Saturday, 29 November 2008


A tribute to Ron & Milly Hoad,

How beautiful the Kentish air,
With pleasant sound of bird so rare,
The lark, the nightingale, the thrush,
At dawn and in the twilight hush,
I count myself, as so much blessed,
That all these gifts I have possessed,
And praise to God, that I have spent,
So much of life, in glorious Kent.

written by R K Hoad

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Major Site Updates

The site has undergone a major update today to freshen the look and fix some navigation issues. There are also a number of new articles and photos that have been added.

It has been tested in Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 7 but if any errors are spotted please get in touch as not all pages may have been checked.

If you have any comments about the site please let me know.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Mystery Photographs - Berengrave Lane Rainham 1900s

I was contacted recently by someone selling a postcard of Berengrave Lane Rainham on Ebay that was virtually identical to one that is on the Rainham History site. Nothing strange there you might think - except on closer inspection the majority of photo is completely identical - all the people are in the same poses and same positions but with the addition of 2 young lads in the foreground.

There are a couple of possibilities. Firstly that 2 shots were taken and the lads wandered into one shot. The other that the lads were added or removed in the darkroom at a later date which looks to be the more likely possibility.
Have a look and see what you think!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 30th Birthday

Hempstead Valley shopping centre, known locally as Savacentre or Sava is celebrating its 30th birthday this month. What may seem commonplace now was groundbreaking in 1978 as there were very few other out of town shopping centres of this size at the time.

When originally opened the main shop was Sainsburys Savacentre, the brand they originally created for their large hypermarkets. At the time Sainsburys was by far the largest supermarket in the UK with Tesco trailing far behind – a far cry from the current situation with Tesco leading the field. The centre was redeveloped in the early 1990s with an extension and new shops like M&S being added.

The challenge is to remember all the original shops that were there when the centre opens….Sainsburys, Presto (then became Safeway) - but which others?

Photos of the construction of the centre from 1977/1978 have just been loaded to the Rainham History site

Friday, 12 September 2008

Farthing Corner - Fardon Corner - Last Prize Fight

Message for Freddie Cooper - Hello my name is Jeff Farthing.

My Great Great Great Grandfather was John Farthing Born in 1763 in Trimley St Martin In Suffolk, He married a Jane (Barber) (Their children shown below)!!!!!!!!
The local family history society in Felixstowe have transposed information in a book which they have published.
In the book 4 of John Farthing's children were mentioned as having the surname (Fardon) Sarah born in 1793 Twins born in 1795 Britannia & Rebecca John born in 1798 (My Gt Gt Grandfather) Then........................
1801 Mary (Farthing) was born
1802 Robert (Farthing) was born
1809 Elizabeth (Farthing)was born

So circa 1798 - 1801 Fardon may have changed to Farthing.

You wrote an article re the last bareknuckle prize fight which you said mentioned fardon's corner which you were unable to find on any map, maybe changed from Fardon Corner to Farthing Corner, around the time of my possible family name change, could be a large Fardon/Farthing family lived there ???

Farthing name is linked to many village names in UK & Norway, there was a Viking King Farthegn, possibly why there are so many village names with Farthing in them and maybe variants of the name ??, He came from Karmoy in Norway.

Their is a Farthing Corner Rainham Kent ME8 8PQ (Possibly the place you were trying to locate ??)

I hope that the above may be of interest to you

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Rainham Football team

I found the website very interesting.

Would there be any chance of information about the football team?

I have this photo but no knowledge of the event it commemorates. My grandfather and great grandfather are both in the photo which must have been taken prior to August 1911 when he married and moved to Dartford aged 21.
Thank you for all your hard work.
Regards Linda
Update from Linda - 21/7/08
My grandfather is holding the cup, he was Albert Charles Tadman. His father George is second from the left in the first standing row, he has a moustache and a role neck sweater. The very tall man at the back appears in many old photos that we inherited from my grandmother but we have no idea who he is.

Location of Rainham Down?

Hello, I wonder if you could help me with a query?

I am trying to find where 'Rainham Down' was. It is mentioned in the Thomas Arden play, and was the place where Anne of Cleves met Henry VIII's officials when she journeyed to Rochester to meet him for the first time. I've always supposed it was the hill between Rainham Mark and Rainham High street (London Road). I'd be grateful if anyone could clarify this.

Many thanks, Stephen Holley

Friday, 18 July 2008

Tunnels in Bredhurst

My name is Mark Price and I may have something you maybe interested in.
I came across your web-site while looking for someone that maybe able to shead some light on something I found a couple of years ago in Bredhurst Woods, Bredhurst.

It appears to be some type of small round underground man made tunnel with its own fireplace. One side is what I think is hand made brick, the other carvered out of rock and chalk. I realise that I'm not being very decryptive so I've added some photos I've taken to so you can have a look for yourself. Also very close to the tunnel lays a chalk cave which someone dug. The cave goes into the side of a chalk wall about 10/15 feet and just wondered if you could guess what they were used for?

I would be greatful for any information you maybe able to give.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Walter Prentis' Birds of Rainham (1894)

Message from Stephen Holley : I have recently obtained a copy of Walter Prentis' Birds of Rainham (1894). I know nothing of the author, except that he lived and worked at Cozenton Farm. Does anyone know more about him? I would be very interested.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Charles Thomas Pyke - Request for info

We get many emails asking for help, I have been trying to find out the best way of posting them but the blog seems to be a good possibility.

This very interesting email was received a few weeks ago.

Good afternoon from Australia.
I don't know if this message is going to the right place, but at least
I can try to see if you can help provide some information on the above or pass it on to someone else in your Society who can help.

The scenario I have goes like this:

1. Charles Thomas Pyke was born on June 03, 1855 to Paul Oakley and Sarah Ann Pyke at Fullham, North End. Paul's occupation was Hairdresser, of Chelsea; later he is listed as Master Hairdresser and Perfumer to the Gentry. (Sounds sort of posh to me!)

2. Charles married Ellen Medhurst on July 28, 1874 at the Parish Church,Rainham. Charles gives his occupation as Hairdresser, so I am assuming that he was probably apprenticed to his father and then struck out on his own in Rainham.

3. The 1881 census gives their address as High Street, Rainham which address carries through to 1901. So they lived there for some 20 years.

4. Progressively through this time, Charles' occupation shifts from Hairdresser, to Master Hairdresser, to Druggist then Druggist and Medicines Vendor and finally to Tobacconist. I can see the logic in some of this as when I was small (many years ago) it was common for the local Hairdresser to be also a tobacconist and even to sell some simple "patent" medicines.

5. Would I be correct to guess that to be "promoted" to Master Hairdresser or to be a Druggist, Charles would have been a member of the appropriate Guild?

6. Given the long tenure at the address, and the range of business activities, my guess is that Charles would have been well known/important in the local business community on the High Street. Particularly so if he was indeed a Guild member and thus able to vote.

7. In the 1881 census Ellen is shown as "Druggist's wife" which I think indicates that she worked in the business with Charles.

8. I can only find one survivor child, Charles (I call him Charles Jr.) born September 09, 1890. Charles Jr. married Maud Dudding of "The Poplars", Bredhurst Lane, Rainham at the Parish Church, Rainham on September 06, 1919. Charles Jr. gave his address as "23 High Street", Rainham, so that probably pinpoints the family home. It would seem that Charles Jr. served in the army during WW1, as he is noted on the birth certificate of their first child (Charles Jasper, 1920) as being an Instructor with the East Kent Regiment; CJ was born at the local military hospital and Maud was living at "The Poplars", indicating that Charles Jr. was still on active military service. To date I have not been able to track his military record.

Subsequently Charles Jr. and Maud had three other children Lillian Ellen 1922, Edward John 1924 and Ethel Frances 1929. During this time frame the family moved to 2 Roberts Road, Rainham and then to 42 Magpie Hall Road, Chatham. Charles Jr. appears to have left the army somewhere around 1921 after which he lists his occupation as "Sawyer". Given the Chatham address, would he have been employed at the Naval dockyard?

9. I believe that Ellen died, age 75, in 1926 with the death being recorded in Milton. Charles Thomas died, age 78, in 1934 and this is recorded in Medway. Thus the family stayed in this part of Kent for their whole lives.

With this potted history to hand, are there any local records of the Rainham community that can tell me more about Charles Thomas and possibly his family? Any help provided would be greatly appreciated.

With sincere thanks for your help,
Bruce H Pyke

Update from Bruce Pyke:

Given the ages of the Charles Jnr. children, it is possible some of them may still be alive,given that I was born very shortly after Ethel Frances. Certainly their children should be around somewhere.