A printable PDF version of this newsletter can be downloaded from HERE
The decision about the Cleve Hill power station will be made in the next two weeks; we shall know the outcome by 28 May.
This really is your last chance to write to the secretary of state and have your voice heard. At the very least, please sign the petition. A link to the petition and some suggested content of a letter to the Secretary of State can be found on our website https://favershamsociety.org/cleve-hill/
As this newsletter is going to press we have 3,826 signatures on the online petition – we would like to get well over 4,000. If you think you have already signed please check, try again, the system will not let you sign more than once. And encourage friends and relatives.
Your board continues to meet virtually every month to conduct its business. The Planning Committee still meets each month submitting representation to the board for approval before they are submitted to Swale.
We are using the society’s website to share videos of our town’s heritage and you will find a panel linking to the gallery and to images of VE Day in Faversham on our home page. There is a growing collection of photographs and snaps of Faversham in the Year of the Plague. Do take a look and contribute if you see anything which should be recorded for posterity. We are grateful to Graham Setterfield for the unusual and historical pub quiz. I hope that you will enjoy it.
We recognise that many of you will be missing the VIC, the bookshop and the museum. The lockdown and social distancing is a strain. The website is a poor substitute, but there is interesting new material there and on our Facebook page. If you have any ideas about other things the Society might be doing for its members during this difficult time, please do get in touch
Please contribute photographs writing and videos to populate our site.
Last month’s newsletter was one of the most unusual in the history of the society. It contained hardly any society business – apart from news of the crucial fight against the appalling plan for a solar plant at Graveney – and hardly any history. Instead, it contained history in the making. You helped us to chronicle Faversham in the Year of the Plague and your contributions will be included in a book that we shall publish when we emerge from these frightening times
We had some marvellous photographs from several sources, including cheerful blossom from Patsy Rogers and views of the silent town by Mark Lewisohn (who when he’s not taking pictures is one of the highest-acclaimed biographers of the age) and Angus Nicol (who spends his spare time shopping for ale for his father-in-law, me).
Dorothy Percival told of her delight at the return of birdsong and exercising in the alley. Pat Reid, newly returned from a non-Covid cruise ship found herself on a hellbound train back to dear old Faversham. Sophie Kemsley took delight in walking to the postbox. Pat Ross discovered Instagram and your dear editor was stuck at his desk, whingeing about his sciatica, helping to bring out a national newspaper, and pondering about the future of post-virus humankind.
Here are our latest contributions. Keep them coming in and look on website, favershamsociety.org
Strange how the routine of the week has changed during time in lockdown. We used to go into the Fleur at least twice a week, usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays, volunteering in the curators’ office. Before going in the Fleur, a quick stop at Cosgroves for takeaway coffee, followed by lunch somewhere in town, either sandwiches eaten at our desks or a meal in somewhere like the Bear Inn. Wednesday night would be Faversham Camera Club, although I missed quite a few meetings this year. Friday night meeting our children in the Anchor or another pub in town before going to watch ice hockey at the Invicta Dynamos in Gillingham on Saturday and Sunday.
Now, the week revolves around different things. Vegetable box delivery on Wednesdays. Zoom online chats with the children and a chance to see our three-month-old granddaughter online. Friday night is quiz night, also via Zoom, with old friends all over the country.
Saturday is Zoom coffee with the family, rather than meeting at a coffee shop in town. It’d fair to say that like everyone we all miss the social contact. It is really nice when you bump into friends in town (from two metres away!) and catch up.
I am involved with the IT system in the Fleur and usually had several issues to sort out each week. I also work with Arthur Percival’s collection of paper and digital files, including his vast collection of photographic slides, photographs and negatives, some of which are on glass plates and quite fragile. With a small team of volunteers, we are slowly working though these, digitising them so we can access them on computer and eventually the internet.
At home, during lockdown I’ve taken the opportunity to work on Arthur’s collection. Normally I do not have the time to get involved with “long” tasks with the collection … there is simply not enough time during my days at the Fleur, and so I have used lockdown to start to “deduplicate” Arthur’s digital files.
Arthur backed up everything he did on the computer and kept large numbers of copies which we discovered when gathering all his digital files together. He had 547GB of files, which has been amended to 260GB, with nearly 150,000 duplicate files found. A lot more work now needs to be done, to check everything and make the information more accessible to volunteers, society members and members of the general public.
In addition, a new Faversham Society Channel has been set up on YouTube. This comprises videos and other resources that we had on display in the museum. The quality is variable, due to the date of when the original video or film was shot. There is also the opportunity to discover the story of the Pollock shipyard and the establishment of the Oare Gunpowder works Country Park. Two home-made videos contain photographs from glass-plate negatives from Arthur’s collection. One covers flying training during 1915 at Hendon and the other various Norwegian landscapes. We are unsure where Arthur obtained these negatives originally, but they form part of his collection. We intend to make more of the collection available online in due course. To visit the Faversham Society Channel, go to youtube.com and search for the Faversham Society.
Someone asked me which was worse: the war or the pandemic? I was only four when the Second World War broke out and I can remember that day vividly.
I recall all the housewives went out into Athelstan Road and gathered together, children tagging along, and voices saying: “We are at War with Germany.” I didn’t, of course, know what this meant but can picture it in my mind to this day. I was nearly 10 when victory was declared in Europe and this is hardly in my mind at all.
I cannot even remember having a street party: memory is failing with age! Of course there was the great loss of life with servicemen from Faversham and surrounding area. There was strict food rationing so really no one was better off than anyone else. No fresh eggs, just dried egg powder. And a banana was a forgotten treat!
Faversham was quite lucky really in terms of bomb damage and I recall going under the Morrison shelter [a stout metal cage, often kept under the kitchen table] some evenings. The Holmes family opposite – of grocery fame – had a large air raid shelter in their garden and we were often invited to go in there. It was quite comfortable.
People pulled together which is the one comparison I have with the present situation. People are pulling together and supporting each other now, as the coronavirus threatens.
People are dying in their thousands and those in the medical profession who have given their lives … they are present-day saints, in my opinion. Now of course there was the ridiculous panic buying – toilet rolls being a case in point. In the war it was squares of newspaper threaded on to a piece of string and hung in the lavatory.*
Faversham has always been a place for friendly people and it is even more so today, even total strangers stop and chat – 6ft 7in apart of course – and we are not going hungry. Another thing I have noticed is that there is far more cooking going on, and those of us lucky enough to have a garden, however small, appreciate the fact that nature does not stop: the flowers and trees carry on helping us to appreciate what we have.
* Editor’s note: My mother said the Radio Times was far preferred to the Daily Herald in this important task.
Here’s a quiz for those walks that liberate us from lockdown. I have put together a two-minute-plus video on YouTube of all the pubs I can locate in Faversham and its environs – 54 in all.
In some cases they remain as pubs, so they are easy. Others have long since been converted into houses. In one case the building has been knocked down and a well-known hideous building has replaced it, but generally where buildings have been demolished I haven’t included them. Every name has been edited out. Here it is … https://youtu.be/k9HOzvARV8s
You can pause the YouTube as it goes very swiftly. Stay well, enjoy your walks, don’t resort to an internet cheat immediately, but I suspect everyone will need to, should you decide to take part. Enjoy!
A number of applications were considered by the Planning Committee and the following comments will be submitted to the society’s board for consideration:
20/501366. Maron Cottage, Perry Wood. Cart shed garage. Current parking for the house is accessed across a public bridleway that runs through the garden onto the road. The garage is in the same position as the parking and would not affect the use of the bridleway. There is an outstanding application from the owner to divert the bridleway to the edge of the site, but this would be obstructed by the proposed garage. The design is acceptable in the context. The Faversham Society supports the KCC rights of way officer that the bridleway through the site should be maintained at a width of three metres if the parking barn is permitted.
20/501243 Land at Oare Gravel Works, Ham Road. Relocation and restoration of the Charge House. This is one of the original buildings of the Marsh Gunpowder Works. It is not individually listed but is a non-designated heritage asset. It was used as a magazine to store explosives, and so was set away from the other buildings in the saltpetre/gunpowder works at the works. The approved scheme includes a six-metre flood bund around the gunpowder works buildings with a one-in-three gradient, which means that the charge house would be on the line of the bund. It is intended to move it 15 metres but still in open ground. It is also intended to fully restore the building but put in on a concrete raft foundation. With some reluctance, the Faversham Society accepts the dismantling and rebuilding of the Charge House. The refurbishment should use all existing materials as far as practicable. It is unfortunate that the extent of the bund could not have been designed to retain the structure in its current position because of its use as a magazine which would have been as far as possible from the other structures. It is regrettable that we have found out so late that the bund compromises its position. Any interpretation board that describes the saltpetre works that is placed on site should show the original layout of the buildings for reference by visitors.
20/500903 39-40 Preston Street. Change of use from barber’s shop (class A1) to dental laboratory (class B1). This building has been in use as a hairdressing shop since at least 1959 according to a minute from the former Faversham Borough Council’s Housing, Town Planning and Development Committee. It is not intended to change the shopfront at this stage. However, there will be internal partitions within the main space at the front of the building. Class B1 is not a use that needs to be in a retail area but is one that provides jobs and has to be quiet enough to be in a residential area. This part of Preston Street has a mix of uses including a bus repair works, a church, a public house/restaurant, funeral director and some residential. This proposal should be supported because it will retain the building in an employment use. The building is in an easily accessible location where it could continue to make a contribution to the economic life of the town centre. It would also be useful to local dentists to have a dental laboratory in Faversham. The heritage statement submitted with this application does not acknowledge the building’s history as a late 17th-century Dutch gable end house unfortunately altered in the 19th and 20th centuries. Any works should be sensitive to the building’s historic fabric and character.
20/501606(lbc) 48 Middle Row. Painting of the east elevation of the building. This was the former Star Inn and is a separate building for the more modern Gange Mews. The front of the building is of brick that has been painted cream. The east elevation is the gable end of the building and has been rendered. It is intended to paint the render to match the colour of the front brickwork. Painting of the render to match the brickwork of the front elevation would improve the appearance of the building and would preserve the special historic character of the listed building. Any unpainted or unrendered brickwork should remain exposed.
19/505833 Flint Barn, 22A Nightingale Road. Conversion of a former agricultural building into a house. The committee last considered this in December, 2019. The revised drawings delete the solar panels from the rear roof and reduce the size of the rear rooflight. The front rooflights are deleted and shutters are proposed over the windows at high level on the gable ends of the building. The internal works include retaining the open roof at first floor level. This scheme has been substantially improved from the earlier submission and the scheme would preserve the special architectural character of the exterior of the listed building. It is noted that the applicant, who is an architect, intends to retain or reuse as much as possible of the fabric including the brick flooring and timber floor in the first floor. Such retention of the maximum amount of internal fabric will help to retain the integrity of this unusual listed building.
Launched in 1892, Greta is one of the oldest remaining Thames sailing barges left in Britain.
Early in the Second World War Greta was chartered by the Ministry of Supply. Her cargo was ammunition from the army depot at Upnor, near Rochester, to naval vessels anchored at the Nore in the Thames Estuary.
In 1940, Greta took part in the evacuation from Dunkirk and is the oldest “little ship” still active.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of Operation Dynamo, the Dunkirk evacuation, and she will be sailing again as soon as she is able after the pandemic has passed.
More details on the website www.greta1892.co.uk
I was privileged to know Antje Nicholls as a close friend, confidante, fellow chorister in both the Cantiana Choir and Faversham Voices, as well as a Faversham Society bookshop colleague. She is always in my thoughts.
David Palmer, of Tanners Street, Faversham, died at William Harvey Hospital on 19 February, aged 69. He had a wide circle of friends and many interests, including the Chart Mills, the Fleur museum, music and crossword puzzles. He was always a great person to have on our quiz team.