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Mayor of Tenterden's Journal...

I along with my wife had the pleasure of being invited as one of the Cinque Port Mayors to the Royal Engineers at Brompton Barracks, Chatham on 15th June 2022.

Brompton Barracks from the air | aerial photographs of Great Britain by  Jonathan C.K. Webb

The Royal Engineers' Memorial at the Brompton Barracks, Chatham, by Sir  Matthew Digby Wyatt

The Royal Engineer training establishment was founded in Chatham, Kent in 1812 by Major (later General Sir) Charles Pasley and renamed The School of Military Engineering in 1868 before being granted the "Royal" prefix in 1962.

We were greeted by Lt Col Guy Cheesman, Brigadier Boxall and officers posted at the school.

The Royal Engineers have been present in every conflict involving British Forces throughout the world since the late 11th century, including the more recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They provide military engineering and other technical support to the British Armed Forces.

Each year, the school trains 10,000 personal in all manner of disciplines and skills to support the regular forces in defending our country. These cover a wide range of training including construction; engineering and watermanship. In recent years, the school has been expanded to encompass the Defence Animal Training Regiment, the Royal Military School of Music and the Defence Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Centre.

During the evening, we watched the band perform the Beating Retreat. Its origin dates back to the 17th century, in the early days of chivalry when beating or sounding retreat signalled a halt to the day's combat, the return to camp and the mounting of the guard for the night. Today, the Sounding Retreat remains a fixture in the Army's ceremonial calendar and provides a display of spirited marches, uplifting music, and anthems of special significance to our Armed Forces and assembled guests.


We had the opportunity to talk to Brigadier Boxall and many other senior offices who are very professional in their attitude, but also very down to earth making very interesting conversation.

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Tenterden Town Council was delighted to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by lighting the Town’s Beacon and holding the Big Jubilee Lunch on the Tenterden Recreation Ground.

On the evening of Thursday, 2nd June, Tenterden’s community came out in huge numbers to honour the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and watch the lighting of the Beacon.  It was an incredible turnout.

Our special thanks go Rhythm of Life Choir for their idyllic singing, which was brilliant.

At the start of the ceremony, Reverend Jeanette Kennett said prayers, these were followed by the playing of the bugle.

The town’s Freemen Dr Raymond Crawfurd, Henry Edwards and Freewoman Debbie Greaves jointly lit the Beacon. At one stage there was great consternation by all whether the Beacon would actually burst into flames!


After five minutes everybody cheered when the huge sparks roared up to the sky.

Cllr. John Crawford Mayor of Tenterden proposed the Toast to the Queen, this was followed by an impromptu rendition of “God Save the Queen” by the crowd.

The Town Council would like to thank Henry Edwards for providing the trailer on the night and Andy Bantock for running the PA.

A few days later, on Sunday 5th June, the Council held the “Big Jubilee Lunch”. We were extremely lucky the rain held off and crowds started to arrive around mid-day.

The Town Mayor, Cllr. Crawford opened the festival with special thanks to the organisers and in particular Claire Gilbert our Deputy Town Clerk.  Without their dedication during the last four days, this event would not have happened.

We are also grateful to PWave Medical for being on standby - just in case!

The Town Council is indebted to the Rockits Community Choir for singing 1940s and 50s well known songs, which set the tone for a wonderful and joyous afternoon.

The Rockits also ran the tea marquee with amazing cakes and scones. A strict diet is now required to recover! The profits went to Macmillan Cancer Support UK, which is one of the largest British charities providing specialist health care.

The Scouts were also out in force, providing “hot dogs” and Beef burgers.


They also ran a coconut shy to test the throwing abilities of the community.

For those liking a little tipple, staff volunteers of the local Waitrose Store, aided by Tenterden Town Council, ran the Pimms tent.


Last Wednesday, 1st June 2022, we invited the Stevenson Brothers to exhibit “All the Queens Horses” in the Town Hall to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The Town Hall Assembly Room was an ideal exhibition centre to show off the remarkable achievements of Marc and Tony Stevenson. The replica exhibits of the rooking horses present to Her Majesty the Queen were amazing. The craftmanship and detail of each and every horse was incredible.

It was a pleasure to invite Terry Pendry LVO (Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order) BEM (British Empire Medal) the Royal Head Groom to attend, who thoroughly enjoyed the display. We were so pleased he was able to join us the night before the Queen’s “Trooping the Colour”, to mark the official birthday of the British Sovereign with 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians.

Marc and Tony Stevenson who are based six miles away at Bethersden, opened the exhibition. They opened their business in 1982 and their success has led them to attend Trade Fairs in London, Germany, New York and Sydney. In 1997 they were awarded Kent Export of the year.

In 2002 they wrote to Her Majesty the Queen offering to create a special rocking horse to celebrate their 20 years in business and her 50th year as Queen. This was the start of the Royal Collection with the “Dapple Grey” carved in tulip wood. Many more rocking horses were created for the Queen with the latest being the “Barber Shop”, the last horse bred by the Queen Mother.

Cllr. Crawford Mayor of Tenterden opened the exhibition that held a unique selection of their fine work.

He highlighted that Marc and Tony are celebrating 40 years of rocking horse making and their team have made over 9,500 horses for a worldwide audience of children and grown-ups alike. Their most famous horse was a crystal studded rocking horse created in 2016 priced at $122,000. It is considered the most expensive rocking horse in the world.

Cllr. Crawford also thanked Richard and Leslie Balfour-Lynn, who own Hush Heath Winery for their contribution of two bottles of their special Cinque Port wine, which was raffled for The Mayor’s charity ‘Tenterden Memory Café’.

Over the four days over 1,700 people attended the magnificent exhibition.

Tenterden Town Council will be keeping an eye open for other major exhibitions that could take place in the Town Hall’s Assembly Room.

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Poplar Choice: steam legend returns to rails in time for Jubilee

A much-loved steam locomotive – one of the original icons of the Victorian railway – has returned to the rails following major restoration, in time to lead the Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR)’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations at the Best of British weekend (2-5 June).

London Brighton & South Coast Railway Terrier No 70 ‘Poplar’ has been restored to the full glory of her heyday through a £150,000 project, including reviving the original ornate livery that she carried when first built in 1872. ‘Poplar’ re-joins sister Terrier No 2678 ‘Knowle’, which is also based at the K&ESR, to resume pulling passenger trains, including services over the full Bank Holiday weekend.

Her first paid passenger service will leave the station at 11.45am on Thursday 2 June, accompanied by representatives of the railway, the Terrier Trust, the Borough of Ashford and Tenterden Town.

Tenterden Mayor Cllr John Crawford and Ashford Mayor Cllr Jenny Webb were invited to celebrate the return to service of the iconic Terrier No 70 “Poplar” locomotive.

Mayor Crawford said:  “I should like to thank Mr Marsh of Kent & East Sussex Railway and Mr White of Terrier Trust for inviting me, along with other distinguished guests, to the formal launch of the rejuvenated and restored Terrier locomotive known as the “Poplar”.

For a locomotive to have been originally built 150 years ago and now be back in service carrying passengers on the round trip to Bodiam Castle is a remarkable feat of workmanship.  Our ancestors certainly knew how to engineer locomotives with quality materials that would last.  The restored Poplar, together with the other five regular stream trains will last for a long time into the future.  Over the years I have taken my grandchildren on the 10½ mile ride to Bodiam Castle on these steam trains. The best part is to see the smiles and excitement on their faces as we chug along through the beautiful countryside.  It is not just train rides the community can enjoy, but I understand Kent & East Sussex Railway have a range of fantastic and unique experiences to indulge our childhood dreams.  These include a footplate ride with the locomotive crew and an opportunity to work in the signal box.  All these treats put Tenterden on the map as a special tourism town of which we are all very proud.  In addition to our rejuvenated Terrier, we can, in two years’ time, look forward to celebrating Kent & East Sussex Railway’s 50 years of service. An event I will be very proud of.”

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Weald of Kent Art Society exhibition, St Mildred’s Church, Tenterden

On Sunday, Cllr John Crawford, Mayor of Tenterden opened the exhibition at St. Mildred’s Church in Tenterden.  Cllr Crawford said, “The 2022 Weald of Kent Art Society exhibition is taking place in St Mildred’s Church, which itself is a piece of architectural art. We are very fortunate the Society is based here in Tenterden and has over 100 members from the surrounding villages and towns. It is good to see membership is open to both amateur and professional artists.

It’s a sad fact that many people are reluctant to ever step into art galleries and museums as they may be considered to be intimidating or snooty.

However, in a relaxed atmosphere such as St Mildred’s Church, people can wander around without any peer pressure or anxiety and enjoy the amazing pieces of work in a relaxed and leisurely fashion.

I am no art connoisseur, but I know instinctively what I personally like and would be prepared to hang on my wall. In the last 30 minutes I have seen some wonderful paintings. A prize will be awarded for the outstanding single piece of art on exhibit. You will be pleased to know I am not one of the judges.

We are very fortunate for the second year running, NFU Mutual Ashford are sponsoring the 2022 Art Prize.”

Graham Lock, the President of the Weald of Kent Art Society, said, “We were highly honoured to have the newly elected Mayor of Tenterden, Councillor John Crawford, officially open our 2022 Spring Art Exhibition.  There was an excellent turn out to the Preview Evening on Sunday 22nd June and a great atmosphere in St Mildred’s Church. 

I would like to thank the Church for hosting the event and all the Committee and members for putting on an exhibition of such high quality.  The icing on the cake was to have the Mayor conduct the Official Opening of the exhibition which now continues daily in St Mildred’s Church until take down on the afternoon of Saturday 28th June.”