MEMORIES OF RAINHAM From Action Forum August 2001

Dear Editor,
Like my six brothers I was born in Rainham and so I am always interested and make a point of visiting once a month to collect Action Forum. Over the last few months there have been some particularly interesting articles that have brought back many memories. Mr Edwin Jelly, whose shop was pictured on the front of the April 2001 edition, I remember very well. As I was passing his shop one day he called me: 'Oi you' he shouted - which I ignored, so he had another go: 'Kitney boy', so I turned. He had a message for my mother, he had some good boys' suits and would she like one for my 10-year-old brother. I relayed the message and Mother was interested so I had to return to the shop where I collected a parcel containing three suits for my brother to try; all three suits appeared similar, jackets and short trousers, but each with a different price tag.
Mother decided on the cheapest and I returned to the shop with the unwanted ones and the money. On another occasion, Queenie Moor went hurtling round the top of Pudding Road on her bike and smashed into the shop window. Ma Barrett at the Council School Canteen revived many memories. I can picture her now banging on the bench with her huge ladle and booming 'QUIET' in her loudest voice and then very sweetly saying 'Now say your grace my dears'. It always gave me a smile. During the war years I was at Orchard Street Boys' School, Mr Smith was Headmaster. He patrolled the school carrying a large cane and was not afraid to use it. Two female teachers I remember. Miss Woodward stood no nonsense, but the other was a little lady who dressed in a long tweed costume and wore a pince-nez, she was not used to handling boys and frequently fled the class in tears. Finally, with my brother Dick, I was evacuated to Brynna in South Wales and remember a school photo taken of all the Rainham evacuees being on display in a glass case at the side of Mrs Cheesemans Boot & Shoe Shop. I would love to have a copy if anyone still has the picture.
Yours faithfully,
Doug Kitney


Titbits from Milton Union records by Audrey Perkyns

In the 1860s and 1870s the public health movement developed, partly as a result of the scientific discovery of the causes of disease. Smallpox vaccination was the first sign of this. Fresh water and sewerage systems came to urban areas first. The isolation of those with infectious or contagious diseases became important, and from the 1870s the Milton Union had adapted a part of the workhouse premises as an isolation hospital. Inspectors of Nuisances (later Sanitary Inspectors) were the first public health officers to be appointed, followed by Medical Officers of Health (MOHs). In the Milton Rural Sanitary Authority (unfortunately this gives the acronym MRSA!) the MOH and the Guardians were keen to persuade the government to make notification of infectious diseases compulsory, as one episode illustrates. 
In early 1876 there was a serious epidemic of scarlet fever in Rainham and Upchurch. The MOH was angry because Dr Penfold was not willing to notify cases occuring among patients who were not paupers, nor even to forbid their attendance at school. The problem was the association of the new Sanitary Authorities with pauperism because as new government responsibilities developed (registration, then vaccination, then public health), the obvious authorities to administer them were the ones already there - the Poor Law guardians. The stigma of pauperism was felt keenly. Anyone needing attention from the Poor Law MO was automatically pauperised, and lists of people receiving Poor Law benefits were published on the church doors. The government had to insist that this should not apply to vaccination, because it wanted to encourage it. Many doctors were not prepared to let their private patients be tainted by association with pauperism, and Dr Penfold was one among many who refused to cooperate to notify infectious cases to the MOH.
In support of his appeal for compulsory notification, the MOH, Dr Ray, wrote to the Local Government Board in 1876 that the infection had been controlled in parts of the Union where notification and isolation had occurred, but not in Dr Penfold's area. 'I have just returned from a spectacle, which ought to be impossible in any civil ized country, and more especially one in which legislation has recently turned to sanitary improvements.
In the house of one Edward Hart, a laborer residing in Station Road Rainham, a death has recently occurred from scarlet fever; the body, four days a corpse, and still unburied, was, as expressed by a neighbour, already turning black from the Virulence of the disease; a child running about the house and absolutely appearing at the front door was full out with the rash, which symptomises the malady. Other children who had not had the disorder, were freely mixing with the infected child. The mother and father of the youngster, full as they must be of the morbid poison, were going about their respective avocations, and were not to be seen. A neighbour, who showed us over this fever poisoned den, was going in and out of her neighbour's house. The neighbours themselves, seeing no fear, were mixing freely with the infected children. This in simply monstrous' 

It's Snow Wonder!

Freak blizzards sweep through Medway in June 1989. This front page of Medway News shows cars in Lordswood driving through the snow but.

However, despite appearances of snow in the UK in June the weathermen insisted that it was all due to an intense hour long hailstorm but in some areas the paper claimed 9 inches of snow/hail had fallen.

In the previous week Medway had been basking in temperatures in the 80s.

Snow June1989

1987 Hurricane/Great Storm in Rainham Kent

Along with much of the rest of the South East of England, Kent was affected by the severe winds from the Great Storm on the evening of 15/16 October 1987 resulting in hurricane force winds that destroyed many trees and damaged lots of buildings in the area. The event was made more famous by Michael Fish's comments on TV weather forecast that no hurricane was on its way a few hours before it struck.

This newspaper graphic shows how the storm progressed across the country in Oct 1987. Five people were killed across Kent by the winds and the damage they caused. A video of the news the day afterwards is here


I remember walking to school through all the debris - never managed to miss a day through the weather back then! - and finding the school closed with trees downed in the field.

We had lost electricity overnight but that came back during the day for us but many others were without power for several days where such damage had been made to the power lines from fallen trees.


Great storm tree blown over in Rainham Kent

This gallery shows a selection of images of the immediate aftermath and of trees uprooted taken some weeks later near Bredhurst and Queendown Warren. You can see the scale of the tree roots that have been ripped out of the ground compared to the person standing next to them which gives an idea of the ferocity of the hurricane force winds that hit Kent on 15/16 October 1987

This is a photo of tree downed in Marshall Road Rainham during the Great Storm of October 1987.

These are a few photos taken on the following day and the weeks afterwards showing some of the damage caused by the high winds.

Flag pole & washing line blown down by the winds in October 1987



Branch of cherry tree blown off by the hurricane force winds in 1987



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