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Commemorative statue showing Aylesham's history of mining
|Population||3,999 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
Aylesham // is a village and civil parish in the Dover district of Kent, England. The village is located around 6.5 miles (10.5 km) southeast of the cathedral city of Canterbury, and around 8.5 miles (13.7 km) northwest of the town and port of Dover. According to the 2001 Census, the parish had a population including Drellingore and Snowdown of 3,884, increasing to 3,999 at the 2011 Census.
The village was built in the 1920s to accommodate workers at nearby coal mines. The parish also includes the village of Snowdown. Both villages are served by railway stations on the Dover branch of the Chatham main line.
By British standards, Aylesham is a relatively new village. It was established in 1926 to house miners working in the Kent coal mines. The heads of the first families to be housed there all worked at the nearby newly sunk Snowdown Colliery. It was planned to also accommodate future workers at two other proposed new pits at Adisham and Wingham, but neither colliery was ever built.
Although it is still a village, it was originally intended by its masterplanner, Sir Patrick Abercrombie, to grow to be a town with a population of up to 30,000, but only 1,000 houses had been built by the 1960s.
Miners from all parts of the UK (notably South Wales, Scotland and the Northeast) seeking better wages and safer conditions, travelled to the South East to work at Snowdown Colliery. Due to this the people of Aylesham have developed a unique dialect, which was the subject of a 2016 article in the Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society. Most residents use the short [a] in words such as bath, as is common in the northern half of the country, and a schwa in words such as strut, as in common in Wales. Some older residents also use glottal stops for the definite article, as in Yorkshire and Lancashire.
The miners brought with them the traditional Male Voice Choir, Brass band and Rugby pastimes; all of which are still in evidence today and each of these organisations keep the colliery name as their identity.
During the Second World War, the Aylesham coalminers formed a Home Guard contingent that took part in many rescue operations during the German bombings, especially in Canterbury and the surrounding areas. Old pillboxes can be found in the fields and woods around the village.
Several footballers were sponsored by the Latrobe Soccer Club of Brisbane, Australia, to migrate in the early 1960s. Both Henry Brown and Robert Yore came via this way. Brown played and coached at Latrobe, Polonia and Wynnum. Many of the 1960s emigrants settled in a suburb of Brisbane called Acacia Ridge. The resettled families often affectionately referred to this suburb as "Little Aylesham."
Aylesham Fire Station was founded in 1955, and still remains active, despite the closure of other fire stations within the Kent Fire and Rescue Service.
Aylesham has been identified by the Dover Local Plan as a location for expansion. A Housing Development, proposing 1,200 new homes in the village commenced work in 2014.
Kent County Council is the county authority for Aylesham. Aylesham is part of the Dover North Division of Kent County Council. Services provided include; libraries, social services, highways, education, school transport, byways, PROW and public health.
Dover District Council is the District Authority for Aylesham. An electoral ward in the same name exists. The Dover District Council Ward of Aylesham, includes Nonington and had a total population of 4,905 at the 2011 census. Services provided include; elections, housing, parks and open spaces, cemeteries, disabled facilities grants, planning, licensing, council tax collections, waste and recycling etc.
Aylesham Parish Council is the lowest tier of local government, responsible to the civil parish of Aylesham. The Parish Council operates in a former Doctors Surgery in Dorman Avenue South, Aylesham, which has over the years been satirically coined 'The White House' due to it being a white building and the administrative office of the Parish Council. The official name of the building is 'Aylesham House'. As well as being the Parish Council Offices, Aylesham Heritage Centre also operate in 'Aylesham House'. Services provided by the Parish Council include; allotments, grants, recreation grounds, parks, children's play areas, playing fields, youth provision and other general services. As the most local council in all the tiers of government, parish councils have the right to be consulted on planning and licensing matters. Aylesham Parish Council was a major stakeholder in the Masterplan of the Aylesham Development. Monthly meetings are held every second Thursday of the month (excluding August) and the council has three committees; Finance, Audit & Personnel, Recreation & Facilities, Planning, Environment & Transport.
Kay Sutcliffe, the wife of a striking miner at Aylesham, wrote the poem Coal not Dole, which became popular with the Women Against Pit Closures groups across the country and was later made into a song by Norma Waterson.
Sport and leisure
The village is on the Miner's Way Trail. The 27-mile circular trail links up the coalfield parishes of East Kent, passing through or near the villages of Goodnestone, Wingham, Ash, Eastry, Betteshanger, Tilmanstone, Elvington, Snowdown and Nonington.
Whilst not passing directly through Aylesham, the North Downs Way (northern section) passes directly by Aylesham Cemetery (1.2 miles south-west to the village) on the B2046 Adisham Road. This trail can be accessed from Aylesham by various footpaths, fields, byway (road) and bridleways. There is a bus stop at the cemetery, where the North Downs Way passes by.
The village has a long sporting history, with a rugby club being present in the village since 1930. It has played a prominent role in community life. Before the professionalisation of Rugby Union, Snowdown Colliery Welfare Rugby football Club (a name that dates back to when Snowdown Colliery was open) would play teams such as Blackheath F.C., Wasps RFC and Canterbury RFC. Snowdown Colliery RFC has since remained true to its roots and has not become a professional club, instead concentrating of 'community rugby' provision. The club currently play in the London & SE Division Invicta 2 Premier - East.
In the 2015/2016 Season, the rugby club achieved great success by gaining promotion in to Shepherd Neame Kent 1. The club also won the Kent Vase, beating Beccahamian RFC in the final at The Jack Williams Memorial Ground, Aylesford, Kent.
The score was Snowdown Colliery 31 - 5 Beccahamian RFC, with the final being heavily attended by the community.
In the 2016/2017 season, Snowdown Colliery RFC got in to the Kent Salver Final, which took place at The Marine Travel Ground, Merton Lane, Canterbury. Snowdown Colliery lost 17-7 to Greenwich RFC.
Aylesham Welfare Leisure Centre opened in 2011. In conjunction with Aylesham & Snowdown Social & Welfare Trust, Freedom Leisure operate the building which houses a gym, bar, function room, changing facilities and showers. A 3G pitch, MUGA and sports pitches (football & rugby) are also maintained at the Centre.
Aylesham Carnival Association
Aylesham Carnival Association promotes the village to surrounding areas in Kent and beyond.
As far as records show, the first carnival held in Aylesham was in 1929. Over the years, the Association has been repeatedly held in abeyance and revived until the late 1990s/early 2000s, when a period of stability emerged, with the carnival now being an annual event.
The Aylesham Carnival, held every September, has carnival courts from all round the country take part. This is normally held in conjunction with a fete, fun fair and stalls in the Market Square before the carnival commences.
Aylesham Primary School
Aylesham Primary School recently had a new school building erected in 2016, with modern classrooms, technology and a new school playground.
St Joseph's Catholic Primary School
St Joseph's was built in the early 1950s. The site was where the Catholic Church of St Joseph, Aylesham was situated, until it was severely damaged during the Second World War. After the War, St Joseph's operated as a school, church, canteen and hall for the village, until the 1950s, when the Catholic Church of St Finbarr, Aylesham was built in Market Place, Aylesham. In January 2014, St Joseph's became an academy within the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership.
Aylesham Secondary School
Aylesham Secondary School closed in 1992. The school buildings were then occupied by the Aylesham Community Workshop Trust to provide educational, social and employment opportunities to the coalfield communities of Kent. Aylesham Secondary School was well known for its sporting achievements, with successes in Football, Rugby and Athletics. There is still much debate about a Secondary School in Aylesham, as the population increases due to the on-going Housing Development. A petition was created in 2015 and was completed in January 2016. As of 10 April 2018, Kent County Council has no plans to open a secondary school in Aylesham.
Aylesham Baptist Church
The Baptist Church is situated in Dorman Avenue South. It was built in 1927. Regular services take place on a Sunday. The church has a newly erected hall to the rear of the building, which is used by the community for creche's, a youth club, breakfast club, Sure Start, coffee mornings and other community events.
Church of St Peter, Aylesham
St Peter's is situated in Dorman Avenue North. It was built in 1927. Regular services take place on a Sunday. The church organises a sunbeams toddler group, coffee mornings, messy church, soft play cafe, luncheon club and on Fridays, a Farmers Market.
Catholic Church of St Finbarr, Aylesham
St Finbarr's is situated in Market Place. It was built in 1957. There was a Catholic church situated near the train station when Aylesham was first built. Due to severe damage during the Second World War, the church, dedicated to St Joseph, was gradually repaired and converted in to St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in the 1950s, with the new St Finbarr's Church officially being blessed and opened on 28 April 1957 by Canon de Laubenque. Regular services are held every Sunday. There is an active Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, with dance classes and other community events taking place in the church. The church is also used by the Snowdown Colliery Male Voice Choir for rehearsals. In 2016, St Finbarr's amalgamated with the Catholic Church of St Paul, Dover and the Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Holy Apostles, Eythorne to become the Catholic Parish of The Good Shepherd.
Twin towns – sister cities
Aylesham is twinned with:
- UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Aylesham Parish (1170214754)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "Aylesham". The Times Digital Archive. London. 15 November 1927. p. 21. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- "Kent Mining Village That Begs To Be Bigger". The Times Digital Archive. London, England. 6 January 1964. p. 8. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- Welcome to the north! New Dialect Formation in Kent's 'Sunshine Corner'. David Hornsby. Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 2016, pp.44-56.
- "Pillbox FW3/24 Aylsham". tracesofwar.com. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
- UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Aylesham Ward (as of 2011) (1237323952)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Insert booklet from CD Voice + Vision: songs of resistance, democracy + peace, page 4, Topic 75 records, 2014
- "The Miners Way Trail". The White Cliffs Countryside Partnership. Archived from the original on 5 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- "The North Downs Way". northdownsway.co.uk.
- "1st XV v Beccahamiams RFC". pitchero.com.
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- "Home - Aylesham Baptist Free Church". ayleshambaptistfreechurch.co.uk.
- "Welcome to the Aylesham Benefice!". ayleshambenefice.weebly.com.
- "St Paul's Roman Catholic Church Dover". stpaulsdover.org.uk.
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