Tuesday 8th September 2015 – University of the Creative Arts, Fort Pitt – the bigger picture
My wife Shelly Goldsmith is also my partner in tippinggoldsmith and a Lecturer in the School of Fashion – Textiles:Print at UCA Rochester. The University’s building sit on the site of Fort Pitt, which overlooks Chatham, Rochester and the Medway from a strategically high vantage point above the town.
I walked up to the site from Chatham Station, which is only 5mins walk away, passing by Dickens’ House on Ordnance Terrace on the way. I was allowed up onto the upper floors and the terrace, which offers spectacular views across Chatham and Rochester, the Medway and The Historic Dockyards beyond. This vantage point makes clear why Chatham developed as it did as a strategically important defensive site on the River.
Chatham Lines – comprising a number of impressive defensive structures, earthworks and Forts, developed since Napoleonic times to protect the Docks from a landward attack, are clearly visible in the landscape and although now long past any active role in the defence of the country, have served to shape the town and its inhabitants in both its topography, physical landscape and social history.
The copper green copula of the Brook Theatre, Chatham can be seen in the above image at the top right section of the image to the left of the red brick office clock Mountbatten House, the dominant landmark in the Town.
The Waterfront Pumping Station and Brook Theatre as seen from Sun Pier, Chatham. If ever something cried out for some form of intervention – then the Pumping Station takes poll position on the list. An eyesore on the waterfront, it could become an icon and focal point.
Although historically, the waterfront and area around Sun Pier would have been dominated by warehouses and river bases businesses. The industrial shed which houses Staples, does the site and its potential no favours here. Some softening landscape works and green screening may help.
Walking back from Sun Pier to the Waterfront and Bus Station, these historic granite kerbs and cobbles jump out for their simplicity, texture and purpose.
I wanted to see the town from the opposite vantage point of Fort Amherst adjacent to Great Lines Park , formerly known as the Field of Fire , so walked across to the Brook Theatre and beyond to the Town Hall Gardens, the former Town Burial Ground. Prior to 1828, the site was a former Rope Works.
Just a short walk further up the hill is the path and steps leading up to the Great Lines Park and Fort Amherst.
UCA at Fort Pitt is at top centre of this image. The copper green copula of the Brook Theatre is at the centre bottom.
They have a brilliant book on Chatham and it’s history – “The Story of a Dockyard Town” by James Presnail, published by the Corporation of Chatham in 1952 MCMLII. Ref:942.23 CHA. I was much taken by it’s last paragraph on social responsibility.