Swanley History Group – January 2016 meeting
An excellent attendance at our January meeting made a terrific start to the New Year for Swanley History Group. Member Keith Whitmore presented his collection of photographs, advertisements for businesses and other interesting memorabilia of times past in Hextable and surrounding areas. There was a happy announcement, part way through, that Keith and his wife Pauline had just become grandparents to a healthy baby boy - who will no doubt one day benefit from his grandfather’s vast knowledge of the history of our area!
The collection presented included Hextable House, which was bombed in WW2, and the Avenue of Limes with the towering original trees. We admired photographs of the beautifully decorated cabin, removed from the interior of SS Bessemer after it was scrapped in 1879 and installed in the mansion by Chief Designer Mr. E. J. Reed, who owned the property at that time. It was used as a billiard room and later, when the mansion became a horticultural college, the dairy and a lecture room. We were treated to a short film, made in 1939, showing the students riding their bikes in College Road and working in the gardens and laboratories. Photographs of other prominent houses followed, including Hextable Lodge; Uplands, the home and garden of the author Arthur Mee in Rowhill Road and Rowhill Grange in 1868, when it was the home of Alice Alexander. Included also were views of Furness School, The Memorial Hall, The Ship and a wide range of shops.
Many types of transport from different eras featured. Who could fail to admire the beautiful carriages and horses for hire operated from the site of the present garage at the bottom of Home Hill or the fine ‘Frank Hyde’ lorries piled impossibly high. We enjoyed an amusing series of road safety photographs, made in 1906, showing a chauffeur driven limousine, Arthur Mee’s daughter Marjorie on her bicycle and a horse and cart demonstrating some do’s and don’ts in otherwise empty roads around Hextable.
Old photographs give us an insight into the situations our families faced. Keith included a photograph of his grandfather who moved from a mining town in Durham, where there was no work, to take up a gardening job in Hextable in 1929 and an aunt who was in service at Hextable House. We also got the chance to see Keith and chairman Terry in flannel shorts posing in primary school photographs!
Our Annual General Meeting, followed by a short quiz, is on Tuesday 2 February 2016, 7.15 for 7.30 pm start, at White Oak Indoor Bowls Centre, Garrolds Close, off Hilda May Avenue, Swanley, BR8 7BF. For further information – telephone Terry on 07884493894 Or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Christina Tyler, Programme Organiser
MORE HEXTABLE PHOTOS ON GALLERY 8 PAGE UNDER 'MORE' TAB AT TOP OF PAGE