Medway Council Heritage Services catalogues
  • Title
  • Reference
  • Date
  • Level of description
  • Extent
    36 volumes
  • Administrative history / biography
    Ernest Harold Couchman was born in Strood in 1911 and educated at St. Cretienne's Roman Catholic School in Frindsbury and Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School, Rochester. He was employed as a draughtsman by Short Brothers, aeronautical engineers, who had factories and offices at Rochester Esplanade, Rochester Airport, Strood and Cuxton, during the Second World War. He later worked for E.B. Badger and Sons Ltd., agents for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Ltd., Kent Refinery, Isle of Grain (which explains his detailed treatment of the refinery in DE402/22). Couchman's interest in philately may have led to the development of the collection, with its large number of locally postmarked postcards.
  • Archival history
    Bequeathed by Couchman to Rochester upon Medway City Council and donated by his widow and executrix Mrs W.J. Couchman on 8 December 1994. A second donation was made in 2020, of the additional 11 albums (DE402/26-36).
  • Scope and content
    Volumes of postcards, original and copied photographs, ephemera and manuscripts, each relating to a geographical area, compiled by E.H. Couchman. Many items are accompanied by Couchman's pencilled captions and historical notes, frequently derived from newspaper articles and other printed sources which are mostly but not always cited and dated. Inaccurate captions have been noted at relevant places in the catalogue. The work of ordering the collection into volumes and writing the captions was undertaken mainly during Couchman's retirement, 1972-1994, but many items were acquired earlier than this. The single biggest source of photographs and postcards was probably the estate of W. Glanvill Mason of 27 Maidstone Road, Chatham, consulting optician, local historian and guide to Rochester Dickens' Fellowship, part of whose collection Couchman bought at auction locally in November 1975. Other sources are less clear, but the family names Rayner (or Raynor), Gower (or Gowar), Hopkins, Davison and Trelfer appear on multiple occasions. Caution should be exercised in relation to building address numbering quoted in descriptions as in many cases this was altered at a later date. It should also be noted that postcards have been dated according to their postmarks where applicable, but often the original photographs on the front of cards date were taken several years earlier than the postmark date.
  • System of arrangement
    Reference codes are based on the pages on which items appear within each volume. Where two or more items are fixed to a page, they are differentiated as either upper (U), middle (M) and lower (L), or (left) and (right).
  • Existence and location of originals
    Many photographs in the collection are copies of originals from the former local studies collections at Strood and Rochester Libraries, now the Local Studies collections at Medway Archives Centre, or from the Eastgate House Museum, now the Guildhall Museum, Rochester.