Since long before the 16th century the town had been spelt as TUNBRIDGE.
From the early 1800s the town was being spelt both with a U or an O. The town’s local board was formed in 1870 and they agreed to the commercial spelling of the town and this was to be TONBRIDGE. One of the town’s local board members was a Mr. Thomas Pawley the proprietor of the Rose and Crown Hotel in the high street. From 1860c – 1890c you can see clearly the two spellings TUNBRIDGE &TONBRIDGE in various documents maps prints and in the town itself.
Thomas Pawley had his bottles changed from a U to an O around 1870, although a high percentage the community adopted the spelling TONBRIDGE not everyone agreed the post office continued to use the spelling TUNBRIDGE and did not agree to use the O until February 1893 with the official name change and then it was adopted fully by the community.
Below is a copy of the postmaster general proposing the change of the towns spelling from TUNBRIDGE to TONBRIDGE dated 7th February 1893
TUNBRIDGE proposed change of the name to TONBRIDGE
The Postmaster General, I submit Memorials from the Tunbridge local board and the Ratepayers Associations, asking that the spelling Tonbridge may be adopted by the department.
As it appears to be from the Surveyors report that the form of the name is commonly adopted by public bodies and the residents in the town generally.
I think the request should be granted and if you approve I will issue instructions for the Name to be spelt on the date stamps and on all official documents.
7th February 1893
The post office agreed and the Tunbridge became Tonbridge on the 4th Mach 1893
To fall perfectly in line with this is Bottle from John Salkeld Horsley the owner of the B Mineral water company at the Masonic Buildings next to the Great Bridge. Horsley started business in 1887 when the new buildings where built and continued to trade until 1893.
All Bottles from the company the B under Horsley have been spelt TUNBRIDGE until this nice find with the spelling TONBRIDGE which was the year Horsley sold the business to Hugh Nicholls in April y 1893.
Yet even though sadly we changed the name still today many of the locals pronounce the town TONBRIDGE sounding the U – TUN. It’s a bit like the way many pronounce London sounding a U Lun.
This was sadly being then End of the spelling TUNBRIDGE, a nice historical bottle that falls perfectly in line with the change. Hugh Nicholls continued the trade at the Masonic Building still using the name the B but all bottles produced after where spelt TONBRIDGE.