Tonbridge is happier than Tunbridge Wells, according to ONS survey

Pam Mills
Some of the Tonbridge shoppers The Times spoke to last week

Published last week, the annual Happiness and Wellbeing Study assesses factors such as health, crime levels and access to services through data research and surveys.

And Tonbridge [as a borough] trumped its neighbour with residents recording an average score of 7.9 out of 10, compared to the 7.7 UK average.

Tunbridge Wells reached only 7.6, but both boroughs recorded markedly higher scores than five years ago.

Feeling better?

Happiness and wellbeing [out of 10] 2018:

  • Tunbridge Wells borough 7.6,
  • Tonbridge & Malling 7.9

Happiness and wellbeing [out of 10] 2013:

  • Tunbridge Wells borough 7.3
  • Tonbridge & Malling 7.3

The Times found shoppers on Tonbridge High Street to be content living their town.

Barden Road resident James Larner, who works in IT, said: “There is a Waitrose here which they don’t have in Tunbridge Wells!

“I like living here, my children have grown up here and we’ve found there are a lot of places to go. There are National Trust places nearby.”

Ralph Denny, a university lecturer in London, said: “I have been here 30 years and I have found Tonbridge to be a good town for shopping, although I do not spend a lot of time here because of my job.”

Another London commuter Esperanza Hensley, who works for Marks & Spencer, added: “There are more things happening locally now, especially with history, which makes it a good place for families.”

And Jackson Murrain, a support worker, said: “It’s beautiful in the summer and when it snows. The people here are nice as well.”

“I am surprised people are happier here than in Tunbridge Wells,” he added, “there is more going on there. Here it’s all pound shops.” 

Hampshire district Rushmoor, which includes Aldershot and Farnborough, finished top of the 400 districts included in the survey. Their score of 8.35 was notably higher than the 6.7 recorded in Cambridgeshire town Fenland, which finished bottom.

As recently as 2011/12, Tonbridge was among the UK’s lowest scoring with 7.1, which suggests a change in feeling, but not all locals are happy.

Sally Underwood, who is retired, said: “I do not like it here, the High Street is lousy and there is no police presence. People are riding bikes up and down pavements.”

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