Burton’s Tailors, Military Road, Chatham - now the Halifax Building Society
“Burton’s long history in men’s clothing is a remarkable story. It was founded in 1903 by Montague Burton (originally named Meshe Osinsky), one of several Russian Jewish immigrants who built enormously successful businesses from humble beginnings.
Burton became a household name because of good public relations and the way it treated its workers. Burton bought shops in the prime town centre spots and were instantly recognisable because of their design. There were few men in England who didn’t at some time enter the portals of a Burton’s “gentlemen’s club” and get measured for a Burton suit.
On the eve of the 1939-45 war, Burton again turned to the production of uniforms for troops. After the war, Burton produced a suit for war veterans nicknamed “The Full Monty”. By the end of the war, Burton was estimated to be clothing around a fifth of British males.” On:Yorkshire Magazine 20th December 2012
The Art Deco Elephant motif on the building on Halifax Building on Military Road was common to all Burtons buildings throughout the 1930’s. It is a large and significant building in Chatham and one which assists in anchoring our site on the route from the Station to the Waterfront – not insignificantly because of it’s wonderful Elephant motif’s.
Tuesday 10th May –
St John’s Church on Railway Street Chatham, is a jewel in the crown of Chatham’s Architectural Heritage.
Maybe you don’t agree !
What about now…? No?
A much better image in great light – showing off it’s tower and Italianate form.
Built in 1820/21 by the Architect Sir Robert Smirke – who by the way also built the Facade and main block of the British Museum – the Grade II Listed Italianate Style Anglican Church is one of the few Waterloo Churches left intact.
The Church has been closed since the early 1990’s – but has in the interim been used for an arts installation – Chatham Vines in 2006.
I only came to Chatham for the first time in 2015 to start work on the Chatham Placemaking Project – I loved the building from the start – with its robust symetric form and landmark tower. It is the anchor building along our route. However – those familiar with Chatham will know all too well the condition of the building today. It has been bypassed by most and is diminished by the constant flow of traffic and cut off from lower Railway Street and the town centre by the busy road. Stained glass windows are dark. The stone elevations are dirty. The paintwork on the doors is peeling. It is forlorn – but actually it has not been forgotten !
My images aren’t brilliant – but just take a look inside …
Laura Knight of Francis Knight and I were accompanied by Peter West of the Diocese of Rochester. He had agreed to show us around & allowed us to take pictures whilst discussing the Chatham Placemaking Project and the importance of this building to our project. The building is still of importance to the Diocese too.
The interior is quite stunningly beautiful with interior furniture and finishes – albeit dirty and in need of repair & a little tlc – hardly touched since the day the doors were closed and locked. So much original detail and wonderful features remain, including bespoke benches and seating, lighting, plasterwork, ironwork and of course brilliantly coloured stained glass. Could you have guessed that from the outside?
The first public building in Chatham to be lit by electricity !
On Tuesday 10th May I visited Penguins, 87-89 High Street Chatham. Penguins happens to be the Newcomb family business specialising in formal wear and wedding suits for men. I met Gerald Newcomb – a 7th generation Newcomb, running a business stretching back over 180 years in Chatham.
‘The family has served the great and the good for almost 180 years. Figures such as Charles Dickens, Lord Kitchener, Lord Byron and Lord Tennyson have enjoyed the service we offer – our workrooms were a hive of activity as we created shirts for King Edward VII!’ ‘Gerald is the 7th generation to run the firm and has himself been in the industry for 45 years.’
This business fits into our Chatham Placemaking Project primarily because of its association with our route – Newcomb’s also had a Ladies Clothes Shop on Railway Street – but the big surprise is the Newcomb War Diary. Surely this has to be on our list of ‘10 things which made Chatham’.
The following statement comes from the Chatham Historical Society Website.
“A few years ago Chatham Historical Society was given permission to make a replica of an original diary written every day during the years of the Second World War by George West, company secretary of a navy tailors, hosiers, hatters and shirt makers in Chatham High Street called Newcomb’s. This replica of the “Newcomb War Diary” is dedicated to the memory of Mr West, the Newcomb and Paine families, and all Medway people – both service personnel and civilians – who lived through the events described in it.
Newcomb’s opened for business in 1854. After the original shop was demolished when the Sir John Hawkins flyover was built, the business moved along the High Street to the corner of Medway Street. Mr Gerald Newcomb is still trading as Penguins Dress Hire.
The replica was paid for by Chatham Historical Society and a generous donation by the late Mr and Mrs W. Paine, and has been available to view at public events and libraries in the Medway towns.
It had been in Strood Library for many months, and their website states that it is on display there, but it might have moved on to another temporary home. Check with Strood Library for the latest situation.
The Paine family ran outfitter’s shops in Chatham and Strood, and were founders of the Chatham Reliance Building Society.”
The book referred by the Chatham Historical Society is a smaller copy version of this. The actual artefact – a fantastic large folio book / ledger was originally manufactured in Chatham for Newcomb’s – is unique and I felt privileged to be shown it.
A brilliant time-lapse film celebrating the Chatham Placemaking Project, by the Filmmaker Simon Williams was premiered on the Waterfront Big Screen in Chatham on Friday evening 6th May – and then ran at hourly intervals through Saturday 7th May –
‘A series of films will focus the eye and the heart and have clearly distilled a vision for the project – a reductive process of stripping back and looking afresh. Simon refreshingly admits he has fallen in love with Chatham – he has lived here for 15 years. ‘Chatham, Kent, England’ is a remarkable 12-hour time-lapse work beautifully filmed from the roof of UCA at Fort Pitt. Standing in front of the Big Screen, the River Medway can’t actually be seen . The disengagement is clear. The film powerfully makes the case for Chatham to celebrate and acknowledge this enduring and symbiotic relationship. It could be an elegy for a Chatham we have forgotten but which is actually still alive and well and all around us’. Project Lead Artist Chris Tipping –
‘Chatham, Kent, England’, is the first in a series of films being delivered as part of the Temporary Art Programme supporting the Chatham Placemaking Project. They were commissioned by FrancisKnight Art Consultants and myself as project lead artist. ‘These are our Streets’, a collaboration between Simon and Rob Young, Writer, will be the second film in the series to be released.
Saturday 7th May 2016 – Pentagon Shopping Centre, Chatham
A workshop day – talking, being talked to – gathering stories, memories and an understanding of life in Chatham. Thanks to all who cam to speak to us – Elsie was one of them ! Her Dad used to say that the Thomas Waghorn Statue on Railway Street pointed to the toilets under the New Road viaduct. As a young girl, her impression of Chatham was that it was brim full of Public Houses.
WE HAVE THE POSTCARDS !
AND WE WORE THE T SHIRTS !
Very grateful to Shelly Goldsmith, Senior Lecturer in Fashion Textiles: Print at UCA Rochester for producing the shirts for us at very short notice !
On Tuesday 3rd May, Rob Young & I had a meeting with Rachel Kerr, Project Coordinator (100 Objects That Made Kent) and the Education Officer, Jeremy Clarke at The Guildhall Museum, High Street, Rochester. We were looking to explore opportunities for us all to collaborate in some manner during the project, taking advantage of the Museum Collections cultural importance to Medway and its outreach work with the community – particularly in education and schools.
Rob is very keen to build this relationship into his commission and has already submitted a wonderful proposal for an engagement with St Michaels Roman Catholic Primary School, who are already working with the Museum on an arts award educational project, focussed on the Statue of Thomas Waghorn on Railway Street and a portrait of whom hangs in the Museum. The school is the most local to our project route. Rob is also keen to meet with The Friends of the Guildhall Museum to hear their thoughts about Chatham. Simon Lace, Medway’s Heritage Services Manager is also helping our cause by contributing a call out for stories by Friends of the Guildhall in their ‘about to be launched’ newsletter.
Thanks to all involved for your continuing help.
Isn’t that the most amazing name - Sir Cloudesley Shovell -
Jeremy Clarke, the Museum’s Education Officer – found this image for us of a young boy taken at the Photographic Studio of W. Kent, Photographic Artist at No 19 Military Road, Chatham – a great find for us right on our project route. I’m sure Rob will make some resonant response to this.
The Chatham Placemaking Project appointed 3 artists for the temporary programme – it feels anything but temporary to me as all the artists are contributing massively to the project and their individual and collective output in terms of film, writing and graphics has been creative, original and has added to my perception and understanding of this project – of Chatham – and how we relate to this community as well as our client Medway Council. It is an exciting time for me – & hopefully for Rob, Xtina and Simon too.
Simon and Rob have already engaged independently with the local community – calling in at shops and offices along our route down Railway Street and Military Road, building relationships with people. They have further collaborated on a series of short films, which explore and create a vision which underpins our project – the first of which we are hopeful will be given it’s Chatham premiere via the Big Screen this evening. Xtina is delivering the first of her print workshops on Saturday at The Pentagon Shopping Centre, which will encourage the local community to take part in simple printing techniques to explore themes around our project in words and motifs. Rob & I will be there too – collecting stories from people and hearing about their association with the town. Check out the Facebook page for more information on this event –
Xtina Lamb was commissioned to run a series of print based workshops in ad hoc places – such as the Pentagon Shopping Centre – and also from her workshop and business premises – Medway Fine Printmakers – at Intra on Chatham High Street. She is also a graphic artist in her own right contributing to the visual language and interpretation of the project.
One of the arches under the New Road Viaduct – aka New Cut – aka Chatham Viaduct was home to a Public Urinal & more interestingly a Barbers Shop – aka Barbers in the Bogs ! The Barber had a collection of paintings on display. Long since closed – the doors are now peeling but the memories of those who knew and used the facilities are still strong.
I am looking for images to use as part of our project – but there are some here on the Kent History Forum page – what an amazing, slightly bizarre and interesting place. Really left me wanting to know more !
The far right hand arch under the viaduct – just obscured by the white van – was the door to the Public Urinal and Barbers.
Watch this space for more images –
27th April 2016 – Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Ashton Under Lyne
On Wednesday this week I attended a meeting of the project Arts Group to present the research, creative concept & draft development of the artwork for the TMU – Tameside Macmillan Unit. The pdf can be viewed via this link:
“Chris’ designs were presented to patient and staff representatives yesterday and were very well received. People felt they were really true to the original concept and Stewart Ramsden, the patient representative who took Chris on the walk was especially pleased. He felt the layers of detail offered repeated rewards for patients needing to return to the centre again and again. He also liked the semi abstract nature of the work which allowed people to find their own interpretation whilst still being very evocative of familiar local places”. Bronwen Gwillim – Creative Director Willis Newson
The project was also featured online this week by Building Better Healthcare.
Some of the images from the pdf and the meeting are posted below –
Stewart Ramsden is a member of the TMU Art Group as a Patient Representative. Stewart also happens to be the President of the Tameside Ramblers. He accompanied me on the 12 mile walk in Tameside, which has been the inspiration for this project. Bronwen Gwillim is Creative Director at Willis Newson and is leading on the Arts and Interior Strategy for the Trust.
TMU Art Group members left to right – Sarah Lowiss Haematology Cancer Specialist Nurse, Michael Hughes Project Architect IBI Group & Gareth Llewellyn Capital Projects Manager for the Trust –
The meeting also covered the proposals for colour, fabrics and finishes for the Interiors of the building, which is being delivered by Michael Hughes, IBI Group Project Architect. I am also consulting with Olivia Kirk of Olivia Kirk Gardens who is designing the external courtyard finishes and planting scheme. It is an interesting collaborative process – as I am responding to and being inspired by their proposals for colour, texture and materials, whilst my draft artwork is also influencing the colour field and aesthetic for the project.