February Newsletter


1. Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM)

The decision was reached with much regret that the time had come to close Tonbridge Winemakers. We all have so many happy memories of the club, but due to the fall in numbers it is impossible to organise a programme. The club has been running for over 50 years, but the feeling was that it is best to remember it as it was rather than watching its decline.

2. Unusual Wines

Geoff introduced us to an interesting selection of wines from lesser known grapes. The majority were Italian wines, apart from the Georgian Rkatsiteli and the Spanish Godello.


      i.     Greco di Tufo, 2020, vol 13%, £7.99 from Aldi.   

      ii.    Passerina, 2020, vol 13%, £7.00 from Tesco.

     iii.     Rkatsiteli, 2020, vol 12.5%, £11.99 from Majestic.

     iv.     Godello, 2020, vol 13%, £9.99 from Majestic.

      v.     Gavi di Gavi, vol 13%, £13.00 from Tesco.


   vi.     Dolcetto d’Alba, 2020, vol 13.5%, £9.99 from Majestic.

  vii.     Amarone della Valpolicella, 2017, vol 14.5%,£16 from Asda.

  viii.    Radici – Mastroberadino, vol 13.5%, £29 from Tannico

Geoff talked about the history and characteristics of the grape varieties and concluded that Italy produces some excellent wines that tend to be overlooked. Apart from the Georgian wine where there some misgivings, the others were, in true Tonbridge Winemakers’ fashion, greatly appreciated by all. Many thanks to Geoff for introducing us to these delizioso wines and providing us with a wealth of information on each variety.


A tasting evening has been planned for our final meeting where Chris will be presenting his postponed “Chairman’s Selection” of Riojas.

Wine club equipment will also be distributed among members - glasses, cutlery etc.


ust when I thought that I had reached the end of the list of bygone pubs, another 8 pubs and one brewery have been drawn to my attention. Unfortunately I don’t have any early photos, but they are still worth a mention.

There were two pubs in Bank Street, the oldest being the Bear and Ragged Staff, which dates back to at least 1750 and the New Market Inn, dating from c1861. Very little is known about the Bear and Ragged Staff, only that it was in existence in 1750. In November 1861 the landlord of the New Market Inn was charged with committing gambling in his house and fined 4s. There are no further records on the New Market Inn after the 1891 census.

Three of my recent finds were located south of the town centre. The Woodlands Victoria Tap (licencee listings from 1881-91) was on the junction of Quarry Hill Road and Woodlands Field. Could Woodlands Field have become Woodside Road? The Victoria Brewery was opposite the tap and later became a furniture factory, which was finally destroyed by a fire in 1902.  The British Volunteer (licencee listings from 1874 to 1893) stood at the junction of Priory Street and Pembury Road. Although there do not appear to be any photos of the pub itself, Dover Kent Archives does have a photo of the building when it was an antiques shop. The shop closed many years ago and has been converted into a private house.

he remaining four pubs were located on the High Street. The Phoenix Inn (licencee listings from 1856-74) occupied the site that is probably remembered by many during the 1970’s and early 1980’s as Ghinns Wools, one of the old weatherboarded buildings which were later replaced with the Pavilion arcade of shops. The BT/EE mobile phone shop currently occupies the site. Across the road, where Dominoes takeaway pizzas is today, was the Star Inn (licencee listings from 1881-91). The 1891 census records the landlord, Herbert Frederick West, his wife, 2 children, 2 servants and 11 lodgers as living on the premises. The current site of Poundland housed the Prince of Wales (licencee listings from 1856-72). This pub was demolished c1872, along with 3 cottages, for the construction of the Baptist Chapel, which was subsequently demolished in the early 1970’s. It is likely that the pub was relocated to nos 1-2 East Street, as there are records of Prince of Wales landlords at this address from 1873 to 1891. The Eagle Tavern (licencee listings from 1856-90) was situated two units north of the Chequers and where Martin & Co, the estate agents, are today. The office has a modern frontage, but from the rear the very old roof can still be seen. The Sussex Advertiser in 1859 records “Frederick Waller, of the Eagle Inn, Tonbridge, was charged with opening his house for the sale of beer before 5 o'clock. PC Hoper said he saw five persons in the front room of the house, and a pot of something on the table”. In later years the Eagle is listed as a beer shop before its closure around 1890.

No doubt there remain other undiscovered hostelries. 

(Acknowledgements: Dover Kent Archives, Tonbridge - Photos, History and Stories, Tonbridge Historical Society, www.ancestry.com)


This cocktail includes elderflower liqueur which was featured in the May 2021 newsletter. Alternatively, elderflower cordial can be used instead.

Elderflower Collins

50ml gin

25ml lemon juice

25ml elderflower liqueur or cordial

125ml chilled soda water

Lemon slice

Build the drink over plenty of ice in a tall glass, stir gently and garnish with a slice of lemon.


These cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to a month. The dough can also be stored in the freezer until ready to use.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, The Daily Telegraph

Makes 16-20

200g unsalted butter, softened

200g caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

250g plain flour

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

300g chocolate chips

Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into the cookie mixture and mix in with a wooden spoon. Stir in the chocolate chips, then use your hands to bring the mixture together to form a dough. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board to form a sausage shape approx. 4 cm in diameter. Wrap in cling film or foil and freeze for at least 20 minutes.

If making now, preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Remove the dough from the freezer, unwrap and, using a sharp knife, slice into rounds about 5 mm thick. Lay the dough rounds, spaced apart, on the lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until pale golden brown. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.


Mushroom Ale

Daily Telegraph: Mushroom ale is on the menu as foraging has become hip among eco-friendly millennials. Acquired flavours such as umami sours, black garlic syrup and artichoke mixers are becoming popular with young adults looking for more ethical drinks. Fungtn produces low alcohol IPA’s and pilsners with fungi and Pine Forest soda is made in collaboration with a sustainable foraging company that harvests Douglas fir and Scots pine. Many in the beverage world believe that the craze will spread rapidly. Bob Simpson, a restauranteur, says “the British palate is definitely changing” and summarises that he doesn’t think “you will see mushroom beer in every pub in the land, but you might see a mushroom ale appear more frequently on the special taps”.

It’s good not being a millennial and having to partake in these drinks! (Admittedly, Geoff did give a recipe for pine gimlet in the December 2012 newsletter.)

King of Piel

Daily Telegraph: Fancy being the monarch of an island? Barrow Borough Council are accepting applications for a 10-year lease to run the Ship Inn on Piel Island, a 50-acre island off the coast of Cumbria. The successful applicant will be crowned the “King of Piel” by having alcohol poured over their head while sitting in an ancient chair wearing a helmet. Apparently, the tradition dates back to at least the 19th century.

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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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