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.