The Old Brass Lantern

Article written by Robert Crook

My grandfather had an old brass lantern, which he had brought with him from London. With it he used to entertain at meetings in Gedling St Mission in London with biblical stories and stories with a moral. He would often show slides and get the children singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’. This was the days before the cinema.

My grandfather collected many old pictures of Sandgate, and from them had a collection of sixty slides made. He then wrote his lecture with a story and history of each picture. He spent months collecting and compiling his lecture. I was given an old ‘Royal’ typewriter. And slowly with two fingers managed to type the lecture. This made it a little easier for the lecturer. As first the lecture lasted over an hour, but increased as more stories came to light and were added. The lecture was very popular and was known as ‘Old Sandgate’. Any times it was given in Sandgate, Folkestone and District. Mr Ullyett, the retired Sandgate School headmaster, would often give the lecture.

I very often operated the lantern – so much that I began to know it by heart. There was always a small admission charge: this money always went to the Congregational Church or his beloved boys club. He collected a great deal of money for a pipe organ to be put into the church. Lectures finished when World Ward 2 began. On occasion my youngest son, Bruce, still does this same lecture using the original slides and the same old brass lantern, if asked.

I started my education at Sandgate School when I was five years old (1919). This coincided by the retirement of Mr Ullyett, the headmaster, and the appointment of Mr Neil in his place. I was very happy there, and particularly enjoyed the games of football in the old concrete playground. Very often, an old tin can served as a football.

Each day started with assembly, a short address, a prayer ad a hymn. Being a church school we had the occasional visits from the Vicar of Sandgate Parish Church. My best subject was art, and from the age of about ten I was selected to attend the Technical Art School for one day each week.

In August 1928 I went into the Bevan Nursing Home for the removal of my tonsils adenoids. I was there for five days. I still have the receipts for this operation. The total cost was:-

            Miss Mumford for 5 days nursing                      £3.       3s         0d

            Dr Bradbury, who lived two doors away           £6        6s         0d

I must confess that I once had a snail for a pet. It was housed in a little box with a glass front. It had a base of earth, a bowl of water, and I fed it with fresh leaves. I forget its name, but it was a joy to me for many months.

On a visit to London, my aunt bought me a chick, probably only one day old. They looked so inviting in a glass case outside a house. The chances of it surviving were almost nil – but with a constant supply of hot water bottle, blanket and loving care it survived. I took it back to Sandgate and found a box to keep it in. I thought it was from heaven, and I gave it constant care.

We became so attached that is would follow me and recognise me just like a dog. Unfortunately, it grew quickly, and became a full blown chicken, and I reluctantly had to part with it. A friend in the country who kept chickens said he would take it – with a promise that it would never be killed. This friend had a son of my age, and he was thrilled to find that it would always follow him. The amusing part was that it would only eat from a bog and not with his other chickens. It proved to be one of my friends’ best layers