Fragments of Fact - Cliffe History

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Fragments of Fact
July saw the marriage of the Rector, Revd. Herbert Boyd to Mrs. Lionel Levin. At the station, gay with flags and bunting, a great welcome awaited the couple on their return from honeymoon spent in Scotland. Villagers lined each side of the road from the Railway Station to the Rectory, and schoolboys pulled the motor-car conveying the Rector and Mrs. Boyd to their home, accompanied by Mr. N. McLeod in full Highland costume, playing the bagpipes.
In November of the same year Mr. T. C. Crane and his family left for Australia. He was a Parish Councillor, a Schools’ Manager, Charity Trustee and People’s Churchwarden, and was presented with an inscribed silver watch, and a purse of gold (£35) subscribed for by his many friends.

A serious outbreak of scarlet fever in March closed all the schools for some weeks.
In June over 100 men employed at the Cement Works came out on strike, ‘in obedience to a telegram received from their Union.’They admitted they had no grievance, but felt that it was no use belonging to a Union unless they abided by the Rules. Most of the men found temporary work in the fields, as there very little, if any, distress.
November. Mr. H.S. Lane, of Quickrells Farm, had several successes at the Malting and Seed Barley competition at the Brewers’ Exhibition in London. A few weeks later he gained further awards at the Birmingham Agricultural Society’s Show, and also at the Scottish National Society’s show held at Edinburgh.

An ordination service was held at Cliffe Church by the Right Revd. George H. Spodsham, D.D, Bishop of North Queensland, the first such ceremony to be held here for 500 years. Owing to the illness of the Bishop of Rochester the service had been twice postponed.
At the London Dairy Show Miss Elizabeth Morrison of Cliffe, won the first prize of £5, and a silver medal, in the class open to all of England for girl milkers under the age of 18, and was also awarded a special prize of £3. Edward Youseman and Thomas Morrison, both Cliffe boys, were 5th and 6th respectively in a similar class for boy milkers.

February. Great excitement was caused by the descent of an aeroplane in a field near the village. Cement workers, builders, farm workers, bust housewives and schoolchildren, came running from all directions, across fields and through hedges to see what was  the matter, nor did they depart until the machine had again roared skywards and disappeared. Well, well!!
April. A gloom was cast on the village by the death of “Uncle Steve” – Mr. Stephen Havers – a genial and cheery old gentleman, beloved by all, and much missed in cricketing circles.
The Old Smithy which had been in existence for a very long time, standing back from the road literally ‘under a spreading chestnut tree’ dealt with its last equine customer, and closed its doors, making way for the building of houses – Violet Cottages.


After spending 18 years at Cliffe, Canon H. B. Boyd, rector, accepted the living of Lamberhurst. Although a lot of people had been upset by the Rector’s outburst a couple of months before (at a reciting meeting, where recruits were not forthcoming, he had called them a “herring-gutted lot”), he had really been very popular throughout the whole of the time he was in Cliffe.
December . Death of Miss Straw, for many years headmistress of the Infants’ School, she having retired two years earlier.

March. The nine p.m. postal collection from the village was discontinued, and has never, so far, been re-introduced, although many requests have been made for a collection late than 6 p.m.
May. Death of Mr. Alfred Chesterton, of the Post Office, at the age of 93, he had been known as the ‘father’ of Cliffe Wesleyan Church.

Cliffe, in common with the rest of the country, was struck by an influenza epidemic. All three schools were closed, and 8 deaths reported in the village.

Death of Miss Conway, head of the Girls Department, at the Church Schools for over 16.

June brought the opening of the first Telephone Call Office in the village.

The opening of the “Globe Electric Theatre” on August Bank Holiday, a full house seeing the picture (silent, of course) “Ivanhoe.”

Much interest was shown locally, and in ornithological circles, nationally, in “The Cuckoo Mystery”, stimulated by the well known authority, Mr. G. J. Scholey, who was, for some years, manager at the Thames Portland Cement Company’s works at Cliffe. Mr. Scholey’s hobby was a lifetime study of the cuckoo and its habits, and he found the district around the cement factory a happy hunting-ground wherein to pursue the study. Somewhere about this time – at any rate, in the early days of broadcasting we were thrilled to hear Mr. Scholey broadcast on his pet subject.
During this year a link with Charles Dickens was severed by the death of Mr. W. T. Woolley of Church Street, who, during the time he was employed as a gardener at Higham, was well acquainted with Dickens, who was then living at Gads Hill Place. Mr. Woolley’s parents were in Dickens’s service.

£30 was raised at a whist drive held at the Men’s Club in aid of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Extensions Fund. There was a record attendance of 50 tables.

May . The death occurred of Mr. G. A. Batchelor, who had for many years been prominently identified with the Wesleyan Church, during which time the present church was built replacing the old building which has stood for more than 100 years. Mr. Batchelor was also prominent in various spheres of public life, having served on the Parish Council, as a manager of the two Council Schools.
September. The wedding took place of Miss Edith Wallis, younger daughter of the Rector and Mrs. Wallis, and was the first wedding to have taken place in Cliffe Rectory in living memory. Within a year her elder sister, Miss Mary Wallis, and her brother, Mr. Sydney Wallis, were also married.

July . In a crowded Church a Thanksgiving Service was held for the recovery from illness of H.M. The King.
Among the deaths during this year were those of Mr. G. S. Else, who was the last licensee of the old Canal Tavern at Cliffe Creek, and was closed in March 1912, and of Miss Ann Fuge, who was the widow of Samuel Fuge, who was a pioneer in Rhodesia with the late Cecil Rhodes.

May. The death occurred of Mr. F. Wright, of West Court, who was chairman of the first Parish Council, Cliffe’s representative on the Strood Rural District Council and the old Board of Guardians and a Justice of the Peace.

By May , Cliffe’s quota of £1,032 for the St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Extensions Fund, which had started in 1926, was complete.
In July two lives were lost as a result of a boating mishap off the shore. Mr. Ernest Smith and his nephew, Walter, were intheir punt when the wash from a passing pleasure steamer caused the punt to overturn.
September. A serious outbreak of diphtheria, 26 cases being notified.

The death occurred of Mr. W. J. Filmer, for nearly 400 years at Court Sole, and, except for one brief interval, a member of the Parish Council for 30 years.

September. An outbreak of Scarlet Fever closed the schools for five weeks.
October. For the first time in history, villagers were able to enjoy air trips, for 2/6d, 5/- or 7/6d according to the duration of trip, from a field at West Court.

Both Mr. H. Lane of Quickrells, for many years on the Parish Council, and Mr. J. Robertson, of Manor Farm, died. Mr. Robertson was a member of the Parish Council for over 30 years, and was chairman for much of the time. He was also a Parochial Charities Trustee, a school manager, and president of the Cliffe British Legion.
April. Cliffe Schoolboy Footballers won the League Championship, and also all the 16 matches they played. They also played in the final for the Leech Shield, and drew (with Snodland) so each side held the trophy for 6 months. One of Cliffe’s team, E. Goodsell, played for Rochester and Chatham Schoolboys in the English Schoolboys’ F.A. Competition, and for Kent against Surrey at Maidstone.
May. Jubilee Celebrations were held on the 6th May, and consisted of a United Church Service, Children’s Sports and Tea, Old Folks’ Tea, Adults Sports, free concert at the “Globe” Cinema, Bonfire and fireworks. A “Jubilee” Challenge Cup was presented to the School for competition among the ‘houses’.
August. Retirement of Miss E.B. Chesterton as sub-postmistress, thereby severing a family connection of over 60 years with the Post Office. At a public presentation Miss Chesterton was handed a silver salver and a cheque from friends and well-wishers. She died in September, 1946

November. A house-to-house collection for the King George Memorial Fund realised £30.

April. A circus visited Cliffe for the first time in living memory, and gave two well-patronised performances.
May. For the Coronation Celebrations over £109 were subscribed, and each child received a souvenir mug, and there was also given a new three-penny piece by the local Co-operative Society. After a Thanksgiving Service at the Church, the sports programme had to be abandoned owing to rain, but a special programme was arranged at the “Pictures” for the children and a concert for adults in the evening. Outdoor sports, fireworks and a fete were held later.
Retirement of Canon A.T. Wallis, rector for 22 years. While in the village he was extremely popular with all sections of the community, and did much to promote good feeling between the different denominations, and started the Annual United Open Air Service, which became so popular. He was president of the Men’s Club since its formation, and started the Lad’s Club. He was returned regularly at the Parish Council triennial elections. He was also a fireman and a special constable, and as a keen cricketer he often played for the village Cricket Club. He was presented with a cheque subscribed for by the parishioners, and a wireless set in recognition of his Presidency of the Men’s Social Club.
September. The death occurred of Mrs. Chisill, who was the first headmistress of Cooling Street School, and retired 11 years previously.

January. Induction of Revd. F. S. Gammon as Rector, by the Archdeacon of Rochester, and Institution by the Lord Bishop.
Death announced of Mr. Wm Horne, of Perry Hill, a well-known fireman, and one-time member of the Parish Council.

Retirement of S.C. Sibson, after having bee headmaster of the Church Schools for 30 years. He had also been Clerk to the Parish Council since 1920,and a churchwarden since 1923. He was presented  with an electric clock by the Parish Council, and an armchair by the Staff and Scholars of the Church Schools. Mrs. Sibson was presented with a clock and a coffee service by members of the Girls’ Friendly Society, of which she had for so many years been leader, and an electric reading lamp from fellow committee members of the Cliffe Nursing Association.
The death of Mrs. “Dave” Smith, one of the best-known and best-liked people in Cliffe. For many years she was engaged in nursing work in the village, and was a member of the Nursing Association committee. She was an active churchworker and a member of the Church Parochial Council. For many years Mrs. Smith was President of the Cliffe Co-operative Women’s Guild.

September. Mr C.J. Bailey, for many years a teacher at the Church Schools, died suddenly on Charing Cross Station while waiting for a train to return to Cliffe after a day out in London.

April. Mrs. Evenden, attending a British Legion function in London, was presented to H.M. the Queen who asked, “Where is Cliffe?”

January. Presentations were made to Dr. A. B. Rogers on his retirement after 48 years of untiring service in Cliffe and Cooling. A collection in the village realised £112.
April. Formation of the Cliffe and Cooling Women’s Institute.
June. Miss G.Goodwin attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, given in recognition of the efforts of the National Savings workers throughout the war years.
November. The death occurred of Mrs. G.M. Radford, who helped to start our W.I. and became its first treasuer. Mrs. Radford was also secretary of the Cliffe and Cooling Nursing Association.

May. At the Malling Horse Show on Whit Monday, Mr. W.R. Filmer, of Courtsole, won the Silver Challenge Cup. The previous winner, Mr. A.G. Batchelor, of Gattons Farm, was third on this occasion.
October. At the Ploughing Match of the Gravesend and Rochester Agricultural Association held at “Gattons”, there were 57 horse and tractor ploughs on the field, and for the first time in history of the show the premier award went to a tractor-ploughman. Mr. W.R. Filmer’s brown mare “Kitty” was awarded the cup for the champion horse in the show.
December. On the 22nd December the automatic telephone exchange replaced the manual exchange, which, under the supervision of Mrs, J, Lewis (sub-postmistress) maintained continous service, day and night, during the war years between vital points connected with the defence of Kent and London, and in addition the air raid warning system was operated in conjunction with the exchange.

Death of Mr. G.H. Payne, who had been a member of Cliffe Parish Church choir for 75 years. He was for many years captain of the bellringers, and the care and maintenance of the Church clock had been his special responsibility. He was also chairman of Cliffe District of National Deposit Friendly Society.
April. Nurse A. Taylor, for nearly 20 years District Nurse for Cliffe and Cooling Nursing Association, resigned owing to ill-health. A collection in appreciation of her services to the villagers realised the sum of £56 11s. 9d. Nurse Taylor passed away a year later.
June. At the Annual Medway Youth Leaders Federation Sports Day held at Rochester , Cliffe Youth Club gained two 1st awards, and seven 2nd and 3rd places. Cliffe’s team also won the tug-of-war event.
September. Frankie Howerd, a well-known stage and radio artist, paid a surprise visit to a dance held at the Men’s Club in aid of the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund.
December. In a Pageant of Christmas held at the Parish Church, parts were taken ny members of the congregation, two of whom, Mr. S Baldock and Mrs. Hinkley, were over 80.


March. To avoid confusion with Hoo, our postal address was changed from “Cliffe-at-Hoo” to “Cliffe, Rochester.”
April. The death occurred of Mr. L. Oakey, who was not only present at the sinking of H.M.S. Victoria in 1893, and was at the Cape during the South African War, but, being recalled at the outbreak of the 1914 – 1918 war, was awarded the Medaille Militaine for services at Mons, and a certificate for gallantry with the R.N. division in 1915.
Following the departure of the Revd. J. N. Pratt, Rector for Cooling for 15 years, the parish of Cooling became linked with Cliffe, and in charge of the Rector of Cliffe (Canon F. S. Gammon).

Spending a holiday in Cliffe which he left 27 years ago when he sailed for Australia, Mr. Walter Loft said the biggest change he noticed in Cliffe was caused by the chalk excavations. “Fields I used to play in as a boy are now one big hole” he said.

While bird-watching in Cliffe on Easter Monday, two Cliffe men, Mr. R. Hutchings and Mr. L. Batchelor, jun. Saw a moustached warbler, a very rare visitor to these shores. It was under observation for half an hour. This is only the fifth recorded occasion on which this bird has been seen in this country since its first appearance in 1916.
June. The death occurred of Mrs. L. P. Ward, who was for 60 years a member of the church choir. She was also a founder member of the W.I.
August. Death of Mr. A. G. Batchelor of Gattons. He was a well-known farmer, a churchwarden, and one-time member of the Parish Council.
September. Sheep-dog trials were held for the first time in the district at Cooling marshes.
December. The 250 year old weather vane on the roof of the Parish Church was takendown and repainted – the first time for nearly 60 years.

February. Floods which affected much of the east coast on 3rd February, submerged the marshes both at Cliffe and Cooling. People residing at the Coastguard Cottages were evacuated, and hundreds of sheep had to be rescued. Collections throughout the village to aid sufferers from the floods realised £69. For work carried out in connection with the floods Sub-Officer J. Witherden received Queen’s commendation for brave conduct.

The Coastguard Cottages.
The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II June, 1953

A week of revelry was given a good start by the performance of a “Coronation Pageant” by the children of the C. P. Infants’ School, under the guidance of the headmistress, Miss Goodwin, and Mrs. N. Evenden, assistant mistress who had written the pageant especially for the occasion.

One day pupils of Miss Crickmore’s School of Dancing gave a wonderfully colourful display, and another evening was given over to a Camp Fire and Revels by the scouts, Cubs and Guides.
The highlight of the Women’s Institute concert which occupied another evening was the finale “This England” performed in a setting of rose-covered trelliswork, and included the singing of “The English Rose”, “Rose of England”, “England” and “Long live Elizabeth”, interspersed with the appearance of Queen Elizabeth I and Victoria, and concluding with the recitation of “Our Gracious Sovereign”.
The Parish Church Bellringers organised a Military Whilst Drive, and the week finished with a Carnival and Fete held on the Recreation Ground (arranged by the Memorial Hall Fund Committee) and a dance arranged by the Youth Club. In addition to a “Darby & Joan”Party, “street” parties were provided for all children residing in the village. At these parties each child received a souvenir of some sort, such as “Coronation” Crown-pieces, and also a book of information about the district, and given by the Strood Rural District Council. Children also received souvenir gifts from the Kent Education Committee – the older children spoons, and the younger ones beakers.
 To commemorate the Coronation, the Girl Guides a seat on the recreation Ground, and the Scouts a wayside seat in Church Street. Residents of Norwood area installed electric lighting in their bus shelter at Norwood Corner and the Youth Club provided litter bins.
 A beautiful knitted fine wool jumper designed and made by Miss Joan Smith, of Morning Cross Cottages, was a unique prize of “Coronation”handwork. As the illustration shows the design included the Royal Cypher, Britannia’s head, a lion and unicorn, garter-stars, crowns, orbs, swords, Tudor Roses, thistles, shamrocks and daffodils, as well as the words “Coronation, June, 1953, N. Ireland, Canada, S. Africa, Australia.”
November. At the Brewers’ and Allied Traders’ Exhibition held in London, first place was gained by Mr. S Lane, of Quickrells Farm, and third place by Mr. W. R. Filmer, of Manor Farm. By coming first for malting barley in the Home Counties section, Mr. Lane’s entry went on to compete with winners of other sections from all over Great Britain and Ireland, and in this he emerged victorious, and was awarded the 250 guinea silver championship cup. Mr. Filmer received a diploma and bronze medal.
The Misses Rita Ayears, Gloria Batchelor and Shirley Richards, who help in the Parish Church Sunday School, attended Founder’s Day Festival of the Children’s Society at the Albert Hall, when Rita and Shirely presented purses to Princess Margaret.

The Queen’s Homecoming – 15th May, 1954.

Many villagers (and a lot of visitors) made their way across the marshes to watch the Royal Yacht, Britannia, travelling London-wars, bringing home H.M. The Queen and her husband and children after their journey to distant lands.

  The Queen Returns.
                        .........welcomed home by people.

 ....who came in their cars.
January. Among the speakers at a meeting at the Methodist Church was Sir Richard Acland, Member of Parliament for Graves Division, of which Cliffe is part. The subject of his talk was “What Christ means to me.”
July. Although Cliffe Christian Mission has been in existence for more than 60 years, it only became registered for marriage this month, the first couple to be married there being Mr. R Fox and Miss Hagreen.
December. The death occurred of Mr. C. E. Rogers, for many years vice-chairman of the Parish Council, and a trustee of the Parochial Charities. He was also a circuit steward of the Methodist Church, and the founder of Cliffe Labour Party. At the Annual Parish meeting held the following March it was unanimously agreed that Mr.Rogers many years of public service be permanently commemorated.
The death also occurred of Mrs. B. Stanley, a keen committee member of Cliffe and Cooling Women’s Institute. Mrs. Stanley always took a great interest in amateur dramatics, and had taken part in plays performed by the Rochester Drama Griop, as well as those produced in the village.

April. A seat was placed in the Recreation Ground to commemorate services rendered to the village by the late Mr. C. E. Rogers.

November. Alternative premises in Church Street for use as Cliffe Post Office replaced those formally occupied in the High Street.

This ticket autographed by the Driver of passenger train, No. 31689, which made the last journey from Allhallows to Gravesend on a wet and windy Saturday night.

March. After practising in Cliffe for nearly 50 years, Dr. Arthur Boolds Rogers died at the advanced age of 97 years. He was loved and respected throughout the village, retiring from practise in 1945.

April. To celebrate the Coming-of-age of our Institute, a ‘sit-down’ party was arranged for this year. The twelve remaining Founder Members marked their pleasure at still belonging to the Institute by presenting new cups and saucers for use at the meetings. The Founder Mambers were also guests of the first President and Secretary on an outing to Lullingstone and Horton Kirby. Work was also started at the latter end of the year on a Banner for the Institute.

June. Work commenced on the building of Cliffe Memorial Hall, and completion expected by Christmas.
June. The first Flower and Music Festival ever held at the Parish Church, with village exhibitions nearby. Mediaeval costumes worn by many.

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