Sort file:- Chatham, March, 2021.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.


Earliest 1793-

Black Boy

Latest ????

120 High Street


120 High Street 2017

Above photo showing 120 High Street, circa 2017 by Darkstar. As they the shop Shelter.


Black Boy alley was at the rear of the pub.

The premises was operating under a Full License by 1872 and was owned by Edward Winch of Chartham.

The original building was destroyed by fire in 1870.


Local knowledge, further pictures, and licensee information would be appreciated.

I will be adding the historical information when I find or are sent it, but this project is a very big one, and I do not know when or where the information will come from.

All emails are answered.


Dover Express, Saturday 13 January 1866.

Chatham. "Flying Isaac."

An unfortunately named Eliza O'Malley, who rejoices in the soubriquet of "Flying Isaac," and who is a very frequent visitor at the police court, made her appearance before the magistrates again on Friday, under the following circumstances.

The Constable at the lock-up, said she came to the station the previous evening, drunk and bleeding from her face, which was much contused, and insisted on being locked up.

In answer to the bench, "Issac" said she went to the "Black Boy" on the previous day, and the landlord had ordered his man to turn her out, and a kicked her and ill-used her very much, and had made her black and blue all over.

Mr. Nicholson said she would be discharged, and ordered the police to enquiry into the truth of her statement, as though her conduct was not what it ought to be, still she must be protected from such violence, as her face show symptoms of on present occasion.


Chatham News, Saturday 20 August 1870.

Serious fire at Chatham, and a second fire.

Somewhere about 2 o'clock on Wednesday morning a serious fire broke out in Chatham, on the ancient premises of Mr. Webster, fishmonger, in the High Street, between the Military Road and Fair Row. The house was next to Mr. Coachman's on one side, and adjoined the "Black Boy" public house on the other - the fishmonger's and the public house were both under one roof we believe; old, picturesque, inconvenient buildings. Webster's premises and the tavern were timber built houses. The fire made rapid progress, and soon the "Black Boy" was also in a blaze. Mr. Burfield, a member of the Fire Brigade lives next to Mr. Couchman's, and naturally being duly alarmed, he was promptly at the Board of Health offices for the hose-reel. Captain Bernard and Lieutenant Heckford were quickly on the spot, and the other members of the Brigade arrived as they were summoned.

When the hose reel had been got to the scene of the fire, it was found at the hydrant box in the street had got jammed from the heavy traffic, and some little delay occurred and getting water - a pickaxe had to be used before matters could be set right, and a supply of water of obtained by inserting a stand-pipe. When the hose (two) had been attached to the standpipe, it was seen that they was no chance of saving the two houses then burning in one immense blaze, and the efforts of the Brigade were therefore mainly directed to the prevention of the spread of the flames to the adjacent property. Part of the roof of Mr. Coachmans house - the good wall of which must have been nearly red hot in some parts had ignited, and a stream of water was directed on this; fortunately, the house was saved - part of the roof and the gutters were destroyed, and some of the rafters were burnt through, while injury was done within the building from the top floor down to the shop, by the water thrown on the roof descending from floor to floor. The house is a substantial brick built one, and thus it escaped further damage or perhaps destruction.

Next to the "Black Boy" is the house of Mr. Willis, fishmonger and fruitier; and next to this is Mr. Sterla's butcher; their houses are timber built, and in the rear are various buildings; beyond Mr. Sturla's is another house with timber sides - there may be others. The Fire Brigade had the most to do in preventing the entire destruction of Mr. Willis's house, and the spreading of the fire up the street; a considerable part of the upper portion of Mr. Willis's house, with the roof, was burnt, and most of the contents of the building were greatly damaged or destroyed by the fire or damaged by the water - the other part of the building presents a lamentable scene of ruin, very sad to the occupants, who have lived many years in the house, some portion of which had been recently renovated. Not only had powerful streams of water to be directed on the house, but much of the other parts the roof &c. - had to be cut away by the Brigade.

My. Gamon being very active in the work - to stop the progress of the flames; and eventually they accomplished that object; but for our high pressure supply of water and our efficient Fire Brigade this configuration must have assumed very large proportions indeed - some people say, "So much the better," as old buildings would have been swept away and improvements would have followed; but occupants of houses, in trade too, are not so pleased to see their household good destroyed and their means of living cut off or seriously diminished.

We should not omit to record that the fire was discovered by Police Constable White, 212. he and another Constable had smelt the fire sometime before the locality could be discovered; search was made round Mr. Webster's premises at the time by the officers, but no fire could be detected. But shortly before 2 o'clock, White discovered that there was a fire in the rear of Mr. Webster's house; he immediately took measures to arouse the sleeping inmates of this and the public house; but it was some time before he could wake the residents at Webster's; and a Marine who had been sleeping at the "Black Boy" then assisted the people to get out of the burning houses. We believe the Marine subsequently had one of his fingers very badly hurt while working at the fire. The Marine is Private William Smith, of the 28th company; he rescued 6 children from Mr. Webster's house.

An immense quantity of water was consumed at this fire - two powerful streams were poured on it for 2 hours continuously, at the greatest pressure; and for many hours after it was necessarily occasionally to renew the streams of water; a good deal of water was also consumed on another fire, to be presently recorded.

We have said that nothing could be done to save the fishmongers and the public house - the timbers of the building and the spirits in the tavern burnt fiercely - water could not control such a furnace; no one could stand in the street before the fire; the flames blistered the painted work of the houses opposite, and there was a danger of their igniting, but the Brigade directed water on them occasionally, and prevented this. The brigade checked the progress of the flames and the outhouses in the rear of the burning buildings, and stopped the flames from travelling up or down the street; but the two houses were doomed. While they were blazing, the fronts of the houses fell out into the street with a terrific crash, blocking up the road - fortunately, the great heat had kept the street clear, and no one was hurt; when the fire was got down, Mr. Gamon promptly had the road cleared. An alarm having been given that the fire was extending in the buildings at the back of the houses, to which the hose could not be conveyed, some of the Brigade, by means of buckets of water and by cutting away portions of buildings, at length stopped the destruction in that direction. Some new buildings had but recently been finished in the rear of the "Black Boy."

While our Brigade and the police were busy with the fire in the High Street, about 4 o'clock, there came an alarm that a fire had broken out in Fullager's yard, some distance further down the street, on the opposite side of the way. The report was it first discredited; but it was a fact. From the roaring fire in the High Street, immense quantities of burning embers, as usual on such occasions, were wafted through the air, to a long-distance - portions as far as the New Road; the burning and crackling and roaring timber houses sent forth showers of Fire, which seemed to envelope a flag on Mr. Semark's premises, but it has escaped unscathed. Some of these embers appear to have fallen on the flat roof of an extensive cart Lodge in Fullager's yard, the lodge belonging to Mr. Fullager, town carter. As the danger was apparent, the vehicles in the lodge were promptly removed. One hose was detached and taken by Lieutenant Huckford and other members of the Brigade to a hydrant near Fullager's yard; but it was found at the hose was not long enough to reach the fire, though and additional 100 feet had been brought by Mr. Gamons, Surveyor to the Board of Health and an active member of the Brigade. Lieutenants Huckford quickly sent for the Kent Fire Office hose; which was promptly detached from the man to the fire. Fortunately, the connection of the Kent Office hose had been made to fit that of the town of Chatham; and the two hose being joined, the fire could be reached. The long lodge was burnt down; but the torrent of water effectually prevented the flames getting a firm hold of the numerous wooden buildings around; the fire caught some stabling at the other end of the yard - it was put out; it also ignited the corner of a slaughter-house belonging to Mrs. Day, butcher - the water quelled it. A great fire might have occurred in this locality but for the abundant supply of water. The ruins of the cart-lodge and smouldered for a long time; but there was no danger of further mischief.

The hose was now taken back to the High Street. The members of the Fire Brigade continued at their arduous and most dirty and unpleasant dirty for hours - some till 6 o'clock, others till 7, or later; they were in a pretty state of dirt and dust and smoke when they left. For many hours the ruins smoked and occasionally flamed, and shortly before noon the hose was again brought into use to play up on the heated ruins. It was also necessary to force down a chimney at the rear of the "Black Boy" premises, as it was under mined, and in a dangerous state; Mr. Gamon had it forced down by the means of a pole.

During the fire, Superintendent Merritt, Inspector Smith, Sergeant Frend, and a number of constables of the Kent Constabulary stationed at Chatham rendered most valuable aid in keeping back the crowd and preventing interference with the actions of the Fire Brigade; but the Brigade complain of the officiousness of some persons present, who, with a good meaning, only impeded rather and help the work of the Brigade by their suggestions as to what should be done - the Brigade considered that they must be left to judge for themselves as to that when they attend a fire - too many giving orders would only lead to confusion and mischief.

The Marine who lodged at the "Black Boy" was active in aiding two female domestics to escape from the burning house; and he managed to save a box of clothes belonging to one of them. The other girl begged a member of the brigade to save her property when the wooden building resembled a furnace - the thing was impracticable.

During the day succeeding the fire great crowds visited the scene, and many in the early morning must have been half stifled by the dense clouds of smoke which issued from the ruins. Through the wide gap of the High Street were visible, across the Brook, the Old Chatham Cemetery, the Citadel, the Limes &c. - producing a striking because unwanted affect. The circumstance of the second fire rising of the first also attracted many persons to Fullager's Yard - a locality hitherto unknown or unvisited by most of those who now went to view the ruins of the cart-lodge. It should be mentioned that three large trees on the confines of Mr. Wanstall's paddock, close to the upper end of the cart-lodge, had their trunks nearly burnt through. A good many persons have been present at the fire in the High Street - a good many, that is, for Chatham, for, unlike London, as a rule no great crowd assembled at Chatham when a fire occurs in the night, most of the towns people that learn that a large fire has occurred during the nights when they rise or begin to stir abroad in the morning; to be sure we have no engines drawn by high-muttled horses tearing through our streets, as we have a high-pressure supply of water.

Late on Wednesday night the fire blazed up again to such an extent that it was necessary to send a again for the hose and pour more water on the ruins. On Thursday they were still smoking. We understand that a cask of rum has been found in the ruins intact.

There is seldom a disaster without it's ludicrous incident; and the fire having destroyed the "Black Boy" there have been a great many "sells" of innocent folks, who have been gravely informed that a child was burnt - that a "boy" had been found in the ruins - that is the "Black Boy." One story is that an officer was sent off in great haste for more aid, as there was a "boy" perishing in the fire. Another story is that a gentleman who assisted at the fire, coming from a distance to gaze at it - accompanied by "lady" or two, was, with his fair companions, drenched by sudden twist of the nozzle of the hose - of course quite accidentally.

Fortunately, all the property destroyed or damaged was insured. The houses in the High Street where insured in the Sun and the Kent Offices; Mr. Fullager's cart-lodge in the West of England, and Phoenix; Mrs. Randall (landlady of the "Black Boy") was insured in the Sun; Mr. Webster in the County; Mr. Willis in the Phoenix, and Mr. Sturla in the same office; Mr. Couchman's house and the contents are insured in the Norwich Union.

Mr. White, the assessor of the County Fire Office, has visited Chatham to ascertain the amount of loss on the company. Mr. L G. Couchman returns his sincere thanks to both friends and neighbours for their kind assistance at the late fire; more especially to the Chatham Fire Brigade, for their strenuous exertion in saving the house occupied by him at 122, High Street Chatham.



WALDRON John 1793+ Trade Directory 1793

GRANT Rachael 1828-32+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29Pigot's Directory 1832-34

BARNES William 1838+ Wright's Topography 1838

GILL Thomas 1840-41+ (age 53 in 1841Census)

Last pub licensee had RANDALL William to Aug/1870

RANDALL Elizabeth 1871 (widow age 53 in 1871Census)

GREGORY James William 1872-74+ Licensing Records 1872

MANNERING George 1881+ (age 35 in 1881Census)


Trade Directory 1793Universal British Directory of Trade 1793

Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Wright's Topography 1838Wright's Topography 1838

Licensing Records 1872Licensing Records 1872



If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-