Loss of Tonbridge archives renews calls for town museum

    Tonbridge Library

    COLLECTIONS of historical documents are set to be removed from the town’s library, prompting concern from a local historian.

    Tonbridge Library holds an extensive archive, charting the town’s colourful history.

    However, Kent County Council, who run the library, are undertaking a ‘programme of planned stock editing’.

    This will involve relocating materials to the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone, although some items are expected to be destroyed.

    Pam Mills, a local historian who used the archives to write her book Tonbridge Fallen WW1, said: “I frequently refer to the council minutes, which I know is on the list of archived items to be moved.

    “This means I would have to travel all the way to Maidstone, which is totally impractical. Plus to view archived documents you can’t just turn up, you have to make an appointment.

    “I know libraries have to be revamped and understand the principle, but care needs to be taken on all fronts to make sure history is still accessible for all.”

    Carl Lewis, who heads up the Tonbridge Poppy Appeal, said: “We should have access to our heritage and history and it should be local. Moving it to Maidstone would be detrimental to those who need and use it the most. Our history makes us who we are. If it is taken away, who are we?

    “A town museum would highlight to those who live in our great town, and those who visit, just what a rich and varied history we have here in Tonbridge. I, for one, love Tonbridge. Why not show what Tonbridge has contributed?”

    A spokesman for Kent’s Libraries, Registration and Archives service said the motivation is ‘to ensure the collection is relevant to the needs of customers in Tonbridge today’, adding: “As a result, the Tonbridge Urban District Council collection will be available in one place.

    “Customers are encouraged to talk to staff if they have any specific concerns.”