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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 96

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Odd Incidents and Stories

Black Tuesday January 18th 1881
Snow started falling during the morning and within a few hours there were drifts in the roads several feet deep. Workers took hours to fight their way home. Men were employed from every calling to cut a passage through. Horses and carts had to be dug out. Just around the "White Swan" the hedges were very high and the drift so deep that the road could not be cleared, so a tunnel was cut through the snow 15 yards long and wide enough for a horse and cart to pass through. Mr Frank Fletcher, then about 7 years old, remembers his father putting him into a pony cart driven by Mr John Featherstone, and they drove through the tunnel to get him to school at Berrys Maple.

The Drought of 1893
In that year there was no rain from March to September and the supply of water for the cattle ran out. The ponds dried up and farmers had to fetch water from as far away as Farningham and Wrotham. Well water had to be conserved for the population. There were at that time 5 ponds on "Attwood Place Farm", none of these exist now. Another report on the drought of 1893 states that water was so short that at one period it cost £1 1s 0d per barrel from a supply four miles away. During this particular period some haystacks caught fire on North Ash Farm and burnt for six weeks, no water being available to quench the fire as the cost was prohibitive.

Another Memorable Snowstorm
This started on Boxing Night 1927 and for nearly a fortnight the Village was cut off. Mr John Rogers tells how he trudged many miles daily through the snow delivering meat by hand.

The Big "Freeze-up" of 1947
There were heavy falls of snow and the drifts on the roads were very deep, in places at least 6 ft and it was intensely cold. Buses that tried to reach "The White Swan" had to be dug out. When trying to release one bus, a motor bicycle and sidecar was found behind it completely buried. For some days we were without public transport. In most of the houses the water pipes froze and when the thaw came plumbers were working all hours. As the snow melted the roads were like rivers  and miniature waterfalls were 

common where houses were built on banks. It was the end of April before the roads were clear of snow.

Cottage Flooded
Another "weather" story was told by the late Mrs Packman. This must have happened over 90 years ago. She lived in a cottage in West Yoke as a child. She related that when she woke up one morning their cottage was flooded as a result of a cloud burst. She and her brothers and sisters had to remain in their bedrooms for a whole week.

From Mr Frank Fletcher, retired Water Inspector, it is learned that there are 22 wells in Ash and Ridley. They are all round about 300 ft or more in depth. The wells in Ash Manor and the Old Rectory, Ash, are 365 feet deep. The deepest well in the Parish is at Terrys Lodge and that is over 500 feet deep. N.B. Since the alteration of boundaries last year Terrys Lodge is now in West Kingsdown Parish. There is a well in rather a dangerous position in West Yoke, it is close to the road between Corner Cottages and the Royal Oak on the right hand side of the road.

In the year 1921 the only pipe leading from the reservoir contracted an airlock and water for the North Ash dairy herd of 150 cows was brought in the empty churns from Abbots’ Dairy, Gravesend, twice a day. This lasted for over a week.

There was great opposition to the installation of the telegraph but the first person to read and use it was the leader of the opposition.

A Balloon Descends on Ash
About 1897 a balloon came down behind North Ash farm-house while a Sunday school treat was in progress. The navigator, Mr Spencer, who had flown from the Crystal Palace, took Mr Day, his daughter and some of the children up as far as the ropes would go, a great thrill in those days. Later the balloon was packed up and Mr Day drove Mr Spencer and his balloon to Fawkham Station.

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