The Amenity Strip

Amenty StripNext time you travel down Kemnal Road, look at the western edge of the Road between Ashfield Lane and The Coach House.

There is a narrow strip of woodland between the gardens of the houses in Liskeard Close, and the tarmac of Kemnal Road. It is now referred to as the Amenity Strip. It has an interesting history, involving many of the well known residents of the Road. In 1879, Walter Murton purchased the land, for the sum of £30, from John Robert, Earl Sydney, then the Lord of the Manor of Chislehurst. Why did he do this? Had he had an argument with John Webster, who lived at Woodlands, behind the strip, regarding the use of the land? Was he keen to preserve the view opposite his house so that development could not take place there, or was this part of his general desire to maintain the naturalness of the Commons, wherever possible? We shall never know.

What we do know is that having bought the land, he still held it after he sold Meadowcroft in 1900. He eventually sold the land in 1901, for £145, to a group of residents of Kemnal Road. His address in the 1901 document is given as the Devonshire Club, St James Street.

DocumentThe residents to whom he sold the land were: Charlotte Tyndale (Meadowcroft), Frank Tiarks (Woodheath), and Alexander Travers Hawes (Nizels). The indenture of sale recites that the three agreed to purchase the land “for the purpose of keeping the said strip of land as far as possible in its present condition”. This therefore sets up the Trust which has existed since.

In an addendum to a later document (reproduced on right), Frank Tiarks and Travers Hawes signed a statement to confirm that the consideration was contributed in the following proportions:-

This of course totals £155. Perhaps Frank’s father gave his son £10 to add to his own contribution of £15?

By 1935, two of the new Trustees were dead; Travers Hawes died on 20th May 1924, and Charlotte Tyndale on 1st February 1933. Frank Tiarks was the sole surviving Trustee, and he had decided to sell Foxbury, and move to Somerset.

He therefore arranged for a Deed of Appointment, dated 5th April 1935, whereby he retired, and three new trustees were appointed: Roderick Hawes, a son of Travers, John Edwin Duder (an insurance broker at Lloyds living at Westerland), and Arthur Pelham Ford (a partner at accountants Peat Marwick & Co. living at Hoblands). The three new trustees paid £50 in total to the executors of Mrs Tyndale for her share of the purchase of the land.

The Deed of Appointment may also have been prompted by an action against Thomas Smith who lived at Woodlands, and appears to have attempted to take over some or all of the strip. The Trustees took legal action. Mr Justice Bennett presided over the agreement of terms between the Trustees and Mr Smith, dated 11 December 1936, whereby Smith “undertakes to execute a transfer [to the Trustees] of the strip of land…and to make good to their satisfaction the damage to their fences, and to pay £37.14.9 for their cost of this action”.

Arthur Pelham Ford died on 27th September 1937, and in April 1938, Major Philip Reginald Margetson, by then the new owner of Meadowcroft, acquired, for £20, the share and interest previously held by Ford. On 18th May he was appointed as a trustee. Margetson was a senior officer in the Metropolitan Police, and later was Assistant Commissioner from 1946 until 1957.

By 1959 John Duder had died (27th December 1944), and Margetson (by now Major Sir Philip Reginald Margetson, MC) had sold Meadowcroft for development, and was living in Tufton Street, London. Both he and Hawes, living in Bickley, wanted to retire, and they appointed Charles Dunn (Hoblands Cottage), Charles Williams (Nizels), Harold Clifton (?) and Leonard Gilbert (a flat at Westerland) as new trustees. There is no mention of any consideration passing hands in this transaction. Harold Clifton died on 5 March 1962, and in 1964 Hugh Cyril Kinder (Hoblands) was appointed as trustee in his place.

In May 1972, Peter Harding (Woodheath) was appointed as a trustee, and Peter Low (Eaton Court), Roger Grant (Acorn Close), and Albert Isles (Marlowe Close) had been appointed by November 1985. The current trustees are all members of the Kemnal Residents Association Committee.

1. The Amenity Strip has an area of 23 perches. A perch is an old measurement. It had two uses. One was for length; it was equal to a rod, being 16.5 feet. It was also used for measuring land area, as in this case. It was equal to 272.25 square feet, being one square rod. There are 160 perches in an acre, so the area of this strip is about 1/7th of an acre.
2. The papers tracing the history of the strip were sent to Albert Isles by a London based law firm called Warren Murton. This firm was established in 1874 after Walter Murton, on his appointment to the Board of Trade, sold his own personal practice to two of his former employees, Messrs Warren and Gardner. Walter’s eldest son, Bertie, became a partner in the firm when he qualified as a solicitor, as stipulated in the sale agreement. Warren had died by the time that Bertie became senior partner, but the name Warren Murton continues to this day.