DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Sort file:- Tunbridge Wells, April, 2019.

Page Updated:- Tuesday, 02 April, 2019.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

Earliest 1847-

Railway Bell

Latest 1911-

1 Mount Pleasant Road (Broadway 1901Census)

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Railway Bell

Above postcard showing the pub on the right, date unknown, kindly sent by Nigel Reed, who says the building was taken over by Weeks and turned into a department store.

Railway Bell 1900

Above postcard taken from the High Street Bridge, erected 1851, demolished 1906-07.

Railway Bell

Above postcard, kindly sent by Ed Gilbert.

 

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. 16 June, 2017.

THE RAILWAY BELL HOTEL.

The "Railway Bell Hotel" was a rather grand sounding name for what amounted to nothing more than a public house with a few rooms upstairs for travellers. The building was erected in the early 1820’s and was located at 1 Mount Pleasant Road, on the north east corner of Grove Hill Road and Mount Pleasant Road, near the SER station. The "Railway Bell Hotel" however does not appear in directories until after 1847.

A number of licensed victuallers ran the business over the years including Edward Edwards in the late 1840’s to late 1850’s. Edwards was a police constable living at Windmill Fields in 1841 but later took over the "Railway Bell Hotel." By 1858 Edwards was operating a wine merchants shop on the High Street, listed in later directories at 25 High Street, but by 1871 he had retired from business and died in Tunbridge Wells in 1877.

Alfred Drake (1827-1890) was the son of Rev. Joseph Drake, and in 1851 was in Ipswich, Suffolk, working as a tea dealer. By 1861 he took over the "Railway Bell" from Edwards and was still there in 1882. He died in 1890 while operating the "York Hotel" in the I.O.W.

Joseph Stanwell Fletcher (1850-1900) had been born in Boston, Lincolnshire. He was still in Lincolnshire at the time of the 1861 census. The 1871 census recorded him as a soldier at Woolwich. He married in 1873 at Canterbury; had two sons, both born in India 1877 and 1879 and in 1885 had a daughter at Thanet, Kent. By 1887 he moved to Tunbridge Wells and was initiated that year into to Pantiles Lodge of the Freemasons. At the time of the 1891 census he was running the "Railway Bell Hotel" and was still there in 1892 and perhaps as late as 1898. He died in December 1900 while the proprietor of the "Talbot Hotel" in Ripley, Surrey.

Directories of 1899 to 1903 recorded William Sheldrick (1851-1928) as the licensed victualler of the "Railway Bell Hotel." The 1871 and 1881 census recorded him at the "Sea Horse Hotel" in Brighton, a hotel run by his widowed mother Martha and himself. At the time of the 1891 census he was the licensed victualler of a hotel in Preston, Sussex. At the time of the 1901 census he was there with his wife Edith, who he married in 1888 at Steyning, Sussex. He was still at the "Railway Bell Hotel" at the time of the 1911 census. He left this hotel in 1911 (when it was torn down) and Tunbridge Wells. He died in 1928 at Hammersmith, London.

From my article ‘The Weekes Store-Tunbridge Wells’ dated September 6, 2011, I reported that after several prior attempts by the Weekes family to purchase the "Railway Bell Hotel" they finally succeeded in 1911 and in that year they tore the building down to make way for the expansion of their shop, making William Sheldrick the last proprietor of the hotel. Today and for many years previous the Weeks store is known as Hoopers, a shop my friend Mrs. Susan Price and I looked through on our visit to the town in 2015.

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION.

When the building occupied by the "Railway Bell Hotel" was constructed is not known exactly but a best estimate based on a review of directories and maps is 1828. It is known from a review of maps that in 1808 the site was just open land, but a map of 1828 shows the existence of a joined strip of buildings along Grove Hill Road and Mount Pleasant Road and so it appears that the building that later became the "Railway Bell Hotel" was built in 1828 on the north east corner of Grove Hill Road and Mount Pleasant Road near the SER station. The 1824 Pigots directory lists local pubs and hotels but the "Railway Bell" is not listed among them. It’s not listed in Pigots 1826-1827 directory either and nor is it found in the 1840 Pigots directory. The 1847 Bragshaw directory listed hotels, inns and taverns in the town but no listing for the "Railway Bell" was among them.

The "Railway Bell Hotel" was really nothing more than a tavern with a few rooms above for travellers to stay in. The 1911 census recorded that the building consisted of 11 rooms. The hotel was in a good location, especially for those arriving in town by train, and who were thirsty for a pint after their journey. Since the railway did not arrive in the town until 1845 this tavern served as a local watering hole in its early history and no doubt people arriving in the town by horse or by horse and carriage would have stopped there to wet their whistle.

The building itself appears in early 20th century postcards as being constructed of brick and finished in white render with some stonework. Mount Pleasant Road is a much photographed part of town, particularly due to the presence of the SER station which is featured in most of the view looking north from the High Street bridge.

The glass globe lights handing from the building over the sidewalk is often featured and the name of the hotel appears on them. One postcard provides a good view of the sign of the hotel below the roofline which sign reads in part “W. Sheldrick, Bass & Co. Ales & Stout”. The last postcard view in the series was taken in 1925 and shows the Weeke’s shop expansion to the former site of the "Railway Bell" and around the corner on to Grove Hill Road.

THE LICENSED VICTUALLERS.

The first person to run the "Railway Bell Hotel" is not known but by about 1848 Edward Edwards was there and the 1851 census records him there. Given below is a list of known occupants beginning with Edward Edwards and ending in 1911, when the hotel was demolished, with William Sheldrick. The occupancy record between 1851 and 1911 appears to be complete and is based on a review of local directories, census records and related records.

1848-1857 ……..Edward Edwards

1857-1886………………..Alfred Drake

1886-1899…………………Joseph Stanwell Fletcher

1899-1911……………….. William Sheldrick

 

[1] EDWARD EDWARDS (1818-1877)

Edward Edwards was born in Tunbridge Wells March 16,1818, one of four children born to George Edwards (born 1783) and Hannah Edwards, nee Groombridge (1779-1852). He was baptised in Tunbridge Wells on August 16, 1818.

Edward was married twice. His first marriage was to Frances Fanny Gasson (1820-1846) in Tunbridge Wells and with her had two children namely Henry George Edwards born in 1839 and Hannah Wenlock Edwards born circa 1840 but who appears to have died in infancy. Frances was baptised October 6,1820 in Tunbridge Wells, and was the daughter of Henry Gasson and Sarah Gasson, nee Coumber.

The 1841 census taken at Windmill Fields, a residential area located west of St Peters Church, which derives its name from the fact that there used to be a windmill nearby, gave Edward Edwards living in one of the little cottages there and employed as a police constable with the local constabulary. With him was his wife Fanny (Frances Fanny), born 1821 in Kent and their son Henry George Edwards.

Edward’s wife Frances died in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1846. On June 29, 1847 Edward married Elizabeth Giles (1825-1914) and with her had two children namely Edward in 1856 and Orlando Herbert Edwards (1863-1934), both of whom were born in Tunbridge Wells. Elizabeth had been born Lambeth, Middlesex, and was baptised May 21,1826 at the Renfrew Road workhouse in Lambeth. In 1832 Elizabeth was living in London. She was the daughter of Thomas Giles.

From a review of directories, maps and other documents it was concluded that Edward became the licensed victualler of the Railway Bell Hotel in 1848 being the first to run the hotel.

The 1851 census, taken at the "Railway Bell Hotel," which was referred to in the census as “ Mount Pleasant Terrace” gave Edward as a “publican Railway Bell”. With him was his second wife Elizabeth and his son Henry George Edwards (from his first marriage), and George Edwards, born 1843 in Tunbridge Wells from his second marriage. Both boys were attending school. Also at the Railway Bell at that time were three house servants, one publican apprentice and one inmate labourer.

The 1858 Melville directory listed “Edward Edwards, wine merchant High Street” indicating that sometime after 1851 and before 1858 Edwards had left the "Railway Bell."

The 1861 census taken at 1 Waterloo House, located based on the order of census taking on the High Street between Edgar Terrace at the corner of Grove Hill Road and Christ Church further south on the High Street. Edwards occupation was given as wine merchant and inn keeper but the inn he was the keeper of was not the "Railway Bell" as you will read later. With Edward in the census was his second wife Elizabeth; his eldest son Henry George Edwards, a “porter wine merchant” and Edward Edwards, born 1856 to his second wife Elizabeth.

The book ‘Yesterdays Bottles (1981) by Peter Tucker and Keigh Hetherington includes a table of wine merchants in Tunbridge Wells and on the list is Cave Edwards & Co. Ltd at 25 High Street. Who Mr. Cave was has not been established but the Edwards referred to was Edward Edwards. Shown in this section are two items bearing the name of Cave Edwards & Co Ltd namely a Vulcanite bottle stopper and a screw thread ginger beer/mineral water bottle stopper. Both of these stoppers were recently advertised for sale on ebay and described as “rare”.

The 1867 directory gave the listing “Edward Edwards, wine & spirit merchant, publican’s valuer and sold agent for Ind. Coope & Co.’s Romford ales, High Street, Tunbridge Wells”.

The 1871 census, taken at Sunny Vale near Vale House and the SER station gave Edward Edwards as a retired wine merchant. With him was his wife Elizabeth and his children Edward and Orlando, both of whom were attending school. No commercial listing was found for Edward Edwards in the local directory.

Probate records gave Edward Edwards late of Tunbridge Wells, gentleman, who died February 22, 1877 at Tunbridge Wells. The executors of his under £3,000 estate were Hori Pink, builder, and Charles Tibbs, pork butcher, both of Tunbridge Wells.

[2] ALFRED DRAKE (1827-1890)

Alfred Drake took over as the licensed victualler of the "Railway Bell Hotel" after Edward Edwards.

Alfred Drake was born January 7, 1827 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, one of four children born to Rev. Joseph Drake (1773-1834) and Elizabeth Drake, nee Phipps. All of Alfred’s siblings were born in London.

At the time of the 1851 census Alfred was at Ipswich St Mary At The Tower, Suffolk, a single man working at that time as a tea dealers shopman.

In 1853 Alfred married Charlotte Pozorny, who was born in 1831 in Tenterden, and with him had six sons and four sons between 1854 and 1876 but not all of them lived to be adults.

The 1861 census, taken at the "Railway Bell Hotel," 1 Mount Pleasant gave Alfred as the licensed victualler. With him was his wife Charlotte and his children Charlotte, Henry and Frank. Also there were three visitors, staying in rooms above the pub and three servants that included a waiter, a nurse and a general servant. Alfred and his family were still at the "Railway Bell" at the time of the 1871 census. The 1874 directory listed “Alfred Drake, "Railway Bell Hotel," 1 Mount Pleasant Road”.

The 1881 census, taken at the "Railway Bell" on Mount Pleasant Road gave Alfred as a victualler. With him was his wife Charlotte; his son Frank, age 21, an architect; Alfred, age 15, a builders apprentice; and his other children Walter and Rhoda who were attending school. Also there was one barmaid, one visitor, a cook and one general servant.

From the Kent and Sussex Courier June 6, 1873 is the following “WINE AND SPIRIT STORES…..A. DRAKE, WINE AND SPIRIT MERCHANT, BEGS to inform his numerous Friends and the Public generally that he has opened a Private Office for the sale of Bottled Goods exclusively. Having for many years past been noted for the fine quality of his Wines and Spirits, A. D. begs most respectfully to solicit a continuance of the liberal patronage already received, and guarantees that all favours entrusted to him shall receive prompt and careful attention. Martell's & Hennessey's Case Brandies, Quality guaranteed, 4s per Bottle. Agent for the Metropolitan Tea Company. The finest Black Tea in England 2s. 6d. per lb.”

From the Kent and Sussex Courier June 27, 1873 is the following “TEMPORARY AUTHORITIES AND TRANSFERS….On the application of Mr. A. Drake of the "Railway Bell," Tunbridge Wells, temporary authority to sell until next transfer day was granted to Mr. David Everest, of the "Leicester Arms Hotel," Penshurst, Mr. Everest being too ill to attend. Similar authority was also granted to Henry Pont, of the "Queen's Head Inn," Brenchley, and to Jane Towner, of the "Primroses," Tonbridge.”

From the Kent and Sussex Courier August 8,1873 was “RAILWAY BELL HOTEL. WINE AND SPIRIT STORES…..A. DRAKE, WINE AND SPIRIT MERCHANT, BEGS to inform his numerous Friends and the Public generally that he has opened a Private Office for the sale of Bottled Goods exclusively. Having for many years past been noted for the fine quality of his Wines and Spirits, A. D. begs most respectfully to solicit a continuance of the liberal patronage already received, and guarantees that all favors entrusted to him shall receive prompt and careful attention. Martell’s & Hennessey’s Case Brandies, quality guaranteed, 4s. per Bottle. Agent for the Metropolitan Tea Company— The finest Black Tea in England 3s. 6d. per lb.”

In 1886 Alfred left the "Railway Bell" and move to the Isle of Wight. Probate records gave Alfred Drake, late of the "York Hotel," George Street, Ryde, I.O.W., Southampton, died December 30,1890 at the York Hotel. The executor of his £1,818 estate was his widow Charlotte.

[3] JOSEPH STANWELL FLETCHER (1851-1900)

Joseph took over the "Railway Bell Hotel" after Alfred Drake left in 1886.

Joseph was born in the 4th qtr of 1851 at Boston, Lincolnshire, one of seven children born to Joseph Fletcher (1823-1908) and Ann Matilda Fletcher, nee Stanwell (1827-1911).

At the time of the 1861 census Joseph was living with his parents and siblings in Boston, Lincolnshire. The 1871 census, taken at Woolwich listed him as a soldier.

Joseph married Sarah Ann Eldridge in the 1st qtr of 1873. She had been born in 1850. Soon after the marriage the couple moved to India. They had three children namely (1) George Henry born 1877 at Meerat, India (2) William Augusta born 1879 at Himalays, India (3) Ethel Beatrice, born 1885 at Thane, Kent.

The records of the Freemasons in Tunbridge Wells record that Joseph Stanwell Fletcher was a “hotel keeper” when he was initiated December 7,1887 into the Pantiles Lodge.

The 1891 census, taken at the "Railway Bell" in Tunbridge Wells gave Joseph Stanwell Fletcher as the licensed victualler. With him was his wife Sarah and his children George Henry and William Augusta and Ethel Beatrice, the eldest of which were attending school. Also there were two barmaids and two general servants. Joseph was listed in the 1892 directory at the "Railway Bell Hotel" but appears to have left by 1899.

Kent & Sussex Courier of September 30,1892 reported “Disorderly and refusing to quit…..Ellen Barber was charged with being disorderly and refusing to quit the "Railway Bell Hotel," on the previous day. Prisoner pleaded guilty. Mr. J. S. Fletcher, the landlord, deposed that at about a quarter to four, on the day in question, prisoner was in his bar using abusive language. He ordered her to go outside, but she refused, and he had to call the constable to eject her. The bench inflicted a fine of 5s. and 5s. costs, or 7 Days. The prisoner was further charged with using obscene language, on Mount Pleasant, on the same day. Prisoner pleaded guilty, and was fined 6d. and 5s. costs. Edward Barber, the husband of the previous defendant, who was also charged with refusing to quit the "Railway Bell Hotel," on the previous day. Prisoner denied being inside the house. Mr. J. S. Fletcher deposed that while he was remonstrating with the female prisoner the defendant came up and wanted to fight him for a £5 note. He ordered them both out, but they refused, and he had to call the policeman. P.C. Collyer also proved the case, and prisoner was fined 5s. and 7s. costs. He was further charged with using obscene language, and was fined 5s. and 5s. costs.

The Kent and Sussex Courier of October 28, 1892 reported “TONBRIDGE WELLS PETTY SESSIONS LICENSING….An occasional license was granted to Mr. Fletcher, of the "Railway Bell Hotel," for a Bonfire Boys' fancy dress ball, on the 3rd November.”

Probate records gave Joseph Stanwell Fletcher of the "Talbot Hotel," Ripley, Surrey when he died December 17, 1900. The executors of his £1,778 estate was his widow Sarah Fletcher. Joseph was buried at St Mary Magdalen churchyard in Ripley Guildford, Surrey. A photo of his headstone and also the "Talbot Hotel" is shown above.

[4] WILLIAM SHELDRICK (1850-1928)

William took over the running of the "Railway Bell Hotel" from Joseph Stanwell Fletcher in about 1899.

William was born in the 3rd qtr of 1851 at Pancras, London and was one of at least four children born to William Sheldrick, born 1816 at Isleham, Cambridgeshire and Martha Sheldrick, born 1816 at Isleham.

The 1851 census, taken at 15 Cross Street, Saffron Hill, Middlesex gave William Sheldrick as age 34 and working as a house joiner. With him was his wife Martha and their children Sally, age 13, scholar; Thomas Fuller, age 10, scholar; Alice Mary, age 6 at home and William Sheldrick. Also there was William seniors mother Mary Seldrick, age 73, a collar makers widow.

Williams father had passed away sometime before the taking of the 1871 census at the "Sea Horse Hotel" at 1 Middle Street, Brighton, Sussex. Present in the census was Martha Sheldrick, widow, age 55 a licensed victualler. With her was her daughter Alice Mary, age 20, born in London and working at the hotel as a barmaid. With her was her brother William, age 20, working for his mother as a cellerman in the hotel and Marth Ann Sheldrick, age 11 who was born in London and attending school. Also there was one visitor and three servants. . The "Sea Horse Hotel" (now demolished) was located on Middle Street at the corner of South Street. Before King's Road was built, this pub stood on the cliff edge. Originally known as the Ship-in-Distress. In 1822 it was renamed the "Sea House." It was rebuilt c1870’s and finally demolished in the early 1990’s.

The 1881 census, taken at the "Sea Horse Hotel" gave Martha, age 65 as a hotel keeper. With her was her son William, age 30 the manager at the hotel and her daughter Martha Ann, age 21, an assistant at the hotel. Also there was Martha’s married daughter Alice Mary Stead and her husband William Stead along with five domestic servants.

In 1888, at Steyning, Sussex William married Edith Lambert, who was born 1870 at Arlington, Sussex.

The 1891 census, taken at a hotel in Preston, Sussex gave William as a licensed victualler. With him was his wife Edith and their daughter Edith May, born 1890 in Brighton, Sussex; three servants and one boarder.

By 1899 William and his family moved to Tunbridge Wells and is found in the 1901 census as the licensed victualler of the Railway Bell Hotel. With him was his wife Edith and three barmaids; a cook and one other domestic servant.

The 1911 census, taken at the "Railway Bell Hotel" gave William as the licensed victualler. With him was his wife Edith; their daughter Marguerite, born 1893 in Brighton, and two servants. The census recorded that they were living in premises of 11 rooms; that they had been married 23 years and had just the two children, both of whom were still alive.

As noted in the previous section the Weekes family bought the Railway Bell Hotel in 1911 and demolished it, making William Sheldrick the last person to run it.

William Sheldrick passed away in the 2nd qtr of 1928 at Hammersmith, London. No probate record was found for him.

 

Maidstone Telegraph, Rochester and Chatham Gazette, Saturday 15 December 1860.

Tunbridge Wells.

On Monday night a man came to the "Railway Bell Inn," kept by Mr. Wells, and paid for a bed. The next morning he left unobserved, and after he had gone, three sheets, several pairs of boots, two top coats, with other property belonging to Mr. Wells were missing. He is believed to be the man who committed the robberies at Pembury and Marden. He is middle-age, about 5ft 6in, in height, has a thin face, small whiskers, is dressed in a long brown or dark coat, and was supposed to have cord trousers on, and a black hat with a broad brim, and a nearly new pair of Wellington boots.

 

From the Kent and Sussex Courier 6 June, 1873. Price 1d.

RAILWAY BELL HOTEL.

WINE AND SPIRIT STORES.

A. DRAKE, WINE AND SPIRIT MERCHANT, BEGS to inform his numerous Friends and the Public generally that he has opened a Private Office for the sale of Bottled Goods exclusively. Having for many years past been noted for the fine quality of his Wines and Spirits, A. D. begs most respectfully to solicit a continuance of the liberal patronage already received, and guarantees that all favours entrusted to him shall receive prompt and careful attention.

Martell's & Hennessey's Case Brandies, Quality guaranteed, 4s per Bottle.

Agent for the Metropolitan Tea Company. The finest Black Tea in England 2s. 6d. per lb.

 

From the Kent and Sussex Courier 27 June, 1873. Price 1d.

TEMPORARY AUTHORITIES AND TRANSFERS.

On the application of Mr. A. Drake of the "Railway Bell," Tunbridge Wells, temporary authority to sell until next transfer day was granted to Mr. David Everest, of the "Leicester Arms Hotel," Penshurst, Mr. Everest being too ill to attend. Similar authority was also granted to Henry Pont, of the "Queen's Head Inn," Brenchley, and to Jane Towner, of the "Primroses," Tonbridge.

 

From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 8 August, 1873.

RAILWAY BELL HOTEL. WINE AND SPIRIT STORES.

A. DRAKE, WINE AND SPIRIT MERCHANT,

BEGS to inform his numerous Friends and the Public generally that he has opened a Private Office for the sale of Bottled Goods exclusively. Having for many years past been noted for the fine quality of his Wines and Spirits, A. D. begs most respectfully to solicit a continuance of the liberal patronage already received, and guarantees that all favors entrusted to him shall receive prompt and careful attention.

Martell’s & Hennessey’s Case Brandies, quality guaranteed, 4s. per Bottle.

Agent for the Metropolitan Tea Company— The finest Black Tea in England 3s. 6d. per lb.

 

From the Kent and Sussex Courier, Friday 16 January 1874.

Vagrancy.

Benjamin Jarrard was charged with begging in High Street, on the 10th inst.

Sergeant Forward having proved that the prisoner begged in the street and at Mr. Boorman's refreshment-house, and that the prisoner was drunk at the time, Mr. George Clarence Westover said he was in the "Railway Bell" with a friend at 5 o'clock, when the prisoner came in and applied to them for relief. They declined to give him anything, and he then said that Tichborne was being done out of his rights, and that they were endeavouring to serve him (prisoner) in the same way, adding that they ought to have their noses punched.

The Bench sentence the prisoner to 21 days hard labour.

 

Kent & Sussex Courier, 30, September 1892.

Disorderly and refusing to quit.

Elllen Barber was charged with being disorderly and refusing to quit the "Railway Bell Hotel," on the previous day.

Prisoner pleaded guilty.

Mr J. S. Fletcher, the landlord, deposed that at about a quarter to four, on the day in question, prisoner was in his bar using abusive language. He ordered her to go outside, but she refused, and he had to call the constable to eject her.

The bench inflicted a fine of 5s. and 5s. costs, or 7 Days.

The prisoner was further charged with using obscene language, on Mount Pleasant, on the same day.

Prisoner pleaded guilty, and was fined 6d. and 5s. costs.

Edward Barber, the husband of the previous defendant, who was also charged with refusing to quit the "Railway Bell Hotel," on the previous day.

Prisoner denied being inside the house.

Mr. J. S. Fletcher deposed that while he was remonstrating with the female prisoner the defendant came up and wanted to fight him for a £5 note. He ordered them both out, but they refused, and he had to call the policeman.

P.C. Collyer also proved the case, and prisoner was fined 5s. and 7s. costs.

He was further charged with using obscene language, and was fined 5s. and 5s. costs.

 

From the Kent and Sussex Courier, 28 October 1892.

TONBRIDGE WELLS PETTY SESSIONS LICENSING.

An occasional license was granted to Mr. Fletcher, of the "Railway Bell Hotel," for a Bonfire Boys' fancy dress ball, on the 3rd November.

Mr G. Cheverton, chemist, was granted an out-door wine license for medicinal purposes.

 

LICENSEE LIST

WELLS Mr 1860+

DRAKE Alfred 1862-81+ (age 54 in 1881Census) Kent and Sussex Courier

FLETCHER Joseph Stanwell 1891-92+ (age 40 in 1891Census)

SHELDRAKE William 1901+ (age 50 in 1901Census)

http://pubshistory.com/RailwayBell.shtml

 

Kent and Sussex CourierKent and Sussex Courier

CensusCensus

http://theweald.org/P2.asp?PId=TW.RlwyI

 

If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-

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