History[ edit ] 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 and Gillingham. Rochester was established on an Iron Age site by the Romans ,  who called it Durobrivae meaning "stronghold by the bridge" , to control the point where Watling Street now the A2 crossed the River Medway. Rochester later became a walled town and, under later Saxon influence, a mint was established here.
The first cathedral was built by Bishop Justus in and rebuilt under the Normans by Bishop Gundulf , who also built the castle that stands opposite the cathedral. Rochester was also an important point for people travelling the Pilgrims' Way , which stretches from Winchester to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury. The Pilgrims' Way crossed the Medway near Cuxton. In Rochester, parts of the Roman city wall are still in evidence, and the city has many fine buildings, such as the Guildhall today a museum , which was built in and is among the finest 17th-century civic buildings in Kent;  the Corn Exchange, built in , 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 , built in It stands on the Great Lines between Chatham and Gillingham.
The dockyard was closed in , with the loss of eight thousand jobs at the dockyard itself and many more in local supply industries, contributing to a mids Medway unemployment rate of sixteen percent.
The majority of surviving buildings in the Historic Dockyard are Georgian. Other notable sea-faring and naval figures, such as William Adams , were raised on the Medway but apprenticed elsewhere. The river was further protected by such fortifications as Upnor Castle which, in in varying accounts says it was partly successful in thwarting the Dutch raid on the dockyard , or the commanding officer fled without firing on the Dutch.
She never saw active service and has been restored and is as of preserved afloat in Dundee , Scotland. There have also been other naval disasters in Medway other than the Raid on the Medway.
She was taking on coal from the airship base at Kingsnorth , on the Isle of Grain when an internal explosion most likely the result of cordite charges stored alongside a boiler room bulkhead and failure to follow guidelines on the storage of shells ripped the ship apart.
In all, the explosion killed men and 51 officers. Five of the 14 men who survived died later of their wounds, and almost all of the others were seriously wounded. There are mass and individual graves in Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham for the Bulwark's dead, who were mostly drawn from the Portsmouth area. In terms of loss of life it remains the second worst explosion in British history. This time it was the Princess Irene. She was a 1,passenger liner built at Dumbarton in for Canadian Pacific.
After several trips she was back in the Medway for a refit when on the morning of 27 May a huge internal explosion tore through the vessel, shaking the ground for miles around and showering the surrounding villages with remains of bodies and debris.
In one Sheerness street there were ten who died. A Court of Inquiry was held into the loss and evidence was given that priming of the mines was being carried out hurriedly and by untrained personnel.
A faulty primer was blamed for the explosion. The British Army also established barracks here; and the Royal Engineers headquarters is in Gillingham. Founded in , it moved to its current site in It was classed as Grade II listed on 5 December The project aims to create between 6, and 8, new homes and 8, jobs, against central government targets of 16, new homes and 23, new jobs for the Medway area as a whole.
Rochester riverside[ edit ] In Rochester, a acre hectare area of brownfield land between the river and the railway line is being developed with high-density housing. Up to 50 homes per hectare will be built. The site will also include a primary school, two hotels, business centre, health centre, cafes, restaurants, bars and various commercial units. Medway Gate[ edit ] A major development in Strood between Medway Valley Park and junction 2 of the M2 motorway , much of the Medway Gate development is inside a large abandoned chalk pit.
The area has seen the building of over homes since work began in , including affordable homes. By moves began to take place: In , a Medway Towns Joint Amalgamation Committee was formed by the borough corporations of Chatham, Gillingham and Rochester, to discuss the possibility of the towns forming a single county borough.
In the Local Government Boundary Commission recommended that the area become a "most purposes" county borough, but the recommendation was not carried out. In the Joint Amalgamation Committee decided in favour of the amalgamation and invited representatives from Strood Rural District Council to join the Committee. This led to Gillingham Council voting to leave the committee, as it believed the three towns should go forward as equal partners. The motion to disband was passed on the casting vote of the chairman, Alderman Semple from Chatham.
Gillingham chose to remain separate. Under letters patent the former city council area was to continue to be styled the "City of Rochester" to "perpetuate the ancient name" and to recall "the long history and proud heritage of the said city". In , the Borough of Medway was renamed as Rochester-upon-Medway , and in further letters patent transferred the city status to the entire borough.
Since it was the local government district of Rochester-upon-Medway that officially held city status under the letters patent, when it was abolished, it also ceased to be a city.
The other local government districts with city status that were abolished around this time Bath and Hereford appointed charter trustees to maintain the existence of the city and the mayoralty.
However, Rochester-upon-Medway City Council had decided not to and as a result their city status was rescinded. Medway Council apparently only became aware of this when they discovered that Rochester was not on the Lord Chancellor's Office 's list of cities. In , it started to refer to the "City of Medway" in promotional material, but it was rebuked and instructed not to do so in future by the Advertising Standards Authority. List of schools in Medway Medway operates a two-tier education system, with academic selection for admission to secondary schools determined by the Eleven plus exam.
There are a number of grammar schools located in the area, the other secondary schools in Medway being non-selective apart from one faith schools and the school on the peninsula. There are also a number of independent schools operating in the area.
The party political breakdown of the council following the local elections is: