April 2021

“APRIL is the cruellest month” proclaimed TS Eliot in “The Waste Land” and I think Tonbridge Winemakers would concur with that statement. Our 2020 AGM had to be cancelled last April and a combined 2020/21 AGM was scheduled, in vain, for this month. All we can do is hope that the world will return to normal before too long, so that our new committee can be voted in.


Anyone living in Tonbridge in the 1970’s probably remembers the Gallopers or Railway Arms. This photo was taken in 1975 and Baldocks,  the army surplus shop, was next door, separated by a narrow passage, Owletts Alley. Originally the pub was known as the Railway Arms, as can be seen from the inscription in the brickwork. In the early 1950’s the name was changed to the Gallopers, perhaps after the racecourse in the park which was in use from 1851- 1874. The Railway Arms was for many years only licenced to sell beer, but in 1949 the current landlord, Ernest William Ellen, was granted a full licence.

The first record of the Railway Arms appeared in the South Eastern Gazette in February 1851. Frederick Skinner, a chimney sweep, was committed for trial for stealing a pair of boots, belonging to Eliza Jenner, at the Railway Arms beer shop, where the prisoner and prosecutor both lodged. The prisoner was also charged with stealing a second pair of boots, from the same beer shop, belonging to another lodger, Harriet Tinley. Many petty crimes appertaining to this establishment have appeared in the local press over the years, such as assaults, drunk and disorderly behaviour, the overcrowding of lodgers, thefts of items including sacks, a bed and bedding, to name but a few. In more recent times it is remembered as being a bikers’ pub and for having strippers during Sunday lunchtimes. Perhaps it was never one of Tonbridge’s finest pubs, but what do we have there now?

The Gallopers was demolished in the early 1980’s to make way for a McDonalds which remained on this site until last summer. The building is currently boarded up with a flimsy sign indicating “Kent International Food Centre 3” will be opening soon.

It is interesting to note that a grocery shop, called the World Store, occupied the adjoining site prior to Baldocks in the early 1950’s. Now another purveyor of foods, Ian Chatfield, our excellent local butcher, resides here.

(Acknowledgements: Tonbridge Daily, Dover Kent Archives)


I have never tried making a lemon wine, but Rodney Reeve, a former member, made many prize winning ones. When holidaying in the Mediterranean he would take an empty suitcase to fill with lemons for his next 5 gallon batch.

Lemon Wine, TV Times - Make your own Wine

10 lemons                 1 gallon water     

8 oz raisins                Hock yeast

3 lb sugar                  Nutrient

Grate the rind from the lemons into a fermentation bin with the chopped raisins and sugar. Pour over the boiling water. When cool, add the lemon juice, yeast and nutrient. Cover and put in a warm place to ferment for 1 week, stirring daily. Strain into a demijohn and ferment and rack in the usual way.


Gin’s answer to a Bloody Mary.

Red Snapper

50ml gin

10ml lemon juice

125ml tomato juice

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of salt

Dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)

Garnishes: celery stick, lemon slice, olives, cherry tomatoes, herbs, carrot stick, cucumber, black pepper, etc

Add all the ingredients to a mixing jug and stir gently. Transfer into a highball glass or tumbler filled with ice. Serve with your choice of garnish, topped with a sprinkling of black pepper.


A tasty supper dish. The recipe suggests using prawns and squid rings, but really any type of seafood can be included, such as mussels, crab and scallops.

Seafood Pasta, Daily Telegraph

Prep time: 5 mins   Cooking time: 20 mins     Serves 2

200g tagliatelle

2 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

120g cherry tomatoes, halved

100g raw peeled king prawns

100g raw squid rings

¼ tsp dried chilli

50ml white wine

Juice of ¼ lemon

Handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped

Cook the pasta in salted water for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving 50ml of the pasta water and set to one side.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic, tomatoes and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes to soften the tomatoes. Pop a few of them with the back of the spoon so they burst open.

Add the seafood and chilli to the pan with the tomatoes and pour in the wine. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until the seafood is cooked through.

Transfer the pasta to the pan. Add the reserved pasta water and lemon juice and toss together. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce clings to the pasta.

Season with salt and pepper. Add the parsley to the pan, mix well and serve immediately.


Bordeaux Space Cru – The Verdict

Daily Telegraph: In last month’s newsletter I reported on a case of Bordeaux orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station. It has now been revealed that the wine was a Chateau Petrus 2000, a prized Bordeaux red costing approx. €5,000 (£4,300) a bottle. A blind tasting was conducted in March where 12 connoisseurs were presented with the cosmic wine, alongside a bottle from the same vintage that had remained in a cellar.

Jane Anson, a writer for The Decanter, reported: “The Earth wine was exactly how you would expect it to taste”, but the space wine, while also delicious, appeared to have aged by 2 or 3 years. She added: “The one that had remained on Earth, for me, was still a bit more closed, a bit more tannic, a bit younger. The one that had been up into space, the tannins had softened, the side of more floral aromatics came out.”

Professor Philippe Darriet of the University of Bordeaux’s wine institute, the ISVV, said in a summary: “Unanimously, the two wines were considered to be great wines, which means that despite the 14-month stay on the International Space Station, the space wine was very well evaluated sensorially.” 

Some of the panel members, while still enjoying the wine, also observed burnt-orange reflections, hints of rose petals, cured leather and campfire.

The project hopes that chemical and biological analysis of the results will enable scientists to find a way to artificially age fine vintages.

Roger Daltrey, Fishing and Ale

Daily Telegraph: Recently Roger Daltrey, the 77 year old lead singer of The Who, made an application to Rother District Council to sell his own brand of ale, Lakedown Craft Ale, to fishing parties on his 400 acre trout farm in Burwash Common. Objections have been raised by 21 local residents who fear that it will lead to the playing of loud music well into the night. Rother District Council remarked that he is already allowed to play music until 11 pm as long as crowds are kept to a minimum. Daltrey vowed to limit numbers to 50 and close the venue at 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. In his application he stated that he simply wanted to serve his own beer, produced by the Lakedown Brewing Company, to anglers at his trout farm. A decision has yet to be announced.


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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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