“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 Magazine20th December 2012
The Art Deco Elephantmotif 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.
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’.
“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.
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 !
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 Forumpage – 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.
Some shops and businesses on Military Road, Chatham –
Blueberry Park Sandwich Bar has recently closed down after 25 years. This heartfelt goodbye to customers on the window is a poignant reminder of community and the fact that it is people and not buildings, which make places.