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).

JD Wetherspoon have now reopened the old Railway pub as their newest venue opposite Rainham Kent Station. The pub has a long history dating back to the early 1900s but closed around 2012 due to declining trade. It stayed empty until JD Wetherspoon bought the building and have massively extended it to create the new Railway pub. What was the old pub car park has now been turned into part of the building and there is an outside terrace for smokers and drinkers that faces towards Rainham station.

How the Railway Pub used to look back in the early 1900s when it was known as The Railway Hotel

The Railway pub in 2009

The Wigmore estate was created in the early 1900s by selling off plots of land to people to build their own houses. It explains why the houses in the area are mostly different to each other.

Maidstone Road runs across the top of the picture and Woodside top to bottom at the left.

£10 per plot for 20x200ft


The photos are dated on the back by our mother.

I am John Clements, and my (4yrs older) sister is Diana Clements. Until April 1958 we lived at 23 Maidstone Road (first house past Thames Avenue) and walked to school together.

Di is the girl in the centre of the photo playing the recorder, and sixth from the left, back row, wearing the striped cardy in the class photo.

I am sat on the floor, front right in 1956, and fourth from left, front row, in 1957.

I have no idea who anybody else is in these photos. I do recall some Hungarian refugees living in the old prefabs on Maidstone Road, and being friends with a boy from there, who may be in the photo.

I have a lot of old family photos, most of which are unmarked so are of people and places that I cannot identify. If I find any more Rainham-related ones I'll send them over. My parents, Ivy and John lived there between 1938-58, and mum was an active Townswomans Guild member. She returned to live in Parkfield Road in 1972, where she lived until her death in 1989.

The recorder one, is Stephen Sykes as the conductor, Me(Diana Clements), then Geoffrey Hunter, Susan Hunt and I think the side view of Susan Vale. We were in the larger Huts opposite the playground, and the teacher was  Mrs Whitehead. I think, as she used to play the piano at assembly in the big hall where the other picture was taken


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