Tonbridge History


                        Tonbridge Timeline


Most of the information in this Timeline comes from the publications of Tonbridge Historical Society (details here). We would be glad to know of any errors or omissions (contact details).

 up to 1499
  before 0 A.D.  An iron age trackway runs north-south through what is now Tonbridge; the Romans will improve and use it
  before 1066  A Saxon preaching place may have been where Tonbridge Parish church is now
  1066  William the Conqueror gives the Manor and Castle of Tonbridge to his kinsman Richard FitzGilbert
 The surrounding area is declared the ‘Lowy' of Tonbridge
  soon after 1066  Tonbridge's first castle, a fort of wood and earth, is built
 The Normans also build a small church on the present site of the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul
  1086  Domesday Book mentions 'Ricardi de Tonebrige'  ('Richard of Tonbridge')
  1088  William II burns Tonbridge’s wooden fortress, and the town, to punish Richard FitzGilbert for revolt
  1125  The Textus Roffensis ('Rochester Chronicle'), written this year, refers to 'Tonebriga'
  c.1180  Richard de Clare founds the Priory of St Mary Magdalene
  1191  A Medway bridge exists in Tonbridge by this date
  12th/13th C  Parts of the Port Reeve's House in East Street may date from this time
  13th C  The Parish Church is enlarged and a squat tower built
  1215  Richard FitzGilbert’s grandson, Richard de Clare, attends signing of Magna Carta
 King John attacks and seizes the Castle, but it is returned two years later
  1230-60  The stone Castle is built, including the massive gatehouse which survives today
  1259  The de Clare family obtain a licence for a wall round the town, but only a bank and ditch (The Fosse) are
 The Earl of Gloucester is granted the right to hold a weekly market in the town
  1264  Henry III takes the Castle.
 There is evidence of an inn on the present Chequers site at this time
  1272  Edward I and Queen Eleanor are entertained at the Castle before their Coronation
  1297  Prince Edward delivers the great Seal of England to the King's Chancellor in Tonbridge Castle
  1314  The de Clare family’s involvement with the Castle ends after 250 years
  1326-7  Earliest evidence of a mill at Tonbridge
  1337  11th July: fire devastates the Priory
  1340  There is evidence of ironmaking near Bourne Mill at this time
  1348  Ralph, Lord Stafford, takes over the Castle
  1431  First mention of the Town Lands, rent from which is used for bridge repair in Tonbridge and other purposes
  1492  John Judde leaves money for 'mending of foul wayes' in Tonbridge and elsewhere
  late 15th C  The present Chequers building dates from this time

1500 — 1699
  1521  Tonbridge Castle gatehouse is declared ‘as strong a fortress as few be in England’
  1523  Imminent suppression of the Priory; Tonbridge people protest to the Archbishop of Canterbury
  1525  8th February: the Priory closes.
 Henry VIII, as lord of Tonbridge Castle, has a narrow five-arched sandstone bridge built over the Medway
  1531  Richard Mylls leaves land, rental from which is to pay for road repairs between Vauxhall and the town
  1550-1620  There is evidence of cutlery-making in the Tonbridge area at this time
  1550s  There is evidence of a bell-foundry operating in Tonbridge
 An ironmaking forge is set up at the Postern
  1552  An ironmaking furnace is in operation in the Vauxhall area
  1553  Sir Andrew Judde founds the Free Grammar School which later becomes Tonbridge School
  1555  Protestant martyr Margery Polley is burnt at the stake in Tonbridge for her beliefs
  1557-8  There is an outbreak of the plague in Tonbridge Parish
  1576 20th July: 'Katherine, the wyfe of Edmond Brystone, was burned [in Tonbridge] for poysoining of her Husband'
  1580s  A strip of the High Street from Church Lane down to the Market Cross (East Street) is paved with stones
  1610  A 'Playhouse' exists in Tonbridge at this time
 The plague strikes Tonbridge again; the death rate rises to six times normal as 144 die in the parish
  1619  Sir Thomas Smythe gives ten pounds, eight shillings for the maintenance of the poor in Tonbridge; he later
 makes other charitable bequests to the town and its Grammar School
  1628  Sutton's Bridge in the High Street is repaired by the County (now commemorated by a stone)
  1643  Civil War: Tonbridge Castle owner Thomas Weller is a parliamentarian; there is a minor skirmish near Hilden
  1646  Thomas Weller is ordered to dismantle the Castle defences
  1663-4  The population of Tonbridge is estimated at 586 people
  1671  The Market Cross, which stood where Castle Street meets the High Street, is rebuilt
  1672  Tonbridge has its own post office by now
  1677  Provision is made for a bridge over the Medway in Postern Lane
  1692  8th September: an earthquake shock is felt in the town (or so it is claimed)

1700 — 1799
  1709  The road from Sevenoaks to Woodsgate via Tonbridge is turnpiked
  1720s  The Poor House is built in what is now Bank Street
  1724  Daniel Defoe writes of Tonbridge that 'the Houses in the Town are mostly ill-built, and the Streets sorrily paved'
  1730  Tthere are now two brick mansions at the north end of the town
  1731  George Austen is born in Tonbridge; his daughter will be the novelist Jane Austen
  1739  The population is about 900 by now.
 Castle owner John Hooker starts to dismantle the Castle and sell the stone
  1740  Parliament passes an Act for making the River Medway navigable from Maidstone to Forest Row in Sussex
 A Charity School is founded in Tonbridge, whereabouts unknown
  1740s  Tthe Medway is ‘canalised’ from Maidstone to Tonbridge
  1743  The Medway Navigation Company begins to trade as a coal merchant
  1744  George Hooper leaves money for a ‘water engine' i.e. a fire engine, for the town
  1747  Fire-fighting is now the responsibility of the Lighting and Watching Committee of the Parish Vestry
  1761  James Cawthorn, Master of Tonbridge School, is said to have locked a boy in a cupboard and forgotten him; the
 boy dies
  1763  19th August: a phenomenal thunderstorm strikes; hop gardens, orchards and cornfields are entirely destroyed
  1765  The road from Maidstone to Tunbridge Wells via Tonbridge is turnpiked
  1774-5  The Big Bridge is rebuilt by the County
  1775  31st December: a snowstorm produces drifts 10 ft deep in Tonbridge streets
  c1780s  In the outside world the town is now often referred to as 'Tonbridge-Town' or 'Tunbridge-Town' to distinguish
 it from Tunbridge-Wells; this will continue for more than a century
  1783  A hot summer brings an ‘intolerable’ plague of caterpillars
  1784  The Wise family advertise Tunbridge Ware as a product
  1791  A Dissenters' chapel (later the Corn Exchange) is put up in Bank Street
  1792  the Tonbridge Bank is set up by Messrs Children, Woodgate and Scoones; it will collapse in 1812
  1793  31st July: the Town Wardens install a public pump at the ‘dipping place' by the Big Bridge
 Thomas Hooker builds a mansion attached to the Castle (now Council offices and ‘Gateway’)
  1798  A Town Hall is put up in the High Street near the Castle Street junction; it will be demolished in 1901
 Hasted describes Tonbridge as 'now in a flourishing state' with 'many good houses'; several residents are
 'persons of genteel fortune'.
  1799  Anna Children is born at Ferox Hall; as Anna Atkins she will be a pioneer of photography

1800 — 1849
  1801  The population of Tonbridge is c.1500
 A pottery is in operation at Pittswood; later there is a brickfield on this site
  1804  James Burton builds Mabledon at the top of Quarry Hill
  1808  Humphry Davy pays the first of several visits to Tonbridge staying with the Childrens at Ferox Hall
  1809  The Ightham to Tonbridge road is turnpiked
  1811  Cannon Lane river bridge collapses and is replaced
  1813  The Tonbridge Gunpowder Company starts production on its Ramhurst site
  1813  The world's largest battery is constructed at Ferox Hall
  1814  Thomas Beeching opens Beeching’s Bank; it will merge with Lloyd’s in 1906
 Severe flooding; the Little Bridge is swept away
 A canal is cut to link Leigh Powdermills to the Medway
  1818  The Big Bridge is widened by replacing its stone parapets with iron railings
  1820s  ‘Macadamisation' begins in the town
  1823  William Cobbett describes Tonbridge as 'but a common country town, though very clean, and the people
 looking very well'
  1828  James Christie forms the Penshurst Canal company
  1829  Tonbridge School governors erect posts to mark boundaries of their property
 The New Cut is dug linking two branches of the Medway; River Walk now runs alongside
 The Stone Lock is constructed at Haysden, but never used
 A Wesleyan Methodist church opens in East Street; it will be rebuilt on the same site in 1872
  after 1829  The Wesleyan Sunday School expands to weekdays; it will move to Barden Road in 1869
  1830  The ‘Straight Mile' is dug for the Penshurst Canal but never filled
  1830s  Uridge's Cage Green windmill is in operation; it will close down in the 1860s
  1831 onwards  The large Tonbridge parish is split up as new parishes are created in Southborough, Hildenborough and
 Tunbridge Wells
  1832  James Christie is bankrupt and absconds
 The High Street from Church Lane to the Chequers is macadamised
 Open drainage channels are constructed alongside part of the High Street
 30 coaches now pass through Tonbridge each weekday, half of them bound for London, others for Tunbridge
 Wells, Maidstone, Tenterden, Rye, St Leonards and Hastings
  1835  The first Board meeting of the Poor Law Union involving Tonbridge and nine other parishes takes place
  1836  The new Workhouse for 500 people opens at Pembury; it will be demolished c.2011
 The Tonbridge Gas Company is formed; the streets are first lit on 12th November
 The South Eastern Railway receives assent for a line from London to Dover via Tonbridge
  1837-40  The Vestry (early form of town council)  builds some not very effective sewers
  1840  Extra police are drafted in to Tonbridge to deal with the influx of railway navvies
  c.1840  The ruins of Tonbridge Priory are demolished to make way for the railway
  1840s  The Lavender Hill brickworks is in operation, until c.1915
 Six or seven private schools are now operating in the town
  1841  The population now exceeds 3,000
  1842  26th May: the railway opens to ‘Tunbridge' from London via Redhill
  1844  The railway reaches Dover from Tonbridge
  1845  The National School opens in the former Bank Street Workhouse; it will become Woodlands School in 1964
  1845  Tonbridge's Eliza Acton publishes her best-selling Cookery Book
  1845  A Branch line to Tunbridge Wells opens, but requires trains to reverse after leaving Tonbridge
  1845 or 6  Telegraph lines are installed along the South-Eastern Railway; Tonbridge is the nerve centre of the network
  1847  A Literary Society is flourishing in the town
  1848  There are now 11 inns and taverns and 16 beer houses in the town
  1849  A serious outbreak of cholera occurs at the lower end of the town; others follow in 1854 and 1866

1850 — 1899
  1850  Charles Dickens comes to Tonbridge to see the Telegraph Office
 A Mechanics’ Institute is set up, providing lectures and reading opportunities for working people
  1850s and 60s  Rapid development of roads and housing gives rise to a ‘New Town’ south of the railway
  1850s  Punnett's brickworks is in operation where Woodfield Road is now
  c.1850  Tonbridge Choral Society gives frequent concerts of sacred music
  1851  The town’s population is almost 4,000
 Starvecrow brickworks is in operation in Shipbourne Road; it will close in c.1930s
  1852  The Tonbridge Water Works Company starts to supply piped water, but only to 176 houses
 St Stephen's church, built by Punnett's, opens at the south end of the town
 Accurate Greenwich Time is now available in the town via the Electric Telegraph
 The railway station is renamed Tunbridge Junction
  1853  Smallpox strikes the town; other outbreaks will follow in 1877 and 1883
  1854  St Stephen’s national (primary) school opens in Waterloo Road
  1856  The Cattle Market Company is set up
  1857  Trains can now go to Tunbridge Wells without needing to reverse, via a new sharp curve out of the station
 Tonbridge now has its own Superintendent of Police, with 5 constables
 St Stephen’s infants’ school opens in Pembury Road
 A Drinking Fountain is installed at the junction of Waterloo Road and Quarry Hill
 An Ebenezer Chapel opens in the High Street; it will later transfer to Bradford Street
  1859  The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association starts to install troughs in London and
 elsewhere, including, eventually, some in Tonbridge
  1860  A Ragged School (free school for poor children) is operating in the town but will close in 1888
  1861  The population is almost 5,000
  1864  A Police Station, with cells, is built in Pembury Road; it will eventually be replaced with a much larger one
 The old Tonbridge School building is pulled down and the present one built
 The present railway station  opens
  1865  The original railway station, where the station car parks are now, is demolished
  1866  A Sewer Authority is set up but achieves little
  1867  A Zion Chapel opens in Pembury Road
  1868  The ‘direct' railway line to London via Sevenoaks and Orpington opens
 The Hadlow Road tollgate is removed
 On 22nd July Dr Fielding records a temperature of 100.5 degrees F (38.1 degrees C) in his garden in Mill Lane
 — a British record which will stand for more than a century
  1869  William Blair launches the Tonbridge Free Press weekly newspaper
  1870-1900s  A horseracing track is in operation on what is now the Sportsground
  1870s  The Dry Hill area is developed with new roads and housing
 R.W.Annison develops the Houselands (Slade) area with new roads and housing
 Turnpikes end about now
 A main drainage system is set up
 The Fire Brigade is now the responsibility of the Lighting Committee of the Local Board
  c.1870  There are now three Postal Deliveries a day in the town
  1870  The Union Workhouse at Pembury admits nearly 7,000 vagrants in 6 months 
 St Stephen’s girls’ school opens on the corner of St Stephen’s Street
  1871  Tonbridge’s population is now almost 7,000
 After years of squabbles and chaos Tonbridge finally elects a Local Board; it will be the town’s ruling authority for
 the next 24 years, replacing the Vestry
  1872  A drinking fountain is installed outside the Star and Garter at the junction of London and Shipbourne roads
 A Baptist Church opens in the High Street and will remain there until 1973; the site is now Somerfield’s
 The Little Bridge is swept away by floods (again)
  1873  The first Sewage Treatment Works opens
  1874  Christ Church, a breakaway C of E church, opens in Lansdowne Road; it will close c.1900
  c1876  A Public Hall is built; it will become the Capitol Cinema in 1921; Wellington Place now occupies the site
  1876  The end of Tunbridge Ware manufacture in Tonbridge
 A Congregational Church opens in the High Street; It will be replaced by today’s U.R.C. church in 1976
 St Saviour’s Church is consecrated
  1877  Extensive renovations at the Parish Church
  c.1878  The Market moves from the High Street to Bank Street site (now Market Quarter)
  1878  A pioneering experimental telephone link is made between Tonbridge and London
  1879  Very bad flooding, followed by a freeze; skating on the Medway
 The town’s first hospital, the Isolation Hospital, opens in Vauxhall Wood; it will close in 1933
  1880  Great flooding in the High Street in October
  1881-1911  Many new homes built in the Pembury Road/Quarry Hill area
  1881  The population now exceeds 9,000
 47 cricketball makers now live in the town
  1882  The Local Board opens a free (Public) Library in the High Street, where Barclay’s Bank is today
  1887  Legendary cricketer Frank Woolley is born in Tonbridge
  1888  The present Big Bridge is opened
 Tonbridge Cricket Club is founded
 Sir Andrew Judde's Commercial School is established in East Street as a fee-paying day school for boys; it will
 move to its present site in 1896 and become a grammar school, the Judd School
  1890s  The Angel Ground is first used for cricket
  1890  St Eanswythe’s Mission Hall opens in Priory Road
  c.1890  After decades of confusion, the Local Board finally decides that Tonbridge should be spelled with an 'o', not a 'u',
 thereby helping to distinguish Tonbridge from Tunbridge Wells
  c.1891  The Local Board sets up a Technical Institute in Salford Terrace; it will move to new-built premises in Avebury
 Avenue ten years later
  1891  The population of Tonbridge has grown to over 10,000
 The first chain stores arrive: Freeman, Hardy and Willis, and the International Tea Company
  1892 to c.1912  The High Street is widened from the south end to the Big Bridge in stages, involving demolition of all properties
 on the west side
  1892  There are now about 47 streets with houses in the town; the number will grow by 34 in the next 20 years
 Tonbridge Ladies College opens as a private school at Fosse Bank in the High Street; it will become Fosse Bank
 School on Quarry Hill, and later in Hildenborough
 Princess Beatrice, youngest daughter of Queen Victoria, visits Tonbridge
  1893  Future novelist E.M.Forster moves to Tonbridge and is a dayboy at Tonbridge School
 The railway station is renamed to Tonbridge Junction
  1894  The Tonbridge Urban District Council takes over, and will run the town until 1974
 A temporary Roman Catholic Church opens in Waterloo Road
  1895  Severe frosts; skating on the Medway for two months from 6th January
 The Gas Company buys a new gasholder; is is still standing in 2011
  1896  A new Post Office opens at 91 High Street (now Pizza Express)
 Bradbury and Agnew's Whitefriars Press opens its Tonbridge works
  1897-1927  The Angel Ground is used for the Kent County Cricket Club’s Nursery
  1898  There are now 21 telephone subscribers in Tonbridge
 Punnett's establish the Quarry Hill brickworks; it will grow and survive until the 1990s
 Yardley Court School is founded
 Work starts on a Salvation Army Citadel in Lyons Crescent; it will eventually close in 1984
 The Castle is purchased by Tonbridge Urban District Council
  1899   About 8 or10 people in Tonbridge now own a motorcar, it is said
 The South Eastern Railway becomes the South Eastern and Chatham

1900 — 1949
 c.1900  Horsedrawn omnibuses now link the town with Hadlow, Hildenborough and East Peckham
 1900  Brown, Knight and Truscott's Dowgate Press opens its Tonbridge works
 The horsewash, adjacent to the Big Bridge, is removed
 Lord Avebury opens the new Public Library and Technical Institute in Avebury Avenue
 1901  The population is now approaching 13,000
 1902  Queen Victoria Cottage Hospital opens in Baltic Road, paid for by public subscription
 ‘Hospital Sunday’ becomes a big annual event, with a grand parade to raise funds for the Cottage Hospital
 Tonbridge Council's Electric Light Station in the Slade starts to generate current
 A new Fire Station opens in Bank Street
 1903  Tonbridge Orchestral Society is formed
 A Convent is established at Shrublands in Mill Lane
 Tonbridge Rugby Football Club is formed
 Corpus Christi Roman Catholic church opens in Lyons Crescent
 1905  There are now seven bicycle shops in the town
 The County School for Girls opens in the Technical Institute Building; it will move to Deakin Leas in 1913 and
 become Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls
 A rifle club is formed
 1907  There are now 20 inns and pubs, 9 hotels and 23 beer retailers in the town
 1st Tonbridge Scout Troop, and Boys’ Brigade are formed
 Tonbridge has at least five Brass Bands
 The Slade and Sussex Road primary schools open
 1908  The Electric Light Station is enlarged to supply more than 7000 lamps
 1909-39  12 to 15 private schools are operating in Tonbridge at any one time during this period
 1909  March 5th: two trains collide at Tonbridge Station; two railwaymen are killed and 11 passengers injured
 1910  The Medway Navigation Company collapses
 The Star Cinema opens in Bradford Street; it will close in 1914 and reopen from 1930-39
 A Council outdoor swimming pool opens
 A row over the introduction of Mixed Bathing at the town pool attracts national attention
 An estimated 10,200 hop-pickers come to the Tonbridge area this year
 1911  The population of Tonbridge is approaching 15,000; they live in 3,300 houses  
 1912  The Autocar company runs the first regular motor bus service from Tunbridge Wells through Tonbridge to
 1913  21st July: a ‘Suffragist's Pilgrimage' passes through the town
 Hall’s Garage in the High Street now offers 20-25 h.p. Studebakers for £295
 1914  The Empire Picture Palace opens in Avebury Avenue; it will be a theatre from 1932-55
 Cricket-ball makers from Tonbridge and district, who supply most of the balls used in this country, strike for
 more pay
 1914-18  FIRST WORLD WAR: 3,000 Tonbridge people serve, 346 are killed
 Much extra rail traffic runs through Tonbridge to and from the Front
 1915  The Medway Navigation is reopened by Board of Conservators
 A new Post Office and Telephone Exchange opens at 94 High Street (now Wetherspoon's)
 1916  The short-lived Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) Hospital for the wounded at Quarry Hill House has over 500
 c.1916  The Telegraph Office, opposite the railway station, burns down
 1917  Crystalate’s ‘Town Works' opens; millions of gramophone records will be pressed here
 1918  A Roller-skating Rink opens in Bradford Street; it will close in 1939 (now part of Car Park)
 Storey Motors starts making cars in Tonbridge, but will stop in 1920
 The Infant Mortality Rate in Tonbridge is 107.8 per 1000 but drops to 56.6 by 1920 (and 4.8 in 2009)
 1919  The town has 18 solicitors but only 8 doctors and 2 dentists
 Hilden Oaks school opens
 The town elects its first female Councillor; in the 1930s there will be at least five
 1920s  Many council houses are erected in this decade
 Motoring becomes more affordable: Chas. Baker and Co. are now selling Morris cars from their High Street
 Several petrol filling-stations appear in the town
 Motor taxis replace horse-drawn cabs outside Tonbridge Station in this decade
 1920  There are 21 new cases of TB in the district this year, and 19 of diphtheria, but no smallpox
 1921  The population is now 16,000
 The Capitol Cinema opens in the former Public Hall in the upper High Street
 The Pavilion Cinema opens in Avebury Avenue; it will close in 1941  (site now part of the Library)
 TUDC buys a secondhand steamroller and a new tar boiler for road-mending
 1922  The Gas Company buys a second, larger, gasholder – still a conspicuous feature of the town in 2011
 The Medway Hall opens in Bradford Street; it will close c.1970, now Somerfield Car Park
 1923  Lord Hardinge of Penshurst opens the Council’s new sportsground (now ‘Racecourse Sportsground’)
 South Eastern and Chatham Railway becomes part of Southern Railway
 early 1920s  Open-top double deckers ply between Tonbridge and the Wells
 mid 1920s  Bus wars develop between rival operators Autocar (solid tyres) and Redcar (pneumatic tyres); they reach a
 truce in 1928
 1920s and 30s  The heyday of hop-picking; tens of thousands of Londoners descend on the town to live and work on local
 farms every August and September
 1926  Catastrophic fire at Whitefriars Press
 Vale Road residents complain of excessive smoke and grit from the locomotive shed
 1927  324 gas cookers are installed in Tonbridge this year
 1928  South-Eastern Tar Distillers' opens Vale Road plant; it will close in the 1990s
 Car Parking is already a problem in the town, but is still free
 1929  The railway station is finally renamed ‘Tonbridge’
 1930s  The Depression: begging rife in the High Street
 Red Phone Boxes appear in the town
 Artist and art historian Martin Hardie moves to Tonbridge
 Tonbridge now has a few hundred London commuters
 1930  Lord Cornwallis opens Cornwallis Avenue
 There are still 130 privately-owned shops in the High Street
 The journey time to Charing Cross is now 55 minutes
 October 5th: William King of Tonbridge, 32, an engineer on the R101 airship, dies when the airship comes
 down in northern France and is destroyed by fire
 1931  The population has only grown by a few hundred in the last ten years
 1932  650 Tonbridge people now work for the Southern Railway, the town’s biggest employer
 Electro-Chemical Developments company starts in Cannon Lane; as Wallace and Tiernan in Tudeley Lane it will
 be the town’s largest employer in the 1960s
 27 die and 534 are injured in road accidents in South-west Kent this year
 1933  Unemployment peaks, with more than 1000 Tonbridge men and women out of work
 Woodland Walk is created as a work scheme for the unemployed
 Maidstone and District now reigns supreme in the local bus world
 Season Ticket Holders Association makes ‘emphatic and unanimous’ complaint about the train service
 1934  Traffic lights are approved for Pembury Road/Quarry Hill junction
 The station entrance is rebuilt
 The station platforms are improved and the line’s ‘London curve’ is made less tight
 Production ceases at Leigh gunpowder mills, which are then razed to the ground
 700 people now work in the town’s various printing works
 Tonbridge now has two golf courses and 200 members
 There are now 13 garages or motor engineers in the town
 mid-1930s  There is new housebuilding in North Tonbridge (Hadlow Road/Ridgeway area)
 Tonbridge Gas Company is absorbed into South Suburban Gas
 1935  Chas. Baker and Co. now offer driving instruction for the new Compulsory Driving Test
 The new Queen Victoria Cottage Hospital opens on its present Vauxhall site
 In National Rat Catching Week, Tonbridge rat-catchers chalk up 467 kills, making Tonbridge the
 national champion
 1936  Writer and painter Denton Welch moves to Tonbridge
 c.1936  A grand shop for Burton’s the tailors is put up at 62 High Street (now QS)
 1937  The Ritz cinema opens in Botany; it will become a mini-cinema in 1978 and close in 1981
 A Council employee catches 435 rats during National Rat Week
 The Distiller's Company produces first polystyrene made in UK in Tonbridge
 1938-42  Norman Heatley, educated at Tonbridge School, plays a vital role in the development of penicillin
 1938  1 in 3 Tonbridge people go to see Disney’s ‘Snow White’ in the Town’s cinemas
 Tonbridge’s death rate of 9.9 per 1000 is now the same as the national average in 2009
 16,600 civilian gas masks have arrived by October
 Air Raid Wardens are enrolled
 A new Telephone Exchange opens on its present site in Avebury Avenue; it will later be much enlarged
 1939  Heart disease is the commonest cause of death, killing 173 in the town this year
 There are now 5,400 houses in the town, including 661 council houses
 1939-45  SECOND WORLD WAR: tank traps and barbed-wire entanglements appear in the High Street
 1939  September: 615 boys from Dulwich College are evacuated to Tonbridge, where they share the premises of
 Tonbridge School; they will only stay one term
 1940  The Local Defence Volunteers, later called Home Guard, is formed
 Defensive ‘pillboxes' are constructed along north bank of Medway; some still remain in 2011
 During the evacuation of Dunkirk 620 special trains carry 300,000 troops through the station, where local
 people ply them with food and drink
 During the summer and autumn the Battle of Britain is fought in the skies over Tonbridge
 A Prisoner-of-War Camp is constructed  in Somerhill Park (now Weald of Kent School grounds) to hold German
 and Italian prisoners
 1940s  A strategic fuel pipeline is constructed through north Tonbridge and linked to PLUTO (Pipe Line Under the
 1942  On December 16th bombs aimed at the station destroy homes in Albert Road and Chichester Road instead;
 3 die, 30 are injured
 1943  The poet Sidney Keyes, educated at Tonbridge School, is killed on active service
 1946  The population is about 18,000
 1947  A Girls’ Technical High School opens; it will become Weald of Kent grammar school in 1978
 Tonbridge Football Club ('The Angels') is formed, based at the former Angel cricket ground situated behind the Angel Hotel
 1948  Tonbridge Water Company amalgamates with the Sevenoaks Water Company
 The Southern Railway becomes part of nationalised British Railways 

1950 — 1999
 1950s and 60s  A huge expansion of new housing takes place at the North end of the town. 10,000 people will eventually live  there, and three new churches and four new schools will be built.
 1950s  The Whitefriars Press is producing paperbacks by the million at this time
 1950  Tonbridge-born scientist Cecil Powell is awarded the Nobel Prize for physics. (Further information on this site)
 1951  The population reaches 19,000
 1957  Diesels take over from steam on the Hastings line
 1600 commuters now travel to London daily
 1959  Russell White becomes the first Bishop of Tonbridge
 1960s  High Street widening continues with the demolition of shops between the Great Bridge and the Chequers
 Hop-picking by visiting Londoners has almost completely died out
 1961  The population is now 22,000
 The Tonbridge to London railway line is electrified at last
 1964  Bank Street School moves and becomes Woodlands Junior School
 Prince Philip opens the Delarue School
 1965  The present sewage works opens
 A new Methodist Church opens in Hunt Road
 1966  November 3rd: Tonbridge North Library opens to serve the burgeoning area of Trench Wood and Cage Green
 1968  Disastrous flooding in the town
 1969  Derek Barton, educated at Tonbridge School, receives the Nobel Prize for chemistry
 Tonbridge is twinned with French town Le Puy
 1970s  The end of cricketball-making in Tonbridge
 Gravel extraction takes place where Haysden Water now is
 1970  The Vale Road to Cannon Lane ‘mini-bypass' is completed
 The Tonbridge Free Press newspaper ceases publication
 1971  The population has leapt to 30,000
 The Cattle Market ceases operation
 The A21 Tonbridge bypass is completed
 1974-80  Gravel extraction takes place where Barden Lake now is
 1974  Tonbridge Urban District Council is dissolved; the town becomes part of Tonbridge and Malling District (later
 Tonbridge and Malling Borough)
 1980  Tonbridge Football Club relocates to Longmead/Tonbridge Farm off Darenth Avenue at the north end of town,
 as the Angel Ground is to be redeveloped
 1982  The Leigh Flood Barrier is completed; it is the UK's largest flood relief scheme, intended to protect Tonbridge
 from future inundation
 The Sainsbury/Bentall/Angel Centre complex opens on the former Angel Ground
 1984  Tonbridge and Malling is twinned with the German town of Heusenstamm
 1985  The Fire Station moves to its present Vale Road site
 1986  The Hastings line is electrified
 1987  Gravel extraction starts in the Postern area
 1988  September 17th: Tonbridge School Chapel burns down
 1989  Whitefriars Press closes in Tonbridge
 1993  Fred Dibnah demolishes the chimney of Quarry Hill brickworks, which has now closed
 1994  Channel Tunnel Eurostar trains start to run through Tonbridge
 1997  Tonbridge-educated cricketer Colin Cowdrey becomes Baron Cowdrey of Tonbridge
2000 —
 2000s  Former industrial sites alongside the Medway are redeveloped for high-density housing
 2000  A wet year: the Leigh Flood Barrier comes into operation 13 times (twice a year is typical)
 October 12th: after torrential rain, flood waters come within inches of the top of the Barrier; Tonbridge has a
 narrow escape
 2003  Channel Tunnel Eurostar trains cease to run through Tonbridge
 The Cattle Market site is sold for redevelopment as ‘Market Quarter'
 2004  September 1st: An estimated 40,000 people pack into Tonbridge and Hildenbrough to celebrate the
 homecoming of Kelly Holmes after she wins gold medals at 800m and 1500m in the Athens Olympics. Holmes,
 from Hildenborough, was educated in the town and trained with Tonbridge Athletics Club. She is appointed
 Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2005 New Year Honours
 2005  The population of Tonbridge and Malling Borough is 112,000, of whom 37,000 live in Tonbridge
 2006  February 22nd: criminals steal £53 million in notes from a depot in Vale Road
 2007  July 8th: Roads are closed and thousands line the streets for a glimpse of the Tour de France cycle cavalcade as
 it flashes through the town
 2011  Following major development, West Kent College in Brook Street becomes K College (but will revert
 to West Kent College in 2014)