A History of YALDING, Kent, England
From the early nineteenth century the shop that we know as Coates, was run by William Tomkin, and by 1851 the business had transferred to his son John, who by 1869 had in turn sold it on to an Alfred Hards. Alfred and his brother, Gabriel Hards had moved just down the road from where their family lived at East Farleigh. Gabriel was already established as a baker and postmaster, presumably on the site of the current post office from the early 1870’s. Like many local traders, Gabriel was to purchase property in the village, initially named Hards Cottages, opposite The George, now called Gabriels Cottages.
The last mention of Alfred Hards was in a directory of 1887, and the 1890 directory listed Thomas Henry Young, as in business as grocer and draper in the library shop location. Throughout this period the business was housed in the whole block between the two paths up to the church. It is unsure what happened to the marriage of Alfred but in the 1891 census he was lodging in the house of a 17 year old teacher Maud Mansfield in Lowestoft Suffolk.
Gabriel Hards had married Emmeline Eliza at about 1853 and they had six children; Thomas Gabriel in 1854, Gabriel in 1856, Jane 1861, George 1863, Emmeline Eliza 1866, and William in 1868.
This Thomas Gabriel was 16 in 1871, when he was at Plaxtol, near Wrotham, in the employ of Edward J Winser as a Grocer and Draper’s apprentice. In 1879 at the age of 24, he married Fanny Bertha Garnham, aged 34, a widowed housekeeper from Hunton, and they were living at Dartmouth Row, Lewisham, where Thomas had set up as a grocer. By 1891 Thomas and Fanny were back in Yalding, with nine year old daughter Emmeline Bertha, where Thomas was the village Poor Rate Collector, Registrar of births, marriages and deaths, and bailiff to the Lord of the Manor. The previous person who held this position was John White, who was buried on the 29th of October 1886 aged 86. Thomas also served as a member of the parish council.
Fanny Bertha, who was ten years older than Thomas, was buried 2nd March 1917 aged 72, whilst Thomas who only carried the title of bailiff after 1924, was buried on 22nd January 1940 aged 85. Their daughter Emmeline Bertha spent her twilight years in No.2 the Almshouses in Yalding, where she was known to give piano and violin lessons, and had previously performed with both instruments at village concerts. She was buried here on 8th April 1964 aged 82.
This is the earliest view we have of a local roundsman and his helper, that shows his products open to the elements.
The brothers of Thomas, Gabriel born in 1856 and George in 1863, both joined their father in working the family business of post office and bakery. Gabriel senior was buried on 4th February 1909 aged83. Part of his obituary read that “he was the last of the older generation of our village tradesmen, and though, through infirmity and advancing years, he was affectionately remembered as being of us and among us, and as the head of a business carried on in his name”.
The brothers Gabriel junior and George, carried on the business in the name of Hard’s Brothers. Like other tradesmen, and probably their father before them they became involved in supporting village activities.
Examples of this was to provide tea for sixty children of Laddingford school, held in the Vicarage Meadows, by kind permission of Miss Town Smith, of Downs Farm, who obviously owned the field below Wardes Moat at that time. On another occasion 350 children were treated with tea at Cheveney Institute. The company was also involved in the annual battle to provide refreshments and sustenance to the visiting hordes of hop pickers.
One bread roundsman who made friends with the Blunden family was Sydney Mercer. He had been baptised here on 4th September 1870 to parents William and Phillis Matilda, whose maiden name was Baldwin, and whose father had been publican at the Anchor Inn.