Aylesham & Snowdown Social Welfare Scheme
Snowdown Colliery was owned by private colliery owners Pearson Dorman Long. The government organisation built the village of Aylesham and leased the houses to the owners of the colliery for 50 years, these were for colliery workers and their families.
A charitable trust built about 50 houses in Ratling road and Sheldon Close and the bottom of Cornwallis Avenue for other working families.
The house in Aylesham were some of the first houses built for working people in England that had electric lights , inside toilets, inside bathrooms, inside coalhouses and front and back gardens.
The village was designed by Sir Patrick Abercrombie who was part of the Garden City architect movement. In 1928 the owners of the pit decided that their workers should have open space and workingmen’s clubs for recreation. Aylesham’s design was a modern concept with shops, a hotel and churches.
So Snowdown Colliery Welfare Scheme was established as a charitable organisation for cultural and sporting activities in 1928. Then members of the welfare formed a football team, rugby team, built a bowls green, a pigeon club , a male voice choir and a brass band.
The welfare had a football team who played in black and white similar to Newcastle United because most of the footballers came from the north east. The rugby team and the Snowdown Colliery Male Voice Choir was mainly formed by Welsh miners. Yorkshire miners formed the Snowdown Welfare Brass Band and the pigeon club.
In the 1988 Snowdown Colliery closed and the beneficiaries of the welfare was changed from miners and their families to the people living in the Aylesham rural area. There was a great social change when the pit closed from 95% of people working in coalmining to none. They came to Kent to dig for coal and the people coming to Aylesham now are here for a home and we welcome them.
Aylesham Welfare Leisure Centre is a modern sports centre set in 14 acres of sports grounds. The same sports activities and cultural pastimes are available. We invite all people far and wide to come and enjoy sports and culture. You are all eligible to join Aylesham & Snowdown Social Welfare Scheme and become a welfare members with discounts on all activities.
Derek Garrity M.B.E.
Secretary to management committee of A.&S.S.W.S.