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Sir David Salomons' Motor Stables, Broomhill

A Grade II Listed Building in Southborough, Kent

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Latitude: 51.1527 / 51°9'9"N

Longitude: 0.2414 / 0°14'28"E

OS Eastings: 556851

OS Northings: 141661

OS Grid: TQ568416

Mapcode National: GBR MPK.MVS

Mapcode Global: VHHQD.49G5

Entry Name: Sir David Salomons' Motor Stables, Broomhill

Listing Date: 1 June 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1408552

Location: Southborough, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3

County: Kent

District: Tunbridge Wells

Civil Parish: Southborough

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: St Peter with Christ Church and St Matthew Southborough and St Lawrence Bidborough

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

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Purpose-built motor stables designed and built by Sir David Salomons between 1900 and 1902, at his house, Broomhill.


This range of five motor stables was built in the very early C20, replacing a still earlier range on the same site. For ease of description they will be referred to as garages 1-5 from south to north.

The garages are of buff brick construction, faced externally with locally quarried sandstone, matching that of the house. The roofs are slated externally, with pine match-boarding internally. The floors are of Victoria stone.

The garages are arranged as a series of long narrow rooms, separated by brick party walls (the wall between garages 2 and 3 is of vertical pine boarding). The garages face to the west, with garages 3 and 4 set back from 1 and 2, and garage 5 set back again.

Beneath the garages is a forge, a store room, the mechanic's dressing room and WC, and access to the inspection pits beneath garages 1, 2 and 3. This lower floor is reached either from a stair from garage 1, a spiral stair from garage 2, or from within the theatre behind.

The stone-faced, parapeted, frontage of the garages is very simple; there is a timber-planked double-door to each garage, with a personnel door set within it. The lintels above the doors have a simple classical moulding. Behind the parapets the roofs are hipped, with skylights of Mellow's patent glazing (quarter of an inch thick, to resist hail storms).

Other than the stone facing, the garages are very similar in design to the original pre-1902 garages. The alterations which have been executed since the 1902 re-build are indistinguishable from the front (although alteration of the roofs of the extended garages can be seen in aerial photos).

The interiors of the garages are remarkably intact, with a number of the features which appeared in Salomons' 1902 article surviving. The joinery is of consistently good quality throughout.

The three garages with inspection pits (1, 2 and 3) retain them and their timber covers; all internal panelled doors are original; electrical fittings include wooden conduits and porcelain and brass light switches and sockets, intended for portable electric lamps. There is also signage on the doors and a number of sets of shelves, hooks and cupboards, for tools, equipment, and the large number of spare parts that were necessary in early motoring. A plastered block-work wall has been inserted into garage 1 down its length, in order to create a fire escape from the theatre.

Beneath the garages many of the fixtures and fittings of the basement level are also intact. The mechanic's dressing room is separated off from the rest of the store by a partition of corrugated iron on a timber frame. The partition has a distinctive rounded corner, which can also be seen in the plans included in Salomons' article. Again, doors, electrical fittings, cupboards and signage remain, as does the original mechanic's WC.


Sir David Lionel Salomons (1851-1925) has been widely credited with introducing the motor car to Great Britain. He organised the first public motor show, held at Tunbridge Wells in 1895, founded the first motoring organisation: the Self-Propelled Traffic Association in the same year, and by 1906 is understood to have owned 39 cars.

Salomons inherited his house, Broomhill, from his uncle (Sir David Salomons (1797-1873). Salomons Snr was a successful Jewish banker and had commissioned Decimus Burton to remodel a cottage into the grand residence of Broomhill which Salomons inherited. Salomons was an inventor and technology enthusiast who lit Broomhill by electricity, making it one of the first houses in the country to be so. He laid out a large workshop and private theatre attached to the house, where he carried out his experiments.

At the end of the C19 Salomons built a range of garages, or motor stables, against the east wall of his theatre, these were some of the earliest in the country. The garages were rebuilt not long after they were first constructed; a photo of c1900 shows them in their original form, however an article written by Salomons in 1902, offering the motor stables at Broomhill as an exemplar, describes more sophisticated facilities and provides plans and elevations, showing the facilities largely as they are now. The rebuilt garages were larger, allowing for the increased size of motor vehicles, and had inspection pits, which were necessary as a result of more complex mechanical parts that were no longer accessible from above.

Since their early C20 rebuilding, there have been minor alterations to the layout of the garages. Two of the garages (garages 2 and 4) have been extended slightly in length; this may have been done in the 1920s to accommodate the longer cars introduced in this period.

Reasons for Listing

Sir David Salomons' motor stables at Broomhill are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: the motor stables are some of the earliest purpose-built examples of their type, built by an important figure in the early history of English motoring, and employed by him as an exemplar in his writings on the subject;
* Architectural interest: the motor stables were designed and fitted-out as a complex dedicated to the management and maintenance of motor vehicles, executed with a high quality of materials and craftsmanship;
* Intactness: the layout and appearance of the motor stables is largely unaltered and the survival of so many early internal fixtures and fittings is particularly unusual.

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