31 January 2011

Have your say on Planning for the Hoo Peninsula

A meeting is taking place on Monday 7 February to discuss planning issues affecting the Hoo Peninsula. It is part of Medway Council’s consultation over a new ‘Local Development Framework’ which will set out the area’s planning strategy until 2028.

Originally scheduled for November, but postponed because of the snow, this re-arranged meeting will include a presentation and discussion about issues such as local services, rural employment and countryside management.

The meeting starts at 7pm at the Hundred of Hoo School (Main Road, Hoo, Rochester, Kent, ME3 9HH).

If you’d like to go along, you can confirm your attendance by emailing Catherine Smith at Medway Council by clicking here or by calling 01634 331358.

30 January 2011

Volunteer at Grain Coastal Park

The Kent Wildlife Trust is working hard to protect local wildlife by preserving and protecting our environment.

Paul Pearce, who co-ordinates Kent Wildlife Trust activity on the Hoo Peninsula, is looking for volunteers to help improve Grain’s Coastal Park – as part of a project the Trust is doing with Grain Parish Council and Medway Council.

Over coming months there will be many opportunities to get involved and help improve this ancient monument and local wildlife site.

If you’ve got a few spare hours on your hands for some building, fencing, scrub clearance, tree planting, path clearance, installing new signs – or even just a bit of weeding or litter picking – you may like to join one of the volunteer days being held on the first Sunday of each month. No experience is necessary and gloves and tools will be provided – as will hot drinks and biscuits!

The next opportunity to lend a hand is on Sunday 6 February, between 10am and 1pm or 2pm and 4pm (meeting at the beach car park). There are subsequent sessions being organised on 6 March, 3 April, 1 May and 5 June.

For more information, contact Paul Pearce on 01622 662012 or send an email here.

28 January 2011

Book Research

I’ve been contacted this week by a lady living in Australia, called Margaret Somers. Margaret, who lives near Brisbane, is researching her Hoo Peninsula family history - for a new book that she is hoping to publish.

Margaret’s keen to hear from anyone with connections to the following family names in Cliffe: Smith, Spencer, Goodyer, Harrington, Mills, Parvin and Richards. Her Smith family ancestors settled in Cliffe before 1842.

Margaret is also researching family links in south London, particularly Greenwich and Deptford, where she has a connection to people with the following family names: Allen, Eadle, Gould, Rowe and Warner.

I’m distantly linked to Margaret, through my Great-Great-Grandmother Emma Spencer (nee Smith), who was born in Cliffe, but lived most of her life in Upper Stoke. Margaret is connected to Emma through her father John. The photograph below is thought to be of Emma.

Contact Margaret Somers by clicking here.

27 January 2011

New Power Station at Damhead Creek

ScottishPower this week received government consent to construct a new 1000MW gas-fired power station next to their existing Damhead Creek site, near Hoo (pictured below, courtesy of BBC Kent).

ScottishPower has said that the new £500m Damhead Creek 2 power station, which will be one of the most efficient in the world, could generate enough energy to power almost 1.5m homes. The plant will be built ‘carbon capture ready’ so that, eventually, CO2 emissions from the site could be stored under the North Sea.

In March 2009, ScottishPower said the plans for the new Damhead Creek site would inject an estimated £27m into the Medway economy and would support 1,000 construction jobs (over three years), with 50 skilled jobs created following commencement of operations.

Click here to find out more about ScottishPower.

26 January 2011

A visit by HM Queen Elizabeth in 1955

Yesterday’s announcement about plans for a new gas-fired power station at Damhead Creek reminded me of a booklet I was shown recently about another of the Peninsula’s energy industries. The booklet was printed in April 1955 to commemorate a visit by HM Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to BP’s Oil Refinery on the Isle of Grain.

The booklet was shown to me by a lifelong resident of the Hoo Peninsula, who worked at the refinery for most of his life. It describes the workings of an oil refinery and explains why a new refinery was needed at the time, how the Isle of Grain site was chosen and the engineering process for reclaiming marshland (known locally as ‘Fleets’). The refinery processed its first crude oil in February 1953, following the decision six years earlier to site the refinery at Grain due to the need for deep water access.


25 January 2011

Get In Touch!

Since launching this site last May, I have been contacted by many people with a connection to the Hoo Peninsula – people living here now, those with family links to the area and others with an interest in exploring our special landscape.

Lots of people have happily shared knowledge about local history and sent copies of old photographs, whilst others have emailed their Hoo Peninsula family history enquiries, provided information about community events, or given suggestions for good local walks.

Please keep getting in touch, via the Contact page, or by sending an email here.

24 January 2011

E.ON Public Exhibitions

I went to Lower Stoke last week to take at look at the E.ON public exhibition about their pipeline proposals on the Hoo Peninsula. This exhibition, along with one held in Hoo the day before, was part of E.ON’s consultation into proposals for a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) pipeline. The pipeline could run from Kingsnorth to St. Mary’s Marshes and out into the North Sea, if a new cleaner-coal power station were built after the existing Kingsnorth Power Station closes in 2015.

As well as talking through issues and concerns regarding the impact on the landscape and disruption to residents, I was particularly interested to hear about the work to survey the seabed from St. Mary’s Marshes, out into the North Sea and up towards the North Norfolk coast. I knew there must be quite a few shipwrecks in that area, but didn’t expect such a huge number dotted around the maps on display.

If anyone would like more information about the recent exhibitions, contact E.ON on 0800 019 8315 or by email here.

To find out more about Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) click here and here.

17 January 2011

Rook Spectacular at RSPB Northward Hill (High Halstow), Saturday 22 January 2011

Join a guided walk at RSPB Northward Hill, with a Reserve Warden, to the Heronry viewpoint to watch the stunning sight of thousands of rooks coming in from the marshes and returning to their roost site. There is also a chance of seeing Woodcock and the Long-Eared Owl.

Meeting at the Main Car Park at Bromhey Farm (Cooling) at 1.30pm, the event is expected to finish around 4.30pm.

Book in advance by phoning 01634 222480, or email here. Ticket prices are £4 (for non members) and £2 (for members).

16 January 2011

E.ON Public Exhibitions – Pipeline proposals on the Hoo Peninsula

Residents on the Hoo Peninsula recently received a newsletter from E.ON. This gave details of their consultation into proposals for a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) pipeline. The pipeline could run from Kingsnorth to St. Mary’s Marshes, then out into the North Sea, if a new cleaner-coal power station were built after the existing Kingsnorth Power Station closes in 2015.

There are two public exhibitions in the coming week:

Tuesday 18 January - from 10am until 4pm at Hoo Village Institute, 25 Main Road, Hoo, Rochester, Kent, ME3 9AA.

Wednesday 19 January – from 2pm until 8pm at Stoke Village Hall, Mallard Way, Lower Stoke, Rochester, Kent, ME3 9ST.

14 January 2011

Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre - expanded photo library now online!

Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre (MALSC) has increased the number of photographs viewable online. The site now boasts 2,000 images of the area, along with an easy-to-use search function.

Many photographs of the Hoo Peninsula have been added to the MALSC website, including the small selection below.

The Church of St. Peter & St. Paul (Upper Stoke)

Shearmans General Stores (Allhallows)

The Horseshoe & Castle Pub (Cooling)

Railway Station / Crossing (Isle of Grain)

School (High Halstow)

Post Office (Hoo)

The Bell Inn (St. Mary Hoo)

To view the full collection of Medway photographs click here. When you arrive at the photograph search page, just type the name of the location you want to search.

It’s good to see so many photographs online and accessible to all. The staff and volunteers at MALSC have obviously been busy and their efforts are very much appreciated.

Note: All of the photographs on this post appear by kind permission of the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre.

13 January 2011

An artistic view from Upper Stoke

I recently bought this old postcard (series no 5396), entitled ‘On the Medway’, showing the Church of St. Peter & St. Paul in Upper Stoke. It was produced by Siegmund Hildesheimer & Co. Ltd, of London and Manchester, although it says it was produced in Bavaria.

With a strong family connection to Upper Stoke, this postcard is one of my favourite images of the area. I can't identify the name of who painted the picture or when that was, but is shows three small children walking through the churchyard with a dog running behind, boats on the River Medway, birds flying overhead and a traditional house behind the church.

Siegmund Hildesheimer & Co. Ltd were active between 1830 and 1920 and originally published books, but later moved on to producing Christmas cards, advertising cards, comics, art reproductions and real photo portraits.

12 January 2011

Then & Now – Methodist Chapel, Lower Stoke

I sometimes manage to find old postcards and photographs of the area. This one shows the United Methodist Church at Lower Stoke and was published by ‘I. J. Maylam'. Unfortunately, there isn’t a date anywhere on the item. If you know when it might have been taken, please get in touch.

Built in 1889, at a cost of £614, the building is today known as the Methodist Chapel and operates as part of the Medway Methodist Circuit.

On the outside of the building are ‘foundation stones’ that list the names of people who contributed to the cost of its construction. These local family names include Ayers, Plewis, Mugeridge, Coopper and Smith. As previously mentioned on this site, I have a connection to the Ayers family.

11 January 2011

Watson or Edwards?

Many family mysteries are best left unsolved, but when the mystery relates to people long since gone, there really shouldn’t be a danger of causing anyone upset. This particular mystery starts some 177 years ago, so I think I’m safe.

Last week I met-up with Mick Edwards (pictured below), who has lived in Hoo all his life. We spent a couple of hours drinking coffee at TAGGS in Hoo village centre, talking about our shared Great-Great-Great-Grandmother Elizabeth Edwards (nee Watson).

Elizabeth Watson married John Edwards in September 1833, when she was 19 years of age. Only months before the marriage, she gave birth in Allhallows to a son, John, who was given the surname Watson - her maiden name. I am a direct descendant of John Watson. Following their wedding, Elizabeth and John Edwards had other children, including a Charles Edwards (John Watson’s brother). Mick is a descendant of Charles.

Both Mick and I have spent many hours trawling through historic records to find out why John Watson was named Watson instead of Edwards, especially when there is plenty of evidence to suggest he was the son of John Edwards.

Does it matter whether I’m really a Watson or an Edwards? Of course not, but it’s quite strange to think of myself as Tony Edwards, if not for an ‘accident’ of birth in 1833.

Without the fantastic resources available at the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre, none of this would have been known to us.

10 January 2011

Bat and Trap – full results of the Peninsula League 2010

My father recently found his old bat and ball (pictured below) which I remember using when playing Bat and Trap at his pub near Canterbury. With this bat we triumphed in a local league championship in the early 1990s – a victory which to us beat any Ashes glory!

Digging out these items from my Dad’s house reminded me about the Peninsula Bat and Trap League, which I mentioned on this site last October, publishing details of the League Finals Night on 3 October 2010.

Before Christmas I received more information from Danny Gibson, who co-ordinates the Peninsula Bat and Trap League. He sent the End of Season Tables, which includes information about all local league teams – click on the images below to enlarge.

End of Season Tables (Sixes):

End of Season Tables (Trebles):

The 2011 season will start in April/May and finishes at the end of September. Games are usually held on a Wednesday evening, commencing at 8pm. Any pub wishing to submit a team should contact Danny Gibson on 01634 290079 or 07988 769604. Or Danny can be emailed here.

7 January 2011

Diary Date: Spring Concert (Hoo), Saturday 5 March 2011

Hoo St. Werburgh Parish Church present their Spring Concert on Saturday 5 March at 7.30pm. The concert includes international soprano Christine Hubbard, who will perform songs from the classics, shows and proms.

To book tickets, or for more information, contact Stuart on 01634 251705.

New Year’s Day Walk - Cliffe

On New Year’s Day, I headed for another RSPB Nature Reserve, this time at Cliffe Pools. I started out from Cliffe village on Pond Hill and then onto Pickles Way. Unsurprisingly, there were lots of people enjoying the fresh air and taking the opportunity for some exercise.

Although there are many trails to choose from, I opted for the Saxon Shore Way – heading through pools and lagoons towards Cliffe Creek.

When I arrived at Cliffe Creek, I had a look for Cliffe Fort, which was built in the mid-nineteenth century. Although derelict and closed to the public, it is still possible to view some of its exterior walls from the footpath. There are also the 100-year old remains of the Brennan Torpedo installation (on the shore side). Such a shame that these once important naval defences are now largely forgotten.

Within a couple of hundred yards of the fort rests the wreck of a Danish schooner, the ‘Hans Egede’. Although damaged by fire in 1955, she was used for many years as a coal and grain hulk on the Medway.

Heading back to Cliffe village, I took the less scenic, but more direct, route along Salt Lane, West Street, Higham Road and Church Street.

An excellent few hours spent exploring a small part of RSPB Cliffe Pools Nature Reserve, with some interesting local history along the way. I’ll certainly be back soon, as there are plenty more routes left to explore!

More information about RSPB Cliffe Pools Nature Reserve can be found by clicking here.

6 January 2011

Kent Wildlife Trust receive award from Medway Council – Isle of Grain

As a member of Kent Wildlife Trust, it’s excellent to read in their latest magazine (Wild Kent) that they have been awarded £35,000 by Medway Council to help with the development of a country park on the Isle of Grain.

The site, which is designated a Local Wildlife Site and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), is populated by some invertebrates (including the Shrill Carder Bee) and is a well-known spot for watching winter waders.

The Trust has also received £3,500 from Natural England to help with the running of a young rangers scheme. The Trust will work with young people to develop a long-term site management plan and to improve facilities for visitors.

More information about Kent Wildlife Trust can be found by clicking here.

5 January 2011

New Year’s Eve Walk - Northward Hill

On New Year’s Eve, I went to RSPB Northward Hill, between Cooling and High Halstow, to explore some of their trails. After checking the detailed information board at the main car park at Bromhey Farm, I decided on the Heron Trail.

Starting from Bromhey Farm, it wasn’t long before I met others out enjoying the fresh air on the last day of 2010. Although there was poor visibility across the marshes, the views were still very interesting.

When I arrived at the Heronry viewpoint, at the end of the Heron Trail, the site and sounds were remarkable. There were hundreds, possibly thousands, of rooks making noises that could be heard for miles. On checking the RSPB website later at home, this is described as a “4,000-strong rook and jackdaw ‘spectacular’ preparing to roost in the wood”.

More information about RSPB Northward Hill can be found by clicking here.