Finally, after months of letter writing, phone ringing, and door knocking, David and I finally got permission to get inside and photograph the abandoned John Jarvis Yard.
Entrance to John Jarvis yard offices on Goods Station Road.
I think we made it in the nick of time too as the place has well and truly been ransacked since we last passed by a month ago.
Inside the North Building.
So, who was John Jarvis, and what was in his yard?
Inside the yard.
The John Jarvis family ran their building firm out of the yard after it was founded in 1883. They made a tremendous contribution to the development of Tunbridge Wells over the 130 years of their existence. Amongst other local buildings they were responsible for building the Opera House and the Kent and Sussex Hospital, which it claimed at the time was the town's largest building. After the Second World War they built and restored many houses, schools, and corporate buildings, and on the morning of the 16th of October 1987 a long line of people could be seen queuing the length of Goods Station Road wanting repairs to their houses. The company finally succumbed to the ravages of the recession in 2008 and 35 people were made redundant. The yard continued to house industry for many years afterwards though.
Inside The Glass Studio.
One of the great discoveries we made on our exploration of the site was this small shed (pictured below left).
Outbuildings in the yard.
Inside were rolls and rolls of paper (pictured below). Each roll had the name of a building neatly written on the side. Unfurling the first one we realised that they were the blueprints to every project the company undertook. We found plans for buildings all over the country, including a small number of Tunbridge Wells ones too. Sadly a rather large hole in the roof of the shed has damaged most of them beyond repair so they sit forlorn on the shelf unloved and crumbling away. We left them in situ. I don’t think there is anyone who can restore such a huge pile of documents, let alone someone with the room to keep and store them so I think they'll just be lost to the elements.
Plans, plans, plans, and more plans.
So what’s happening to the site now? The latest planning applications for the “demolition of existing buildings and erection of [nine] houses (terrace of [five] and two pairs of semi-detached houses) and associated parking” has been approved, although if you wander past there today the For Sale sign is an obvious question mark on that.
One of the abandoned offices.
The site is now long deserted, the last remaining resident craftsman and artists were removed to make way for the development and now it lies neglected just waiting for someone to rescue it.