53 posts categorised "Pantiles"

British Pathé Film

British Pathé, the newsreel maker which documented all walks of life during the 20th Century, has uploaded its entire collection of film to YouTube.

Of course, like me, the first thing you would do is type Tunbridge Wells into the search facility, but worry not, don't waste those precious seconds, I've done the hard work for you and selected a few favourites from the list. Enjoy!

Tunbridge Wells 1942-1944

Some beautiful old footage of our town, including lots of Grosvenor and Hilbert Park, "Don't it make your pants shiny!"

Thrombosis - New Cure?

Did Tunbridge Wells hold the cure? Notice the cup on a chain to drink from the spring.

Floral Clock (1951)

Where is this clock today?

Yoga Dancing (1956)

Anyone remember Mrs Legat?

A Challenge

Who's the best, Maidstone or Royal Tunbridge Wells?

How utterly brilliant are they? Of course there are a few more, click here to save more precious seconds and explore the whole 3,500 hours of uploaded footage. Thanks to Michael Wadsworth for pointing out the news.

Exploring The River Grom Tunnels

Ever wondered where the River Grom goes when it disappears underneath The Pantiles?

River Grom Pantiles Tunnels

David and I have been waiting nearly a year to get the chance to find out, and thanks to Michael and Sarah, and some very favourable weather conditions, we donned some waders and headed down into the abyss.

River Grom Pantiles Tunnels

Kip's Map of 1719 showing the River Grom passing alongside The Pantiles.

We descended through a tight circular drain with barely enough room for us to squeeze through, luckily we both skipped breakfast that morning, and awaiting us there at the bottom was a sight that took our breath away. If you love tunnels, and Tunbridge Wells really loves its tunnels, this is the pièce de résistance.

River Grom Pantiles Tunnels

We both stood and looked at our feet and watched the River Grom passing across them, thanks to the lack of rain recently it was nothing but a trickle. In wetter weather these tunnels are filled to the very top with water raging through. In places the walls were stained that characteristic Chalybeate iron brown and made for incredibly slippery going, and what with the just-under-six-foot height of the tunnel we were careful to take it easy no matter how excited we were.

Actually, they say a picture is worth a thousand words so instead why not watch the video we made instead.

Once you've watched the video click below to see all the photographs we took whilst down there, there are some absolute stunners.

Go see all the photographs of the tunnels.

113 Thirsty Years Waiting for Water

Image reproduced with kind permission of and copyright The British Library Board. All Rights Reserved.

Back home again from another few days wasted in foreign climes. Zagreb in Croatia if you were wondering, and thanks for asking.

I was reminded of the Water in the Wells Campaign whilst exploring this beautiful city. Why? Because there was water everywhere. Fountains galore. I looked upon them longingly.

I stood alongside one rather dramatic example and stared into the haze of rhythmic droplets hitting the water's surface. "Why can't we have one of these at home" I said, then lost myself in thought wondering if the current campaign asking for a water feature in our town was the first.

Later that evening, back in the hotel bar, the question was still buzzing around my brain so I fired up my mac and had a quick search. I discovered this rather wonderful suggestion for a fountain on The Pantiles from a 1900 edition of the Kent & Sussex Courier.

The accompanying text is delightful and rather similar sounding.

The Water Committee of the Town Council view the project with much favour...The Borough lacks an ornament of this kind, and The Pantiles is one of the few places in the Borough which is at a sufficiently low level to enable the project to be carried into effect, without difficulty or expense, by ordinary gravitation...There is no doubt that a playing fountain would be a great attraction and would add very considerably to the old-world charm of The Pantiles.

Who would've thought we'd be in the same boat 113 years later.

Rosemary Shrager's Cookery School

The Pantiles has been experiencing a transformation recently and the famous chef Rosemary Shrager is one of the people behind these changes. Rosemary and her team are breathing life into the Corn Exchange with their newly-opened cookery school.

Rosemary Shrager's Cookery School

Mrs Anke slaps her dough about.

Mrs Anke and I were invited down for the day for a taster course of baking bread, filleting fish, and - the part I was particularly looking forward to - eating.

The luxurious kitchen is quite an amazing space - a welcoming blend of modern yet homely workstations put you at ease and allow you to settle in right away. The feeling of reassurance was also helped by a beautifully laid out table of coffee and cakes that greeted us as we sat down with Rosemary to break the ice and get to know each other. The lovely Jonathan was also on hand to see to everyone wishes: every kitchen needs a Jonathan I'm told, and we agree.

Right, on to the business of cookery.

Now, I must admit that I did hide behind my camera for most of the day, only venturing out to have a go at extracting a fillet from a sea bass. Which I think I did rather well at. I was more than happy to watch Mrs Anke and the rest of the invited guests exercise their skills under the expert guidance of Rosemary's executive chef, John Kirby, and his colleague Johnny. There are lots of people with names starting with J here aren't there.

Rosemary Shrager's Cookery School

Being a boy I was keeping a keen eye on the technology surrounding us. Their extraordinarily well-appointed kitchen is not only one of the most advanced in the country it is also one of the most eco-friendly. As a few examples: they have conductive hot plates which have special matching pans that help reduce energy usage by 30%, no wasteful gas here. Only 10% of their food waste is actually thrown away - the rest is dried in a dehumidifier and made into powders and ingredients for stocks and sauces, and they have an amazing glasswasher that does a cycle in 75 seconds!

Rosemary Shrager's Cookery School

After enjoying our little taster of the classes on offer (you can read more detail on Mrs Anke's post) we all sat down together around the chef's workspace to watch the masters at work, have a chat about food, and sample three courses made with the ingredients that we had helped to prepare. The dishes were delicious and to be able to watch them being prepared and cooked right under your nose is a really special experience. Quite how the chefs deal with all those pots and pans whilst chatting and answering our questions is beyond me.

I think this venture is a real coup for Tunbridge Wells and looks set to become quite a treasured glocal™ business. Glocal? Eh? What am I on about? Well, people are already booking up courses from all over the world which will be fabulous for our local economy, and one of the core values of the school is to use as much local produce as possible. Pretty much everything used in the school is sourced from around us here in Kent and Sussex. See, global and local - glocal™. Whatever I'm gibbering on about one thing I am absolutely sure of is that this new school will give the bottom end of town a real boost.

They will also be opening a delicatessen and café at the end of the year. So come on Tunbridge Wells let's get behind them, it will bring great things to our town.

Rosemary Shrager's Cookery School

Mrs Anke and I really enjoyed the day, we learnt a lot in such a small space of time, and can heartily recommend that if you want the perfect unusual present this year then head on over to their website to book.

You can now head on over to Mrs Anke's blog and she will fill you in on the the details of the day.

The Spring is Sprung!

Our Chalybeate Spring finally opened today in a fanfare of pomp from the town crier with the first official glass going to the Mayor and Mayoress.

A dipper serves up some fresh Tunbridge Wells Water using a special ceremonial ladle.

Mrs Anke and I were there to drink one of the very first glasses ladled from the Spring. It was a special moment, it felt like the whole of Tunbridge Wells had suddenly come alive. It's a great feeling knowing that we can once again take our out-of-town friends to The Pantiles to show them why our town is so special.

If you want to be a true Tunbridge Wellian and drink a glass of the precious liquid then you will have pay £1 for the privilege, for that you get it expertly served to you by a dipper and you also help with the upkeep of the Spring. But if you don't want to spend the money then fear not, you can help yourself completely free. Top tip: spend the pound!

Bizarrely, which may possibly be due to the heavy rainfall, the water actually tastes different this year. It tastes much more like fresh pure spring water and less like sucking on an old penny than it used to. I'm not sure if I prefer the new taste or the old, the general consensus today was it was a really refreshing drop and a much cleaner taste. It was always fun seeing people's reactions when they tried it, and I'm intrigued to know what you all think of the taste now.

Now, go drink and be merry, and tell all your friends!

Click here to see some more photographs from the opening.


  • I am a spritely 30-something living with my beautiful wife in the most fabulous town in the entire world, Royal Tunbridge Wells.

    We love to soak up the culture, the lifestyle, the nature, the history, the people, the art, the architecture, and the countryside in this idyllic part of the Weald, and because we love our town so much we made our blogs to share it with the rest of you.

    If you have any questions, comments or suggestions then please get in touch by sending us an email or if you are on Twitter then you can tweet me at @ankertw.

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