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A Circle of Words in a Military Square

The regeneration and public realm works in Military Square, Chatham have very nearly been completed. This involves the installation of 400 bespoke radius-cut monolithic blocks of granite set into 17m diameter circle, putting a circle of words at the centre of a Military Square!

154 of the granite blocks have words, numbers & patterns sandblasted or inset into the surface. Just over 400 words are included – 

Local school children & people working in local businesses were asked for their comments.

We listened to them & heard their stories. We listened to the sound of their lives.

There is an overwhelming sense of common ownership in this project.

These words are not ours. They belong to Chatham.

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Draft Artwork for Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Granite blocks awaiting installation in Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

You may know that the aim of this public realm project was to upgrade the route from Chatham Station to the Waterfront. This includes pedestrian and cycle routes as well as crossing points, upgrading paving materials, improving steps and ramps, opening up the public realm and streamlining access and pedestrian permeability.

Francis Knight, Public Art Consultants, managed the Public Art Project. Our project collaborators and consultants to Medway Council were LDA Design and Project Centre. 

We have worked within these parameters, using the language of public realm and materials, which are robust and stand the test of time. We have created a quiet ‘narrative’ thread – a story about Chatham –  & more specifically about events and places along this route.

We wanted the streets to speak quietly, confidently & with good humour about Chatham…WHAT MAKES A TOWN? …THESE ARE OUR STREETS…part memorial, part living voice…but mostly a celebration of the rich heritage and community of Chatham.

As an artist and designer of public spaces, this project has been an opportunity to influence our surroundings in a way that ‘speaks’ of Chatham and its people. We mostly take our pavements for granted, but these spaces have often developed from historic pathways and tracks linking communities and towns across the wider region. They have a resonance and a ‘voice’, …and echo with history. 

The route from the Station to the Waterfront takes us down Railways Street & Military Road – in doing so we pass several key places, such as New Cut (a former farmyard), St John’s (a Grade II Listed Waterloo Church) – Military Square, considered the Heart of the Town. At these important sites, we have made interventions to articulate the granite kerb in ways, which are expressive and of interest, whilst still maintaining functionality.

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Some Chatham Words

You may have seen some of our work embedded into the streetscape along Railway Street. Large scale granite kerbs contain words sandblasted or inlaid into the surface. You may wonder what these words mean, or how they relate to you. Here is a short explanation of how they came about. 

We often talk about words having weight – of text being ‘set in stone’… or ’engraved in stone’…suggesting gravitas, importance, longevity, …we all like a funny ‘one liner’…colloquial, local…distinct Chatham voices…

Well, here in Chatham your words really are being set in stone…for all to read…for years to come –

Chatham Placemaking Project. “A Chatham Barber called Long John…”. Image: Christopher Tipping

Chatham Placemaking Project. “Colin carried coal…”. Image: Christopher Tipping. Words: Rob Young

You may know that the aim of this public realm project was to upgrade the route from Chatham Station to the Waterfront. This includes pedestrian and cycle routes as well as crossing points, upgrading paving materials, improving steps and ramps, opening up the public realm and streamlining access and pedestrian permeability. This work was driven by Francis Knight, Public Art Consultants & our project collaborators and consultants to Medway Council, LDA Design and Project Centre. 

We have worked within these parameters, using the language of public realm and materials, which are robust and stand the test of time. We have created a quiet ‘narrative’ thread – a story about Chatham –  & more specifically about events and places along this route.

We wanted the streets to speak quietly, confidently & with good humour about Chatham…WHAT MAKES A TOWN ?…THESE ARE OUR STREETS…part memorial, part living voice…but mostly a celebration of the rich heritage and community of Chatham.

Chatham Placemaking Project. 57 Submarines.
Image: Christopher Tipping.

As an artist and designer of public spaces, this project has been an opportunity to influence our surroundings in a way that ‘speaks’ of Chatham and its people. We mostly take our pavements for granted, but these spaces have often developed from historic pathways and tracks linking communities and towns across the wider region. They have a resonance and a ‘voice’, …and echo with history. 

The route from the Station to the Waterfront takes us down Railways Street & Military Road – in doing so we pass several key places, such as New Cut ( a former farmyard), St John’s ( a Grade II Listed Waterloo Church) – Military Square, considered the Heart of the Town. At these important sites, we have made interventions to articulate the granite kerb in ways which are expressive and of interest, whilst still maintaining functionality.

We were keen to hear and to record everyday voices …words spoken by ordinary people – such as ‘the girl who cried when she lost her phone and then cried again when she found it’... ‘the lovey barmaid’ …or ‘Colin, the man who carried coal for charity’…these are the voices of people on the street, passers by, people shopping & passing the time of day. We engaged with people directly in conversation, we overheard the conversations of others, we wrote down and recorded stories and anecdotes we were told.

I was very fortunate to collaborate with other artists on this project. Filmmaker Simon Williams succinctly and with an understated eye for visual language and movement, cleverly framed our project parameters and vision in a series of short films, whilst printmaker Xtina Lamb rendered our architectural vision into graphic patterns & motifs used throughout the scheme. Both artists also live in Chatham, bringing their individual & unique perspectives to play. However, it was the award winning writer Rob Young, who contributed significantly to the embedded text. An astute, profound and funny wordsmith with an ability to engage anyone and everyone, turning their words into poetry along the way.

“The knitter. Whose name is Pearl.

The woman. Who uses the word ‘like?’ As like, punctuation?

The woman. Who said sorry. When you’re the one who pushed in.

The woman. Who draws breath. Then monologues. For an hour.

The waiter. Who had a fling. With a Bride. At her wedding.

The girl. Who cried. All day. When she lost her phone. Then cried again. When she found it.

The boy. Whose Mum. Made him take back the sweets. That he stole.

The man. Who says, I’m mad, me. Who isn’t mad, at all. Just lonely”. Rob Young 2016

 

 

Justin Coe, a poet and writer also contributed, animatedly performing his work directly to camera, whilst walking the route in a film by Simon Williams.

Film still image of Poet & Writer Justin Coe performing his work on Military Road, Chatham. Image: Simon Williams

 

“On his way to his first day of school on Rome Lane

(The name of this road – before the trains came)

And while we’re walking with Dickens – observe the new Church

They’ve called it St Johns. And it will soon be the first

Public building in Chatham lit by electricity!…

Though all the lights went out here by the end of last century…” Justin Coe 2016

 

Local school children & people working in local businesses were asked for their comments. We listened to them & heard their stories. We listened to the sound of their lives. There is an overwhelming sense of common ownership in this project. These words are not ours. They belong to Chatham.

We referenced times past by collaborating with MALSC (Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre) and other local agencies in searching for site specific text, such as the words of famous visitors & local Luminaries such as Charles Dickens, reminiscing about soldiers marching through the town in regimented rows …’

The oversized granite kerbs we have used here become a metaphor for the continuity of the local community – kerbs being critical in holding roads and pavements in place – they are physically important in maintaining the fabric of our environment –they could almost be described as ‘defensive structures’ maintaining the integrity and safety of our public spaces …reminiscent of the Chatham Lines – the historic defensive structures, forts and earthworks, which offered protection to the people of Medway & especially the Chatham Dockyard …

The granite kerb acts as a threshold between various states …of the pedestrian…and the driver, or moving fast or slow – perceptions of safety & danger…often the original granite kerb is often the only thing left in place when pavements and roads have been re-placed or modernised throughout recent history…the kerb maintains the parameters of how public spaces were managed and maintained. These lines of granite are also ‘our other Chatham Lines…’

More of the kerbstone lies buried beneath the surface than on top of it… and so it is also a rather poignant link between the past and the present…where times and events past lie buried beneath out feet –

Chatham Placemaking Project – granite kerbs being installed on Railway Street. Image: Christopher Tipping

Our work in Chatham set out to find and hear voices and words which quietly & evocatively create a sense of place associated with each of our stopping points on the route from the Station to the Paddock… the power of these voices is amplified by the weight and mass of the monolithic granite.

Left in place, these words will still be here in a hundred years from now…

 

Chatham Placemaking Project – PROPOSALS

I haven’t updated this post for some time – actually since April 2017!  Head down and just getting on with it …time flies. OK – I’ll now try to sum up what’s happened in the interim.

Following on from the initial research period, consultation & creative engagement phases of the project, a series of Creative Public Realm proposals were submitted for review. This work originated and was inspired by the positive & creative collaboration with our supporting artists in residence, Rob Young – Writer, Simon Williams – Filmmaker and Xtina Lamb – Printmaker.   These collaborations proved to be highly creative as well as bringing a refreshing camaraderie and friendship to the work.

The proposals are presented here in the order in which the various sites are encountered along the route from Chatham Station down Railway Street to Military Road and the Waterfront. This is a visual account of how ideas developed and adopted into the scheme.

Chatham Station, although at the head of our scheme, will be the last Phase to be delivered on the ground & I will report on this work later in a separate post.

The sites where our work and interventions has been focussed are:

 

NEW CUT & NEW ROAD VIADUCT

ST JOHN’S SQUARE

LOWER RAILWAY STREET

MILITARY SQUARE 

MILITARY ROAD

Chatham Placemaking Project. Route & Plan of Creative Public Realm. Image: Christopher Tipping

 

The Red Line indicates our project route & is titled the ‘Chatham Line’, after the Chatham Lines, the nearby defensive fortifications.  The lines follow the historic granite kerb line & will be replaced in relevant sections by bespoke wide

granite kerbs and special transition granite units often with sandblasted or inset granite text. Text is based upon the surrounding local historic legacy & community engagement work & narrative developed by our writer in residence, Rob Young.

AREA 2 – NEW CUT 

New Cut – Plan of Creative Public Realm. Image: Christopher Tipping

New Cut – Sketches & Draft Plan of Creative Public Realm. Image: Christopher Tipping

New Cut – Sketches & draft plan of bespoke granite kerb units. Creative Public Realm. Image: Christopher Tipping

New Cut – Sketches & draft plan of bespoke granite kerb units. Creative Public Realm. Image: Christopher Tipping

New Cut – Sketches & draft plan of bespoke granite & timber seating. Creative Public Realm. Image: Christopher Tipping

New Cut – Sketches & draft plan of bespoke granite kerb units. Creative Public Realm. Image: Christopher Tipping

New Cut – New Road Viaduct – Draft proposals for bespoke enamel panels below the balustrade, welcoming you to Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

 

As with most projects, not all ideas and proposals succeed.Budget limitations, critical rigour and often the subjective nature of the collaborative creative process all bring issues to bear in deciding what is destined to be built on site and what is left in the studio !

 

New Cut – New Road Viaduct – Draft proposals for bespoke enamel panels below the balustrade, welcoming you to Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

New Cut & New Road Viaduct – Draft proposals for bespoke lighting scheme welcoming you to Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

New Cut & New Road Viaduct – Draft proposals for bespoke enamel panels under the bridge, welcoming you to Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Square – Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Square – Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Square – Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

The approach to the materiality and scale of St John’s Square & elsewhere along our route, was influenced by the architectural & industrial heritage of the Historic Chatham Dockyard.

St John’s Square – Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Square – Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Square – Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

 

This monolithic detail seen above was titled ‘The Submarine’, inspired by HMS OCELOT on display at Chatham Historic Dockyard . This sculptural form was to act as a dividing feature separating two flights of steps at different levels.

I didn’t make it through the final evaluation process…

HMS OCELOT, Chatham Historic Dockyard. Image: Christopher Tipping

HMS OCELOT, Chatham Historic Dockyard. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Square – Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping & Hardscape

St John’s Square – Draft proposals for bespoke yellow enamel cast iron bollards & landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Square – Research Image of Ropery Artefacts. Draft proposals for bespoke yellow enamel cast iron bollards & landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

LOWER RAILWAY STREET & MILITARY SQUARE

Lower Railway Street & Military Square. Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Lower Railway Street & Military Square. Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Lower Railway Street & Military Square. Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Lower Railway Street & Military Square. Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Lower Railway Street & Military Square. Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square is a major pedestrian intersection in Chatham, at the crossroads between Railway Street, Military Road and the High Street.

Lower Railway Street & Military Square. Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Lower Railway Street & Military Square. Draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

Military Square draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

 

THE CIRCLE IN THE SQUARE 

Military Square draft proposals for bespoke landscape interventions. Image: Christopher Tipping

 

 

Medway 1 Magazine Issue 10 2017

This week saw the publication of Issue 10 of Medway 1 Magazine, which is published by 3Fox International Ltd 

This issue covers Regeneration Projects being delivered in Medway and Chatham in particular.

The Chatham Placemaking Project is featured on Pages 17 – 22.

Christopher Hazeldine, Production Manager at 3Fox International Ltd has kindly allowed us to publish the following images:

‘These are our Streets’

Front Cover: Medway 1 Magazine Issue 10 2017 3Fox International Ltd. Chatham Placemaking Project. Lead Artist Christopher Tipping

‘Future Routes’ Page 17: Medway 1 Magazine Issue 10 2017 3Fox International Ltd. Chatham Placemaking Project. Lead Artist Christopher Tipping

‘Future Routes’ Page 18: Medway 1 Magazine Issue 10 2017 3Fox International Ltd. Chatham Placemaking Project. Lead Artist Christopher Tipping

‘Future Routes’ Page 19: Medway 1 Magazine Issue 10 2017 3Fox International Ltd. Chatham Placemaking Project. Lead Artist Christopher Tipping

‘Future Routes’ Pages 20-21: Medway 1 Magazine Issue 10 2017 3Fox International Ltd. Chatham Placemaking Project. Lead Artist Christopher Tipping

‘Future Routes’ Page 22: Medway 1 Magazine Issue 10 2017 3Fox International Ltd. Chatham Placemaking Project. Lead Artist Christopher Tipping

 

Ginger Beer anyone?

B. R. Phillips, Invicta Works, 22 – 24 Railway Street, Chatham, made Home Brewed Ginger Beer

‘Phillips Chatham Invicta Mineral Waterworks Unrivaled Brewed Ginger Beer’. !

D.J Whiffen, Invicta Mineral Waterworks, 22 – 24 Railway Street, Chatham

B.R. Philips made Home Brewed Ginger Beer at The Invicta Works, Nos 22 - 24 Railway Street - Chatham Placemaking Project - Chatham Patterns - Image: Christopher Tipping

B.R. Philips made Home Brewed Ginger Beer at The Invicta Works, Nos 22 – 24 Railway Street – Chatham Placemaking Project – Chatham Patterns – Image: Christopher Tipping

Railway Street from New Cut Viaduct date unknown. Collection of Rex Cadman. by Permission of Rex Cadman and Kent Photo Archive.

Railway Street from New Cut Viaduct date unknown. Collection of Rex Cadman. by Permission of Rex Cadman and Kent Photo Archive.

Nos. 20 - 26 Railway Street. Chatham Placemaking Project - Chatham Patterns - Image: Christopher Tipping

No. 26 Railway Street. In 1961, this was the premises of Frank Bannister & Son Ltd – Motor and Motorcycle Engineers. Chatham Placemaking Project – Chatham Patterns – Image: Christopher Tipping

In 1912 – No 26 was the home of the Invicta Furniture and Baggage Depository. No 28 was a Garage and Cycle Works.

Rome House, No 41 Railway Street. Chatham Placemaking Project - Chatham Patterns - Image: Christopher Tipping

Rome House, No 41 Railway Street. Chatham Placemaking Project – Chatham Patterns – Image: Christopher Tipping

The 1848 Ordnance Survey Public Health Map of Chatham shows Rome House – a large detached mansion set in landscaped gardens – opposite St John’s Church on Rome Lane. Following the building of Chatham Railway Station, Rome Lane became Railway Street sometime after 1871. No 41 would have been a new property named after the original house.

A detail from the 1848 OS Public Health Map of Chatham, with St John's Church and Rome House opposite on Rome Lane. The pink line shows the route of the railway and Chatham Railway Station opened in January 1858. By permission of Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project.

A detail from the 1848 OS Public Health Map of Chatham, with St John’s Church and Rome House on Rome Lane at top right. The pink line shows the eventual route of the railway and Chatham Railway Station, which opened in January 1858. By permission of Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project.

A detail of the OS Map of Chatham from 1864. By permission of Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

A detail of the OS Map of Chatham from 1864. By permission of Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

This detail of the OS 1864 Map of Chatham shows Chatham Station at the bottom of this image. Railway Street to Military Road runs from the middle of the image to the top of the image. St John’s Church and Rome House can clearly be seen.

Burton’s Elephant !

Halifax Building Society now occupy the Burton Art Deco Building on Military Road and High Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Halifax Building Society now occupy the Burton Art Deco Building on Military Road and High Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Halifax Building Society now occupy the former Burton Tailors Art Deco Building on Military Road and High Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Halifax Building Society now occupy the former Burton Tailors Art Deco Building on Military Road and High Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

 

Burton’s Tailors, Military Road, Chatham  – now the Halifax Building Society

“Burton’s long history in men’s clothing is a remarkable story. It was founded in 1903 by Montague Burton (originally named Meshe Osinsky), one of several Russian Jewish immigrants who built enormously successful businesses from humble beginnings.

Burton became a household name because of good public relations and the way it treated its workers. Burton bought shops in the prime town centre spots and were instantly recognisable because of their design. There were few men in England who didn’t at some time enter the portals of a Burton’s “gentlemen’s club” and get measured for a Burton suit.

On the eve of the 1939-45 war, Burton again turned to the production of uniforms for troops. After the war, Burton produced a suit for war veterans nicknamed “The Full Monty”. By the end of the war, Burton was estimated to be clothing around a fifth of British males.” On:Yorkshire Magazine 20th December 2012

The Art Deco Elephant motif on the building on Halifax Building on Military Road was common to all Burtons buildings throughout the 1930’s. It is a large and significant building in Chatham and one which assists in anchoring our site on the route from the Station to the Waterfront – not insignificantly because of it’s wonderful Elephant motif’s.

The Halifax Building Society now occupies the former Burton Art Deco Building on Military Road and High Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

The Halifax Building Society now occupies the former Burton Art Deco Building on Military Road and High Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

 

St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham

Tuesday 10th May – 

St John’s Church on Railway Street Chatham, is a jewel in the crown of Chatham’s Architectural Heritage. It is certainly an important anchor site for us working on the Chatham Placemaking Project.

St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

Maybe you don’t agree !

St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

What about now…? No? 

St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

A much better image in great light – showing off it’s tower and Italianate form. 

Built in 1820/21 by the Architect Sir Robert Smirkewho by the way also built the Facade and main block of the British Museum – the Grade II Listed Italianate Style Anglican Church is one of the few Waterloo Churches left intact.

The Church has been closed since the early 1990’s – but has in the interim been used for an arts installation – Chatham Vines  in 2006.

I only came to Chatham for the first time in 2015 to start work on the Chatham Placemaking Project – I loved the building from the start – with its robust symetric form and landmark tower. It is the anchor building along our route. However – those familiar with Chatham will know all too well the condition of the building today. It has been bypassed by most and is diminished by the constant flow of traffic and cut off from lower Railway Street and the town centre by the busy road. Stained glass windows are dark. The stone elevations are dirty. The paintwork on the doors is peeling. It is forlorn – but actually it has not been forgotten !

My images aren’t brilliant – but just take a look inside …

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Laura Knight of Francis Knight and I were accompanied by Project Manager Peter Welsh of the Diocese of Rochester. He had agreed to show us around & allowed us to take pictures whilst discussing the Chatham Placemaking Project and the importance of this building to our project. The building is still of importance to the Diocese too. ‘The strategic project at Chatham includes re-establishing a worshipping community for St John’s Church, bringing the building back into use (potentially with an interim solution) and establishing mission activities in the local community. The area around St John’s is one of the most deprived in the Diocese in terms of employment rates, income, education and quality of life’.

The interior is quite stunningly beautiful with interior furniture and finishes – albeit dirty and in need of repair & a little tlc – hardly touched since the day the doors were closed and locked. So much original detail and wonderful features remain, including bespoke benches and seating, lighting, plasterwork, ironwork and of course brilliantly coloured stained glass. Could you have guessed that from the outside?

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Stained Glass window above the alter. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Stained Glass window above the alter. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior - Ceiling detail of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior – Ceiling detail of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Ceiling rose detail. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Ceiling rose detail. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Detail of Benches - Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Detail of Benches – Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

The first public building in Chatham to be lit by electricity !

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view of benches on the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view of benches on the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Timber screen fretwork. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Timber screen fretwork. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A seat in the choir . Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A seat in the choir . Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

The Old Contemptibles

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Wonderful delicate lighting. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Wonderful delicate lighting. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

'Water from the Sea of Galilee' - Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

‘Water from the Sea of Galilee’ – Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Exterior pathway of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Exterior pathway of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

 

 

 

Newcomb’s War Diary –

On Tuesday 10th May I visited Penguins, 87-89 High Street Chatham. Penguins happens to be the Newcomb family business specialising in formal wear and wedding suits for men. I met Gerald Newcomb – a 7th generation Newcomb, running a business stretching back over 180 years in Chatham.

Gerald Newcomb, Penguins, 87 - 89 High Street, Chatham standing with the Newcomb War Diary. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

Gerald Newcomb, Penguins, 87 – 89 High Street, Chatham standing with the Newcomb War Diary. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

‘The family has served the great and the good for almost 180 years. Figures such as Charles Dickens, Lord Kitchener, Lord Byron and Lord Tennyson have enjoyed the service we offer – our workrooms were a hive of activity as we created shirts for King Edward VII!’ ‘Gerald is the 7th generation to run the firm and has himself been in the industry for 45 years.’

This business fits into our Chatham Placemaking Project primarily because of its association with our route  – Newcomb’s also had a Ladies Clothes Shop on Railway Street – but the big surprise is the Newcomb War Diary. Surely this has to be on our list of ‘10 things which made Chatham’.

The following statement comes from the Chatham Historical Society Website.

“A few years ago Chatham Historical Society was given permission to make a replica of an original diary written every day during the years of the Second World War by George West, company secretary of a navy tailors, hosiers, hatters and shirt makers in Chatham High Street called Newcomb’s. This replica of the “Newcomb War Diary”  is dedicated to the memory of Mr West, the Newcomb and Paine families, and all Medway people – both service personnel and civilians – who lived through the events described in it.

Newcomb’s opened for business in 1854. After the original shop was demolished when the Sir John Hawkins flyover was built, the business moved along the High Street to the corner of Medway Street. Mr Gerald Newcomb is still trading as Penguins Dress Hire.

The replica was paid for by Chatham Historical Society and a generous donation by the late Mr and Mrs W. Paine, and has been available to view at public events and libraries in the Medway towns.
It had been in Strood Library for many months, and their website states that it is on display there, but it might have moved on to another temporary home. Check with Strood Library for the latest situation.

The Paine family ran outfitter’s shops in Chatham and Strood, and were founders of the Chatham Reliance Building Society.”

 

This is the frontispiece of the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

This is the frontispiece of the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

The book referred by the Chatham Historical Society is a smaller copy version of this. The actual artefact – a fantastic large folio book / ledger was originally manufactured in Chatham for Newcomb’s – is unique and I felt privileged to be shown it.

This is the gold embossed front cover of the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping - by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

This is the gold embossed front cover of the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping – by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

A typical page layout of an untypical diary ! The Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping - by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

A typical page layout of an untypical diary ! The Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping – by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

A page from the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping - by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

A page from the Newcomb War Diary belonging to Mr Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping – by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, 87 - 89 High Street, Chatham with the Newcomb War Diary. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

Gerald Newcomb of Penguins, 87 – 89 High Street, Chatham with the Newcomb War Diary. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission of Gerald Newcomb.

 

‘CHATHAM – KENT – ENGLAND’ –

A brilliant time-lapse film celebrating the Chatham Placemaking Project, by the Filmmaker Simon Williams was premiered on the Waterfront Big Screen in Chatham on Friday evening 6th May – and then ran at hourly intervals through Saturday 7th May –

‘A series of films will focus the eye and the heart and have clearly distilled a vision for the project – a reductive process of stripping back and looking afresh. Simon refreshingly admits he has fallen in love with Chatham – he has lived here for 15 years. ‘Chatham, Kent, England’ is a remarkable 12-hour time-lapse work beautifully filmed from the roof of UCA at Fort Pitt. Standing in front of the Big Screen, the River Medway can’t actually be seen . The disengagement is clear. The film powerfully makes the case for Chatham to celebrate and acknowledge this enduring and symbiotic relationship. It could be an elegy for a Chatham we have forgotten but which is actually still alive and well and all around us’. Project Lead Artist Chris Tipping –

‘Chatham, Kent, England’is the first in a series of films being delivered as part of the Temporary Art Programme supporting the Chatham Placemaking Project.  They were commissioned by FrancisKnight Art Consultants and myself as project lead artist. ‘These are our Streets’, a collaboration between Simon and Rob Young, Writer, will be the second film in the series to be released.

Simon Williams on the roof of UCA Rochester at Fort Pitt. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Simon Williams.

Simon Williams on the roof of UCA Rochester at Fort Pitt. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Simon Williams.

Simon Williams by the Waterfront Big Screen - showing 'Chatham, Kent, England'. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: By Permission of Simon Williams.

Simon Williams by the Waterfront Big Screen – showing ‘Chatham, Kent, England’. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: By Permission of Simon Williams.

Pentagon Day –

Saturday 7th May 2016 – Pentagon Shopping Centre, Chatham 

A workshop day – talking, being talked to – gathering stories, memories and an understanding of life in Chatham. Thanks to all who cam to speak to us – Elsie was one of them ! Her Dad used to say that the Thomas Waghorn Statue on Railway Street pointed to the toilets under the New Road viaduct. As a young girl, her impression of Chatham was that it was brim full of Public Houses.

Rob Young and Elsie - Pentagon Shopping Centre, Chatham. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

Rob Young and Elsie – Pentagon Shopping Centre, Chatham. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

One of our brilliant badge-makers working with Xtina Lamb. Pentagon Shopping Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

One of our brilliant badge-makers working with Xtina Lamb. Pentagon Shopping Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

'These are our Streets' - Postcards handed out at the Pentagon Shopping Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

‘These are our Streets’ – Postcards handed out at the Pentagon Shopping Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

WE HAVE THE POSTCARDS !

...and we wore the T Shirts!  Chatham Placemaking Project. Pentagon Shopping Centre. Image: Christopher Tipping

…and we wore the T Shirts!
Chatham Placemaking Project. Pentagon Shopping Centre. Image: Christopher Tipping

AND WE WORE THE T SHIRTS !

Very grateful to Shelly Goldsmith, Senior Lecturer in Fashion Textiles: Print at UCA Rochester for producing the shirts for us at very short notice !

Some enthusiastic badge-makers ! Pentagon Shopping Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

Some enthusiastic badge-makers ! Pentagon Shopping Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

Badges made at our Pentagon Shopping Centre workshop day. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

Badges made at our Pentagon Shopping Centre workshop day. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Christopher Tipping

Chatting about Chatham's History at the Pentagon Shopping Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Rob Young

Chatting about Chatham’s History at the Pentagon Shopping Centre. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Rob Young

Photographs of Chatham past and present helped to jog memories and start conversations. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Rob Young

Photographs of Chatham past and present helped to jog memories and start conversations. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Rob Young

Photographs of Chatham past and present helped to jog memories and start conversations. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Rob Young

Photographs of Chatham past and present helped to jog memories and start conversations. Chatham Placemaking Project. Image: Rob Young