Friday, 27 August 2010


I was sorting through some (very) old family snapshots yesterday when I came across one of my brother and I sitting on a fallen tree trunk. This tree was in a field that was a favourite picnic spot. To get there we had to catch a bus at the Jezreels, get off at Chattenden and walk down a lane that was no more than a cart track. To get back home we would continue down the hill to the village of Upnor where we would catch a ferry - not much bigger than a rowing boat with an engine - across the River Medway to Sun Pier, Chatham, and then catch another bus back to the Jezreels. ‘Jezreels' was the name given to a road junction about half a mile from our home and was named after Jezreels Tower which, in those days, stood nearby. I remember my mother telling me about Jezreels Tower. She said that a religious sect known as the Jezreelites thought they could build a tower to reach up to Heaven. Like the dutiful son that I was, I believed her. In fact, she may well have believed that herself, but the reality was different, as can be seen here.

My home town of Gillingham is and was a pretty dull sort of town. In my young days it was a navy town with many people employed in the dockyard or actually serving in the Navy, unless they were army people as the Royal Engineers had their main garrison there. Dull it might have been, but there is hardly any town in England that has not thrown up a ‘character' or two, an eccentric or a hero, an inventor or an artist. Gillingham, I have discovered, has two. Not only was there the leader of the Jezreelites, but there was also Will Adams. I little realised, as I walked past his memorial clock with my father on a Sunday evening , quite what a man he was. (There's more in Wikipedia.) Our house was in a side street just off the main Watling Street, the road from London to Dover - and also the road to the seaside resort of Margate, beloved of south-east Londoners who used to flock there on coach outings on summer Sundays. As they all returned home at about the same time, there was usually something of a traffic jam on the ‘top road', as we called it, and my father would often take my brother and I for a walk along the ‘top road' just to see the traffic jam.


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