Photos

I thought I would show you a few pictures of the town of Tonbridge in Kent, UK. I lived here for over 20 years before moving to Albufeira.
 
These pictures were taken on Monday 3rd September.
 
Like all English country towns, Tonbridge most of the time is a traffic choked nightmare, but somehow I managed to take some pictures of the historic buildings etc without too much modern interference!
 
For those who may not know, Tonbridge is 29 miles south-east of London in the county of Kent. There are about 32,000 residents. There is a article in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonbridge
 
These days it is primarily a commuter town, with six to ten trains every hour taking workers up and down to London. That was me for around 30 years! There are also several high schools and a sixth form college in town (including the world famous Tonbridge School, a private school with a strong academic tradition) and on schooldays several thousand students swarm in from the surrounding countryside, by train, bus and bicycle.
 
In former times Tonbridge was a classic market town, with a market place in the centre which is only now being built over for housing. The printing industry and ceramics were also important but they have also gone. The town has the usual dreary collection of light industrial sheds around its eastern edge but is mercifully free of them for the most part. Someone reckoned though that a quarter of the town centre is given over to car parks. These are on the former river meadows and flooding is a regular occurrence. But the Sports Grounds, which lie to the west of the High Street are completely free of building and will remain so. There is a commendable amount of ‘brown field’ building where former town centre industrial sites are being redeveloped for housing. Trouble is that the fantastic prices are beyond the reach of many.
 
The River Medway runs west to east through the town on its way to Chatham and the sea. The devasting floods of 1968 prompted the building of a flood barrier a couple of miles upstrea. Things are much safer now, although twice while I lived there the volume of water was such that the river overflowed and flooded several houses across the road from me.
 
Yes, many of the historic buildings are pubs and therefore open to the public. The remainder are private residences and are not, except for the castle of course. Of the pubs, the Ivy House dates from the 16th century, the Man of Kent about the same time and the Chequers (not pictured) from a little later. The Portreeves house (private) may be even earlier.
 
The castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066 to defend the crossing over the River Medway – marked by the bridge built in the 1800’s and recently strengthened. This was until recent times the only usable crossing for about 10 miles in either direction, hence its strategic importance. The castle last saw action as it were in the English Civil War of 1643 – 1646 during which time it was comprehensively destroyed. The castle was bought by the town in 1897 and served as the seat of the Urban District Council until 1974; it still has certain offices and is licensed for weddings!
 
There are many small and older properties in the narrow streets behind the castle which are these days ideal first time buys.
 
Opposite the castle is the parish church and in the High Street is the Rose and Crown Hotel (Best Western). Both in their way are social centres.
 
Tonbridge is a good base from which to explore the surrounding countryside. Trains will take you north, south, east and west, for it is a junction of several lines all with frequent trains. By car you can explore deeper into the woods and perhaps visit the many historic properties. Buses are a bit more limited but some nice rides can be had, to Maidstone or Sevenoaks for example.
 
I have the larger versions of the pictures if anyone wants one; send me a message.
 
Hope you enjoy.
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Tonbridge, Kent Monday September 3rd

on September 3, 2007 by cubsur51

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