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The Boorman Family

When I was very young, mum would send me to the village butchers for Pigs Fry, Sausages, Pigs Trotters or Pork Chops. There were two butchers in the village one in Tonbridge Road almost opposite the Queens Head owned by Mr Skinner and Boormans in Bow Road between the Bow General Stores and Mac the Barbers. As a family we always used Boormans. I can picture the shop now back in the 50's with its very large cold slab in front of the windows which were often open in summer or had a wooden lattice grill to let the air in. There would often be a real pigs head on the slab with a lemon in its mouth. There was a huge wooden chopping bench that was dipped where the axe and knives had worn the wood away whilst cutting the meat. and a massive cold room with a huge door with a handle that needed a lot of strength to open. I remember the lorry delivering whole or half animals, the guys wore white overalls and white hats often stained with blood.

The butcher in my day was Eric Boorman who I can also picture today delivering the Sunday joint. In those days we left the back door unlocked and Eric would open the door and shout " its only the Ole Butch".

Eric's son John has kindly written to us with some photos of his dad and his mum Joy, who was also well known in the village in my day. John has also given us a very interesting potted history of his family which I am sure you will find as interesting as I have.

Over to you John:----
Boorman's Family Butchers in the middle with its windows open and Eric's delivery van parked outside
The photo of the shop in Wateringbury I would guess is mid 1950's. I can just make out the name Saunders above the door of the general stores and, of course, "Mac" Clarke is trading on the other side, perhaps the Saunders name will help identify the date with more precision. The white Ford Anglia van, parked outside the shop, belonged to my father. I notice that there are no bubble gum or sweet machines attached to the side wall of the shop which I am sure must have arrived around 1960.
Joy & Eric Boorman
The photo of my parents was taken whilst living in Wateringbury, perhaps about 10 years before my father's death C1978 as he passed away in 1988.
A typical bill from the eighties but probably very similar for many years before
In his later years my father used to run the shop himself during the day and then, after cleaning and closing up, he would fill the van and go out to deliver on the rounds, hence the nickname by which he came to be known "The midnight butcher". I would always try to take leave from the RAF for the days leading up to Christmas so that I could take over the round and free him up to do the shop and cut the orders for me to deliver. I was often joined by my brother Nigel who would try to take holiday for the same purpose. The receipt shown is for a turkey I ordered from him at Christmas 1980. The bill is headed H. Boorman prop E.S. Boorman, father never removed his own father's name and many of his customers knew dad as "Harry". You will also notice that he never changed the "Est 120 years" either!

 The photo below was given to me by my mother when my father died.  As you will see it is a photograph taken at Wateringbury school which my father has marked C1880. I would guess that he is not too far out but my own guess would have been C1878/79. It is interesting for me as it shows my grandfather and his two brothers Frederick and William. According to my father Frederick is the boy third from the left in the second row from the back. My grandfather is certainly the boy in the same row but second from the right. William the youngest is in the front row second from the right. Given that Frederick was born 1867, Harry 1869 and William 1872 I will leave you to form your own idea of the likely year. Dad also identifies the headmaster and his wife as Mr & Mrs Kingston. He also makes note that the boy standing next to Mrs Kingston, 1st left on second row from back, is Ernest Anderson who lived in Old Road and who went on to become a surveyor working for Frederick Leney at the brewery. Perhaps some of your correspondents will be able to identify others if you wish to use the photo.

My 3 x great grandfather was a wheelwright who lived in Marden, two of his sons upped sticks and moved to Wateringbury around 1830 these sons were David Boorman (1807-1882) and William (1810-1887). In 1832 David married Mary Ann Cook of Wateringbury in Rochester and David took over The Dukes Head in the Old Road where he remained landlord until his death. David and Mary Ann had 11 children and David was a carpenter, grocer, builder and master builder (according to various census returns) as well as being a licenced victualler. According to documents I found in the parish chest David was quite an important person within the village, he made numerous donations to the school and was one of a select few elders of the village who were chosen to walk and verify the parish boundaries. Sadly David's later life makes unhappy reading as he was widowed in 1879 and he suffered a series of strokes which left him bedridden for his last few years. His youngest daughter became pregnant out of wedlock and then died at an early age. David summoned his solicitor, put his affairs in order, and committed suicide in a particularly horrible way. Inquest details available.
My 2 x great grandfather William does not seem to have risen to the heights of his brother within the village. He married Rebecca Simmons of Mereworth at Plaxtol in 1833 and settled in Wateringbury as a pig butcher. In those days when most people had a pig in the back yard which they fed on household scraps, William would have been called in to kill and dress the pig when the time came. William and Rebecca had 6 children and lived in the Old Road where William, in time, opened a butcher's shop. Family tradition has it that William liked a drink and was arrested one night and put in the village lock up. William was evidently a large man and he managed to smash his way out. I always treated this tale with some scepticism but recent evidence has come to light which may well prove this story to be true. The butcher's shop in Old Road was situated next to "The Harrow" and here it stayed until about 1912 when the brothers in paragraph 1, William and Harry, dissolved their partnership and Harry moved the shop to the village centre - William opened his own shop in Canterbury. William and Rebecca also had a sad time to deal with when their daughter Ellen committed suicide by throwing herself off Teston Bridge and drowning at the age of 18. This story has been verified by newspaper reports at the time but it is said that Ellen became pregnant by the son of the house in which she was employed as a maid. When the pregnancy came to light Ellen was sacked and shown the door, in despair she killed herself.
My great grandfather, Charles, married Betsy Waterman of High Halden who was acting as housekeeper for her brother who was manager of Pelican Farm. Charles (1845-1901) and Betsy had 4 children and Harry and William carried on the butchering tradition. My cousin Reg Davis who is several years older than me remembers the slaughter house behind the shop being used when he was a boy and the nightmares that it used to give him!
Harry my grandfather ran the shop until his death from cancer in 1943 and my aunts kept the place going until my father returned from the war when he took over until he retired through ill health in the early 1980's. Sadly he also passed away from cancer in 1988 aged 75. Although I am one of 6 children with 3 boys none of us wanted to take up butchering and my father never pressed us, he never really wanted to follow that path himself, thus came the end of a family era after about 150 years.

My mother did not move away from Wateringbury until the early 1990's when the upkeep of Lime Tree House became just too much and all 3 of my sisters were still living in the village at that time. Our final link was broken when Carol moved to the Isle of Wight about a year ago but I think Wateringbury will always be "home" to all of us. 

I enclose details of the newspaper reports following the tragic deaths of David Boorman and his niece Ellen Boorman, both so very sad but which make the history I have already sent a little clearer.
The following newspaper artice was obtained from Maidstone Library.

Melancholy Suicide - T. N. Dudlow, Esq, coroner, held an inquest on Monday, the 7th inst, at the Farmhouse, on the body of Ellen Boorman, who threw herself off Teston Bridge on Sunday (the previous day). William Hollamby, who saw the deceased seat herself on the wall of the bridge, tuck her clothes round her legs, and throw herself over backwards. He gave an alarm, and, with assistance, the body was got out in twenty-five minutes after, but life was extinct. William Philpot, who assisted the last witness, confirmed his statement. William Boorman, father of the deceased said he could only suppose that the cause of deceased's crime was her being discharged from her place, where she had lived for 6 years, which prayed upon her mind. She had been ill at different times lately. She had left her place about twelve weeks. Verdict - Deceased destroyed herself by throwing herself from Teston Bridge, she not being then of sound mind.
Ellen was buried at Wateringbury on 14 Apr 1856. The service being conducted by the Reverend Henry Stevens.

Following the inquest Ellen's body was taken to Wateringbury church in a coffin where she laid for a week until her burial. Her father placed candles around the coffin and stayed by his daughter, day and night, until the burial. Ellen is buried with her parents and infant brother, William in Wateringbury churchyard just inside the gate to the left of the main path where the memorial stone still stands.

In the Maidstone and Kentish Journal 12 Jun 1882 the following report under Wateringbury was found. (Newspaper film located at Maidstone Library)

On Thursday last an inquest was held at Wateringbury by J Rogers, Esq, the coroner for the Tonbridge district, on the body of Mr David Boorman, 74 years of age, for many years landlord of the Duke's Head, who committed suicide by hanging himself on Wednesday. From the evidence it appeared that Mr Boorman had been paralyzed for two years and a half and confined to his bed. Within the last few days he signed a petition to wind up his business affairs in liquidation, since which time he has been in low desponding state, but his relatives had no idea that he intended to attempt his life. In order to raise himself in bed a handkerchief was tied in a loop to the bed post, and on Wednesday the deceased was found with his head through this, and his body on the floor, quite dead. The jury returned a verdict of suicide while in a state of temporary insanity.

The above words and photos were Courtesy of John Boorman



Len Boorman said...

As a Boorman from the Medway Towns researching the Boorman ancestry this is most interesting. I would be very interested to hear of any other notes, stories etc.

Contact me at ljbmsc@aol.com, Phone 02476 491807

RichBoorman said...

I am related to the writer as we share a common ancestor in David Boorman (1780-1843)and Elizabeth Jenner. You can mail me at richboorman@hotmail.com if you wish