- Tonbridge and Malling
Tonbridge and Malling borough covers an area from the North Downs at
Burhamand Snodlandin the north to the town of Tonbridgein the south. The River Medwayflows in a north easterly direction, through the borough towards the Medway Gap.
The district was created under the
Local Government Act 1972, on April 1, 1974. It was a merger of the urban districtof Tonbridge, together with Malling Rural Districtand the villages of Hadlowand Hildenboroughfrom Tonbridge Rural District.
The area has been occupied for thousands of years. The
Neolithicpeople left behind much evidence: megaliths such as Kit's Coty Houseat Aylesfordand the Coldrum Stonesat Trottiscliffe; and the Long barrowsat Addington being examples. Bronze and Iron Agefinds are also plentiful. So too is Romano-British: evidence is to be found all along the Medway Valley.
The immediate district of Tonbridge is omitted from the
Domesday Book; however most other settlements in the Borough are included. Castles were built at Tonbridge, Allingtonand West Mallingin the 13th century. Religious houses: Malling, Aylesfordand Tonbridge were built: one such was St Mary's Abbeydating from 1092. AylesfordPriory on the banks of the Medway, was built in the 13th century.
Medieval manor houses can still be seen:
Ightham Moteand Old Soar Manorbeing two of them.
19th century onwards
Description of the district
"Tonbridge district can be divided in two distinct areas, which were divided at the beginning of the nineteenth century by the woods and heaths of the ragstone (1) ridge from Great Comp to
East Malling. Northwards lies the well peopled Holmesdale with the market town of West Mallingas the principal centre of population, an area now crossed by the railway and motorway (M20); southwards of the ridge is the heavy clay of the Wealdand valley of the Medway"
** extract from "Kent" Dr Felix Hull (An Ordnance Survey Historical Guide 1988)
** (1) Known as "Kentish ragstone" - geologically speaking Upper Greensand - and much used in church building throughout the county.
The modern district
Generally speaking, the district is mainly agricultural - orchards, and livestock in the main - although the proximity of the railways and the motorway means that there is a good deal of commuting from some of the more built-up villages. The new settlement of
Kings Hillis also a magnet for such commuting, since it provides a good deal of employment opportunity.
A remnant of the once flourishing hop-growing industry is provided by a tourist attraction at
Beltring: once the "Whitbread Hop Farm", it puts on frequent weekend exhibitions and shows of varying kinds. Here twenty-five of the finest examples of Victorian oast houses, once used for preparing hops for brewing.
East Mallingis a Research Station designed to "benefit research development and dissemination of useful results of such research in matters directly affecting horticultural crops generally with particular emphasis on the fruit, hop and nursery stock industries" (taken from website).
Many of the villages are located on the "Tourist Trails" designed, perhaps, to show the District more as being "scattered with picturesque villages, orchards and
bluebell woods" instead of being a hard working area.
Tonbridge & Malling District Council is based in
Tonbridgeand Kings Hill. The District is divided for political purposes, into 26 wards, including seven in the town of Tonbridge (called Cage Green, Castle, Higham, Judd, Medway, Trench and Vauxhall wards). Outside the town, councillors serve wards covering the following villages or groups of villages, many of which have parish councils also (see below) :
Blue Bell Hill& Walderslade
* Borough Green &
* East Malling,
* East Peckham & Golden Green
* Hadlow, Mereworth & West Peckham
* Kings Hill
* Larkfield - two wards: North and South
* Snodland - two wards: East & West
* West Malling & Leybourne
The lower tier of local government is the civil parish. In this district they are as follows:
East Malling and Larkfield
In the 2001 census the population was 107,561.
Youth radio station
Tonbridge & Malling has an encouraging number of youth projects and organisations including [http://www.cupidfm.co.uk Cupid FM] , the first ever youth radio station or project of its kind within the area. The project received funding and support from Kent County Council and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, and during 2006 setup a studio and online broadcast which came to a close in November of that year. The station was run by local teens and music was populated by the latest chart hits. Currently, there are no plans to re-invent the Cupid FM brand for future broadcasting, however a new mini site will be launching at the end of 2007 highlighting the projects success.
"Kent History Illustrated" Frank W Jessup (KCC, 1966)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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