Medway

From Academic Kids

This article is about Medway in England. For others, see Medway (disambiguation)
Borough of Medway
Image:EnglandMedway.png
Geography
Status:Unitary, Borough
Region:South East England
Ceremonial County:Kent
Area:
- Total
Ranked 192nd
192.03 km²
Admin. HQ:Strood
ONS code:00LC
Demographics
Population:
- Total (2003 est.)
- Density
Ranked 36th
251,123
1,308 / km²
Ethnicity:94.6% White
2.9% S.Asian
Politics
Medway Council
http://www.medway.gov.uk/
Leadership:Leader & Cabinet
Executive:Conservative
MPs:Paul Clark, Robert Marshall-Andrews, Jonathan Shaw

The Medway Towns have developed into an area of urban sprawl, situated near an environmentally significant wetlands region, and formed by the union of Chatham, Gillingham and Rochester in Kent, England. The towns, either side of the River Medway, have made a wide and historically significant contribution to Kent.

Contents

History

The Medway area has a long and varied history dominated originally by the city of Rochester and later by the naval and military establishments principally in Chatham.

Rochester was established by the Romans, who called it Durobrivae (meaning 'stronghold by the bridge'), on an Iron Age site to control the point where Watling Street crossed the River Medway. The first cathedral was buillt by Bishop Justus in 604 and was rebuilt under the Normans by Bishop Gundulf, who also built the castle which stands opposite the cathedral.

The Royal Navy opened a dockyard during the reign of Henry VIII; it was finally closed in 1984. It was protected by a series of forts including the Great Lines, Fort Amherst, Fort Pitt and Fort Borstal. The majority of surviving buildings in the Historic Dockyard are Georgian. It was here that Britain's most famous wooden warship HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, was built and launched in 1765. Sir Francis Drake learned his seamanship on the Medway; Sir John Hawkins founded a hospital in Chatham for seamen, and Nelson began his Navy service at Chatham at the age of 12. William Adams, the first Englishman to reach Japan, was born in Gillingham.

Succeeding centuries saw the erection of many fine buildings such as the Guildhall (today a museum) in 1687, among the finest 17th century civic buildings in Kent; the Corn Exchange in 1698, originally the Butcher's Market; the small Tudor house of Watts Charity endowed by Sir Richard Watts to house 'six poor travelers' for one night each; Satis House and Old Hall, both visited by Queen Elizabeth I in 1573. In Medway there are 82 scheduled ancient monuments, 832 listed buildings and 22 conservation areas.

One of the most famous people with a Medway connection is Charles Dickens, whose museum was located in Eastgate House in Rochester until its closure in 2004.

Formation of the Medway unitary authority

Throughout the 19th century there had been proposals to join the Medway towns under a single authority. By 1903 moves began to take place: that date saw the creation of the Borough of Gillingham to which, in 1928, the adjacent parish of Rainham was added. Under the Local Government Act 1974, the City of Rochester, the Borough of Chatham and Strood Rural District Council were amalgamated to form Medway District Council, with Gillingham remaining separate. A further change in 1982 created the City of Rochester-upon-Medway. Finally, in 1998, Gillingham was amalgamated with the City and the whole became Medway Council. Medway applied for city status in the 2000 and 2002 competitions but was unsuccessful. Rochester-upon-Medway itself had been a city, but lost this status due to an oversight in the 1998 local government reorganisation.

Demographics

Following the closure of HM Dockyard Chatham, great attention was paid to unemployment figures. By 1997 local unemployment stood at 5.5%, below the UK average. 50% of the working population today works outside the district - which principally means in London.

Places within the Medway Council area

External links


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