Tag Archives: High Street Chatham

Newcomb’s War Diary –

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.

Gerald Newcomb, Penguins, 87 - 89 High Street, Chatham standing with the Newcomb War Diary. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

Gerald Newcomb, Penguins, 87 – 89 High Street, Chatham standing with the Newcomb War Diary. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

‘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.”

 

This is the frontispiece of the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

This is the frontispiece of the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

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.

This is the gold embossed front cover of the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping - by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

This is the gold embossed front cover of the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping – by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

A typical page layout of an untypical diary ! The Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping - by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

A typical page layout of an untypical diary ! The Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping – by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

A page from the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping - by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

A page from the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping – by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, 87 - 89 High Street, Chatham with the Newcomb War Diary. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, 87 – 89 High Street, Chatham with the Newcomb War Diary. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

 

Guildhall Museum, Rochester & Rob Young, Writer

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.

 

Interior stucco ceiling of the stairwell in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image by Christopher Tipping reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Interior stucco ceiling of the stairwell in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping – reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

A Portrait of Thomas Waghorn. Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image by Christopher Tipping reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

A Portrait of Thomas Waghorn. Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image by Christopher Tipping – reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Ornate ceiling & Electrolier in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping - reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Ornate ceiling & Electrolier in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping – reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Portrait of  Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Admiral of the Fleet & MP for Rochester hanging in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping - by kind permission of Guildhall Museum.

Portrait of Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Admiral of the Fleet & MP for Rochester hanging in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping – reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Isn’t that the most amazing name – Sir Cloudesley Shovell –

Ornate ceiling, electrolier and wall decorations in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping - by kind permission of Guildhall Museum.

Ornate ceiling, electrolier and wall decorations in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping – reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Ornate ceiling & electrolier in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping - by kind permission of Guildhall Museum.

Ornate ceiling & electrolier in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping – reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Rob Young, Writer, looking at vintage photograph in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping - reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Rob Young, Writer, looking at vintage photograph in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image: Christopher Tipping – reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

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.

Photographic portrait of a young boy taken by W Kent, Photographic Artist at No 19 Military Road, Chatham - in the collection of  Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester.

Photographic portrait of a young boy taken by W Kent, Photographic Artist at No 19 Military Road, Chatham – in the collection of Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester.

Photographic portrait of a young boy taken by W Kent, Photographic Artist at No 19 Military Road, Chatham - in the collection of  Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester.

Photographic portrait of a young boy taken by W Kent, Photographic Artist at No 19 Military Road, Chatham – in the collection of Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Photographic portrait of a young boy taken by W Kent, Photographic Artist at No 19 Military Road, Chatham - in the collection of  Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester.

Photographic portrait of a young boy taken by W Kent, Photographic Artist at No 19 Military Road, Chatham – in the collection of Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester.

Figure in Diorama in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image by Christopher Tipping reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Figure in Diorama in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image by Christopher Tipping reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Beautiful and magical three mast rigged ship in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image by Christopher Tipping reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Beautiful and magical three mast rigged ship in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Image by Christopher Tipping reproduced courtesy of the Guildhall Museum, Rochester