Leigh Coal Fund
A Society set up in the early 1840s to provide free or subsidized coal to villagers in need. See article “Benevolence and Self-Reliance in Leigh in the 19th century” for fuller information.
However, the following was written for the Parish Magazine in July 1994 by Lawrence Biddle:
This note is based on the printed accounts of the Leigh Coal Fund for the period 22 December 1848 to 10 March 1849.
The Churchwardens appear to have ordered 24 tons of coal to be delivered at a cost of 23 shillings a ton and this would probably have been delivered to the Goods Yard at Penshurst Station. The onward transport of the coal from Penshurst to Mr Waite’s yard in Leigh was carried out by eight farmers, listed below, who each transported 33 tons without making any charge.
Mr Usherwood of Ensfield Farm
Mr Potter of Prices Farm
Mr Wells of Priory Farm
Mr Searle of Great Barnetts
Mr Gasson of Charcott
Mr Jeffery of Cinder Hill
Mr Legg of Wickhurst Farm
Mr Bellingham of Leigh park Farm
145 bushels of coal were then given “to the most needy and sick poor” and a further 595 bushels were sold at 6d per bushel to parishioners.
This was just about half price and the deficit was made up by subscriptions from Lord de L’Isle, Sir J S Sidney, the Vicar, his sister Miss May and about 5 other parishioners.
It is clear that a coal fund operating on these lines had been in existence for the past seven years. 1842 was the year in which the railway came to Penshurst . Before that date coal had to be conveyed from pithead to hate coast, then by ship to Rochester, then by barge to Tonbridge so that by the time it reached Leigh it would have been too expensive for all but the most wealthy.