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Chatham memories

Here are memories of Chatham and the local area. You can start now: Add your own Memory of Chatham or a Chatham photo.

My Memories of New Road, Chatham

Gibraltar Terrace 2005, Chatham
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I was 4 years old when my parents moved to 17 New Road, Chatham. It was 1937 - my father had a Radio and Electrical Business (Wholesale) he had been a traveller previously and wanted to have a more settled existance - he was still delivering but locally around Kent, instead of all around the South of England! It was a grand house quite a museum with knockers on all the (7) bedroom doors - we had 14 rooms in all. My father used the ground floor for business - we had a huge coal cellar and wine cellar which had hanging hooks for game. Dad did a bit of shooting, so often there was a hare hanging on a hook which quite upset me but during the war came in handy for the pot when the rations ran out! There was a little Private School (Berkeley) across the road at No 24 which I attended, we had very smart uniforms and a good early education. From there I... Read more


University of Greenwich, Fromerly HMS Pembroke 2005, Chatham
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My late husband had only just joined the RN & was put in charge of the mortuary!

Reading The Last Letter of The Cadets

University of Greenwich, Fromerly HMS Pembroke 2005, Chatham
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I was to march that day as well. My friend and I both went to the dockyard that morning. My friend's name was Peter Jerard, we were told we could not march because our new suit had not come in and we were not allowed to march in our old clothes. The night before I had gone to the cadets swimming baths in the dockyard with some of my friends who I was going to march with. The next day, when we found we could not march, Peter and I both went to Saturday morning pictures at the grand cinema Gillingham. When we got out of the cinema and went home, I opened up my front door to find my mother and father deeply crying - they had thought I was dead. Then they told me what had happened that morning. I still go to the cemetery in Woodlands Road to say a prayer for them. They was very good friends, never... Read more

Looking Back on Life

University of Greenwich, Fromerly HMS Pembroke 2005, Chatham
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I am trying to find out about number 12 Canterbury Street, Gillingham, Kent. It was at the High Street end - a small alleyway led to a couple of small houses behind the shops. There was a toy shop called Bakers opposite St Marks Church. The houses were demolished in the 60's but there is now a gate where the alley is. My grandparents lived here, Walter and Rose Jarvis. They had 2 children, Tom and Dorothey. They moved here in the 1940's. Walter was in the navy, Dorothey went to Napier Road, Skinner Street and James Street school's in the 1940's. I used to stay there with my nan in the 1960's. I remember a man named Stanley alway's reading book's on the bench near the church, he was about for years. I remember going along to Woolworth - I loved the smell of the polished wooden floor and the counter's. I would love to hear from anyone that might be able to help me.

Buckmore Park Scouts Camp Chatham.

Buckmore Park, Scouting c1965, Chatham
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My first week away from home was in August 1964, when I was 9 years old. It was at Buckmore Park Scouts camp, Chatham. I belonged to the 22nd Sea Scout group, Wathamstow, east London. I think from memory, I had £3 to spend for the week. We ate in a large, round roofed, corrugated hut at the camp. I loved the rope slide which went across a field. There was a big camp fire on the edge of the woods and we sang scout songs around it. I saw my first shooting star. The boys were so noisy at night, we were made to run round the field to tire us out, to make us sleep! I did send a postcard to my parents, but sadly, I don't think I've got it any more. I was surprised though, to find another postcard, for my birthday, from Akele. It was a Frith series no: Frith/95actm119. The camp no longer exists (although I think the woods are still there) and has been replaced... Read more

Church Choir

Dock Road And St Mary's Church c1955, Chatham
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I remember when I was about 14 being a choir boy in St Mary's Church. This would be 1953. We used to receive two shillings and sixpence for weddings, some of us belonged to another church further down the road toward Chatham and we would do two weddings on some Saturdays. In my late teens I used to go to the dances in the town hall at the bottom of the hill.

Learning to Swim

Buckmore Park, Swimming Pool c1960, Chatham
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Oh the joys .... went here with my brother and the 2 boys from next door. Trying (as usual) to be 'part of the gang' I was persuaded to jump of the spring board ~ problem, I couldn't actually swim at the time! Came up just under the board thrashing around, but with a little bit of encouragement from the rest of them at the steps to my left ~ I doggy paddled my way over and climbed out. Never looked back from that moment. Had many happy times at this pool, and went on to do competitive swimming at the boarding school I attended in Redhill. Health and Safety rules in today's world would not allow for this sort of horseplay in swimming pools, but for me, and my friends, it was another 'adventure'. So glad I didn't miss it. So glad I learnt to swim.

Royal Naval Cadets Disaster, December 3rd 1951

University of Greenwich, Fromerly HMS Pembroke 2005, Chatham
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Was anyone involved in the terrible accident that took place on 3rd December 1951, when Royal Naval Cadets were mowed down by a bus? Over 20 cadets died, mainly on the back row, they were new recruits who never had their full uniforms, only their hats. Me and my brother were new recruits but could not make the march that day. I never went back to the cadets after that, I was so upset.


University of Greenwich, Fromerly HMS Pembroke 2005, Chatham
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I was wondering if anyone knows anything or has any photos of members of the Tidman family? They originally came from the Cage Lane area of Chatham.

Where Has Chatham Gone?

University of Greenwich, Fromerly HMS Pembroke 2005, Chatham
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I was born in Chatham in 1934, after my national service in 1955 nothing had changed but where has my Chatham now? The town I loved is no longer here. There were 30 pubs in the High Street, now gone, no Empire no Theatre Royal, no picture houses.

The 1960s in Chatham

High Street c1965, Chatham
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I was born in Chatham in 1951 and lived there up untill I got married when I was 19. I can remember a pub on Military Road called the Three Brothers, I think. We used to meet there before going to the Dockyard for the weekly dance and disco. We also used to go ballroom dancing again in the High Street but I can't remember the name of the place. It was run by a husband and wife team and we would have a lesson for about half an hour and then we would be foxtrotting and waltzing to Engleburt Humperdink all night. Great and innocent times. I also worked at the Dockyard and I remember they had a couple of open days that I got involved in, we were really up to date with our computer that was the size of the Town Hall!! And I remember our punch cards. Happy days.

Short Stay in Chatham

High Street c1965, Chatham
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For 3 months May - Aug 1969, I lived in the upper floor flat over the Manfield shoe shop. Next door was WH Smith. My husband worked in the shoe trade but not in the shop below. He worked further along the High Street at another shop owned by the British Shoe Corporation. From the kitchen window at the back of the flat was a view of the River Medway. I haven't been back since but remember Chatham as being hilly on the opposite side of the High street, and trains came out of a tunnel into the station. I took 3 small children on a boat to go around a naval ship and also took them to an army barracks open day in Gillingham, where they enjoyed building with small, real bricks.

Trying to Find

University of Greenwich, Fromerly HMS Pembroke 2005, Chatham
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My Father left Kent to go to Australia with the little brother movement in 1916. His name was Lenard Hurbert Jeffery, and I was wondering is there any way of tracing his home address?

Paines Mens Outfitters

My first job when I was 15 in 1967 was at Paines a mens outfitters in the High Street. We had the money in the wooden cups going across the ceiling to the cash office. I was on the toy counter. There was Mr Will; Mr Eric, Mr Barton, Mr Haines, Mrs Evans, Julie and Doreen. We closed Wednesday afternoons. As well as mens clothes, they sold guide and scout uniforms. I earned £3 per week. I always bought a skirt in Martin Ford for 19 shillings and 11pence. Does anyone remember the youth club up Maidstone Road run by a lovely man named Skipper? After we left the club, we used to go to Bob's hotdog stall in Globe Lane.

Dale End

I moved to Dale End, Chatham, in 1961 at the age of 11. I went to Highfield secondary school until 1964. I would like to chat with anyone who lived in Dale End or attended Highfields during that period.

My Chatham

Born and bred in Grove Road off Luton Road, went to the schools of All Saints and Fort Luton. I found Chatham to be a friendly town with memories of seeing Arther English at the Empire, seaside at the Strand, being a 19th Medway west boy scout, looking forwards to Navy Days each year, using the brown and green Chatham buses and a High Street that was second to none in its length, variety of shops and ease of getting to. I had a number of places to play in such as the Lines, the fort above the Town Hall, the river and its 3d boat trip to Upner, the ring of concrete forts around the town and the Darland banks, a child's playground if ever there was one. I joined the Army (Kent Regt) and moved away, not sure if I want to go back and see what they (The Council) have done to my lovely old town.

Chatham And my Youth

Chatham was a great place to meet and have fun in the 2960s. We used to catch a 146 from Cookham Wood on a Friday evening and head for the Central Riverside. Once there we would boogy to all the local bands that played there. Orange Teacup, The Fringe. Even Chicory Tip ('Son of my Father') played there. We used to frequent the Pembroke Club, another dance venue in the Dockyard. The Prince of Wales, The George, the Two Brothers. The Central Hall was a brilliant place for not only the likes of Wilson Picket, David Bowie and many more but the wrestling was fantastic. Jackie Pallo, Steve Logan, Mel Kirk, Kendo Negasaki, Big Daddy all fought there. Where did all those years go I wonder. Good times. Lyons Tea House, Snob, Platform Nine, Martin Fords, Wilsons, Curtis Shoe shop, Wimpy, Bates. All gone now. Saturday morning pictures, Woolies broken biscuit stall, fresh fish shop. Chatham as I remember it has long gone. Such a shame.

Memories of Kent

Sharps Green

By The Medway c1955, Gillingham
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We had some great times in the summer hollidays. A crowd of us would get on our bikes go along to the Strand and then along the sea wall to sharps Green. We passed a boat yard, but I don't remember the name. We were gone all day. We played "bike scrambling" up and down the mounds, the boys were always better at it than us girls. There were always loads of damsons and blackberries that we could pick and eat. We came home at six tired out. I first got my love of the countryside then and since then have always respected it. I also remember going to the war memorial on Mill Road with my dad and all the men removing their hats in respect. We went to fairs on the lines, Navy Days. I remember the Dockyard hooter morning, lunch time and evening, no excuse then for being late for school. Time off for the Queen's visit to Gillingham, she wore green I remember. "Happy highways where I... Read more

Childhood Days

By The Medway c1955, Gillingham
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I vaguely remember the bad winter when snow was still laying in June, black snow where people had thrown ash onto paths and roads. There were holes cut into the banks of snow so people could cross the roads. Then in the early 50's, the weekly trip with barrow to the gasworks in Pier Road for a load of coke 'cos we couldn't afford coal. Saturday morning pictures at the Grand or Odeon cinema's I recall getting day off from school to see the King (George VI) open the N.A.A.F.I. club (now the King Charles Hotel). Also of meeting Prince Phillip at the Royal Naval Memorial when I was in the Royal Naval Cadets. The night the Royal Marines Cadets died in Dock Road; we were waiting in the gym for boxing match with them. But we had some good times..didn't like going shopping with mum, but was fascinated in a shop called, Davd Griegs, where when you paid and they put the money in a container, pulled a... Read more

Gillingham in The Forties

I lived in Medway Road from 1934-1956. I also remember the doodle bugs (as did Gordon Savage, I remember him), the dockyard heavy guns, and school. I was due to start school on the day war started and finally went to Richmond Road Infants two years later. All the teachers were evacuated with the local area evacuees so there was no one to teach us. I went for 1 hour, then 2 hours, an afternoon, and finally all day. When the air raid siren sounded we were allowed to go home, if we could get there in a very short time. My gran lived in Richmond Road so I always went back to her and her Morrison shelter. I also remember lorries coming so that people who had been unable to have a bath or shower could do so. I remember going in one once, and getting into loads of trouble from mum. I really don't know how we learnt anything. I am hoping to revisit Gillingham later... Read more

The Disasters in Gillingham we Must Never Forget

I have told you of my memories of the Gillingham bus distaster 4th Dec 1951 when me, Bob Dunford and my school friend Peter Gerard could not march with the Royal Marine Cadets because our suits never came in and all our friends died. Well just think of this. My brother, John George Dunford was in the Naval Cadets in July 1929 when they had the Gillingham Park Disaster when all those children died and all those fireman died trying to save them, just because some idiot could not wait and caught the building alight too early. Well, my brother John, Jack as we called him, his Naval Cadet suit never arrived, like me, and he could not join the other boys. They all burned alive with the firemen trying to save them. In Woodland Cemetery, Gillingham, you will see the children who died in the bus disaster, which I should have been in, and behind them the graves of the Naval Cadets of the Gillingham Park Disaster. So me... Read more


The Former Embassy Cinema 2005, Gillingham
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I believe that this cinema was called the Odeon before the Embassy. As a boy growing up I had the choice of going to Saturday morning pictures at the Grand in Skinner Street for sixpence (2.5 pence ) or the Odeon for ninepence (4 pence). At the Odeon you got in free on your birthday. Oh, such innocent times.

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