Current Newsletter


It was lovely to see so many people at our last meeting and yet sad that after 51 years the club is closing. Many members would like to keep in touch and the idea of a couple of lunches a year has been suggested. Hopefully something can be arranged.

Although it was the last meeting, Chris organised an excellent blind tasting of Riojas. Firstly, he explained the historical and geographical background of these wines. He then described the four age-based classifications: Generic Rioja (young wine), Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. Our challenge was to place the following bottles, with hidden labels, into their correct category.

a)       Vinedos Barrihuelo, Crianza, 2018, 13.5%, Sainsburys, £6.50

b)      Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva, 2016, 13.5%, Sainsburys, £10.

c)       Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo, Generic, 2019, 13.5%, Sainsburys, £8.

d)      Baron Amarillo Rioja Gran Reserva 2014, 13.5%, Aldi, £12.

Despite the hints which Chris gave during the tasting, this task was quite a tough one. These were all very pleasant wines, but it was generally agreed that D was the favourite and good value for money.

Thank you, Chris for a well-researched and enjoyable tasting evening.


The history of Tonbridge pubs and breweries has become an ongoing project for me, which I will be continuing with the Tonbridge Historical Society. I keep making new discoveries and would like to include the following ones in our final newsletter.

Imperial Tavern

Geoff was the person who set the ball rolling with the “Where are they now?” series in his 2013-14 newsletters. In December 2013 he entertained us with a tall story about a ghostly image of the Imperial Tavern appearing in the dusk. However, returning to sound historical facts, the photo below is of Ashby’s garage occupying the old Imperial building, which was there prior to the Shell garage. The Foresters Arms can be seen on the left. Shell purchased the site in the mid 1980’s and, as they say, the rest is history.

Star Inn

Street directory listings compiled by Mary Barker-Reed reveal that the Star Inn was operating as a beerhouse from at least 1856 until 1891 and not 1881-91, as reported last month. (Dominoes pizzas now occupy the site.)

The landlord, Mr H West, owned several cottages nearby. Two were let to Mr Barlow & Mr G Waghorne for sleeping, but three in Goodharts Row were used as brothels. Numerous complaints were made to Mr West about these dens of iniquity, all of which he ignored. Finally, the buildings were condemned and subsequently demolished between 1894 and 1900.

 The first photo shows the row of cottages pre-1894 where one of the properties would have been the Star Inn. In the second photo the buildings are being demolished. Apparently, the building next to Dawes was the Railway Tavern (Gallopers).

Quarry Hill & Victoria Brewery

Between the mid to late 19th century there were two or three breweries in  Tonbridge – Bartrams beside the river and the Quarry Hill and Royal Victoria breweries on Quarry Hill.

Tonbridge's Industrial heritage by Anthony Wilson describe a brewery  on Quarry Hill:  "There was a brewery on the east side of the lower part of Quarry Hill by 1839 which lasted till at least 1874 , the site being cleared for building in the 1890's (later becoming part of Upper St Mary's and Judd Road). In 1839 it was run by William Baker, in 1859 by Benjamin and James Baker and in 1874 by James Taylor Baker."

In December 1892 the Kent & Sussex Courier report:

“F. Leney & Sons, of the Phoenix Brewery, Wateringbury, desires to inform the public that they have taken over the businesses for many years carried on by Mr. J. T. Baker, at the Quarry Hill Brewery, and by Mr. Benjamin Baker, at the Royal Victoria Brewery, Tonbridge. They desire to a continuance of public favours, assuring the public that they will use every exertion to merit them. The businesses have been transferred as from August 2nd.”

Then, as reported last month, the building was destroyed by a fire in 1902 (photo on right).

(Acknowledgements: Dover Kent Archives, Tonbridge - Photos, History and Stories, Tonbridge Historical Society,

I hope you have enjoyed the series on old pubs and breweries. If you would like to discover more about old Tonbridge, Tonbridge Historical Society has a wealth of information available on their website:

Meetings are held at the Angel Centre usually on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 7.30 pm for 7.45 pm.


Raspberry frangipane tart, Waitrose

375g pack sweet shortcrust pastry

3 tbsp raspberry conserve

75g butter, softened

75g caster sugar

2 medium eggs

75g ground almonds

250g fresh raspberries

25g flaked almonds

2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed and sieved

Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Roll out the pastry and line a 20cm flan tin. Cover with clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then cook for a further 5 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly then spread the jam over the pastry base. Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale. Beat in the eggs and ground almonds, then spread over the pastry case. Scatter with the raspberries, pressing some into the mixture, then sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Reduce the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Bake the tart on a baking sheet for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown (cover with foil if it browns too quickly). Warm the jam and brush over the tart when cooked.

Serve warm or cold.

Farewell Tonbridge Winemakers, but not goodbye – let’s make sure we all keep in touch

A toast to wonderful friendships

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Latest comments

31.03 | 15:44

Hello, We have some demijohns and fermenting buckets, they are free of charge.If anyone would be interested please contact me.
Thank you

09.11 | 20:18

Thank you for your kind offer of the wine rack. Unfortunately Rainham is rather a long way to travel, as many of us live in Tonbridge.
Best wishes,

09.11 | 19:34

Hello I was a wine maker many years ago and have a 90 bottle wine rack for FREE if anyone can collect from Rainham Kent

09.09 | 18:31

Looks yummy! You list garlic in the ingredients list, but I don’t see where you add it to the recipe. I would guess that you add it to the partially sautéed oni

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