The Shops and Old Businesses of Pembury
by Tony Nicholls
At one time or another we have all stood in a High Street, befuddled with doubt as to where So and So’s shop used to be, or what used to occupy the corner shop. Did the butcher take over from the barber, or was it the other way around? As time drifts on these quaint specks of trivia fade and eventually it’s all forgotten. To most of us living a fast life, trying to keep body and soul together, there are more pressing concerns. To a few, interested in the history of their local community, it is quite an interesting topic to ponder. A quick glance at the scrolling images above show some of Pembury’s retail emporiums around 100 years ago. These are from various photographs and postcards of old Pembury and hint at some of the bygone shops and the vast variety of businesses that used reside here. This project aims to generate a few maps of Pembury indicating the locations of shops and retail businesses, past and present. Each location is tagged with a reference number. In the table following the map the reference entry will describe, as best as possible, all the businesses occupying that shop or site location. That is the plan. It is not going to be easy. It will require help from veteran residents of Pembury, and a fair bit of pestering to extract the necessary information. I have not been here that long. My wife and I moved to Pembury in 1999 and instantly took to the village environment. Reading the assorted histories of the village furnished us with the basic development, but much was missing. As with most local histories, they seem to be written by life-long residents writing for the local community, and writing for today. As an outsider, I am lost. I do not have the background knowledge that one is assumed to have before reading these articles. Referring to ” Mr Jackson’s old butcher’s shop, now the green house with hanging baskets” is of no use to me thirty years after publication.Local historians should have two golden rules –
(1) Do not write just for today – your words may become a legendary standard, eagerly read twenty or thirty years down the line. If it’s good enough to be published today it will be read 50 years from now. Plan for it.
(2) Do not assume your vague and poetic descriptions of landmarks will be meaningful for ever – supply a map or make your description of a location stand the test of time.
This web site is providing maps and trying to visually show where the historical sites are located. All the maps provided here will have numbers in the bottom-right corner. Please copy and re-use any map for your own use. Please make mention of any map on this web site if it aids your project or writing. Please amend any map if it helps your cause. If you wish to comment on the content of any map please quote the number in the lower corner.
The initial proposal was to list and show the locations of the village shops – it has now been broadened to encompass businesses or organisations that require the public to visit their establishment. The scope now covers garages, doctors, dentists and other such entities, not strictly shops, but a service facility used by the community. It does not cover businesses based at a home location where the trade is done online or by visiting the customer. It does not cover new developments like Tesco where there is no historic interest. It does not cover farms, but should cover farm shops. We have a way to go!
The original development was based around one large map and one long list of shops. To make navigation a bit easier we have split the village into three districts –
This is a compilation of data, drawn from many sources. Where possible, the source of information is shown. The table below contains an array of notes and references. To the casual observer it’s pretty boring stuff and a bit heavy going. For anyone wishing to research further it may give some leads.
Where information has been acquired from local residents, the contributor has been acknowledged as the source. In some cases there may be several contributors, each with different data to pass on. In many cases a complete story is not possible. Names may be recalled, but not dates. All recollections will be noted, so that one person’s fragment may spark another’s memory of the same place or person.Directory listings are a great source of information, but can occasionally be unreliable or misleading. Addresses are sometimes incomplete – missing a vital street number of even a street. It is quite common to see vague listings such as F. Smith, butcher, Pembury. A specific listing for Albert Fakes Field had him as a High St hairdresser in the years 1916 and 1919, but other village records showed he died in 1917. This not an exact science!
This page used to contain the References section with names of businesses and residents, along with links to the commercial directories.
The References section has now been given its own page so that is more easily shared with the 'People & Families' page. Link below.
IMPORTANT !!! This needs your help. All contributions will be credited. If you have any further information or corrections please contact me –
Tony Nicholls email: firstname.lastname@example.org