1938, 1940
6 W. Mewburn, Hawkwell Place Pelton 1907
6 Kent College Kelly 1940, 1959
7 Dr.C. Lees Beech Bank. Pelton 1907
7 Rt. Brown, fruit grower, Slowery Kelly 1938
10a H. Crowther, engineer, waterworks Pelton 1907
10 Tunbridge Wells Water Works Kelly 1927, 1938
11 Stone Court Brick & Tile Works Kelly 1927, 1937
12 Camden Hotel High St Pelton 1907, Kelly 1938, 1955 
13 Dr Gunton, Stanton House Pelton 1907
15 G.F. Penn High St Pelton 1907, Kelly 1940 
15 Pembury Estates builders Kelly 1938
16 Thomas Russell. Window Cleaning Co. Pelton 1907
19 Call Office, High Street. (Public call facility) Pelton 1907
21 Mrs E. Poole, Calder Cottage, Lower Green, Pelton 1907
21 Lamberts Grocer, off-license & general store Kelly 1934
21 Betts greengrocer 132 Henwood Gn Rd Kelly 1961
22 Raiswell grocer High St Kelly 1950
23 Rev Reg. Woodgate, Pembury Hall. Pelton 1907
25 Anstey’s Motors 3 High St Kelly 1961
25 Brecknock Motors Ltd motor agents Kelly 1938
26 Mrs Morgan, Highfield Pelton 1907
32 Rogers Butcher 122 Henwood Gn Rd Kelly 1959
32 H.N. Hasler Pembury Motor Garage Kelly 1927
32 M. Waghorne Seafood & fishmonger Lower Grn (32) & High St (88) 1950 Kelly’s Dir also at Hastings Rd 1955 (310)
37 Beechings Stores & PO Lower Gn Kelly 1927 
31 Patrick Austin Veterinary surgeon The Poplars Kelly 1927
32 Pembury Garage (Raiswell & Ashby) Kelly 1927
32 Neville Hasler Pembury Garage Kelly 1927
39 Oakley Poultry Farm Kelly 1927
39 George Russell butcher Lower Gn Kelly 1938
40 H.E.W. Cooper nurseryman Kelly 1927
41 Sturgeon coal & coke merchant Kelly 1937 Pitts Farm House 1938
43 Frederick Rendell motor engineer Kelly 1927, 1938
46 H. Gardener farmer, Pippins Kelly 1938
49 Miss Zoe Mordaunt refreshment room Woodsgate Kelly 1927
49 Woodsgate Road House (Sidney West) Kelly 1938
50 Leslie Milner farmer, Henwood Gn
51 Walter Grainger, haulage Kelly 1927 Lower Gn 1938
53 H.G. Sewell doctor & surgeon Hillcroft Kelly 1938
54 F. May builder High St Kelly 1938
56 Benj Skinner cafe Grove Cottage Kelly 1938
57 Joseph Feltham poultry farmer Kelly 1927
63 W.T Ames builder Hastings Rd Kelly 1938
63 Mrs R. Victor Dalgliesh The Lodge Private Guest House, Lower Gn. Rd date unknown
66 Mrs G. Salter dog breeder Romford Farm House Kelly 1938
72 Ernest Pool, Sanitary Inspector Kelly 1927
78 Baggeson ‘The Shack’ Kelly 1927
80 Haywood Brothers motor engineers Kelly 1938
81 Fredrk Insoll farmer, Wellgrove Farm Kelly 1938
88 Wm E. Wood watchmaker High St 1948 Kelly’s
88 M. Waghorne Seafood & fishmonger Lower Grn (32) & High St (88) 1950 Kelly’s Dir also at Hastings Rd
89 Tapp grocer Kelly 1938 to 1955 Taken over by Harper 101 Hastings Rd 
92 Tolhurst confectioner & post office 29 Hastings Rd Kelly 1938
92 Joseph Glendinning chemist, wireless dealer & Post Office High St Tel Nos 92 & 96 Kelly’s 1933
96 Glendinning chemist Camden Corner Kelly 1940 Wilkinson Chemist 
96 Joseph Glendinning chemist, wireless dealer & Post Office High St Tel Nos 92 & 96 Kelly’s 1933
99 Pembury Glazed Tile Co, Lower Gn Kelly 1934, 1938
106 Brookes dairyman Hastings Rd Kelly 1950
107 Baggesons nursery Kelly 1838
114 Drury & Son newsagents High St Kelly 1938, 1955
114 Giles confectioners High St Kelly 1955
124 Spurrell Electroradio Works, Lower Green Kelly 1955 Henwood Gn Rd – 1938
128 H. May builder Henwood Gn Rd Kelly 1955
130 Woodsgate Motors no address Kelly 1955 68 High St Kelly 1959, 1961
134 Albert Cott (Acott ?) baker High St Kelly 1938
169 S.J. Downham bathroom fittings, Stone Court Works, Lower Gn Kelly 1950
183 Marlene hairdresser High St Kelly 1950
187 Adams baker Hastings Rd Kelly 1938
195 Brecknock Motors Ltd motor agents Kelly 1938
220 F.A. Wheeler haulage Lower Gn Rd Kelly 1938
221 Sturgeon Henwood Gn Rd Kelly 1940, 1955
299 Pembury Market Garden High St Kelly 1955
307 Wimsett antiques Hastings Road Kelly 1955
310 Waghorne fishmonger 26 Hastings Road Kelly 1955
314 Thomas Richardson fruit grower Longfield Farm, Kings Toll Rd Kelly 1950
325 Chestnut Products The Old Potteries, Lower Gn Rd Kelly 1950
329 Mansers newsagents High St Kelly 1955 Luxford 37 High St 1959
352 Winifred Seymour ladies outfitter 43 Hastings Rd Kelly 1961
|Definitions of ancient trades found in trade directories
..Fly driver / Fly proprietor A ‘fly’ was a basic 2 wheel, horse drawn cart, used for transporting people & goods.
.. A fly proprietor owned the carts & horses and employed drivers or rented out the fly.
|Notes|| Notes and ramblings
to be reviewed periodically.
Woodsgate – location Woodsgate corner – roughly on the site of Texaco Garage or the road junction with the A264 North-East.
Woodsgate Garage From Mary Standen’s A History of Pembury p38
Further along the main Hastings Road toward Tonbridge was a posting house known as Woodsgate.
Coates the Butcher at 46 High St
Penn – Builders – Penns Yard From Mary Standen’s Old Picture Postcards p17
Pembury Village News No101, page 20, in 2000 recalls that in 1960
Wheelwright’s Shop – somewhere near the village green — From Mary Standen’s A History of Pembury p37
Pottery next to Royal Oak – Exact Location ?? closed in 1930 — From Pembury Conservation Area Report 1998 p9
Much of Mary Standen’s ‘History of Pembury’ is badly written in terms of site locations – very vague and relies a lot on local knowledge at the time of writing.
Several directory references indicate Playfoot, grocer, The Alders. This is the grocers shop run by the Playfoot family in Alders Road, Capel. This area was sometimes classified as being in the Parish of Pembury, and for postal purposes in Five Oak Green. This shop is no longer deemed to be in Pembury, and is not included in these listings. For more details see the marvelous “Capel Explored” by the Capel History Society 2007.
|Books||See reference page for books and links|
| Abbreviations used for data sources and contributors:
PVN Pembury Village News – quarterly journal
|IMPORTANT !!! This needs your help. All contributions will be credited.
If you have any further information or corrections please contact me –
Tony Nicholls email: firstname.lastname@example.org