Woodside has always been a very busy road. In 1912/1914 land was sold off in plots of 200ft x 40ft costing £25 per plot and the road "made up" in 1925/1926 by Milton Parish Council.

Photo below taken in 1946 of Cheryl Domoney in the front garden of 28 Woodside looking into the street and houses opposite, numbers 29 Woodside (semi-detached house) and 31 Woodside (Bungalow).

Photo below taken in 1946 of Cheryl Domoney in the front garden of 28 Woodside looking into the street and houses opposite, numbers 29 Woodside (semi-detached house) and 31 Woodside (Bungalow).

The corner house at Hoath Lane was originally a stopping-off tea place for townpeople coming to their country plots. It later became a green- grocers. Opposite, was waste ground before the Spyglass was built in the ‘30s, and a few doors down a tennis court where players could also get icecream. Fruit trees covered most land along to Bredhurst Road and on that corner 'old iron' was collected for the war effort. Opposite was a house called The Parsonage, where the Priest-in-Charge of the Mission Hall lived. On the west corner of Springvale a small building sold fresh fish, later becoming Beale’s butcher's. We had a resident policeman and his family living on the south side of Woodside. The Smallholders Club, a well -known institution, was originally for exchanging or selling home-grown produce, hence the name. The first building was a tin shed, before Springvale was developed. 

The Post Office, another well-known place since the early ‘30s, also sold petrol and paraffin oil. It was small but had all sorts of pots and pans hanging from the ceiling. Sweets in glass jars were ready to be weighed up - "An a'peth of those, please" (an a'peth was a halfpenny, pre-decimal). Some bought a farthing’s worth (quarter of an old penny)! It was always busy and friendly, as it is today. Along a little further, a footpath stretched from Woodside to Durham Road known as 'the six foot pathway' - said to be six foot wide… and very muddy! Opposite the Post Office was St Matthews, originally built as Wigmore Mission Hall in 1925. It’s beautiful sanctuary in dark oak opened up on Sundays to become the church. This was modernised with lighter-coloured wood around 1935-1937 (the carpenter lived in Springvale), but with a growing population it was necessary to extend out front in ‘52. Now the Howard Memorial Hall, it is the Lodge of the Masons and St Matthews
relocated to Drewery Drive. 

Towards the Queen's Head, north side, a family opened up their front room as a general store and a little further along was a nursery full of produce in greenhouses, the owner living in Maidstone Road. On Woodside's south side, where the Osteopathic clinic now is, the front room held a Haberdashery, somewhere I loved and the next door garden was full of daffodils every year. The site of the Queen's Head was another patch of waste land, opposite was a shop which became Tarry's and there was a red telephone box at either end of Woodside. I have lived here for 93 years. In my younger days there weren’t many residents but everybody knew everybody. Modern Woodside is so different but we have a, much needed, pedestrian crossing thanks to our Mayor. 

Let us know what I have missed out!

During the construction of the Churchill Retirement living housing project on the A2 various remains have been found that date habitation of the area back to the early Iron Age, some 3000 years ago. Sandy Fleming from Rainham News visited the site to find out more

Watch her YouTube video on the discoveries here


Churchill Retirement Living statement re Rainham archaeology dig – November 2021

“Our site in Rainham is of historic interest due to its location, so having liaised with the relevant authorities we brought in a team of professional archaeologists and temporarily paused work on the site while they carry out their important work. We are pleased to be supporting this project and very interested to see what the team discovers.”

Over the centuries many Upchurch residents have become well-known within the village, and a few have gained fame farther afield.

The King’s Carpenter

Hugh Herland became the first recorded Upchurch resident to gain widespread fame. Living in Upchurch from 1378 to 1391 he became chief carpenter to Richard II and designer of the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall, the largest medieval timber roof in Northern Europe. Considered a masterpiece, this became his greatest achievement. He also completed work at Rochester, Leeds and Winchester castles, the Tower of London, Canterbury Cathedral and the tomb of Edward III’s wife, Philippa of Hainault, in Westminster Abbey. Herland initially worked with his father William, also the king’s carpenter, but on September 28th, 1370 the king rewarded Hugh with ‘pesage of wools’ in Queenborough (which established him as a member of the merchant class) and also with a tenement in the City of London. Herland’s wife Joan also came from Upchurch but the couple eventually moved to Kingston in Surrey. Herland died in 1405 but a stained glass window featuring him exists at Winchester College Chapel.

The Crackerbarrel Actor

Actor, James Robertson Justice lived in Greylag, Ham Green during part of WW2 after getting wounded. A big man with a beard and a booming well-spoken voice, he was also highly-educated, with two doctorates. Being interested in nature and a keen ornithologist, Justice soon settled and was often accompanied by naturalist and wildlife TV presenter, Sir Peter Scott as he ventured onto the saltings for bird watching. He drank in The Crown, where he was considered an extrovert and always had an audience. He periodically walked around the peninsula dressed in a kilt playing the bagpipes, bathed naked in the river with lady friends from London and openly bathed in a tin bath in his garden. The village children called him ‘Crackerbarrel’ because he appeared in media advertising said cheese. However, he got into trouble with Sittingbourne Magistrate’s Court for breaking blackout law.

Village gossip said he was a German spy after a torch was spotted flicking on and off from the bedroom window of Greylag at night and Justice received a caution. After Upchurch, he gained fame as an actor in the popular ’Doctor in’ films. He also appeared in other films: Moby Dick, Scott of the Antarctic, The Guns of Navarone and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Justice taught Prince Charles falconry whilst living in Scotland becoming a personal friend of Prince Philip. He was also rector of Edinburgh University and stood as a Labour candidate for North Angus and Mairns in the 1950 General Election.

A blue plaque bearing his name is attached to the front wall of Greylag at Ham Green in memory of him. 

David Wood

When the Manor Farm pub were redeveloping their car park to build the Premier Inn hotel in 2010 the site was subject to an archaeological survey to check for any historic remains as it is so close to the A2. This investigation brought up various finds including Iron age and Roman pottery as well as an Air Raid shelter dating to the Second World War that was built for the staff of the Gas Showrooms. This would have been to the right of the photo below.

The area has been settled for thousands of years as the main route from the coast to the north of the country and these finds help give some context to the people who lived or travelled through the area.

The development of Churchill Retirement complex on the site of 5 bungalows on the A2 adjacent to the Manor Farm pub has given more opportunity for archaeologists to investigate the area. According to an interview with them this week significant Iron age discoveries have been made, in particular salt pits.

With the A2 being the main Roman Road to London (Watling Street) there have been significant finds in the area including recent discoveries of a Roman Temple in Newington close to the A2 and Roman Villas in Hartlip.

Toe Rags in Rainham – as recollected to Maggie Francis

Horace Moore is a Rainham boy through and through. He was born in 1933 and lived at 205 Station Road, Rainham and he has shared memories and some of his many stories of his life and time growing up in Rainham. 

The Oast House, next to the Station was the main Offices for Wakeley Brother’s many businesses and Horace remembers horses and carts going up Station Road taking wheat to the Oast, where the sacks of grain were hoisted up from the back of the carts into the building, but Horace was more aware that the wheat came in on the barges. 

That was where he was happiest, down by the water with everything associated with the river. 

When Horace was a lad, Rainham was just a small community with the majority of the population involved working in various ways on the river, in the brickfields or in the agricultural community. 

Along with the rest of the local children, he went to Solomon Road School from the age of 5. No fancy introductions to school in those days. As he says; ’You just got left at the door on the first day and was left to get on with it’. 

By the grand age of six and half, Horace was doing his first job. 

George (Cully) Carter had young Horace, picking up winkles with him and running up and down Station Road for him selling them from door to door. 

Young Horace would sell the catch from an old cart, calling on the locals to buy a basin of whatever it was that he and Cully had caught that day. 

Horace loved the river and would go shrimping and winkling in the winter on the mud flats. 

Spring found him trawling for pink shrimps and brown shrimps, fluing (catching flounders). People would buy them off the boats. 

At the age of 13 Horace was taken on as an Apprentice to Jack Carter (Cully’s grandson) to become a Freeman of the River Medway. 

Four years later Horace was called up for National Service. His love of the river made him want to go into The Naval Reserve, but he couldn’t get in because he was colour blind. 

Instead he went in the Army and served in Suez. He earned 36 shillings a week in the Army and apart from 5 shillings which he kept for himself, he sent all the rest home to his dear old mum. 

He found out later, that his mum had saved up all his for him. 

Once he was out of the Army and home in Rainham, he did all kinds of jobs associated with the river. 

He worked on various barges moving timber and cement and ballast. He was on one called the Kentish Hoy, a 120-ton motor barge, which had been built originally in 1904. 

Horace belonged to the river and it was obviously ‘in his blood’, but he realised he needed to get himself established. He was good at catching the fish and had a natural talent for selling the fish door to door. 

His opportunity to allow his love of sharing ‘the catch’ with the local population of Rainham came in 1984 when he established Hales and Moore fishmongers in Station Road to build a business with his family. 

Horace loves to tell wonderful tales of old Rainham, one of which he has shared. 

When talking about old friends he was relating tales of how to ensure they managed to get safely across the mud flats.
Apparently to stay safe the boots had to be a very tight fit so that the feet were secure and you could get a better, more solid grip on the mud! 

So what better way than to get some old bits of rag and wrap them tightly round each toe to fill out the boots? 

Who knew? That was where the term ‘toe rag’ originated. 

(The best bit though is his description of walking into the kitchen in his little terraced house to find all these’ toe rags’, hanging up to dry over the fire on washday) 

The Hales and Moore Fishmongers is still thriving and is one of local businesses who have carried on serving the local population during these recent months. 

Until relatively recently Horace was still the delivery boy, driving the van with orders to local customers and restaurants, but still never happier than when he was on a boat on some water, somewhere. 


Historical tales

Rainham Life

Local Events


Action Forum is a free monthly magazine that is distributed to the Rainham area covering Wigmore, Parkwood and Hempstead as well. This archive covers old copies of the magazine dating back to its initial publication in 1969 and give a fascinating glimpse into life in Rainham over the last 50 years.

Link to Article Index - Action Forum Index - Photos and Articles from 1969 onwards