Obviously the history of Rainham goes back more than 20 years but this website celebrates the 20th anniversary of going live at the end of December 2000 as a project I worked on over the Christmas break starting with some old family photos of Rainham and Wigmore such as the one below of Marshall Road from 1928.
Looking back it's fascinating quite how much has changed in that time both around the local area and in the way the website itself is setup and used. One of the first captures of the Rainham history website from Wayback machine is a 2005 version of the site shown below:
Back in 2000 broadband didn't yet exist and all access was via dial up modem so original photos on the site were very small to keep loading speeds down. Looking back at some of the early articles now it's amazing quite how small some of the photos are; one project for 2021 will be to replace some of them with much larger versions that can actually be properly seen.
Another change is that back in 2000 digital photography barely existed and all the photos I was taking for the site were on film. I got my first digital camera in 2002 which really helped for capturing changes in the local area. Pictures like the one below that I took in 2001 were some of the last ones I took with my film camera before mainly switching to digital - it wasn't completely digital as the Nikon Coolpix digital camera didnt have the same quality as my SLR with different lenses.
The photo below was taken in 2001 before the NHS building was constructed on the A2 High Street opposite Rainham Church on the site of the former Co-op department store. Next door was empty at the time and subsequently became No109 and Eight restaurant before becoming a Turkish restaurant in 2020.
Some of the first digital photos I took in 2003 were of the changes in Orchard Street when new housing was built and to document the M2 widening works and Channel Tunnel rail link over the Medway. Photo below of the M2 at A229 Bluebell Hill looking towards the River Medway at Cuxton.
The site has been through many iterations, initially hand coded in HTML it is now run via a Content Management system (CMS) to handle the number of articles and photos that are on the site.
In numbers the site now has almost 600 articles and thousands of photos of the local area. Most Action Forum magazines since 2001 have been scanned and are available on the site.