Day to Day => Towns & Villages => Topic started by: Minsterboy on June 13, 2011, 14:57:27

Title: Sheerness
Post by: Minsterboy on June 13, 2011, 14:57:27
In 1957 I was 10 years old and living with my parents and younger sisterin Unity Street in Sheerness. Unity Street was, and still is, one of several terraced, two-uo, two down streets that led odd of Richmond Street. All were within hearing and smelling distance of the sea and it's foghorns and four years earlier, when the sea broke through in 1953, had even been in touching distance when the sea flooded all out houses!
Richmond Street was the central. straight street and ran from the seawall at one end to eventually become St. Helens Road at the other end. Three of the side streets were on both sides of Richmond Street, like ribs, and they were Alma Street, James Street and Unity Street, just Clyde Street and Coronation Road comprised of one half.

During the time that I lived there, from just after my birth in 1947 to 1958, it was very much a self contained community, with several shops and pubs. On the top corner of Richmond Street, opposite the seafront, was the largest building, "The Victoria". With several floors and many windows it was to known to most of Sheppey as "The Glasshouse" and I doubt that many actually knew its proper name. Working down Richmond Street the first street that you came to was Alma Street where the "Heights of Alma" and "Hero of the Crimea" were - the "Heights" at one end alongside the Alexandra Road infants school and the "Hero" on the corner of Richmond Street. Next street was James Street wherin lie "The British Admiral" and then Clyde Street where, diectly opposite each other were "The Blacksmiths Arms" and the "Man of Kent".

There was also a good selection of shops, many in fact. Once again, starting at the seaward end of Richmond Street, there was firstly the twin Co-op shops, one a butchers and the other grocery. Opposite them was "Harry the barbers". Basically this place was the converted front room of his house where Harry carried out the traditional practise of a "short back and sides" barber for many years. Like most in the neighbourhood I went there every few weeks as a child for my haircut, at a shilling a cut, and for many years was always mystified why he only asked the grown ups "something for the weekend sir", at which money and a small package would change hands.

There was another small shop on the corner of Alma Street (still is) and further down one half of Alma Street was the side by side shops of Jones the butchers and a fish 'n chips shop. Coming back out into Richmond Street and before you got to James Street there was an open-fronted greengrocers that we all knew locally as "The Shed" but I believe was owned by somebody called Bridges. Despite the weather, all the produce was laid out in neat sections alongside the pavement, making it easy for us children to walk by and uplift an apple or an orange as we made our way to the beach. Directly opposite there was another house which had converted the front room into a shop, this time selling sweets and newspapers.  A few yaeds further on was James Street and on the corner there was a grocers where we would be sent to get the cold meat, cheeses, dried fruits, etc. It was always fascinating as children to watch the cold meat being cut by the ounce and from a joint, on a machine with a large, circular blade and then wrapped in greaseproof paper. Halfway down the half of James Street opposite the grocers was a small shop that sold all kinds of material and sewing materials. I used to go to this shop as a child and ask for empty cardboard cartons in which I would keep my caterpillars and things.

Carrying on we arrive at Clyde Street, only on one side of Richmond Street but down here there was a small sweet shop by "The Blacksmiths" and then at the bottom of the road, next to the alley, was a fish 'n chip shop, which competed with Curds in Rose Street for the title of best chippy on Sheppey. My family used to have a weekly treat of fish 'n chips every Saturday lunch time and it was always my task to walk up the Unity Street back alley to the chippy to get them. Having purchased them, plus a portion of crackling, I would religiously always dig a small hole through the newspaper as I walked hole and prise out a chip or two before carefully re-wrapping them.
I also seem to recall in Clyde Street, opposite the "Man Of Kent", that there was a gap between two houses which led to a yard behind where a horse was stabled. It was owned by a Mr. Wood who used it to pull an open-backed trailer from which he would sell fruit and vegetables. When he eventuall retired fromthat he and his family moved to the next street, Unity Street and I went to Sea Cadets with both of his sons, Michael and Barry.

Back in Richmond Street, at the top of Clyde Street, there was a row of tiny, terraced houses, the downstairs of one which had been converted into a sweet shop owned by a Mr. Read. This was the daily magnet for all the school children going to the Boys and Girls Secondary schools in nearby Jefferson Road, a magnet because it was easy to steal things! We would pile into Readies shop mob-handed and while a short-tempered Mr. Read was attempting to control those children at the front, those of us at the back were secreting anything we could lay our hands on, even whole sweet jars, inside our coats.

Back on our tour of the local shops we next had a general store on the corner of Unity Street and Richmond Street. This short section of Unity Street, leading to the Boys' Secondary School (The Central) also had in it a builder's shop and yard by the name of Cox's.
Finally, in the long stretch of Unity Street, there were two more small shops, both converted from the front rooms of houses. A short way down on the left was Mrs. Austin's shop and further down on the right, several houses past my house, was the second. I ised to be sent to this one on a regular basis to buy replacement gas mantles for our gas lights - we had no electricity or hot water in those days. The gas mantle was a small, round porcelain thing with a brittle webbing cup that twisted on to the end of the gas light to give the same effect as a bulb these days.
Very finally, on the bend of Unity Street where it became Wellesley Road, there was the Ambulance Station. Nothing more exciting for us kids, busy playing "boats" in the rain flooded gutters with lolly sticks, to suddenly see the big doors rolled back and out come an ambulance, all bells clanging.

So, incredibly for such a small area, it had a total of six pubs and seventeen shopsof various sizes, all making a reasonable living from times when most things were bought fresh each day and there were no large supermarkets. Realistically, that small community probably had more on its doorstep than any other of its size in the whole of Sheerness and was probably only matched on Sheppey as a whole, by Bluetown.
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: sheppey_bottles on June 17, 2011, 10:16:05
Thanks for that past insight into Marine town Minsterboy, it reminds me of where I used to live in the outskirts of London (formerely a Kentish village) Every corner had a shop, every archway had a depot and the pubs were frequent full and very lively and the street trade was there as well..rag and bone, parafin  etc. happy days that will never return!

PS.. Was there a Martins store still running whilst you lived in the area or had they long sold up..I have old bottles etc from them. One other thing...I have bottles that are marked Blue Town and Mile Town but have not seen a bottle, flagon etc marked marine Town, has anyone seen one at all?
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: Minsterboy on June 17, 2011, 13:17:53
They were great times and fantastic communties as you obviously recall and like you say, no matter how many, the pubs were always full of all manner of characters. Me, as a youngster, I used to get left in the Jug and Bottle with an arrowroot biscuit and a bottle of Vimto, while my dad was in the main bar.

I don't recall any Martins store, where was it located.
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: sheppey_bottles on June 17, 2011, 13:25:38
Martins the grocers were in Richmond Street but may have long gone when you were there Minsterboy. I remember having to go down the offy for my nan to get her a bottle of Stout..Mackeson I think. When I was a kid I used to place bets at the bookies for a lady across the road as well, she used to write it out on the inside of an opened out fag packet ( Weights), they would never let you in nowadays!! I was only about 9-11 years old, paid for my jamboree bag and jubblies though :)
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: CDP on June 17, 2011, 14:32:35
Sheppey-Bottles  . As well as Marine Town , Mile Town , Blue Town , don't forget Banks Town etc
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: Minsterboy on June 17, 2011, 14:49:53
So where round there did you live Sheppey Bottles?
Although I don't recall it, I imagine that Martins could of been the grocers on the corner of James Street/Richmond Street.

Banks Town named after Delemark Banks, but where exactly was Banks Town, difficult to know where all the demarcation lines were.
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: sheppey_bottles on June 17, 2011, 17:50:42
I did not live round there Minsterboy just have bottles from that area. I do not know which premises Martins had but someone I spoke to many years ago at a Harty flower festival said that they remember Martins having a codd bottle opener built into the counter. I just wondered if you knew the shop at all but as I say it may have been long before your time as she is now getting towards her late eighties I should think.

CDP.. Well, there was me thinking that I had two thirds of the area covered and of course I forgot Banks Town!.. so half way there and two areas to find then :) they may be out there as I never thought I would see one with Blue Town on as The Criterion flagon has.
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: Guest on June 17, 2011, 17:58:40
Mackeson I think.

Yes, Mackeson's Nourishing Stout: my Gran used to drink it. She'd buy a crate of pint bottles from Lukeys in Dover, open the first one evening and drink half of it, then ram the crown cork back on. And then drink the second (flat) half the next evening, and so on. Sorry, Admin, way off topic I know...
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: CDP on June 17, 2011, 18:31:55
And there was also Wards Town named after Tubby Wards faher  ( remember him selling comics along the beaches in the Summer  ?)   who built 50 houses in Jefferson Road .Tubby used to live in one of them
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: sheppey_bottles on June 17, 2011, 18:34:56
Please don't think of any more CDP :)
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: sheppey_bottles on June 17, 2011, 18:35:53
Yes, I am sure it was Mackesons..she used to call it her medicine. Mackesons were at Hythe by the way and I do have an old embossed bottle from them :)
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: Minsterboy on June 17, 2011, 19:07:37
I only remember Tubby Ward living in a house in Richmond Street, opposite the end of Clyde Street, he was still living there I believe until he died. He wallpapered his walls will newspaper I seem to recall.

In my late teens/early twenties Stout and mild was my drink and Mackeson was the stout of choice.
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: CDP on June 17, 2011, 19:45:49
Minster boy   Yes ,you are correct ,I always mix those roads up.

and Sheppey bottles I can only think of Mr.Seasger who built Seager Road.

Does Seager Town ring a bell ( ha ha ) only joking !
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: Minsterboy on June 17, 2011, 19:54:34
On the subject of bottles, although not the type Sheppey Bottles is interested in, I recall we used to be able to buy sterilised milk in long glass bottles. When I was around 9-10 I found that there was one type that had like olympic rings around the neck and that if you took the empty ones back to the corner shop he gave you 2d refund per bottle. So there was me as a youngster, after dark, going along Jefferson Road collecting all of these type of bottles that I could find that had been put out for the milkman. It didn't last long as a money spinner tho, because the shop keeper soon sussed what I was up to.
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: sheppey_bottles on June 18, 2011, 12:31:00
Very funny CDP.. I am running out of room so do not want too much to look for now.
Minsterboy I would be after one of those bottles if they have Sheerness etc embossed/printed on the glass. I also used to get returns but it was for Pepsi bottles. 'No' we never climbed over the back of the Rose and Crown at Leysdown :)
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: CDP on June 27, 2011, 12:04:24
Re the thread on the different towns in Sherrness ( I can't find the original )

 "........ also called Unity Street built by Jimmy Ward of 50 houses sometimes called

            The Fifties ,Tenants became owners after paying rent for 13 years "

 see  Local newspaper  1919 Jan 4th

Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: Deano on August 07, 2011, 14:48:35
I used to climb over the back gate of many a off-licence and then collect the retuns...
why is it, the only people who never knew about it was the blokes running the off-licence
never could work that out
Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: kyn on January 18, 2013, 14:22:12

Title: Re: Sheerness
Post by: kyn on April 22, 2016, 20:54:36
A fascinating report recently released by Historic England which looks in depth and the beginnings of the Town of Sheerness.  It mentions the importance of the boundaries of the fortifications but follows the town as it develops from a small Dockyard hamlet to a large and popular town: