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)

Comments   

0 #6 frank peace 2017-04-13 09:07
Quoting frank peace:
Thank you Richard. Stans brother Frank.


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0 #5 Ava Nepute 2016-07-01 20:19
Hiya, I'm trying to get in touch with Colin Macgregor, who is a friend of my fathers. Does anyone have his contact details or could let him know I'm trying to contact him? Many thanks
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0 #4 Malcolm Harrison 2013-06-27 20:57
I was there then. If I remember rightly Mr Sneath was also nicknamed Sneabo. I later had the misfortune to find my self living next door to him in Herbert Road.

Malcolm H
now living in Lancashire
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0 #3 Peter Adams 2013-05-25 22:14
Well done Richard, good memories.
Peter Adams (Nobby) formally of 12 Brown Street, Now Adelaide South Australia since Sep 1970.
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-1 #2 frank peace 2013-02-03 12:25
Thank you Richard. Stans brother Frank.

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0 #1 Mike Turner 2013-01-09 15:34
I read your story with interest especially regarding Mr Springate, I used to live next door to him.

I only wish I had your memory for detail, alas I don't.

Mike Turner
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