Sadly Christmas in Rainham appears to be much quieter these days with only the dull street decorations and in contrast the colourful lights in the houses to remind us of this special time.

Christmas in the 1950s, for those involved in the Church, was always a time of organised carol singing round the village behind the Vicar's elderly Austin 7, towing a trailer upon which was tied an old piano. Choir boys and girls in their surpluses followed the trailer with the Sunday School Staff making up the rear including Miss List and Mr Dennis accompanying the piano on his squeezebox accordion. Some would carry improvised lanterns. It was I recall a very festive sight.

Another annual event at this time of year was the Sunday School Christmas parties at the Church Hall in Orchard Street. The Vicar, the late Rev Jordan, nearly always played the part of Father Christmas. One year I remember he wasn't able to do it. Miss List who always organised such events with military precision asked me to be Father Christmas. Dressed in the time honoured way, Miss List said make a lot of noise as you enter the stage by the back door, then she continued 'I can tell the little ones that Father Christmas is coming'. After being duly announced by Miss List I began to hand out the presents. The remarks of those little children, who must be in their 60s now, as to who Father Christmas really was still make me smile. 'It's the Vicar' 'No it's not, it's Mr Cumberworth from Ivy Street' 61 think it's Mr Dennis from Station Road' said one little girl, 'No it's not said another 'He's too tall.' One little girl, I recall said it all 'it really is Father Christmas.'
Happy memories of old Rainham

John K Austin School Master (retired).

The first year of Rainham Mark Grammar school name was 1982 when it had previously been known as Gillingham Technical High School - GTHS. You can see in these class photos from 1982 that the boards with the class names all show RMGS but the pupils blazers still have the GTHS badge on.

Are you in any of these photos? Do you recognise anyone? Please post any names in the comments below

Rainham High Street in 1974 was quite different to now as the construction of the Rainham precinct shopping centre in the late 1970s had yet to begin. This shopping centre was on the site of the old blacksmith's forge and old school at the top of Station Road. Memories of which shops existed at which times can get confused over time so it's useful to have a list of the shops from the Kelly's Directory series to check back on. 

This edition of Kelly's directory is for 1974 and is one of the latest ones produced although they start in the 1800s. Quite how it would work now with GDPR and data protection is up for discussion!

As can be seen from the above scan from the 1974 edition of Kelly's directory covering Rainham High Street the following shops existed starting from Berengrave Lane towards Sittingbourne.

1 Midland Bank Ltd

5 HW Hidson Ltd (Austin, Morris, Wolseley & MG motor engineers)

-- Quinnell Street

9 Spensley J Ltd Chemists

11 Durrell DH

13/15 not listed

17 Friend David R

19 Ward & Partners Estate agents

21 P Duff optician

23 Telephone Exchange

25 Ronald Bampton Estate agents

Midland Bank & HW Hidsons High Street Rainham  Ward & Partners Estate agents Rainham 1972

Photos of Midland Bank next to HW Hidsons as well as Ward & Partners estate agents in High Street Rainham pictured in 1972

27 Mullarkey T Chartered Accountants

31 Beveridge CE Chemists

33 South Eastern Electricity board

Photo of South Eastern Electricity board shop on corner of Holding Street in 1972

-- here is Holding Street

35a Elliott EC & WA tobacconists

35 Empty

37 Stuarts Express Dyers and Cleaners

39/43 Poultons hardware

45 Woolcrafts, wool shop

47 Walter & Randall estate agents

47A High JA Opticians

47B Trembeth & Sons bakers

49/51 Lloyds Bank

49/51 Simon Langton & Co Solicitors

53 Buckey & Ward estate agents

55 Chatham Reliance Building Society

57 Josephine Hairdressers

59 Empty

61 Rose Frank & Son grocers

63 Pat ladies fashion shop

65 Empty

67A Nicholls WR & Sons Butchers

67B Tuesdays Child, baby wear shop

67C Herta Ladies hairdressers

71 empty

73A Barrett HR motor car agent

77 Forge Garage motor car agent

79/81 Rainham radio

81 Rouse Sidney

83 Reed Bros hairdressers

85 Betabake bakers

87 International Stores

93 Barclays Bank

Photo of Betabake & International Stores, Rainham in 1972

Betabake & International Stores, Rainham in 1972

-- here is Station Road

 95 White Horse Hotel

White Horse Hotel in 1972

103/107 Invicta Co-operative Society Ltd

107A Hutchinson TG, Joiner

109 Barden FT, Fruiterer

113 Brdge E Gordon

117 Post Office Delivery Office

119 Roberts E Confectioners & Post Office

119Fowkes Clifford

123 Redfern Kenneth & Co Solicitors

123 Wall RA, Chiropodist

125 Backman J, Draper

127 Marfleet Wltr

129 Winch Greensted & Winch, solicitors

-- here is Ivy Street

Ludlam's stores on Station Road/Solomon Road junction was bought by proprietors Sid and Ivy Ludlam in 1954. These photos were taken by their son Frank. The store later became Paynes Motor Spares and Owen Hair Design but has now been converted into flats.

Ludlam's Stores Station Road Rainham



Ludlam's Stores Station Road Rainham Owen Hair Design


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