With the year coming to a close, the Times looks back at the headlines which have grabbed your attention during our first year of publication.
March 4: The Times launches its first edition headlined Good Morning Tunbridge Wells. Setting out to achieve what many believed was impossible, the free weekly paper has bucked industry trends and gone from strength to strength.
March 18: The arrival of Metro Bank is announced, shaking up the high-street with its ‘back to basics’ and 7 days a week approach. The Times secures its first major interview by talking to American founder and chairman Vernon Hill. Mr Hill said he wanted to take on the status quo because: “The British banks’ philosophy was and is they are doing you a favour by letting you bank with them.”
April 1: Duelling finally gets under way on the A21. The Times expressed the mood among its readers with the simple headline ‘At long last.’ The £70m project has been progressing strongly ever since and is due to finish in spring 2017.
May 13: With Greg Clark retaining his seat at the general election by a landslide, the Times engaged in a spot of speculation about whether the 47-year-old MP has what it takes to one day reach Number 10.
June 3: The death of the much loved former mayor Michael Rusbridge leaves a hole in the political landscape of the town. More than 750 people from across the political spectrum and all walks of life turn up to attend his funeral and pay tribute to ‘the most kind and gentle man’ later in the month.
July 29: The discovery of an Iron Age furnace by members of the Southborough and Highbrooms Amateur Archaeological Society near Powder Mill Lane grips the town’s imagination. Discovery of the 2,300 year old site added at least a millennia of extra history to the town and was described as a ‘significant find and five year project’ by the respected archaeologist Mark Landymore.
August 19: Nine Hundred people stage a protest against Gatwick in the long running dispute between the airport and community groups. It came just days after adverts promoting the airport’s case for expansion were banned as ‘misleading’ by the Advertising Standards Authority.
August 26: Flash flooding the previous afternoon bought devastation to shops and home owners across Tunbridge Wells. The restaurant Kai’s Kitchen was particularly hard hit, alongside Fenwicks, Cassidy’s and the Any Occasion bridal boutique which lost £60,000 in stock but was unable to claim it back on insurance. Overall insurance claims ran into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. 27-year-old Kit Hawes-Webb lost most of his possessions after ‘chest high’ water flooded his flat. “Books I had as a child and wanted to hand down to my children are now just mush” he said.
September 2: The hospital makes front page again after an investigation by the Times revealed £28 million had been spent on agency staff by the trust in 2014/15. Enough for 1000 full time nurses.
September 30: The most senior civil servant in Tunbridge Wells makes in an uncharacteristic outburst criticises the £150 million shortfall faced by the town due to it constantly being overlooked by its Local Enterprise Partnership. Mr Benson said he felt ‘bitter’ by the lack of funding received by the body, with much of the money available being spend on infrastructure projects in east Kent.
October 14: The last moments before the tragic death of two friends in a road accident which the Times reported on in April is viewed by over 4 million people in the first 24 hours alone. The video showed footage of Kyle Careford, 20, and Michael Owen 21, driving near Crowborough under the influence of drugs and alcohol before crashing into a church wall. It was released by Sussex Police with the permission of the families to act as a warning to other young drivers.
November 4: The Times commemorates our war dead with the simple but poignant headline ‘Lest we forget’. Coverage of memorial services from villages across the borough featured in the following edition.