A History of YALDING, Kent, England

Alfred had married Margaret Ann Brice at Malling in February 1861. They had four children, Herbert, Frederick, Alfred and Margaret, plus Arthur James in 1872 after arriving in Yalding. The last mention of the name Alfred Hards is in a directory of 1887, when his marriage encountered a problem, for in the 1891 census he was lodging in the house of a 17 year old teacher Maud Mansfield, with other teachers, in Lowestoft Suffolk.

An 1890 directory informs us that Thomas Henry Young was the new proprietor. He was born in Deal, the son of Thomas H Young, a joiner, and wife Louisa. At 14 he had left school and was employed as a grocer’s assistant. The 1881 census records him as being 27,(instead of the actual 24), at which time he had married Sarah Laura from Salisbury in Wiltshire, and was operating a grocers and drapery business in Leeds, Hollingbourne, Kent, employing two extra hands. Ten years later, here at his Yalding emporium, he was recorded as being 34 and Sarah 35, with children Margaret H 10, Clara L 9, Arthur L 8, Thomas H 6, Ethel L 5, and Edith F 4, all born at Leeds, plus Henry F aged one born at Yalding. He was employing William Dartnall aged 17 from Gravesend, as a grocer apprentice, and Emma Cook 18 from Paddock Wood, as a domestic servant.

Originally the image on the right, of the now bric-a-brac barn, was ½ cm square, on a Post Card photo, at the bottom of the High Street.




Yalding is often referred to as a dumbbell village, with the two halves of our community joined together by Town Bridge. This has been even more emphasised as each half had its own universal departmental store, with both meeting almost all the local needs of grocery, drapery, cloths and furniture, for at least two hundred years.

The establishment at the northern end of Town Bridge stretching between the two paths up to the church, closed its doors finally in 1974 under the names of Coates.


It is not known exactly when it commenced in business, but the house contains a date of 1792 on some internal panelling, but the name of William Tomkin with his wife Mary enters our baptismal register in 1784. Here we have listed William in 1784, Mary Marchant 1786, Thomas 1787, John 1788, Sarah 1789, George 1790, and Ann 1792. This Ann was to marry Richard Francis Warde on 25th October 1815.


When we look at the first records of the nineteenth century, the business is still run in the name of William Tomkin, but in this case it is the William born in 1784, and his wife is Elizabeth. With them on the 1841 census is his sister Sarah, along with a John aged 25, and George aged 13, who could be sons or possibly nephews. Whoever they are, ten years later it is this John with wife Jane, who is the main grocer, with William retired as a farmer.

In 1861 John who is 46, and Jane 42, have three children Anna Jane, William and Elizabeth. At this time John was still the grocer and draper, but at about 1869 the business passed into the hands of Alfred Hards, brother of Gabriel Hards who at about 1852 had opened a bakery in the village, probably in the High Houses. The story of the bakery trade will be left for another time.