There's a whole more to this historic Kent town than just 'disgusted' of Tunbridge Wells!
1. That’s Royal Tunbridge Wells actually!
It was given the prefix in 1909 by King Edward VII because it was popular with many royal and aristocratic visitors – but most especially his mother, Queen Victoria.
2. The railway station is back to front
Designed to fit an earlier road layout, there are two entrances – the back one on the main road, and the main one tucked around the corner.
3. Just like Rome, it’s built on seven hills
With names likes Mount Sion and Mount Ephraim, the hilly terrain gives your legs a work-out – and the views are great!
4. It’s a spa town
The town sprang up around the Chaylbeate Spring, discovered in 1606. As news of the waters health-giving properties spread, people can from far and wide. The spring is still there, set in a colonnaded walkway in an area called The Pantiles – but this summer it’s been so dry that it’s been closed due to a low water flow rate!
5. The postcode handle
The town is known to locals as TW – and not to be confused with nearby Tonbridge – which, though it’s spelt differently, is pronounced exactly the same, just without the Wells!
6. Labour never wins!
There aren’t too many places in the UK more true-blue than here, which makes it all the more surprising that there’s a hall named after one Len Fagg, the only TW Labour party candidate who has ever seemed remotely likely to win a parliamentary seat. He didn’t, of course!
7. Harry looks after the Crown jewels
In 2007, Harry Collins, owner of local jewellers G. Collins & Sons, was appointed the new Crown Jeweller to Queen Elizabeth II, in charge of the maintenance of the Crown Jewels no less.
8. It’s got lots of rocks!
Sandstone outcrops stick up all over town. The aptly named crouching Toad Rock is a local landmark, and Everest scaling mountaineer Chris Bonington tried his first-ever climb at Harrison’s Rocks in the 1960s. Ah yes, he climbed Dick’s Diversion and Slim Finger Crack.
9. School days
The local must-go to girl’s school is known to all as TWIG’s – that’s Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School. Comedian Jo Brand is an old girl. Boys queue up to go to Skinner’s – TV presenter Nick Knowles in an old boy.
10. They were born here…
Shane MacGowan – yep, the lead singer of The Pogues, hailed from TW!
Danny La Rue – female impersonator extraordinaire
David Gower, cricketer
11. Celebs-ville…they live locally now
Dame Kelly Holmes – Olympic gold medallist
Jilly Goolden – TV presenter and wine know-all
Louise Jamieson – played Layla, one of Dr Who’s companions a very long time ago
George Cohen – he played for England when we won the World Cup in 1966
Bob Mortimer – of Reeves and Mortimer
Ian Hislop – editor of Private Eye and team captain on Have I Got News For You
Jeff Beck, legendary guitarist
12. The beeb are here…
With their studios based in the Great Hall opposite the station, the weather girl regularly films her reports from the park around the corner, and commuters tumbling off the trains often have to dodge the local South East Today reporter and camera team trying to get their views on local events.
13. William Makepeace Thackeray
No, not the character played by Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, this one is the 19th century author of Vanity Fair who used to live in TW. The house is now a very posh – and expensive – French restaurant.
14. Small, but perfectly formed
The Forum on TW common, once a public loo and brass rubbing centre, is now a tiny 250-capacity music venue that’s a magnet to the local teenagers and up and coming bands. Voted Britain’s Best Small Venue by NME in 2012, people still talk about the time they saw Adele, Coldplay, The Libertines, Mumford & Sons and Oasis play there!
15. The ‘D’ word
That’s ‘disgusted’ of Tunbridge Wells. It all started 60 years ago when fictitious letters were sent to the local paper signed, ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells. And it’s stuck, now a term for any sort of narrow-minded grouch. And yes, there are still some in TW – but no more than anywhere else!