Thinking of moving to Tunbridge Wells - any advice on areas, schools?

(36 Posts)
midnightexpress Fri 11-Jun-10 21:29:10

Hi - we're thinking of relocating from Scotland to TW, because of work. We are both from the SE but don't really know the TW area. Does anyone have any advice about nice areas, both in TW itself and in surrounding villages? We have two pre-schoolers, one of whom is due to start school in Sept (Aug up here, so he might get a head start!), so primary schools are also a consideration. DP will be commuting into London so we'd like to be within striking distance of a station.


FlyMeToDunoon Fri 11-Jun-10 21:53:50

Hello there. DP and I moved to TW 8 years ago from London.
Good primaries are Claremont, St James and St Peters. I think the Southborough one is good but I don't now so much about up there.
Try to live within walking distance of the main station as according to DP by the time the train gets to High Brooms there are no seats left.
nice areas are: St Johns ££, the village area £££, St James ££, Hawkenbury£ and other bits and pieces around and about these.
Avoid Sherwood, High Brooms, anything over by Sainsbury's [? name]
Frant is lovely but I am not familial with other villages.

midnightexpress Fri 11-Jun-10 22:45:15

Oh thanks very much - that's all great to know. Am currently burying my head in the sand about the mechanics of actually getting ds1 a place in a school, but getting some advice about areas is a great start. Thanks.

FlyMeToDunoon Sat 12-Jun-10 12:23:33


Good luck with your move. And with a school. Schools have to give priority to people moving into the area I believe, however the places have been allocated for September already.

midnightexpress Sun 13-Jun-10 20:56:53

Yes, I know. <sigh> As our house here isn't even on the market yet, I'm resigned to DS1 starting school up here in August, as I can't imaigine things moving that quickly, so we'll be looking for a place once the school year starts I imagine - will get hold of someone at the council, I guess and see what to do. DS2 starts next year - do you know when the forms go out/have to be in btw?

Also, are there MN meet-ups in the area <needy>?

FlyMeToDunoon Sun 13-Jun-10 22:00:59

Hmm vaguely think the forms have to be in jan feb time.
I have seen meet ups on the local board but haven't attended any mysef.
meet ups here's one.

Pluto Sun 13-Jun-10 22:15:27

Traffic is terrible so try to buy a place within walking distance of town centre and schools. None of the primary schools are really bad but poor old Sherwood and St Barnabus get an undeserved bad press. If you want a place at Claremont - forget it - you'll need to buy a house located in the playground or have children there already. Langton Green, The Village and Culverden areas are £££. Langton Green primary, Southborough, St James, St Johns all are fine primary schools.

TW is fine if you have some ££. Unless you have a big budget expect to get no off street parking.

Also - this 11+ super selective West Kent and that makes things interesting when your children get older.

TW is a good place to raise a family in many ways but you need big bucks to get a decent family sized home with parking and a garden.

SchnoogleDyBroogle Sun 13-Jun-10 22:21:32

Wadhurst is a nice village about 20 minutes away from Tun wells, it has a station and a good primary and secondary. Houses don't come up very often though.

Hope you find somewhere, relocating is hard work. x

kickassangel Sun 13-Jun-10 22:46:30

My dsis teaches primary in TW. I grew up there, my family all still live round there.

I would love to move into Culverden area (but not Culverden Down), but you need at least 250k for anything more than 2 beds - in fact, near the station, you won't even get 2 beds for that.

southborough is quite nice (that's my old home) & the school is still good, but you have to walk down the hill to high brooms for a train, or, get a bus to tonbridge - it's what my dad did.

have you thought about tonbridge? not as 'nice' in many ways, but closer to london so shorter train ride to london (also more trains), cheaper & schools just as good. there's also a great park runs almost the lenght of the town, which on a sun pm is full of families enjoying themselves. shops are bad, but tw is only 5 miles if you want clothes shopping, and food shops good in tonbridge.

have you been to visit? it is all vv crowded. we live in the US now, and last time i went home i got real culture shock - i'm just not used to queueing for 15 mins to get into a car park, or buy petrol, or anything, really.

midnightexpress Mon 14-Jun-10 09:36:10

Oh thanks for all the comments people - all very helpful.

Kickass, no we haven't visited yet - planning to come down in July and have a scout about. The crowds are what always strike me when we are down south (even though I grew up in the SE and lived in London for 15 years before moving up here, and DP is a Londonder), but all better than DP having to commute up here every weekend and work in London, which is what we've been doing for the past year sad. We just want to all be together again, so if it means (as it inevitably will) a smaller house then so be it. At least the weather will be better wink. And if it isn't, then we can get to France in less than a week by car.

kickassangel Mon 14-Jun-10 13:05:34

The SE is vv crowded & expensive. dh says he'll never live there - in fact, he doesn't ever want to return to the UK.

however, i grew up in s.borough & my parents are still in the house they moved to when i was 2, so it is very much 'home' for me.

there are advantages - easy to get to france, day trips to london (btw, my mum always took us to cultural things as kids. not appreciated at the time, but now i realise how grest it was to see changing of the guard, museums, art etc). whenever i'm back in the uk i give myself a day & eve in london cos even though i never lived there. i still miss it.

if you think about villages outside tw, look at the cost & convenience of parking - it will add to the cost of commute.

when talking to estate agents, be VERY firm about school catchment areas - the areas for 'good' schools can be pretty tiny - estate agents will happily tell you 'it's in the st johns area' but it could be in a different school district. if in doubt, phone a head teacher to ask if they'd consider taking your son.

i was house hunting in tonbridge last summer, so know, almost street by street, what they are like - feel free to keep asking. i also have a friend who has done supply teaching all round tw & tonbridge, so can get you the 'insider' opinion of a school. some places can have a good/bad reputation, but be completely the opposite because of the staff.

based on my friend, i would say avoid high brooms & sherwood completely - both school & housing wise.

kickassangel Mon 14-Jun-10 13:11:15

also, would it really matter if ds didn't get into a school immediately? loads of countries don't start kids til they're older, so you could HE/take him to playgroups/nursery. He doesn't HAVE to go til he's actually 5, so if it's a case of the right house & then waiting for a school place, could be a consideration?

midnightexpress Mon 14-Jun-10 13:55:01

Oh thanks so much kickassangel! Yes, we're not too bothered about him starting in Sept, so long as we could get him a p/t nursery place (I work freelance, from home). In fact one of the advantages of moving south is that he'd go from being one of the younger children in the year up here to being one of the oldest (as will ds2), because of the way the school year works in Scotland. He'll be 5 in November, so would have to start in Jan I think.

I too miss London - don't want to live there, with children, but it would be good to take advantage of all that it has to offer as they get older, and we still have lots of friends there. The Burrell Collection is fabulous, but it ain't the British Museum.

Will maybe take you up on your offer of help nce we've had a wee look round the area. Thanks again.

PanicMode Fri 18-Jun-10 12:40:46

Nurseries are very hard to get into - so be aware that you may not get your choice of days/hours.

School catchments are shrinking - we live on a "banker" of a road for St John's School and this year 3 children didn't get in - the first time in 15 years apparently. I have a new neighbour who has moved down from London and has had to put her child's name down for the private schools because all of the children who didn't get in were offered Sherwood, which does not have a good reputation.

Claremont - you need to be very close to the school indeed - and beware the measuring points - the EAs will tell you that you are in the catchment, but they measure from the back of the school so check before you buy. St James and Bishops Down added an extra reception class this year - Southborough hasn't and has 3 extra chilren over the legal maximum following parental appeals.

The traffic in TW is terrible so I agree with everyone else who says to buy close to the station/town so that you can walk. We're all very excited that we're getting John Lewis and M&S out of town stores opening in the autumn, but the traffic is DIRE on the estate there.

Drusilla Fri 18-Jun-10 12:52:41

I lived just outside TW for 30 years and worked in central TW for 10, but moved away prior to having DS so don't know a lot about schools. However, to echo what Panicmode said re catchment areas etc, I do know a couple of people who live in Langton who couldn't get into the primary there and children got to Rusthall instead (no considered nearly as "nice" as Langton). Don't write off High Brooms, is not as nice as the village in TW, but there are worse palces to live. If you get on the train at HB though, you will never get a seat!

Also, as others said, TW is hugely overcrowded, the traffic is a nightmare and a family sized house within walking distance of station, or in one of the nearby villges with a station such as Frant, is going to cost you a fortune. I go back for visits, but wouldn't live there again for all the tea in China.

zerominuszero Sat 10-Jul-10 08:36:54

My main advice is to try to avoid living in the Sherwood area. It starts at High Brooms station at its southerly point and runs up towards Pembury at the North. Although having said that, Pembury itself might be worth looking at. I grew up there and had a reasonable idyllic time - that was in the 80s/90s. Only issue is that it's a drive away from a train station.

If you're on a budget, Southborough is cheaper, walking distance from High Brooms station... though not as nice as TW proper, obviously.

gingernutlover Mon 12-Jul-10 08:24:24

I've lived in tunbridge wells for 30 years my dd starts school this sept.

You will have trouble getting a place for reception this september at most schools. We would have got into st johns last year ( as we live about 0.35 miles away) but this year the catchment almost halved apparently! I think a lot of people ended up getting "placed" at schools they didnt even select on their forms, it has been a very very full year for reception places with several schools having extra reception classes allowed. Having said that I was lucky enough to get one of our choices for dd and although it's not one of the schools mentioned on this thread - I am very happy about her going there. Ofsted reports, league tables and how much houses cost in the same road do not guarantee your child a happy education.

Oh and btw, there is nothing wrong with high brooms or southborough, both are really nice places to live (give or take a few roads wink). Where you can move to will really depend on what your budget for a house is. To live within guaranteed catchment of the so called "better" schools, you will pay a huge amount of money.

gingernutlover Mon 12-Jul-10 08:26:09

ooops that sounded like a right old rant! What I really mean is that IME it is best to come and have a look rather than just make assumptions about schools/areas

mousedoggy Wed 17-Nov-10 13:42:37

kickassangel - know this post was back in the summer - but I would be very interested in finding out the 'insider' view of the local primary schools in Tunbridge Wells.
We currently rent in St John's area - but were considering trying to move into either the St James or Claremont catchment (if a house came up between now and next Nov) so that we can get our son into one of those.
That said, I've since heard reports that the reception teacher at Claremont isn't that great - and that they don't really have great sports facilities etc sp maybe we should think about staying put or considering other areas?

PanicMode Wed 17-Nov-10 21:28:29

mousedoggy -just out of interest, if you are in St John's, why not use St John's school? We are in St John's and moved DS from St Augustines to St Johns, where DD goes and our others will go in due course; we're very happy with it so far!

St James' -have friends with children there and they seem to be mostly happy with the school.

Claremont - reception teacher for my friend has not been fantastic with a couple of pastoral issues, and they find the 'competitive' parent atmosphere of the playground/school a bit challenging, but generally are happy with it and like the non-religious affiliation of the school.

casey1 Mon 04-Jun-12 18:10:25

Hi everyone, we intend to move to tunbridge wells from cork in next 6wks. I have one dd and a dh! My dd is due to start in yr 1 in sept, but obviously we can not apply for schools until we have an address and also have missed all application deadlines so far. Any school I like seems to be so oversubscribed, and my fear is we will get offered unsatisfatory schools. Was going to try to rent near one of my choices and then play the waiting game(for someone to leave if ever) I have heard the good schools have little chance of in yr places coming up. Another idea was to try one of the village schools but really wanted to live in tw itself. My husband needs to be near station for work. Feel quite helpless. All advice welcome. p.s lived in london for 16yrs so familiar with catchment areas etc. DD is baptised but I don't like sound of sharing classes in St Aug. Also have 2 small dogs which is proving tricky with finding hse. Don't mean to sound moaney, any tips?

HousesearchKent Sun 24-Jun-12 02:51:40

We have the same issue. We are both not English (Irish/German) and currently live in Essex. We would like to move to tw or tonbridge. We found a house we liked in High Brooms, but it seems it is not a good area. The estate agent told us that High Brooms would be an upcoming area as more and more people would buy there. We did not feel it was that bad by walking around there (except that it there are not really any shops there), but we constantly read these messages of avoiding High Brooms and now we are worried. We want to set up a family sometime soon and the Ofsted report for the primary school next to the house we like (Powder Mill Lane) is not really great.
We cannot afford buying a house in walking distance to tw train station, so it needs to be High Brooms (we both work in London).
Does anyone know which streets in High Brooms should be avoided? What about the upper part of Powder Mill Lane? Is there a high crime rate?
And is it possible to get a seat in High Brooms when you commute earlier to London than the peak times?
Thanks a lot.

PanicMode Sun 24-Jun-12 08:57:14

It depends which side of High Brooms Road you are on if you buy on Powder Mill Lane. If, as you look at a map, HBR runs broadly north/south, then on the eastern side, you would be in St Matt's catchment, which isn't great. If you buy on the western side of the road, I think you'd be in St John's catchment, which is a good school.

If you go earlier than peak to London, you'd probably get a seat at HB - it is easier to do so at TW station though!

flatpackhamster Mon 25-Jun-12 11:04:34

The Sherwood estate, in High Brooms, is considered to be the bad area.

Metalhead Mon 25-Jun-12 16:47:45

We lived in Sherwood for 2 years, and it's really not as bad as everybody makes it out to be! We never had any probelms with noise, anti-social behaviour or anything like that. The Green Way/Oakwod Rise end is definitely the nicer part of Sherwood I'd say.

Admittedly Sherwood Primary has a bad Ofsted report, but all the ugly social housing blocks are being demolished over the next 2-3 years and replaced partly with private properties as well as some new social housing, so that might bring some improvements for the school as well.

Re: trains from High Brooms, I found getting the 8.04am train usually meant getting a seat, and you still get into London bridge just before 9am.

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