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Now and then pictures from West Malling, Maidstone and Larkfield

In the fourth of our series comparing then and now photos across the county, we chose West Malling, Maidstone and Larkfield to focus on.

We all know that Maidstone is the county town of Kent, but how many of you knew it first received a Royal Charter in 1549?

High Street, West Malling, in August 1969
High Street, West Malling, in August 1969

In fact, there's a lot more to it than you could possibly know – here's 10 fascinating facts about the area which will help you sleep better.

In previous weeks, we have included 'now and then' photos from Sittingbourne, Rochester and Gravesend.

To check out how the street scenes have changed, use the slider tool in the middle of the photos.

West Malling High Street

The first photo here was taken in August 1969, just days after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the moon,

Not much has changed in 51 years when studying the road layout and buildings.

But look how the cars have evolved – how many of the old ones do you recognise? Fifth along is a Mini.

West Malling High Street

We're not 100% sure when the original photo was taken because the caption details were not too clear.

We think it might be 1969 but that said, the cars on the far side of the road seem like they're from an earlier time?

Maybe readers have an idea when it was captured?

London Road, Larkfield

This stretch is one of the busiest on the A20, linking Larkfield with Leybourne, West Malling and Maidstone.

The first photo was taken in April 1979, just a month before Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister,

Off to the left is the Wealden Hall restaurant – a building which has been on that site since 1350.

The Fina garage in the first photo is now home to a Mini dealership.

Week Street, Maidstone

The black and white photo including the Beehive store at the junction of Week Street and Union Street was taken in March 1958.

The shop was one of those marvellous places which sold almost everything.

Fast forward six decades and the building has been rebuilt and is now a Burger King.

Readers will notice that the road has also been pedestrianised.

Maidstone Bridge

Unfortunately, we were unable to recreate the original scene as much as we'd like to.

The original photo was taken back in 1967.

According to the book Images of Maidstone, the bridge was already constantly jammed with traffic by 1960.

One of the first major road schemes opened up Bishop's Way in 1964.

High Street, Maidstone

The cars in the old picture were captured outside NatWest bank in September 1980 and look like something out of the cop show The Sweeney.

There has been a road design change in the 40 years since it was taken and the bus shelters have disappeared.

Despite the changes, it remains the bustling hub of the county town.

Running Horses roundabout

This area has changed so much since this original photo was taken in 1959, that we can't be certain how close our new picture is to the old one.

The black and white photo was taken at the Maidstone to Chatham Road, near the Running Horse, as road improvements were carried out in readiness for the M2 motorway. It was taken from the book Images of Maidstone.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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