31 August 2010

Peninsula Family History

A new page (Peninsula Family History) has been added to this site, which gives others the opportunity to add their family history research, specifically relating to the Hoo Peninsula. To make a submission, please visit the Contact Page.

Added Today: The Willson family of Stoke, by Mervyn King.

Vandalised: Allhallows Recreation Ground (children's play area)

Following an earlier post about the recreation ground in Allhallows being vandalised, further information has now been supplied by Kent Police:

Police in Medway are appealing for information after a playhouse was damaged at the recreation ground in Allhallows. It’s believed the damage was done on Friday 13 August, sometime between 8pm and 8.50pm. A playhouse was targeted and around £500 worth of damage was caused.

Local Neighbourhood Officer, PC Mick O’Meara said: ‘This appears to be mindless vandalism which serves absolutely no purpose. The people responsible need to think about their actions and realise that their behaviour has led to the playhouse not being able to be used and also a big repair bill. Kent Police in Medway will not tolerate any kind of criminal damage and if caught, those responsible will be arrested and could end-up with a criminal record.’

Anyone with information about the damage can contact Kent Police on 01622 690690, quoting crime reference number DY/012872/10.

29 August 2010

Farmers' Market (High Halstow), Saturday 4 September 2010

These scrumptious biscuits were purchased at a previous Farmers' Market in High Halstow – and they were very nice too! The next event will be held on Saturday 4 September 2010, between 9.30am and 10.30am, at the Village Hall in High Halstow. To book a stall, contact Margaret on 01634 253709.

28 August 2010

Morning Walk - Yantlet Creek, Allhallows

With the weather looking good (at long last), I decided to head over to Allhallows this morning for a walk along Yantlet Creek. Other than a couple of people fishing near Allhallows, I didn't encounter anyone else during the walk, which is always refreshing! The views of the Thames Estuary, Isle of Grain and Allhallows Marshes were stunning and, most importantly of all, relaxing! Returning from the walk, I encountered a couple of dozen cows near Allhallows - quietly enjoying their Saturday lunch!

The memorial stone (photograph below) states: "Southern Water Authority, Kent Division. This stone commemorating the completion of the raising of the Thames Flood Defences between 1975 - 1985 was unveiled by Mr H. J. L. Harris, Chairman, Regional Land Drainage Committee on the 1st May 1986".

Cement, Mud and Muddies, Frank G. Willmott

I had a stroll around Rochester yesterday and spent considerable time rummaging around the plethora of books and other interesting items at City Books (41 High Street, Rochster, ME1 1LN). I found a copy of the book 'Cement, Mud and Muddies' by Frank Willmott, which was first published by Meresborough Books in 1977. Although more than thirty years old, this book accurately explains the history of Medway's cement industry and includes many fascinating photographs and illustrations. Due to my own clay-digging family heritage in Stoke, I am particularly drawn to the section about the Muddies from Stoke and Hoo.

On the subject of Medway's cement history, there is an excellent section about this on the website of Berengrave Local Nature Reserve (the Friends of Berengrave), which can be viewed by clicking here.

26 August 2010

Vandalised: Allhallows Recreation Ground (children's play area)

Allhallows recreation ground, specifically the children's play area (behind St. Georges Walk), was vandalised on 13 August 2010, causing at least £1,500 worth of damage. Anyone with information about who was responsible should contact Medway Police on 01634 792346 (the neighbourhood Police team for the area) or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Allhallows Parish Council will no doubt follow through with information about what will happen to the damage caused.

25 August 2010

RSPB Wildlife & Country Fair (Cooling), Sunday 5 September 2010

The RSPB Wildlife & Country Fair will be held on Sunday 5 September at Bromhey Farm (Cooling), from 11am to 5pm. Activities will include: ditch dipping, mini-beast hunting, bird ringing demos, sheep dog trials, pony rides, art and craft stalls, guided country walks, a car boot sale (stalls must be booked in advance), refreshments and much much more! This is a FREE event, although parking donations are welcome.

RSPB Northward Hill (main car park), Cooling, Rochester, ME3 8DS - signposted from the A228. Further information about this event may be obtained by phoning 01634 222480, or by emailing here. Alternatively, take a look at the RSPB website.

The below photographs, supplied by the RSPB, are from previous events held at RSPB Northward Hill.

24 August 2010

Level Crossing, Isle of Grain

According to the BBC, British Transport Police have prosecuted one hundred people in the past three months, for ignoring the lights at the level crossing on the Isle of Grain (photographed below).  British Transport Police say CCTV cameras and higher fines have helped cut the number of incidents at the crossing, by 20 a week to just one or two since 1 May.

Last month, Network Rail said they were considering the possibility of installing automatic barriers at the crossing, to replace the manual system currently in use.

NOTE:  Images supplied by the British Transport Police.

Walkers Needed - Lower Stoke

Valerie from Lower Stoke is looking for people to join her for enjoyable country walks, of approximately 4 to 6 miles. The walks will probably take place on Saturday mornings. Please phone Valerie on 01634 272772.

23 August 2010

Summer Fun Day (Hoo), Sunday 29 August 2010

As per the leaflet below (click to enlarge), there will be a Summer Fun Day on Sunday 29 August at the Village Community, Sports & Social Club, Bells Lane, Hoo, ME3 9JD. You can save money on ticket prices by booking early, so for more details phone 01634 251492 or visit their website.

Have a great time!

22 August 2010

Hoo Marina - Gloomy Weather

This photograph, taken at Hoo Marina, was captured at 8am this morning - I was feeling particularly energetic and was out early! Another typically gloomy day ahead! Let's hope things cheer-up before the day is out.

21 August 2010

Concert - St. James' Church (Cooling), Saturday 11 September 2010

The Celestine Singers will be singing light opera and songs from the shows on Saturday 11 September, at St. James' Church in Cooling from 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at £9.00. The event is organised by the Friends of St. James' Church in Cooling, who may be contacted (for further details) on 01634 220204.

20 August 2010

Family Fun Day (Hoo), Saturday 21 August 2010

On Saturday 21 August, between 12 noon and 4pm, there will be a Family Fun Day at the Vicarage Garden, Hoo St. Werburgh. There will be many attractions, including: a bouncy castle, a steam engine, cream teas, street dancers, a tombola, craft and flower stalls, a licensed bar and a grand draw (£100 - 1st prize)! Lots of fun for all the family. More details may be obtained from Bob on 01634 254035 or Andy on 01634 250291.

Beautiful Day, High Halstow

The weather this week hasn't been great, but I was lucky enough to have time this morning to visit friends in High Halstow. The weather was fine and sunny and the fields were lush and golden. Okay, I admit I am going overboard, but it certainly felt good to be alive!

Below:  The views along Dux Court Road, from High Halstow looking towards Hoo.

Who was 'Stumpy' Watson?

I recently re-read 'Hoo's Who' by Kathy Evans and Douglas Marsh. This book contains memories of local people and provides an insight into how life used to be on the Hoo Peninsula. There are two references to a 'Stumpy Watson'. The first is by Frank Hammond, whose uncle was a blacksmith in Lower Stoke. The second by Pauline Plewis, who was a school secretary at Stoke Primary.

Talking about helping his uncle Albert at the Forge in Lower Stoke, Frank Hammond states "I used to pump the flue and the old boy, little old Stumpy Watson, used to sit and watch me. All the old boys used to sit there (in the forge) if they couldn't get into the Ship Inn or if they couldn't afford a drink."
Pauline Plewis also talks about the village characters. "They had all sorts of nicknames and I used to hear older villagers talking about these weird people, including Stumpy Watson, who had a wooden leg. Stumpy used to play the drums in a little band they got-up for a fete. They would form outside the Nags Head and march along and up by the Methodist Church, but Stumpy would go the other way because he couldn't see over the drum."

These memories paint an intriguing picture of Stumpy Watson. And who was he exactly? I might be wrong (and I probably am), but I am starting to think that he must have been Stephen Watson, who was my Great-Grandfather's brother. Stephen was born in Stoke and died in 1945, aged 83. Stephen married Eliza Frances Weller (from Borstal) in 1893, but she died in 1927. I don’t know if they ever had any children.

Stephen Watson's death certificate, pictured below, is dated 2 May 1945 and shows his address as Lathbury Cottages, Stoke Road, Lower Stoke.

I would like to find out if Stumpy Watson and Stephen Watson are in fact the same person. So it would be great to find a surviving photograph of Stumpy, as I have so many weird and wonderful images running through my mind at the moment.

16 August 2010

Village Voices, August / September 2010

The August / September 2010 edition of the Village Voices newsletter is out now and being delivered to homes throughout Hoo St. Werburgh and Chattenden.

14 August 2010

Hoo Hundred in old picture postcards, Des Worsdale

This book was difficult to find, but worth the effort! I finally managed to get a copy from Amazon, after searching 'Des Worsdale' - the author. This book contains lots of information about the local area (from Upnor to Grain), including many photographs of notable landmarks, buildings and people (many of which list the names of those photographed as well). An essential purchase for anyone interested in the area and its history.  ISBN10:  90-288-4858-4

Mervyn King, Family History

I was recently contacted by Mervyn King, who is researching his ancestors from the Hoo Peninsula. His Great-Grandfather married a local girl called WILLSON (sometimes WILSON) at Allhallows in 1896. Her ancestors lived all over the Hoo Peninsula for most of the 19th Century. Other names being researched by Mervyn include: DALTON (sometimes DORTON), USHER and OVERRIGHT.

Good luck to Mervyn and, hopefully, more information will be available soon, with regards to his research.

9 August 2010

Allhallows-on-Sea Resort

Last week, I met 89 year-old Hazel Stockbridge, whose family is linked to mine through the Stratford family. He has proudly lived and worked on the Hoo Peninsula all his life and has resided in High Halstow, St. Mary Hoo, Lower Stoke, Hoo and Allhallows. We talked about his childhood, particularly about when he moved to Allhallows, aged 14, and worked with his parents at the then growing Allhallows-on-Sea resort. His father was chauffeur to the enterprising local farmer that owned the land on which the resort was built. His mother managed numerous beach and resort facilities, including a purpose-built cafe. Hazel's mother also managed the cafe at the railway station – used by many thousands of visiting tourists.

Much was planned for the resort at Allhallows, but the outbreak of war meant that most of these plans never materialised. The development, which was set to take 7 years to complete (at a cost of millions), included the construction of an amusement park that was four times the size of the one at Blackpool, zoological gardens, a yachting centre, physical training stadium, the largest swimming pool in the country (with artificial waves), a holiday camp, 5,000 houses, hotels, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. However, only an amusement park, miniature railway, a few houses and flats were actually built.

The below selection of images are of a promotional booklet that was produced for the resort. This is believed to be the only copy produced and provides a remarkable insight into how this project was to be advertised.

Many thanks to Mr Stockbridge for the time he spent talking to me about his life and experiences on the Hoo Peninsula, not least because he allowed me to film our discussions, as part of a local history project I am working on.