This is a book that began almost by accident, borne out of curiosity.
Having lived for some years in the house in Westbury Terrace, Westerham, the Curtis family had paid off their mortgage, and the building society had released the deeds to their house. A legal document one hundred years old bearing threaded silk and wax seals introduced the landowner, the vendor, the original purchaser, witnesses, the solicitor and what turned out to be a tenant 'minder' and other mystery guests – unknown names from the past – H.C. Bartlett, T.H. Weller, A.F. Dumaresq, I. Darkin, M. Delacombe, R.C. Darby, M Whatley and others. Who were these people, and why so many involved?
The chance finding of a signature and date pencilled on a structural panel under the stairs in the house provided further impetus – T.O. Weller, July 1902, signed by the carpenter and joiner who had completed the staircase, the son of the vendor who, it became apparent, was a local builder of some renown.
An innocent search by the author amongst the County archives at Sevenoaks library led to some 2,500 hours research and writing that has become this book, documenting changes in the social and commercial life of a rural town community in the latter-half of the nineteenth century in the wake of the industrial revolution.
This story tells of the birth of schools and education, the first domestic supply of water and gas, the growth of business, transport and communication, acres of nursery land and orchards giving way to the building of houses, the coming of the railway, the building of sewers and the production and consumption of beer!
Live amongst this community in the 1890s and walk the streets then and now – you'll be surprised at the evidence that still remains.