Charles Bocking

Charles Henry Bocking

Charlie Bocking was born in 1898 above his father’s barbers shop here in Wadhurst where he went to school. After leaving school he initially worked as an apprentice in a local gents’ outfitter but in 1913 started with E Watson & Sons the local auctioneers as an office boy. In 1917 he joined the army and after being demobbed in 1919 he rejoined Watsons and ran the live-stock market until his retirement in 1969.

Bocking Collection

Charles Bocking exhibiting his collection

From an early age he started collecting items of local interest, over time building a large collection of memorabilia including photographs, sales brochures, programmes of local events, cuttings from newspapers and much else. He frequently exhibited his impressive collection in the Commemoration Hall  and at Uplands Community College  where he taught local history at evening classes.  His  collection grew to be recognized as an outstanding source of local history being used extensively by Alan Savidge and Oliver Mason when researching their renowned history of Wadhurst.

In 1984 he very generously donated his collection to the “Village” and the Parish Council agreed to care for it setting up a sub-committee to do so under the chairmanship of Sir Willis Coombs.  The Bocking sub-committee encouraged members of the community to consider giving documents of historical interest to the collection which was subsequently augmented when several people lodged their personal papers further enhancing its research value. Initially housed in the Wadhurst Institute it was later moved to the Pavilion at Turners Green where it was cared for by a sub-committee under the chairmanship of Walter Hodder. In 2014 is was moved to the premises of the Wadhurst History Society.

In late 1989/90 Brian Harwood the local historian and author undertook a complete reorganization of the indexing of the collection and the catalogue he compiled can be viewed here. The Wadhurst History Society is now reviewing the collection and is attempting to identify every person and place featured in the large number of photographs. Each will be given a card index reference and all the information will then be added to the Society’s database making possible an electronic search for all references to any named person or place.