Sort file:- Tunbridge Wells, September, 2023.

Page Updated:- Thursday, 07 September, 2023.


Earliest ????


Closed Sept 1988

99 (81) Camden Road (39 in 1871Census)

Royal Tunbridge Wells


Above photo, date unknown.


Above photo, date unknown.

Roebuck 1988

Above photo August 1988.

Former Roebuck 2014

Above photo, 2014 showing the building now as a Mosque.

Former Roebuck

Above photo, date unknown.

Former Roebuck 2018

Above photo 2018.


Local resident Jonathan Macnab tells me he can remember the pub when he was 18, the year it closed, and goes on to say the following:- "I remember it primarily for its reputation. In the mid-80s it was said that it was a hang-out for football hooligans - in particular, the Chelsea Headhunters, though why they'd have a camp in Tunbridge Wells I don't know. It might have been because there was a notorious 'Chelsea hooligan' by the name of Tracy (or, perhaps, Tracey) Edwards who lived in Tunbridge Wells and used to drink in The Roebuck. Finally, I most remember the pub for the graffiti that was sprayed on the front of the building soon after it was boarded up - 'Open up this pub soon you cunts'! I can well remember walking past and seeing it, and I've never forgotten it! And I was surprised (delighted?!) to see it in one of the photos on your web page about The Roebuck (third pictures down from the top, dated 'August 1988')- except the offending word appears to have been removed. No doubt scrubbed out by 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells'!"


After it's closure around 1988 the building became the headquarters for the local branch of the National Front.

However the pub was converted into a mosque in 1995, bet they loved that happening.


Southeastern Gazette, 20 September 1853.

TUNBRIDGE. Annual Licensing Meeting.

On Wednesday last the annual meeting for renewing the victuallers’ licences for the several parishes in this division was held at the Town-hall, before James Deane, Esq., chairman, A. Pott, Esq., Col. Armytage, and S. Cartwright. Esq. No objection was made to the renewal of any licence, 52 of which were renewed.

Joseph Camfieid, for the "Roebuck," Quarry-road, Tunbridge Wells. Mr. Cripps for applicant; Mr. Horn opposed on behalf of the licensed victuallers of Tunbridge Wells.


Three other applications were also refused.


Written By; Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Date: 15 June, 2014



Camden Road has been the site of several public houses over the years, with seven operating there some twenty five years ago. The oldest was the "Camden Inn" at the corner of Camden Road and Calverley Road, dating back to the 1820’s, beside which was constructed the Market Place (later to become the Old Town Hall), both of which were demolished in the 20th century when the site was redeveloped. Some of the best remembered are perhaps the "Roebuck Inn," run by William Barlow in 1863; the "Black Horse," which opened in 1864; the "Prince of Wales" which opened its doors in 1858 and the "Crystal Palace" in 1870, but there have been many others.

The "Roebuck" later became one of several local establishments owned by Kelsey’s Brewery, who’s brewery and office premises were located on St John’s Road near Culverden Road, and was called the Culverden Brewery.

Culverden Brewery

Above photo, date unknown showing the Culverden Brewery.

Culverden Brewery

Another photo of the Culverden Brewery, date unknown.

This article traces the colourful history of the "Roebuck Inn," during good times and bad, and those who ran the public house. As the sign on the photo notes this was one of Kelsey's pubs.


The "Roebuck Inn" dates back to the 1850’s. Due to the renumbering of buildings on Camden Road, the public house was as 81 Camden Road in 1874; at No. 81 in 1881; at No. 97 in 1891 and most recently at 99 Camden Road, the present site of the Tunbridge Wells Mosque (The En Noor Mosque) which took over the old pub in 1995 and is still there. This mosque is sometimes referred to as ‘The Tunbridge Wells Islamic Centre’. At the time the pub was acquired by the mosque, it was called the "Camden Arms." An account from 2012 stated that the "Roebuck" “has been shut almost 20 years now”. Shown opposite is a recent image of the exterior of the former pub.

In 1881, when Thomas Card ran the pub, there was also a residence called "Roebuck Cottages", no doubt named after the pub, as they were located near it.

Like most pubs the "Roebuck" had rooms above in which the licensee and his family lived and there were also a few rooms for those wishing to stay the night. On occasion the pub was the place where clubs held their meetings. The Loyal St James Lodge L.O.O.F.M.U., which had 126 members, and was established in 1864, held their meetings there in 1878. The Independent Order of Longfellows used to meet there every other Wednesday in 1876.


Former Roebuck 2014

Shown above is a recent (2014) view of the exterior of the mosque and a view of its interior. The mosque took over the public house building at 99 Camden Road in 1995 and still operates from this location. The photos were provided by Christopher Cassidy.

Insdie view of Mosque 2014

The Tunbridge Wells Islamic & Cultural Association entre provides facilities for five daily prayers including Jummah and Eid salah. The Madrasa is open for children from the age of 5 yrs. They also provide Islamic marriage services (Nikah) and school visits for local organizations. Their website notes that fees are to be paid every Saturday to Imam Sahib. The centre is open to visitors throughout the year. They receive a large number of visitors from schools and colleges about the Islamic faith for projects and studies. The current mosque secretary is Mr Mohammed Uddin. The Imams are Mr Yasser Balesarie and Mr Mahbub.


Those who remember frequenting the Roebuck say “The Roebuck was quite entertaining back in the day. Camden Road was often shut off on a Saturday afternoon, when the locals started playing up”. The Civic Society Newsletter of Winter 2005 stated “The "Roebuck" in Camden road, once a notorious pub, is now a mosque”. Another former patron of the pub said “the Roebuck was a very lively pub in the 1970’s”.

A walking tour on Camden Road in 2011 included at stop at 99 Camden Road. The Anke website commented “I wander further down and come to 99 Camden Road, which for many years was the "Roebuck." Of all the dens of iniquity which Tunbridge Wells has played host to over the years, none have been quite as iniquitous as the "Roebuck" - a dodgy old boozer by all accounts”. Shown in this section are four images pertaining to Kelsey's Culverden Brewery on St John's Road.


(1) ISAAC BARLOW 1858+ Isaac Barlow was born 1821 at Chesterton, Staffordshire, the son of John Barlow. The 1851 census, taken at Dry Hill, Tonbridge, records Isaac as a labourer. Living with him was his wife Sarah (nee Gibbs), born 1813 Tonbridge, died 1875, and his five children. The 1858 Melville directory listed “Isaac Barlow, Roebuck Inn, Camden Road”. The Poll of 1859 listed “Isaac Barlow, Roebuck Inn, Quarry Road, Tunbridge Wells”. Isaac had been married twice and had three children in the 1850’s with the surname of Barlow and seven with the name of Chivers (born 1831 to 1843). The 1861 census, taken at Town Inn, Round Lane, in Canterbury recorded the presence of Isaac Barlow as a licensed victualler. Living with him was his wife Sarah, three of his children including a son Charles, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1857. Also in the home was three lodgers and his brother William, a victualler of houses, who is given below.


(2) William Barlow 1862+ William was born 1836 at Chewsterton, Staffordshire and was the brother of Isaac Barlow. At the time of the 1861 census he was a licensed victualler living with his brothers family at Town Inn, Round Lane, Canterbury. The 1862 Kelly directory listed William Barlow at the Roebuck Inn. In 1863 Mr Terry applied for a license to open the Black Horse on Camden Road but William Barlow objected to it and as a result Mr Terry wasn’t able to get his license until a year later. William Barlow had claimed that Mr Terry was “a puppet for E & H. Kelsey”. Interestingly it was Kelsey’s that bought the pub from William Barlow in 1864.


(3) THOMAS CARD 1874-81+ Thomas is found listed at the Roebuck Inn in the 1874 Kelly directory and the 1881 census. Thomas was born 1834 at Withyham, Sussex, one of seven children born to George Card (b1791),an agricultural labourer, and Ann Akehurst (b1801). He had been baptised October 5,1834 at Withyham and was still living in Withyham, on the family farm until the time of his marriage to Jane Box (1834-1913) on November 10,1855 at Withyham. Thomas and Jane had five children between 1856 and 1878. Thomas and his family continued to live at Withyham until the late 1860’s, at which time they moved to Tunbridge Wells. The 1871 census recorded Thomas as a beer house keeper at 6 Camden Road at a pub called the ‘Wheatsheaf”. Thomas is listed at the Roebuck in the 1874 Kelly directory. The 1881 census, taken at the Roebuck Inn, 81 Camden Road, records the presence of Thomas, a publican and coal merchant employing two men. Living with him was his wife Jane ; his two sons William, born 1865 Tunbridge Wells and Walter James, born 1879 Tunbridge Wells. Also in the home was his niece Kate Box, age 13, a domestic servant. By 1891 Thomas had left the Roebuck but was still living in Tunbridge Wells. He died January 21,1901 in Tunbridge Wells and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery. His probate records gave his estate valued at 2,324 and his executor was Henry Dainton, retired brewers agent.


(4) HENRY BRADLEY 1891+ Henry is recorded at the Roebuck in the 1891 census. Henry was born September 1857 at Taunton, St James, Somerset, one of eight children born to John Bradley (1821-1908), a farmer, and Mary Marke (1832-1870). He was still living in Taunton at the time of the 1871 census and perhaps later also. In 1861 Henry was living with his parents and siblings on the family farm (69 acres) at Middle Southey, Devon. His mother passed away in 1870 and in 1871 Henry was living with his widowed father, a farm bailiff at Sheps Farm, and four of his siblings. He is first recorded in Tunbridge Wells in the 1891 census, taken at the Roebuck Inn, 99 Camden Road. Henry is listed as the ‘innkeeper’. Living with him was his wife Elizabeth ,born 1856 at Perthire, Scotland. Henry and his wife had three children between 1887 and 1896. Henry died July 26,1896 in Tunbridge Wells and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on July 31st. Probate records show that Henry had died at the Roebuck Inn, that he was a licensed victualler, and that his estate of 2,262 was left to his wife, Elizabeth, the executor of his estate. The 1901 census, taken at 99 Camden Road recorded Elizabeth Bradley as head of the home and the licensed victualler employing others. Living with her was thee of her children her father in law John Bradley, a retired farmer; one visitor and one servant. Elizabeth the pub and is found at the pub in the 1903 Kelly directory as the licensed victualler. The 1901 census also records families living at 1,2, and 3 Roebuck Cottages. The 1911 census, taken at 29 Mereworth Road, Tunbridge Wells, recorded Elizabeth as a retired inn keeper. Living with her in their seven room residence was her daughter Norah Isabella, age 21, an assistant hair dresser, her daughter Margaret Ann, age 15, an assistant photographer.


(5) GEORGE NIGHTINGALE 1913-16. George was born 1853 at Ifield, Sussex, one of several children born to William, a brickmaker in 1861, born 1821 at Rudgwick, Sussex, and Mary Nightingale, born 1830 at Dunsford, Surrey. The 1861 census, taken at New Road, Crowley, Ifield, Sussex records William and his wife Mary and four children, including George. The 1871 census, taken at Black Dog farm house in Worth, Sussex, records William as a farmer of 50 acres employing one man and one boy. Living with him was his wife Mary, his son George, and four other children. George at this time is working on his father’s farm. The 1881 census, taken at High Street, Rawley, Sussex records George as the head of the home. Living with him was his wife Sarah Jane, born 1841 at Framfield, Sussex; three of his children; two lodgers and two servants. George at this time is a publican. The 1891 census, taken at The "White Heart" public house records George as the licensed victualler. Living with him was his wife Sarah; their three children; one lodger and one servant. The 1901 census taken at The "Mitre" public house, at 90 St James Road, Tunbridge Wells, records George as the licensed victualler. Living with him was his wife Sarah, one daughter and one servant. The 1911 census, taken at The Roebuck, 99 Camden Road, records George as the licensed victualler. Living with him was his wife Sarah, his daughter Rose; his mother in law Rebecca Seamer and one servant. The census records their premises had 9 rooms; that the couple had been married 38 years (in 1873 at East Grinstead, Sussex) and that they had four children, all of whom were still living. Probate records give that George Nightingale was of The Roebuck Inn Camden road when he died March 27, 1916. His wife Sarah and Lewis George Coath, solicitors clerk, were the executors of his 1,904 estate. Probate records give that Sarah Jane Nightingale was of 74 St James Rd, Tunbridge Wells when she died February 20, 1924. The executors of her 856 estate was Lewis George Coath, solicitors clerk, and John William Harmer, grocer. Shown below is a photo of 74 St James Rd.

74 St James Road


(6) GEORGE CHAPMAN 1918+ and BEYOND George is listed at the Roebuck in the Kelly directories of 1918 and 1922. No conclusive information could be determined for him. F. JOSEPH HOLLAND was listed at the Roebuck in the 1930 directory and in 1938 the licensed victualler was PERCY WRAITH.


From the By Mary Harris, 7 March 2023.

The pub in Camden Road shut and sold for 70,000 in 1994. It was described by one local as a "a notorious dive". It is believed the pub may have operated from three different premises in Camden Road, since starting at 39 Camden Road in 1874.

It had sold 'wines, ales and stouts' and had been under the ownership of E & H Kelsey Ltd. E & H Kelsey Ltd owned Culverden Brewery on St John's Road in Tunbridge Wells.

The building is now the Tunbridge Wells Mosque, Masjid Al-Noor. The Roebuck, trading at 99 Camden Road since 1850, was re-named the Camden Arms (I have yet to see evidence of this, Paul Skelton.") to cut its link with football hooligans, but closed in 1992 (I thought 1998) to become a mosque.


Thomas Card's son William Henry Card ran the "Mitre" in 1891-98.



CAMFIELD James 1853 (refused)

BARLOW Isaac 1858+

EVEREST David 1861+ Next pub licensee had (age 33 in 1861Census)

BARLOW William 1862-63+

WATSON Charles 1871+ (age 30 in 1871Census)

Last pub licensee had CARD Thomas 1874-81+ (also Coal Merchant age 47 in 1881Census)

BRADLEY Henry 1891+

BRADLEY Elizabeth Mrs 1903+ Kelly's 1903

Last pub licensee had NIGHTINGALE George 1913-16 dec'd

CHAPMAN George 1918-22+

HOLLAND F Joseph 1930+

WRAITH Percy 1938+

COOPER Fred & ELLIS Paul 1986-Sept/88


Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903



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