Tonbridge Walking Trails comprise of three short routes within Tonbridge, totalling just over 4 miles in length, which are part of the Kent in World War 1 heritage trails that can be found across towns in Kent.
Following level pathways with regular opportunities to take rest, refreshments or toilet stops, you’ll immerse yourself with wonderful World War 1 memories and landmarks forever keeping alive the local history of Tonbridge and the people who lived there.
World War 1 Tonbridge
Tonbridge in the First World War was a bustling town with the inhabitants being reminded of the War on a daily basis. They would have been aware of the increased rail traffic as Tonbridge was on the main line between London and the coast. Tonbridge was used as a stopping point for troops on their way overseas; these soldiers would be billeted around the town, sometimes in local pubs.
Tonbridge station was also where ambulance trains carrying wounded soldiers were met by local male volunteers from the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD).
Quarry Hill House was handed over to be used as an auxiliary hospital and received its first wounded, who were Belgian soldiers, in October 1914. Many local women served with the VAD, their roles ranging from nursing, to cooking and housework. As well as treating wounded Belgian soldiers the town played its part in welcoming and supporting Belgian civilian refugees throughout the War.
The local inhabitants attended fund raising concerts in Tonbridge Castle grounds which was also the venue for First Aid training as War broke out. Concerts were given at the Public Hall for soldiers billeted locally and the Public Hall was also the venue of a soldiers club which was open to all ranks.
During the War 3000 men from Tonbridge served and 346 were killed who are remembered in the Memorial Garden. The cemetery contains a number of Commonwealth War Graves, arranged in date order, and the fallen are also remembered on family memorials.
The Tonbridge trail is in 3 parts:
- Central (approx 2.1 miles – 3.25 km) Starting Point: TN9 1BG
- Northern (approx 1.25 miles, 2.5 km) Starting Point: TN9 1LS
- Southern (approx 1 mile-1.8 km) Starting Point: TN9 2HR.
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