We moved to Lyminge Close, Twydall in 1960 from our wartime built pre-fab in Wigmore when I was 15 months old. Pictured are the 'modern' post war shops but there was also an older red-brick parade opposite. Out of shot on the right of the picture was 'Perks' a dry goods grocers where Mum would buy flour, rice - all sold loose from large wooden bins and served in paper cones expertly folded up from sheets on the counter by the shopkeeper. Even further up on the corner was Cross's the butchers. Well known for being sour faced and sarcastic, Cross was one of three butchers in Twydall; now a dying breed.

Opposite in the older parade was a wet fish shop which became a chippy at night, the library, the Copper Kettle Tea Room/Corner Shop and my favourite place in the world - Arnold's. Tucked away in the far corner, along from the C.K., they sold toys, hundreds of them. It was cheek by Jowl with a milliners and when Mum shopped for her stuff, I was allowed to stand outside and press my nose against Arnold's window. Back on the side pictured, there was a Rumbelows at the lower end for TV's, Radiograms and the booming 45rpm single market. Far left, beyond the bottom of the parade was the good old Royal Engineer. Was there ever a night when there wasn't a fight there? In later years we would spend a pleasant hour or two dodging glasses and combatants while drinking their overpriced Stella Artois (nothing is new) which was then a novelty - 1970's pubs would barely have one lager pump among all the bitters and milds, the Engineer had two.

Twydall Kent in 1960s

The gap between the pub and the first shop pictured (waste land for many years) would be filled before the end of the 60's with a Liptons, for many of us the first Supermarket we'd ever seen. Forbouys was the newsagents who in the 1960's had Jambouree Bags with cheap sweets and toys, but also a 'Lucky Dip' a thin wooden flour barrel filled with sawdust. You paid 3d (1p!) and dove your hand into the barrel and grabbed one item. It would be anything from a Barrats Sherbert fountain, to a plastic toy. Next door was Woolworths (Woolies) which in those days still had the wooden floor, the island counters and the ubiquitous weighing machine at the door. Mum worked there as did (eventually) I on Saturdays but by then, a more modern Woolies had developed.

Ice cream would be bought in blocks, wrapped in newspaper to be taken home, every week the rag'n'bone man would come up our Close - like Steptoe and Son with a horse drawn cart. The onion seller would bring a cycle laden with huge onions, and on another day the peanut and toffee apple man would be there as well, also with everything on a bike. Developments over the years included the oddly shaped Holy Trinity Church built on wasteland land I used to play on. The lovely green area we played football on the right by the library was paved over to become a car park, and the doctor's surgery opposite the Church. For school we'd walk up Twydall Lane in the direction of the now defunct Bowaters and head into the infants, until we were 7 and had to go a little further up to Romany Road Primary which would take us past Tabearts. They sold just about everything, but the attraction for us kids was that he had rows and rows of sweets in Jars, sold by the quarter pound (100g in new money); I still remember the sweet smell in the shop of all that sugar just waiting to be bought.

Public transport in the 1960's defied modern belief. Twydall was served by at least three separate but related Maidstone and District (M&D) bus routes which ran to and from the Nelson Road Bus Depot. All would run along Beechings Way past the Golf course. The No. 1 and 1A, would turn up Eastcourt Lane, while the 1B continued down Beechings Way ending up at the bottom of Pump Lane. The other two turned along Goudhurst Road with the 1A following it past the shops at the bottom and turning round the bend to meet Beechings Way again, where it would turn back. Only the No. 1 would go up past the shops turning left along Waltham Road (lined on one side with police houses) on down Begonia Avenue to Hawthorne Road. All were double deckers with Clippies, but unlike the London routemasters the buses had closed rear decks. These days everyone uses their car, but then no-one had cars. Those buses were full; bottom and (hideously, smoking permitted) upper decks. Lyminge Close had a small parking area, which would hold 6 or so cars, the rest given over to play areas where football matches resembling the 'Wall Game' would sweep back and forth all afternoon.

I last visited a year or so back, and some 20 cars seemed to be parked in an enlarged area which encroached on virtually all the grass, with all the kids probably inside with their PS3's. Our play rules were simple, we left after breakfast with a cheese sandwich in our pocket and were home before dark. We either headed 'down' to Sharps Green, or 'Up' to the Darland Banks (which were north and south respectively) crossing the lethal Watling Street (A2) in the process. Somehow we all survived to be flabby and fifty.

I left Twydall in the mid 70s and travelled and lived at odd spots in and around the world before settling back in Sussex, about 70 miles away. On the few occasions I've been back though it feels further. I watched England win the World Cup, both Kennedy's and MLK get assassinated, and Neil Armstrong walk on the moon while living there, no wonder my memories are rooted firmly in the turbulent 1960s. 



#12 Dennis lacey 2020-02-19 10:08
Would like to get in touch with Jill Bigwood who moved to Australia with me in the late 60's and who I saw last in Darwin.
#11 Caroline Smyth 2018-11-23 16:24
I lived in Charing road .We left when I was 14 . I was Caroline Larman then . Happy times .
#10 Caroline Smyth 2018-11-23 16:22
I lived in Charing Rd. Loved Arnolds and the huge xmas tree on the green every December . I went to Featherby junior school and also worked on the milk round when I was 11.
We left when I was 14 to live in North Wales . I still have fond memories of Twydall but its not the same now.
#9 Don Jolliffe 2018-09-01 12:55
I grew up with Dave Frank's l live in Sandhurst Close and when l moved to Germany Dave came out several times to visit.
We are still in touch 50 years later although l now live in London.
I even taught him to drive a truck.
Shame about the engineers closing that was the first pub l ever had a beer in Ron Saunders was landlord then.
#8 Peter Kennett 2018-07-28 23:37
Lived in Twydall, Staplehurst Road from 51 till 69, moved away came back in 90, Staplehurst again about 10 doors away from where I grew up. Had a paper round at Roberts the newsagent and a delivered greengroceries on a bike Saturday mornings for Brookers, World Stores was the other side of the alley my mum worked there. Still see friends from my much younger days. Attended Twydall infants and junior schools before going to Gillingham Tech in Green St. Fond memories of years when I could park the car outside where I lived, as a young boy there were 3 people in our road that owned cars! Now every house seems to have 2 cars! Know Dave Franks who came out to look at our dishwasher a few years ago, anyone remember making carts from old Oran wheels and do our best to get down both slopes at the shops and have enough go to get to the slopes at the Copper Kettle, Jackie skates and blackjacks, I am now showing my age.
#7 charlie slociak 2018-03-06 17:55
LO to Jill... hiya I'm Charlie Slociak lived at no. 11 for what seemed like forever ... was a fantastic close to be brought up in hordes of kids in all weathers out playing and sometimes causing havoc no matter what the weather... but all looking after each other... I can remember most of the names of the people who lived in lyminge starting back in the late 50's early 60's the only person still living there from back then is mrs averly (or ave as I always did and still do call her) ... I pop in every now then for a catch up and chat about present, but mainly about the days back when.. I saw dave franks a little while back and dave mckeown as well ... Wory (my big brother- I'm taller .. but he's still my big brother) lives round and about. In fact I'll be meeting up with him tomorrow for our weekly catch up.. The only jill I remember was Jill Bigwood with a brother called Ray who I bumped into a couple of years ago...
#6 david franks 2017-03-25 20:29
I lived at 25 and lived there un til 1972 fromn 1955
#5 jill 2016-06-17 08:24
Yes I too did live at 13 Lyminge Close 1955 to1964 there was a family that I remember the name was Sloshack they were a large family one child was called Michael another wory and angela another family I remember the daughter was called Pat Baker one wonders what happened to all these people and that photo of the shopping centre is exactly the way I remember it I also went to Twydall Lane primary school and after to woodlands secondry school I am now living in Australia for the last 40 years.
#4 Tina 2015-11-07 21:19
I so loved Arnold's toy shop, my dad used to take me there every birthday,I could choose anything I wanted( well,more n less) i attended twydall infants, walking down the very long driveway to the school,I remember all the birds squawking in the trees as I walked.i spent a good few hours sitting on "the green carpet" outside the heads office,(naughty children only) and having a very numb bum!
#3 E Paton 2013-08-08 22:51
Any idea who the mother and child might be walking between the 2 cars in this photo of the shops?
#2 Bob 2013-03-04 23:44
sorry 'knew' you!
#1 Bob 2013-03-04 23:43
Loved reading this. Chimes with so many of my memories too. I probably new you as I lived in Lyminge Close (No 20) from 1971 to 1986.

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