Thursday, 29 March 2007

East Malling Halt

For those of us who commute, now the clocks have gone forward we can again enjoy the train journey to and from East Malling in the daylight and appreciate the fabulous scenery of the Kent countryside along the way. Admittedly, I'm usually asleep on the train in the morning, but it makes all the difference in the evenings. There's nothing worse as the working day draws to an end than the thought of getting on a train where all you can see is your own reflection. Anyway, this leads me on to East Malling train station or, as it was originally called, East Malling Halt when it opened in 1913. This information was sourced from a great site called Kent Rail. For those of you wondering what a 'halt' actually is (i.e. in terms of rail transport), Wikipedia has the answer: "a halt is a small station, usually unstaffed and with few facilities" and the entry goes on to say that many stations have now removed the use of 'halt' in the title, as in the case of 'East Malling'. I attach photograph of East Malling Halt taken circa. 1950 (thanks again to Diane Brazier for supplying me with this). It looks as though the photo was taken from the perspective of station car park (though I could be wrong). And could the hut on the adjacent platform be the one that stands there today? Although the hut in the photo looks as though it has a door to the left (a waiting room perhaps?). If any one has thoughts on this, or any more photos, please let me know.

Monday, 26 March 2007

No Sweets 'n Treats?

How the mind wanders. I'm currently on the train to East Malling from London and thought it would be a good idea to introduce some present information to the blog to counter-balance the marvelous historical facts we have learned so far. Since I moved to the area last September I have wondered about the disused Sweets 'n Treats shop on the High Street with the greyed-out windows. Did this used to be the village newsagents? And, if so, are there any plans to reopen it? If anyone knows the answers please post or let me know.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Streams (3)

The East Malling stream has attached much attention since my original post reporting on a mention in the parish magazine ‘In Touch’. Following this, Godfrey King detailed the route of the stream from its source in East Malling to the river Medway. The latest information comes via two emails from Diane Brazier. I have edited these to provide the information below. Diane is lucky enough to have the stream actually wind its way through her back garden! As a resident of East Malling 33 years Diane has seem much stream-related activity and an abundance of wildlife!

When Diane first moved to East Malling from London in the early 1970s the stream was full of brown trout. The children used to drop lines with bait in the dip hole to catch them. Diane once saw a tiny water shrew doing water acrobatics in the dip hole. The stream has also attracted kingfishers, grey herons, moorhens, mallards, black caps and even water voles (please see the attached drawing carried out by Diane of a water vole on the cress beds). Diane also found two large crayfish whilst clearing out the stream. When the stream dried up last year they caught the last trout and ferried him upstream in a bucket together with as many of the tiny fish they could save. When the stream returned after the drought Diane once again saw the kingfisher in her garden. Diane’s late neighbour, Jack Watts, told her that in his childhood the stream was the village's main source of drinking water.

If anyone has any drawings or photos of the old stream or the wildlife it has attracted I would be happy to post these on the site. If these are only in hard copy I'm happy to receive these by post (if you are happy to send them). Please email me and I will forward on my address.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

What's in a name?

Have you ever wondered where the name "East Malling" originated? I expect not. But to be fair nor did I until I found myself in West Malling library today (I don't normally spend a Saturday afternoon in libraries, but it is cold and miserable outside).

According to The Place Names of Kent (Glover: 1976), Malling derived its name from a tribe settlement in 942 called Mealla's people. East Malling appears to be the original settlement of this tribe, as a "charter dated 942-6 refers to....[the] boundary of the East Meallingas" (p.124). This is particularly interesting as it infers that East Malling originally had the "Malling" name because of the settlement and, therefore, West Malling must have derived its name because of the westerly proximity it has to East Malling. However, the same tribe also settled at South Malling in Sussex. According to the BBC's Kent Place Names page the records of the settlement are slightly earlier (838) and therefore it is possible and likely that they settled in Sussex before East Malling.

A search of the Meanings of Domesday Place-names of Sudsexe (Sussex) reveals that (in relation to South Malling) the '-ingas' in 'Meallingas' refers to "tribe, people" and therefore 'Mealla' could have been the leader of the tribe.

The Place Names of Kent also charts the evolution of the name from 'Meallingas' to 'Malling': Meallingas 942 - Meallingan c.1060 - Metlinges, Mellingetes 1086 - Mallinges 1187 - Mauling 1217 - Malling 1610.

If you know the history of any of the street names in East Malling, please let me know.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

East Malling sketch

I have been sent this amazing sketch of East Malling by Diane Brazier (a local resident for 33 years). It is a drawing that she bought on eBay. The drawing was carried out in 1816 and is a sketchbook study called "Offices at Mrs Norris. East Malling".

Diane would love to know (and I'm sure everyone else who reads this blog) if anyone recognises the house or has a Mrs Norris on their deeds. Also, if anyone knows how I might approach researching a Mrs Norris from 1816, to find out more about this location, it would be gratefully received.

More historical drawings and photos to come.

Monday, 19 March 2007

New feature

Just a quick post to let you know that I have added a new feature that will allow you sign up to receive email or rss alerts when new content is added to this blog. If you are interested, please see the 'subscribe' section in the right-hand column.

I hope this proves useful!

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Streams (2)

In response to my earlier post on streams (click here to see), Mr Godfrey King has provided some excellent detail on the route the stream takes through East Malling. His email is reproduced in full below.

Regarding the stream by the church, it begins in the spring at Gillets Hole, as we used to call it when I lived up The Rocks (before the war), trickles down by the side of the road near the station, goes underground and runs behind the old bakery, had a small diversion into some ponds in the rear garden of the grocery shop owned by Mr Dimon (for whom I was an errand boy during the war), then through the grounds of the old rectory, in which I gather a lake has now been constructed, and comes out by the church (next to the house occupied by Nurse Skinner, who was the village midwife in the 1930s/1940s), crosses underground to a spot just past the King and Queen, then runs all the way down New Road, until it joins with the stream which comes from Blacklands Lake, and flows into the large pond at Bradbourne, then onto the road ford at Ditton, where it then goes down to the London Road, which it crosses under, through Cobdown and eventually joins the river Medway between Aylesford and New Hythe.

Coincidentally, I have noticed that there appears to be quite a bit of water running down New Road at the moment. Could this be the stream, or does it run underground at this point? It's probably just a burst main!

There is more information on the streams to come, which I intend to add this week. So keep posted!...

Friday, 16 March 2007

Photo exhibition

I have learned, via Mr. Godfrey King's guestbook entry on the 'East Malling Memories' website (see links section), that a photo exhibition of East Malling will be taking place on the 7th, 9th and 14th April at the Clout Institute, West Malling. Mr King will be exhibiting his own work there. This is all very exciting and I'm sure there will be some very fascinating historical photos of the village.

Further details of this event and full Malling social calendar can be found by clicking here

Wednesday, 14 March 2007


I have been saving a few issues of 'In Touch' - the parish magazine of St James, as this often has various pieces of interesting information. In issue 43 (Summer 2006) it is written that "years ago, walking through the village, you'd be sure to hear the gurgling and trickling of little streams. Down by the church, along the Rocks Road, these miniature water ways always seemed to be full... Today, they are nearly always dry". This is fascinating. I was aware of the stream on the Rocks Road by the train station (which is very full at the moment as a result of all the rain - see picture), but not anything by the church. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who is aware of these streams, or any others, particularly if they have some photos!


I thought it would be good to have a few 'snowy' photos to kick-start the photos category, particularly now that the weather is getting better, as we can look back and go 'ahhhhh', as opposed to thinking about being snowed in, delayed trains, traffic jams, etc.

There are some excellent photos of East Malling under snow in the King & Queen pub. A good excuse as any to pop in for a drink!

I've attached one I took on my mobile on the Rocks Road on 8th February this year.

If you have any others please email them to me (


Hello and welcome to this new blog whose focus is the beautiful village of East Malling in Kent (UK).

As the name suggests the concept of this blog is to harvest and provide a central area of interesting information (historical or otherwise) in relation to the village. As a researcher by trade I have found some remarkable historical facts by chance from a variety of sources (which I will reveal in due course) that I feel would be better served if they were noted in a central location for all to view and contribute to. I'm sure that many people who reside in East Malling (or have visited the village) have the odd fact or snippet of information, past and present, that collectively would enlighten and entertain others. In particular (and for me the most interesting part) are some historical photos and drawings that I have come across of the village that I'm sure everyone would love to see.

So lets get the ball rolling.....if you have any interesting information, pictures or drawings that you feel would benefit this site, the residents and East Malling and its visitors, please email them to me at (or, in terms of comments, you could always post them on blog itself). To whet your appetite, I will soon be adding some information on the village from some web based research I have carried out.