Our first post was 8th November 2008 since when we have had 40,000 different visitors from 108 countries.

This website is yours and you have made it the interest it is by sharing your memories with us all.

Please continue to send us photos and memories of Wateringbury for new generations to enjoy and see how the village once was.

Please send us your memories no matter how small. Either send them by the contact form or directly to me by email at john.gilham@mail.com


Monday, November 29, 2021

A song inspired by a visit to Wateringbury written by the composer Thomas Case Sterndale Bennett

Dail Whiting with her extreme knowledge of the village once again kindly sends us a very interesting note as below:-




I thought you might be interested in the connection between the composer Thomas Case Sterndale Bennett to Wateringbury. The top YouTube Video is the song Leanin', written and sung by the composer Thomas Case Sterndale Bennett. The second YouTube video is another version sung by Stanley Holloway. There were also other versions sung by various singers as It was quite popular in the early 1950's, would you believe. Thomas was inspired to write the song on one of his many visits to Wateringbury to see his brother, John Sterndale Bennett, who lived at Oakenwood on Red Hill, as well as his relatives the Flints, who lived in the Thatched Cottage at the top of Mill Lane. It seems likely that he also visited, or at least knew very well, Richard Fremlin who lived  at May Lodge by the upper mill pond. The brewer and hop farmer Richard Fremlin was a brother of Frances Flint.


The words to the song 'Leanin':

Sewin's pretty good

Reapin' ain't so bad

Scarin' off the crows

Suits a farmer's lad

But if you ask's me

The thing that suits a fellow

Is a little bit of straw to suck

To keep your fancies mellow

When you're leanin' on the gate beside

The pond that lies beside the side

Of farmer's stacks of new mown hay

It's just atwix the ricks

Beside the barn where farmers sticks inside

The chicks he only hatch'd today

Leanin', leanin'

I'm champion down our way, they say

At leanin' on the gate beside the pond that lies beside

The side of farmer's stacks of new mown hay

That he's been gleanin'

While I've been leanin' ..... all day

Had a lurcher once

Better than a gal

Poacher? Well, a bit

But 'e was a pal

Now there's just a mound

Underneath the el-lum

Reckon folks would laugh at I

If I was to tell 'em...

Why I'm leanin' on the gate beside the pond that lies beside

The side the hedge where my old dog would play

It's just a'cos from there I see the sunlight

Glintin' through the tree

Upon the grave where 'e do lie

Sleepin', sleepin'

Goodbye is hard to say

That's why

I'm leanin' on the gate beside the pond that lies beside

The side of farmer's stacks of new-mown hay

And at the gleanin'

He'll find me leanin' ..... all day


It is said that the gate on which Thomas was leaning was on the farm track towards the  Warden House end, and the pond was the lower mill pond which was clear and free running back then. The field with the hay stacks was apparently what is now the Glebe Meadow housing estate.

One of the Sterndale Bennetts, of course, owned land which is now the pear orchard in that area.


Thomas Case Sterndale Bennett was the grandson of the composer Sir William Sterndale Bennett, who was born in Sheffield in1816 and educated at the Royal Academy of Music from 1826 to1836. From 1856 to 1875 he was a Professor of Music at Cambridge University, and from 1866 to 1875 he was the Principal of the Royal Academy of music in London. He died on 1st Feb, 1875 at St Johns Wood Road, London, aged 58, and was buried 6th Feb 1875 in the north aisle of Westminster Abbey. He was recognised as one of the great British composers of the 19th century, and was knighted 24th March 1871. His  wife was Mary Anne, formerly Wood, who he had married in Apr 1844 in Southampton.


Sir William Sterndale Bennett had a number of children. His second child, was James Robert Sterndale Bennett. who was  born  in 1847 in London and educated at Kensington School and  St Johns, Cambridge. He later became Mathematics Lecturer at Kings College, and from 1889 to 1898 he was the  Headmaster of Derby School. He died on 4th June 1928 in Dymchurch Kent, aged 80, and was  buried 7th June 1928 in Dymchurch.

His wife was Mabel Agnes, formerly Gaskell, who he had married in June 1876 in Hampstead.


James Robert Sterndale Bennettt also had a number of children. His  third child was John Sterndale Bennett who lived in Wateringbury.

John Sterndale Bennett, titled Colonel, was born 10th Sep 1879 in Highgate, Middlesex, and educated at Derby School and St John's, Cambridge. In 1901 he was a Second Lieutenant, Infantry - Worcester Regt., served in Somaliland 1902 to 1904. In 1912 he was Captain 107th Pioneers, Indian Army - Instructor, School of Musketry, Satara, and promoted to Major 1915, awarded OBE in 1919,and  retired in 1923. He was JP for Kent in 1930. John Sterndale Bennett lived  at Oaken Wood, on Red Hill, Wateringbury.

He died on 16th June 1962.

His wife was Honor Fremlin, formerly Flint, who he had married in the district of Malling in 1913.

The Flints lived in the Thatched Cottage. Honor Fremlin Flint was the daughter of George Gilham Flint and Frances, nee Fremlin. Frances Fremlin was the sister of Richard Fremlin from May Lodge/Broomsdown.



Thomas Case Sterndale Bennett was the fifth child of James Robert Sterndale Bennett and a younger brother of John Sterndale Bennett above, who lived at Oaken Wood on Red Hill. Wateringbury.

It was Thomas Case Sterndale Bennett, the composer, who wrote the song 'Leanin'.

Thomas was born 10 Aug 1882 in Highgate Middlesex and educated at Derby School. In 1901 he was living in Fulham an described as a Music Student. He later became  a composer and entertainer.

He died in London on 16th May, 1944, and was cremated privately.

Thomas had married twice. First to Christine Bywater and second to Mary Maskelyne.

Two early postcards of the lower mill pond. The pond was really quite lovely in the early 1900's. The  postcards show the pond looking north. Note the grazing cows.

The little wall is right in the foreground so the photo was taken looking north.  These early coloured postcards were published in about 1905 by Young and Cooper of Maidstone.


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Recollections of WWII in Wateringbury

Dail Whiting kindly shares the following with us. If there is anything you can add to this event then please let us know….

Article written & contributed by Dail Whiting

Monday, May 31, 2021

One Day in May 2021

Whilst this video is not yet a memory hopefully in many years to come it will be great to look back upon as the photos on this website are today.

View in 4k Ultra High Definition for the best experience.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Comparison of old photos and one taken 27th May 2021

I thought it would be good for the future to look at two old photos we have on the website with two I took  27th May 2021 from a similar position.

The Cross Roads.


The Bridge over the river and Railway area.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Can we help John with his question?

  We have an answer to John’s question below from Dail Whiting.

Just spotted a question from John Packham.,,, Frederick Leney lived at the Orpines an old house now demolised. Other Leneys lived in various places in Wateringbury. There is a good comprehensive history of the Phoenix Brewery and the family of Leney in my book, which also includes maps and a photo of the Orpines. My book is entitled 'Wateringbury, in the Steps of George Newman and Beyond' by Dail Whiting, Bargain at £10 plus P&P from Ebay or online. Or he can check your site for details.



My family tree research has gg grandparents Stephen and Charlotte Rowing running the Red Lion and Star pub in Strood. I found a book years ago (possibly 1920’s, Chatham Library) which listed some of the old pubs in the area and it said that when the pub was demolished (I guess just before WW1) the intricately carved ancient oak beams were removed and installed in the house of Mr Leney, the brewer.

I’m guessing that the Leney family lived in Wateringbury or close by and this is where the oak beams went. I’d like to add some photos of these beams if possible to my family history. Can anyone help? Either with photos or by identifying the building where the Leney family lived.

John Packham

Saturday, May 08, 2021

New Cottages, Bow Road Wateringbury

Dail Whiting kindly sent the below photo asking if I recognised the house as New Cottages on Bow Road as it is a photo of her Grandfather, Grandmother and five of their youngest children taken around 1917.


This was a very interesting photo and question as I lived in the house next door (the front door partially shown on the right of the picture) between 1953 when I was born to 1960 when my Grandfather died and we had to move out as it was a tied cottage owned by the brewery.
The below photo is of me and my Grandfather outside the same house in 1958. The house was then occupied by Jim & Glad Smith and their two sons Roger and Peter.

The Mills Wateringbury


Postcard - The Mills Wateringbury.

We already had a copy of this postcard but not as good quality as this. 

With the Brewery in the background this is taken from the area where the Warden Mill House now stands.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Cross Roads - Tonbridge Road


Not sure I have ever seen the Garage Repairs sign on this building before.

Was there a Garage between Claremont House and The Post Office?

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The War Memorial and Church Hall


The War Memorial and Church Hall.
This was how I remember the corner of the Cross Roads, Bow Road and Tonbridge Road to be in the 1950's & 60's before the War Memorial was relocated to the grounds of the Church.
The Church Hall was then often used for Jumble sales and was also the venue for regular meetings of the Youth Club. Inside the hall there were two separate areas, the main hall with a stage and a room that was the kitchen.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Whitbreads Brewery Children's Christmas Party early 1960's

Peter Tompsett kindly sent us this photo taken at the Whitbreads Brewery Children's Christmas Party early 1960's 

Peter has included some names.
The faces I remember are:
At the back: Andrew Hubbard (napkin tucked in collar)
Right Hand side: 
Me-Peter Tompsett (leaning forward making sure I'm in photo!).
Next to me looking away Trevor Brown (elbow on table)
Next but one is Adrian Streeter (I think) 
Then Yvonne Baker.
Not sure of the other ones


Wateringbury School 1963 - Headmaster Mr Reid's class.

Peter Tompsett kindly sent us this photo of Headmaster Mr Reid's class in 1963 
when the school was on Red Hill.

Lets try to add all the names. Let me know if you recognise anyone?


 Mr Reid - Headmaster 

Back Row

John Seamark - Martin ? - Alan Hasket - ?? - Richard Smith - Michael Wiltshire - Christopher Wheatley - Neville Marshall -David Apps

Middle Row

?Whitaker - Sandra Beauchamp - Tina Porter - Jenifer Shrubsole - Maureen Lawrence - Gladys Hasket

Front Row

David Newick - Lionel Fermour ? - Clive Smith - Thomas McKirdy - Peter Tompsett - David Brotherwood - Philip Randall

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Post Card of Pelican Farm - posted December 1905


Terry Bird kindly sent us the following words to go with the postcard:-

Pelicans is just 50 yards up Red Hill from the crossroads, on the right. This postcard from 1905 shows it as a working farm, as it was for most of its life. 

It is one of just four places in the village with a grade II * listing by Historic England.

It is a Wealden Hall House of a style often used by substantial yeoman farmers. The huge oak beam, spanning the open hall, has been dated to the 15th century. The main chimney stack and fireplaces are believed to be 16th century.

For a long time until the early 18th century it was owned by the Codd family. In 1598 there was a felonious killing in the language of the court, of one servant by another.

It was used as an office in the late 20th century, before returning to being a private home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Harrow Pub


Mike Shepherd kindly sent us the above photo of his uncle Bill Shepherd in 
The Harrow Pub in 1954

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Memories from a young Adam Wolfe of the break away Whitbread Tanker

Here is story about the Whitbread tanker that crashed into the garden of No 5 Warden Mill Close:

A memory can be  a very fallible thing and this story is told to the best of my memory.

Our family moved into 3 Warden Mill Close in, I think, the summer of 1963; into one of nine surrounding, identical looking, two storied, detached red brick houses, with their asymmetrical pitched roofs.

I have always wondered what inspired the architects and builders to create such roofs, perhaps a fashionable, ‘feature-istic’ architectural thought of the time, or a reflection of something local, even the shape of the asymmetrical vents of the local Oast houses.

Three Warden Mill Close was the first home that my parents owned. Earlier in the year we had moved up from Cornwall after my father had been posted as Trade Master for Submarines in the Engineering Division of the Production Department at H.M Dockyard, Chatham.
As well as memories of arriving, a half empty house with no furniture in the kitchen, I have recollections of sunny days, and playing outside in the incomplete, and in places overgrown and undeveloped back garden, which at one end was bounded by the septic tank smelling, Mill Stream. At that time there was no lawn in the garden, but it came later, layered turf and then molehills.

Nineteen sixty four; my fifth birthday. For a present my mother went to the Maidstone markets, or was it auctions, and bought a second hand, chain driven tricycle.  I have a vague memory of going with her to buy the tricycle and possibly even one for my sister, and going to a place seeming to be outside, where there were lots of people and canvass awnings.

The tricycle was brought home and I remember my mother putting newspaper on the dining room table and then placing the tricycle on top, dissembling the mud guards and using a brush to re-paint the same and the tricycle frame; the former blue and the latter red.  I might add that I was intrigued by the oil sump for the bottom bracket housing the spindle for the pedal cranks, which could be refilled with oil by lifting a small, hinged cap.

The tricycle and resulting mobility it provided was fiendishly attractive and weather permitting, and when not attending Wateringbury Primary School, I had an unsupervised run of the pavements and road that comprised the lower, down-hill end of the close.

At that time I think that, like other residents in the close, we were keenly aware of the brewery, located on the higher east side of Bow Road; an imposing industrial edifice that dominated the surrounds. The busy road entrance to the brewery was opposite that to the close.

There was also the brewery’s rooftop wind vane (was it a Cockerel?).  I used to sit at the end of my top bunk bed and look out through the bedroom window at the wind vane to work out, which way the wind was blowing.

The view also included the lane that ran down the side of our back garden. It crossed the Mill Stream and at a junction one part, less defined, and more of farm track, went straight ahead and crossed the hop fields to the rear of the ‘big house’ on the high, other side of the fields.

The more defined part of the lane, turned to the right, and lined each side with wrought iron fencing, led around to the top Mill Pond. At that time the area, which had been the bottom Mill Pond and which had been drained leaving only the stream, was quite wild and overgrown with nettles and brambles.

Quite often after school, and although only aged five or six, I would head out on my own to follow the lane and farm track across to the ‘big house’ to play with school friends,  Andrew Snell, or Steven Maltby. The house, subdivided into two, and with treed gardens was the home of the Snell and Maltby families.

And then there were the brewery’s brown coloured brewery delivery tankers.  They were a visible fact of daily life, coming and going along Bow Road on their various journeys.

In my memory the brewery entrance off Bow Road gave way to a parking area, with a possible chain linked wire fence and gate on the south side that gave access to the brewery buildings. The tankers were sometimes parked on the north and east sides of the parking area, with those on the north side often pointing slightly down hill, towards the close.

Also on the north side of the entrance was a two storey cottage, it is still there, where lived an elderly lady who would come and babysit my sister and I when our parents went out in the evening. My recollection of her was my mother complaining about her boiling the electrical kettle dry.

One day I was out riding my tricycle; summertime 1964, or 1965, I am not sure. Nobody else was about. I think it was mid, or late morning and perhaps a cloudy, overcast day; a weekday and I was on holiday.

I was riding along the pavement that ran from our driveway and across to No 7 where Penny, an older child lived; I eventually inherited and learned to ride her two wheeled bicycle.

I stopped and looked up towards the entrance to the brewery. A tanker was parked on the north side facing towards the close. As I watched it started to roll slowly forward into and across Bow Road and then into the close. There was no sign of a driver.

Seeing that the tanker was heading in my direction I got off my tricycle, leaving it beside the lamp post at the bottom of the close, and ran back towards the driveway to our  house. I then turned  to  watch the unfolding drama.

With the steeper gradient of the close the tanker gained momentum and mounted the pavement on the north side, clipping and churning up the edge of the front lawn of No 8 (displaced soil from the lawn can be seen in  one of the photographs), before plunging  over and down into the front garden of No 5 and coming to rest against the front wall of the house. I seem to recall the sound of a dull thump as the tanker came to a stop.  The lady who lived in No 5 favoured a bee-hive hair arrangement,  short skirts and stockings.

Men soon started to arrive, first from the brewery. My tricycle remained by the lamppost where I had left it. My mother and I watched proceedings from our home.

I recall, that after a time a press reporter arrived and spoke to my mother. Shortly after I was spoken to and then I think, photographed sitting, or standing alongside my tricycle.

In the afternoon a tow truck came into the close and reversed down towards the tanker. Men moved about inspecting the tanker. A towrope was attached. The tow truck began pulling.  I watched from our upstairs sitting room window.

The pull seemed to be too much for the tow truck. It surged forward, but nothing happened. The rear wheels spun, ripping up and digging down into the tarmac. I do not know what happened next, but have an impression, which may be incorrect, that late in the afternoon, a second vehicle arrived   and was attached to the tow truck. Together they eventually pulled the tanker clear and it was towed away.

As it left I remember looking out at the empty close, feeling a bit empty, an anti climax to all the excitement of the day.
At breakfast, some days later, my mother showed me my photograph, which had been published in the one of the local papers. Which one? I do not know.

The holes left by the tow truck were eventually filled in using a coarser tarmac than the original, leaving two visible, dark scars.

In December 1980 I visited the close. The scars were still visible.

Adam Wolfe


I have been looking at the sequence of photographs showing the recovery of the tanker.


The first in the sequence,  taken at the top of the close, on the other side Bow Road, must have been taken soon after the crash and shows the first tow truck and an excavator, which  I now remember was initially used to try and move the tanker.


Interestingly,  if you  enlarge the  photograph,  and look at the gap between the tow truck and  a person standing beside a vehicle, and on the right side of the lower lamppost outside No 5, you can see what looks like  an upright   saddle, a wheel and part of a frame; I think that this is the rear  side of my tricycle. Looking at it I can see that the tanker came quite close to where I left it.


The subsequent photographs of the tanker seem to show that its wheels sank into the lawn in front of No5, possibly reducing its momentum,  and preventing it smashing into and through the house.


The last photograph,  taken later in the afternoon  shows the arrival of the second tow truck and also the damage/marks left on the tarmac  by the first tow truck.


For some instinctive reason I think that the chap leaning against the lamp post with the jacket is the reporter I mentioned. I may be wrong.


Reassuring to find that my memory was  largely correct-there was more than one tow vehicle. and damage was caused to the tarmac.


Best wishes,




Thursday, October 08, 2020

John Long and Wateringbury School on Red Hill.

Clive Long sent us the following:  

My dad was born there and grew up in the school house with my nan and grandpa until he went off to join the Royal Air force. My siblings and I spent a lot of time there during holidays and I even attended the school its self for a couple of terms.

Here is my father's service record, as one of Wateringburys own, I feel very happy to share this as it's another great example of achievement from a small community.


There are many references to Clive's father John Long and his family on the website and some can be found on this link:-