Category Archives: Newsletter

Newsletter 140 – March 2020

The start of our 2020 season gave us Steve Hookins performing his talk “Doing our Bit”. Steve has a fantastic collection of WW2 badges worn by civilians that showed what organisations they worked for during the war. From the wide variety of organisations, both local and national, that had their own lapel badges, cap badges, and cloth badges, badge manufacturers may well have had a very profitable time in WW2. Whilst dressing as a man who helped repair potholes in the roads after air raids (that had no badge), Steve gave us a number of impersonations using his broom as an essential prop, keeping us all amused. He had kindly brought in his badge collection to show us, and it attracted a great deal of attention after the talk.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 9th March at 8pm in the Horton Kirby Jubilee Hall, when Christoph Bull is going to give us a talk entitled “Dartford Rural Rides”.

Our 2020 schedule:
18th May            Murder, Madness, Mayhem – the Belgian Royal Family – Melanie Gibson-Barton
13th July             Up the Junction (Old Swanley) part 2 – Keith Whitworth
14th Sept           Leeds Castle – Ann Kneif
9th Nov              AGM followed b y a short talk and Cheese & Wine

The new book “Horton Kirby and South Darenth – Yesterday and Today” will be available at our meeting if you have not purchased your copy yet.

Newsletter No. 139 – December 2019

Our last meeting was the AGM, and although we did not manage to come close to our record of 3 minutes, it was under 10 minutes, and we did co-opt a new committee member – Stephen de Winton.

Stephen then kindly gave us a short talk about his research into Sutton’s longest serving vicar – John Hallett Hotham – who spent all his career in the parish and made major changes in the parish, including the building of the church at Swanley Village, as well as building Sutton’s school. Afterwards we held the traditional Cheese & Wine evening.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 13th January at 8pm in the Horton Kirby Jubilee Hall, when Steve Hookins is going to give us a talk entitled “Doing our Bit”, about the roles carried out by some of the Home Front’s unsung heroes during WW2.

Our 2020 schedule:
9th March      Dartford Rural Rides – Christoph Bull
18th May        Murder, Madness, Mayhem – the Belgian Royal Family – Melanie Gibson-Barton
13th July         Up the Junction (Old Swanley) part 2 – Keith Whitworth
14th Sept       Leeds Castle – Ann Kneif
9th Nov          AGM followed by a short talk and Cheese & Wine

The new book “Horton Kirby and South Darenth – Yesterday and Today” will be available at our meeting if you have not purchased your copy yet.

Newsletter No 138 – September 2019

Wilf Lower gave us a very entertaining and well-illustrated talk “Lost Empires – the last days of Music Hall and Variety” at our July meeting. Wilf grew up surrounded by actors and entertainers as his mother ran theatrical digs of a very superior kind in Chatham, at a time when theatrical land ladies were legendary for their petty rules and appalling cooking. We were given a brief history of the Music Hall and Variety from the Victorian era to the dying days of the Theatre Royal in Chatham (it eventually closed when the electricity was cut off with an unpaid bill of over £300 in the 1950s). Wilf’s home life influenced his career as he ended up working for the BBC, although not as a performer, instead he worked in Scenic Operations.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 9th September at 8pm in the Horton Kirby Jubilee Hall, and our speaker will be Terry Moyle talking about “Fun with Family Trees”. As an aside, there will also be a large number of free back copies of the Who Do You Think You Are? magazine available at the meeting.

Our 2019 schedule:
11th November        AGM & Talk by Stephen de Winton followed by Wine & Cheese

And finally, our 2020 schedule
13th January            Doing our bit – Steve Hookins
9th March                Dartford Rural Rides – Christoph Bull
18th May                  Murder, Madness & Mayhem – the Belgian Royal Family Melanie  Gibson-Barton
13th July                    Up the Junction (Old Swanley) part 2 – Keith Whitworth
14th September       Leeds Castle – Ann Kneif
9th November          AGM, Short Talk followed by Cheese & Wine

Newsletter No 137 – July 2019

Our May meeting was another thought-provoking talk by Christoph Bull about the Great War from the German perspective. Christoph is of English / German parentage, with his grandfathers’ fighting on opposing sides during the Great War. We were given some background about Kaiser Wilhelm II and the (relatively) new country of Germany, and then Christoph told us about the impact on the ordinary German and the problems they faced during the war, with acute food shortages (thanks to Allied blockades) and restrictions on raw materials. The Germans had to give up eating sausages during the war as the casings were used to make the gas bags for Zeppelins (and it took the guts of 250,000 cows to make a Zeppelin).

Our next meeting will be on Monday 8th July at 8pm in the Horton Kirby Jubilee Hall, and our speaker will be Wilf Lower talking about “Lost Empires – the last days of Music Hall and Variety”.

Our 2019 schedule:
9th September                          To be confirmed
11th November                         AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese

Newsletter No. 135 – March 2019

The first meeting of the year was another excellent presentation by Steve Hookin, and this time he told us about the role that women played in World War One at the Arsenal, Woolwich. With help from one of our members, Steve told us about the recruitment process that women went through (apparently it was thought that blue eyes indicated good eye sight!), the dangers they worked with (the chemicals turned them yellow), and showed us items related to their work, including a very heavy bomb fuse.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 11th March at 8pm in the Horton Kirby Jubilee Hall, and unfortunately, our advertised speaker, Tony Farnham, is no longer able to present to us. Instead, Keith Whitmore of the Swanley History Group, is going to give us his talk “Up the Junction” which shows what Swanley used to be like (pre Asda and the 1970s shopping precinct).

Our 2019 schedule:
20th May                The Kaiser’s War – Christoph Bull
8th July                    Lost Empires – the last days of Music Hall and Variety – Wilf Lower
9th September      To be confirmed but will be a talk by one of our members
11th November     AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese

John Woodhead has been busy on the society’s facebook page, posting then and now pictures around the parish. These are attracting a lot of comments, as we hoped, but if you are interested in seeing these pictures but are not a facebook user, please let John or I know, and we can give you paper copies so that you can give us your memories.

Newsletter No. 133 – October 2018

Malcolm Scott was our speaker at our September meeting and he showed us the development of South Darenth before 1900, using old maps and his own collection of local postcards and photos. It was a fascinating look at buildings that have disappeared and what has since taken their place, especially around the bottom of Holmesdale Lane. However fragments remain, such as the bridge over the Darent to Malley’s Place, which we could see in photos from the 1880s showing mill buildings that have now gone.

Our AGM will be held on Monday 12th November at 8pm in the Horton Kirby Jubilee Hall, and as usual, we will be aiming to complete formalities within 10 minutes, and then I will be giving a very short talk about our new publication “Our Peace was won by the Men who Fell” – Horton Kirby & South Darenth in the Great War, followed by our Cheese & Wine evening.

Our 2019 schedule:
14th January          Woolwich Women at War – Steve Hookins
11th March            The Romance of London’s River – Tony Farnham
20th May                The Kaiser’s War – Christoph Bull
8th July                    Lost Empires – the last days of Music Hall and Variety – Wilf Lower
9th September      To be confirmed but will be a talk by one of our members
11th November     AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese

As we have mentioned in previous newsletters, our new publication “Our Peace was won by the Men who Fell” – Horton Kirby & South Darenth in the Great War will be launched on Armistice Day, Sunday 11th November after the Armistice Day service in St Mary’s, Horton Kirby. Copies will also be available at the Beacon Lighting that evening.

Newsletter No. 132 – September 2018

Our last meeting was on 9th July when Alex Ferris told us about ‘1917 – Bombs in Kent’. In a fascinating talk he outlined the development of flight in Europe, the German Operation “Turk’s Cross” (the first blitz on East London) and the appalling casualties suffered in Folkestone on 25th May 1917. Who knew that blind people were used as spotters at Dungeness, listening for Gotha bombers flying from Belgium, or that Brocks, the fireworks manufacturer, invented the tracer bullet? Or that the House of Saxe Coburg Gotha became the House of Windsor in 1917 as our royal family did not their name to be associated with an enemy plane bombing our country?

Our next talk, on Monday 10th September at 8pm in the Horton Kirby Jubilee Hall will be given by Malcolm Scott, on the Development of South Darenth before 1900.

Our 2018 schedule:
12th November            AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese
2019
14th January                 Woolwich Women at War – Steve Hookins
11th March                   The Romance of London’s River – Tony Farnham
20th May                       The Kaiser’s War – Christoph Bull
8th July                           Lost Empires – the last days of Music Hall and Variety – Wilf Lower
9th September             To be confirmed but will be a talk by one of our members
11th November            AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese

We will be launching the our new book on Horton Kirby and South Darenth’s war memorial and life during World War One at our November meeting. It will make an ideal Christmas present for family and friends.

Newsletter No. 131 – July 2018

Our May meeting was given to us by Melanie Gibson-Barton on “In Flanders Field” and Melanie gave us a tour through Flanders showing villages and towns whose names are familiar from the Great War, but have their own histories and customs that carry on despite the devastation they suffered one hundred years ago.

Our next talk, on Monday 9th July, at 8pm in the Horton Kirby Jubilee Hall will be given by Alex Ferris on “1917 – Bombs in Kent”, talking about how Kent suffered during WW1 from Zeppelin and Gotha airplane raids in 1917.

Our 2018 schedule:
10th September       Development of South Darenth before 1900 – Malcolm Scott
12th November        AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese
2019
14th January             Woolwich Women at War – Steve Hookins
11th March               The Romance of London’s River – Tony Farnham
20th May                   The Kaiser’s War – Christoph Bull
8th July                       Lost Empires – the last days of Music Hall and Variety – Wilf Lower
9th September         To be confirmed but will be a talk by one of our members
11th November        AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese

At our recent committee meeting we had a long discussion about the date of our May meetings in future years. Our problem is that the May meeting will now always clash with the Annual Parish Meeting, and some of our members are also Parish Councillors and need to attend the Annual Parish Meeting. Next year our meeting will be held on the third Monday in May, and this is likely to be the new date going forward.

Newsletter No. 130 – April 2018

Our March meeting was given to us by Doug Lindsay on “Kent and East Sussex Railway – Then and Now” and he explained how this branch line had been created after the Light Railway Act of 1896, the area it served, and it’s history until it was closed in 1961. We learnt that re-opening a railway line after closure is very hard work, not only with the physical work in rebuilding buildings, engines and railway lines, but also having to deal with British Rail and all the other public authorities. It says much for the determination of railway enthusiasts that we have any heritage railways at all…

Our next talk, on Monday 14th May, will be given by Melanie Gibson-Barton on “In Flanders Field”, talking about some of the less well known World War One sites.

Our 2018 schedule:
9th July – 1917 – Bombs on Kent – Alex Ferris
10th September – Development of South Darenth before 1900 – Malcolm Scott
12th November – AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese
Our 2019 schedule:
14th January –  Woolwich Women at War – Steve Hookins
11th March – The Romance of London’s River – Tony Farnham
20th May – The Kaiser’s War – Christoph Bull
8th July – Lost Empires – the last days of Music Hall and Variety – Wilf Lower
9th September – To be confirmed but will be a talk by one of our members
11th November – AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese
Please note that next year’s May meeting will be a week later than normal.

As was mentioned during our last meeting, new data privacy laws come into effect on 25th May 2018. You will find a GDPR Consent Form with this newsletter, and we would ask that you return this form to us as soon as possible as the Society needs your consent to process your data. If you have any questions about this form, please do contact our Chairman or myself.

Forthcoming Local Events:
Friday 11th May at 7.30pm – Quiz Night at Sutton Court, Sutton at Hone in aid of  St John the Baptist Church
Saturday 23rd June at 2.00pm – St Mary’s Church Fete at Court Lodge, Horton Kirby

Newsletter No. 129 – March 2018

Our January meeting was another fascinating talk by Christoph Bull, on “Gravesend – Gateway to the Thames” and we were shown lots of slides of Gravesend, including many places that have been demolished in the past 50 years as part of the town’s ‘modernisation’. Buildings that were condemned would these days be restored rather than demolished, and their replacements in some cases are now being considered for demolition…

Our next talk, on Monday 12th March, at 8pm in the Jubilee Hall, Horton Kirby Village Hall, will be given by Doug Lindsay on “Kent and East Sussex Railway – Then and Now”, and many of you may have visited the railway already.

Our 2018 schedule:
14th May                          In Flanders Fields – Melanie Gibson-Barton
9th July 1917                    Bombs on Kent – Alex Ferris
10th September              Development of South Darenth before 1900 – Malcolm Scott
12th November               AGM & Short Talk followed by Wine & Cheese

Terry was very busy in January and our 2019 schedule is virtually complete, and the list will be on our next newsletter.

The society has received a generous grant from the Parish Council towards the cost of publishing our book on the war memorial and the villages during the First World War, which we are planning to publish in the autumn.

Please note that there are two more “Talks at St Mary’s” in the next few weeks, and Stephen de Winton is giving a talk on “Churchill : Journalist, Author (Statesman)”.

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting,