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 8½ 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
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
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.