The Post War Years
The period after the end of the war until the early 1990’s saw a number of significant changes to the area although Eastchurch retained its essential village status.
Men returning from the war did not wish to be farm workers any more and the increasing mechanisation of agriculture meant farms had to change. Fields got larger and hedgerows started to disappear. Redundant army camps were sold and converted for use of the holiday trade and for building. Leysdown expanded further into a busy seaside resort, Eastchurch village coming to a grinding halt on summer weekends due to the heavy holiday traffic en-route to Leysdown.
Community spirit was much in evidence at this time and the parishioners undertook two major projects. The first, in 1945, was the formation of the Eastchurch Reconstruction and Thanksgiving Committee to raise funds for the building of a village hall. Welcome home parties were held for the returning servicemen and women together with a day of events and party for the local children. Delayed by the embargo on materials for non-essential building, the Village Hall was eventually opened on the 13th August 1958. The Hall was dedicated as a Memorial to those who died, as a symbol of gratitude to those who served and returned and as a thank offering for the safe preservation of the village and its people in World War II.
The second project was the formation of a committee, in 1949, to erect a memorial to Commemorate the Early Pioneer Airmen and the historic events which took place here, on Sheppey in the early part of the century. Apart from a stained glass window in Eastchurch Parish Church to the memory of the Hon.C.S.Rolls and Cecil Grace, both killed in flying accidents, and statues of C.S.Rolls in Monmouth Market Place and Dover, this memorial is the only one commemorating the early pioneers of British Aviation.
Fund raising was greatly helped by a letter to the Times Newspaper from Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Brabazon of Tara (formerly J.T.C.Moore-Brabazon) and Hugh Oswald Short.
These three became patrons of the appeal, to be joined later by Sir Francis McClean.
The Memorial was unveiled on the 25th July 1955 by Marshall of the Royal Air Force Lord Tedder G.C.B. who was at one time the Officer Commanding at Eastchurch.
The memorial is erected at the junction of the roads leading to Leysdown and site of Eastchurch Airfield opposite All Saints Church. On the 50th Anniversary in 2005, the memorial was re-dedicated by the Rev.(Sqn.Ldr) David Barnes M.A. R.A.F.(Ret’d).
Education continued at the Church of England Primary School, set up in 1840, with much the same number of pupils. In 1950 the Diocesan Education Board handed the running of the school over to the Local Education Authority. The school then became ‘Voluntary Controlled’ with only limited input from the church authorities.
The Queen visited Eastchurch in 1994 to open an extension to the school and carried out her customary ‘walkabout’ to meet villagers in the High Street. A high point of the 20th century.
Her Majesty meeting former pupils and Kerry Janman, the Queen visited in response to a letter from Kerry.
In the 1990’s, two more prisons were built near the open prison on the site of the old airfield and a by-pass road was built to the south of the village. This has considerably eased congestion and created a well-defined boundary to the village that, in spite of additional housing, can claim to be the only true village still left on the Isle of Sheppey.
The holiday trade expanded greatly in the latter part of the last century and now numbers some 2,000 caravans and chalets spread amongst several sites, mainly along the Warden Road.