Last Sunday, we visited St Mary's Island and walked the Chatham Maritime path round the Island . The Island, is undergoing massive redevelopment after
the closure of Chatham Docks in 1984. My photographs(Yes I did take them), make the Island look very attractive and it is, but there is still a lot of further developmentsThe History of the Island is fascinating, going back to Roman times, when the Island was little more than a marshy swamp criss-crossed by tidal channels. They constructed the first road and established a ferry route from the Island to the Hoo Pensinsular, and was in use right up to the final years of the last century.
required, before it will be a major attraction on the busy Medway.
The photo on the the right, shows Upnor Castle in the distance, which was the only defence in 1667 , when the Royal Navy suffered its biggest Navel defeat to the Dutch Fleet that sailed up the Medway after capturing Sheerness. The Dutch sank a number of ships,which resulted in declaration of peace soon after.
The picture above shows one of the basins now restored, to accommodate very attractive, desirable housing. At the height of Victorian England , thousands of convicts were used to dig out St Mary's Creek and construct , in its place, basins one, two and three (The picture shows one). The spoil was used to construct the Island. Many convicts and prisoners of war died in appalling conditions on decommissioned navel vessels, whilst building the basins. Completed in 1870, the three basins were used by Chatham Dockyard and Royal Navy Warships for over a 100 years. It was closed in 1984, resulting in the loss of 7000 jobs. The Island was seriously contaminated by waste, which resulted in years of massive clean-up and soil testing, before it could be commissioned for house building .
In the mid 1990's, the government announced the regeneration of the Island and to date more than 500 million pounds has been spent on re-development and I think in 5 years time, it will be place, that we would consider retiring to,when that comes about, but I might add, that's a long way off. We
loved the place, its well worth a visit.