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Chatham Research Visit 2 – a clearer vision

Thursday 3rd September 2015 – Chatham Research Visit No 2 – A clearer vision…

Chatham is making more sense ! – the topography here is incredibly helpful in aiding navigation around the town. Geography, topography and the particular curve of the River Medway provided the strategic advantage which led to the exponential growth of the Docks and town from the early part of the 18th Century. The day today was clearer and brighter – unlike my first visit when it poured down all day – this really makes a considerable difference! Still walking as much as possible – by far the best way of getting to grips with a place – today I went as far as Strood, via Rochester and visited the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre.

The following images again trace the pedestrian route from the Rail Station to the Waterfront.

Chatham Railway Station -  Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Railway Station –
Image:Christopher Tipping

A short walk from Chatham Railway Station and in clear view from the station entrance is Ordnance Terrace and the house where Charles Dickens lived for several years as a small boy. Image:Christopher Tipping

A short walk from Chatham Railway Station and in clear view from the station entrance is Ordnance Terrace and the house where Charles Dickens lived for several years as a small boy. Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Railway Station and Railway Street looking from Ordnance Terrace. Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Railway Station and Railway Street looking from Ordnance Terrace. Image:Christopher Tipping

At the centre of the image, the Viaduct with New Road can be clearly seen, as can the tower of St John’s Church and the red brick monolith of Mountbatten House on Military Street, adjacent to the new Bus Station.

A wide panoramic shot of Chatham Railway Station and Railway Street from Ordnance Terrace. Image:Christopher Tipping

A wide panoramic shot of Chatham Railway Station and Railway Street from Ordnance Terrace. Image:Christopher Tipping

Pedestrians walking up to Chatham Rail Station along Railway Street. Image:Christopher Tipping

Pedestrians walking up to Chatham Rail Station along Railway Street. Image:Christopher Tipping

Pedestrians walking up to Chatham Rail Station along Railway Street. Image:Christopher Tipping

Pedestrians walking up to Chatham Rail Station along Railway Street. Image:Christopher Tipping

The roads around the Railway Station and Railway Street are heavily trafficked by cars, buses and lorries, making for a poor pedestrian experience. Image:Christopher Tipping

The roads around the Railway Station and Railway Street are heavily trafficked by cars, buses and lorries, making for a poor pedestrian experience. Image:Christopher Tipping

A view from the Viaduct over Railway Street looking towards the Railway Station and the Alexandra Hotel. The older image is circa 1905.  Image:Christopher Tipping

A view from the Viaduct over Railway Street looking towards the Railway Station and the Alexandra Hotel. The older image is circa 1905. Image:Christopher Tipping

The Alexandra Hotel at 53 Railway Street, Chatham has stood on this site for over a Century. Image:Christopher Tipping

The Alexandra Hotel at 53 Railway Street, Chatham has stood on this site for over a Century. Image:Christopher Tipping

The statue of Thomas Fletcher Waghorn was raised on Railway Street, Chatham in 1888. Image:Christopher Tipping

The statue of Thomas Fletcher Waghorn was raised on Railway Street, Chatham in 1888. Image:Christopher Tipping

Thomas Fletcher Waghorn (1800–1850), whose statue stands in Chatham, Kent, was a postal pioneer who developed a new route from Great Britain to India. Waghorn’s route reduced the journey from 16,000 miles, via the Cape of Good Hope to 6,000 miles: from three months to between 35 and 45 days. Waghorn was born in Chatham, England, and baptised at St Mary’s Church on 16 July 1800″. Wikipedia

Interestingly, Thomas appears to be pointing the way to the Town Centre and Waterfront to pedestrians coming down from the Rail Station. Good man ! –

The Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, with detailed ironwork balustrade. Image: Christopher Tipping

The Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, with detailed ironwork balustrade. Image: Christopher Tipping

A view from the Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, with a detailed view through the ironwork balustrade. Image: Christopher Tipping

A view from the Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, with a detailed view through the ironwork balustrade. Image: Christopher Tipping

 

Shadows cast by the cast iron balustrade of the Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

Shadows cast by the cast iron balustrade of the Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping

A panoramic view of Gibralter Hill and Railway Street, Chatham, looking up to wards the Railway Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

A panoramic view of Gibralter Hill and Railway Street, Chatham, looking up to wards the Railway Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

On the New Road Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, looking to wards the Waterfront. Image:Christopher Tipping

On the New Road Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, looking to wards the Waterfront. Image:Christopher Tipping

On the New Road Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, looking down Railway Street towards St John's Church on the left and the Town Centre. Image:Christopher Tipping

On the New Road Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, looking down Railway Street towards St John’s Church on the left and the Town Centre. Image:Christopher Tipping

A view from the New Road Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, looking down  towards St John's Church and the Town Centre. Image:Christopher Tipping

A view from the New Road Viaduct over Railway Street, Chatham, looking down towards St John’s Church and the Town Centre. Image:Christopher Tipping

The junction of Waterfront Way with the A2 at St John's Church, Chatham, where the highway has been punched through Railway Street, creates a hostile zone for pedestrians and effectively cuts off the lower part of Railway Street and the Town Centre, from the upper section and the Railway Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

The junction of Waterfront Way with the A2 at St John’s Church, Chatham, where the highway has been punched through Railway Street, creates a hostile zone for pedestrians and effectively cuts off the lower part of Railway Street and the Town Centre, from the upper section and the Railway Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

Where Railway Street is dissected by the A2 by St Joh's Church in Chatham, pedestrians have to navigate a complex & carbuncle-like step/ramp/concrete barrier arrangement to gain access to and from lower Railway Street and the retail centre of the town. Image:Christopher Tipping

Where Railway Street is dissected by the A2 by St Joh’s Church in Chatham, pedestrians have to navigate a complex & carbuncle-like step/ramp/concrete barrier arrangement to gain access to and from lower Railway Street and the retail centre of the town. Image:Christopher Tipping

Wrought iron gates remain intact at the courtyard entrance to the old Post Office Building on lower Railway Street, Chatham. The building is a handsome addition to the fabric of the street, but is currently empty. Image:Christopher Tipping

Wrought iron gates remain intact at the courtyard entrance to the old Post Office Building on lower Railway Street, Chatham. The building is a handsome addition to the fabric of the street, but is currently empty. Image:Christopher Tipping

The retail units along the lower section of Railway Street, Chatham, appear busy and animated. The streetscape is abruptly interrupted and stifled by the A2 cutting and awkward steps, ramps and concrete wall. Image:Christopher Tipping

The retail units along the lower section of Railway Street, Chatham, appear busy and animated. The streetscape is abruptly interrupted and stifled by the A2 cutting and awkward steps, ramps and concrete wall. Image:Christopher Tipping

Architectural text and detailing on the upper stories of extant buildings along Railway Street, provide clues to the rich legacy of activity and usage in the area.

The lower section of Military Road, Chatham ought to be a highly activated, fluid, dynamic and versatile public space with the Brook Theatre as the anchor building and focus.  Unfortunately the space is a dead zone, underused and slightly unsettling. Image:Christopher Tipping

The lower section of Military Road, Chatham ought to be a highly activated, fluid, dynamic and versatile public space with the Brook Theatre as the anchor building and focus. Unfortunately the space is a dead zone, underused and slightly unsettling. Image:Christopher Tipping

A panoramic image of the lower section of Military Road, Chatham, which ought to be a highly activated, fluid, dynamic and versatile public space with the Brook Theatre as the anchor building and focus along with the adjacent Bus Station. Unfortunately the space is something of a dead zone, underused and slightly unsettling. Image:Christopher Tipping

A panoramic image of the lower section of Military Road, Chatham, which ought to be a highly activated, fluid, dynamic and versatile public space with the Brook Theatre as the anchor building and focus along with the adjacent Bus Station. Unfortunately the space is something of a dead zone, underused and slightly unsettling. Image:Christopher Tipping

 

 

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Historic Dockyard, Chatham. Main Gates. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyard, Chatham. Main Gates. Image:Christopher Tipping

Tuesday 25th August 2015 – Historic Dockyard Chatham 

A long day of walking streets in Chatham, trying to understand how it all works – I finally made my way along Dock Rd, past Medway Council buildings at Gun Wharf and St Mary’s Church, where Pepys and Dickens both worshipped; past Fort Amherst to The Historic Dockyard.

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - Georgian brickwork of the main gateway entrance. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – Georgian brickwork of the main gateway entrance. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - The imposing and very long brick perimeter wall along Dock Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – The imposing and very long brick perimeter wall along Dock Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - The imposing and very long brick perimeter wall along Dock Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – The imposing and very long brick perimeter wall along Dock Road. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the massive extant granite coping stones along the edge of Mast Dock. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the massive extant granite coping stones along the edge of Mast Dock. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - The scale of the original Dockyard architecture is so impressive. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – The scale of the original Dockyard architecture is so impressive. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - The geometry and pattern within the buildings are evident in structure and light.  Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – The geometry and pattern within the buildings are evident in structure and light. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - The internal roof of the slipway buildings is really something to behold ! Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – The internal roof of the slipway buildings is really something to behold ! Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - The massive structural timbers of the No 2 Slipway building. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – The massive structural timbers of the No 2 Slipway building. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the roof apertures & timbers of the No 2 Slipway building create wonderful geometry and rhythms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the roof apertures & timbers of the No 2 Slipway building create wonderful geometry and rhythms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the roof apertures & timbers of the No 2 Slipway building create wonderful geometry and rhythms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the roof apertures & timbers of the No 2 Slipway building create wonderful geometry and rhythms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the early oak timbers were part of what were revered as 'Chatham Timbers' - Impressive forms with considerable interpretive merit. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the early oak timbers were part of what were revered as ‘Chatham Timbers’ – Impressive forms with considerable interpretive merit. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the massive bespoke granite forms which make up the dry docks are particularly impressive. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the massive bespoke granite forms which make up the dry docks are particularly impressive. Image:Christopher Tipping

 

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the massive bespoke granite forms which make up the dry docks are particularly impressive. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the massive bespoke granite forms which make up the dry docks are particularly impressive. Image:Christopher Tipping

Material use within the Historic Dockyards is often massive in form, frugal in detail and places enormous emphasis on function and being ‘fit for purpose’. This robust, economic and honest use of material and form is influential and informative and should be used as a template and contextual influence within the regeneration of the Town Centre of Chatham.

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the bespoke granite paving forms and trackways which criss cross the site conjure up the legacy of movement and industrious activity of the dockyard. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the bespoke granite paving forms and trackways which criss cross the site conjure up the legacy of movement and industrious activity of the dockyard. Image:Christopher Tipping

 

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - Dockyard Trains with great text - Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – Dockyard Trains with great text – Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - List of submarines built in Chatham Docks. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – List of submarines built in Chatham Docks. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the interiors of some of the buildings on site are immensely evocative and full of abstract forms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the interiors of some of the buildings on site are immensely evocative and full of abstract forms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the interiors of some of the buildings on site are immensely evocative and full of abstract forms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the interiors of some of the buildings on site are immensely evocative and full of abstract forms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the interiors of some of the buildings on site are immensely evocative and full of abstract forms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the interiors of some of the buildings on site are immensely evocative and full of abstract forms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham - the interiors of some of the buildings on site are immensely evocative and full of abstract forms. Image:Christopher Tipping

Historic Dockyards, Chatham – the interiors of some of the buildings on site are immensely evocative and full of abstract forms. Image:Christopher Tipping

 

Chatham Research Project – first contact !

Visit 1 – Tuesday August 25th 2015 –

 

In early August this year I was commissioned by FrancisKnight Art Consultants  and Medway Council to identify and scope creative public realm opportunities within the strategic Chatham Placemaking Project, which is being delivered by LDA Design.

“FrancisKnight have been appointed to work with LDA DESIGN and Medway Council on the Chatham Placemaking Project and in particular producing a creative public realm strategy to enhance the proposals and to add a sense of place and purpose to the spaces.

 At the heart of the Thames Gateway, only 30 miles from central London, Medway is the largest conurbation between the capital and continental Europe. A modern place with green spaces and a superb quality of life, close to breathtaking countryside, the area has a young and culturally diverse population.

 Chatham is located at the heart of Medway, with a population of 264,900 people living in the urban area in 2013. The area is world famous for its historic naval dockyard, and has also been a strategic centre for trade”.

This is a short term consultancy for me, which focuses particularly on the pedestrian route between Chatham Railway Station and The Waterfront, Chatham, via Railway Street and Military Road. This route leads on towards the Historic Dockyard Chatham – which is the subject of a World Heritage Bid –

I had up till this point never been to Chatham!  I know of Chatham via Dickens and Pepys – as well as having looked at the Historic Dockyards online ! I have passed through the Medway Towns many times on the train between Ramsgate and London, which does not really help frame a complete & honest image of the town.

This is a small sample of the visual record I made of my first visit in response to the project brief –

 

Chatham Railway Station.  Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Railway Station.
Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Railway Station, Kent.  Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Railway Station, Kent. Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Railway Station approaches. Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Railway Station approaches. Image:Christopher Tipping

As you leave the Station  and turn left, this leads you, via Railway Street towards the Town Centre and The Waterfront – however this route is a difficult one to navigate – if you know the town, then various landmarks map this out for you, but for a visitor, the experience is confusing and not for the faint hearted. The first 100m of this route, the car is certainly King – much to the detriment (& risk) of the pedestrian!

Railway Street, Chatham,  Kent. The same view -   Image:Christopher Tipping

Railway Street, Chatham, Kent. The same view – Image:Christopher Tipping

Railway Street, Chatham,  Kent. Image:Christopher Tipping

Railway Street, Chatham, Kent. Image:Christopher Tipping

This view looks down Railway Street towards the Town Centre with the red brick edifice of Mountbatten House  dominating the centre view.

Railway Street, Chatham,  Kent. Looking up towards the Train Station through the Viaduct, which replaced the original Old Viaduct of 1794, which was referred to as a 'defensive'  gateway.   Image:Christopher Tipping

Railway Street, Chatham, Kent. Looking up towards the Train Station through the Viaduct, which replaced the original Old Viaduct of 1794, which was referred to as a ‘defensive’ gateway. Image:Christopher Tipping

St John the Divine Church, Railway Street. Built in 1820/21 & closed in 1998. Image:Christopher Tipping

St John the Divine Church, Railway Street. Built in 1820/21 & closed in 1998. Image:Christopher Tipping

 

Railway Steet was split into two sections with Waterfront Way connecting to the A2. This created issues with pedestrian flow and connectivity. Image:Christopher Tipping

Railway Steet was split into two sections with Waterfront Way connecting to the A2. This created issues with pedestrian flow and connectivity. Image:Christopher Tipping

Railway Street, Chatham, looking towards the Town Centre from St John's Church. Image:Christopher Tipping

Railway Street, Chatham, looking towards the Town Centre from St John’s Church. Image:Christopher Tipping

Railway Street, Chatham, looking towards the Town Centre from St John's Church. Image:Christopher Tipping

Railway Street, Chatham, looking towards the Town Centre from St John’s Church. Image:Christopher Tipping

A variety of great buildings still extant on Railway Street. Image:Christopher Tipping

A variety of great buildings still extant on Railway Street. Image:Christopher Tipping

The 'Prince of Wales' Public House on the lower part of Railway Street, Chatham. Image:Christopher Tipping

The ‘Prince of Wales’ Public House on the lower part of Railway Street, Chatham. Image:Christopher Tipping

Two views along Military Road, Chatham, which is dominated by the red brick office block on the right hand side - Mountbatten House and the Pentagon Shopping Centre. At the far end of the long view is the beautiful Brook Theatre, the former Town Hall. Image:Christopher Tipping

Two views along Military Road, Chatham, which is dominated by the red brick office block on the right hand side – Mountbatten House and the Pentagon Shopping Centre. At the far end of the long view is the beautiful Brook Theatre, the former Town Hall. Image:Christopher Tipping

A wide view at the lower end of Military Road looking towards the Brook Theatre and the New Bus Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

A wide view at the lower end of Military Road looking towards the Brook Theatre and the New Bus Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

A wide view at the lower end of Military Road looking towards the new Bus Station and Waterfront. Image:Christopher Tipping

A wide view at the lower end of Military Road looking towards the new Bus Station and Waterfront. Image:Christopher Tipping

Walking from the Bus Station towards The Pentagon Shopping Centre and Military Road, Chatham. Image:Christopher Tipping

Walking from the Bus Station towards The Pentagon Shopping Centre and Military Road, Chatham. Image:Christopher Tipping

The main pedestrian crossing point towards the Bus Station & Pumping Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

The main pedestrian crossing point towards the Bus Station & Pumping Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Waterfront Pumping Station and Big Screen, Chatham. Image:Christopher Tipping

Chatham Waterfront Pumping Station and Big Screen, Chatham. Image:Christopher Tipping

The Pumping Station appears to divide two distinct landscapes along the river frontage. Top - looking left of the Pumping Station. Bottom - looking right of the Pumping Station. Image:Christopher Tpping

The Pumping Station appears to divide two distinct landscapes along the river frontage. Top – looking left of the Pumping Station. Bottom – looking right of the Pumping Station. Image:Christopher Tpping

The local population on the river below the Pumping Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

The local population on the river below the Pumping Station. Image:Christopher Tipping

The local population sit on railings along the waterfront,  Chatham. Image:Christopher Tipping

The local population sit on railings along the waterfront, Chatham. Image:Christopher Tipping

The new Bus Station looking towards Mountbatten House. Image:Christopher Tipping

The new Bus Station looking towards Mountbatten House. Image:Christopher Tipping

The Paddock, which is green space between the Bus Station, Mountbatten House and the Pentagon Shopping Centre. Image:Christopher Tipping

The Paddock, which is green space between the Bus Station, Mountbatten House and the Pentagon Shopping Centre. Image:Christopher Tipping

Brook Theatre, Chatham, the former Chatham Town Hall. Image:Christopher Tipping

Brook Theatre, Chatham, the former Chatham Town Hall. Image:Christopher Tipping