July Newsletter


(Photograph courtesy of Tonbridge Historical Society)

Local historian, Pam Mills, gave a lively talk, packed with interesting facts on Tonbridge during WW1. 

Pam began her talk by informing us that Tonbridge in 1913 was a town full of ne'er-do-wells. When the prospect of war became imminent Tonbridge very quickly turned into a place full of upstanding and patriotic inhabitants, with 3,000 men signing up out of a total population of 15,000.  We were given many interesting facts about these recruits, such as Tonbridge born Harry Webber being one of the oldest recruits to join the army at the age of 67 and Philip Hobden being the first Tonbridge citizen to fall on 23 August 1914.

Due to Tonbridge being a railway town on the line to the channel ports it was strategically placed to provide medical care to the wounded. We learnt about the medical facilities provided for casualties, such as Quarry Hill House (later to become Fosse Bank School) at the top of Quarry Hill Road, which was used as an auxiliary hospital and staffed by local VAD’s. Tonbridge School sanatorium, off Dernier Road, was used as an interim medical centre while conversion work was being completed on Quarry Hill House. Many of the casualties were French and Belgium citizens and 28 of these servicemen died in Tonbridge and are buried in our local cemetery. The Wesleyan School on Barden Road became a triage centre for the wounded. Again, due to the railway, Tonbridge became a training area for regiments en route to the front, with troops being billeted at various locations in the town.

Although the war ended on 11 November 1918 the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919 and a number of events relating to the war took place in Tonbridge during that year. A Peace Party was held on 19 July to commemorate the end of the war, followed by a Children’s Treat Day on 7 August. Tonbridge took delivery of a WW1 tank on 29 July 1919. Most towns were given their own tanks not only to commemorate the war and but more importantly to solve the country’s dilemma in disposing of the thousands of tanks used in France. Our tank arrived by rail and was driven by the army up the High Street flanked by cheering crowds to the Castle grounds. It remained there until 1938 when it was scrapped and used for the manufacture of WW2 munitions.

A brilliant talk that lasted almost an hour, but one which I could have continued listening to for longer.


Wine of the Evening

Dry: 1st Cathy Rishman, 2nd Les Maskrey, 3rd Tom Rix

Sweet: 1st Tom Rix, 2nd Les Makrey, 3rd Les Maskrey

Judges:  Jan Powis and Philip Bisson


Once again it is time for our summer party evening.  Please bring refreshments along for the buffet supper (savoury or sweet). John Warner has very kindly donated wine for us to enjoy at this event. Our quizmaster, Les Bates, will be organising another quiz. Les says that it is going to be an easy one this year, but can he be trusted!!!  Any contributions towards the raffle would be gratefully accepted, as we are hoping to hold a bumper summer party raffle.



Bitter beer

(No wine of the evening competitions this month)


Competition results:

Dry White: 1st Tom Rix, 2nd Cathy Rishman, 3rd Tom Rix

Dry Red: 1st Cathy Rishman, 2nd Bob Dye, 3rd Tom Rix

Sweet White: 1st Bob Dye, 2nd Tom Rix, 3rd Cathy Rishman

Sweet Red: 1st Bob Dye, 2nd Cathy Rishman, 3rd Tom Rix

Wine Trophy: Cathy Rishman

Judges: Wyn and Gerald Priestley


The French trip will be on Thursday 21 November. Please see full details in the attachment.  A payment of £25.00 (non-refundable deposit) or the full payment of £56.00 is being taken at the August meeting. Menu choices and pick-up times will be circulated in the October newsletter. Please join us again this year and bring along your friends.


This summer we have a good crop of redcurrants on our bushes which I will be using to make this wine.

Redcurrant Wine, CJJ Berry

3 lb (1.5 kg) redcurrants

3 lb (1.5 kg) sugar

1 gallon (4.5 ltrs) water

Yeast and nutrient

Pectic enzyme

Place the washed redcurrants in a plastic bucket and crush them. Boil the water with the sugar and while still boiling pour over the redcurrants. When it has cooled to about blood heat add the pectic enzyme and a day later the yeast and nutrient. Keep covered and in a warm place for 5 days, stirring each day. Strain into a demijohn. Leave until fermentation ceases and the wine clears, approx. 3 months. Rack and add a Campden tablet. Leave for 2 weeks and bottle.

NB  The redcurrants can be frozen until ready for use.




Jan and Chris are running another bus trip on the annual RT3183 rally to Tenterden this year.  Departure time from 11 Stacey Road 8.15 am, arrival time in Tenterden around 10.00 am. Chris’ bus will then be in a static display, but free bus rides to Rye, Appledore and Bodiam are available on a number of other vintage buses. Alternatively, guests can take a trip to Bodiam on the Kent and East Sussex Railway or simply enjoy a drink and lunch in Tenterden.  The bus will depart approx 4.00 pm and arrive back in Hildenborough around 6.00 pm.  Please contact Jan and Chris if you are interested in taking part in the rally.


This is not as grim as it sounds! Pam Mills is leading a guided walk through the cemetery pointing out WW1 graves, mainly of overseas war casualties who were treated at local medical centres, and talking about the war. The walk will take place on Sunday 22 September from 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm at Tonbridge Cemetery, Shipbourne Road, meeting at the chapel.


A taste of ancient Rome

Daily Mail & Daily Telegraph: The Romans were great wine lovers who consumed 180 million litres a year, the equivalent to one bottle per citizen per day. Recently, Roman grape seeds found at sites in France have been analysed by the Universities of York and Copenhagen and it has been discovered that they are closely related to the modern syrah and pinot noir varieties. Although an identical genetic match was not found they held many similarities with pinot-savagnin and syrah-mondeuse blanche families.

Dr Jazmín Ramos-Madrigal at the University of Copenhagen said: "Based on writings by the Roman author Pliny the Elder, and others, we know the Romans had advanced knowledge of winemaking and designated specific names to different grape varieties, but it has, so far, been impossible to link their Latin names to modern varieties. Now we have the opportunity to use genetics to know exactly what the Romans were growing in their vineyards."

The genetic sequences of 28 grape seeds from Roman and medieval archaeological sites in France were tested and compared to modern grape varieties. The researchers believe the seeds were used to produce wines as the grapes would have been small, thick skinned and full of seed, which would have been unpleasant to eat. One grape seed from a medieval site in central France was genetically identical to the savagnin blanc grape still grown today in the Jura region, which means that the same vines have been grown for at least 900 years.

Dr Nathan Wales from the University of York concluded: “For the wine industry today, these results could shed new light on the value of some grape varieties. Even if we don’t see them in popular use today, they were once highly valued by past wine lovers and so are, perhaps, worth a closer look.”

(Articles kindly supplied by Bob Dye & Geoff Rishman)

Slugs opt for lager

Daily Mail: For many years it has been known that slugs are attracted to beer, but an experiment conducted by the charity Garden Organic has revealed that they are 11 times more likely to be drawn to a trap containing lager than bitter. Interestingly, slugs did not show a preference between cheap lagers and the more expensive craft lagers. Other alcoholic drinks such as wine and cider are firmly rejected by the slugs. Dr Anton Rosenfeld, the Garden Organic Project Officer, claims that the slugs are attracted to the fermentation gases of beer.

(Article kindly supplied by Bob Dye)


The Beer Seller decked out for summer

If only other businesses would follow the Beer Seller’s example, the appearance of Tonbridge High Street could be transformed into a town bursting with colour.

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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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13.03 | 12:56

anyone interested in 4x 50 litre wine carboys. I stopped making wine about 15 years ago. open to offers.

16.01 | 20:27

Same you only allow 160 caricatures on your site I would like to wright more !!!

16.01 | 15:40

Thank you for your kind comments. You are more than welcome to join us at one of our meetings - the first Thursday of each month.

16.01 | 15:26

Hi There I have just come across your website ...and very impressed, you seem to be a well organised club with monthly events and good membership BRAVO

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