In 1912 – No 26 was the home of the Invicta Furniture and Baggage Depository. No 28 was a Garage and Cycle Works.
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.
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.
There are many ways in which the Chatham Placemaking Project can communicate with the local community. Large scale visuals can be really effective – such as these mock-up ideas drafted onto a series of primesight billboardson Railway Street.
The Chatham Big Screen too would provide a great opportunity for us, as we could post film and moving images as well as sound.
Kelly’s Directories have listed all trades and businesses throughout the UK since around 1835. They are now an invaluable source of local history, information and insight into local business life. Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre have a collection on microfilm. In the 1961 edition, the businesses along Railway Street and Military Road, make for interesting reading. Here is a selection –
Nos 1 & 3 – Burton Montague, Tailors
No 4a – The Salad Bowl – High Class Fruiterers
No 9 – Bliss and Lawrence – Auctioneers
No 13 – Gieve’s Ltd, Royal Naval, RAF & Civilian Tailors
No 20 – Greenburgh Bros. Ltd, Outfitters
No 26 – Naval & Military Arms, Public House
No 27 – Imperial Forces Public House and Paddock Restaurant
Norma Crowe, Cindy Ohalloran and Irina Fridman have been invaluable in helping me search for images and text references. We have now obtained several wonderful archive images taken along our route from Chatham Station to the Riverside, along Railway Street and Military Road, which MALSC have given us permission to use.
This site has remarkably changed very little in over 100 years – only the ironwork railing and lighting columns have gone.
The Dutch Gable ended building on the right is still here. The New Road Viaduct built in 1794 was demolished in 1900 to make way for a new bridge viaduct under which Trams could pass safely. Note the double kerb on the left of the image – this is no longer there, but similar kerbs still exist outside the Railway Station.
What we have all found impressive in this image, is the clarity within the public realm. Clear pavements with contrasting and well defined kerbs. Obviously not as much traffic ! The street frontage to St John’s Church and the clear flow of movement toward the Town Centre is great to see, in light of the current experience for both drivers and pedestrians.
It is clear to see how, in the image below taken in 2015, how the landscape and clarity of wayfinding has been considerably interrupted, physically and legibly. Navigating to the town centre and riverside for pedestrians is now a very conflicting and varied experience.
This wonderful image shows the Royal Marines on Military Road with Coopers & Bernards Store on the left and The Paddock on the right. All the shops on the left hand side were demolished to make way for Mountbatten House and the Pentagon Shopping Centre. The idea and concept behind ‘Chatham Patterns’, comes partly from the memory of these military parades and formations, which for a century at least have been woven and imprinted into the very fabric of the town. The presence of many Military Outfitters along our route is also a great influence in terms of the images they conjure up about ‘fabric’ and ‘pattern’ and the people who wore them.
I was put onto this thread via an online forum group called Kent History Forum, where a fair amount of detail and social history about Chatham is recalled.
The walk to Strood from Chatham Station gives a wonderful insight into the architecture and industry which developed along the banks of the Medway. Lots of detail and interest to record !
On Friday 6th February 2016 we ran a creative consultation drop-in event in Chatham. These were held at Sun Pier House from 10am – 1pm and then at Nucleus Arts from 2pm to 5pm. We presented the same information as the public consultation events – and the creative consultation events were also open to anyone to attend.
Chatham and Medway has a lively and very creative and well established arts scene. It is important that we make the project as open and available to all to engage with. The afternoon session at Nucleus Arts turned into an impromptu talk and discussion about the wider regeneration project and the creative contextual research with which we hope to influence and inform the design process. This was really well attended, with some artists and practitioners asking about the temporary programme of commissions which will run prior to the permanent works beginning on site. Engagement in this way is the real catalyst for change, creativity and promoting a common sense of ownership.
A big thanks to Claire Poynter, Natasha Steer and Genevieve Tullberg of Nucleus Arts for making this event a success and providing the space.
These are a few images taken from the Creative Scope work I am doing. These are my artworks / draft plans, created to promote the creative concept.
The Lead Artist proposes that these historic, physical and social influences will be experienced in the pedestrian journey from the Railway Station, via Railway Street and Military Road to Riverside. It is proposed that this concept approach may manifest itself as an evolving linear narrative, drawn out from within the pavements and pedestrian areas associated with the route. Referencing the nearby Chatham Lines, this new Town Line could demonstrate a series of distinct, yet inter-related events, thresholds and experiences along its course. As interpretive interventions, they will evoke a narrative of resonant references to Chatham itself, becoming a part of the fabric of the street. Where the Chatham Lines were built as defensive structures, this new line will be resolutely ‘enabling’.
The Historic Dockyard is inextricably tied to the social and industrial history of Chatham. It is a rich source of inspiration. Architectural forms, both robust and functional continue to influence the creative approach; some structures, such as the Slipway Sheds presenting striking abstract patterns and geometries. Vertical forests of timbers supporting vast and expansive roofs with rectangular glazing apertures, twisted askew by perspective. The Dry Docks are faced in massive blocks of close fitting granite. These materials are shaped by function, yet are hand crafted and bespoke features, imbued with a legacy of local and honed skills, surely a fitting inspiration for a contemporary streetscape here in Chatham.
Dickens writes about an enduring military presence on the streets of Chatham.
“They walked about the streets in rows or bodies, carrying their heads in exactly the same way, and doing exactly the same thing with their limbs”. “Men were only noticeable by scores, by hundreds, by thousands, rank and file, companies and regiments, detachments, vessels full for exportation”.
These closely observed characteristics, played out on the streets of Chatham until very recently, suggest that an echo of these patterns of movement and symmetric formations, displays and manoeuvres are still extant in the pavements, streets and roads of the town. Perhaps this evocative memory could be recalled in new paving finishes and interventions in the streetscene.
This creative interpretation not only brings a site-responsive and contemporary narrative to the project, but also dovetails with and adds to a strategic and deliberate approach to inherent wayfinding and placemaking, assisting and strengthening the pedestrian route and the local and visitor experience.
This concept applies to the entire Placemaking Masterplan, setting a blueprint for a programme of temporary and permanent commissions to roll out in a phased approach over the development period.