‘Medway Council successfully secured £700,000 from the government’s Local Growth Fund through the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) to contribute towards the £1.4m upgrade, with Network Rail match-funding the windfall through its National Station Improvement Programme’. Medway Council
This was great news to see this project being promoted on Linkedin this week by Medway Council. Following the near completion of public realm works and embedded public art along Railway Street and Military Road, including New Cut, St John’s Steps and Military Square, Chatham Railway Station is now about to undergo its long awaited regeneration too, at the head of our works as part of the Chatham Placemaking Project.
I made one of the first posts about Chatham Station on this blog back in September 2015 in the very early stages of our research and contextual work on the project. Click on this link for more information.
Many draft proposals and developments of conceptual and contextually based responses to the site were developed and considered. The final detailed designs for public art interventions were presented to Medway Council and their partners Network Rail in January 2018. This work dovetails with works already carried out and continues themes and material choices and finishes established at the outset of the scheme.
The following images highlight the proposals we put forward at the beginning of 2018.
“A creek separates the marsh here from Cory’s Wharf – apparently into which the watermill discharged…” “The marsh was full of logs (a huge stack of wooden piles from Rochester Old Bridge) and was home to many rabbits – wild rabbits, grey, brown and black…” ‘It was said that the Foord Familystocked the marsh, with animals from their farm at Darland’. Stephen Hannington – Bygone Kent Magazine – Rochester’s Long Lost Common Part Two –
‘Floods of 1897 and 1928 inundated this area – the flooding in1897 was called The Great Flood and attributed to a record high tide on 29th November’. The image below shows the Homeward Bound Public House inundated by the flood waters. The Gas Holders of the Gasworks, can be seen in the background. The Gasworks, on Gas House Way was one of the earliest built in the UK in 1818. The area was known as Gas House Marshes. Image by kind permission of Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre.
I thought I might post the artwork for all of the proposed granite and cast iron paving slab units. I can then add any historic anecdotes, images or information, which have caught my attention and may be of further interest. I’ll cover all these in this and the next two posts. 1 of 3
CAST IRON UNIT ‘BRICKIES‘ STACKIES STUMPIES’. You can also add MUDDIES to this list as well! All colloquial names for the trades associated with Medway Barges built in and operating out of the Rochester Riverside site. Brickies carried up to 40,000 bricks on the up river journey to London and came back laden with London’s rubbish. Stackies were piled high with Hay and Straw. Stumpies could take cement, lime, timber, clay, coal, bricks, hops and other commodities. Muddies are self explanatory…the carried clay and mud dug from the banks of the Medway Estuary and destined for local brickworks.
CAST IRON UNIT ‘GOLDEN SAMPHIRE’. ‘To the northwest the Medway Estuary consists of an extensive area of marshland, comprising of salt marsh and intertidal mudflats. The River remains tidal at this point and estuarine conditions would have dominated most of the site’s past.’ Ref: KCC HER 012. 2014 -371. Golden Samphire grows on estuary mudflats and salt march. It is rare and I have used it as it represents the efforts being made by the client team to build upon the heritage and legacy of the natural environment with it’s diverse flora and fauna.
GRANITE UNIT ‘BLUE BOAR CREEK’. “Blue Boar Wharf was our playground”. Edwin Harris
Blue Boar Creek is the one of the more distinctively named and well remembered places on our site. It also gave name to Blue Boar Lane, Blue Boar Hard, Blue Boar Lower Yard, Blue Boar Upper Yard, Blue Boar Lane Foundry and Blue Boar Pier. ‘Blue Boar Hard Pier: November 26th 1886′ as seen at the Medway Archives is set of beautiful, hand painted drawings of plans for a new Pier by draughtsman William Hoelking. Some details are referred to as ‘DOLPHINS’ & ‘DUMMY’. MALSC Ref: Plan 1 of 4 (002) MP/B/30/1 (1 of 4).
William BanksCity Surveyor has also signed this document. William was born in about 1850 at Edmonton. He married Anne Mary Everett in June 1876 at Islington. In 1891, he and his family were living at at 10 Albany Road, Rochester, William was by then aged 40 and a surveyor for the city of Rochester.
‘What is now left of Blue Boar Creek and the river beyond at Limehouse Reach, lies deathly silent. Coal is not longer unloaded from colliers at Cory’s Wharf. So too is the Pier, once festooned with skiffs and rowing boats, where formerly small boys with rod and line and a jar of worms could fish away the school holidays’. John K. Austin from his publication ‘Yesterday’s Medway’. Johns has been involved with this project from the outset, having been consulted by the project Architects BPTW on his local knowledge as a historian, author, teacher and artist.
GRANITE UNIT ‘THE FIVE BROTHERS’ William Higham had a Barge Building business on Blue Boar Hard. He was born in 1838 in Lewes Sussex. On 27th October 1864 he married Fanny Elizabeth Blake in Strood. By 1881 they had 9 children and lived in a private house on Victoria Street, Rochester. William employed 11 men and 7 boys. THE FIVE BROTHERS was the last barge built at this yard alongside DOROTHY in 1901.
GRANITE UNIT ‘PERENNIAL GLASSWORT’. ‘The Medway Estuary is believed to be the most important area in North kent for wintering wildfowl in numbers of international significance. The saltmarsh serves as a roosting area for waders at high tide. Several scarce plant species include: golden samphire, perennial glasswort and one-flowered glasswort. The estuary is one of the best places in Britain for the study of glassworts. The grazing marsh has breeding and wintering birds of interest; the former include lapwing, redshank, pochard, mallard and gadwall, while in winter large flocks of may wildfowl and wader species are present.’ Ref: Environmental Stresses and Resource Use in Coastal Urban and Peri Urban Regions. DPSIR Approach to SECOA’s 17 Case Studies.
GRANITE UNIT ‘COAL: METER HEAVER WHIPPER’. Colloquial names for trades employed in the Coal business.Frederick Furrell was born in 1807 and died in 1877. Frederick Furrell & Son were Coal Merchants based at Furrell’s Wharf, a He was also an Alderman & Shipowner. He had ten children with his wife Katherine who he had married on February 25th 1832 at St Margaret’s Church in Rochester. Fred was Mayor of Rochester in 1855. Furrell’s Wharf was a 30m length of post and plank revetment of Oak and Elm Posts, most likely made from re-used ships timbers was in use in 1865 making it one of the oldest sites for industry on Rochester Riverside. It was accessed via Furrell’s Road.
His name also lived on as ‘Furrells Pond’, “where children swam and skated in Icy weather – The site flooded during exceptionally high tides” . Edwin Harris
Furrells Wharf was also the destination of many travelling shows, menageries and circuses – such as Wombwells Wild Beasts & Edmonds Menagerie – George Sangers Circus, Pinder’s Circus, Middletons’ Marionettes.
Coal was a major industry at Rochester, with several businesses engaged, most notable William Cory & Son of Fenchurch Street London were registered in 1896 after taking over he business of coal factors, merchants and Lightermen of William Cory & Son of Rochester at Rochester Coal Wharf.
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
The two OS Maps above show developments along the project route over 68 years between 1864 and 1932. The maps can be read left to right – from Chatham Station, along Railway Street, Military Road and The Paddock. Of particular interest is the area just above St John’s Church. In 1864 this appears to have been private gardens or grounds, with trees or orchards planted. BY 1932 this had all been consumed by timber Yards and Sawmills. This was the site of Scott’s Timber Yard.
Railway Street, Chatham has been home to some longstanding businesses. One of them was Scott’s Timber Yard, established in 1864 and owned by Roy and Keith Scott.
The business had been bought out from the brothers on retirement by Sandell, Smythe and Drayson of Maidstone (Travis Perkins). The buildings on Railway Street burned down in the early 1980’s I understand. The Sir John Hawkins Flyovermade use of the site. Railway Street was cleaved in two. More details about the business and a lovely image of the Railway Street facade can be seen on the Kent History Forum site (click this link). Scott’s also had an entrance on the High Street. Local maps show the enormous footprint of the business behind the facades. Many local people I have talked to remember the business. It would be brilliant to hear more stories about it.
Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre have a wonderful series of GOAD maps, which contain the most detailed plans and annotations of building along Railway Street and Military Road. Each building is described via a detailed key reference. Scott’s Timber Yard is drawn is great detail and the scale of it’s site becomes very clear. The maps were produced originally for fire insurance purposes – hence the level of detail.
“Over a century of experience in expert tailoring of both naval and civilian outfits”.
It can’t really be a surprise that such a massive military and naval presence in Chatham was serviced by local outfitters. What is interesting is that so many of these had businesses on Military Road and Railway Street.
At the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre, there is a collection of print magazines and periodicals. One of these is called CHATS – a magazine for the personnel of Chatham Port Division. An amazing selection of adverts for military and civilian outfitters are contained within – almost all of them along our route. I managed to find a copy to buy – Vol.8 April 1955 No. 2
Amongst some that I listed were –
W.Cooper – ‘Cooperstyle’Regimental Blazers! 56 Military Road –
Gieves Ltd – 13 Military Road –
Unifit – 40 Military Road –
Baker & Co – 22 Railway Street – “As long as the Spirit of England Remains, we are at your service”.
A. Fleming & Co. Outfitters Ltd Contractors to the Admiralty– 15 Railway Street –
F & H Newcombe – Military, Naval and General Outfitters – Railway Street –
C.H Bernard & Sons – Bernard Buildings, Military Road –
Also of interest was this advert for Gale & Polden Ltd. Printers, Publishers, Booksellers and Stationers to the Royal Navy – 121 High Street, Chatham.
Printed materials are something of great interest to the project. Watch this space –
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 !