History Of The Parish Council
At the end of the 19th Century, in accordance with the Local Government Act of 1894, the first Leybourne Parish Meeting was held in the Girls School (now Leybourne C of E Primary School) on December 4th 1894.
The people present were: Rev C Hawley (later Canon), Miss Bolton, Mrs Butler, Mr T Hearnden, Mr A Skinner, Mr J Danes, Mr T Maber, Mr G Ashdown, Mr A Daw, Mr F Spink, Mr R Allen and Mr W Roberts.
Mr Tolputt, one of the Parish Overseers, announced that the first business of the evening was to elect a chairman for the ensuing year.
Rev Hawley was elected chairman and remained in office until he died in 1914.
It is possible that preliminary meetings were held in a house called ‘Fishponds’ (no longer there) at the corner of London Road and Pump Close.
The parish meeting assembled twice a year until they elected a parish council of 5 members on the authority of a letter from KCC dated 22nd July 1924.
The 5 members elected to the parish council by the general meeting on 16th March 1925 were: Mr C Goodsell, Mr W A Jennings Bramley, Mr J Joyce, Mr W Pierce and Mr J Thomson.
In 1949, the number of members permitted rose to 7 and approx 30 years later in circa 1979 Leybourne was permitted to have 9 elected members on its parish council.
The first election by poll was on 13th May 1949.
Each parish council since 1925 has appointed a clerk. Clerks to date are:
1925 – 1933 Mr P C Galesworthy
1933 – 1942 Mr W G Dodge
1942 – 1974 Mr F Downes
1974 – 1992 Mrs F M Weekes
1992 – 2005 Mrs G Kirby
2005 - 2008 Mrs H Rimmer
2008-2009 Mrs H Bryant
May 2010- Present Mrs J Pilbeam
Mains Water came to Leybourne circa 1921. Before that most people drew their water from the Village Pump. The Pump is registered as a Grade III ancient monument and the parish council has for many years tried to find the owner who would be responsible for its maintenance. Many years ago Mr M Hawley, when approached said the pump was the property of Mr J Joyce. But after much investigation and advertising, no claimant came forward, so in the early 1990’s the parish council took over the ownership and responsibility of the pump and the surrounding land. During the investigations it was found that the water from the pump had become contaminated and was now unfit for human consumption. When a notice to this effect was displayed on the pump, a lot of local people objected strongly. The Old Rectory had its own well and, no doubt, so did the Castle.
Electricity came to Leybourne in 1934, and in 1946 the first footway lighting was installed for which the parish council borrowed £425 in accordance with the Lighting and Watching Act of 1833.
THE FIRST AND SECOND WORLD WARS
The names of local people who gave their lives are inscribed on the War Memorial. The names are:
Henry Albert Danes Sidney Danes
Cyril Thomas Hawley Capt Harry Charles Pierce
David Price Ernest Rose
John Edwin Wills Sidney Hirschfield
A memorial service was held annually on Remembrance Sunday with the laying of a wreath by the chairman of the parish council on the memorial. This was stopped in the 1960s when the then vicar of Leybourne asked to the practice to be discontinued.
During the 1914-1918 war an army camp was situated on the road which then jointed Snodland Road with Grange Road and was situated on the West Malling side of the Castle. The route of the old road can still be seen when walking along footpath no. 130 which follows the route of the old road. The army camp was bombed by the Germans in 1917 and it is said that a soldier was killed. This road was later replaced by a new road – now Park Road.
German bombs also fell in Leybourne during the 1939-1945 war.
During the period between the wars (1918-1939) houses were built along Castle Way, London Road, Park Road and a few in Rectory Lane. In the 1920’s Mrs Ogilvy bought the Castle Ruins and built the present house on the site. She died at the age of 99 in 1963.
Much of Leybourne Grange’s vast estate was sold off in plots between 1920-1921 and the house was sold eventually to the Kent County Council and the house was converted to a home and hospital for the mentally handicapped. In the 1980’s the home and hospital was gradually run down and was eventually closed in 1990’s. The house has a preservation order on it but plans have been drawn up for a new village in the grounds. All that remains now is a college for disabled children and the Leybourne Riding School for the Disabled.
In 1927 Leybourne School for Girls and Infants became Leybourne C of E primary school for boys and girls. In 1934 the Leybourne Holme School for Boys closed.
In 1979 when Glebe Farm was demolished to make a building plot for houses (81-87 Rectory Lane) the last remaining farm buildings belonging to the original Rectory were also demolished as was the building where Mrs Hawley taught local children before the present school was built circa 1976.
In September 1948 an Entertainment Committee was formed to raise funds for a Village Hall.
In 1948 investigations started to find a new Burial Ground and in the same year the parish council decided to acquire ½ - 1 acre of field as a playing field for children but none of the local landowners would part with any land. In February 1949 the parish council wrote to KCC regarding the possible use of the cricket ground.
After fruitless searching for a Burial Ground, it was decided to join a joint scheme with neighbouring parishes and make a Burial Ground in Windfield Lane. On 21st August 1953 a special meeting was called to discuss the Burial Ground but there was no quorum so the meeting was cancelled and the parish withdrew from the joint scheme.
In 1951 the parish council again complained about the dangers of Snodland Corner (now where Pump Close joins London Road).
Also in 1951 the Village sign was erected.
In November 1952 KCC purchased Leybourne Cricket Ground.
In 1953, a seat was placed outside the Church inscribed ‘To commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953’.
In March 1955 a draft scheme for a new motorway (M20) was submitted.
Circa 1960, the parish council decided to try to purchase the 3 ½ acres of land adjoining the Cricket Ground form Mr G Charlton. The land however had already been sold to Redlands for mineral extraction. When the extraction of minerals had worked out in 1967 and the ground reinstated it was unsuitable for recreation. After much debate, The Chimneys, which was the Rectory was built.
In 1962 the A228 was realigned and widened and a new spur was made from the Mill to the London Road, bypassing Pump Close. When the work was completed and a new roundabout had been constructed at the junction of A228 and London Road, Pump Close was sealed off from London Road.
The widening of the road meant the removal of the Village sign. Unfortunately it was in such a bad state that it could not be resited. In 1964, new road names were agreed and in 1965 the new names were applied. Snodland (or Malling) Road became Castle Way, New Road became Park Road and Grange Road became Birling Road.
On June 10th 1966 the church was struck by lightning and many parish records were destroyed by the resulting fire.
On September 14th and 15th 1968 Leybourne was badly flooded. The worst of the flooding was in the area of the mill but Glebe Farm, which was situated were nos 81, 83 and 85 Rectory Lane North are now sited, was also badly affected. The chicken houses were flooded and many chickens drowned. Scores of dead chicken could be seen floating over the cricket ground.
In July 1969, Kent River Authority started a flood warning service.
Main drainage was laid in Leybourne in 1969. The main drain from Little Market Row running behind Rectory Lane North and crossing from behind no 85 across under the road and the school to the main drain, has blocked three times at the point where it turns behind no 85. This caused foul water to flood into the gardens of nos 79 and 81.
Leybourne Way was opened in April 1970 and the M20 motorway was opened in 1972. The Medway Gap Town Map – Modification MG8 Leybourne – was published in 1974. The plan was to build 1000 houses on 100 acres of farm land in Leybourne. The parish council wrote to the Secretary of State objecting to the proposal in September 1974 and followed with a further letter in October of that year setting out in detail its objections to the proposed modifications saying:
‘the councillors, being the elected representatives of this parish and voicing the opinion of a very large majority of the parishioners submit that:
1. The proposed development is strongly opposed by the parishioners and an action group has been formed. Their objections have been submitted, which the parish council endorse.
2. The land is above average Grade II by the Ministry of Agriculture Classification and the parish council support the government’s stated opinion that land of this calibre is too valuable to be used for development.
3. The land in question is crossed by two footpaths which the council has already strenuously resisted attempts to close. These footpaths are generally considered to be of scenic and amenity value.
4. The government oil pipeline crosses the land. This matter was not drawn to the inspector’s attention at the previous inquiry and is therefore new evidence.
5. From title deeds in the possession of parish councillors it is an indisputable fact that some forty-nine acres of the proposed development site are glebe land and as such are subject to a restrictive covenant prohibiting any building. This covenant is still in force as is verified by the Church Commissioners in a letter attached hereto.
6. The parish council has grave doubts that the existing public services are adequate to cope with proposed extra development. This view is based on the difficulties already encountered by the council in getting effective ministration from these services.
7. From recent local experiences it is well know that meadows adjacent to Leybourne stream are subject to flooding. Leybourne village is within the flood warning system operated by the Lower Medway Internal Drainage Board and in accordance with directives, the parish has appointed flood wardens. It should be noted that within the last week of the date of this letter, a flood warning for this area has been issued.
The parish council call for a re-opening of the inquiry, thus supporting the demands already made up by the KCC, the District Council, the Leybourne Action Group and a number of individual parishioners.’
L.A.N.D. – Leybourne Action Against Needless Development, took a petition up to London and presented it to the Government. But the inspector at the inquiry again ruled in favour of the development.
A public meeting was called at which Mr Timms, the MD of Croudace, put forward his plan and assured the parishioners that the development would be of a high standard.
Throughout the whole development programme, Croudace and the parish council maintained a very good working relationship. Since then the parish council has had numerous applications for modifications and alterations to individual properties.
The Leybourne-Larkfield parish boundary passed through some of the new Leybourne development so this boundary was moved further east and ran along behind the houses in Lunsford Lane and joined its original route over Leybourne Way to the A228. At the same time, the Boundary Commission transferred the triangle of land enclosed west of the A228 and north of the M20 to Birling. Therefore Leybourne lost the old Holme School in Birling Road, Leybourne Lodge, Twenty House Wood, The Old Watercress beds and a few houses in Castle Way on the Snodland side of the M20. After much debate, the Chimneys, which was the rectory built by Sir Joseph Hawley for the Hawley vicars in circa 1876 and was threatened with demolition, was purchased by the parish council for £1 for it to be used as a community centre. Realising that the maintenance costs would be very high and that it would have been impossible to make the building self supporting, the building was sold to be developed into a restaurant. However, the parish council retained sufficient of the building’s grounds on which to build a village hall.
The village hall was opened on 20th February 1982 by the clerk, Mrs F Weekes, taking the first booking for the hire of the hall from Mr J Jessop.
At this time, Rectory Lane was severed by Oxley Shaw Lane and became Rectory Lane North and South.
The development was completed in 1988 having been carried out in stages and the new streets were given names as they became ready for occupation.
In October 1987, a hurricane swept through Leybourne and caused a fair amount of damage and a number of trees were uprooted, especially at Leybourne Grange. A special tree outside the church eventually had to be taken down as it was dangerous.
In the 1980’s and early 1990’s proposals for various routes for the A228 to bypass Leybourne were drawn up. After much discussion the ‘orange’ route was selected which ran from a point on the West Malling bypass, crossing the A20 near Pump Close and passing behind the Castle to join a spur from the A228 near the M20?
In 1998 work commenced on the building of a ‘Brewers Fayre’ motel and restaurant on the site of the Redlands Mineral Extraction workings in Castle Way.
History prepared by Mr Jack Weekes in 1998.