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. 

Freddie Cooper        

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