Boyhood memories of the Thirties - 'Christmas' {1994}

We hear so much these days, especially at Christmas, of jobless and homeless sleeping rough on the streets.

Although there was a recession in the thirties and times were hard I don’t recall anyone sleeping under the stars in this area. Some led an outdoor life but at least they had a form of shelter. After the demise of the Barling family, Emma Barling lived in a shack offNouds Laneunder, I suspect, the watchful eye of the McMichael household at Walpole Grange.

There was an elderly gentleman ‘Whoop’, so called by us boys for the whoop of joy he always gave us as he passed on his bicycle for his daily trip to Conyer. He lived quite happily in a hut at the back of ‘Barney Wilkins (now Reeds) butchers shop.

‘Gypsy’ Lee, a true Romany and a gentleman, lived in a hop hut at Buckland. When I lived at Lower Newlandswe often passed the time of day as he went about his business in his pony and trap.

Although jobs and money were hard to come by, village folk always enjoyed their Christmas with what little they bad. What ever you have, what ever you do, may you enjoy yours.

To my many friends in Teynham, I wish you a ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’


Bells ring out their yuletide message
As cold bites into the night
A young man sleeps in a cardboard box
With flimsy lid shut tight.

Festive lights in the High Street
Shine onto the local grocer
The old lady hunched in the door way
Pulls her tattered coat much closer.

In the square by the Christmas Tree
A beggar sits with cap proffered
Hoping with some season cheer
Accepting what little that’s offered.

Down by the railway under an arch
A fire sends flame to the skies
Reflecting upon those gathered around
The anguish in their eyes.

Then charities open wide their doors
For a week of shelter and food
A ray of hope for the homeless
‘Christmas Spirit’ throws back its hood!!

Teynham Parish Council Website