A Virtual Museum - Your Town, the Borough and its History

1949
• Milton Congregational Church, Clarence Place, Gravesend was re-opened after the building was damaged by a bomb blast during the Second World War.
• The County Technical School for Girls at Wombwell Hall, opened. The house had been the home of the Colyer-Fergusson family until 1937. (See 1860, 1988, 1994)
• A plaque commemorating the Swedish playwright Johan August Strindberg, who lived at 12 Pelham Road during the 1890’s, was placed on the Town Pier. Film and stage stars Michael Redgrave and Freda Jackson assisted the Mayor and the Swedish Chargé d’affaires in the ceremony.
• Gravesend and Northfleet were flooded in March when the Thames overflowed its banks. Strong north-east winds caused the rush of water. The Promenade, West Street, East Street and the canal area were under water.
• The brick foundation of Cobham Windmill, opposite the village Primary school, was made into a private dwelling.
• Gravesend Borough Band recruited its first female playing member.
• Thieves broke into the Estates Office at Cobham Hall, the seat of the Earl and Countess of Darnley, and carried away a heavy steel safe for a quarter of a mile before ripping it open and getting away with about £20.
• Gravesend’s War Memorial restoration finally completed after war damage. (See 1940)
• The residents of Istead Rise, Northfleet built a new community hall in Lewis Road. The hall’s construction was funded solely by the residents.
• Sir Arthur Gouge, designer of the Sunderland Flying Boats, revisited his old school of St. Botolph’s, Northfleet. (See 1931)
• A deputation from Gravesend Borough Council met the South Eastern Metropolitan Hospital Board and the Medway and Gravesend Hospital Management Committee, to urge for a maternity home at the old isolation hospital in Whitehill Lane, Gravesend. (See 1887, 1928, 1957)
• Mr Sandy Powell, the famous stage, film and radio star, opened the Gravesend Division Conservative Association fete at the “White Hart” public house, Chalk. Nearly 2000 people attended the function.
• Northfleet Urban District Council planned to divide the authority into wards for election purposes. Until this period a block vote system of election had operated.
•  Three memorial tablets were unveiled at the offices of the Gravesend and Dartford Reporter to honour members of the staff killed in both world wars.
• The first policewoman to control traffic in Gravesend, W.P.C. Mary Barton, took over her duties in October.
• Milton Parish Church’s iron gates, made by Messrs E.A. and H. Sandford Ltd. of Thames Iron Works, Gravesend, were presented to the Rector of Milton.
• Gravesend Public Library started its production of the magazine “The Gravesend Bookman” which dealt with new items added to stock and had articles covering local events.
• Denton Branch Library in Old Road East opened in December. (See 1993)

1950
• The Mayor received £12,000 for his Almshouse Appeal Fund from the trustees of Mrs C.H. Leveridge who died in December 1899.
• Major-General C.W. Norman opened the new playing fields at Cobham. Afterwards a cricket match was played on the field with the players dressed in 1850’s costume.
• A colorado beetle was found in Clarendon Road, Gravesend. (The beetle is a serious agricultural pest that feeds on the leaves of the potato plant and must be reported if found).
• Strood Rural District Council decided to abandon the proposal of establishing a permanent village at Vigo. (See 1947, 1965)
• There was an increasing demand for extra lighting in the Parrock Farm area. The five roads which make up the estate were lit by a mere six lamps. New lighting was installed in October 1950.
• King’s Farm Community Hall was opened by the Mayor in September.
• Gravesend and Northfleet F.C. might have gone into liquidation had the public not helped financially.
• Cobham Post Office introduced an automatic telephone service in December.
• St. John’s Roman Catholic School moved into temporary buildings on its present site, off Rochester Road, Denton. (See 1960, 1965)

1951
• Gravesend Cemetery’s belfry built in 1838, was removed because of structural dangers. The belfry had not been used for 30 years before its demolition.
• St Mary’s Church, Wrotham Road, Gravesend became a separate parish.
• Milton Parish Church’s lych gate was dedicated by the Bishop of Rochester as a memorial to the men of Milton killed during the Second World War.
• Group Captain Douglas Bader, the famous WWII R.A.F. pilot who had both legs amputated, unveiled the war memorial to the men of Meopham. The memorial was a special window in Meopham Parish Church.
• Northfleet Parish’s bounds were beaten for the first time in 26 years. The ecclesiastical boundary covers some 15 miles.
• Gravesend and Northfleet Football Club won the London League Cup by defeating Bedford Town 2-1.
• Queen Mary was a surprise passenger on the Gravesend-Tilbury ferry.
• Roman Catholics celebrated 1000 years of worship at the site of St Mary’s Chapel, Denton in May.
• Luddesdowne Rectory was put up for sale and the vicar transferred to Cobham Vicarage.
• The meals on wheels service was begun by the Women’s Voluntary Service.
• Festival of Britain celebrations took place in Gravesend, Northfleet and surrounding villages during June.
• Lord Louis Mountbatten visited Gravesend Customs House.
• St Thomas’s Almshouses, Wrotham Road, were extended. A twelfth block was constructed with the foundation stone laid by Alderman P.E. Lines. (See1624, 1730, 1838, 1897, 1937, 1960, 1992)
• Two new tennis courts, costing over £1000 were opened in Woodlands Park.
• Puckle Hill House in Shorne was opened as a home for sufferers of cerebral palsy. The home dealt with the age group fourteen to twenty one. The house was opened by Sir Richard Acland, Gravesend M.P.
• The new building of the Northfleet School for Girls, Hall Road, Northfleet was officially opened in November.
• Population of Gravesend and Milton 44,560. Population of Northfleet 18,821.

1952
• A public announcement that Princess Elizabeth was to become Queen Elizabeth II, following the death of her father King George VI, was made at the Clock Tower, Gravesend. The proclamation was made by the Mayor and Corporation, attended by a large crowd.
• The local police force sought the help of local licensees to try and reduce the ever increasing rate of drunkeness in Gravesend. The appeal was made at the annual licensing sessions at Gravesend.
• Two men were charged at Northfleet Magistrates’ Court with setting fire to St Botolph’s Church, Northfleet. The fire damaged wooden panels, shelves, surplices, cassocks and hymn books.
• Shorne, Higham, Cobham, Meopham and Luddesdowne all supported Strood Rural District Council in its objection to a proposal by Rochester City Corporation to annex large parts of the rural areas.
• The Promenade Café of Gravesend was opened by the Mayor of Gravesend, Alderman R.N. Fletcher in April. It was described as the first really new thing produced in Gravesend since the war.
• The old windmill at Shorne was severely damaged by fire in April. (See 1776, 1944).
• The Secretary of State for War announced the ending of military training on Higham Marshes which had resulted in loud explosions and consequently complaints by residents.
• The roof over part of the auditorium of the Grand Theatre, Gravesend collapsed because of damage caused by lead thieves. The building was demolished in December. (See 1842, 1884, 1900)
• Baynard Castle, a 19th century building which stood in Sheppey Place and was built by Edward Lacey, Mayor of Gravesend in 1851, was demolished.
• A brass chandelier worth £1500 was stolen from St George’s Church in October.
• Gravesend and Northfleet Football Club were given permission by the Ministry of Works, for the installation of floodlights at the ground in Stonebridge Road.
• St George’s Church was opened as a Chapel of Unity, after it came under threat of closure, due to the decline in the town centre population. The church was replaced by St.James’s as the parish church of Gravesend. (See 1968)

1953
• 300 tons of earth and chalk collapsed into a 60 foot deep quarry at Northfleet killing a man. It was assumed that a thaw had contributed to the landslide.
• The restoration of St Margaret’s Church, Ifield had cost a total of £1,074 3s 11d.
• Flooding occurred at Gravesend in February. West Street and Gordon Gardens were badly flooded as were the cellars and outbuildings of the “Ship and Lobster” public house at Denton. The riverside area of Northfleet was partially submerged. Higham Marshes were flooded, with water extending three miles inland after the sea wall gave way in six places. The church of St Mary escaped damage. Queen Elizabeth II visited the Thameside area, including Gravesend, to inspect the flooding.
• An appeal for £6000 needed to repair Rosherville Church, Northfleet was launched. The church was described as “derelict” because of its appearance which was caused by the bad state of erosion of the stonework.
• Strood Rural District Council, Cobham and Shorne Parish Councils and Gravesend Borough Council discussed details over a long period of how they were going to deal with the camp at Laughing Waters, Shorne. The camp, consisting of many temporarily rehoused families was lacking in basic amenities.
• The 60 year old organ in Holy Trinity Church was repaired and restored.
• The Darnley Stagecoach was presented for public viewing at Cobham Hall after extensive repairs. The coach was bought back from Ireland in 1951. It can still be seen on display at the Hall. (See 1976)
• The closure of Princes Street Chapel and Milton Congregational Church, Clarence Road, was announced. “Glenthorne”, the residence of J. Russell the brewer, situated at the junction of Spring Grove and Old Road East, was then opened as a congregational church, where both congregations could worship. It was dedicated by the local minister, Rev.W.T.M. Clewes in July. (“Glenthorne” was demolished in 1971.)
• Coronation celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II occurred throughout the district, they included: Gravesend - a visit by HMS “Swiftsure” and Destroyers “Diamond” and “Duchess”, united open air service in Fort Gardens, a cricket match at the Bat and Ball ground between Gravesend and a Royal Navy X1, production of “Merrie England” and various street and other festivities. Northfleet - carnival procession, gymkana, celebrations at Wombwell Park. Higham - Coronation Queen festivities. Shorne - prize for the most decorative garden. Cobham - midnight fireworks. Meopham - “Week of Fun” festivities and carnival. Chalk - Foundation of the village social club.
•  Gads Hill School, Higham was extended in June to make room for extra pupils. The extension was of a Georgian style so as to blend in with the original house, built in 1780.
• Gravesend Council allotted a room in Milton Chantry building, as a museum, where the collection of the former Mayor, George Arnold could be displayed, together with material from the collection of the Gravesend Historical Society. (See 1874, 1911, 1970, 1982, 1995)
• Passenger services ended on the Gravesend West Street line. (See 1886, 1968)
• The new chapel of the Gravesend and North Kent Hospital was dedicated by the Bishop of Rochester.
• Fire ravaged the old farmhouse of Oakleigh Farm in Higham killing a 79 year old resident and severely damaging the house.
• Vye’s store in Windmill Street, Gravesend was one of the first “self-service” shops which later developed into the supermarket idea.
• Arthur James Mann, Chalk village’s last blacksmith, retired from the forge at Chalk.