Our members are participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge for 2018 with the theme People of My Place. Today's entry is from Peter Watson.

Robert Quickenden was born in Forest Row in Sussex, in 1851. He is found in the 1871 census of East Grinstead, Sussex, where is a 19 year old ‘miller’, living with his widowed father James, a farmer. By 1881 Robert is living in Wandsworth, London, still as a miller, having married Laura Holt PEARCE from Redgrave, Suffolk.

By 1891 Robert had applied for a licence to run the Railway Hotel in Herne Bay, and Robert & Louisa had moved into the premises by the census night. There was also a general servant girl living in.

Herne Bay's Railway Hotel c.1891
Herne Bay's Railway Hotel c.1891

Railway Hotel on Herne Bay map

Louisa died on 3rd November 1895, and is buried in Herne Bay Cemetery. Apparently she died without issue. In 1899, Robert married Laura Chew ROBINSON, aged 33 (he was 47). The 1901 census shows the couple at the Railway Hotel; a niece and barmaid were living in.

Railway Hotel 1901 census

Robert Quickenden
Robert Quickenden. Photo courtesy of Brian Brady
Robert Quickenden’s epitaph states that he died on Good Friday, 1st April 1904. He died at the St Barnabas nursing home, Herne Bay, at just 52 years of age. He is buried with both his wives – Louisa who predeceased him by 9 years and Laura who outlived him by 29 years, he ran the Railway Hotel (now the Four Fathoms), [and] belonged to the Herne Bay Ethelbert Lodge of freemasons.

He left a good sum to his widow – equivalent to over £300,000 today, and within a fortnight of his passing, Laura was granted the transfer of licence for the Railway Hotel.

In the 1911 census the Railway Hotel tells us quite a lot about the way Laura was running the ‘hotel’. It seems she has a good complement of staff for running a small hotel, but the only ‘guests’ are her four relatives. This is in March after all, so there probably wouldn’t be any holidaying guests; however, the use of the guest rooms by the relations would suggest that Laura didn’t need to have paying guests, thanks to the small fortune left her by Robert! Of course it was a public house, so there would have been a regular income from local men.

Railway Hotel 1911 census

The 1910 Valuation Returns are difficult to read, but the following table shows the assessment for the Railway Hotel; the roof was ‘bad’, and the six bedrooms in the hotel would’ve only been able to take Laura’s relations and the bar and kitchen staff!

375 ~ Railway Hotel, Station Road ~ Public House ~ £65
Mrs. Laura C. QUICKENDEN ~ Assessed 1910-15
Percy Beale NEAME (Shepherd, Neame & Co.), Faversham
Includes ass:374. A corner public house, cement ??? Bar built out fronting Station Road & is one storey only with bad roof. Smoke room, dining room, lavatory, 3 compartment bar, landing, bathroom – 1st floor, 2 rooms & WC. on half landing. 2nd floor, 4 rooms & 4 slip rooms – basement, 2 ??? Small yard with WC.

Laura was the proprietor of the Railway Hotel until 1923. She died on 24th July 1933, and is buried with Robert and his first wife. All three are mentioned on the memorial (below) but sadly this has fallen into disrepair.

Laura's gravestone
In loving memory of Louisa Holt, the beloved wife of Robert Quickenden who died 3rd November 1895 aged 49 years.
Laura Quickenden, born 28th Feb 1867, died 24th July 1933. At Rest.
Grant through each day of life to stand by thee, with thee, when morning breaks, ever to be.
Mine eyes have seen thy salvation.

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