Page Updated:- Monday, 06 December, 2021.


Earliest 1817-

Victory Inn

Open 2020+

Farleigh Bridge

4 Farleigh Station Road (Farleigh Lane)

East Farleigh

01622 298234

Victory Inn 1900

Above photo, circa 1900, kindly sent by Garth Wyver.

Above photo 2009 by David Anstiss Creative Commons Licence.


Above photo, circa 2016. Kindly sent by Garth Wyver.

Victory matchbox

Above matchbox, date unknown.

Victory matchbox

Above matchbox, date unknown.


Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser 27 January 1891.

Fatal accident on the ice.

It is with the sincerest regret that we have to record the death of Miss Grace Smyth (daughter of Mr John Smyth," the respected timber merchant of Maidstone, and Miss Maud Smythe (only daughter of the late Mr William Smyth,) which occurred on Wednesday, under the extremely painful and shocking circumstance detailed below. On Wednesday morning a party of six, comprising Mr William Smythe, Mr Rowland Smythe, their married sister, (Mrs Emery) and her husband and the two deceased ladies went to East Farleigh for the purpose of enjoying an afternoon skating on the River.

On arriving at Farleigh about 1 o'clock they were informed that the lock gates were about to be opened, in consequence of the heavy flow of land water consequent on the rain and thaw of the previous evening, and advised not to go on, but seeing that the ice was firm, and did not show the least signs of giving why they went on. The two Mr Smythes were in front, the Mrs Smyths were about 50 yards behind, and Mr and Mrs Emery were about 50 yards behind them. About 100 yards above Farleigh Bridge, and just above the poplar trees, the river widens out for a short distance and here there is a spring which has the effect of, to a certain extent, thawing in the ice.
This spot has been one of the weakest places in the River. The two Mr Smythes skating singly past the place without accident, but when the Misses Smythe, who was skating together and singing a hymn, reached it, the ice gave way, and precipitated them into the water. Mr William Smyth, hearing cries for help, turned round immediately and skated as fast as he could to the rescue. He jumped into the water and held them up for some time. In the meanwhile, a man working in the Hop garden adjoining rushed to hop pole stack and threw them some poles on the ice. Mr Roland Smythe was trying to help the unfortunate young ladies out, when he fell in as well. With the assistance of Mr Emery he quickly got out again, and immediately set off to How Hill, near Wateringbury, where some of his relatives live. The party in the water, however, were in an appalling position of jeopardy. The water, owing to the lock gates and sluices being opened, was rushing down at a rate of about four or five miles an hour, and it was with the greatest difficulty the persons in it could keep their heads above the surface. The intense cold increased the terrors of the situation. At last Mr Smythe felt that he could do no more, and he had perforce to leave go, all the whole three must have gone down together. He with the greatest trouble succeeded in reaching the land, and in the interval the young ladies, been greatly exhausted, were drawn under the ice by the current, and have not yet been recovered.

Dr Monkton quickly reach the spot, and under his directions a boat was floated and the river was dragged for some considerable time, but with no result. On Tuesday and Friday, under the direction of Mr T Elmore, several men were engaged in dragging the river and breaking the ice. What makes the affair so much more sad is that Miss Grace Smythe had just attained her majority, and the previous evening festivities took place in her honour at her father's house in London Road. Mr Smythe was away in Wiltshire at the time of the accident, and the greatest sympathy is felt with him, his wife and family, at the sudden and awful bereavement they have sustained. The family were held in the highest respect in the town, and Miss Grace Smythe was a great favourite with all who knew her. Miss Maud Smythe was an only daughter. Mr John Smyth returned home on Thursday night. After consulting with Dr Monckton as to the best means of recovering the bodies, the latter gentleman proceeded to Chatham on Friday morning to interview the offices in command of the Royal Engineers with a view to blowing up the ice with explosives. On Saturday some submarine engineers from Chatham went to Farley, and dived in the River, but without success, the task owing to muddiness of the water and the strength of the current being a most difficult one. The ice was quickly disposed of owing to the rapid thaw, and the river is now practically clear.

The inquest.

An inquest on the body of Miss Grace Smyth was held at the "Victory Inn," East Farleigh, on Saturday, before the coroner Buss. Mr G. C. Froud was chosen Foreman of the jury, who at the outset proceeded to view the body which was lying in an empty cottage near the Waterworks. The evidence was then taken:-

James Emery, solicitor, of Broadstairs, said he knew the deceased, she was his wife's sister, and was 21 years of age. On Wednesday last he saw her at breakfast, as he was staying at her father's house. It was proposed later in the day to go skating, and they left Maidstone by the 12.02 train. They were in the party Mr William and Mr Roland Smythe, Miss Grace Smythe, Miss Maud Smythe, Mr Emery, and himself. They got out at Farleigh station, and then proceeded to the ice. There were a great many people on the ice when they got down there, and about 20 men with chairs, prepared to put people's skates on. They began skating about a quarter past 12 They all started off together and skated about up and down the river for about three quarters of an hour. Sometimes he was skating with one member of the party, and sometimes with another. There was no cracking of the ice at all previous to the accident, and the only thing which excited there suspicion was some dispute between the chair-men on the ice, and the man who was in charge of the lock. The lock Keeper told the men that they had no business to put people skates on as the ice was not safe, and they replied that that was there living. He did not hear the conversation, but he called out to the lock Keeper afterwards and asked him what was the matter. He replied - as near as he could remember, "Oh, nothing at present." About 2 minutes before the accident, Mrs Emery, Miss Maud Smythe, and himself were skating on the opposite side of the river to the tow path. There was a man on the bank on the side and he said the ice was 7 or 8 inches thick. The man also added to use his own words "That it would bear a wagon and Horses." There was a number of people passing them on the ice. Just before they spoke to that man, witness left his wife and Miss Maud Smythe together and went up the river towards Barming. He turned where the ice was broken and was looking at the time at a piece of ice which was floating underneath, when he heard his wife scream. He then saw the two girls in the water and skated down to them as fast as he could and threw himself flat on the ice. The younger brother was there and he called on him to do the same. Witness caught hold of Miss Maud Smythe by one arm and she was clinging to Miss Grace, who was lower down in the water, by the other. Miss Maud Smythe called out, "Oh save Grace, save Grace." There was nobody else but Mr Roland Smythe there then; everybody else cleared off as quickly as they could go. He remained in the same position for what seemed seconds when the ice gave way, and all three went in together. When he came up again to the surface of the water, he caught Miss Maud Smythe with one arm around her waist and he thought at the time she had hold of Miss Grace, but she cried out "Oh! Grace is gone, Grace is gone." Nobody came up during that time. After Miss Grace had gone he tried to comfort Miss Maud, and told her if she kept still they would be saved, and just as he had spoken the ice broke again and they both went under. They came to the surface, and he clung to her with his knees, while he tried to get hold of the ice, when the current seemed to drag her out of his grasp. He then held onto the ice with his hands, and the next thing he remembered was Mr Roland Smythe clinging to him. He was in the water himself, but witness did not know how we got in. Mr Roland Smythe also fell into the water, and witness pushed him towards where the ice was stronger, and it was after he had reached it that Mr Williams Smythe came skating up the ice with a hop-pole. The ice kept breaking as they got on to the edge, and it was a very little way from the bank of the river. He did not think he had skating on that side of the river. The ice there was black ice, but on the other side it was whiter and looked stronger. There were people skating up and down the river, but he did not know whether they went over the exact spot where the accident happened. No one else came near them to help except the two Mr Smythes, and there were no poles thrown onto the ice. There was no suggestion at all that the ice was not safe except the dispute between the man at the locks and the men on the ice with chairs. It seems that the spot where the accident happened was known to be dangerous, though he was not aware of it. Deceased have been skating on the river frequently. His watch stopped at five minutes to one, so the accident must have occurred just before that time.

Philip Pearson, of Barkers Cottage, East Farleigh, a cripple, said he was a working man on the roads. About half-past 12 on Wednesday, deceased was talking to him, and there were four others with her. Mr William Smythe was not there then. Witness was trying the ice with a pole to see how firm it was. he told deceased it was 8 or 9 inches thick where he was standing, but that was not safe up above. Two of the young ladies then went away. Witness was not on the ice himself. One young lady and himself try to persuade the others to come back, as they heard the ice cracking. He saw them go into the water, and threw poles to them as fast as he could. There were four persons in the water at one time.

Walter Ring, a labourer, of Maidstone said he was engaged on Thursday afternoon to drag the river. There were two other men in the boat, and he had a boat hook. He recover the body on Friday afternoon, and it was then in the water underneath the poplar trees on the opposite side off the spot to the towing path, and was as near as he could get; 10 or 12 feet away from the bank. There were at the time between six and seven feet of water there, as it had been lowered about three feet. Deceased had on a short jacket and a light dress, but there was nothing on her head. The place where she was found, was known as Clackets hole.

Mr William Taylor Smythe was next called. He said he lived at Maidstone (with his father,) and at Kemsing. He was brother to the deceased, and he corroborated Mr Emery's evidence, up to the time of going onto the ice. He added that the time of the accident he was skating down by Farleigh Bridge, and he heard no screams of any sort. Someone ran down the bank and said there was someone in the water. He had a strong idea it was one of his party, and when he had gone about half way up, he met someone else who said his brother-in-law was in the water. He skated up as hard as he could, and all he saw was his little brother just getting out onto the ice and his brother-in-law in the water. he saw the man Pearson standing still on the bank with a pole in his hands in an upright position. Witness called out for "For God's sake give me that Pole," but he did not take any notice. Witness at lasts managed to get the pole, but as for saying that anyone threw anything onto the ice there was no help at all. If they had been they might have all been saved.

Pearson said he was a cripple, and he could not get out of the ditch to give any help. He did all he could buy throwing poles on.

Witness, continuing, said there was not a pole thrown; that he was prepared to swear.

Mr Emery also said there was no poles thrown.

Mr Smyth said there was no one on the ice accept his sister, Mrs Emery, who was "like a mad woman," and kept crying out. "Help him, help him," meaning her husband. Witness had no idea that his sister and cousin were in the water too. He never saw them again after they were talking to the man on the bank. There were plenty of people about, and they could have saved them if they had liked. Pearson was the only man he saw on that side of the bank, but witness saw some people running about on the other side.

Pearson again reiterated his statement that he was a cripple and could not get out of the ditch.

Mr Smythe:- Did I not come a quarter of an hour before, and reprimand you for saying the ice was safe all over? I remember your face too well.

The Coroner suggested that they should not dispute the matter.

Mr Coppen, the lock Keeper at Farleigh, who was also on the jury, was permitted to make a statement. He said he saw the party come onto the ice, and he told the chair-men that the water was rising, and they are not to be there. He spoke to them about the plank from the bank on to the ice. One of the men replied that it was their living. He (Mr Coopen) knew the unsafeness of the water as the water has been drawn off several times, and the chair-men ought not to have invited people to go on. He told them it was going to draw the water off then.

Mr Emery said they might have driven a thousand people over at that point. It was only at the particular place where the accident happens that the ice was unsafe. Continuing, he said to Coppen: "Did I not ask you when you were talking to the chair-men what was the matter? And you said "Oh, nothing at present."?

Mr Coppen replied that he thought Mr Emery must have heard what the altercation was about, and he thought he was chaffing him.

The coroner having summed up the evidence, said this was a matter in which hard things might be said on one side, perhaps without much reason or without anything which really affected the case, but he thought on a general view of the evidence it would be very difficult for them or for anyone else to say that there was any fault attached to anybody as the cause of that very unfortunate affair. The young ladies themselves appear to have made enquiries, and they also appeared to have been warned, or at any rate it was said that the ice was not safe in all parts. He thought, under the circumstances, they could not return any other verdict than that deceased died from drowning through falling into the river while skating. He was sure that they would agree with him that their sympathies were due to the parents of that poor young lady, and to the parents of the young lady whose body was still missing. It was a sad case. It had concerned him very much, and he thought those who knew the parents better than he did must know the state of mind that they must be in at that time. He was sure they must sympathise very much with them, and he would concur in any expressions of condolence with they might convey to them.

The Foreman of the jury said the jury were agreed upon return a verdict of "Accidentally Drowned." He said they were of the opinion that no blame attached to the man Pearson, but they recommended that the proper authorities should be requested to provide means for the saving of life in view of future accidents. With the parents of the deceased young ladies the jury heartily sympathised, and they would like an expression of condolence to be conveyed to them.

The Coroner, in referring to the desire on the part of the jury that he should write to the Medway Conservancy Board as to proper life saving apparatus being supplied, said he has written to them several times before, but they had replied that if localities wanted any particular means of saving life they must supply it themselves. Nevertheless, he would write to them again.

The jury were then discharged.


The body of Miss Maud Smyth was recovered yesterday (Monday) morning between 8 and 9 o'clock. Dragging operations had been carried on every day since the accident, and it was not till yesterday that the men employed for the purpose succeeded in recovering the body, which was lying about Midway between Folly Bridge and Clacketts hole, where the body of Miss Grace Smyth was found. The inquest will be held at the "Victory Inn," East Farleigh, today (Tuesday,) at 5 o'clock.



HENHAM Alfred 1881-1901+ (age 36 in 1881Census) Maidstone and Kentish Journal

HENHAM Alfred 1901+ (age 45 in 1901Census)

BINSKIN Thomas 1895-1914 (age 67 in 1911Census) Kelly's 1903

BINSKIN Frederick 1922-30+ Post Office Directory 1922Post Office Directory 1930

HADLER George Edward Robert 1938+ Post Office Directory 1938


Post Office Directory 1922From the Post Office Directory 1922

Post Office Directory 1930From the Post Office Directory 1930

Post Office Directory 1938From the Post Office Directory 1938


Maidstone and Kentish JournalMaidstone and Kentish Journal

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903


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