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History of Ash and Ridley from Earliest Records to 1957
                    
Compiled by Dorothy G. Meager on behalf of Ash and Ridley Women's Institute           Page 67

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Transport

In bygone years, as now, there were quite a number of things such as clothes, boots, furniture etc., that could not be obtained at the two or three little shops in the Parish, the villagers therefore has to go to town for these commodities. For many, there was no alternative but to walk the 8 miles To Gravesend or Dartford.
   The farmers, and people who kept their own horses travelled either on horseback or in horse-drawn vehicles such as governess carts, brakes, traps, broughams etc.
   About 50 years ago there was still one of the old penny-farthing bicycles in the Village. Bicycles with equal sized wheels and solid tyres were then in common use, but only a very few of the Villagers could afford to buy one.
   The roads in those days, and even up to about 30 years ago were very rough surfaced, chiefly flint foundation and the ordinary soil and of the dust and mud on them this generation knows absolutely nothing. The side roads were just rough tracks.
   Most probably a carrier went from the Village To Gravesend or Dartford once or twice a week to fetch parcels, papers, shopping etc. and also carried passengers. The first record we have of this form of transport is of a Mr Stephen Hills, who drove a donkey cart. Then came a Mrs Brooks, who according to the reports from some of the old people of the Village was quite a "character". She lived in one of the five cottages which now form the "Malthouse". She used to run a horse and van, and went to Gravesend every Tuesday and Saturday charging one shilling a head for passengers. Mrs Brooks would bring out newspapers from the town for those who ordered them as well as collect and deliver parcels and do shopping. At that time no other newspapers were available. Following Mrs Brooks came Mr Lovell who lived at Fairseat. Once a week he came to West Yoke with his covered van and took passengers, and parcels to Gravesend, and did all kinds of shopping for various people. He did this regularly for several years.
   Mr G. Day was the first man in the district to have a motorcycle. This was built by his brother.
   The first motor car seen in the village was also owned by the late Mr G. Day. This was about 50 years ago when the

 roads were rough surfaced and car tyres were solid.
   About 25 years ago the first bus ran from the village to town. This was a private bus owned by Mr Ronald Hollands and it ran three times a week between the "Anchor and Hope" and Dartford.
   Then the "Maidstone and District" covered the route between the "White Swan" and Gravesend.
   Ultimately the London Transport Board took over entirely, and ran a service direct from the "White Swan" to Gravesend and meeting a connection at Longfield for Dartford. This became an efficient hourly service until in 1956 came the big reduction in country services, because so many were running at a loss. Now a two hourly service is on this route with extra buses to meet business trains. Sunday morning services were taken off during the winter, but were resumed for the summer months.
   The building of the Railways opened up another alternative for getting to town. The London and South Eastern section of the Railways was commenced in the year 1836,but many years passed before there was a station at Fawkham. It was built on land belonging to the Fawkham Manor Estate, which the family sold to the Railway Company on condition that it was called "Fawkham Station" although it actually stands in Longfield. It was probably built towards the end of the 19th century. The small branch line running from Swanley Junction via Farningham Road, Longfield Halt and Southfleet to Gravesend is most probably about sixty years old. One could walk to Fawkham Station and catch the train to Farningham Road and then change onto the branch line for Gravesend, or they could walk to Longfield Halt and catch the train for Gravesend there.
   Up to just over 20 years ago all the trains were steam trains, but the line was electrified just before the outbreak of the Second World War, and the trains to London are fast after leaving Bromley South, the journey only taking 40 minutes.
   The branch line from Swanley Junction to Gravesend has recently been closed.
   With the increase of motor traffic came the smooth surfaced roads and the end of solid tyres.

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