Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Weather, Pikeys and Elmley.

Well, after the delightful clear and frosty morning in my last posting the weather has become damp, damp and even damper. The trouble with mild winters such as we are currently experiencing is that they tend to come with lots of moisture laden south-westerly winds. This last few days have seen several mild and regularly drizzly days and even when it wasn't actually raining the wind itself seemed to be damp. It has meant that the daily visits to the reserve, or indeed any garden work, have become thoroughly mucky affairs involving lots of mud and water and unpleasant conditions.

That aside, I was intrigued this last weekend to see a feature in the Daily Telegraph about an MP who had referred to a post office worker as a "Pikey", which these days is usually a derogatory term used by people to describe travellers and gypsies. What caught my eye was mention of the fact that the Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of "pikey" to a newspaper in 1838, referring to strangers from the Isle of Sheppey. Later in that century it was defined in the Dictionary of Kentish Dialect as "a turnpike traveller, a vagabond; and so a generally low fellow". Food for thought there!

A visit yesterday to a newly found distant relative on Sheppey, by myself and girlfriend Diane in pursuit of more knowledge of our family histories, came up trumps. We found an 87 year old lady with an amazingly sharp memory who was happy to feed us with both her accurate memories of our ancestors and some pretty exciting photographs, all alledgedly from the 1920's. I have posted a few of many below. PLEASE DO NOT COPY AND RE-USE THESE PHOTOGRAPHS.
The one below is taken outside Seaview Cottage down at the old Elmley cement works (details of Seaview Cottage were mentioned in my blog of 13th January this year). To the left of the photo is The Swale but more exciting, in the background is the old cement works, the first photo that I've seen that shows the actual building.

This one is also at Seaview Cottage during a break in hay-making and this time the cement works buildings in the left background seem to be a tad more derelict. Writing on the back of one these photographs states that the old factory was demolished in the early 1920's and the rubble taken by barge to make the Southend arterial road.

This one is the old Elmley Ferry, showing the larger boat that was used when livestock was needed to be transported across The Swale.

Again the old Elmley Ferry but from the Murston side looking towards Elmley. On the rear of the photograph, not seen to clearly on the photograph, writing states the following. The two posts with white boards on in the water Elmley side indicate that it was low tide. Behind the boat at anchor Elmley side, is a white square. This is the ferry hut and the ferryman was called from the Murston side by leaving the hut's doors open to show the white interior.

Lastly, another view of the old Elmley schoolhouse but this time showing the opposite end to others that have been published. This one shows the end alongside the outside toilets, which are not in view.


  1. A really interesting posting, Derek, thanks for sharing. I never ever went to Elmley, wish I had though.

  2. I used to walk round the Swale from Rushenden, but that's probably impossible now after all the bridge and roadbuilding. You had a lucky day, Derek.

  3. Another great story and photos Derek. May even get out to the reserve Thursday if the weather holds !!

  4. The lady was related distantly to both my girlfriend and I and it was a real joy ti still find someone on Sheppey that I didn't know about and who knew many of our long dead relatives. Not only that but with some of them having lived on Elmley, she had all these amazing photos.

  5. Great to hear some history and love the old photos.

  6. Yet more very interesting history of Sheppey, great stuff and interesting reading as always Derek. I just hope no one steals them from here.

    I had to close my Owl website because of image theft. I cannot afford to get into legal wrangles over copyright when I eventually get to the publishing stage of my Short-Eared Owl book. I even found some where the thieves had used them on a commercial website and were claiming copyright of them!

  7. Unfortunately Mr. Yeti, that is the problem we all face when putting photographs in the public domain. There are "Copywright" things that you can put across the photo but I haven't sussed that out yet.