Ditton is a long narrow Parish which straddles the A20 (the old Dover to London Road) in Kent. Its main residential area has been steadily developed since 1922, when Aylesford Paper Mill was established on the banks of the Medway, and is situated on either side of the main road. The Parish has farmland to the South and Industry to the North.
Aerial view of Ditton parish. Image produced from the www.old-maps.co.uk service with permission of Landmark Information Group Ltd. and Ordnance Survey.
It is unique in that it boasts the only ford in the Tonbridge & Malling Borough which, along with the 15th Century Church, is situated in a Conservation area.
Since it was mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086, the population of Ditton has risen to approximately 6000 (including children) and the facilities which have been provided for these people during recent years have been comparable to those of much larger Parishes. For more information, read Ditton's entry in "The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent" Volume 4 (1798), pp. 455-63, by Hasted.
A Junior School was built in 1853 (when the population was 200) with a separate Infant School being opened in 1967.
The vision of the Parish Council in building a substantial Community Centre on land given to the Parish for social and recreational purposes has proved well-justified: it is extremely well-used for a wide variety of sporting and recreational purposes and, since it was opened in 1974, has twice been extended to provide additional facilities. The most recent of these being the addition of a Residents' Club (opened in 1986) which is extremely well used.
The Kilnbarn Club
The building of the original Centre was financed by means of a loan from the Public Works Loan Board and further extensions by means of interest-free Brewery loans.
Ditton is lucky enough to possess above-average Open Space: A 4 acre Recreation Ground acquired in 1954 and a second one measuring 11 acres which was provided in the early 1970's, just prior to the building of the Community Centre. These grounds provide facilities for four Senior football teams and two Junior football clubs plus a cricket team. Two tennis courts were constructed here in 1974. During 1999 the Council was successful in obtaining a Sports Council Lottery Grant of £38,946 and grants from Aylesford Newsprint and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council to upgrade the Tennis Courts to a multi-sport pitch to accommodate tennis, five-side football, netball and basket ball and also build a petanque piste.
A further 18 acres of recreational land was handed to the Parish in 1991 following the cessation of quarrying at Ditton Court Quarry. Most of this land has been partially landscaped and sown with wild flowers and is to be retained as a rural area for use by local residents; this has been granted SNCI status, due to the wide variety of plants and butterflies (some quite rare) which are to be found there. The Parish Council and volunteers have worked hard during 2008 and 2009 to have the area designated a Local Nature Reserve, protecting it from any development in the future.
A small section of the land has been leased to Ditton Bowls Club who, with Sports Council grants and loans from the Parish Council, have provided a thriving Bowls Club which boasts one of the best kept greens in the area. The Club has its own pavilion for use by its members.
The Parish Council has also taken the opportunity to move its Allotment gardens away from their original location alongside the M20 Motorway to a new site on the edge of the Quarry recreational land; this move was welcomed by existing Allotment holders and meant that those on the waiting list at that time could be accommodated.
During the last 25 years Parish Council staffing levels have increased from a part-time Clerk working from home and an elderly Village Caretaker to a full-time Clerk, plus one full time and three part-time Administrative assistants, all working in properly equipped offices at the rear of the Community Centre, together with three full-time Grounds staff and three permanent Bar staff: additional bar staff are employed on a casual basis as and when required.
The cleaning and caretaking of the Community Centre is also managed in-house and there are currently five caretakers/cleaners working on a shift basis.
The Parish seal (pictured at the top of the page) is a design that was the outcome of a competition at Ditton Junior School in 1979.
The seal shows the stream, the conservation area, ducks from the stream and hands of friendship.
Ditton War Memorial
The Ditton War Memorial, which was designed by Mr. Gilbert Scott, was unveiled on 26th September 1920.
There is a tablet on the front of the memorial that records the names and ranks of service people from Ditton who died in both World Wars.
On Remembrance Day each year a parade leading to the Memorial takes place and is held at 11 o'clock. At the Memorial local Guides, Brownies, Clubs and Rangers, Army and Air Force cadets join the Parish Council in a wreath-laying ceremony.