Friday, 14 July 2017

Will Adams

Will Adams is proclaimed as the most famous person to have been born in my home town. not that I, as a boy in Gillingham, ever knew anything about him. Nor, I suspect, did many other residents. All I knew was that there was, standing on the grass verge on the Top Road, a dusky pink clock tower that, as I had been told, was the Will Adams Memorial.

Copied from
It seems almost incredible now, but when I was about 8 or 9, our entertainment on summer Sunday evenings would be a walk along the Top Road to the Will Adams and back. But the walk was incidental; the real entertainment came from gawking at all the coaches stuck in the traffic jam.

The Top Road - as we called it - was Watling Street, the A2, the main road from London to Dover. Some miles to the east, a side road left Watling Street and headed for the seaside destination of choice for hundreds, maybe even thousands, on people from south London: Margate.

Back in those days, before even television was commonplace, few people possessed cars and a trip to the seaside involved a coach trip. As they headed back to London after a day on the sands, the Londoners (in my mind almost a strange race from a distant galaxy) would find themselves stuck in the traffic as it approached the bottleneck on Chatham. Indeed, many of the coaches would be standing in Chatham already as the boundary between Gillingham and Chatham ran along the centre of the road for some of this way.

We had very simple tastes in those days.

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