THE CHANGING FACE OF RAINHAM Kent

By Freddie Cooper, from Action Forum, December 2002

Mr William Henry Barling (late W. Rush) was in Manchester House, next to Ivy Street, and sold ‘up to date drapery goods of every description, with a splendid selection of dress materials and curtains’. He was the agent for Frister & Rossmann’s sewing machines and Mortimer Brothers High Class Dyers and Cleaners.

Photo of Ivy Street Rainham Photo

Old photo of Ivy Street, Rainham Kent

George Whayman was on The Banks, almost opposite Ivy Street, an 'Outfitter and Boot Merchant' who sold men’s clothing of every description, ready made or gentlemen’s suits to measure for 24/6d (£1 22 ½p) or trousers for 7/lid (40p). Edwin Jelley nearly opposite at Cheapside on the eastern corner of Pudding Lane also boasted the most up to date stock of reliable clothing with gentlemen’s ready to wear suits at £1. He gave 5% discount for cash and was agent for six stated brands of footwear.

Glass and Son, the family Bakers, were two doors east of Marlborough House and were very popular as pastry cooks and cake manufacturers beside being corn, flour and seed factors with van deliveries to all parts daily. They had their name painted high up on the side wall and I remember buying 2d of stale buns when an aunt told me to wait for lunch.

THE GREEN LION PUBLIC HOUSE  was a very busy hostelry being headquarters to The Cycling, Cricket and Football Clubs, The Cottage Gardeners Society, Ancient Order of Foresters and The Court of Anglo Saxons. Like all pubs they had their own Benefit Society which paid members during sickness or upon death with a share out in December. Phil Curling, mine host, was ‘handicapper to all the principal Club and Race meetings in the District’. Professional running and cycling were popular even in the 20s and 30s and I remember seeing Sam Ferris the Olympic long distance runner who had been challenged to compete against a man named Walters from Upchurch.

The Rainham and District Co-operative Society Ltd, with all departments in Station Road, had only recently been formed at the turn of the century but its turnover in 1907 was £16,000 with profit of £1,500 and a membership of 505. Its telephone number is not quoted but I believe it was number 4. There were no multiples except perhaps the Co-op which was owned by the members so the proprietors would know most of their customers and become important personalities within the village. A majority of the shops listed in 1908 were still within the same family ownership 20 or 30 years later.

A business which needed no advertisement locally was that of George Longley, Nurseryman and Florist, then operating from Mardale Nursery in Chapel Lane (now Miers Court Road) and Pond House just west of the present Durland House. Numbers 29 and 31 Miers Court Road still have the name Mardale Nursery 1905 high up on the front. I understand that the family came from Sheldwich in 1819, were founder members of the original English Rose Society in the 1890s and were the only Rainham firm to be granted the Royal Warrant which was exhibited on the front of Pond House. The rose gardens were a wonderful sight adjacent to the railway line between Station Road and Berengrave Lane and later on both sides of the lane below the railway arch. Although some members of the family branched out into farming the present Berengrave Nursery is operated by a direct descendant of those who came to Rainham nearly 200 years ago and I hope to write a separate story in a future issue as the history of the Longley family is very typical of the history of Rainham over the last two centuries.

Freddie Cooper

You can view a list of the businesses with telephones in Rainham in 1908 here

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