Last May Bank Holiday Monday, my wife wanted to go digging. Failing valiantly to get her to go by train, I drove her down to the archeological dig, in a lovely part of Kent called Wye. There she had a lovely day of sunshine and found absolutely nothing .
I decided to return home via Westerham as Doris had taken some photos there back in 1964. Mrs WDEOD and myself did try to go there in January, but our route (A2/M25/A25) had so much traffic that we tried the back roads – only to find ourselves back in Dartford.
Strangely, Doris did not go to the main part of the village, where General Wolfe’s statue, numerous coffee and antiques shops and basically most other things are, she took photos of only the west end of the village. Perhaps she knew someone there.
I had been to Westerham before. It is on the A25 and was always seriously snarled up on the days my dad drove us through it, slowly, oh so slowly, on the way to summer holidays back in the late 1960s/early 1970s before the M25.
We also visited Chartwell, which is a stone’s throw away – but in 1964 Winston was still alive and he might not have been happy if Doris had been wandering around his house.
Back to the day. I parked up, and unfortunately the van driver behind me did not realise and thought I was in traffic. After a couple of minutes I got out and told him and waited five more minutes before the queue caused behind him cleared. So it is still busy.
Doris took five shots – or maybe they are all that have survived. I tried to take the same shots to compare 1964 and 2018. I’ve cropped mine a little.
1 Goodley Stock Road cottages.
Obviously the vegetation, like me, has grown taller and thicker over the last 54 years (ditto). I met the owners of one of these cottages. The bird bath and bridge are still there and they are going to be repainting the house the same blue.
2. The Tudor House
Not much has changed here apart from a different TV aerial.
This house is on the other side of the road and about 20 – 30 yards towards the main village.
The X aerial received 405 line black and white TV the 625 line aerial is probably just sitting there as I can also see a Sky dish. In a few years those will probably disappear as broadband takes on more services.
Doris, like me, must have stuck the camera through the arch to get the picture. I hope I have not intruded.
3. Constance Johns Antiques
There is a story that John Lennon bought the poster that inspired for ‘For the Benefit of Mr Kite’ at an Antiques shop in Westerham. It may have been this one. Most probably not though.
My grandfather, Joe McCabe, was in the Merchant Navy and served alongside Fred (? – I think) Lennon, John’s dad. Joe did not think much of Fred, despite them both being Liverpool boys.
I was told that a car went through the windows recently – its on a bend.
4. The Forge
Not much difference here.
5. Pitts Cottage
This was and still is a restaurant. Directly opposite was a car park, but I could not fathom if I was allowed to park in there, so parked on the road (and thus caused the resulting jam). Much of the external paraphernalia appears to have gone.
On the opposite side of the road, running past Goodley Stock Road to the Long Pond was a stream. Just looking it up now I was surprised to find it was the Darent which eventually flows into the Thames at Dartford and is the same river in the Eynsford post.
I had printed copies of Doris’ photos in my hand and was trying to get the angles just right. I thought ‘Doris stood on this exact spot fifty odd years ago.’ I then thought ‘I wonder if that branch above me hit her on the head too.’
As you can see the buildings in 3. and 4. actually adjoin.
Walking back to the car (you can see 3. above his right shoulder) I asked if I could take this guy’s photo. He was part of a volunteer team clearing the Long Pond, which was a header pond for a mill.
The flow of the Darent was only sufficient to open the sluices twice a week and power the mill, so it, like the brewery which stood where the new houses in the background are, closed.
Thank you to Stuart, his wife and the conservation team for the information.
 On the Tuesday Kent had an all day storm and the site became a lake.