Serving Chilham, Old Wives Lees & Shottenden 
In 1988, a local resident named George Mabbit (b. 1920 – d. 1990) compiled a manuscript history (unpublished) of Chilham from his own extensive knowledge of the area plus some reminiscences by elderly residents. 
One such was Mrs Evelyn Hopkins, born 1920 in Eye, Suffolk, only child of Charles and Leah Hunn, originally from Norfolk. The family moved into the Chilham Gas Works manager’s house in 1923 when Charles was appointed as the gas works manager. The Chilham Consumers Gas Co. Ltd was founded in 1868 and situated behind the manager’s house which stood between Chilham railway station and the present farm shop. The coal for the gas production came by train into Chilham station and the coal gas produced from it was supplied to Chilham and Chartham. The station in those days boasted a station master, two booking clerks, two signalmen and a couple of porters. The station master lived in the station master’s house, now gone. 
Each customer’s home had a gas meter with a coin slot for the pre-decimal copper penny coins. Evelyn’s father would cycle to the customers’ homes to empty the meters and bag up the coins which were then conveyed to Canterbury in a lorry owned by Mr Bushel. How very uncomplicated, so different nowadays. The gas works ceased production about 1930 when it was taken over by the South Eastern Gas Company and the buildings were demolished except for the manager’s house where Evelyn and her parents continued to live. 
Evelyn started at Chilham School aged five in 1925. She retained pleasant memories of the Summer swimming lessons with a teacher called Miss Lucas. The lessons took place in a pool of the nearby river Stour. Pupils would wear a strong belt to which a long pole was attached to keep them safe while they did their best to follow the teacher’s instructions. 
Evelyn later passed the Scholarship examination, the equivalent of the modern 11-plus and attended college in Canterbury. She then underwent teacher training and in 1953 she returned to Chilham School as a teacher having married Frank Hopkins in Ashford in 1945. Her crowning achievement came when she was appointed as the Head Teacher at the very school where she had begun her education so many years before. 
Evelyn’s parents Charles and Leah Hunn continued to live in Gas Works Cottage until Charles’s death in 1949 at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. Leah later moved into Noveis, Canterbury Road, Chilham and was living there when she died aged 90 in 1976. She was buried in the same plot as her husband in St Mary’s churchyard, Chilham where their gravestone can still be seen. Evelyn’s husband Frank died aged 94 in 2008 and Evelyn herself died aged 92 in 2013, both also lie buried in Chilham churchyard. 
Colin Topley 
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