Tonbridge and Malling
|Tonbridge and Malling District|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Region||South East England|
|Admin HQ||West Malling|
|Incorporated||1 April 1974|
|• Type||Non-metropolitan district council|
|• Body||Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council|
|• Leadership||Leader & Cabinet (Conservative)|
|• MPs||Jonathan Shaw
|• Total||92.7 sq mi (240.1 km2)|
|Area rank||156th (of 326)|
|Population (2011 est.)|
|• Rank||177th (of 326)|
|• Density||1,300/sq mi (500/km2)|
|• Ethnicity||98.3% White|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC0)|
|• Summer (DST)||BST (UTC+1)|
|ONS code||29UP (ONS)
|OS grid reference||TQ6386756441|
Tonbridge and Malling Borough covers an area from the North Downs at Burham and Snodland in the north to the town of Tonbridge in the south. The River Medway flows in a north easterly direction, through the borough towards the Medway Gap.
The district was created under the Local Government Act 1972, on 1 April 1974. It was a merger of the urban district of Tonbridge, together with Malling Rural District and the villages of Hadlow and Hildenborough from Tonbridge Rural District.
The area has been occupied for thousands of years. The Neolithic people left behind much evidence: megaliths such as Kit's Coty House at Aylesford and the Coldrum Stones at Trottiscliffe; and the Long barrows at Addington being examples. Bronze and Iron Age finds 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, Allington and West Malling in the 13th century. Religious houses: Malling, Aylesford and Tonbridge were built: one such was St Mary's Abbey dating from 1092. Aylesford Priory on the banks of the Medway, was built in the 13th century.
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 Malling as 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 Weald and 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 borough
The borough 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 Hill is also a magnet for such commuting, since it provides 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 weekend exhibitions and shows.
East Malling Research Station disseminates results of research into matters affecting horticultural crops, with particular emphasis on the fruit, hop and nursery stock industries.
Many of the villages are located on tourist trails designed, perhaps, to show the borough more as being "scattered with picturesque villages, orchards and bluebell woods" instead of being a hard working area.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council is based in Kings Hill, with an area office at Tonbridge Castle. The borough is divided for political purposes, into 26 wards, including seven in the town of Tonbridge (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 and Walderslade
- Borough Green and Long Mill
- Burham, Wouldham and Eccles
- East Malling,
- East Peckham and Golden Green
- Hadlow, Mereworth and West Peckham
- Kings Hill
- Larkfield - two wards: North and South
- Snodland - two wards: East and West
- West Malling and Leybourne
The lower tier of local government is the civil parish. In this district they are as follows:
- Borough Green
- East Malling and Larkfield
- East Peckham
- Kings Hill
- West Malling
- West Peckham
Tonbridge, being the former area of Tonbridge Urban District Council, is an unparished area.
The council has 45 Conservative and 7 Liberal Democrat councilors as of March 2011.
In the 2011 census the population was 120,805.
Six railway routes operate through the borough.
The Maidstone East Line on the route Victoria - Maidstone East - Ashford International - Canterbury - Thanet with its stations at Borough Green & Wrotham, West Malling for Kings Hill, East Malling and Barming crosses the north of the borough.
From Tonbridge, the Hastings line services run to Tunbridge Wells and Hastings, with some through services from Hastings to London, and the Redhill to Tonbridge Line services run to Redhill: through services on that line to Guildford have been discontinued.
The High Speed 1 line with Eurostar services crosses the north of the borough, but there are no stations here.
The Medway Valley Line links the North Kent Line at Strood with the South Eastern Main Line at Paddock Wood railway station. Stations are at Snodland, New Hythe, and Aylesford on the Strood - Maidstone West section of the line in the north of the borough and Wateringbury on the Maidstone West - Paddock Wood section of the line in the south of the borough. Beltring and Brandbridges Halt is close to the borough boundary. Trains on this line now run through from Paddock Wood to Tonbridge, but through services from Maidstone West via Strood to London Bridge have been discontinued.
The borough has road routes passing through it. There are three motorways: the M2, M20 and the M26; three west-east major roads (A20; A21 and the A26 road. Three other important roads are the A227, A228 and A229.
Youth radio station
Tonbridge and Malling has youth projects and organisations including 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.
Kent History Illustrated Frank W Jessup (KCC, 1966)