There is a forum dedicated to the history of Rainham Kent and with many contributors finding long lost friends. You can access the forum on the following link:
The Keg Boys
In Memory Of Stan The Man
This memoir of another life has been prompted by the death of my friend Stanley Peace in November 2010. I suppose it all started in 1963 when I left school, Colin Macgregor, Roger Brooker, Stan and myself Richard Matthew all lived and grew up near one another in Quinnell Street Rainham.
We had all attended Orchard Street Secondary school now a junior school and were taught by teachers long gone now, Mr Carden (Jumbo) Mr Patterson (Banjo) Mr McGee (Fibber) Mr Sneath (Creeping Jesus) Mr Springate (Alfie) Mr Rotherham (Titch) Mr Newell (Bert) Mr Hoar (Hitler) Mr Thomas ( Rot Gut or Sospan) Mr Powel (Bucket) and many more whose names I have forgotten. Our headmaster was Mr Bacon (Rasher) most of suffered the indignity of going to his office for six of the best from his trusty cane.
We left school at fifteen, there was very little careers advice offered to us council house boys in those days so it was off to the youth employment bureau on the New Road in Chatham where we would be given a brown card and sent for an interview to a potential employer. Generally we would walk from Rainham to Chatham/Rochester as nine times out of ten we couldn’t afford the bus fare. Work was plentiful in those days but wages were low so we very often hopped from job to job for an extra penny or so an hour.
These were the days of Mods and Rockers and we were Rockers and I clearly remember our trips on our motorbikes to Margate with sleepless nights under the pier and being outnumbered by the Mods. It was then back to one of the three cafes in Rainham the Orion (known as the Onion cafe) Fred’s Cafe and Stan’s Cafe all near to each other on the Banks. Sometimes on a Friday evening we would go to the youth club in the cellar of the Macklands, Mr McKay’s big house at the lower end of Station Road. Now I can confess at most of the time we climbed through the window to avoid the entrance fee! On one occasion Mr McKay was a bit upset as one or two of bottles his wine collection went missing. The finger was indeed pointed at us but I’m saying nothing!
Much of the time was whiled away trying to look hard hanging around our gang seat in front of the War Memorial by St Margarets church wearing our velvet collared bum freezer jackets. We were later joined by many other likely lads that drifted by, these included Rob Kitney (also known as Scooter) and his lieutenant Stevie Barrett, Terry Dann and Neville Huggins all them to later become part of the Keg Boys . Of course there were several girls involved in those days but rather than tarnish their reputations I will leave them out .
Although this time period only lasted 6 years before we all went on to other lives, it will stick in my mind forever. Other lads that came and went were Richard Pocock, Roger Reader, Basher Bates, Tex Norman, Dave and Joe Keller, Dick Hales. Bouncer Bounds, Charley (Eugine) Brown, Steve (Gonzo) Pearson. Colin Chapman and many more old Rainham boys.
There was also a Lower Rainham Gang consisting of Ginger Chapman, Michael Holderman, Fat Nigel, Nicky & Stewart Hart and Dudley Murr but they rarely came up past the level crossings. Lower Rainham seemed a distance away in those days.
Most of the nights were spent in the cafes mainly the Onion, this was a Rockers Cafe and most nights the El Cabana cafe boys led by Bob Jackson (our Hero) and his mate Horse would come down from Gillingham on their bikes and we’d all sit around and drink tea and laugh at Bobs Jokes (even when they weren’t funny which was most of the time) or if it was Friday (pay day) it would be frothy coffee and egg and chips. A cup of tea was only threepence and egg and chips was about two bob, pre decimal of course.
In time the cafe’s turned into Pubs, our favourites being the White Horse, The Cricketers (Wally & Madge) and The Railway (Bob & Doris) the latter being where the Keg Boys was founded because thats what we all drank “Courage Tavern Keg.” We drank in most of the pubs in Rainham in those days including The Man of Kent, The Three Sisters, The Rose, The Angel, The Macklands. Most of these pubs bursting at the seams at the weekends . From Friday night to Sunday night we’d be in the Railway where a pint of Keg was 2’6d so for £1 you really could have a good night out.
Sunday lunch time was quite a challenge because we all had to get a round in, and 8 pints took some doing in 2 hours, as the opening hours in those days were from 12 noon til 2 pm. Then, it was all into Rob’s Mini Van or my Zodiac and down to the coast to ‘pick up some birds’ never had much luck though probably due to the fact there was no more room in the motor. By this time the Motorway Cafe at Farthing Corner on the M2 had been built so we very often went there after the pubs had chucked out as there was nowhere else to go late at night.
We always worked in those days and had a wage to spend although by the time you paid your mum put petrol in the car and paid the HP on it there wasn’t much left, so you always had a ‘sub’ by Wednesday. My first car was a Ford Consul Mk1, I had to part exchange my BSA C15 motorbike and the rest (about £30) on hire purchase!
Well, those days are long gone and we are all in our sixties but mostly still working, married or widowed, and now and Rainham is a far different place with many restaurants and most of the pubs that we knew either eating places or closed. We have all gone our different ways some moved away like Terry Dann to Australia, Steve Barrett to Hythe. I even emigrated to Newington!
Sadly it took Stan’s death to reunite The Keg Boys . He was the quiet one of the gang but his sense of humour was very dry. He worked hard and most of the Rainham drinkers would have seen him in the various pubs and would often hear him say “Its good ‘ere aint it” and hopefully it won’t have to be another funeral to make a reunion happen again.
As Brian Ferry once sung “other guys try to imitate us but the originals are still the greatest”
Richard J Matthew
(One of the Originals)
This article was taken from the Action Forum January/February 1997 Number 308
Memories of Rainham by Colin MacGregor
Most of the families in that area were large by today’s standard. Indeed I am one of eleven children although there weren’t too many families that big. We didn’t have a lot of material things. Not many Dads had cars, and if I recall there was only one private telephone at Mr Eccles’ house to be used only for emergencies, otherwise it would be up to the main road to use the public box, pressing buttons ‘A and ‘B’. In those days the telephone box was rarely vandalised. In the Summer, lines of red London buses would be seen slowly making their way to the Coast through Rainham (there was no M2 Motorway). They would stop for halfway refreshments at places like the Men of Kent public house. I can remember several skirmishes between the local children and the Londoners. Most of the children from our area attended the Church of England Primary School that was at the top of Station Road.
Sadly this school is no more. I’ll always remember the big tree in the playground which some of the bravest boys would climb. We were taught our lessons by teachers such as Miss List, Mr Turner (Headmaster), Miss King, Miss Evans (Fanny) Miss Thomas, Mr Turtain and some whose names I’ve long forgotten. Then there was Mr Pollock (the School Caretaker) who would don his special constables uniform to stop the traffic at the zebra crossing (as it was then) by the school. Nor many of the children from our area went on to university or even grammar school – but many have aspired to greater things and very few went bad. I often walk around Quinnell, Brown and Holding Street and it is nice to see that many of the houses have been refurbished with pretty porches and modern double glazing and have not suffered the same fate as Sunderland Square whose own children would have their own memories of Rainham to recall.
I could go on for hours about people and places in old Rainham – i.e. Saturday morning pictures at the Royal Cinema (or the Bug Hutch as we used to call it). Standing on the railway bridge watching the steam trains puff through. Old shops long gone, Barbara Kitchingham little shop on the corner of Holding Street, Miss Nicholson’s little sweet shop by what is now Lloyds Bank, Smiths sweet shop in Station Road where we could buy penny lollies.
I can even remember when the Library and Police Station were in the High Street. Also running errands to the Co-op in Station Road (not the new one) where we would have to remember Mum’s dividend number (probably most of us still do). The money would be put into a metal pot, a lever was pulled and the pot would shoot along wires to the cashier’s desk who put back your change and sent the pot back along the wire. And who will forget the dreaded buzzer while waiting to see the dentist in the clinic in Holding Street. Since my childhood I have travelled around this world and have many memories of places far afield – but none fonder than my memories of growing up in old Rainham. I wouldn’t change them for the world.
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