The Marquee pub in Gladstone Road


As promised, a few memories of life in the 50s, rather rambled I'm afraid, but may be of interest.

I moved to Rusthall in 1947 at the age of 5 and lived there until I was 20. In those days the village was very traffic free, and cars were not very common. Milk was delivered by Mr. Harris from his farm in Nellington Lane, the current Jockey Farm. Initially from a churn in the back of old van into a jug produced by us. Soon it was changed to wide neck milk bottles sealed with cardboard discs. If we ran out of milk I was sent to the farm with a jug to buy some. In those days there was a wet fish shop, 2 butchers, numerous corner shops selling groceries, fruit and veg etc. Quarringtons the butchers is still in the same place under the same name. We also had an electrical shop supplying wet batteries for some radios, a dairy, a drapers, etc.but no restaurant or takeaways except the fish and chip shop which is still in existence.

The Common was far more open than it is now and the road ran out at the end of Long Meads. The houses situated off Farnham lane did not exist and the Riding School where I helped kept horses in the fields. The 2 footpaths on the left of Nellington Lane ran a short distance through woodland and then into open fields not houses as now.

I went to school for 2 years from 5-7 at the school that is now the library, and then to St Paul's which was girls only. My brother went to school near St Paul's church, in what is now a private residence. A Miss Lewis was our headmistress, and the school grounds were full of grass-covered air raid shelters. Skipping and ball games were the play ground favourites followed by doing hand stands and cart wheels. As children we walked miles to places such as High Rocks, Happy valley, Adams well, Speldhurst through Shadwell woods, to Pounds bridge down Bullingstone Lane, bringing home bunches of primroses, blackberries, bluebells, chestnuts etc. depending on the time of year. We did this in a group of 2 to 4 and were not accompanied by any adult.

I had my first bicycle at 13 years old and cycled to the Grammar school along St Johns Road in all weathers except snow. The bicycle had been purchased from Mr. Turley's shop at the top of Meadow Road.

My father worked on the railway at Tunbridge Wells West, Frant and Eridge, cycling to work at all these places. He also had 3 allotments at the bottom of Southwood Road where there was also a pig farm. As children we all had to help on the allotment, including my mother, weeding watering etc. I am glad he made me do that as in adulthood I had a good knowledge of basic gardening, particularly growing vegetables. The owner of the pigs used to collect household left over food to make pig swill, which used to smell disgusting as it was being cooked. A rag and bone man with horse and cart and a "Demashios" ice cram van were also regular visitors.

Food rationing was still around and I lost my Aunt's ration book once, having been shopping for her and was I in trouble! I can remember the day sweet rationing ended and I was given a penny between my brother and me and we thought we could buy the crown jewels. We all knew the village policeman who seemed to have knowledge of all that occurred, not that there seemed to be much crime.

Rocks were very popular for playing on including Toad Rock, Bulls Hollow, Happy Valley, Wellington Rocks and High Rocks, all reached on foot. Climbing these was an everyday activity as well as climbing trees. We used to make bows and arrows, spears and catapults from the young hazel branches. I had a brother and 2 male cousins who usually came out with us. In summer accompanied by our mother and Aunt and cousins we used to walk to High Rocks and return via Adams well having a picnic somewhere enroute, by the stream in the fields between Hgh Rocks and Adams well.

We used to collect frogs spawn from the marl pit and play on the ice in the winter. Old gramophone records bought at a jumble sale were great as skimmers over the water in the Marl pit.

I hope this is of interest,
Rosemary Hollands
November 2008


I have just found Rosemary Hollands' letters & I must know her as I also lived in Salisbury road in the 1930s & 40s.I remember all the thing she mentioned may even have gone to all the places with her & other children in the area. Remember the Warner family, Ron, Stan & Gladys. Bill Saunders who had a bottling plant & made ginger beer & fizzy drinks, the other Saunders at about 18, Harold, Ron, Horace, Ivy. The father kept pigs down at the allotments and collected the swill from us.

I remember the Dadson family but cannot recall Rosemary, I think that there were several girls & Charlie they may have been a bit older than me. Next to them there was the Groves , Jessie & Lionel then came the pub which was very well used in those days, they use to run coach trips to the seaside & have a few crates of beer in board to drink at stopping places.

I went to the infantís school at the bottom of Gladstone road, then on to the boyís school on the common. We were lucky to have lots of areas for play there were the bumps, the dell & cricket ground at the top of the coach road. At some time early in the war Air Raid shelters were dug in the ground at the corner of the Congregational Church. In the 1950s I lived in my Grannies house after she passed away at 39 High St & moved away in 1960.

Hope this is of interest & that people still recall the happy days of our childhood in the Village.
Fred Smallwood.