MEMORIES OF THE FINAL YEARS OF COZENTON FARM, 1963 to 1966

 
I read with interest Freddie Cooper's memories of Cozenton Farm (May to September 1999). I had thought that all traces of it had long becn expunged from our local history. It is a place that holds very spec ial memories for mc, as I too spent formative years there. Aged from eight to eleven I could be found in this magical placc roaming through its forcsts of fruit trees, across its cndless plains of grass, cncountcring the huge woolly beasts that lived there before rctrcat ing to onc ofth~ many flint built ramparts to survey my kingdom. Aftcr a rcfrcshing Victoria plum I might hop into onc of the many vehicles dotted around thc place anl' become a tractor driver or a lorry driver or anything else that my imagination could create. After a few Worcester apples picked fre sh f,om the tree it was of,· to explore the dark recesses of the fann buildings never knowing what I might encounter.
 
To have your own private piece of countryside is an idyllic way to spend a childhood. Personally I did not arrivc in Rainham until the age of scven, having been born in foreign parts on the other side of the River Medway in North Kent. We moved to Twydall in 1963; I will always remember that winter when the snow was up to the window ledges. Cyril Stephens, the last to farm the propcrty (letter Oct 2000), lived a few doors away and I became a friend of his son; who was understandably popular, with a constant qucuc of small boys wanting to visit his farm. Unlikc thc othcrs I took to thc country lifc and have staycd fricnds with Cyril Stephells and his brothcr Ken for the past thirty-fivc years. Ken unfortunatcly moved on to the great farmyard in the sky in June 2000.
 
Brothers Cyril and Ken Stephcns began renting the farm from Mrs Richardson in 1958 and there is an interesting article in the East Kent GaLette of December 11 th 1959 detailing their fight to save the land from the developers. I note with interest that such news was reported in the Sittingbourne local paper, not in similar Medway-based publicat ions, which shows that thirty years after Rainham was devolved to Gillingham there was a greater interest in our affairs in the countryside around Sittingbourne than in the increasingly urban Medway Towns. The article gives an interesting insight into 'Cozcnten', as they spell it: , ... When the brothers first came to the 21 acre smallholding half of it was ovcrgrown fruit plantation and the rest was rough grassland ... ' ' ...
 
The farmhouse itself was deep in the undergrowth and sadly in necd of rcpair ... ' , ... They started near the house and worked outwards, grubb ing, burning, ploughing and planting putatoes and other market garden crops. ' ' ... When they are finished only two acres of the original fruit, Napolcon and Black Eagle chcrrics will rcmain ... ' This would indicate that post war the farm went into a serious dccline. This pcriod is bcttcr covercd by Freddie Coopcr's prcvious art icles but it is interesting to note how pcople's lives wcrc intcrwovcn within a small village community. Cyril Stephcns worked at R.G. Hodge's garage at Rainham Mark; a large brick built building with a green roller shutter door as I rccall. It stood on the site now occupicd by the modcrn petrol station. Onc ofCyril's dutics was to act as driver for VIr Hodgc's fathcr-in -Iaw who by eoincidcnce was Mr Richardson of Cozen ton Farm. As pctrol was rationcd and farmers had a higher allowancc Cyril would drive to Cozcnton where Mr Richardson would supply just cnough fucl for his rcquircd journey and not a drop more. It must be rcmembcrcd that petrol rationing did not end unti l May 1950. This introduccd Cyril to the farming world and sparked an intcrest that would result in he and his brother being the last custodians of Cozen ton Farm. 
 
To bc continucd Colin Clifford

Comments   

0 #1 mrs s ventham 2013-03-18 17:55
My father mr bertie ridge also worked at hodges, i have just been looking at a watch he was given for 25 service also i have a photo of him working there
Quote

Add comment


Security code
Refresh