The Late Rev. Thomas Gerald Williams (known to all as Gerald) wrote his “Memories” for Cllr. Ron Boorman last year. We hope that you will enjoy reading them.
"Harold Wilson once said that a week is a long time in politics. That may or not be true, it is certainly true that 60 years which have passed since my days in Teynham is a long time in the affairs of men and women - this has been brought home to me to discover that boys I knew as Cubs are now Old Age Pensioners.
I moved to Teynham in the summer of 1937 as Assistant Curate in succession to George Cowell who moved to Sheerness Parish Church. Previously I had no knowledge of Teynham. I grew up in East Kent and the Diocese of Canterbury helped me to be ordained for this was before the age of grants to students, and I expressed the wish to work in a country parish.
I stayed at the Vicarage when I first moved to Teynham as the family where George Cowell had lodged did not wish to take another curate. Mr Purser arranged for me to lodge with Mr & Mrs Home at “The Gables” in London Road. This proved to be a very happy arrangement and I remained friends with the Homes till they died. In 1942 I was able to rent “Castlewood” as I wanted to make a home for my mother.
I came to Teynham at the time of the Parish Gift Day. I was responsible for putting the Gift envelopes in the Church safe after the Morning Service, and I was one of the few people who knew where the key was kept. In the evening the envelopes had disappeared. As a newcomer the finger of suspicion naturally pointed at me. Fortunately for me the Police discovered the real culprit.
The occupation of most of the men was in agriculture and Teynham was well-known as a fruit growing district, particularly cherries. Teynham claims to be the first place in England to grow cherries, and I still believe that the Teynham cherries are the best I have ever tasted. The women were able to add to their household funds nearly all the summer, starting with hop-tying in the Spring and going on to early and late fruit picking in the summer and hop-picking in the autumn. Many of the men worked at Eastwood's Brickfields and at Lloyd’s Paper mill in Sittingbourne. It has been said that Kent people are independent and do not like strangers, but those who live amongst them soon learn their real kind hearts and friendliness.
The formation of a Scout Troop and Cub Pack was greeted with enthusiasm and many of the boys retain happy memories of those days. Recently reunions have been held. The first Cub Camp was held at Tovil, near Maidstone, the week before the outbreak of War, and the campers returned a day earlier when the Government started to evacuate children. The Pack was able to camp at Tovil during the War in 1941, 1942 and 1943.
Meetings were held in the loft at “Brusons” and then in the Ambulance Hut. I was keen to find some kind of public service for the Cubs and they worked hard in collecting waste paper for Lloyds Paper Mill at Sittingbourne, the proceeds were sent to the Red Cross.
Teynham was joined with the old parish of Buckland where there was a ruined Church in which an open-air service was held on the August Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon; one of the Church bells was preserved at the farmhouse.
The War brought its special problems. St Andrew’s Church was blacked out so it was possible to continue holding evening services there. The greater number of people lived in the Greenstreet area so it was natural that the active life of the parish should continue there, especially after damage to the Parish Church in 1941.
At the start of the War mothers, babies and school children were evacuated from South East London to Teynham - the mothers and babies soon returned home, the school boys and girls were moved to South Wales on the fall of France in 1940. We had a grandstand view of the daylight bombing of Eastchurch Aerodrome on Sheppey and of the Battle of Britain, never to be forgotten days. The Government expected a blitz on the Medway towns and they made plans for the people in that area to be moved to the Teynham area if there should be heavy bombing. They arranged that I should be Billeting Officer and I was issued with the necessary plans. Fortunately it never came to pass.
Teynham was a training area for the Forces, and in addition to our own men there were large number of Maons in the area, who went on to Crete and many of them never returned. At the same time gypsies were drafted in to the area for farm work, and an explosive situation might well have surfaced, but friction was contained within reasonable limits.
Mr Purser’s health became more and more of a problem so I stayed at Teynham until he retired in 1943, and in addition to my duties in Teynham, I was put in charge of Rodmersham, where the Vicar had become a Naval Chaplain. I moved to Whitstable Parish Church as Assistant Curate in March 1944."