After the recent appeal for info about the Rainham Spectacular Rainham Spectacular Fair at Cozenton Park 1972 - 1981 and Miss Rainham Competition Winners one of the volunteers at Rainham Community centre was able to get in touch with Kim Unger who was crowned Miss Rainham in 1981.

This photo was taken during the rather wet Rainham Spectacular in 1981 where Kim won the Miss Rainham contest.

The photo shows the Edwards family fruit picking at Walnut Tree Farm, Lower Rainham Road. The 1907 Victoria plum harvest is proudly displayed 

Back row: Bill and Emily Booty, Bill Edwards, Eliza Edwards, Charles Edwards 

Front row: Beatrice Edwards, Charles Edwards, Annie Edwards, Ethel Edwards, Edith Edwards 

While tracing records for my family history we came across an unknown member of the Light family. Originally we thought there were only 3 children of Arthur Percy Light and Marion Hudson, however a fourth first-born child born in 1898 was shown in the 1901 census as well as birth certificate records.

Depending on the source he was either known as Richard Arthur Owyn Light or Richard Arthur Onyx Light and was born in Tendring Essex. The Light family moved to Walmer Kent soon afterwards. Arthur Percy Light of Gillingham Kent died in 1914 on HMS Hogue but his wife Marion Hudson lived until 1956.

Richard Arthur Onyx Owyn Light seems to have been disowned by his family and moved around the country quite a lot. There are various records of criminal convictions in different places - Totnes, St Albans, Nottingham, Margate and Camborne Dorset where he seemed to be involved in selling ice creams.

There is a record of a marriage to Lilian Annie Adams of Broadstairs on 12th June 1935. At the time they were living at 2 Laurel Cottages, Reading Street, Broadstairs and Richard Arthur Light was listed as a Hotel Chef

The mystery begins in 1919 when it was reported that Richard Arthur Light left his home in Rock Avenue at 6.30pm on 3rd March 1919 and wasn't heard from afterwards. The Courier newspaper reported the "Mysterious Disappearance" on 11th April 1919. He was described as a Boy Writer at Chatham Dockyard, 5'8" tall with fair hair and complexion and had served during the War in 19th County of London Regiment. He drew out £10 from the Post Office and to visit his sweetheart in Rochester. He drew the money and nothing more was heard from him.

It is unclear if he ever returned home or if the family ever knew what had happened to him. He next appears in records in Nottingham in 1920 where he married  Florence E Quarton in 1920 where they had at least one son.  His name was Reginald W Light who was registered in Nottingham 2nd quarter 1927.  Volume 7b Page 619.

The next record that appears for him is in 1928 when Richard Arthur Light is recorded as being charged with stealing £7 15s from Exeter Ice Cream Dairy company in Exmouth and spending the spoils of the theft in Cornwall. He also asked for a similar offence in Weymouth to be considered as well as a non payment of maintenance arrears at Nottingham to be dealt with. The Nottingham connection presumably refers to his wife Florence E Light.

I recently received a request for information about the location of Ashe House that was the residence/practice of a Doctor Drake located in Wigmore. This Dr Drake was involved in assisting at the Rainham Poison Mystery of 1931 and was in partnership with Mr. William Ulic Desmond Longford and Mr. Sven Arthur Bather.

Searching Google threw up no clues nor did checking a map of Wigmore from 1912 showing all the plots being sold off. Having drawn a blank I was doing some other family history research when I decided to check the local Kelly's Directory. This was an annual index of all residents and properties in an area so you could look up by location or by person.

I checked the 1936 edition and managed to find a Doctor Drake listed as resident at Ashe Ho, Maidstone Road, Wigmore. The only problem is that it gives no indication where Ashe House is on Maidstone Road as all houses were named not numbers. However I remembered that as well as some roads being renamed in the 1930s there was also a process of houses being numbered too so I thought a later edition may have more information.

That was a partial success! The next edition showed houses on Maidstone Road now with numbers up to 365, however Ashe house was still in a section that only contained named properties. Next step - try a later year. This time a successful match, Dr Drake was shown as living at 383 Maidstone Road Wigmore so that was the location of Ashe House!

However there is another twist! On checking the location on a map and in person it appears that number 383 no longer exists which might explain the lack of information about Ashe House. 383 appears to have been where Woodpecker Glade is now located. The numbers either side are 381 and then 385 so I'm guessing it was demolished some time in the late 1960s to make way for the Woodpecker Glade estate.

As with all research a few different sources and clues all came together to give an answer!


I've also received some more details about Doctor Drake from Annette in Munich who has been researching details of Dr Drake which may be of interest to anyone looking for information.

Dr. Dennys John Drake was not a "Wigmorian" by birth, but originated from London, where he passed his examinations at the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in 1891 (1). He did not directly settle in Wigmore though. His first "call" was Assam (then part of of the Bengal Presidency, British India), where he married a Miss Helen Katherine Gill in 1902 (2). About 1910 he was again moving, this time to Leeston, New Zealand. I found some amusing stories in a local newspaper, concerning a motor cycle, damaged by straying horses, which led to a wrathful complaint of the Doctor, and his outspoken satisfaction with the "Overland Model 46", thus advertising an US-imported motor car (3).

During the Great War, Drake served in the Army Medical Service for one year (4). Whether he came back to England for this purpose, or joined an Australian regiment, and whether he returned to New Zealand after the end of his service, I don't know.

In 1927 our doctor got divorced on his wife's petition (5). Only one year later, he married a certain Gerda M. Prentice (6). My wild guess is that from around that time onwards he lived with his second wife in Ashe House.

The circumstances of his death are a bit dramatic, and actually were the starting point of my interest in his life. Though he had retired from the firm of Drake, Longford & Bather in Wigmore, in 1939 he was still active, serving as a Ship Surgeon on the HMS Devonshire. At the beginning of 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, that ship was involved in a rescue attempt. On the 8th of February (7) she transported refugees to Marseille (8), where, on the 23th of December, Dr. Drake died in a Hospital (9). Since on the day of his death the Devonshire was already back in Scapa Flow, and had sailed Marseille for the last time 6th of March (10), spring 1939 is the latest possible time of his going ashore, perhaps because he was already ill. Anyway, his absence must have caused worries at home in Wigmore. He in turn must have witnessed the outbreak of the Second World War during September 1939 in Marseille. I wonder if in those terrible times his body was brought back to England at all, and if not, where he found his final rest. But that is a different story :)

A doctor rushing in Wigmore from sick to sick on a motor cycle, or receiving them in Ashe House, probably entertaining them even with tales from his time in Assam and New Zealand: Perhaps this causes a little "ring" in the ear of Senior-Wigmorians and -Rainhamians, who would like to share their memories?

(1) "The Times", 1891-09-05, p12
(2) "The Times", 1902-12-24, p1
(3) "The Press", 1912-02-08, p3 and 1912-02-26, p2
(4) "The London Gazette",
1916-04-25 3rd suppl. p4250 and 1917-09-05 suppl p9231
(8) "The Times", 1939-02-14, p8
(9) "The Times", 1939-12-28, p1

"The London Gazette" see
"The Press" see
"The Times" see

The following message has been received from Peter Edmonds. Is anyone able to help with any family history of the people listed?


"I discovered your webpage devoted to Photos of Rainham People from Bygone Times and I am intrigued by the caption of the wedding group.  I believe that James and William ("Willie") Edmonds were close relatives of my grandfather, Peter Edmonds, who was the last of the farmers and market gardeners living at Macklands Farm (behind The Mackland Arms pub on Station Road) before the farm was sold and developed as the Parkfield housing estate. As a child I helped my father and grandfather with the fruit-picking and packing for marketing in the autumn.


In 1899, the same year as the Dennis-Wells wedding depicted, my grandfather married my grandmother, Ellen Emma (neé Barrow) in Rainham church.  On other occasions he played the church organ, was a church bell-ringer, and served as churchwarden.  
I have confirmed from 1911 census and other data that Willie (1852-1916) of Rede Court, Strood, was my grandfather's cousin, his father William (1822-1902) of Bendigo Farm, Higham was my grandfather's uncle, and James (1840-1924) of Fant House, Maidstone was a brother of William and thus another of my grandfather's uncles.  Their ages in 1899 would have been: Willie 47, William 77, James 59.

"The rectangular framed photo (untitled and undated) below is of a relative, whom I believe was my grandfather’s brother,  James Edmonds (1870-1927) but I’m not sure.  If a reader can identify this person, please contact the webmaster and the writer, Peter D. Edmonds (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Sartorial styles in different periods may provide a clue.  Is he:

James Edmonds (1840 - 1924) of Fant Farm, Maidstone, son of William (1796-1886) and Susannah (née Morphew)


James Edmonds (1864 - ?) of Hill Farm, Higham, son of William (1822-1902) and Susanna (1833 - ?, née Swain) 


James Edmonds (1870 - 1927), market gardner of East End Lane, Minster, Sheppey, son of Thomas (1838-1924) and Eleanor (1842 - ?, née Mudge) of 283 Station Road, Rainham?"

"The description of James (1840-1924) and Willie (1852-1916) as relatives of the wedding couple, Henry and Elizabeth, led me to consult Kent marriage records available through  I did not find a marriage between members of the Edmonds and Dennis or Wells families on any date since 1800.  However, the source of the photo, Dave Cory Dennis, has now assured me that the bride is his paternal grandmother and that her mother, Elizabeth (1833-1922), shown seated beside the bride, was a sister of William Edmonds (1822-1902). 

I hope I have stimulated some interest and look forward to an exchange of information and reminiscences.”