According to Kelly's directory, Elm Plastics was based at 22 Motney Hill Road in Rainham, now a series of warehouses for James Wellesley Kitchens. The Managing Director was a Polish gentleman called Mr R Michalkiewicz (sometimes known as Mr Michaels) who is mentioned in the Lower Rainham Coronation Party newspaper article of 1953 as having given souvenir books to the children at the party.

The only online info I can find about the factory is this announcement in the Edinburgh Gazette in Sept 1968, ‘... that the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity hereby gives notice that, during the month ending 30th 11 September 1968, she has made special exemption orders relating to the employment of women and/or young persons at the following Factories: Elm Plastics Ltd., Motney Hill Road, Rainham, Gillingham…’ It was reported by several people that the factory had a poor health & safety record with a number of workers losing fingers and at least one losing an arm in various accidents. Phil Stanfield recalled that his mum started a worker’s walk-out one winter because they had no heating in the building! The factory made many popular toys of the time and there are fond memories of families being brought home items such as a Muffin the Mule and a Pea Shooter Gun which were made there. The factory also made Loony Links and the original Mr Potato Head toys.

Babs Brown writes: Mr brother who still lives in Rainham recently sent me a of your magazine featuring Elm Plastics.  I worked there in the early sixties many fond memories.  I met my husband there we are still together he is 85 and myself 78.  I am enclosing a photo taken outside. It was owned by Mr Michaels and Mr Tomasheski excuse the spellings.  Mrs Dingle ran the assembly room with her supervisor Dot I believe that was her name her mother and father owned the shop on the corner. I used to spray paint pineapple ice buckets just like the ones you can still buy today. In the photo I am standing on the right linking arms with the young man. We also sprayed dolls faces made lampshades

Elm Plastics Motney Hill Rainham Kent 1960s



The attached photo was taken in the quad at Rainham Girls School, Orchard Street, c. 1941/2. My mother is shown second from right in the back row. She annotated the reverse with "Village scene from school play" and included names.


Front row L-R

Jean Muir

Marie Lavenda

June Glover

Audrey Foster

Joyce Pack

Back Row L-R


Joyce Shipley

Joyce Parker

Jean Greg

Pat Packham

Eileen Hales

Stephanie Porter

SILOAM in Rainham Part 1 

The house that stands today is surrounded by fields and situated about half a mile south  of the A2 and several hundred yards east of Mierscourt Road. It is a Grade II Listed  Building dating from the 17th C or earlier but has been extended and altered in the mid-  20th C. It is timber-framed, L-shape in plan and one room in depth. The ground floor  walls are of red brick and those of the upper floor are rendered and tile hung. Outside is a  traditional walled garden with a rear stable block. 

J .K.Wallenberg in his book Kentish Place-Names says the name is derived from the Old  English word syle meaning ‘miry place’ + hamm, i.e. a home near a pool or muddy area.  He also mentions some early recorded variations in spelling, viz. Syleham (1226), Sil-,  Sylhamme (1304), de Silhamme, Silham (both l4 th. C)  At the beginning of Vol. VI of the second edition of Edward Hasted’s History of Kent,  published between 1797 and 1801, there is a description of the parish of Rainham, which  he tells us was in the Hundred of Milton. He states that ‘The paramount manor of  Milton claims over this parish, subordinate to which is the manor of SILHAM, or  Sileham-court, as it is now usually called, in the southern part of the parish, of  which William Auburie died possessed in the 1st year of Edward I (1272-3) After  which it came into the possession of Peter de Meredale‘, in right of Agnes his wife,  by whom he had two sons, William and Roger, who were possessed of it jointly, as  heirs in gavelkind, in the reign of Edward II’ (1307-27) Agnes was the daughter of  William Auburie. 

But Hasted also says, further on, that another family, called Toketon, (the name was later  changed to Tufton) was associated with Siloam and other lands in Rainham during the  preceding hundred years. Many of the records that survive from the past are about the  ownership and transfer of land and the rents paid. For example Sir William de Toketon  (born c.1200) lived in the Lathe of Scray in Kent at the latter end of the 13th C either at  Sileham or at Tufton in Rainham in Kent. He is mentioned in a deed of John de  Madetune, who ‘grants and confirms to William de Toketon and John his son, half a  mark in money, a yearly rent of ten pence and a hen, which Geofry de Meredale used to  pay out of a tenement, with appurtenances, near a lane leading to Sileham on the east,  also an acre and three roods of land lying in field called Hamme, and other lands  thereabouts, paying yearly a pound of cummin, or a penny.’ Sir William’s grandson  Roger de Toketon (b.1250) about 1280 was deeded with John de Renham ‘certain arable  land purchased of Peter de Mere, lying in the borough of Mere in Rainham, paying a  rose at Midsummer, in consideration of 4 pounds in money’ 

After mentioning William and Roger, sons of Peter de Meredale, Hasted continues  ‘After which it became the property of Donet, which family increased its possessions  in this parish by the purchase of the estate of Roger de Reynham, in the reign of  Edward III (1327- 1377) At length it descended down to James Donet, who died in  1409. He lies buried in the high chancel of this church, in one of the windows of  which were formerly his arms, Argent, three pair of barnacles, gules’ An inscription,  in Latin, recording his death, can be found on a brass plate let into a slab in the floor of  the chancel of St. Margaret’s Church, Rainham.        


1 A person had a Christian name followed by the name of the place where he lived, in this

case Meredale, which was also in Rainham.

1 Gavelkind. A system of inheritance, particularly in Kent, whereby estates were equally

divided amongst sons, and in the absence of male heirs equally amongst daughters.

The Rev.A.J. Pearman writing just over a hundred years ago states ‘the early history of

the Tuflon’s, as connected with Rainham, is involved in some obscurity. There can be

no doubt that a family of this name held property in the parish as long ago as the time

of King John (1 190-1216); and there is a tract of ground near Moor Street called

Tufions, which in all likelihood was their original inheritance. But it is equally certain

that the existing family, now seated at Hothfield , came from Northiam, and obtained

their estates in Rainham by the marriage of Sir John Tufion with Olympia Bloor in the

reign of Elizabeth (1588-1603). The probability is that the early Rainham Tufton’s

were an offshoot of the parent stock at Northiam and have long been extinct. They do

not appear at any time to have been the chief residents in the parish’


Although modern day progress has meant a good number of the houses in Rainham and Wigmore have been redeveloped, there still remain a significant number whose appearance remains the same as I remember them helping my dad back in the early 1950s when I would have been between 9 and 13.

I was only 13 when my father, Bill Eatwell, died unexpectedly in 1956 but still have my memories of being his milk boy from all those years ago. He was only aged 46.

From what I know my dad was always a milk roundsman working for some time in Gillingham for Bourne & Hillier before moving in the late 1940s to Terry's dairies in Wigmore where his round covered Edwin Road, Hawthorne Avenue and back up Marshall Road. I would have been about 9 or 10 when I began to help him in the early 1950s at weekends and during school holidays.

Since we lived in St. Johns Road Gillingham opposite Gillingham park and didn't have a car it meant the daily journey to Wigmore started around 5:30 a.m. by bicycle along Watling Street and up the old Hoath lane and past the military camp which was opposite the Darland banks. To me this was like getting up in the middle of the night and there was hardly ever anyone around at that time of the morning. Not so bad in spring and summer when it was lighter, but in winter with limited street lightning, quite hazardous on a bike. Quite often after an overnight fall of snow and no gritting lorries or passing traffic, it was impossible to cycle so we had to push our bikes and walk. It was expected that “the milk must get through” 365 days a year, including Christmas Day.

Living in Gillingham with a road after road of terrace housing. I remember I used to look in awe at the detached houses and bungalows in Wigmore and Rainham and think the people there must be terribly rich. I will remember the long garden paths and often, oh what a joy!!, to find yesterday's empties out with a note for “half a pint more today please”, or even worse a note scribbled on the corner of a torn off piece of newspaper which had fallen inside a bottle. Worse still were the notes that had been put into wet bottles or when it rained overnight and the writing had become illegible.

By now many customers had upgraded to fridges, but they were still so many that relied upon the daily delivery of fresh milk. You could always depend on the occasional customer standing at their gate. “You’re 15 minutes late today milkman I've been waiting for my breakfast!”. There were so many customer habits that we were asked to go along with, but one that sticks out in my memory is of one man who I understood worked in London who went as far as to dig out and line a hole in his garden and cover it with a heavy slab. The idea being particularly on hot summer days that dad had to lift the slab and put the milk in the hole to protect it from the elements and blue tits. They were cardboard tops to the bottles back then and blue tips loved the cream.

Wet weather was always a problem. I guess in those days there were no protective clothing such as we have today and always remember dad in his Wellington boots and sodden gaberdine raincoats. But in those days probably instilled from the recent wartime spirit there were so many customers to lend a helping hand either with the spare coat or was more often the case taking in a saturated coat and placing in front of the lounge fire either to be collected later or picked up the next day.

One lady in Hawthorn Avenue every Sunday morning could be seen looking out for us up the road and then timed to perfection that by the time we arrived at her house, a breakfast table had been prepared for us with hot tea and toast.

Friday and Saturday with the days we collected the money. Oh what fun! Cold hands and fingers in winter. “Sorry Milkman, running short this week. I'll pay double next week”  High value bank notes to cover a small amount etc etc. Then of course was the price factor. Probably the worst I remember was a pint costing five and a half pence and half a pint 2 & 3/4 pence (tuppence three farthings). What joy when the price went up to sixpence and 3 pence. No calculators in those days, just good old fashioned mental arithmetic.

I've climbed in and out of so many windows. “Milkman I've locked myself out. Could I borrow your boy to climb in an open my door?” The memories are never ending but young as I was I'll always remember how friendly almost everyone was and willing to chat. With the marked exception of one day not knowing the ground rules, I delivered the milk to one very large house with extensive gardens to the front doorstep only to find the door being opened and being told in no uncertain terms “I do not have my milk displayed on the front porch, there's tradesman’s path to the rear of the house”

When dad died, several customers arranged the house to house collection covering his round and presented my mother with a donation towards a cost of a gravestone as they said they wanted to give something by which he would always be remembered. I still have a cutting of the tribute that was written by a customer and published in the London evening newspaper. Going through some of his papers some time after he died I found the last pay slip of February 1956 amounting to £6, 19 shillings and sixpence. How we managed as a family of four, I will never know but like so many others we did and we were happy.

Frank Eatwell


The Oasthouse Theatre

RaTS was founded back in 1948 and, until the society acquired its own theatre, it performed in St Margaret’s Church Hall (demolished in 2001). The Oasthouse (over 160 years old) belonged to local landowner and farmer, Jack Clark. The Rainham Theatrical Society acquired the Oasthouse in 1961 and set about converting it into a theatre.

Its doors opened to the public on 8 Nov 1963, with a production of Billy Liar. As the curtains opened, a ripple of applause ran through the tiny auditorium. The dream of Rainham having its own theatre had become a reality! They were to become the First Oasthouse Theatre in the World. Brenda Pearson, who appeared in that first production, is still a member 60 years later! When the theatre first opened, it had a ladder for actors to reach the backstage area; certainly not allowed within today’s health and safety requirements - a stone staircase was built in the late 60’s. Over the years, there have been many improvements made to the facilities, benefitting both members and audiences alike.

When the theatre first opened, some lights and carpets came from the Globe Theatre in Chatham. Seating came from a local naval barracks canteen and the Globe Theatre. The current seating (which has been re-furbished twice) came from a cinema in Bexley. At first, the group rented the property but, in 1965, they were given the chance to buy the building for £4800. They set about securing a mortgage on it and the first repayment of £25 was made on 1 October 1966. At last, the RaTS had a theatre of their own and as the saying goes… the rest is history!

This month we will be hosting an evening with two of our Patrons: comedian and former BBC Radio Kent presenter, Paul Harris, and Nicholas Robinson, who played the young boy in the TV drama Goodnight, Mister Tom. Our 2024 panto Mother Goose then opens on 12 January. We are always delighted to welcome new members and, with 5 main productions a year, there’s always a chance to ‘tread the boards’. As a full member you can audition for all entertainment performed at the Theatre.

If you prefer to help ‘behind the scenes’, we can find plenty to keep you busy! Whether that is building sets, working in the wardrobe, pulling pints or pouring tea, you’re guaranteed a fun time! Everyone aged 16+ is welcome and, with a large percentage of members having been involved for over 20 years, you will soon become ‘one of the family’! Since doors first opened in 1963, there have been 59 pantos performed and over 340 plays, musicals and revues. Coming up over winter we have: Sat 11 Nov - An evening with our Patrons Fri 17 & Sat 18 Nov - Showstoppers Jan 12-Feb 3 (each Fri/Sat) - Mother Goose


Cover picture is of Rainham Oasthouse theatre production of Billy Liar in 1963. They celebrate their Diamond Anniversary in November 2023t