From its inception in 1959, RTWCS has always been interested and involved in local history, but until 2002 the Society's approach to it was essentially unstructured. Since Tunbridge Wells has never had a Local History Society, it was agreed in July 2002 to form a Local History Group (LHG), as an integral part of RTWCS, to reflect the interests of the Society and its members in Local History.
The overall purpose of the Group is to encourage the investigation, research, analysis, reporting and publication of the history of Tunbridge Wells. More specifically, it is to provide:
- The focus for all those interested in the history of Tunbridge Wells;
- A structure to help interested persons research the history of Tunbridge Wells and publish their findings, either at a meeting and/or in printed or other form;
- A network for the exchange of information, ideas and expertise about Tunbridge Wells and its history;
- A forum for discussion of the history of Tunbridge Wells;
- And to provide RTWCS with further source material for its regular monthly meetings.
And to help:
- Create greater awareness and knowledge among all residents (and particularly those at school) of the history of their town;
- Increase the overall membership of RTWCS;
- And, however indirectly, help the growth of tourism in Tunbridge Wells.
Membership of the LHG is open to existing members of the RTWCS and without any additional charge. Membership of the LHG has now reached 100 i.e. it is about a quarter of RTWCS membership.
Please click here to download the Registration Form
Since its inception in 2002 the Local History Group:
- has held four meetings a year for members;
- has set up a Museum Volunteers scheme to take part in a local history project of sorting and cataloguing some of the Borough Archives under the supervision of Dr. Ian Beavis;
- has produced the first two catalogues of Tunbridge Wells Planning applications — 1867-1891 and 1890-1913;
- has published twelve Local History Monographs, including:
'Decimus Burton, Esquire: Architect and Gentleman', by Dr. Philip Whitbourn
'Researching Royal Tunbridge Wells', by Susan Brown, the Tunbridge Wells Reference Librarian. This is a bibliography of historical sources, and is an absolutely invaluable reference work for any one researching local or family history.
'Skinners School. Its controversial origin and its landmark buildings', by Cecil Beeby and Philip Whitbourn. Published November 2004. A fascinating insight into a Victorian ‘storm in a teacup’ which lasted 17 years and had Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells at each others’ throats, together with a history and assessment of its landmark buildings.
'The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells', by six LHG members Anne Bates, Sue Brown, Geoffrey and Brenda Copus, John Cunningham and Dr. Philip Whitbourn.. A history of the development of the Park concept which came through Decimus Burton and John Ward from Regent’s Park to Tunbridge Wells, and which led to Calverley, Nevill and Hungershall, Camden, Bishop’s Down, Woodbury, Grosvenor, Boyne, Molyneux, Ferndale, Sherwood, Sandown, Sandhurst and the mysterious Liptraps Park; and to Warwick, Madeira, Linden and Culverden Parks.
'400 Years of the Wells' covers the History of our Town. It has been written by a number of members of the Local History Group Lionel Anderson, John Arkell, Ann Bates, Ian Beavis, Chris Jones, Geoffrey Copus, John Cunningham and Philip Whitbourn. It is perfect-bound with a laminated full-colour cover and has 200 pages and 146 illustrations.
Chairman: John Cunningham
Hon. Secretary: Chris Jones
Committee: Lionel Anderson, Ann Bates, Dr. Ian Beavis, Susan Brown, Jane Dickson, Louise Irving