The Story of Jezreel's Tower, Watling Street/Canterbury Street in Gillingham, Kent

Picture postcard view of Jezreel's Tower, Gillingham also known as Jezreel's Folly. The tower was built along Watling Street (A2) at Gillingham and the bus stop there is still named after the tower. You can find out more about the Jezreel's Tower here

 

Interior view of Jezreels Tower

This structure, started in 1886 was the home of the Jezreelite sect (founded in 1875 by James White or Jezreel) remained unfinished and was demolished in 1961. Photo from Medway Council. (Couchman collection DE402, Medway Council)

Photo of Jezreels Tower Gillingham 1905

Photo from Martin Smith.

LCP Autoparts on Canterbury Street

One of the remaining Jezreel's buildings at the top of Canterbury Street, Gillingham was demolished in 2008. LCP Autoparts occupied the building that was previously the Jezreel's Hall on Canterbury Street. The site remains empty as of 2017.

Below you can see the similarity of the brickwork at the top of the roofline compared to the original tower. Photo from Mark at Medway Lines of Jezreels building LCP Autoparts Canterbury Street Gillingham.

Jezreels building LCP Autoparts Canterbury Street Gillingham

This is an article about the Jezreels Tower printed c1920 in the Chatham Rochester and Gillingham News, the local paper of the time. Unfortunately the paper is quite faded so it not possible to easily convert to text using OCR but these are high quality scans on the pages. Click on each section to view a high resolution version.
Article about Jezreel's Tower Gillingham Kent c1920Article about Jezreel's Tower Gillingham Kent c1920

Map to show location of site of Jezreels Tower in Gillingham

Hempstead Valley Shopping centre (aka Savacentre) near Gillingham Kent was constructed in the late 1970s just outside the village of Hempstead. It opened on 17th October 1978 so has celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2008. These photos showing the construction of Hempstead Valley were kindly sent by Chris Shade. You can see the large sign showing the original name of Savacentre. A current photo of Savacentre is shown on the Hempstead Valley website

There is currently (2010) a proposal to redevelop the Hempstead Valley shopping centre to modernise areas of it. You can view the proposal on the Hempstead Valley website here When it is completed in 2015 it will make a huge difference to the appeal of the centre as a shopping destination.

What may seem commonplace now was groundbreaking in 1978 as there were very few other out of town shopping centres of this size at the time. Hempstead Valley was the second Savacentre (Washington Tyne & Wear opened in 1977). At the time of opening Savacentre was one of the largest out of town shopping centres in the South East. The original Picnic Parlour was the first Food Court in the UK. You can see more info about Sainsburys Savacentre here

When originally opened the main shop was Sainsburys Savacentre, the brand they originally created for their large hypermarkets. At the time Sainsburys was by far the largest supermarket in the UK with Tesco trailing far behind – a far cry from the current situation with Tesco leading the field. The originally Hempstead Valley offered 250,000 square feet of shopping space but when the centre was redeveloped in the early 1990s with an extension and new shops like M&S being added, this was increased to 330,000 square feet.

The challenge is to remember all the original shops that were there when the centre opens….Sainsburys, Presto (which then became Safeway) - but which others?
So far the following shops have been suggested for the original opening

NSS (Newsagents) then became Forbuoys
Our Price
Post Office (not one of the original shops)
Sainsburys Savacentre
Boots
Thomas Cook
Presto Supermarket
Wimpy Burger Bar
Spud-U-Like

Later additions when the extension was added in early 1990s were WHSmith, Marks & Spencer.

Notice in the aerial shot the area to the bottom right which was developed for large housing estates shortly after the shot was taken.

Photos on this page are clickable to view higher resolution versions.

 

  • Savacentre, Photos of Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 1978:Looking towards Savacentre Hempstead Valley from roundaboutLooking towards Savacentre Hempstead Valley from roundabout
    Petrol station would be to middle right of photo
  • Photos of Savacentre Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 1978:Looking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted WayLooking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted Way
    Underground car park to right of shot, Abbey to left of shot
  • Photos of Hempstead Valley Savacentre 1978Looking towards Hempstead Valley from roundabout
    Petrol station would be to middle right of photo
  • Photos of Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 1978: Looking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted WayLooking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted Way
    Underground car park to right of shot, Abbey to left of shot
  • Aerial photo of Hempstead Valley Savacentre 1978Aerial photo of Hempstead Valley Savacentre 1980
    Sharsted Way runs along left hand side of photo

Greens of Rainham/Medway Mercedes

 

Greens of Rainham was one of the main car dealers in Rainham on the same site as Medway Mercedes and Texaco garage. It closed in December 2008 and the site has been empty since then.

Blog article about Greens of Rainham closing

It has been announced that Greens of Rainham, the Vauxhall car dealer has been placed in administration. The Greens showrooms in Rainham and Snodland have been empty for several months so the confirmation was no great surprise locally. Sadly some 70 Greens of Rainham employees lost their jobs having been left in limbo since December when they were last paid but without being given any information until now about the fate of the company.

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Medway Mercedes/Medway Autos/Texaco Garage Rainham

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Photo of Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Photo of Greens of Rainham, former Vauxhall Dealer on A2 London Road, July 2010

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Price of Petrol Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer
Price of Petrol when Greens of Rainham closed

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Greens of Rainham showroom interior, July 2010

Medway Mercedes, Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Medway Mercedes/Medway Autos


This news would appear to confirm the depth and severity of the current recession by claiming a dealership that has successfully survived many previous recessions and downturns.

[information from Medway Messenger]

THE BARGAIN HOUSE

The Bargain House came to Rainham in 1924. 

Mr Bays, the grandfather of Jonathan Baynes who now manages the Gillingham shop in King Street, came to Gillingham in 1910 and opened his first shop in Burnt Oak Terrace. The move to Rainham expanded the business and replaced a similar shop on this site owned by G. Hooker. The Bargain House was quite a feature in pre-war Rainham having a prominent position in the centre of the village. The building was far from attractive – the roof was corrugated iron – but it was one of the most useful places. The shop stocked a whole range of hardware, it had wicker baskets hanging outside and tin buckets and baths full of blocks of soap and packets inside. One Rainham girl, Miss Betty Fullager, started as an assistant in the shop at the top of Station Road on leaving school in 1926 aged 14 and stayed with the same business all her working life transferring to Gillingham when The Bargain House closed and only retiring from the King Street shop in the late 1970s. Betty Fullager was better known to her contemporaries as Sugar Fullager, the nickname given to her when she first joined I st Rainham Guides. The shop prospered in Rainham, only closing when the land was purchased by Barclays Bank to build their grand new building in 1936.

The Bargain House Rainham

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