Village people

Little is written about the villages surrounding TW. I grew up around the rocks, woods and Kent countryside.

As kids we would get up to all sorts of mischief and adventures. The Spa Hotel golf course was an old haunt for thieves who would run out from the bushes and pocket a ball or two, leave them in watery vinegar overnight, polish them up and sell them back the next day to the same golfers who had chased us off the links the day before. Not all golf balls were loaned. Sometimes we would run out and put one of the golf balls into the hole before the golfers came in view. A good ten minuets would often pass before a player thought of looking in the hole and not rummaging in the bushes. Many a round of drinks must have been downed in the clubhouse under false pretences.

The town also had gangs from outlying areas, made up of testosterone filled teenage boys and the occasional girl hanger-on. Occasionally they would meet up for a sort out, usually a Friday and usually on the Pantiles. I remember once the gangs met up in Hurst Wood, I think it was the Southborough lot vs the Rusthall lot. A great deal of facing up took place with an accompaniment of shouting from the rear supporters. Someone shouted out ‘Coppers!’ The stampede that followed found foe and enemy alike running together in the direction of the woods. Much laughter ended the fight!

Tunbridge Wells is now a place I visit. I no longer see faces I knew, shops have changed, bus numbers have altered, people now sit in doorways making a living from passers by with a penny or two to give. The cinema like all the others that once frequented the town has gone. That clock thing where the bogs at the Fiveways were is apt. It looks like it’s a giant metal monster straining to relieve itself.

Tunbridge Wells once had character, a community both in and out of town, Rusthall and Langton now blend into each other, the town grows in size, but on its journey it loses its TW feel. Just another town. Bring back the little boys who steal golf balls, bring back the weekend fights and let’s all go to the flicks and fill the air with smoke while chucking ice cream wrappers at each other. How about re-naming the town, Today’s Wells, yep, that will do nice.

Big John
In France
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