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
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
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
61 Rose Frank & Son grocers
63 Pat ladies fashion shop
67A Nicholls WR & Sons Butchers
67B Tuesdays Child, baby wear shop
67C Herta Ladies hairdressers
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
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
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.
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