The Chatham Placemaking Project appointed 3 artists for the temporary programme – it feels anything but temporary to me as all the artists are contributing massively to the project and their individual and collective output in terms of film, writing and graphics has been creative, original and has added to my perception and understanding of this project – of Chatham – and how we relate to this community as well as our client Medway Council. It is an exciting time for me – & hopefully for Rob, Xtina and Simon too.
Simon and Rob have already engaged independently with the local community – calling in at shops and offices along our route down Railway Street and Military Road, building relationships with people. They have further collaborated on a series of short films, which explore and create a vision which underpins our project – the first of which we are hopeful will be given it’s Chatham premiere via the Big Screen this evening. Xtina is delivering the first of her print workshops on Saturday at The Pentagon Shopping Centre, which will encourage the local community to take part in simple printing techniques to explore themes around our project in words and motifs. Rob & I will be there too – collecting stories from people and hearing about their association with the town. Check out the Facebook page for more information on this event –
Xtina Lamb was commissioned to run a series of print based workshops in ad hoc places – such as the Pentagon Shopping Centre – and also from her workshop and business premises – Medway Fine Printmakers – at Intra on Chatham High Street. She is also a graphic artist in her own right contributing to the visual language and interpretation of the project.
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 billboards on 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
No 28 – E.J Whitaker & Sons, Tailors
No 40 – Unifit, Outfitters
No 50 – Chatham Constitutional Club
No 56 – W. Cooper, Outfitters
Nos 1 & 3 – Prince of Wales Hotel
No 5 – F&H Newcombe Ltd, Gowns
Nos 14 & 16 – Scott’s Timber Yard
No 26 – Frank Bannister & Son Ltd. Motor & Motor Cycle engineers.
No 31 – Cameron Thomas, Physician and Surgeon
Station Yard – Newsagent – Elders & Fyffe’s Ltd Banana Importers – St John’s Ambulance
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.
The Public Consultation events in regard to the Chatham Placemaking Project were held in Chatham from 15th January to the 5th February 2016.
If you click on this link – Chatham Placemaking Project – you can see the information boards which were presented for comment. Additionally, there was a form to complete, which asked some pertinent questions about the project. An online option provided opportunity to complete the survey at home in your own time. All the information collected is now subject to review by the Council’s Regeneration Team.
At these events the general public were invited to comment on the plans developed by the wider project team, including LDA Design, Medway Council, Arts Consultants Francis Knight and me ! I attended one of these days at the Pentagon Shopping Centre. What was so interesting about this process, was that people would stop and look at the information boards. Some would comment favourably, others would raise questions about wider issues in the town. Once engaged however, many people – particularly elderly residents – would tell stories.