Place:Chatham, Kent, England

Watchers
NameChatham
Alt namesCetehamsource: Domesday Book (1985) p 146; Encyclopædia Britannica (1988) III, 138
Chethamsource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 175
TypeTown, Borough (municipal)
Coordinates51.383°N 0.533°E
Located inKent, England
See alsoChatham and Gillingham Hundred, Kent, Englandancient county division in which it was located
Rochester upon Medway, Kent, Englanddistrict municipality of which it was part 1974-1998
Medway, Kent, Englandunitary authority covering the area since 1998
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Chatham is one of the Medway towns located within the Medway unitary authority, in north Kent, in southeast England.

Chatham Royal Dockyard closed in 1984, but major naval buildings remain as the focus for a flourishing tourist industry. Following closure, part of the site became a commercial port, other parts were redeveloped for business and residential use, and part became the Chatham Historic Dockyard museum, which features the famous submarine HMS Ocelot among a good many other attractions. Chatham also has military connections; several Army barracks were located here, together with 19th-century forts which provided a defensive shield for the dockyard. Brompton Barracks, located in the town, remains the headquarters of the Corps of Royal Engineers.

The town has important road links and the railway and bus stations are the main interchanges for the area. It is the administrative headquarters of Medway unitary authority, as well as its principal shopping centre.

Chatham became an municipal borough under the Local Government Act 1894. Under the Local Government Act 1972 it joined with Rochester to become a non-metropolitan district named Rochester-Medway. In 1998 Rochester-Medway and the adjoining Gillingham District joined forces to become the Medway unitary authority.

The population of Chatham in the UK census of 2011 was 76,792.

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The name Chatham was first recorded as Cetham in 880. The Domesday Book records the place as Ceteham. Most books explain this name as a British root ceto (like Welsh coed) plus Old English ham, thus meaning a forest settlement. However, the river-valley situation of Chatham is more consistent with cet being an Old English survival of the element catu that was common in Roman-era names and meant 'basin' or 'valley'.

Chatham stands on the A2 road along the line of the ancient Celtic route, which was paved by the Romans, and named Watling Street by the Anglo-Saxons. Among finds have been the remains of a Roman cemetery. After the Norman invasion the manor of Chatham, originally Saxon, was given by William the Conqueror to Earl Godwinson.

It long remained a small village on the banks of the river, but by the 16th century warships were being moored at Jillingham water {Gillingham}, because of its strategic sheltered location between London and the Continent. It was established as a Royal Dockyard by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568 and most of the dockyard actually lies within Gillingham. Initially a refitting base, it became a shipbuilding yard; from then until the late 19th century, further expansion of the yard took place. In its time, many thousands of men were employed at the dockyard, and many hundreds of vessels were launched there, including HMS Victory which was built there in the 1760s. After World War I many submarines were also built in Chatham Dockyard.

In addition to the dockyard itself, defensive fortifications were built to protect it from attack. Upnor Castle had been built in 1567, but had proved ineffectual; the Dutch Raid on the Medway in 1667 showed that more was required. The fortifications, which became more elaborate as the threat of invasion grew, were begun in 1756 as a complex across the neck of the peninsula formed by the bend in the River Medway, and included Fort Amherst. The threat of a land-based attack from the south during the 19th century led to the construction of even more forts.

The second phase of fort-building (1806–1819) included Fort Pitt (later used as a hospital and the site of the first Army Medical School). The 1859 Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom ordered, inter alia, a third outer ring of forts: these included Fort Luton, Fort Bridgewood, and Fort Borstal. These fortifications all required military personnel to man them and Army barracks to house those men. These included Kitchener Barracks (c 1750–1780), the Royal Marine Barracks (c 1780). Brompton Artillery Barracks (1806) and Melville Barracks (opened 1820 as a Naval hospital, RM barracks from 1905). H.M.S. Collingwood and H.M.S. Pembroke were both naval barracks.

In response to the huge manpower needs, the village of Chatham and other nearby villages and towns grew commensurately. Trams, and later buses, linked those places to bring in the workforce. The area between the High Street and Luton village illustrates part of that growth, with its many streets of Victorian terraces.

The importance of Chatham dockyard gradually declined as Britain's naval resources were reduced or moved to other locations, and eventually, in 1984, it was closed completely. The dockyard buildings were preserved as the historic site Chatham Historic Dockyard (operated by Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust), which was under consideration as a World Heritage Site the site is being used for other purposes. Part of the St Mary's Island section is now used as a marina, and the remainder is being developed for housing, commercial and other uses, branded as "Chatham Maritime".

Research Tips

  • Kent County Council Archive, Local Studies and Museums Service. James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ. This incorporates the Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone and the East Kent Archives Centre near Dover.
  • Canterbury Cathedral Archives see the Archives web pages on the Canterbury Catherdral site.
  • For information on the area around the Medway Towns, have a look at Medway Council's CityArk site.
  • Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales - Revised: Kent illustrates the parish boundaries of Kent when rural districts were still in existence and before Greater London came into being. The map publication year is 1931. An earlier map of 1900 may also be useful. The maps blow up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets. Maps in this series are now downloadable for personal use.
  • Census records for Kent are available on FamilySearch, Ancestry and FindMyPast. The first site is free; the other two are pay sites but have access to microfilmed images. Steve Archer produced a very useful round-up of the available sources, but this information may not be up to date.
  • Registration Districts in Kent for the period 1837 to the present. By drilling down through the links you can follow any parish through the registration districts to which it was attached.
  • England, Kent, Parish Registers, 1538-1911 The full database from Kent Archives Office, Maidstone, has been available online from FamilySearch since June 2016.
  • Kent had five family history societies (now only four):
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Chatham, Medway. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.