July Newsletter

Our meeting rooms at the Angel Centre will not be available for an August meeting, but hopefully I will have some better news to report next month.


The Telegraph Inn was located on Priory Road at the junction with Priory Street opposite the Railway Bell.

The pub acquired its name as Tonbridge’s first  telegraph office was located at the original railway station entrance in Priory Road in 1845.

Philip Richmond is recorded as the first landlord in 1845. Probably Albert Blunden’s 30-year period as landlord marked an era of greatest change to the pub. When he took over the tenancy in 1945 the railway was still a thriving industry. During that time Albert could be serving about 700 people a day. By the time of his retirement in 1975, the railway had changed beyond recognition, all but one of the five coal merchants in Priory Road had closed down and the cottages next to the railway had been demolished, so trade was not as brisk as it once was. In its early years there were stables and a yard to the side and rear of the pub. During Albert’s time he kept pigs and chickens in the stables and yard which he slaughtered and butchered himself. At the back of the pub was once a skittle alley which later became a place for storing various items of junk no longer required in the bar. Albert also kept and bred dogs and had Alsatians as pub dogs. The pub had three bars – the Private Bar which was often frequented by railwaymen and where all the pumps were, the Saloon Bar and the Public Bar which had all the traditional pub games. Off the public bar was the children’s room. There was also a “Jug and Bottle” which was a small room with a single bench, entered via a door in the street for off-licence sales.

Victor Bone took over the tenancy when Albert retired and not long afterwards it became the British Legion Club. The building underwent a number of changes including a large extension at the side and rear of the building.

Two or three years ago the Tonbridge branch of RBL closed down and the place changed its name to The New Telegraph, affiliated to the CIU, with the licence taken over by the bar staff who had been employed by RBL. It is now run as a private club.

(Acknowledgements: Dover Kent Archives, Tonbridge Daily, Tonbridge – Photos, Histories and Stories, Chris Powis)


July is the month for making raspberry wine. I found this recipe in a booklet compiled in the 1980’s by members of St Nicholas Church, Middleton-on-Sea, West Sussex. Jill Robinson, who provided this recipe, described it as: “A pleasant fruity wine, semi-sweet. Marvellous rose red colour.” Definitely worth a go!

3½ lbs raspberries                                  Wine yeast

3 lbs granulated sugar                            Yeast nutrient

1 gallon boiling water

Place raspberries in a bowl of cold water. Swish them around so that dirt and maggots will rise to the top. Dry them and put in a plastic bucket. Pour over boiling water. Stir well, then cover and leave for 10 days.

Strain and put raspberry juice into another bucket and stir in the sugar. Add yeast and yeast nutrient. Cover and leave 5 more days.

Strain into a demijohn and stand in a warm place to ferment to dryness. Rack in the usual way.

When making a red wine it is best to use a brown demijohn or cover a clear one with brown paper. This will prevent fading.

After 6 months, this will be ready to drink, but leave it longer for an even better taste.

Jo’s Winemaking Equipment

Jo has a large quantity of winemaking equipment that she no longer uses and would like to give away. Please contact either Jo or myself for further details.


This cocktail has a stylish Italian twist on the traditional British G&T. It is a vibrant red with a bittersweet flavour.

Campari G&T

25ml gin

25ml Campari

Lime juice

Tonic water

Lime wedge

Fill a balloon glass with ice, pour in the spirits and tonic water. Add a squeeze of lime juice, then stir and garnish with a lime wedge.


We have a bumper crop of redcurrants on our two bushes this year. This recipe uses ¾ lb of fruit and is perfect for freezing.

Redcurrant Layer Cake, 1000 Freezer Recipes

For the cake:

4 oz butter, softened

4 oz caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

4 oz self-raising flour

For the filling:

½ pt milk

1 vanilla pod

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

2 oz caster sugar

1 oz flour

½ lb redcurrants, crushed

To finish:

¼ pt double cream, whipped

4 oz redcurrants

Grease two 7 inch sandwich tins and line with baking parchment.

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl, beat together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs a little at a time. Fold in the flour until evenly blended, then divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins.

Bake in a preheated oven, 190oC/Gas Mark 5, for 20-25 minutes, turn out onto a wire rack and remove the paper linings. Leave to cool.

To make the filling: Put the milk and vanilla pod into a pan, bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Put the egg, egg yolk and sugar in a bowl and beat together until well mixed. Beat in the flour, then strain in the milk. Return to the rinsed-out pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Cut the 2 sponge cakes in half, then sandwich them all together with the crushed redcurrants and filling, dividing them equally between the layers.

To freeze: Open freeze until firm, then pack in a rigid container and return to the freezer.

To thaw and serve: Place on a serving dish and thaw at room temperature for approx. 4 hours. Spread the top of the cake with the whipped cream and scatter over the redcurrants before serving.


South Downs, the Winemaking Hub of England

Daily Telegraph: The South Downs has been the home to winemakers since Roman times. Commercial vineyards have existed within this national park area, which stretches from Winchester to Beachy Head, since the 1950’s.  Currently there are 51 vineyards and 11 wineries, yet experts believe that there is even greater potential for further expansion. The consultancy company, Vinescapes, reported that only 0.4% of the agricultural land in this region is currently used for viticulture, while 34% could be suitable. Research revealed that there had been a 90% increase in vineyards in the national park since 2016, with about five new sites being planted every year. These businesses employ 358 people and attract 33,000 visitors a year, contributing £24.5 million to the local economy and £54 million to wider growth. Even if only one tenth of the suitable new land was cultivated for viticulture, it could have the potential to produce 22 million bottles of wine per year. Brad Greatrix, winemaker at Nyetimber, said that the South Downs “play a vital role in ensuring the microclimate is optimal for the slow and gradual ripening of our grapes”. Nyetimber hopes to double its wine production within the next 5 years to 2 million bottles. 

Chapel Down requests £7m from Investors

Daily Telegraph: Chapel Down are requesting £7m from investors in order to help fund a new winery in the North Downs. The company has already secured a £15 million loan and has launched the fundraise to help it produce another 500,000 bottles a year, as it hopes to become a serious rival to the French champagne houses. Chapel Down recorded a 38% increase in sales in 2020, which was largely attributed to the increase in home sales during lockdowns. Their sparkling wine sales increased by over 50%, despite champagne sales dropping worldwide. Gross profits were up 31%, with internet orders accounting for 18% of sales, up from 4% in 2019.

The First Bottle of Whisky in over 500 Years

Daily Telegraph: Lindores Abbey in Fife is where the first written record of Scotch whisky distillation was made in 1494. The distillery was re-opened in 2017 after a 527-year break and is now selling Landores Single Malt MCDXCIV (1494) commemorative release and MCDXCIV core release from around £45 a bottle.


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Betty Thomson | Reply 06.09.2017 20:39

I have a black grape vine ( just turning black now) probably enough to fill a flexitub. I live in Blean Nr Canterbury if anyone is this way and would like them

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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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