Tales from Teynham by Doug Stubbings

Boyhood Memories of the Thirties

A Collection of Short Stories and Poems, dedicated to my many friends both old and new in Teynham.

Introduction to this addition: This work began life as a series of individual poems and recollections shared over a period of ten years through the Teynham Parish Newsletter ("Teynham News"). Teynham Parish Council then worked with the late Ron Boorman to pull the texts together to published as a booklet to support fund-raising for replacement carpets in St Mary's Church, Teynham. If you enjoy reading this account of our communities from the 1930's, please consider making a small contribution to the "St. Mary's Church Building Improvement and Maintenance Fund" and address it to The Rectory, 76 Station Road Teynham Sittingbourne ME9 9SN. If you travel to this area, the Church of St. Mary's, Teynham, is well worth a visit for its aged beauty, distinguished history and splendid rural setting.
© Doug Stubbings, 2002

We are particularly grateful to Doug's niece, Jan, for granting permission to share this collection for the enjoyment of our Members and web-visitors.

Doug Stubbings

Doug Stubbings and family

Doug was born at Cudham, a small village near Biggin Hill, in 1922. In search of work his parents moved to this part of Kent in 1928 when they came to stay at his grandparent's home in Greenstreet.

He initially went to Lynsted School before going to Teynham School in 1929 when his parents moved to a house in The Crescent in the May of that year.

Doug played in the Teynham School football team and was always interested in the history of Teynham. He moved 'away' in 1937 when he went to live in Murston before returning 'home' in 1948 when he lived for three years in Lower Newlands, an old Tudor farmhouse, with his wife. Doug currently lives in Sittingbourne.

Doug's love of local history led him to write many tales and poems about the area and its characters. Many were published in the Teynham News [original publication in 2002 was made possible through the support of Teynham Parish Council] over a ten-year period.

If you can remember the times that Doug describes, or even feature in his tales, then we hope that you will smile at the memories this book stirs up. If you don't go back that far then we hope that you can picture in your mind's eye a very different Teynham from the one that we have today and get a feel of what life as a boy growing up in the thirties was like.

This compilation of his accounts of village life in bygone days has been put together to raise funds for the Restoration of St. Mary's Church Teynham, where Doug was a choirboy, and brings together all of his work for the first time.

Enjoy your read and thank you for helping to preserve a part of Teynham' s history.

Doug Stubbings in Uniform

The Author Doug Stubbings
In His Royal Air Force Days
1942 - 1946

Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1935 - Souvenir Photograph
[For more about local Royal celebrations, consult the Society on-line publication]

Doug Stubbings colour portrait at time of 1935 Silver Jubilee

My mum & me at our cottage in Piddinghoe, Sussex, about 1925

Mum and meat our cottage in Piddinghoe, Sussex, about 1925

Teynham Lane in the early thirties, with
some of the characters and activities therein

I walked once more down Teynham Lane
And as I strolled the memories came The
trees, the fruit, have disappeared But one
by one the ghosts appeared.

I see children hurrying most keen
To the school on the hill at Barrow Green Out
from their house Mr. Gates and his wife
Headmaster and Teacher for most of their life.

There's Mr. Wiles delivering the mail
Every day eight thirty right on the nail!
I stand aside as away he sped
Hell be back after lunch selling needles and thread.

Then Mr. Thomsen in boater and smock
Down at the station sorting his stock
"All alive, All alive", his friendly call With
baskets of fruit and fresh fish for all

Ned Sherwood's job was sweeping the road
With his long handled barrow he pulled many a load
But when the "maroon" called, laid down broom and
spade To put out a fire with the local brigade.

Into the lane through gates in the wall Like a ship
in full sail Lady Honeyball "Hello' children" she
called "Come to the house follow me" And we all
returned home with "seedy" cake for our tea.

Horses with carts rolled by once again
Hops for the Oast and fruit for the train
There are butchers and bakers I see them go
With milkmen and coalmen on their rounds to and fro.

Now as darkness fills the evening sky
The old lamp lighter with his pole rides by
As a bee to a flower so to each lamp in turn
I stand and I watch the mantles pop and then burn.

Suddenly the ghosts dissolve in the night
As a car roars by with flashing head light
And I am back in this age once again
Alone with my memories of old Teynham Lane.



It was Christmas Eve night
With the sleigh in full flight
Prancer was given his head.
Children were undressed
Bade "Good night" and "God Blessed"
And safely tucked in their bed.

In the room down below
By the fire-light's glow
There were last minute preparations,
Parcels were packed
And neatly stacked
By the tree with decorations.

With one more job to be done
For it was now nearly one
They quietly crept up the stairs,
A peep round the door
Then creep over the floor
To fill stockings to answer their prayers.

Now off to their beds
Lay down weary heads
What hasn't been done can now keep.
But they should know
What all parents know
This wasn't a night for much sleep.

It happened quite fast
When a toy trumpet's blast
Shattered the peaceful scene!
Then a bang on a drum
And "Look Dad --- look Mum"
And cries of "He's been! he's been!! he's been!!!"


I have walked
Where Romans walked
High on Sandown's barrow
And I have talked
Where Romans talked
But theirs was most of sorrow.

I've drank from a spring
A most pure spring
In the valley of the Lyn,
Once corn ships plied
Now banks have dried
And orchards lie within.

I have marches
Where legions marched
Through this ancient manor,
Both on crusade
And from crusade
With their armour's clamour.

I have lived
Where Archbishops lived
Close by in their palace
There King Edward came
Each to receive some solace.

I've plucked cherries
Where Harrys plucked cherries
Around New Garden's fable,
When they were sent
The best in Kent
To King Henry's table.

I have prayed
Where Cromwell strayed
To the door with bullet holes
And where I prayed
They also stayed
Poor roundhead hunted souls.

I have seen bricks made
When there was a trade
To help build London Town,
I have seen the barge
Both small and large
Tacking up and down.

And I have heard
A singing bird
In an orchard full of blossom,
And I have seen
Hop fields of green
I've also helped to pick them.

All this I know
But do locals know
What lies all about them,
And will they have time as I had time
To love this old place..........


This poem is dedicated to DOUGLAS (MET) BOORMAN who, on Sunday 16th August 1936, aged 16 years, gave his life trying to save a friend from drowning. Personally, I have always felt that he was never acclaimed the hero he most certainly was. I have never forgotten him, or our friend, he tried to save.

We often swam in Conyer Creek
You would see us there most every week,
In the heat of the summer sun
When our errands and jobs were done.

Our changing room was the old M.L.
Which during the war had gone through hell.
Bought by a man who had lost a son
And moored to his memory when the fight was won.

Sometimes we swam from the opposite bank
Until the day of the fatal prank,
"Let's swim the 'channel' someone cried
We all said "Yes" and two boys died.

Going across all well and alive
On the return one fought to survive.
Back in dives 'Met' but it's near the end
And he gave his life trying to save a friend.

Trudging home with heads held low
For us so young a tragic blow!
How to tell husbands and their wives
That their two sons had lost their lives.

Now ever since time began
Nature has always challenged man.
Peaks to be climbed but at what cost
For he sometimes won but oft times lost.

(The ML. was an ex World War I Naval Launch that was stripped of its fittings and moored at the jetty alongside Whites, the barge builders, at Conyer. The 'Channel' is what we called the strip of water between Whites boatyard and the marsh bank opposite.)


(Lower Newlands is an old Tudor farmhouse where, thanks to the generosity of Robert Boucher, my wife and I spent three very happy post war years. In those days it was amidst orchards and a meadow. This then is a story of one of those years)

Walnuts fell on grass wet with dew
Leaves on the trees were of every hue
When we moved to our home with joy untold
Our very first house four hundred years old.

The cat in the hearth with contentment purred
As we sat by the fire was that a voice we heard?
"Your most welcome" the walls seemed to say
"You will be happy here for as long as you stay."

Our house kept us safe away from the storm
As we lay in our bed all snug and warm
Howling winds blew and rain lashed the window
But all would be well as we woke on the morrow.

Cherry trees in the orchard all white and aglow
Blossom falls softly like drifting snow
Sun shine on lilacs now in full bloom
Through open windows perfume every room.

Into the summer when corn turns yellow
With apples and pears other fruit mellow
Long balmy nights with owls on the wing
Somewhere in the dark nightingales sing.

Peace in the hopfields briefly broken
As families earn the tallyman's token
The smell of the wood fire as tin kettles boil
For a fresh cup of tea and a break from their toil.

Drinks at the 'Plough' on a Saturday night Walking
home hand in hand with moon shining bright
Friends that would stay to tea on a Sunday,
A wistful thought of work on the Monday.

So quickly those happy days slipped onto the past
Sadly for us they were not meant to last
But oh what memories of joy untold
In our very first house four hundred years old.

(Christmas Past and Present - 1992)

Bright Christmas lantern's illumination
On this annual festive occasion
Light up footprints in the snow
As busy shoppers pass to and fro.

Long goose neck flares burn in the night
Wide eyed children gaze at the sight,
Horse drawn sleighs glide swiftly by
The street is alive with the vendors cry.

Plump prime turkeys hang in a row
Ducks, geese, and chickens ail on show,
Rabbits, beef, and great joints of pork.
Big juicy hams that first came from York.

Christmas trees on the side-walk create a green jungle,
Pieces of mistletoe hang in a bundle.
Nuts in their shells, packets of dates
Bright yellow oranges in bright slatted crates.

Cakes with icing, hot mince pies
Boxes of crackers with hats and a prize.
Shops full of presents for girl or boy,
For those that are lucky there will be a new toy.

And did, and did the guiding star's illumination
Light up the footprints on that first celebration
When the three Kings and many others
Bore gifts to Christ and the mothers of mothers?

So go down on your knees give thanks and remember
Why we have this day in December
Give thought to those whom no joy can be told
For they are hungry and sleep out in the cold.


What a wonderful time for us boys growing up in early and mid-thirties. (Not so wonderful for our parents with money and unemployment problems in the pre-war depression.) Nevertheless we had freedom, freedom to roam from the edge of the marshes at Blacketts to Provender Woods; from Deerton Street to Doddington. Our favourite season was springtime when the birds began to build their nests. We would wander across marsh meadows, along streams and hedgerows in search of these nests. When found, their location was jealously guarded until the fledglings had flown.

Some birds returned to the same nesting sights. Kestrels built in small trees at the edge of the marsh whereas rooks had their favourite elms which they occupied for most of the year. There were always jackdaws at Norton church, although when I visited St. Mary's last summer there wasn't a jackdaw to be seen. Provender Wood was home to the jays while swifts returned year after year to Teynham station and Mr. Thomas's oast house; the sand martins preferred the cliff face at Sandowns. Standing at the top of Sandowns, at this time of year, looking towards Sittingbourne would be a sea of blossom for as far as the eye could see. No electric trains, no juggernaut lorries and no jet aircraft to disturb this idyllic scene. There was however one sound, an ominous sound that carried across he Swale from the Air Force ranges near Leysdown, the rattle of machine guns. A sound that in a few short years was to fill our skies.

The sun was high
In a clear blue sky
We were young and time was free.
The miles we went
And the hours we spent
On secrets of bush and tree.

Jackdaws chatter
Around the church clatter
Jays in Provender Wood.
There's a bullfinch again
Down Norton Lane
In the hedge where the fir trees stood

As Deerton Street ends
And the narrow road bends
Moorhens build in the rushes,
While on a small ridge
Under the bridge
A lonesome wagtail fusses.

The noisy rooks realm
Is high in the elm
Close to Ozier's brink,
Two turtle doves fly
to their nests nearby
As we the cool water's drink.

There's a six foot track
To that 'blackie' and back
I wonder who gave it away?
Eggs are like stone
Why don't they leave it alone
She won't he back today.

Martins hold rank
On Sandown's bank
The chaffinch is back in the birch,
A thrush's song
Is sweet and long
Way up on its lofty perch.

The magpie's home
Is a spacious dome
There's a hole were a starling has nested,
There are linnets and wrens
And the farmer's hens
In the orchard where we rested.

Around oast house and station
Without hesitation
The swifts continually fly,
Darting and weaving
Throughout the evening
Their twittering fills the sky.

So Billy, Tiffy
Corny and me
Trudge wearily home to tea,
"It's church 'tomorrow"'
Best suit and clean collar
But there will still be plenty to see.


It is said that school days are some the happiest days in your life, so it was for me. Although only a small Church of England establishment 'Teynham' was a good school with dedicated teachers. They were not specialist in one subject, but taught all subjects for the year that was spent in their class.
We didn't have a gymnasium, workshops, computers or calculators; we didn't have a grass playing field until the orchard at the back was grubbed about 1932. We did, however, enjoy our annual educational trips to places such as the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and Regents Park Zoo. There were trips up the River Thames to Hampton Court and Windsor, and down the River to the docks, where ships from every corner of the world packed the wharfs.
The 'Old School' had its scholarship winners, as well as producing successful business and trades people, and not forgetting the war heroes who gave their lives for King and Country. Mr. Potts was the Headmaster when I first attended Teynham; he later retired to 'Bradfield' the first 'new' house to be built in the Orchards of Teynham Lane.

The following poem is dedicated to the teachers of my era (1929-1936):- Mrs Carpenter, Sybil Ray, Mrs Thomas, Miss Funnel, Miss Woods, Miss Aspinal, Mrs Gladys Gates, Phyllis Newman, 'Sammy' Evans and, our Headmaster and mentor, Mr Alfred T. Gates, known affectionately to us young academics as 'Flimp'.

It's twenty to nine and the school bell rings
The Conyer bus has returned with the children it brings,
Others have walked from Greenstreet and
Frognal, Deerton Street and those more local.

Second bell rings, it's now ten to nine
Children are ushered and shuffle in line.
Hands are proffered for inspection
Those that are dirty risk a detention!

Now march into classroom still in orderly line
The clock on the wall says exactly nine,
First lesson is scripture with the Reverend Purser
Who will tell us more tales of his days in Burma.

Next on the list is arithmetic
I hope all my answers warrant a lick,
Decimals, fractions and interest rates
The milkman arrives to the rattle of crates.

A quick drink of milk and then 'out to play'
To brace ourselves for the rest of the day,
Girls are skipping, some are talking,
Others running, few are walking.

Boys gather in groups around the school yard
Extolling their skills with the cigarette card,
'Ons', 'Knock downs, who flicks the furthest!
Winner takes all, these games are in earnest!

Our lesson in English we call 'composition'
Subject, predicate and proposition,
When will I master my spelling and writing?
I can think of lessons far more exciting!

Home to dinner and it's 'Washday Monday'
I like cold dinners but hate 'Washday Mondays'!
Windows wide open steam filled the scullery
So "I'm off back to school Mum" and leave rather hurriedly.

Geography's tales of faraway places,
Africans, Asians and nomadic races,
Imports, exports and populations
Capitals, seaports and mainline stations.

There is gardening, singing, drawing and history,
Famous authors and my favourite poetry,
Snippets of Shakespeare's 'Merchant of Venice'
(Just heard Fred Perry has won the tennis!)

Clock on the wall says quarter to four,
One eye on the teacher and one on the door
"Stop what you are doing, put your books away,
Good afternoon children that's all for today."

Many years have now passed and my life's work is now
done, I can sit back in my chair to watch 'Fifteen to one'
And I am amazed at questions I can answer.
What a debt I owe to the 'Old School' and my master.


With puddings and cakes already made Christmas Eve was fast approaching. At school rehearsals for the festive concert were well under way and coloured strips of paper were being pasted together for chains to decorate the classrooms. Arthur Bray and choir singers from 'The Chapel' could be heard singing carols under the light of gas lamps around the village.

Christmas Eve arrived. Cockerels had not been heard crowing for some days and empty rabbit hutch doors hung loosely on their leather hinges. Vegetables were lifted and brought to the kitchen. That evening children retired to bed amid great excitement, hanging pillows or stockings at the foot of their bed. Soon sleep overcame excitement for a few hours, but at the crack of dawn an exploratory foot was sent to the bottom of the bed to see if 'He' had left any presents.

Next morning every one rose early, after breakfast presents were opened and then it was off to church to hear the true story of Christmas and to sing the chosen carols. Meanwhile at home the kitchen was a hive of industry as the annual feast was prepared. This day the poor lived as the rich! After the midday meal presents were examined more closely, clockwork trains hurtled round circular tracks, books were read and new games played. At tea-time the table was again laden with Christmas fare, the cake taking pride of place plus a colourful arrangement of Christmas crackers.

The evening was spent playing cards and other family games until paper hats crumpled on weary heads, nut shells strew the hearth, pieces of orange peel fizzed and sparkled in the dying embers of the fire. The last meal was a supper of cold meat and homemade pickles, freshly cooked mince pies and sausage rolls, and then to bed so tired, but oh so happy.

"Merry Christmas everyone"

(Christmas 1933)

Remember when Christmas was Christmas
And there was no room at the Inn
We gathered to sing our carols
Around lamps lit with paraffin.

Remember when Christmas was Christmas
And the shepherds had a vision
We sat around a table
Instead of the television.

Remember when Christmas was Christmas
Three kings in a camel train
And families went home for Christmas
Instead of phoning from Spain.

Remember when Christmas was Christmas
They followed the guiding star
Folks would walk to the church
Instead of driving by car.

Remember when Christmas was Christmas
And they worshipped at the manger
And we all called 'Merry Christmas'
Even to a stranger.

Remember when Christmas was Christmas
Was the message given in vain
Will there ever be peace on earth
And relief from suffering and pain???


When I was at school, some 60 years ago, the 'Tram Line' ran from Teynham brickfield up to the railway sidings near to the old oast house. Flat bottomed trucks with high ends, built for carrying bricks, were hauled by horses up to the station to be off loaded onto railway trucks. When we came out of school, at about 4 o'clock, we would run down to the station and if any empty brick trucks were there the brickfield workers would let us (unofficially) take them back to the 'field' This entailed about four or five boys pushing like mad to where the signal box used to be and, as we turned the bend, we had enough speed for us to jump aboard. I reckon we must have hurled down the track, by the sewage works, at about 20 or 30 miles an hour! I wonder what public reaction would be today to such activities.

Some while ago, whilst chatting to Ron Boorman in the street, our conversation inevitably turned to Teynham Lane/Station Road At what date did the railway arrive? When was the name changed from Teynham Lane to Station Road? Should it have been changed? etc. etc.

All of this prompted the following verse, not to be taken too seriously I hasten to add, a bit of fun really. Far be it for me to get involved in village politics, after all there is still Lynsted Lane, Frognal Lane and Marsh Lane:
but then again what ever happened to MILL LANE ????


Teynham Lane is orchards and trees
Two tall Poplars with shimmering leaves
Station Road is houses and tar
A parking lot for the waiting car.

Teynham Lane is girls in dresses
Pretty maidens with golden tresses
Station Road is high heels and jeans
Women with independent means.

Teynham Lane is pony and trap
Errand boys in smock and cap
Station Road is heavy lorry
Delivery vans in a terrible hurry.

Teynham Lane is an evening stroll
The old Lamp Lighter carrying his pole
Station Road is the busy commuter
Speeding home from his computer.

Teynham Lane is fruit and hops
Boys and girls with whips and tops
Station Road is 'Chinese' and pizzas
Computer games and pop fiestas.

Teynham Lane is from the past
Tranquillity not meant to last
Station Road is hustle and bustle
Crisp packets not leaves now rustle.

Teynham Lane who's to remember
Gazing in the dying ember
Station Road is here to stay
But what a price we have to pay!!


It is dawn
and there is light
but the sun is yet to rise.
Mist hangs over the marsh,
a dust sheet, to be removed
by the heat yet to come.
A heron flies low
to its chosen place by the stream,
Rooks commute to their favourite field,
while ducks squabble in the reeds.

Suddenly the sun's rays
triumphantly herald a new day.
Cattle retch at grass
moist with dew,
and sheep follow.
A coot squawks
prodding the water as it swims.
Two moorhens pass,
their call an octave higher.
the heron, motionless, prepares for
its vigil.

A breeze ruffles the surface
of the stream.
The coot snorts;
the moorhens call seems angry!
Bending reeds reveal the ducks.
The cattle halt
Raise their heads and stare.
The sheep follow
Statuesque the heron waits

The sun rises high in the sky.
The buzzing of a bee stops
only as it climbs
into yet another flower.
Unannounced the butterfly arrives
pauses, then flits on its way.
The cattle move
to the shade of nearby trees,
swishing tails against persistent flies,
the sheep follow
but they can only twitch their ears.

Swiftly the heron strikes!
Holding high its prey for all to see.
A silver glint and the fish departs,
on its last lonely journey.
Close by a streak of blue, a splash
and a kingfisher returns successful
to an overhanging bough.
Rooks now joined by lapwings
walk together.

So the search for food goes on,
for all save one,
the solitary skylark flying high
surveys the scene,
and with undulating song,
proclaims to all
This is a beautiful morning!


We hear so much these days, especially at Christmas, of jobless and homeless sleeping rough on the streets.
Although there was a recession in the thirties and times were hard I don't recall anyone sleeping under the stars in this area. Some led an outdoor life but at least they had a form of shelter. After the demise of the Barling family, Emma Barling lived in a shack off Nouds Lane under, I suspect, the watchful eye of the MacMichael household at Walpole Grange.
There was an elderly gentleman 'Whoop', so called by us boys for the whoop of joy he always gave us as he passed on his bicycle for his daily trip to Conyer. He lived quite happily in a hut at the back of 'Barney Wilkins' (now Reads) butchers shop.
'Gypsy' Lee, a true Romany and a gentleman, lived in a hop hut at Buckland. When I lived at Lower Newlands we often passed the time of day as he went about his business in his pony and trap.
Although jobs and money were hard to come by, village folk always enjoyed their Christmas with what little they had. Whatever you have, whatever you do, may you enjoy yours.
To my many friends in Teynham, I wish you a 'MERRY CHRISTMAS'

Bells ring out their yuletide message
As cold bites into the night
A young man sleeps in a cardboard box
With flimsy lid shut tight.

Festive lights in the High Street
Shine onto the local grocer
The old lady hunched in the door way
Pulls her tattered coat much closer.

In the square by the Christmas Tree
A beggar sits with cap proffered
Hoping with some season cheer
Accepting what little that's offered.

Down by the railway under an arch
A fire sends flame to the skies
Reflecting upon those gathered around
The anguish in their eyes,

Then charities open wide their doors
For a week of shelter and food A ray
of hope for the homeless 'Christmas
Spirit' throws back its hood!!


In the 1930s these were professional and trades people that residents of Teynham would have known personally. They would readily avail themselves of their services and rarely visit Sittingbourne. Many had nicknames and all were characters in their own right.

Dr Jardine
Would answer a call
Without fuss or hesitation
While Miss Streatfield
The dispenser
Would mix the needed potion.

Mr Ray
Is out today
Planting young fruit trees
Stan Mitchell
Will be helping
With mud up to his knees!

From Fred Rye
You could buy
A bike or combination
Repairs were rare
With his care
Knowledge and attention

'Tinker' Watts
Sold pans and pots
An every day requisite~But after tea
He would be
'Mr National Deposit'

In the 'Street'
You bought your meat.
From dear old 'Barney' Wilkins
All his life
He called his wife
'My little Norfolk Dumpling'.

Up with lark
Mr Clark
Busy at his oven
All on display
Was baked today
Nothing here was frozen!

Then Stan Wood
For an age stood
Cutting hair with patience
And where today
Would you pay
The princely sum of fourpence!

Stan Read
And Mr Hunt
Fed the village people
Biscuits tins
With glass lids
And great big tins of treacle!!

Be it birth
Or be it death
Stephen George would note it
He would never hike
Always on his bike
An age before 'Young Tebbitt!!'

Jack Kemsley
With his young brother
Craftsman with shoes and leather
But on certain days
There were delays
As they picked next Wednesday's team together

What happened
Over at 'Kissers'?
To us kids a mystery
Although we tried
We were denied
And always barred from entry!

'Dinky' Filmer'
'Narrer' Broad
What names which to conjure
Mrs. Harris
With red rosette
Out to catch the voter.

Joyce Nichols
Always smiling
With sweets arranged about her
Coconut squares
Liquorice sticks
And bags of sherbet powder.

Ferrell and Bakers
Aylwood Brothers
In the field where 'FAIRS' did reign,
Greenstreet for me


Having been born in the summer, I was never a winter person. However, we did enjoy our activities at this time of year. Barrow Green, with its many turnings and alleyways, was ideal for ambushes in our snowball fights, and when it froze, there were slides at the edge of the road. A practice not to be encouraged as one girl with a broken leg will testify.
Sometimes, after Christmas, when freezing temperatures prevailed and daylight extended until teatime, we would hurry home from school and make our way to the edge of the marsh, near the brickfield, to what we called the 'Lily Pond'. Here we would skate (slide is maybe a better word) until dusk and then scamper home to eat our tea before a roaring fire.
At other times I retreated indoors with frozen fingers, and then when the life returned to them and the pain had gone I gazed out of the window to watch birds searching for food, to see them through the winter. I then thought of
warmer days to come and with them the promise of Spring.

The winter's cry of the gull
Rattles the skull
And fills your head like thunder
But in the spring
Robins will sing
And fill your heart with wonder.

When skies are grey
And there is no day
Starlings sit and ponder
But in the spring
When robins sing
Once again they start to plunder.

With snow on the ground
Sparrows hop around
Their crops are filled with hunger
But in the spring
When robins sing
They will tear your flowers asunder

From their windy perch
Bluetits search
Both on the bough and under
But in the spring
When robins sing
In a nest box they will slumber.

Blackbirds and thrushes
Scratch under the bushes
For food they dare not squander
But in the spring
They will also sing
And fill your heart with wonder!


When Hop Picking became mechanised a whole way of life disappeared. Our school holidays were always geared to the hop picking season, some hated it, I loved it.
There were two kinds of hop pickers, one, the local village housewife who would pick to earn money for the family winter clothing, or perhaps to purchase some item of luxury not normally affordable, or maybe to put a little by for Xmas. Whatever the reason in the daytime Barrow Green would be deserted save for the lone figure of old 'Gaffer' Huntley standing at the entrance to the alleyway leading to Triggs Row, leaning on his stick and sucking on a plum stone, (when not in use this plum stone would be neatly tucked in the corner of his waistcoat pocket). With a twinkle in his eye he surveyed what little activity there was plus the occasional passing of a horse drawn wagon laden with hop pokes bound for the oast house.
The second kind of pickers were the visitors from the East End of London. They treated this as their annual holiday and how they enjoyed themselves. The farmer provided accommodation (hop huts) straw for bedding, and wood for their fires. So after a day in the hopfields they sat outside the huts cooking a meal on a roaring fire and chatting to friends like some vast Romany gathering. All this had a strange effect on the local youth, who hurrying home from work, partook of a quick tea, and then with an extra slick of Brylcream on their hair and the hint of a shine on their shoes, headed for Buckland. A local Romeo in search of a visiting Juliet!
Some times at the weekend the families were joined by their men folk when they would visit the local pub. I remember as a boy when I lived at the Crescent, lying in bed on a Saturday night I would hear the merriment spill out onto the forecourt of the Tavern and I would lay and listen as the jollity and singing gradually faded into the night as they made their way down School Hill back to their temporary homes, the hop huts at Buckland Chalk-Hole.


Hops are wet this morning
The dew and mist hang thick
Hops are wet this morning
But still we have to pick.

Up in the early darkness
Dress by gas light's glow
My eyes are hardly open
As we settle in our row.

Coarse apron tied around me
With mittens made from socks
My basket holds a bushel
And my seat an upturned box.

Now to fill my basket
Is the early morning task
Then we'll have some breakfast
And warm tea from a flask.

Soon the mist is thinning
And the sun begins to shine
Life looks so much brighter
And I've found a decent bine!

The tally man is on his way
Bring your basket down the alley
Where hops are carefully measured
There's enough to till our tally.

Then midday pangs of hunger
As the sun has reached its high
The small wood fire is burning
And tin kettle starts to sigh.

An hour to eat your lunch
An hour to sit and dream
An hour to join your mates
To plan an evening scheme.

Then in the corner of a hankie
A coin is safely tied
To buy a penny cornet
When the ice cream man is spied.

And so the day progresses
I must not be a loafer
If I'm to earn new football boots
I have to pick my quota.

"Pull no more bines!" a welcome call
The pole puller's whistle blows
Weary pickers homeward tramp
And there's peace along the rows.


During the thirties, Teynham had more than a few characters, among them I would include Ken French. Ken was the son of local farmer Percy French. Some thought him a little eccentric, others claimed exuberant enthusiasm in all he undertook. Whatever it was he certainly kept the village folk smiling. One 'Ken French' story that readily springs to mind relates to a hapless farmhand who was driving a horse and van through a gateway when he unfortunately knocked down the gatepost.
"Get down my man," says Ken, "and I will show you how it should be done." Ken then took over the driving and promptly knocked down the other post. True or false, I draw my own conclusions.
Ken French ran a thriving business making and selling cider in his father's barn at Vicarage Farm. At that time he rode a big 'India' motorcycle combination; we often saw it parked in the station yard as he walked the last few hundred yards to his home at Castlewood. Then one day he decided to learn how to fly, sadly he was later killed in a flying accident when his plane crashed on the Thanet Way, near to the Duke of Kent public house. 23rd May 1948 was the day that the village folk did not smile. My most vivid memory of Ken was the day his cider caused mayhem at the local village fete!


Every Saturday there was a train
Winding through the country lane
Trucks, prams, and the occasional biker
Off to the barn to buy Ken French's cider

Fame had spread both far and wide
Cider flowed like the incoming tide
While in America "Joints were dry"
Not so in Teynham with cider to buy!

Then came the day of the local fete
When parents queued at the vicarage gate
To see children's plays, and hear song and dance
With hoopla, raffles and games of chance

But this year saw an added attraction
Organisers agreed with satisfaction So a
notice was set among the grass "Proceeds
to the church, cider sixpence a glass"

Now I'm not one given to spreading a yarn
But all evening the queue never left the barn!
It was acclaimed the very best fete
Merriment went on until it was late

One poor official with face so sallow
Was gently wheeled home on borrowed wheel
barrow A young couple's engagement was sadly
broken When cider influenced words were spoken!

From hedgerow village lads emerged smiling
with village lasses shy and beguiling
The local taxi's profits rose
As "Fares" all waited in wavering rows

Next day was Sunday the day of reckoning
Bells were ringing their usual beckoning
those that answered set out for church
Some with conscience and unsteady lurch

Now, what was behind this potent elixir
Had Ken a new recipe for his mixture?
No the secret lie with barrels provider
What did they hold before Ken French's cider???????

There is a postscript to this tale the youth who pushed the wheelbarrow still lives in Teynham, and the engaged couple resolved their differences and spent many happy married years together.

REMEMBERED (Summer of 1995)

As you are all aware by now, this August marks the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Although my poem is in memory of my old school friend Flying Officer G.S. {Tiffy} Button, who sadly died in a plane crash immediately after the war, it is dedicated to those other school pals who were killed in the 1939-45 conflict. Men like Georgie Drury, "Jacko" Boorman, "Nibby" Parish and Frank and "Chubby" Horsenail, and to all the others from the village who made the supreme sacrifice.
May they never be forgotten.


Tiffy was a school boy
Attending Barrow Green
Tiffy was a smart lad
A scholar very keen.

Tiffy was a choir boy
Who loved to sing a song
Tiffy was a Boy Scout
But not for very long.

For Tiffy joined the Air Force
To learn to crew a plane
Tiffy flew to Wales one night
And ne'er came home again.

Tiffy was a friend
The best you could have had
Tiffy died a young man
So, brave, but oh so sad!!


In 1928 my father's quest for work brought us to Greenstreet. Here we stayed with my maternal grand-parents until we moved to 'The Crescent' in May 1929.
During this time my father and I took many walks together; especially in the Spring of '29. Our favourite stroll was up 'The Fields, by the allotments and orchards, eventually coming out through the 'Kissing Gate' into the top of Mill Lane. Carrying on past Lynsted Church we turned left beyond "Aylmers" into 'The Toll'.
Half way along the lane through `The Toll' was a tree with a low horizontal branch and two vertical ones, much in the manner of a child's swing. We would rest here quietly and watch the rabbits and any other wildlife that dare show itself.
I learned to recognise many birds and their the colour of their eggs and the style of their nests. Sometimes we paused to pick a bunch of violets, which we eventually took home to my mother.
On then to 'Bumped' and along the floor of the valley and up the hill to join the road from 'Cellar Hill' to Lynsted Lane. At 'Cambridge, a rest on the wall to watch the antics of the ducks on Mr Dixon's pond, then on to Greenstreet and home for lunch.
In those days such peace and tranquillity in this area, never, I'm afraid, to be repeated in my lifetime!

Before there were cars and the aeroplane
You could stroll at leisure down a country lane
Listen to the lark as it sang on high
And behold the beauty of the butterfly.

The air was pure and verges green
A horse and cart rumble on the scene
We watch sheep and rabbits crop the grass
Then step apart as cattle pass.

A roadman sits on an upturned barrow
Eating lunch, feeding crumbs to a sparrow
His hedges trim, gutters clean
Not a scrap of rubbish to be seen.

A mighty oak for an age has stood
Where bluebells carpet a wayside wood
Bold primrose blooms on either flank
While bashful violets hide in the bank.

Clouds in the sky that were not man made
Sunshine on trees throws a welcome shade
We sit on a log and rest a while
Then venture forth on the homeward mile.

Oh how I long for those days gone by
But, then can I only stand and sigh
For no money could buy, no fortunes worth
That blissful heaven once here on earth.


As I have mentioned before, one of my favourite haunts was Teynham Marshes. We loved wandering along the streams and across the fields, in those days owls built their nests in holes in the willow trees at the edge of the streams. These were fresh water streams and unpolluted, so we never went thirsty. Watercress grew in abundance in the stream near Frognal.
One of our activities was eel fishing or 'eeling' as we called it. The only equipment required was one of Dad's straightest bean sticks, a pin from Mum's workbox and a short length of string. With these, along with a tin of
freshly dug worms, away we went.
The eels buried themselves, tail first, in the mud of the stream bed. As this left a small indentation, we looked for these telltale signs and dangled our bait in the small holes.
This poem is actually true, it happened on one of my early expeditions; I must have been all of ten years old at the time. Such freedom we had, how lucky we were to have lived in those days. The eel, by the way, did fly through the air, only to fall in another small stream. It must have been it's lucky day!!


The Teynham Main Stream
Was a schoolboy's dream
As it flowed from Frognal to Conyer.
In the shade of a willow

With a root for a pillow
Just to lie on the bank and ponder.
You know, I once caught an eel
On a rod with no reel

With some string and a little bent pin,
The bait was a worm
That would wiggle and squirm
While it waited for me to cast in.

I first found a hole
Then reached for my pole
To dangle the bait in the mud,
As it suddenly sank

I gave an almighty yank
And fell in a heap with a thud.
The eel flew through the air
Left my little hook bare

"Car this is 'gonna' be slaughter!"
It came down again
In a little side drain
And slithered away in the water!!!


In the Thirties it was a common belief that village railway stations were sleepy places where very little happened, at Teynham nothing could be further from the truth. Be it a 'crocodile' of excited children, off on a school outing; during the busy summer season when strawberries, cherries and other farm produce was dispatched to the London markets; when truckloads of handmade bricks from the local 'fields' left the station sidings or the 'pokes' of dried hops, for the breweries in the autumn.
Incoming traffic included coal for the Co-op and Honeyball's yards and, every Tuesday morning, a barrel of fish, packed in ice, for Mr Tomsett the fishmonger, which was generally met by a delegation of local cats! All this, plus the everyday passenger and parcel service was the responsibility of one man; Mr Stone the Station Master!
Mr Stone, lived with his wife, in the house adjoining the 'up' platform He was a quietly efficient gentleman respected by the whole community. I can still picture him striding along the platform, his gold braided cap set firmly on his head; whistle attached to the lapel of his jacket and his waistcoat adorned with watch and chain.
He was assisted by a station/ticket clerk, Ken Gambell, a porter and three signalmen, Alf Sturmer, Bill Everard, my uncle, who lived at 2 Railway Cottages and joined the Southern Railway after service with the Medical Corps at Salonica, in the First World War and remained a signalman at Teynham for nearly forty years.
The third signalman was Tom Brett, a nice man who had a wooden leg. Tom played a vital role in the operations at the station, especially organising the trucks in the shunting yard, which was the opposite side of the line to the signal box.
Shunting operations were carried with a system of whistle blasts, from the porter, a loot' on the engine whistle and a wave of recognition by the signal man from the 'box' window. As part of this operation used the main line it was a credit that it was accident free. Tom's later years were spent at Sittingbourne as a ticket collector.
There was also a steady stream of traffic across the line adjacent to the station: Mr. French's farm workers, brickfield employees, going to and from work, tradesman and residents of Station Row and, not forgetting, Percy's mum on Friday night, with jug in hand, bound for the 'Tavern' where Elsie or Beat waited eagerly to serve her. Few people used the footbridge, so It is remarkable, but sad, that with all this there was only one fatal accident.
We would stand on the side steps, to the footbridge, to await the arrival of the famous 'Southern' engines that stopped at Teynham: the 'Eton' and 'Winchester' of the `School' Class and the `Nelson' and 'Raleigh' of the 'Admiral' class. The 'Granville' was another famous engine that stopped at Teynham.
Considering how busy those times were I have often thought would it have not been wiser had the railways 'chopped' Lord Beeching, but then I have benefit of hindsight.


I remember the school Christmas concert
When Les Boorman and Joan Hardy sang 'Soldier Soldier'
And a group of us boys sang 'Ten Green Bottles'
Mine was the last line "nothing but the S...mell hanging on the wall''.
From then until the end of my schooldays that remained my nick name.

I remember on the way home from school
Hearing the 'pop pop' of the petrol driven motor driving the mincer
When Ted Dalton made those delicious sausages for Bill French
The sirloin of beef that complimented our rabbit or chicken,
Most villagers had a rabbit or cockerel 'fattening up' for Christmas.

I remember the fruit in Mr Tomsett's shop window
Mrs Welfare's fresh vegetables and bunches of mistletoe
When smoking was in vogue, the boxes of '50 Players'
Bought from Lew Nethercoat and given as presents
'Wills Whiffs' were another favourite.

I remember the Christmas cakes at Mr Clarke's bakery
The exciting arrival of Christmas groceries, the fancy box of crackers
And the Turkish Delight when opened the powder went everywhere
Paper chains that decorated our room
The special ones that opened into a ball or a bell
The smell of the cardboard box that contained my present.

I remember the church Christmas service
The silence between prayers when the wind buffeted the windows
The smell of paraffin lamps and candles
And thinking how safe and cosy it was inside the church.

I remember Mr Bruce, the verger, in a black
cassock Sitting in the pew nearest the door
The music Ruth Edward's played
As we paraded from choir stalls to the vestry.
Later, running home to Barrow Green after the services
Our heads filled with the wonder of the next few days!
Yes I remember Christmas.


When I was a lad
We really had
A wonderful little town
But over the years
through many tears
I've seen it all go down.

When out for a stroll
You would see on patrol
A friendly policeman or two
not to fight crime
But to give you the time
for there was little else to do.

From East Street
To West Street
Traffic flowed either way
No cycle on path
No motorist wrath
Whatever the time of day.

Local stores
Would deliver to doors
Any goods you care to mention
No helping yourself
from out of reach shelf
Or the checkout tension.

The Town Hall clock
stood like a rock
for all and sundry to
see The toilets below
with brasses aglow and
not a sign of graffiti.

Up at The Bull'
The ground would be full
Sittingbourne versus Sheppey
And when it was done No
matter who won
The rivalry was friendly.

Plaza and Queens
And Odeon screens
Gave a lot of pleasure
with a girl so sweet
Sat on a back seat
What a little treasure

Gates at the Park
Were closed after dark
Never a fence was broken
Owls at night
Bats in full flight
Lovers words softly spoken.

Now I'm no longer a
lad And I feel so sad
To see such desolation
With foul words uttered
Gravestones lie cluttered
Oh, what desecration!


On Saturday 7th December last, I had a phone call from Brian to inform me that earlier that day his father, Vernon Page, had died. For me a part of Barrow Green that had always been there had suddenly gone. I have never known Barrow Green without Vernon. When we moved to "The Crescent" in May 1929 he was already installed in No1, and since that date there has been no other tenant at that address.
Vernon was a quiet man, a gentleman, I have never heard him shout or lose his temper; he may well have done but I never heard him. In the days when he rode his cycle, it was always at the same steady pace. He worked hard all his life and was a good servant to Percy French. In fact he once came near to losing his life.
He was ploughing with his tractor in the field behind the Signal Box when he drove over a Dene hole. This deep ancient storage well caved in but, fortunately, he was able to steer clear.
My early recollection of Vernon was at St Mary's. On a Sunday, when the last peal of bells had died away, he would climb down the wooden stairs from the belfry into the vestry where he would don his surplice and join us in the Choir.
In my last conversation with him he said to me "You know, when anybody wants to know anything about Teynham they always ask me. I don't know why?"
I do, Goodbye Vernon may you rest in peace.

Vernon Page was Teynham
Teynham was Vernon Page
Not many of the 'Old-uns'
reached his ripe old age.

Hymns were sung, bells were rung
For many many years So
now we join together with
memories fond tears.


Frost creeps stealthily beneath the trees
Gazing upwards, beseeches the leaves
"Come, come join me here on the ground"
So leaves fail softly and lay all around.

Then under the guise of a gentle breeze
Wind arrives to torment the leaves
Who, at first with involuntary flutter
Start to dance along the gutter.

Encouraged by this wind grows bolder
All the while gusts get stronger
Blowing the leaves high into the air
They start a journey to they know not where.

Of to the rattle of letter boxes
By upturned dustbins that frighten foxes
Through open gates onto garden and path
Is there no end to this blustery wrath?

In the side street with nary a glance
Leaves run in circles as though in a trance
Those on the high road that answered the call
Are left in a heap at the foot of a wall!

Then after playing exceedingly rough
Wind decides enough is enough
So holds it breath, steals quietly away
And leaves are left on the ground where they lay.


When Teynham was the centre of the fruit industry, every road, every lane, by-way and track was bordered by an orchard. In the autumn the legacy from this was a vast layer of leaves. Leaves were everywhere, roadmen swept them from verges gardeners collected them for their allotments and farmers had a free supply of organic fertiliser. For us boys however they covered hidden treasure! I will explain.
At this time Teynham Football Club lost their ground at New Gardens, because of the orchards they were hard pressed to find a meadow big enough and flat enough for another pitch. Fortunately they were offered Newlands, near Lewson Street, one of the finest grounds in the area.
So on a Saturday we would make our way up by the hop garden opposite the school, across the orchards to Sandown cottages then over the road to Limekiln orchard (now arable land).
Just inside this orchard near the footpath stood a Russet apple tree, in the grass under the leaves "windfalls and drops' lay maturing (our hidden treasure) I can taste the nutty flavour of these crisp apples till this day, one bite and the juice ran down your chin! Further along near Newlands Farm where the footpath joined the lane to Lewson Street, stood a tall walnut tree and once again the leaves hid our treasure!
So armed with our free supply of fruit and nuts we crossed the lane to watch our local heroes in action!


The old man crossed the line at the 'Red Shed'. As he climbed the style he glanced over his shoulder and in the blink of an eye was transported back in time nearly 70 years. Instead of Orchard View, four boys were playing in the
meadow, the 'Red Shed' was once again Henry Smith's saw mill and across the way 'Nobby' Miles and his father were cutting logs to fuel the fires of the village. Was this a trick of the mind, was it really happening? He turned,
crossed the line and with a friendly wave to the smiling Bill Everard, leaning over the parapet of the signal box, made his way down the track. Only it wasn't the track it was the 'tram lines'. A horse was plodding up the incline
pulling high ended trucks laden with bricks destined for the station siding.
On past the sewage farm where the man in charge, Percy Wood, was going about his daily routine. Beyond the field opposite stood a clump of scrub and small trees he knew as the 'Copse' chicken often strayed into this tiny wood to
lay their eggs, he once found a clutch of 12 eggs! Now he was entering the Teynham brickfield. Leaving the sheds behind he emerged from the stacks of bricks burning in the kilns. He smiles as he glimpses a meadow at the side of
the marsh, this is where the Barrow Green boys played their home football matches against the Conyer boys. It reminded him of the day 'Chubby' Horsenail brought a small metal cup to school and it was agreed the two teams wood play for the trophy. A time was set for the following Saturday morning, the Barrow Green boys won 2-1 but they never received the trophy, for as soon as the game ended 'Chubby' picked up his cup and ran all the way back to Conyer!
"Do you know you are trespassing?" a voice that sounded from above interrupted his reverie with a jolt and brought him back to the present. He looked up and there was a girl sat on a horse.
"T-t-trespassing?" he stammered, "Why when I was a boy we roamed the marshes from Bax Farm to 'Scotland', from Blacketts to the Rifle Range. We often followed that stream to Conyer, past Harris's bungalow into the reeds to where it disappeared under the sea wall into the creek. Over by Conyer Farm the Conyer boys played their home games against the Barrow Green boys. Teynham F.C. once had a pitch near here!"
"The footpath is over there." said the girl on the horse.
With a reluctant shrug of his shoulders the old man made his way in the direction indicated. As he went he could be heard quietly talking to himself, "I used to pick hops for Percy French near here, once he grew loganberries in a field by the side of the tram lines, he paid us a penny (1d.) a chip to pick them, you could make 1/6d on a Saturday morning. Percy never mentioned private property!"
With that the old man disappeared beyond the hedgerow.

What it was to be young
What it was to be free
To roam in a meadow
Or climb a big tree

The icy slides of winter
March winds with whip and top
In summer we ate the cherry
In autumn we picked the hop

To run with a hoop
My best pal and me
What it was to be young
What it was to be free!!


No poem this time, just a story as there is nothing poetic about a brickfield is there? To us those days the brickfield was one big adventure playground. We knew all the men and they knew us so we wandered everywhere. It was not so good for the workers though. It was a tough time for them. Compared with wages to day they were paid a pittance. They were paid 'piece work' and the Moulder's wage was only about £2 and those at the bottom end worked very hard for little reward. If it rained in the night some were called out to 'hack up' (put wooden shutters up at the side of the hacks to keep the rain off the newly made bricks).
The handmade brick season only lasted during the summer for obvious reasons. Some workers were kept on during the winter to dig out the brickearth from surrounding fields. This was stored in the 'wash backs' (behind the sheds) and made ready for the following year. Others, who were not required, had to find alternative employment (if they could) for the winter. You will notice some byroads are higher than the surrounding fields, this is where brickearth has been removed. The small companies that owned brickfields in the early days like the Co-op and Mercers at Frognal were gradually replaced by the big concerns such as Eastwoods locally and Smeed Deans at Murston. Some of the small owners were just businessmen and on occasions imported expert 'Brickies' from Essex, described by one man as a 'rough lot' but good workers. My background to the brickfields was that my grandmother's family were among them!


The first friend I made when I moved to Barrow Green in 1929 was Fred Boorman who lived close by. Fred's father, 'Brogs' Boorman was moulder in No1 Shed at Teynham field so it followed that most of our summer Saturday mornings were spent at the Teynham brickfield. After we had run our Saturday errands, we would make our way across 'the line' through the allotments behind Station Row along the footpath by the sewage farm As we approached the wash back at the rear of No1 Shed, Arthur Baker, the temperer, had just emptied a barrow load of 'pug' into the mill. At a table inside the shed the 'flat tie' carves enough of the mixture from the mill to make one brick and rolls it in the grey sand. it is then passed to the moulder 'Brogs' slams it into the mould, scrapes off the surplus and places the newly made brick onto a board for the barrow loader to load on his long slatted barrow. When full the 'pusher out' takes his barrow load along the iron tracks to the hacks where the 'off bearer' stacks the green bricks in such a way that the air may circulate and dry them. (after the bricks were dried in the hacks they were burnt in the kilns, but we kept away from this operation). He glances at his watch. It is nearly time to change places with the moulder to give him a break in the fresh air.
While all this takes place, Fred and I arrive at the shed. "Shall we have a clear up Dad" asks Fred. We like to think we were helping. The grey sand would get spread about so we swept it back into the corner where it was stored. In doing this we uncovered the step to the front of the shed. This was alright until the 'pusher out' hit the step with wheel of his barrow! (normally the step was covered by the sand) What he called us boys I cannot repeat!! We made a hasty retreat outside and helped Tommy Luckhurst rake the sand in the adjoining sand pit. If the outburst was really bad we scampered over to the stables to wait for Ned Sparks to come in with the horses. Outside the stables was a water barrel and a pump over a well We watched in awe the amount of water and how quickly the horses drank from the barrel. When the water was low we pumped like mad and filled the barrel up again. It was beautiful pure water from the well. We often quenched our thirst too.
I learnt to ride a bicycle at the brickfield on Fred's Dad's bike. The cycle was too big to ride in the ordinary way so we learnt to ride with one leg through the crossbar. The day I went home having mastered the art of riding, instead of congratulations I was rewarded with a slapped back side for getting one sock smothered in grease from the bicycle chain! Some reward!!


Saturday morning was the highlight of the week. When our errands were run and our jobs completed, we would gather at Barrow Green to gaze into the window of Mrs. Miles's sweet shop. Here clutching our weekly one penny 'pocket money' vital decisions were made.
What would influence our choice this week? Would it be quantity sweets that lasted, or perhaps quality would be the main factor. If it was quantity, liquorice 'Imperial Mints' topped the list. A penny purchased a great many of these. They were kept in a red tin on a shelf at the left of the window. Pink cashews were another quantity choice along with 'Dolly Mixtures and 'Love Hearts' that had an amorous message printed on them. These were bought mainly by the girls!
Sweets that lasted? I think that 'Gob Stoppers' would be high on the list. A sweet nearly as big as a golf ball that as it was sucked it changed colour. Often the cry was heard, "What colour are you down to?" Out of the mouth came the sweet "I'm down to green" or "I'm on red", then back into the mouth it went to carryon sucking until it had disappeared! Boiled sweets such as 'Pear Drops' and 'Acid Drops', red striped "Clove" sweets all lasted and of course there was always a packet of 'PK' chewing gum.
Penny bars of chocolate were on the quality list as were 'Coconut Squares' (four for a penny), 'Sherbert Dabs' in a triangular packet with a liquorice tube at one corner through which the powder was sucked. 'Liquorice Allsorts', various toffees and many more could be purchased with our weekly 'pocket money'.
Once we had made our choice, into the shop we would go. 'Ping went the bell on the door and as if by magic out from the back room came Mrs Miles. A generous woman was Mrs. Miles both in stature and demeanour. "Hello my dear, what would you like today?" and we handed over our penny for a bag of treasures.
Dunhills made sweets of all shapes and sizes and on 'Boat Race Day' they gave away light or dark blue flavours. Strange thing is that whichever university you chose to support as a boy remained the same throughout your days.
If it rained on 'Boat Race' day as it often did, we had our own race, As the water ran down the Gutter from Barrow Green we raced with two matchsticks (our boats). The first to reach the drain opposite 'The Tavern' was the winner. Parked cars were needless to say not a problem in those days!


When I lived in Barrow Green everyone seemed to have a 'nickname', and had there been a league table, the Boorman family would have been champions. Gaffer Boorman came to Teynham from the weald. He is thought by some to have brought Goal Running to this area. Gaffer, who lived in Station Row, had already retired when I first new him, his family consisted of five sons and a daughter. Three sons had nicknames 'Bowie', 'Whistle' and 'Brogs'. 'Bowie' carried on the tradition; all of his seven sons had 'nicknames', 'Bowie jnr.', 'Massie', 'Bunny', 'Fatty', 'Mett', 'Chitty' and 'Jacko". Girls did not appear to have 'nicknames' although there was a tall lady who rejoiced in the name of 'Tiny'. She lived in Barrow Green where alternative names were rife. We had 'Cobble', 'Noddy', 'Boxer', 'Nutser' 'Tanner', 'Billy', 'Tiffy" and 'Corny'. Also on the list were 'Navies', 'Waffles', 'Duffle' and so on.
Where did they all come from? I suspect a lot of them originated from school days. Our school mates from Frognal included 'Cocker', 'Fatty', 'Furmo', 'Punch', 'Didder' and 'Pudner'. From Conyer we have 'Spinko', 'Podger', 'Toddy' (all from the same family) 'Camel', 'Nooky' and others.
Teachers did not escape either. In the autumn of 1932 when I started in standard five, an attractive young lady walked into the classroom carrying a briefcase with P.A.N. stencilled on the outside. Phyllis Newman had arrived and was immediately known as 'Pan' later corrupted to 'Pam'. A great teacher Phyllis Newman. I owed her a lot. Soon after a male teacher joined the school, David Evans, who straight away became 'Sammy'. How or why I do not know. Our head teacher was 'Flimp', I would think a name that emanated from his school days. (He never heard us call him 'Flimp' but I suspect he knew all the same!)
I must confess I had a hand in one 'nickname' a young boy was born at the Crescent: hard to believe in his young days a thin, slim lad. Suffice to say we called him 'Spadger' an alternative name we had for a sparrow!
Me? Well, from when I was a toddler until the day he died I was always known to my father as 'Nobbler', when I started at Teynham school I became 'Stubbo', and then my love for school plays and concerts was my downfall. One Christmas a few of us boys sang Ten green bottles'. I sang the last line which as you know goes...If ten green bottles should accidentally fall there'd be nothing but the 'sme...hell' hanging on the wall From then on, until the end of my school days, I was known as 'Smell' nothing, I hasten to add, to do with my personal hygiene!!
There is even a row of houses in Green Street (still standing) that had a nickname. According to my Grandmother, at the turn of the century (1900) the occupants of these buildings had a reputation of being rather inquisitive. Any activity in the area and up would go the sash windows and out pop the heads to see what was going on. This earned the cottages the name of 'Sheepshead Row' (not a lot of people know that !!!)


It was a warm summer afternoon, school had just finished and Mr Gates our Headmaster who was also choirmaster at St. Mary's, paused on his way home to speak with me. "Stubbings" he said, "How would you like to sing in the church choir?" "Yes please sir" I replied "Then come along to choir practice at the school Thursday evening 7.30 sharp". "Yes Sir thank you very much" and I scampered indoors to give my mother the good news.
Thus started four happy years association with St. Mary's. At that time there were between 12 and 20 boys in the choir, some from Barrow Green but mostly from Conyer or its surrounding area. Mervyn Hyson and Fred Austin sang alto. The bass and tenor section, apart from Mr Gates and Vernon Page were also from the Conyer area. Ruth Edwards was our charming organist, while The Revd. Purser recently returned from Rangoon in Burma was our vicar. Many of his sermons began "When I was in Burma", this became a
catch-phrase among the choir boys.
We sang at Matins and Evensong throughout the year Anthems were also rehearsed which were sung on special occasions Carols at Christmas were very nice but my favourite time was Easter when hymns were so bright and joyful. We sang at Harvest Festival when the church was packed and one year we had supper in the barn at Vicarage Farm. Choir exchange was also very enjoyable. We sang in the churches at Milton, Hartlip, and Ospringe; they in turn would come to our church.
An annual choir outing to Margate for the day was thoroughly enjoyed, but the highlight for me had to be the Diocese Choir Festival at Canterbury Cathedral. Choirs from around the Diocese met and sang together in the Cathedral. This was always held in late spring or summer so we were able to change our clothes in the cloisters. Once the Red Dean came by and passed the time of day. He was given the name 'Red Dean' by the media because of his sympathy towards the Communists. I think his name was Johnson.
We rehearsed in the afternoon. We only wore cassocks for this. The many voices of the massed choirs rang through the lofty building. This was followed by a break when Mr Gates took us into Burgate to a restaurant for a sumptuous cream tea! Then back to the cloisters where we donned our freshly laundered surplice and Eton collar. The Cathedral was packed but we only saw the congregation as we walked in procession to our seats beyond the screen on the chancel steps.
My favourite choral piece was the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. How we sang. I thought our lungs would burst! But how proud we were to be part of the history of this great and glorious Cathedral.


With the volume of traffic on the roads these days it is hard to imagine deserted roads but that was the case 70 years ago, and that is why we were able to play in the road. Not until the orchard was grubbed at the back of the old school did we have a playing field, so the road was our alternative.
As boys we played football with a tennis ball near the forecourt of the 'Tavern' where the road was wider. The girls played with their skipping ropes chanting rhymes as they jumped in time to the whirling rope, they also played Hop Scotch while the boys preferred Leap Frog.
Some games were shared such as the various versions of Hide and Seek. We both had hoops, the boys' were iron ones made by a local blacksmith, the girls' were wooden and both propelled by short sticks. I have seen iron hoops spinning out of control down the hill by the station gates and clatter to a halt near Honeyball's coal yard! Whips and tops were another shared game; tops were coloured with chalks creating a kaleidoscopic picture as they spun.
Crazes came and went such as the YoYo and Biff Bats (a small ball connected to a wooden bat with a piece of elastic).
Some games played by the boys were dangerous and they get no mention here.
One pastime that would raise a few eyebrows today was "Dunging" but at that time it was part and parcel of the country boys life, arrangements for this activity were usually made in the school playground during the afternoon break. "Where are we going tonight?" "Let's go dunging" "We'll go towards Frognal, we went down by Hale's last time". So we duly met after school with our trucks and armed with a coal shovel we set off. Now the working horse, unlike its cousin in the paddock, was not allowed to stop, so our equestrian deposit was spread along the road. If there were two trucks our 'find' would be carefully measured and a well shod heel would mark the middle. The countryside then rang to the sound of a tin shovel on a metaled road.
When our trucks were fully laden we returned home to replenish the pile at the bottom of the garden, we provided two services; one, we kept our fathers with a never ending supply of organic fertilizer and two, we kept the roads and lanes around Barrow Green clean and tidy. No such by-product from the motor car!
Any children reading this please forget any ideas you may have of playing in the road!!


My father worked hard six days a week so you would think he took advantage of Sunday, the day of rest, not so. There were times in late spring and early summer when he arose very early made a flask of tea, and accompanied by mother and myself set off on an early morning cycle ride. His favourite route was via Teynham Lane and Lynsted Lane through a slumbering Lynsted village turning left at Erriot Wood towards Sharsted. On entering the Avenue the rooks in the treetops were busy at their nests, a disturbed wood pigeon left in a flurry of fluttering wings and in the
undergrowth the occasional call of a pheasant.
On leaving the wooded area the many wild rabbits kept the grass immaculate like a well-manicured lawn. As we passed Sharsted Court there was no sign of life. We turned right at the Avenues end and it was downhill to Newnham Bottom. No motorway bridge to pass under in those days!!
Here we rested awhile on the bank at the roads edge and enjoyed a cup of tea from the flask. Resuming our journey down the valley by a lone cottage where a wisp of smoke spiralled skywards revealing breakfast was underway, a dog tied to a kennel near the cottage announced our passing.
The new waterworks building was as yet to be erected, so accompanied by the early morning bird song we passed woods and meadows, rabbits scampered in the meadows near the wood's edge their white scuts signalling to their young.
At Syndale Bottom we crossed the A2 and joined the lower road to Teynham; over the railway at Stone Crossing and past the old farmhouse at Lower Newlands where, after the Second World War, my wife and I spent three happy years.
Barrow Green was stirring into life as we arrived back, preparing for another car, plane, and noise free relaxing idyllic Sunday. So to our house in the Crescent for an enjoyable breakfast I will be eternally grateful to my father for sharing the early morning peace of the countryside, a peace long gone from this area, never to return.


It was twenty to nine, the Conyer bus had returned; the second bell at the school has been rung and the children are safely inside. This is when an eerie and peaceful silence descends on Barrow Green -a silence broken only by tradesmen purveying their wares. Once a week Mr. Silcock arrives with his horse and cart to empty the galvanised dustbins, mostly ashes from fires. Not all the ash goes into the dustbins, however, some is used to make garden footpaths.
The afternoon is even quieter broken occasionally by 'Pop' Neves with his horse and van bound for the station goods yard, laden with freshly picked fruit. Three thirty sees the younger children (the Little'uns) come out of school. They play quite happily until the older children (the Big'uns) 'come out' twenty minutes later. A cry, that later became a byword, can be heard.
"Pick the ball up, comes the Big'uns." All play undisturbed until nearly five o'clock when Mr Crick comes through on his motorcycle. 'Ted' Read arrives on his motorcycle with red box sidecar delivering and collecting the last mail of the day. The five o'clock train stops at the station disgorging it's few passengers. Mr Seager can be seen in his naval uniform, walking up the hill returning from Chatham dockyard Ned Butler with his two horses, harness jingling 'clomps' his way home after a day in the fields. Silence reigns as all go into tea.
After tea in the summer, children were allowed out for an hour or two.
Fathers tended the vegetables in the back garden mothers prepared for the next day. Tony's ice cream van arrived parking near Mrs Miles's sweet shop dispensing a halfpenny or a penny cornet to those fortunate enough to have a half penny or a penny.
The clanging of the buffers in the goods yard where wagons were sorted for their trip to London had long since ceased. The swifts circling the station had begun to roost at the oast house. Voices on the evening air seemed to carry for miles. In the distance a dog can be heard barking. Mrs Coulter with her jug hurries by bound for the 'Tavern'.
Sometimes in the late summer gloom the 'fever cart' arrives stopping outside some poor unfortunate's house. A child wrapped in a blanket is placed in the carriage. The horse wheels, the carriage turns with its sidelights winking and accompanied by the clatter of horses hooves, disappears down 'school hill' on its return journey to Beacon Hill isolation hospital. Older children talking in hushed whispers scamper indoors. The last train has left the station; on the forecourt of the 'Tavern' friend bids friend a cheery 'goodnight' as they make their different ways home. The still of the night is left to an owl, or maybe...just maybe, a nightingale!


Through this ancient Manor and Hundred many sights and sites of historical interest have disappeared, as though they had never been. One such place was Bedmangore Wood, not much more than a copse really, it was situated opposite the eastern entrance to Lynsted Park. Here until the late sixteenth century stood the Manor House of Bedmangore.
It was bought from Sir Robert de Shurland by William de Apuldefeld, his family and descendants lived there until 1599 when it was deemed to be too small and Lynsted Lodge was built.
In the spring the wood was carpeted with violets and primroses. As a boy thought this a magical place and visited it many times. I felt at home here, a sort of sense of belonging. Then one day I discovered a strange fact, the Apuldefeld family, who lived at the Manor all those hundreds of years ago came from Cudham, a small village near Biggin Hill the village where I was born!

I knew a wood
A secret wood
They called it Bedmangore

Wild flowers grew
Wild birds flew
In my wood at Bedmangore

The sunshine played
On a leafy glade
In my wood at Bedmangore

The moon shone too
When owls flew
In my wood at Bedmangore

What tales were told
By men of old
In my wood at Bedmangore

For many a year
Peace reigned here
In my wood at Bedmangore

Then the axe man came
And the farmer came
To my wood at Bedmangore

At the roots they tore
Alas it is no more

(I have since met the man who drove the tractor that turned Bedmangore, the historical wood, into a corner of another cherry orchard)


I have often wondered why the school year started with the autumn term and not January. In the rural and country areas could it be connected with Michaelmas when farmers looked for new employees and farm hands chose to change their employers? In the past children took time off to gather in the crops, and our summer holidays were certainly geared to hop picking season, in fact, it lasted most of our time off from school. Anyway, at the beginning of the autumn term we all moved up a class and those old enough left school at the summer holiday.
For those seeking work opportunities found they were few. Farm work, brickfields or errand boys were some of the options. Finding a job was the main priority, and then if the wages didn't suit then you looked elsewhere; but you never gave up a job until there was a better offer. All the cash earned went into the family coffers with a small amount returned for 'pocket money'.
So the work/wage spiral went on until the event of the Second World War. It was then that any ambitions and aspirations had to be put on hold for six years. Some of our generation were married during the war years others wed soon after hostilities ceased. After the war the work/wage spiral started again. Reflecting upon nearly eighty years there are some things I wish I hadn't done and others I wish I had done, but the one thing I don't regret is the ten years I have been allowed to write in the Teynham News*. Now that I have covered all the aspects of life for a boy in the thirties this regrettably will be my last article.
My thanks go to Chris McIlroy for all her help in the past and also to the Editor and editorial committee for the privilege of writing in the 'News'. I hope that you have enjoyed reading my accounts of life in the village in bygone days as much as I have in writing them.
May I wish you all good fortune for the future.

Doug Stubbings

*published by the Teynham Parish Council

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