1964 2018 Kent

624. Kent 1964 and 2018 – Westerham

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 [1].

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.

19 Westerham Goodley Stock Road
Westerham 1964 – Goodley Stock Road
2018-05-28_104206 Mon 28 May 2
Westerham 2018 – Goodley Stock Road

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.

20 - 345 High St
Westerham 1964 – Tudor House
2018-05-28_104413 Mon 28 May 12
Westerham 2018 – Tudor House
2018-05-28_104354 Mon 28 May 8
Westerham 2018 – Tudor House
2018-05-28_104433 Mon 28 May 14
Westerham 2018 – Tudor House

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

21 - 99 High St Westerham
Westerham 1964 – Antique Shop
2018-05-28_105007 Mon 28 May 72
Westerham 2018 – Private House
2018-05-28_105023 Mon 28 May 74
Westerham 2018 – Private House Detail on side

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

22 - 99 High St Westerham
Westerham 1964 – The Forge
2018-05-28_105108 Mon 28 May 78
Westerham 2018 – The Forge

Not much difference here.

5. Pitts Cottage

23 - 345 High St Pitts Cottage Westerham
Westerham 1964 – Pitts Cottage
2018-05-28_104708 Mon 28 May 50
Westerham 2018 – 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.

6. 2018

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.

2018-05-28_104456 Mon 28 May 18
Westerham 2018
2018-05-28_105501 Mon 28 May 92
Westerham 2018

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.

2018-05-28_104933 Mon 28 May 66
Westerham 2018

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.

2018-05-28_105625 Mon 28 May 106
Westerham 2018

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.

2018-05-28_110118 Mon 28 May 112
Westerham 2018

Thank you to Stuart, his wife and the conservation team for the information.

[1] On the Tuesday Kent had an all day storm and the site became a lake.


  1. What I would like to do is get a ‘slider’ plug-in where you have two photos taken from the same place and can overlay one with the other. However to enable plug ins I’d either have to go self-hosted or upgrade my plan – so it will remain on the back burner for now. There’s a few more places in the South East that I might visit this year and do the same thing. Chris

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