Ch 5

CHAPTER FIVE

Services

The Library Service

The centre opened in 1922 at the council school with just 45 books, Mr. Plowright, the librarian, wrote that he had 54 readers of whom one third were children.

1925 – The first exhibition van arrived for books to be chosen. Up until 1943 teachers at the school held the post of librarian. In that year the librarian Mrs. Clark, of the Old Manor House, put in a request for more books as there were a hundred landgirls in the area.

1944 – The library moved to the Western Hall, opening on Fridays from 2 to 3 p.m.

1945 – Miss J. Nisbett was appointed librarian.

1957 – The Parish Council asked for extra hours to be granted.

1958 – On her marriage Miss Nisbett left her post

1960 – Mrs. Kitson appointed and the library moved to the Church Hall

1962 – Hours extended to include Tuesday 6.30 – 8.30 p.m., Thursday and Friday 2.00 – 5.30 p.m.

1966 – Library moved to Village Hall

1967 – Open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The library moved to its purpose built building in July 1977 with greatly extended hours and has been a great boon to the district. Surprising as it may now seem, some opposition was mounted to this move at the time. Serving a large catchment it has proved to be one of the greatest blessings to the community. Well done the Kent Education Committee!

Date Books

1922 45

1969 3 800

1977 13 000

1993 16 000 660 Musicassettes

Kent County Constabulary

The following material was provided by the Chief Constable, and it is to be regretted that only information on Sergeants was available.

Officers in charge at Borough Green

1895 – 1897 Instructing constable J. Trill

1897 – 1898 Instructing constable J. Sidders

1898 – 1902 Corporal W. Mepstead *

1902 – 1906 Sergeant C. Castle

1906 – 1908 Sergeant J. Kennett

1908 – 1913 Sergeant J. Emptage

1913 – 1918 Sergeant W. Cutting

1918 – 1921 Sergeant E. Webb

1921 – 1922 Sergeant H. Lampkin

1922 – 1931 Sergeant A. Murkett

1931 – 1933 Sergeant T. Goodall

1933 – 1939 Sergeant D. Gramson

1939 – 1944 Sergeant P. Cooper

1944 – 1956 Sergeant T. Pettit

1956 – 1959 Sergeant T. Corke

1959 – 1970 Sergeant J. Kitson

1970 – 1987 Sergeant P. Griffin

1987 – Sergeant A. Loader

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, that when composing this book, I spoke to ten people in September 1993 of whom only two knew or could name the present police sergeant. This may well be because, as is the case with other people who serve the local community, they do not now reside in it.

*

Corporal Mepstead retired as Superintendent of the old Bearsted division.

His son went to Wrotham School and became Commercial Superintendent at Waterloo, then Station Master at Charing Cross.

Entertainment

Cinema

The first silent pictures were shown in a marquee in Rock Road after two old cottages were demolished and before the long row of houses was built. It was called Poole’s Panorama and this happened between 1904-1905. The same people were at a hall in Chatham in 1909.

The cinema was built in 1912 by Mr. H. Gilbert. It had a gas engine driving a generator. The early years had more live shows than films. It was a stop for theatrical groups between Bromley and Maidstone. It was called the Electric Palace.

Sevenoaks Chronicle 1922

“No one should fail to pay a visit to the Palace next week to see one or more of the popular plays which the management are presenting. Lovers of the good old-fashioned melodrama are in for a good time.”

Christmas Fare at The Palace.

“With their usual enterprise the management have arranged a splendid entertainment for their patrons. In the shape of a bright and mirthful revue entitled “Roundabouts”. This bears the hallmark of excellence which is always connected with the name of Mr. Tom Taylor of “Hello Charlie” fame.

A matinee on Boxing Day at 2.30 p.m. Two shows in the evening, the three remaining days at 7.30 p.m. The “Gossips” are entertaining all this week.”

Later it became the Rex and patrons used to walk from as far afield as Plaxtol and Stansted. Most people had their regular seats. Talkies came in 1929. Mr. Gilbert later opened a cycle and wireless shop, now Fairdale Stores. We had to carry the wet accumulator batteries there for charging to use with our radios.

The cinema was taken over by Mr. Sawdy in 1927. Schoolchildren were given a free show once a year. The Davies family followed and it closed in 1964.

Health

Dr. A. A. Lipscomb and the Walker family from Ightham are the first recorded practitioners. In 1899 Dr. Lipscomb is listed as MRCS Surgeon, Medical Officer and Public Vaccinator for the Malling Union. He lived at the Crossroads. Also in that year Miles Sanders of the Dene, Western road was Relieving and Vaccination Officer, Registrar of births and deaths for Wrotham sub-district Malling Union.

The Ingleside property was sold 18 November 1926, presumably purchased by the Walkers and Dr. Ralph Green was the first resident doctor. Over the years many much loved and respected doctors have practised here, such that to single out any individual would be inappropriate. Newly opened in 1993 the village has the splendid Medical Centre at Quarry Hill. Well designed in Swedish style, it is an imposing building and represents a tremendous asset for our present doctors.

The Borough Green Fire Brigade ( 1934 – )

In 1934 the Borough Green Chamber of Trade expressed concern about the fire cover for the area. At the suggestion of Mr. Robert Cloke a Fire Brigade Committee was formed to raise funds by way of collections, dances and whist drives. Mr. Bob Bates from Seal Fire Brigade was involved in the training for the men. In the event of a fire a maroon was fired in Mr. Cloke’s yard and equipment was loaded into one of his grocers vans. A 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost was later seen advertised under a box number in a national daily. Mr. Cloke rang the editor and was able to obtain the address of the Lord Kemsley who had placed the advert. Robert and Richard Cloke, Bill Kennett and Harry Carter set off for Slough. £26 was the price reached after some bargaining with Lord Kemsley – the group had only £25. A dig in their pockets for half-crowns and shillings made up the price. There was just enough petrol in the tank for the journey home!

Weighing two tons 17 cwt it had brakes on the rear two wheels only! Mr. Bonallack, a local coach builder, did the conversion work and the engine went into service on 5 November 1938. The crew sat sideways along the vehicle hanging on to straps with feet braced against the side. The appliance did valiant work throughout World War II, especially countering the effects of bombs dropped on West Malling Airfield and aiding stricken planes during the Battle of Britain.

From 1946 to 1964 the Fire Station was behind the houses opposite the Fox and Hounds, located between the KCC depot and the local mortuary. The station in Western Road was formally opened in January 1964. In 1945 the Silver Ghost was withdrawn from service. Although officially taken over by the National Fire Service, the men still tended to think of it as theirs. It was hidden for some time in a barn behind the Spring Tavern. It was brought out, cleaned and polished as a bridal car for Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Dryland at Wrotham Church. On the formation of the Kent Fire Brigade in 1948 the authority insisted that the engine be produced for disposal. It was taken away and simply vanished. Many efforts were made to trace it but in vain. Lesney Bros Ltd, the model car manufacturers, heard of the story and produced a scaled replica with the aid of drawings and photos. Although the original may have disappeared this miniature may be seen in many locations across the globe.

Education

The author has written a comprehensive book on Borough Green’s schools. Entitled ” A Friendly Glimpse” copies are still available. Events from World War II and other aspects of school and village life are there for the reading.

The Village Hall, built 1964-1965, is worth a story in itself – perhaps somebody will take on this task.

3 responses to “Ch 5

  1. campbell higgins

    I wonder when the ‘Electric Palace’ cinema became known as the ‘Picture Palace’?

    Far and away, and then some – the film shown there/ the event, that I most heard spoken about by my parents – was ‘The Jazz Singer’, with Al Jolson. Aged 40, when the film premiered in NY City in 1927, he was at the height of his superstar popularity.
    It was the ‘first talkie’ and marking the end of silent films, it revolutionized the film industry – although this didn’t happen overnight.

    Does anyone know the length of time it took, before it made its appearance in Borough Green – all of you cinematic historians?
    I would have known this in the past, from my parents – but have forgotten.
    And the charge to view?

  2. campbell higgins

    Well, I couldn’t see for looking, as they used to say at BG Primary School.
    Mentioned in the foregoing – ‘talkies came in 1929’ – that must be the year that Al Jolson and ‘The Jazz Singer’ was seen and heard in Borough Green.
    [ed: 1927 was the year that film was relased, though it may have taken some months before its UK premiere, which I would ike to think was in BG, but ….. ]

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