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Town Jam-packed with hidden history

By Danny Boyle
The phone box in Gravesend that features on the cover of the Jam's fifth album, Sound Affects.
The phone box in Gravesend that features on the cover of the Jam's fifth album, Sound Affects.

The Jam are to be acknowledged for immortalising a little bit of Gravesend in one of their most popular albums.

The telephone box by the Old Town Hall features on the artwork for the band's fifth album Sound Affects, which was released in November 1980.

To commemorate it, a sign has been created that will hopefully be put up in a new cafe being worked on in the Old Town Hall.

The sign is part of the Share a Secret project, aimed to uncover hidden secrets of Kent – itself part of the Kent Cultural Baton.

During the Olympic torch relay, the cultural baton encouraged people to tell their secrets about a place in Kent and the phone box was Gravesend's.

Town centre manager Graham Long said: "The aim is to donate the signs to the community as a legacy of the Olympic celebrations of 2012.

"We'd like people to come down the High Street, take a look at the phone box at the Old Town Hall and spend some time and money in the many and diverse shops on the old High Street and of course at the historic Gravesend Borough Market – Kent's only six day a week covered market hall.

"It's pretty cool being featured on the front of a Jam record and hopefully Jam fans will want to come down and have a look at it – I don’t think too many people knew about it."

Sound Affects was hailed by Paul Weller as the band's finest work and spawned two of the Jam's biggest hits – That's Entertainment and Start!

The Jam's fifth album Sound Affects features a phone box in Gravesend.
The Jam's fifth album Sound Affects features a phone box in Gravesend.

The cover art, pictured left, is a parody of the artwork used on BBC Sound Effects records produced during the 1970s.

The pictures on the front - which also included a taxi, a baby, a hearse and a juke box - were taken by photographers Martyn Goddard and Andrew Rosen.

Work is currently under way in the Old Town Hall for the new cafe and interactive look at the history of Gravesend.

No official opening date has been set, although it is hoped to open within the next couple of months.

Visitors will not only be able to have a hot drink, but also brush up on their history with interactive touch-screen displays.

The Old Town Hall was built in 1764, though how it looks now dates from 1836 when the old front was removed and the present one was built.

Being so close to the market, the ground floor was used by the mayor and councillors who were said to put oranges over their noses to mask the unpleasant odour of fish as well as prisoners awaiting trial.

As a gaol, it saw the trial of William Henry Piggott - arrested in Gravesend under suspicion of being Jack the Ripper. Piggott was eventually acquitted due to lack of evidence and was committed to an asylum.

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