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    Reminiscences Project Readings and Fun Quiz.

    by Members of HVHG


    Report of meeting on Thursday,22nd November, 2007

photograph of meeting poster

The meeting was originally scheduled as “Dickens at Christmas” but our speaker was unable to attend. Instead, members were treated to eight readings from the Reminiscences Project. A record of memories of everyday life in Higham since the beginning of the 20th century was compiled from interviews with local people and details from the School Log Book and the WI Scrapbook.

At the turn of the century Higham agriculture comprised of mainly hops and fruit. The oast houses on Whitehouse Farm and Hermitage Road were in use for drying the hops. The school children were often away from school with epidemics of measles, scarlet fever and whooping cough. There was much poverty with children staying away from school because they had no shoes or boots.

The First World War. In 1914 Great Hermitage became a convalescent home. There were raids by Zeppelins but there were no air raid shelters. Marines based at Chatham were billeted with families in the village. There was a munitions factory on Cliffe marshes. One couple met there and were married at St Mary’s Church and spent all their married life in Bull Lane. By 1918 food shortages were a serious problem. Children were absent from school in order to wait in food queues. Ration books were introduced in June. At 11am on 11th November 1918 the children were told that hostilities had ceased. They marched to the recreation ground, raised the Union flag and sang “God Save The King”.

In the 1920’s children from Higham School entered a wild flower competition organised by Mrs Michele from Higham Hall. Afterwards there was a tea with peaches from her walled garden. The bakery adjoining the Railway Tavern was tiny; even so, Mr & Mrs Byron’s bread was delicious.

In the 1930’s travelling shops came to the village regularly. Cooks from Rochester sold paraffin and candles, Dallas Brothers fruit and vegetables and the fish man came on Fridays. Mr & Mrs Cole collected boots and shoes for mending and ‘old Woody’ came in his pony and trap to sell shellfish on Sundays.

World War 2. Once war was declared 65 children were evacuated from Rochester to Higham. An ARP group was stationed at The Knowle and gas masks were issued from there. Higham Home guard was run by Mr Patterson, the manager of the water works. On 17th September 1940 three brave men were guarding the area around the Larkin Memorial armed with only one gun and five rounds of ammunition between them.

The late 1940’s life was settling back to normal. The Higham Women’s Institute was founded in July 1946. They met in the school hall which had no heating after the school day. During the winter months each member would bring a peice of coal from home so that a fire could be lit. Higham Station was busy with a waiting room with a coal fire and a separate ladies waiting room. There was always a porter to carry your bags or pram across the track while you walked over the bridge. In winter 1947 everything was frozen for several weeks. The canal froze over and the milkman had to deliver from a sledge.

The Memorial Hall was opened in 1950 and the first piano bought for £20. It was used for village social events with films being shown occasionally. The first Higham carnival was in 1953, celebrating the Coronation. Decorated floats competed for the first prize, won by St John’s Church Young Wives group. Pat freeman was crowned “Miss Higham” and pensioners were treated to a tea party on the recreation ground.

There was also an excellent exhibition of old photographs of Higham. During the break members and guests enjoyed a glass of mulled wine and earnt it by taking part in a quiz!

Here is just a taster – all the answers are places in Kent.

1. Business transaction
2. Ear of cereal
3. Handy snack
4. Fruity entrance
5. 9.50a.m
6.100 moved quickly in water

Report written by Sally Starbuck.

Last Revised: 06-Dec-2007

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