PARLIAMENTARY RECOGNITION FOR RAINHAM
by Freddie Cooper Aug 2004
The announcement that the Boundary Commission has recommended that the Parliamentary Constituency of Rainham will, after the next General Election, be known as Gillingham and Rainham will give Rainham its long overdue recognition and be welcomed by many residents.
Gillingham Borough Council embraced the area administered previously by Rainham Parish Council from 1st April 1929 under an extension of the Boundary Act 1928. That covered an area from the River to Bredhurst and from South Bush Lane to the back garden fences of the houses on the western side of Edwin Road, up through Springvale towards Bredhurst on a line which now would pass through the Church land in Drewery Drive.
Rainham had previously been on the extremity of the western boundary of Milton Regis Urban District Council and part of the Parliamentary Division of attachments were to the east and Rainham news was reported in the 'East Kent Gazette' and 'Kent Messenger'. From 1906 until 1926 we had tram connections to the Medway Towns but through history we had been Men and Maids of Kent whereas Gillingham residents were Kentish Men. It is clear to me that the Municipal and Parliamentary boundary previously referred to, rather than the River Medway, was the actual boundary between the ancient Kingdoms of East and West Kent.
Seventy-five years ago Gillingham wanted room to expand now it is estimated that Rainham has half the population of its previous parent borough.
Mr Clark says that he hopes that the ancient enmity between the two halves of the borough will now cease but I fear that this is unlikely to be realised whilst those on the eastern extremity feel that, despite all the endeavours of their representatives, they are `the forgotten outpost of the new Empire'. It was always thus even when Gillingham Council were our masters except when two of its most senior officers lived with us, we got quite a lot done in those few years, including Cozenton Park! Although I accept that members determine the level of rate income I believe that Officers mainly decide the priority of expenditure and I can only hope that with Parliamentary recognition, they will now realise that a very significant number of ratepayers live in the `Outpost'.
I am sure that Mr Paul Clark, MP, had parental encouragement to include Rainham within the Constituency's name for many of his ancestors rest within the Parish. I knew all those back until his maternal great grandparents, Mr and Mrs Alfred Thomas Warner, who lived in Lime Kiln Cottage, an old bungalow adjacent to his wood yard in Maidstone Road (then Bredhurst Lane) between Harvey and Nursery Roads.