You may have seen news coverage today about The Genome Project which is based on scans of Radio Times magazine listings published between 1923 and 2009.  Searches bring up a synopsis, a cast list and an edit button.  It is designed to help the BBC identify programmes missing from its recorded archive and try to find copies of them.

The search facility can be accessed here and by searching for Dartford, it brings up a selection of BBC programmes featuring Dartford throughout the years.  Below is a selection which may jog a few memories; there are plenty more if you want to search yourself.

17 February 1937 – Palace Of Varieties.  For the third time listeners are to watch a performance of this imaginary music-hall, and once again Ralph Truman and Horace Percival are to sit in the stalls and describe the acts before they come on. They will see, and listeners will hear : the Southern Sisters, who after a first-house performance at Dartford will motor up to broadcast with their accompanist, David Law , and motor back with him to play the second house.

25 March 1941 – Reginald New at the Theatre Organ.  The Dartford march, which Reginald New is broadcasting by request, was composed by him in 1938 – halfway through his time of four years as organist at the State Cinema, Dartford.  Four thousand of his followers there formed themselves into a fan club, and this march became its signature tune, preceding and closing its social functions, especially dances.  The war came, and many of the fans donned uniform in the Royal West Kents.  Hence the Dartford march, with the inevitable addition of an Army lyric, became a soldiers’ marching tune, sung by many who came back from Dunkirk.

19 September 1942 – Lewis Gerard at the organ of the State, Dartford

9 April 1946 – Henry Hall’s Guest Night from the State Cinema, Dartford

23 October 1948 – Jazz  Club.  Tito Burns and his Sextet in ‘Going Calling’, a visit to the resident sextet of the Dartford Rhythm Club at the Railway Hotel, Dartford.

7 May 1961 – Morning Service for Industrial Sunday from Dartford Parish Church, Kent.  Men and women of Dartford bring offerings from their industries and ask a blessing on their life and labour.  The lessons read by an apprentice, a foreman, a shop steward, and a works manager.

7 December 1961 – Market Gardening in Kent.  A visit to vegetable farms at Southfleet and Dartford

21 April 1963 – Down Your Way.  Franklin Engelmann recently visited Dartford.

25 April 1966 – Crime and the Criminal.  The second group of programmes in this series is concerned with the treatment of the young offender in England and Wales.  In 1876, when St. Vincent’s in Dartford, Kent was opened, boys slept one hundred to a dormitory.  Today the new dormitories sleep ten.  The bleak ‘industrial school’ as it was first called has given way to something more like a small private boarding school.  It is run, as are a number of other approved schools, by the Roman Catholics.  Dr Alan Little of the London School of Economics talks to the headmaster of St. Vincent’s

8 September 1969 – Ask The Family.  Various broadcasts over the next year or so featuring the Norman family from Dartford, Kent.  Peter Norman is a telecommunications engineer.  His wife Pearl teaches.  Their children are Robert, 15, and Margaret, 12.

8 May 1971 – As part of Sport On 2, Brian Johnston commentated on the Kent v Leicestershire cricket match.

6 September 1976 – Play Away starring Brian Cant.  It’s the sporting life today for Brian and Co when they join some physical education students at their college in Dartford, Kent.

16 January 1977 – Quiz Kid 77.  Chairman Alan Freeman; the search throughout Britain for the boy or girl who knows most about pop music, organised in co-operation with NAYC and NABC and incorporating the search for Britain’s best new bands.  Round 3 features contestants from the Kent and Sussex areas and comes from the Temple Hill County Youth Centre, Dartford, with new band Valkyrie.

3 June 1977 – It’s A Knockout.  The 1977 inter-town fun-and-games competition Crawley v Dartford v Maidstone.  The winner will represent Great Britain in the seventh heat of the Eurovision Competition to be held in Doetchingen, Holland, on 28 October.  Tonight’s programme is introduced from Crawley by Stuart Hall and Eddie Waring.

6 February 1978 – The Object of the Exercise.  David Vine introduces the last of five programmes about current trends and talking points in physical education in schools.  The Future of PE, a discussion between Dr Vaughan Thomas, Barry Taylor, Mary Thomas and Jimmy Munn.  Recorded at Dartford College of Education.

5 February 1983 – A Night in Vienna from The Orchard, Dartford, Kent with Maryetta Midgley (sop), Kenneth Collins (tenor), John Bradbury (violin), BBC Concert Orchestra leader John Bradbury and conductor James Lockhart.  Introduced by Don Durbrldge.  During the interval, Don Durbridge discovers something about the origins of The Orchard and its environs.

7 October 1983 – Kaleidoscope.  Includes a review of Kent Opera’s new production of Robinson Crusoe at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford.

18 July 1984 – Spotlight on Jack Douglas.  Best known for his double acts with Joe Baker and Des O’Connor and his many Carry On appearances, Jack Douglas began as a straight actor but has the highest regard for his fellow comedians. ‘It’s much easier to act than to make people laugh’.  Recorded at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford.

16 February 1988 – Our Green Survival Kit?  Plants have been around much longer than human beings and we should defer to their greater expertise in organic chemistry.  At the turn of the century, 80 per cent of all medicines came from plants.  Has ‘green medicine’ now been overtaken by synthetic drugs?  With the views of pharmacologists, botanists and other scientists engaged in medicinal plant research. Recorded at Wellcome, Dartford; the Pharmacy Dept.

7 July 1990 – Classics of the Silver Screen with Charles Nove, live from the Orchard Theatre, Dartford.

15 February 1991 – Friday Night Is Music Night, direct from the Orchard Theatre, Dartford.

19 October 1991 – John Dunn live from the new Dartford Bridge, setting the scene for tomorrow’s opening by Her Majesty the Queen.

12 September 1992 – From Broadway to the Orchard.  Live from the Orchard Theatre, Dartford.  To celebrate the Orchard’s tenth anniversary, a magical journey through a decade of musicals which have been produced there.  Including music from Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Chess, Evita, West Side Story and many others.  The concert features Claire Moore and Dave Willetts. With the BBC Big Band and Strings; in association with Dartford Borough Council.

6 January 1993 – Child’s Play.  A series of five plays on the theme of childhood.  1: Spacehoppers, Clackers and Really Big Fish by Roy Hutchins.  Schooldays are one of the adventures of childhood. At the age of ten, Roy loves Miss Springfield.  Anthony, the class know-all, loves Miss Prue and Sandra loves her Tiny Tears and sherbet lemons.  But then the morning of the eleven-plus dawns and things will never be quite the same again.  With John Baddeley , Geraldine Fitzgerald , David Thorpe and the Fleetdown Junior School, Dartford, Kent.

6 November 1993 – Don McLean in Concert.  The American singer and composer of the classic 70s songs American Pie and Vincent, recorded in concert at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford.

30 November 1998 – Big Band Special.  Sheila Tracy presents the second part of a concert recorded at the Orchard theatre in Dartford, featuring the BBC Big Band, conducted by Barry Forgie.  They are joined on stage by guest Peter Skellern.

11 January 2007 – Question Time.  David Dimbleby chairs the political debate from Dartford, Kent, with panellists the Lord Chancellor, Charles Falconer, shadow chancellor George Osborne, former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, historian David Starkey and ex-Labour minister Clare Short.

About the author

Andy Clark is retired after a long career at Lloyds Register and subsequently the Civil Service. He has lived in Dartford for his entire life.

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