Chatham Memories

This England - - Nelson's Column -

Sir: Read­ing the “Ju­nior Sales” ar­ti­cle (“For­get-me-nots”, Win­ter 2016) took me back as I lived just five min­utes from Hawkins shop. I was born in 1947, and lived in Chatham un­til 1970. Hawkins would have been on the cor­ner of Church Street and the New Road, then the main trunk road from Dover to Lon­don, the A2. Op­po­site would have been a Fri­ary Meux pub. The other cor­ner was a chemist and the fourth cor­ner was St. Paul’s Church. All have gone now!

At the bot­tom of Church Street was our High Street, which started at Lu­ton Arches. This viaduct still car­ries the trains from east and north Kent to Lon­don.

Names the au­thor of the ar­ti­cle may re­mem­ber in­clude: El­liott’s bike shop, Petts the newsagents, Packer’s the bak­ers, Clif­ford’s the leather shop, Lofts fish and chip shop, and Pats the sweet shop where ev­ery Easter there would be an enor­mous egg dis­played in the win­dow.

Op­po­site was the Re­gent cin­ema. Then came the no­to­ri­ous Cage Lane, hang out for the Teddy Boys in the late 1950s. Cooper’s record shop was where I bought my first 78 record, Frankie Ly­mon and the Teenagers. Then the Ritz cin­ema where us ABC Mi­nors would go to Satur­day morn­ing flicks. I could go on.

It was a won­der­ful place, but like so many oth­ers, it has gone to seed. There wasn’t a phone shop, char­ity shop or Pound shop to be seen. Ev­ery premises was in use. There were pubs dot­ted along the way, too nu­mer­ous to men­tion. My mum called it the Golden Mile. She prob­a­bly wasn’t far wrong. —



The Town Hall in Leeds, York­shire. A reader re­calls vis­it­ing a de­part­ment store when it first opened in the city. See “High Street Shops”.

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