St Paul's News

July/August 2003

This month we renew our attention on Denny Bottom, where previously we concentrated on Harmony Street.

Leaving the Toad Rock Retreat along Upper Street, we quickly reach No 7 remembered by many as the Off Licence. The earliest records show George Manktelow 1886-94 as Beer Retailer and Coal Merchant. It is most unlikely that fuel stocks were kept on the site! The title General Dealer was preferred by E Martin 1896 and the Piper family from 1898, although Mrs Piper was noted 1903-16 as Grocer. Like her successors she also retailed beer. H Malthouse 1917-21; Mrs A J Wild 1922-29; A R Lucas 1931-c1948 when S Norman commenced a tenure that was to last 15 years. The term Beer Retailer was revived in 1965 by L C W Branton and continued by W Rose from 1969 until 1980 when trading ceased and the properly reverted to residential use.

The footpath between Loaf and Ship Rocks leads to the unmade Apsley Street, where from 1871-82 William Twinner had a Grocery Shop at Nol3. Furtheralong it is popularly believed No 6 was a Butchers Shop for many years, however, the Street Directories only show this to be 1935-37. At this time George Tester traded under the name Morvan Stores - possibly derived ftom the name Morven - a previous owner of newly built cottages in Denny Bottom. At the beginning of World War II, No 6 was briefly a Dairy operated by C W Brunton.

The Toad Rock Tavern, curiously named The Mariners Rest for the final year of its life at the end of the 20th Century, is behind us as we turn into the present-day Woodside Road. Until 1907 this was known as Lower Street as far as the junction with Harmony Street and beyond was The Still Green Path.

The Toad Rock side of Lower Street was originally numbered 1-15 (from Harmony Street) but was confusing with Nos 1-16 (in reverse direction) Guildford Villas built in 1897 on the opposite side of the toad. The attempt to renumber in 1902 was also confusing as the Rock side became 1-29 (odds) from Harmony Street, with 2-32 (evens) in reverse direction. Hence in 1907 it was again renumbered from Apsley Street 2-34 (evens) on Rock side and 1-31 (odds) opposite.

These changes and absence of specific detail in Trade Directories have precluded precise locating of a Grocers at Woodside by S Weller 1895-99. However if his successor was Mr Martin, it can be argued that the property may have predated the relatively new building, which is still a General Stores at the crossroads. There is no doubt that this property was occupied 1905-8 by Mrs Martin, succeeded in quick succession by George Saunders, K 11 B Oldham, C S Berry and A G Gray before 1922 when Arthur followed by son Roy Beaumont commenced a tenure of 50 years. They were followed by the Rowbottom family in 1974 and who remain today in a General Stores updated with Video Rental and Photocopying facilities.

Going back, there are also records of General Stores in the name of P Farningham at No 8 (now 16) in 1893/4 and before that A Shorter 1871-82 although the location at today's 18/20 is a little uncertain.

A Fried Fish Shop was recorded for Robert Young at No 22 by Kelly's Street Directory of 1935. However this has never been confirmed by any older resident of Denny Bottom and perhaps the entry was an error. Any information would be most welcome.

Meanwhile there is no doubt that in 1903 Edwin Sefton transferred his Boot Repairs business from Harmony Street to Still Green Path (now 39 Woodside Road) and adopted the trading name Beehive Boot Stores. Why Beehive? Ten years later the business moved again to 7 High Street.

There, at least for the time being, we must also leave Denny Bottom.

Dennis Penfold
Rusthall Local History Group