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The Port of Sheerness contains at least one Grade II listed building, the Old Boat House. Built in 1866, it is the first multi-storey iron framed industrial building recorded in the UK. Decorated with ornate ironwork, it features operating rails extending the length of the building, for the movement of stores, much like a modern crane.
The dockyard and port at Sheerness today are a significant feature of the Isle of Sheppey's economy, which includes the extensive export/import of motor vehicles, and a large steel works, with extensive railway fixtures. The island is, however, suffering from an economic recession and these industries are not as extensive as they once were.

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Shopping in Sheerness
There are hundreds of independent retailers situated in the Kent, offering an array of worldwide brands to locally sourced products. Each and every one of them offer a customer service that just can’t be found on the high street.
Check the Sheerness Directory
Sheerness
The Port of Sheerness contains at least one Grade II listed building, the Old Boat House. Built in 1866, it is the first multi-storey iron framed industrial building recorded in the UK. Decorated with ornate ironwork, it features operating rails extending the length of the building, for the movement of stores, much like a modern crane.
The dockyard and port at Sheerness today are a significant feature of the Isle of Sheppey's economy, which includes the extensive export/import of motor vehicles, and a large steel works, with extensive railway fixtures. The island is, however, suffering from an economic recession and these industries are not as extensive as they once were.
Dining in Sheerness
Whether you want to relax over a cappuccino, enjoy a light lunch, have a fun family meal or indulge in a taste sensation, Kent caters for every occasion.
customer service that just can’t be found on the high street.
Check the Sheerness Directory
Sheerness
Samuel Pepys at Gravesend remarked in his diary "we do plainly at this time hear the guns play" and in fear departed to Brampton in Huntingdonshire.
The dockyard served the Royal Navy until 1960 and has since developed into one of the largest and fastest expanding ports in the UK.

The area immediately outside the dockyard was occupied by dockyard workers, who built wooden houses and decorated them with Admiralty blue paint illegally acquired from the dockyard. This area was, and still is, known as Blue Town, though it is now mostly occupied by the Sheerness Steel complex.

Beyond Blue Town, an outlying residential area overlooking the sea was chiefly designed for various government officials. This area became known as Mile Town because it is one mile (1.6 km) from Sheerness.

About 200 shipwrecks are recorded around the coast of Sheppey, the most famous being the SS Richard Montgomery, a liberty ship loaded with bombs and explosives that grounded on sandbanks during the Second World War. As of 2004 plans were discussed with a view to removing the threat from the Montgomery. These include encasing the ship in concrete or removing the bombs; no firm decision has been made.

New research commissioned by the Government in 2005–06 has suggested that the threat has passed and that constant surveillance should ensure the safety of the immediate community.

Edward Jacob (1710–1788) purchased the little Manor of Nutts, Isle of Sheppey, in 1752. There, he pursued his hobby as a naturalist. He discovered much of interest to the antiquarian, naturalist, geologist and zoologist, although there was little prior knowledge. In 1777, Jacob published a book about his various fossil finds, including what he called "the remains of an elephant".

The isle is noted as the northern-most place to have an established scorpion population. Euscorpius flavicaudis has been resident since the 1860s, believed to have been imported on a ship.[5] They have been found to be highly adaptable and hence have survived the relative cold by conserving energy and only acting for nutrition and reproduction.

In 2008 palaeontologists published details of the fossil skull, found on the island, of a large flying bird from the Eocene period called Dasornis in the deposits of the London Clay.

From 1894 to 1968, Sheppey comprised the Municipal Borough of Queenborough, Sheerness Urban District and Sheppey Rural District (consisting of the civil parishes of Eastchurch, Elmley, Harty, Leysdown-on-Sea, Minster in Sheppey and Warden). 1968 saw all these merged to form a single Municipal Borough of Queenborough-in-Sheppey, covering the entire island.[8] In 1974 the area was merged with districts on the mainland to form the Swale district.
[edit] Early aviation
The Aviation Memorial in Eastchurch

The isle has a long history of aviation development in England. It was home to Lord Brabazon's Royal Aero Club which formed in Leysdown in the early 1900s to popularise ballooning. The club took to the aeroplane with relish, and in July 1909 the Short Brothers established Shellbeach Aerodrome on nearby marshland to accommodate six Wright Flyers, moving a few kilometres the next year to Eastchurch where a new more appropriate aerodrome had been built for the club.

The Eastchurch airfield played a significant role in the history of British aviation from 1909 when Frank McClean acquired Stonepits Farm, on the marshes across from Leysdown, converting the land into an airfield for members of the Aero Club of Great Britain.

The Short brothers, Horace, Eustace and Oswald, built aircraft at Battersea to be tested at the site; later Moore-Brabazon, Professor Huntington, Charles S. Rolls and Cecil Grace all visited and used the flying club's services. Wilbur Wright and his brother Orville came to the Isle of Sheppey to visit the new flying grounds of the Aero Club. In 1909, Moore-Brabazon made the first live cargo flight by fixed-wing aircraft, by tying a waste-paper basket to a wing strut of his Shorts-built Wright aircraft. Then, using it as a "cargo hold", he airlifted one small pig.

The Eastchurch airfield was also the site, in July 1911, of the competition for the Gordon Bennett Cup for powered air racing, attended by flyers from all over the world, and won that year by the American pilot C. T. Weymann.

A stained glass window in the south side of All Saints' Church, Eastchurch (built in 1432), was dedicated to Rolls and Grace, who were killed in July and December 1910 respectively.

In July 2009, Eastchurch celebrated 100 years of aviation history associated with the island. SkySheppey brought together a number of associations and joined with many visitors to recognise the importance of British aviation history that started at Eastchurch.
[edit] Sheppey today
The beach between Leysdown and Shell Ness.

The largest town on the island is Sheerness. Other villages include Minster, which has a pebble beach, and Leysdown-on-Sea, which has a coarse sandy one. The whole north coast is dotted with caravan parks and holiday homes; there is also a naturist beach beyond Leysdown, towards Shellness. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds manages a reserve at Elmley Marshes, a small part of the National Nature Reserve managed by Elmley Conservation Trust.
An aerial view of Eastchurch village, a caravan site, the three prisons and the North Sea

There are three prisons on the island, all located to the south of the village of Eastchurch: HMP Elmley, HMP Standford Hill and HMP Swaleside. The total inmate population is in the region of 2,200.

In the 2001 census, the island had a resident population of 37,852, many of whom commute to the mainland via the Sheerness-Sittingbourne rail link and the new Sheppey Crossing Bridge.

Bridge Radio "BRFM" 95.6 broadcasts 24 hours a day to Sheppey only (under its strict licensing conditions) from studios on the Minster Cliffs on the Isle of Sheppey.

On 21 September 2008, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said that an airport off the coast of the Isle of Sheppey would be a viable alternative to creating a new third runway at Heathrow.

Sheerness is a town located beside the mouth of the River Medway on the northwest corner of the Isle of Sheppey in north Kent, England. With a population of 12,000 it is the largest town on the island.

Sheerness began as a fort built in the 16th century to protect the River Medway from naval invasion. In 1665, plans were first laid by the Navy Board for a Royal Navy dockyard where warships might be provisioned and repaired, a site favored by Samuel Pepys, then Clerk of the Acts of the navy, for shipbuilding over Chatham.[1] After the raid on the Medway in 1667, the older fortification was strengthened; in 1669 was established the Royal Navy dockyard the town, where warships were stocked and repaired until its closure in 1960.

Beginning with the construction of a pier and a promenade in the 19th century, Sheerness acquired the added attractions of a seaside resort. Industry retains its important place in the town and the port of Sheerness is one of the United Kingdom's leading car and fresh produce importers. The town is the site of one of the UK's first co-operative societies and also of the world's first multi-storey building with a rigid metal frame.
History

The first structure in what is now Sheerness was a fort built by order of Henry VIII to prevent enemy ships from entering the River Medway and attacking the naval dockyard at Chatham. In 1666 work began to replace it with a stronger fort. However, before its completion, this second fort was destroyed during the 1667 Dutch raid on the Medway.[2] The Secretary of the Admiralty, Samuel Pepys, subsequently ordered the construction of a naval dockyard at Sheerness as an extension to that at Chatham,[3] where naval ships would be maintained and repaired. Low quality housing and the poor water supply near the dockyard led to a lack of workers and caused construction delays, and the first dry-dock was not completed until 1708. Using materials they were allowed to take from the yard, dockyard construction workers built the first houses in Sheerness. The grey-blue naval paint they used on the exteriors led to their homes becoming known as the Blue Houses. This was eventually corrupted to Blue Town, the modern name of northwest area of Sheerness.[2]

From the completion of the dockyard until 1960 Sheerness was one of the bases of the Nore Command of the Royal Navy, which was responsible for protecting British waters in the North Sea. The command was named after the Nore sandbank in the Thames Estuary, about 3 miles (5 km) east of Sheerness.[4] In 1797, discontented sailors in the Royal Navy mutinied just off the coast of Sheerness.[5]
Sheerness beach with the chimney of the Grain power station in the distance

By 1801 the population of the Minster-in-Sheppey parish, which included both Sheerness and the neighbouring town of Minster, reached 5,561.[6] In 1816, one of the UK's first co-operative societies was started in Sheerness, chiefly to serve the dockyard workers and their families. The Sheerness Economical Society began as a co-operative bakery but expanded to produce and sell a range of goods.[7] By the middle of the 20th century, the society had spread across the Isle of Sheppey and had been renamed the Sheerness and District Cooperative Society.[8]

In the early 1820s a fire destroyed many buildings at the dockyard, including all the Blue Houses. New houses and a major redevelopment of the dockyard followed. On 5 September 1823, the rebuilt dockyard was formally opened by the Duke of Clarence (later William IV). A high brick wall and a moat were constructed around the yard to serve as a defence measure and remained in place until the end of the 19th century. As the settlement expanded eastwards, away from the dockyard and the Blue Houses, the wider area became known as Sheerness,[2] taking its new name from the brightness or clearness of the water at the mouth of the River Medway.[9] Completed in 1860 and still standing today, the Sheerness Boat Store was the world's first multi-storey building with a rigid metal frame.[2] In 1863, mains water was installed in the town, and the Isle of Sheppey's first railway station opened at the dockyard. Towards the end of the 19th century, Sheerness achieved official town status and formed its own civil parish, separate from Minster-in-Sheppey.[2] The 1901 Census recorded the Sheerness parish as having 18,179 residents and 2,999 houses.[10]

The town's low rainfall and ample sunshine made it popular as a seaside resort, with tourists arriving by steamboat and train.[9] The Sheppey Light Railway opened in 1901, connecting the new Sheerness East station with the rest of the island. However, by 1950, lack of demand led to the railway's closure.[11] The Sheerness tramway, which opened in 1903, only lasted until 1917.[12]
Terraced houses near the seafront

In 1944 the United States cargo ship SS Richard Montgomery ran aground and sank 1 mile (1.6 km) off the coast of Sheerness, with 3,172 tonnes of explosives on board. Due to the inherent danger and projected expense, the ship and its cargo have never been salvaged; if the wreck were to explode, it would be one of the largest non-nuclear explosions of all time. A 2004 report published in New Scientist warned that an explosion could occur if sea water penetrated the bombs.[13]

In March 1960 the Royal Navy ceased operating the Sheerness dockyard and the Medway Port Authority took over the site for commercial use. The dockyard closure led to thousands of job losses, and most of the nearby houses and shops in the Bluetown area were eventually abandoned and demolished.[3] By the 1961 census, the population of Sheerness had fallen to 13,691.[10] The dockyard closure also led to the decline of the Sheerness and District Cooperative Society, as many of its members were dockyard workers. At the time, the society was the island's main retailer, but it has since been reduced to a few shops and been merged with a larger society.[8] As of 2007, Bluetown is an industrial area, and Sheerness has become the largest port in the UK for motor imports.[2]

Dr Richard Beeching (later Lord Beeching), the first chairman of the British Railways Board, was born in Sheerness in 1913. The programme of railway closures in the 1960s became known as the Beeching Axe.
[edit] Mills

Sheerness has had four windmills. They were the Little Mill, a smock mill that was standing before 1813 and burnt down on 7 February 1862; The Hundred Acre Mill, a small tower mill which was last worked in 1872 and demolished in 1878 leaving a base which remains today; The Great Mill, a smock mill, the building of which was started in 1813 and completed in 1816, which was demolished in 1924 leaving the base, upon which a replica mill body is being built to serve as flats.[14] On 23 January 2008 a fire started in the mill tower.[15] The fire was later declared not to have been a case of arson;[16] Sheerness and Kent police have since confirmed that the fire was Arson related. Little is known of the fourth windmill, said to have been a vertical axle windmill designed by Stephen Hooper.[17]
[edit] Governance

Sheerness is in the parliamentary constituency of Sittingbourne and Sheppey. Since the constituency's creation in 1997 until 2010 the Member of Parliament was Derek Wyatt of the Labour Party.[18] As of 2010, the current Member of Parliament is Gordon Henderson of the Conservative Party. Aefore 1997, Sheppey and Sittingbourne were part of the constituency of Faversham. Sheerness is in the local government district of Swale. The town is split between the two local government wards of Sheerness East and Sheerness West, which have four of the forty-seven seats on the Swale Borough Council. As of the 2007 local elections, three of those seats were held by the Labour Party and one by the Sheppey First party.[19] Swale Borough Council is responsible for running local services, such as recreation, refuse collection and council housing;[20] Kent County Council is responsible for education, social services and trading standards.[20] Both councils are involved in town planning and road maintenance. From 1894 to 1968, Sheerness formed its own local government district, Sheerness Urban District, and lay within the administrative county of Kent.[21] Over much of the past century, the Labour Party has received the most support in Sheerness, mainly due to the town's industrial nature. As early as 1919, the town had four Labour councillors; Faversham elected its first only in 1948.

The seafront is popular with tourists, and as of 2007 Sheerness' recently refurbished town centre had more than 200 shops.

Sheerness' sand and shingle beach was awarded a European Blue Flag for cleanliness and safety. Flower gardens decorate the seafront, and a sea wall forms a promenade along the coast. The Sheppey Leisure Complex located near the beach contains a swimming pool and badminton, squash and tennis courts. Other sports clubs include Sheerness Town Bowls Club, Sheerness East Cricket Club,[37] Beachfields Skatepark, Sheerness East Table Tennis Club, Catamaran Yacht Club, and Sheerness Swimming Club and Lifeguard Corps. Sheerness Golf Club was founded in 1906, and has an 18-hole course just to the southeast of town. Sheerness East Football Club, established in 1932, play in the Kent County League Premier Division. Sports can be played for free at the town's recreation grounds at Beachfields Park, Festival Playing Field, and Seager Road Sports Ground.

The annual Sheerness arts and heritage festival, Promenade, opened in September 2011 with appearances by Michael Palin and Dan Cruickshank. It is the only heritage festival on the Isle of Sheppey and takes place in September in The Sheppey Little Theatre, the Heritage Center in Blue Town and various other venues in Sheerness.

Sheerness has a library and clubs for photography, music, singing, dancing and writing.

Sheerness' town centre is home to the largest freestanding cast iron clock tower in Kent. It is 36 feet (11 m) tall and was built in 1902 at a cost of around £360 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII. In 2002, the clock tower was restored to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

There are two local newspapers: the Sheerness Times Guardian, which provides news related only to the town, and the Sheppey Gazette, which provides news on the wider Sheppey area. The KM Group owns the Sheerness Times Guardian and Northcliffe Media owns the Sheppey Gazette.

The Island has its own radio station, BRFM 95.6FM which can also be heard online at www.brfm.net that broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a Week from Minster-on-Sea. The station is run by a dedicated team of volunteers. BRFM 95.6 plays a wide range of music, with news, weather and local events being broadcast around the clock, the station also provides for specialist music during weekday evenings.

Sheerness-on-Sea railway station is on the Sheerness Line, run by the Southeastern rail company. The line connects Sheerness with the town of Sittingbourne, 6 miles (10 km) south on the mainland of Kent. Sittingbourne is on the Chatham Main Line, which connects London with Ramsgate and Dover in East Kent. Train journeys from Sheerness-on-Sea to London Victoria take 1 hour 45 minutes.

The Arriva transport company operates bus routes reaching most of the island, as well as Sittingbourne, Maidstone, and Canterbury[45]Arriva Bus company use several routes, including 334, 341, 361, 360, 362, 363 and special day trips to Bluewater Shopping Centre, Hempstead Valley, Pentagon in Chatham, Maidstone Market and Lakeside Shopping Centre. Chalkwell Bus & Coach Company also serve Sheerness and the local area, going from Sheerness to Warden Bay via Minster-On-Sheppey. The A249 road terminates at Sheerness, running from Maidstone via Sittingbourne. The road crosses the M2 motorway near Sittingbourne, and the M20 motorway near Maidstone.[46] No passenger ferry services currently operate from Sheerness, although in the past there has been a service to Vlissingen in the Netherlands.

Coach Link (part of the Kingsferry Coach Company) also provide service from Sheerness, Minster, Halfway, Queenborough and part of the mainland to London Victoria Rail Station early in the morning and a return journey in the evening. Three school buses run from the Isle Of Sheppey to Sittingbourne school in the morning and after school finishes.
[edit] Education
Further information: List of schools in Kent

Until September 2009, The Isle of Sheppey was the only area in Kent to still have a middle school system.[47] On the island, primary schools taught pupils from ages 4–9, middle schools from ages 9–13 and secondary schools from ages 13–18. Minster College in the neighbouring town of Minster was the only secondary school on the island. Sheerness had one middle school, Isle of sheppey Academy, with 800 pupils, although Danley Middle School and St George's Middle School were found in Halfway and Minster, respectively. In 2006, the Cheyne Middle School's Key Stage 2 performance ranked 322nd out of Kent's 386 primary and middle schools.[48] The town's primary schools are Richmond First School, Rose Street Primary School, St Edward's Roman Catholic Primary School (ages 4–11) and West Minster Primary School.[49] Sheppey College, in Sheerness, is a branch of Canterbury College that provides a range of further education courses.

On the 1st September 2009, Cheyne Middle school and Minster College merged to become The Isle of Sheppey Academy. Danley Middle school and St George's Middle School were closed, and Richmond First School now houses an extra year of students. This change was to bring the Island up to date with the rest of the UK with the two-tier system (Primary school, and then secondary school). Respectively, The Isle of Sheppey Academy now ranges from students of year 6 - 11, as well as housing the Island's 6th form students.[51]

For a while nobody was sure whether or not the plans for the Academy would go ahead, after the news that the current Government was scrapping Labour's 'Building Schools for the Future' scheme. For weeks Students, Teachers and Staff and Parents waited to hear whether or not the Academy would be built, and after much pressure on the Government from our local MP Gordon Henderson, it was announced that the Academy would receive the full £56 million funding and the go-ahead for all building to take place. Building for the Isle of Sheppey Academy is now expected to start within the first few months of 2011.
[edit] Tales of Beachfields Park

Beachfields Park provided a green oasis between the town of Sheerness and the sea. However, this has been systematically encroached on by development. This project is aiming to reveal and publicise the Park's heritage and to preserve it for future generations.

Past pupils of Cheyne Middle School and Minster College with further assistance from Groundwork Medway Swale and the Local Heritage Initiative, researched the funfair, bandstands, Prisoner of the War hut, boating lake and bowling green.

The pupils created questionnaires and have interviewed many local residents. The Local History Society, the Sheerness Society and The Sheerness Times Guardian were all actively involved in the project.

The pupils and students have also written an award winning book to accompany the project. Tales of Beachfields Park has been awarded the Historical Association Young Historian Primary School Award for Local History.

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If you have wandered through the Kent Downs whether on foot, by horse, bicycle or car will have, at one time or another, pondered over the meaning of place names of towns , villages or hamlets that we normally take for granted in our everyday lives. Places such as Pett Bottom, Bigbury and Bobbing conjure up all manner of intriguing images as to the activities of former inhabitants, while others such as Whatsole Street, Smersole or Hartlip appear completely baffling.
Although most place names may appear at first sight to be random elements of words thrown together in no particular order, most are surprisingly easy to decipher with some elementary grounding in Old English. Over the centuries most of the Old English words have themselves corrupted and changed to appear as we know them today.
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Modern Kentish dialect shares many features with other areas of south-east England (sometimes collectively called "Estuary English"). Other characteristic features are more localised. For instance some parts of Kent, particularly in the north west of the county, share many features with broader Cockney.

A Dictionary of the Kentish Dialect and Provincialisms: in use in the county of Kent' by W.D.Parish and W.F.Shaw (Lewes: Farncombe,1888)
'The Dialect of Kent: being the fruits of many rambles' by F. W. T. Sanders (Private limited edition, 1950). Every attempt was made to contact the author to request permission to incorporate his work without success. His copyright is hereby acknowledged.
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