Frank Bangay

WE had an appointment with
” Mr. Frank Bangay, gas fitter,
one morning last month at Borough
Green showroom. We hoped to
find out something about the life of
a fitter in the country and we won-
dered if we would get a story of
interest to his urban and suburban
colleagues.
But we need not have worried. Mr.
Bangay lives in a cottage next door and
anyone in Borough Green who wants the
gasman is as likely to knock on his door
as to go into the showroom. For every-
body in this Kentish village knows Frank
Bangay, and he knows everybody.
In fact, one can safely say that
Borough Green wouldn’t be the same
without him.
But perhaps you’ve never heard of
Borough Green ? Or perhaps you only
know it as a village on the A25 to Maid-
stone ? It has been described as the un-
loveliest spot in the Garden of England,
but that is an exaggeration. The trouble is
that it is comparatively modern — 80 years
ago there was nothing there but meadows—
so it has no olde-worlde thatched cottages
for tourists to drool over.
But whatever Borough Green hasn’t
got—it certainly has character, and in recent years it has hit the headlines in the local and the national press as ” The Do it Yourself ”
village.
Which brings us back to Frank Bangay
who, as vice-chairman of the Parish Council, is one of the most active ” do-ers ” of them all.
Mr. Bangay was born and bred in
Borough Green. He started work there
as an apprentice fitter with the Mid-Kent
Gas Light and Coke Company, whose
headquarters were at Snodland and he
learnt his gas fitting in the villages and
countryside around.
During the war he was with the
Royal Pioneer Corps from 1941 to 1946
and came out as an Acting C.Q.M.S.,
after serving in France, Germany—and the
Orkney Islands.
LAND ARMY
He met his wife during the war.
She was in the Land Army and lived in
Forest Hill. They settled down at Borough
Green. At first she hated it, but once she
had joined in some of the village activities,
she changed her mind. ” I’d never leave
Borough Green now,” she says.
Now, to most of us, earning a living
and bringing up a family doesn’t give time
for much else. But that’s not the case
with the Bangays.
It was the story of Borough Green’s
recreation ground that first put the village
on the map. And Frank Bangay was a
member of the Recreation Ground Improve ment Fund from its start in 1947.
At that time the recreation ground
was nothing but a meadow. People
agreed that it would be a good thing to
have tennis courts, cricket and football
pitches and a children’s playground. But
£800 over and above a Ministry grant had
to be found to cover the cost.
Nobody thought that such a small and
inconspicuous village could raise that sort
of money. But, led by Mr. Bangay and
others, they rolled up their sleeves, held
dances, raffles, fetes, carnivals, jumble
sales and house-to-house collections, and
raised not £800 but £1,350.
SIXTY-FOUR VOLUNTEERS
This result was so good that they
decided to build a pavilion (Hon. Secretary,
Pavilion Building Committee—F. Bangay).
With a grant from the Playing Fields
Association, they had £750 available.
They got 64 volunteers and built the place
themselves, a handsome building with clock
tower that is now insured for £2,500. It
cost the people of Borough Green less than
£750 and nothing at all on the rates.

Next they built a six-rink bowling
green (Hon. Sec. Bowls Green Building
Committee—F.  Bangay).
A contractor
estimated the job at £2,700. With a grant
of £450 from the Ministry and a loan of
£250 from the Kent Playing Fields Associa tion, the villagers laid it out themselves.
It has been pronounced the best green for
miles around and the loan has been repaid.
(Hon. Sec. Borough Green and District
Bowls Club 1956-59—F. Bangay).

The recreation ground was now so
fine that it was worthy of a proper approach. A derelict stone flour mill was demolished and the stone used for the new entrance (Hon. labourer to bricklayer—F. Bangay).
And, providentially, a magnificent
pair of wrought-iron gates came to light
quite by chance and now make an imposing
entrance.
Last May, as a fitting culmination to
their efforts, the Recreation Ground was
officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh, President of the National Playing Fields Association.

BUSY MAN
What with all this and the Invicta
Youth Club, which he inaugurated and of
which he is chairman, the football club, the
cricket club, the Parents and Old Scholars
Association, the church and other local
fetes, Mr. Bangay is a pretty busy man.
Yet he still finds time to act as master of
ceremonies at many local functions.
Mrs. Bangay is not idle either. She
is a sick visitor and was secretary of the
Women’s Institute and has plenty on her
hands, too.
” What,” we asked tentatively, ” hap-
pens when you both have a meeting the same
evening ? What about a baby sitter ? ”
” That’s easy,” says Mrs. Bangay.
” We hold a meeting in our own sitting-
room.”  And she told us, somewhat
ruefully, of a meeting of young people
when volunteers did the washing up and
some of her best china went for six!
It’s anything but a dull life for the
Bangays. ” Our next scheme is for a
a village hall,” Mr. Bangay told us.   ” It’s
going to cost £15,000 and we’ll start work
as soon as we’ve got the first £1,000.”
And we are perfectly prepared to bet
100 free copies of SEGAS JOURNAL to an
extinct farthing that Borough Green will
get its Village Hall, with Mr. Bangay
among the volunteers.

6 responses to “Frank Bangay

  1. My father,Frank Hird was born in Borough Green and resided at Long Pond.
    I have a photo of my father and Frank Bangay in a choir at Good Shepard when they were children.
    If you would like a copy I am more than happy to send it to you
    Many Thanks
    David Hird

  2. Ian :
    I suppose you have heard a few variations in pronouncing your surname : Ban gay/ Bang gay/ Bang y.

    Horace Heaven, of Maidstone Road, was the former custodian/ swimming instructor/ lifeguard at Long Pond swimming pool – he insisted on Frank ‘Bang ee’.

    • I have come across so many variations that it becomes second nature to repeat it and to spell it out. The only one that annoys is when it becomes “Bungay”, after the town or HG wells novel. It’s quite clear then that people were not listening. Most Bangays tend to the same pronunciation, with both syllables having pretty much the same stress, perhaps slightly tilted to the 2nd one, but not by much.

      When taking a class of 4+ – & 5 year olds once it got changed to Mr. Bandage, which had its merits.

  3. Ian :
    Do you recollect the Segas decision-making process for selecting this particular photo of your dad?
    At that stage of his life, the likeness couldn’t have been more unmistakeable.
    Although come to think of it, practically all of the photos I’ve seen of him have had that instant recognition quality.
    Does that also apply for other family members?

    • I was just a baby at this time. I think my sister told me there was some deliberation – it was a studio photo as I understand it.

      To answer the second question while there are similarities we don’t often get mixed up so I’d say no. That goes for older relatives as captured on photos too.

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