Open for business
Having had a market, since possibly before the Domesday Book, Lenham has a long history of being open for business. Today, Lenham village boasts a good selection of shops, most of them food outlets.
Lenham is one of the very few villages which still has a bakery.
As of the beginning of 2021, Lenham has the following shops: a florist, a flooring company, a pharmacy, a post office, several grocery shops, gift shops, antique shops and even a clock-maker, who has brought an old tradition back to the square. Many people choose to run their business from home. For example, although there is no computer shop or ironmonger anymore, there are several excellent computer repair services, marketing services and plumbers, electricians, carpenters and decorators , all of whom operate from home.
There are still shop-based services available from hairdressers, solicitors and a dental practice and, of course, we have many hostelries!
The buildings have changed little over the years, but they all have their stories to tell.
Many local businesses relate to agriculture and forestry, whether a farming business, sawmill, timber yard or workshop which services agricultural machinery.
Farming businesses are facing many challenges in 2021. It is unclear what the future holds for farming outside the EU. The new Agriculture Bill puts conservation at the top of the agenda and farmers are concerned about income and food security in the face of climate change and the growing world population.
In addition, there is pressure from governmental bodies for new land to be brought forward to build more houses. There is also pressure from the leisure demands of an increasing population and the rapidly growing use of footpaths and roads.
Most agricultural businesses are somewhat hidden away from the main thoroughfares, as they usually operate on the land surrounding the village, hamlets and settlements which make up Lenham.
Farming produce has to be transported to a merchant or end user. It can be quite a shock to a newcomer when a tractor or trailer with seemingly precariously laden timber or straw comes towards their car on a narrow lane!
Sometimes, however, the encounters are more enchanting, as can be seen in this video.
As farming practices change, some of the farm buildings are no longer suitable for modern farm use. Current governmental planning policies allow these buildings to change use to housing or to businesses such as offices or industrial units, while new, larger agricultural barns are erected somewhere else. This is a mixed blessing in many people’s eyes, as more and more cars are forced to take narrow country lanes, many unsuitable for two-way traffic. Even on a short trip, drivers often have to reverse into the nearest lay-by.
But once upon a time things were different.......
There are also several large companies in Lenham and some of them have been here for a long time, Lenham Storage and Marley for example. Other companies, like Grant’s Morello Cherry Factory and Brake Brothers, have relocated and new businesses have settled in the Ashmill Business Park along the A20.
All of these businesses make important contributions to our village, as they provide local jobs to local people.