The photographs chosen to illustrate this particular walk from the west-end of the High Street into the centre of town span the years 1900 to 1952, each with a story to tell. There have been few changes during that time, the most significant being the bombing of two of the brewery cottages during WWII. The cottages can still be seen standing in two of the views to follow. The Black Eagle brewery owned all of the houses on the north side of the High Street from the General Wolfe pub up to and including the Warde Arms.
In 1908, twenty-eight year-old George Thomas Taylor, a Motor and Cycle Engineer from Westbury, Wiltshire came to Westerham and opened a garage on the High Street opposite the Warde Arms. This garage survived until 1923 when it was sold as a going concern to one Harry H. Ryall who redeveloped it as 'Westerham Motor Garage'. Ryall did not stay too long and 'The Westerham Motor Garage' subsequently went on to be managed by forty-eight year-old Charles Woollett from 1928 through to 1938, during which time it was known locally as 'Woolletts'. It remained closed throughout the second world war, but in 1945 a company called Brittain Engineering came to Westerham and bought the interests in the garage. It was renamed 'Brittains Westerham Motor Garage Ltd' in which guise it lasted until the mid 1980s.
This photograph from circa 1920 shows the right-hand end of the original 'Royal Standard' - the last pub to be opened in the town and the first to be demolished. Just beyond the pub were two shops that have also gone. The first, beside the pub, a gent's hairdressers for many years: Margaret Brown “...I remember taking my brother for a haircut when he was tiny. Lots of boys used to go to Mr Freake at the bottom of Vicarage Hill, but I used to take him to Mr Stanton’s little barbers shop by the ‘Royal Standard’ in the High Street. Townsend’s shoe shop was on the corner of New Street and there was a funny little tea shop next door called ‘Gutsell’s’ and then Bert Stanton’s gent’s hairdressers was on the other side of that. I had to take him during the week though, as he wouldn’t do boys on a Saturday, that was reserved for the working men.” The adjoining shop was a tobacconist and newsagents run by William and Lily Bowra. Beyond that the imposing frontage and porch of the Public Hall can be seen.
This unusual picture offers some rare detail. Unusual because the framing is strange - where was the eye being led and what was the story attempting to convey? There is just enough of Charles Hooker's 'Herald Steam Printing Works' for us to determine what it was. On the right a view that cannot be seen today because of a scruffy, tall privet hedge, but circa 1904, the little white weatherboard 'Bank Cottages' can be clearly seen next door to the site of 'Park View Laundry'. Today the area contains a modern development called 'Wells Close' in memory of Beryl Wells who ran the last laundry on the site. At the time the photograph was taken, the Proprietors were William and Mary Wallace who lived at 'Bellview' in New Street, opposite Burgess' yard.