Freedom of the Borough of Gillingham for the Royal Engineers
Chatham Observer 21 8 1953:
(Summary with quotations)
After the ceremony and parade within the barracks, the troops will march through Gillingham, NOT Brompton.
Some Bromptonian views:
Mrs C Burns 17 Westcourt Street: “The Royal Engineers belong to Brompton more than they do to Gillingham. Brompton as usual is being forgotten – except at election times and when rates are due”. She is the daughter of a publican who ran the Good Intent for 37 years. She says “I love Brompton”. She believes that the Sappers are part of the place.
R G Rushton, butcher says that the planned route ...”is a slur on Brompton. Two thirds of the RE married quarters are here, two thirds do their shopping here. This is a simple question of regimental pride and Brompton’s prestige. Talk to anyone you like and they feel the same. If they don’t march through the High Street, there won’t be a stick of decorations”.
W Copper, fishmonger of Brompton High Street. Two brothers and a brother-in-law had been in REs. He feels that the route should be altered. He says: “It would mean a quarter mile more, and the Sappers are tough”. It is their home.
W Powell, bookseller says its “... a symptom of deeper complaints”. He feels that Brompton is often overlooked and neglected.
F Hill, the Town Clerk of Gillingham says: “I do not think the people of Brompton are justified in thinking a slur has been imposed on them in any way. They are being doubly honoured inasmuch as the venue for the ceremony is in their barracks. The route was selected with military guidance and consultation with the police. The distance the troops will have to march was borne in mind”.
He pointed out that they would have to march through Brompton BEFORE the parade. Rainham and Lower Gillingham had also been omitted.
NB Chatham News 11 9 1953: After the Freedom of the Borough ceremony at the barracks, on Thursday 10 September, the troops marched with fixed bayonets, drums beating and band playing through the Crimea Arch to Brompton Rd, then along Gillingham High St, Balmoral Rd, Duncan Rd, Nelson Rd, Canterbury St, Watling St and Darland Avenue to Gordon Barracks. Entertained to tea there by the Borough. Meanwhile, guests at Brompton Barracks had a reception in the Officers’ Mess.
Chatham Observer 11 9 1953: 20 officers and 500 men took part. The paper believed that: “The ancient mistrusts between the military and the people were yesterday ceremonially buried”.