"I was brought up in Walmer in the
1920's and 30s and, since retiring in 1980, my husband and
I moved back to the house that I lived in as a child. Here
are some of my early memories of Walmer up to 80 years ago.
"The first shop I can remember is
Mrs Woodcock's greengrocer's shop at 207 Dover Road, just
above what was the Drum Inn.
"Coming up the road the first shop
you came to on the right hand side was a sweet and magazine
shop where there is now a hairdresser.
recalls: There was a cobblers, just before the almshouses,
and further up
(opposite the convent) was the sweet and magazine shop mentioned
"On to the corner of Station Road,
where Londis is now, was Farmer's Grocery Shop and a little
draper's shop, run by Mrs Farmer and entered up steps from
the main Dover Road. She dealt in pins and needles, cottons,
wool, knitting needles, buttons, etc and was always willing
to change some of my carefully hoarded farthings into much
appreciated pennies. The grocer's shop had an entrance where
the Londis entrance still is, then a smallish dark shop where
you sat on a chair and asked for what you wanted, which was
then fetched from the back of the shop.
"Across Station Road where there is
now a chemist, several businesses were opened and closed including
an electric goods shop.
recalls: For many years it was a electrical shop run by
the Joyces. Many was
the time we trundled up to have our accumulator battery for
the radio re-charged.)
"Next door was Mr Pickard's butcher's
shop, run after the war by his son George and is still doing
good business today in the hands of Mr Johns and his wife
"Next to Pickard's was Mr Goodbarn's
cycle repair shop. (Jennifer recalls
he was "Mr Goodban".) He also sold new bicycles
when there were ordered. He would mend punctures in my Fairy
Cycle for 6d. Before coming to the Post office the little
land led to Mr Parker's carpentry business. Next to the Post
Office was, and still is, the newspaper and sweet shop and
the next shop had a varied life: one of which I remember was
Vyes grocer's shop.
"Across the road from the paper shop
was Mr Burnap the baker. He made bread and rolls in a huge
baker's oven and also cooked my aunt's fruit cakes when she
"Further up the road on the left hand
side after Clarence House were two shops, Walter's Dairy and
the pork butcher's. The Butcher's made delicious pork sausages
from pigs, bred and killed in the farm behind the shop.
"After these two shops was the garage
which is still in existence as "Hi Q Garage". It
was run first by Mr Kimberley and later by Mr Evans.
"The churches remain as they were
in the 20s and 30s with the exception of the Catholic Church
which used to have a convent next door to it. That was pulled
down after the war but I remember it as a very closed order
with only one nun allowed out to do the shopping. In 1939
when we were all being issued with gas masks, my father was
the only man allowed into the convent to fit the nuns with
adds: The convent was still open in the late 1950s and
local children were allowed in
to look at the beautiful needlework. Webmaster's
note: There's more on the Convent of
the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in an article on
Upper Walmer's history, here.)
"The two vicars in the 20s and 30s
were Dr Radcliffe and Canon Tonks. The vicarage was in the
house that is now called Moreton Court next to Hillside on
"There were four schools in Upper
Walmer in the 20s and 30s.
"The Village School as it was called
was situated at the corner of Church Street and has now been
converted into two private houses. The playground was very
small for the number of children in the school and when they
were all out in it at break times the noise was deafening.
When I was very young I was terrified of walking past at these
"Leelands in Walmer Castle Road was
mainly for girls up to 14, boarding and day girls, with boys
up to 6 or 7. Leelands also took in several children whose
parents were working abroad and looked after them in the holidays.
The school started in what is now Lee House and later took
over Glebe House on the Dover Road as an extension and for
more classrooms. When the school outgrew this accommodation
they moved to St Mildred's, which was a big red house with
a tower at the back of St Mary's Church. Leelands was run
by Miss Belshaw and Miss Taylor and after the war moved the
whole school into St Clare, of which more later.
"Sheen House was a girl's school both
boarding and day school and was situated up a long drive just
past Walmer Castle Road. Miss Keighly was the headmistress
and I think they took girls up to about 16-17 years.
"St Clare was a boys' boarding school
for boys from 7 to 13 or 14 when they went on to Public School.
It was entirely boarding except for the vicar's son Robin
Tonks, who was allowed to come in daily. St Clare was in the
big white house which is now converted into flats and is now
known as Leelands.
"When the war started in 1939 Leelands
was evacuated to one of the boarding houses in Benenden School
and St Clare moved down to Devon. After the war Leelands moved
back to Walmer, taking over the premises of St Clare which
had closed down. St Mildred's was demolished and a small housing
estate was built in the grounds.
note: There's more on Leelands School here
and on the St Clare School here)
"As I remember there were five pubs
in Walmer. One was The Hare and Hounds which is now the pink
private house just before you get to St Margaret's Close.
The only contact I have with the Hare and Hounds is going
into the bar with my aunt to get three clay pipes for myself
and my two cousins to use as bubble blowing pipes.
"Next there was the George and Dragon,
which is now The Thompson Bell. Further down on the left hand
side between the Alms' Houses and Church Street was The Cinque
"There was also The Railway, which
is still there at the end of Mayers Road.
"The Drum was on the left hand side
of the main road, almost opposite to Walmer Castle Road. It
got its name because when soldiers were stationed at Walmer
Castle they were summoned for their meal at the pub by the
beating of a drum - hence Drum Hill. Mr Minter who ran the
pub also ran a taxi service.
recalls: Mr Minter was also a builder and funeral director.
The Chapel of Rest was in
the dip between the Drum and the pathway which ran through
from Drum Hill to Salisbury Road.)
"There were two main large houses
in Upper Walmer: "The Shrubbery" on the left hand
side of the main road going towards Dover, between Castle
Street and Grams Road. It was lived in by Mr and Mrs Arthur
Matthews and their daughter Eileen.
"The other house was further towards
Dover on the right hand side of the main road and called "The
Old House" and was lived in my Mr and Mrs Willie Matthews
(brother of Mr Arthur).
"The main business in Upper Walmer
was Thompson Brewery on the left hand side of the main Dover
Road just above Hawksdown. The owners of the brewery were
Mr Arthur and Mr Willie Matthews. My grandfather worked for
them until he died in the early 1900s. The brewery was pulled
down shortly after the war and became Downland and Newland.
adds: Demolition of the brewery was much later than that
- probably late 1950/1960s.
Webmaster's note: There's much more on the Thompson
"In the early 1920s the first of the
Denne houses were built on the edge of the field now known
as Hawksdown Estate. The first two were what is now know as
Denne House but then was Greenways, built for Mr Gerald Hardman,
a solicitor in Deal. The second was "Gillows" built
for Mr Reggie Denne. The next two houses built in 1925 were
No 7 and Whitstone, further down the rough road on the left
"No 7 contained my family, consisting
of Grandmother, a permanent invalid, confined to bed, two
of her daughters - Bessie and Peggy and two sons - Sandy and
Ronald. Also Sandy's daughter (me), my mother died in childbirth,
and Ronald's daughter and son whose mother had also died,
I think from rheumatic fever. Bessie looked after all of them
with the help of two nurses for Grandmother - a live-in maid
(Emily) and a nanny for the children (quite a houseful, though
Sandy and Ronald were both sailors, and were away from home
for much of the time).
"Whitstone was occupied from 1925
until the early 1950s by two maiden ladies, Miss Alice and
Miss Fanny Bird and their maid.
"The next house to be built in about
1933 was Laughton, which was occupied by Mr and Mrs Murton
who lived there again until about 1950. Then in about 1934,
Mr Hardman and family moved from Greenways to another house
between "No 7" and "Whitstone" which they
also called Greenways. The original Greenways had a few other
names, one of them being "Brora".
"Meadow House was the first to be
built along the road that turns to the right from the original
rough road. It was occupied by Colonel Buchanan Dunlop and
his housekeeper. Next door was "Green Shutters",
lived in by Mrs Bichett and her two sons.
"The house next door was called Derry,
I think, and then turning left was "Huntley". The
last house to be built before the war was "Ray's Hill",
where Mr Harold Wynne and his wife lived.
"The whole of the rest of Hawksdown
was still fields with a large number of sheep, and stayed
that way until after the war when a developer from Deal wanted
to buy up the rest of the land and build what was known as
a "Bungaloid development". This was fiercely objected
to by the original residents of Hawksdown who approached Mr
Wilson-Haffenden and put to him the possibility that he might
purchase the land and then gradually sell off suitably sized
sites for building houses the would fit in with those already
built. This he did much to the relief of the residents and
so was started what is now known as Hawksdown Estate.
recalls: Local children used
to be taken to see the lambs in Hawksdown
- a great joy because they were in a meadow right beside the
the house of Mrs Peek (of Peek Freans biscuit fame).)
"Hawksdown Road, which is not in the
estate but is a left hand turning at the bottom of the main
road running through Hawksdown, already had three big Edwardian
Houses - Bradfield, Alderden and Hawksdown House, on the left
hand side and no houses opposite. All The other houses in
Hawksdown Road were built after the war. Hawksdown House was
pulled down but the other two big houses still stand.
"The village policeman in the 20s
and 30s was PC Edwards, who lived in a small house on the
right hand side of Church Street. He was a big man who rode
around on a bicycle and lent his jacket to the Leelands girls
when they played the part of a policeman in one of the school
Audrey West (nee Morton)
With additional information provided by Jennifer Blake.