RAINHAM’S CORONATION CELEBRATIONS by Freddie Cooper
Continued from March 2002
In 1953 the population seemed to be captivated by the Coronation of our young Queen and almost everyone entered into the spirit of the occasion. Rainham was proud to play its part. The most heated arguments occurred aﬁer the event when the Committee had to decide how to dispose of a balance of £164 which was left alter all accounts had been paid. Many ideas were eventually eliminated in favour of a village clock. Barclay’s Bank, at the junction of Station Road and the High Street, was one obvious location but Mr C.D. Lake, the Deputy Borough Engineer, who still lives in Wigmore, suggested that the Church Clock be renovated and a new face placed on the western side of the Tower.
He had ascertained that the clock mechanism had been constructed around 1730 by William Gill of Maidstone and that this originally operated an hourly strike on the tenor bell. Apparently the peal of bells go back to the l6th century and the treble and No. 2 were provided by parishioners in 1913 in memory of King Edward VII and the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary. Mr Lake suggested that the chestnut trees on the grass bank be removed and new trees planted in the churchyard, this would have thrown the Church tower into more prominence and given a wider vista along the High Street. Apparently the Vicar at that time was quite keen on the project and thought that a small additional contribution could be made. The arguments in Committee created our ﬁrst real divisions, the Church scheme seemed to follow a precedent but a most vocal group considered it wrong in principle to apply money, which had been raised by residents of all faiths and none, upon the Parish Church. The arguments that everyone would view the clock were not persuasive enough.
That is why an ‘English Electric’ Arctic clock is still situated on Barclay’s Bank building with a plaque to the left of the front door. Incidentally Gillingham Borough Council maintained it until 1998 when Medway assumed responsibility. I have frequently telephoned when it has stopped and I hope that others will do the same. The present officers are Mr Strila and Mr Dray on 331151. Perhaps our Rainham Councillors will also note the arrangement which has been reasonably honoured for 50 years but Councils do need reminding at times.