Open your eyes

Commemorative Anchor

Commemorative Anchor

Yesterday, I went wandering through Chatham with smif247, because my doctors suggested I walk a minimum of a mile a day in between resting during bouts of fatigue. We were enjoying the short break of sunshine and the promise of spring, loving the fact that we didn’t need to wear coats as temperatures had risen to a lovely comfortable 17C.

As we were casually sauntering through the high street I became very aware of the people around us. I can get very wary of crowds thanks to my illness and the insecurities it brings. I clung to smif’s hand tighter in an attempt to calm myself and become more comfortable with the surroundings.

Gothic Sculpture

Gothic Sculpture

As a result of my insecurities in town, I’m not usually very observant of the immediate area. I notice the odd store front and the myriad of people from varying cultures going about their own business, but I don’t notice anything else. It is like I surround myself in a bubble, moving from one destination to the next, concentrating only on what I need to accomplish. Yesterday was different though.

Smif and I have recently begun playing Ingress. A geo-location game from Niantic (Google), a game of two sides (enlightened and resistance) fighting to claim virtual portals all over the world. There is a massive back story to the game which I haven’t really followed, but the general idea is that you go out into your local area to capture portals and protect them from the opposing faction. At present Chatham has three of these portals not far from the High Street and Military Road.

Old Military Road

Old Military Road

The Chatham portals are currently maintained by the enlightened faction (us), and we decided that we would “hack” them for supplies while we were walking and see if we were able to link them to each other. This was when I started to notice the facades of the buildings, the sculptures/statues of relevant local

history, reminders that Chatham and the surrounding towns are predominantly Naval & Military. There was also a small museum tucked away behind Halfords!

Canons on Military Road

Canons on Military Road

I don’t have a high expectation of the town. It is just like any other. Cheap bric-a-brac stores, pound stores, thrift shops and charity shops, an occasional beggar, buskers playing jazz and screaming children with loud-mouthed parents in tow.

Post Office

Post Office

But I began to see the beauty underneath, unleashing the memories of history lessons from primary school. Chatham is home to centuries of Naval accomplishments. Chatham Historic Dockyard has preserved the history very well, and not forgetting the military connection, Fort Amherst is also in Chatham. But I don’t want to share those with you today.

Army Careers OfficeBuilt 1879

Army Careers Office
Built 1879

I want to share some of the phenomenal architecture of the Victorian and Tudor era’s, the clean lines of the Art Deco period of the 1920s and the Gothic sculptures that adorn the front walls of buildings, squeezed in amongst the modern and minimalistic monstrosities of todays commercial establishments.

The Tudor House

The Tudor House

The Old Brook Pumping Station

The Old Brook Pumping Station

I had no idea some of these sights were in our local town, let alone one of them being a museum. The Old Brook Pumping Station hidden between The Pentagon Shopping Centre and Halfords. After having a quick browse on the museum website I discovered that there has been some form of water pumping machinery in that area since the 1500s.

The existing building though was erected in the 1920s and has a modest Art Deco doorway and a beautifully crafted post box built into the fence.

1920s Post Box

1920s Post Box

Road Roller

Road Roller

Art Deco Entrance

Art Deco Entrance

So what I say to you today is, next time you go into town, whether it is for your weekly shop or just to browse, take a look around you. Open your eyes to the beauty beneath the commercialism, take note of what your town offers by way of history, culture and heritage. You may be surprised by what is hidden right under your noses.

Clean & Fresh Art Deco Architecture

Clean & Fresh Art Deco Architecture

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Categories: Geo Stories, Ingress, Life goes on, UK History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Open your eyes

  1. Fiona Potter

    Hi there, I don’t know what your illness is but I have really enjoyed reading your article. There are so many things that we miss, I Live in Maldon and it has so many beautiful buildings, I often try to think of what it was live back in the olden days. Thank you for this article, I will keep my eyes open a little more in the future. 🙂

    • Thank you. I have so much fun looking at the old as well as the new.
      We still don’t know what my illness is. So far it has been a 16 month battle with the GP trying to find out.
      Thanks again 🙂

  2. Karon Smith

    I’ve enjoyed reading this blog post – I was born in Gillingham and raised in Rainham and when I go home to visit family we avoid Chatham like the plague. However, your post reminds me that there are some beautiful buildings in the town. I recognised all of the pictures in your blog. Thanks for this.

    • You’re most welcome Karon

      I understand totally about trying to avoid Chatham like it’s the plague. But as long as you “zone out” as it were, you soon find some little treasures.

      I prefer Rochester though. More beautiful!

  3. I am a volunteer at the Old Brook Pumping Station in Chatham, just for the record it is now open every Saturday from 11 to 3, between June and October

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