Originally published in Action Forum, Aug 2005

One of my neighbours sent me the photo of the pseudo Tudor farmhouse which appears on the cover which she had found in her album, asking if I knew where it was located and when it was demolished. I immediately thought that I knew its location but when I studied it I wondered if, in the circumstances, it would have had a chimney and I didn't remember the wall. I satisfied my doubts when I realised that there were no outbuildings, any farmhouse from Tudor times would have needed ancillary outbuildings.

Many older residents will recall that this building appeared in the late 1950s or early 1960s in the field at the top of Twydall Lane in which the Mormon Church now stands. I was on Gillingham Council at the time and remember Mr Frank Thomas, a farmer who lived at Mill House, Windmill Road, above where that road used to join Chatham Hill, submitting a planning application for a residential farmhouse on the Twydall Lane site.

Mr Thomas became very irate when the application was refused and became involved in various much publicised protests which included exhibiting and painting large signs on the high wall facing Chatham Hill which so many saw on their journeys to and from work. Eventually he erected the structure as shown in the photograph which was very realistic but used solely for storing hay, straw and other agricultural purposes which required no planning permission.
The building was probably about 100 yards beyond the western boundary of Rainham but it became a feature for many years until it was eventually demolished when the site was developed.

Freddie Cooper

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