30 September 2011

It’s a scorcher!

I was in Grain earlier this week enjoying the scorching late summer sun, whilst taking in some of the views around Grain Coastal Park. I had a good look around many of the new and existing walks in the area and things are shaping up nicely.

I then headed off to walking route RS361 (photos below), which passes Port Victoria Road and Smithfield Marshes (towards Cockleshell Hard) located to the south east of Grain Coastal Park. Many thanks to Grain Parish Councillor Michael Dale for letting me know about this particular walk.

The warm sunny weather looks set to continue this weekend, so definitely a good time for everyone to get out the house and explore some of the many walks on the Hoo Peninsula. OS Map 163 (Gravesend and Rochester) is a very useful resource!

29 September 2011

Can you smell something in Hoo?

If you live in Hoo or the surrounding area, you might have noticed an unsual smell sweeping across the village in the past few days. I can now confirm its cause - thanks to information supplied by the Environment Agency (below).

Press Statement - Odours from Chatham Docks

The Environment Agency, which regulates waste legislation in England and Wales, is actively working with the owner and operator of Chatham Docks, Peel Ports, to resolve the current odour issues being experienced in the area surrounding the docks.

The root cause of the odour is from stockpiles of wood chip that are being stored at the site prior to onward shipment to Sweden where the material is used in the generation of heat and electricity. Recent movements of the wood chip, that had been on the dockside for longer than is typically expected, resulted in the release of odours associated with the natural degradation of the wood. These odours have been carried off site by the wind, and have caused a nuisance to those living near the site.

We have prioritised our efforts on this site and the activities that are giving rise to the odours. We have recommended a number of measures to minimise the smell. Peel Ports have plans in place to ensure that the material will be moved to Sweden as soon as possible and are bringing equipment on to the site to minimise the problem in the interim. These measures will include suppression systems designed to control airborne particles and odours.

Jon Griffin, Senior Environment Officer said "We understand that strong odour can cause a lot of distress to communities. This site and the reported issues are a top priority and we are working with the operator, Peel Ports, to resolve the problems related to their activities as quickly as possible. In the interim we would appreciate anyone who is experiencing odour and dust problems to call our hotline on 0800 807060."

Environment Agency - Kent and South London

27 September 2011

Kent Police Male Voice Choir - coming to Hoo in December!

Hoo St. Werburgh Parish Church hosts many exciting concerts and performances, and that trend is set to continue. Following an enjoyable performance from Soprano Beatrice Danesfield earlier this month, the Kent Police Male Voice Choir (pictured below) will perform at the Church on Sunday 4 December at 6.30pm.

Book your ticket(s) early to avoid disappointment and to show your support - not least because the event will help raise much needed cash for the Church restoration fund.

For tickets (a donation of £7) contact Stuart on 01634 251705.

26 September 2011

World’s Biggest Coffee Morning (High Halstow), Friday 30 September 2011

Having raised more than £600 at last year’s successful coffee morning (part of the ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning event), the High Halstow branch of Macmillan Cancer Support are aiming to do even better this year, with their coffee morning this coming Friday (30 September), from 9.30am onwards.

Macmillan High Halstow have raised a staggering £2,600 over the last 7 years - and you can help them add to this amount by popping along to show your support.

The coffee morning will be held at the Memorial Hall (pictured below), and there’ll be plenty of tea, coffee, homemade cakes and scones with jam and marmalade. There’ll also be a chance to buy bespoke greetings cards and jewellery. Not forgetting a raffle and a ‘Pick a Duck’ game where everyone’s a winner, it certainly looks like every effort is being made to exceed last year’s total.

If you’re unable to make it along and want to show your support, you can order a box of tasty cupcakes that will be delivered directly to your door - for only £5.

If you fancy ordering some cupcakes (local deliveries only, i.e. High Halstow, Hoo etc), get in touch with Ann on 01634 251914.

Find out more about Macmillan Cancer Support by clicking here.

25 September 2011

Hundred of Hoo School - War Memorial Project

The Hundred of Hoo School is busy working on a programme of events to commemorate this year’s Remembrance Day - adding to the school’s ties with the armed forces and the support they show for the Help for Heroes campaign. The school is researching information about local people who gave their lives during the First World War and whose names are commemorated on the war memorial at Hoo Parish Church (pictured below with pupils from the school).

The school’s John Keeley said: ‘We feel that it is vitally important for our students to learn about, and appreciate, the sacrifices made by previous generations which enabled our young people to enjoy the freedoms and privileges they do today. By remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, our students are not only learning about their area’s history, but are also able to appreciate the very important notion that freedom should not be taken for granted, and sometimes demands a heavy price for its defence’.

If anyone can help supply information about any of those listed on Hoo’s war memorial (shown more closely below), please get in touch with Mr Sims, a member of staff at the school, by sending an email here.


Remembrance Day silence, when the nation pauses to remember all those who have given their lives for their country, comes with a special once-in-a-lifetime date and time this year, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th year of the decade.

Take a look at the Royal British Legion website by clicking here, or visit the Help for Heroes website here.

22 September 2011

A message from the RSPB

I've been sent a brief update from the RSPB about their activities locally, supplied by their representative Rolf Williams (pictured below).

'Beefing up our birds'

It is a testament to the reserve teams’ expertise and skillful water management that 2011 has been a good year for breeding birds on the marshes. The unusual weather patterns in 2011, with a spring drought followed by early summer deluges, may be a portent of things to come since this matches leading climate models of our future. The RSPB’s North Kent reserves feel like wild places at the mercy of the weather but half of them are working farms, coastal grazing marshes that we manage in the interests of nature. They produce hay (for horses), wool, lamb, and beef, but, in a complex relationship between water, vegetation, and grazing, the right habitat is also created for internationally important wintering and breeding birds.

Through the hard graft of reserve staff, volunteers and contract graziers, and despite the unseasonal weather, the birds have done all right this year. We managed to utilize what water we had in such a way that breeding bird figures are as good, if not better, than normal years for precipitation. Numbers of breeding lapwing at Shorne Marshes, Cliffe Pools and Elmley Marshes were excellent, totaling 132. Redshank traditionally fluctuate in their breeding numbers but 180 pairs at Elmley Marshes broke a six-year record. The herons at Northward Hill are showing recovery after two particularly harsh winters - 96 pairs, and 45 nightingales filled the air with their song on the Hoo Peninsula reserves. Now we look forward to the winter spectacle as thousands of birds fly in to the Thames, Medway, and Swale Estuary… and why not join them for a wild day out?

Rolf Williams
RSPB North Kent Marshes Nature Reserves

If you'd like to find out more about the RSPB, take a look at their Northward Hill website by clicking here - where you'll find links to other RSPB sites in North Kent, including Cliffe Pools. You can get in touch with Rolf by clicking here.

Thanks for the update Rolf!

21 September 2011

Hoo Peninsula Film Project

Over the past few years, I’ve been meeting lots of the peninsula’s longer-standing inhabitants, or ‘peninsula elders’ as I like to call them! And I’ve been recording on camera their stories and memories about living and working here.

Often more than just the typical - and edited - recollections you tend to read in history books, I’ve heard some fascinating tales, some of which have been truly shocking in their detail. Always unique and personal insights into everyday life in this often overlooked corner of Kent and Medway, it’s been a real joy and privilege to have listened to them.

I now have a growing selection of recordings, each of which is being very slowly and carefully edited. When finished I’m planning to donate them to historical archives and any interested local history groups for posterity and, hopefully, for watching by future generations of historians, and residents, seeking to expand their knowledge of local social history.

All those ‘elders’ I’ve had the pleasure to meet so far have been very generous in their willingness to be recorded on film. Not always an easy process, especially when an amateur like me is doing the filming!

I have a whole list of people on my list to get through in the coming months, but it’s always good to hear of anyone else with a few interesting stories to tell.

Just get in touch via the contact page.

20 September 2011

Grain Coastal Park (Isle of Grain) - Michael Dale’s Photographs

Michael Dale (pictured below) is a Parish Councillor on St. James Isle of Grain Parish Council. He’s sent some of his photographs of Grain Coastal Park – kindly giving permission for their use on this site.

These photos show views of Grain Coastal Park, taken at different times of the year.

The old ‘dummy battery’ along Port Victoria Road.

A wintry scene with views towards Grain Tower and Queensborough Docks.

One of many walking routes.

Church Beach looking very calm at high tide.

A ‘Quay Crane Transporter’ passing Garrison Point at the mouth of the Medway (between the Isle of Grain and Sheerness).

Another crane transporter arriving for Thamesport from China.

Seaview Meadow.

Seaview Meadow with early morning mist.

These are really great photos and I’d like to thank Michael for allowing me to share them.

Do you have any photos of the area that you would like to appear on this site? Just get in touch via the contact page.

19 September 2011

World’s Biggest Coffee Morning (Hoo), Friday 23 September 2011

Hoo Village Institute (Main Road, Hoo) will be putting on the kettle to take part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’ event this Friday (23 September), from 10am till 1pm.

Pop along to Hoo Village Institute (pictured below) and show your support - all are welcome!

This local event is being organised by Heather Sherman - find out more about the work of Macmillan Cancer Support by clicking here.

18 September 2011

More improvements at Grain Coastal Park

I was on holiday in Devon and Cornwall the week before last - probably enjoying too many cream teas than I ought to admit to! So I headed over to Grain yesterday afternoon for a brisk walk around Grain Coastal Park while the weather was nice and sunny - luckily it only turned dull when heading back home.

It seems that, whilst away, some more improvements have been made to the area. There are now a couple of nice looking picnic tables and chairs overlooking the beach and some smart, sturdy benches on the path by the shore (all pictured below).

I got back home just in time to avoid the downpour. What lovely weather we’re having!

4 September 2011

Beatrice Danesfield is coming to Hoo!

Hoo St. Werburgh Parish Church hosts many exciting concerts and performances, and that trend is set to continue, with Soprano Beatrice Danesfield (pictured below) presenting ‘A Night at the Opera’ on Saturday 17 September, from 7pm.

Whilst out doing a bit of shopping in Hoo this week, I bumped into Stuart Coombes, who helps organise events for the Church. Stuart told me he hopes that, in addition to residents from the Hoo Peninsula, there’ll be many others that come from far and wide to see Beatrice perform and to have a great evening - not least because the event will help raise much needed cash for the Church.

For tickets (a donation of £7) contact Stuart on 01634 251705.

Lodge Hill Consultation

Further to the public exhibitions held last November, Medway Council has produced a draft Development Brief for the proposed development of the Lodge Hill site. This document sets out the Council’s detailed objectives for the new settlement and its relationship to the surrounding area.

The consultation started last week and comments and feedback must be sent in to Medway Council by 5pm on Monday 14 October (the closing date).

There’ll be a series of consultation events taking place locally, where the Council’s Planning team will be available to talk about the draft Development Brief.

The consultation events take place during the next few weeks:

High Halstow Memorial Hall
Wednesday 14 September, 2pm to 4pm / 5.30pm to 8pm

Chattenden Community Centre
Friday 16 September, 2pm to 4pm / 5.30pm to 8pm

Cliffe Woods Community Centre
Monday 19 September, 2pm to 4pm / 5.30pm to 8pm

Red Cross Centre (Hoo)
Tuesday 20 September, 2pm to 4pm / 5.30pm to 8pm

Wainscott Memorial Hall
Monday 26 September, 2pm to 4pm / 5.30pm to 8pm

Click here to visit Medway Council’s website - where you’ll find more detailed information about the Lodge Hill development proposal.

Visit the Land Securities website by clicking here.

Big Dreams - Isle of Grain Youth FC

Isle of Grain Youth FC (pictured below on their float at the recent Grain Carnival) has gone from strength to strength since their creation in November last year. Starting out with just a handful of local kids, they now have more than 50 - coming from across the Hoo Peninsula to take part. A real local success story that is getting more exciting every month.

They entered the Real 60 Summer Football Tournament, held at Borstal last weekend. Their teams drew in two of their four games, sadly losing the other two. But one of the games was a thrilling 3-2 defeat to league champions, Chatham Riverside - so a really creditable set of results for such a new club and a fantastic effort from all the kids and coaches.

Isle of Grain Youth FC is part of the Sheppey Youth Sunday League, where they have teams for the U8s, U9s and U12s.

The Club’s Chairman Paul Peachey, told me this week: “I created the football school to give the Isle of Grain’s youngsters something positive to do. I am totally chuffed at what everyone has achieved to get us this far, both the kids and the adult volunteers. Of course, we now have a new objective - to achieve lots of wins within our league and, who knows, maybe even bring home a trophy or two - it’s time to put the Isle of Grain on the football map!”

The Youth Soccer School is still looking to welcome new members, aged 3 years to 16. Activities take place at Seaview Meadow (Lang’s Field) every Saturday from 10.30am till 12.30pm - pop along and get involved!

And the Club is also keen to hear from anyone wanting to get involved in their Sunday league team activities - this though is for those entering school years 7, 5, 4 and 3.

If you’d like to get involved, or know someone that would, contact Paul Peachey on 07818 558036.

Heritage Weekend on the Hoo Peninsula

The Heritage Open Days celebrations are running from 8 to 11 September, and there’ll be at least a couple of special activities taking place right here on the Hoo Peninsula.

St. James’ Church at Cooling (pictured below) will exhibit old photographs of Cooling, including past events, activities and local people. Entry is free, but with the Friends of St. James’ Church currently raising funds to preserve this lovely old building, please don’t forget to take some money so you can treat yourself to tea and cakes in aid of the preservation fund!

If you’d like to pop along, doors open at 10am and close at 4pm on both Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September.

Visit the website of The Friends of St. James’ Church by clicking here.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the peninsula, All Saints Church at Allhallows (pictured below) will be opening its doors to those interested in looking back in time through the photos and historical information which will be available to browse.

My great great Grandfather John Watson was baptised at All Saints Church in 1833. I’ve often thought about how very different the village must have looked in those days. Although being a mainly Norman structure, I don’t suppose the Church itself has really changed that much.

It really is a fabulous old building. My favourite ‘design feature’ is the weather boarded bell turret, a fairly recent addition in comparison with the rest of the building - added as it was in 1890!

All Saints Church opens its doors between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday 10 September and there’ll be tea, coffee and cakes.

Well worth a visit - take a look at the Allhallows Parish Council website for more information.

New website for Hoo St. Werburgh Parish Church

It’s really good to see a brand new website launched by Hoo St. Werburgh Parish Church. The site is very user friendly and contains lots of useful information about the history of the Church, forthcoming events, service times, contact details and much more besides.

Visit the website by clicking here.

Egypt Bay - feedback from Mervyn King

Following my recent posts asking if anyone knew how Egypt Bay came to get its name, I have received another interesting suggestion, this time from Mervyn King. 

Mervyn told me about a reference to Egypt Bay in a book called ‘The Thames’ by A. P. Herbert, which was published in 1966 by Weidenfield & Nicholson (pictured below).

A. P. Herbert (Sir Alan Patrick Herbert) says: ‘Egypt Bay, a strange sandy indent, so named, I suppose, because of the sand’.

I recently looked online for some old maps of the area, and there’s a really good website called Old Maps. A very useful commercial site that contains many old maps of the area, dating back to 1872, all of which can be easily viewed online.

The 1872 map itself shows Egypt Bay to have been joined by a sizable stretch of marshland known as Egypt Saltings – with ‘The Kite, Coast Guard Station’ located near its mouth with the Thames. The indent of the bay was much bigger in those days, with most of what was Egypt Saltings having long since silted over.

Any more ideas? Use the contact page to let me know if you have any views on how Egypt Bay got its name.

Rob Trice is doing a Charity Wing Walk

Lifelong Hoo Resident Rob Trice is doing something remarkable next weekend.

Rob will be heading to an airfield to do a charity ‘wing walk’ - raising cash for the Kent Air Ambulance and Hoo Parish Church. And when I spoke to him earlier this week, he was very excited about his upcoming flight! Rob told me that he’s always been keen to do a wing walk and is looking forward to being strapped to a plane and flown high into the skies. He’s a very brave chap!

If you’d like to sponsor Rob on this mission, get in touch with Hoo Parish Church.

Very best wishes to Rob!

3 September 2011

Allhallows Life - September Edition

The September edition of Allhallows Life is now available. Just click the image below to see the full copy.

Allhallows Life is the magazine of Allhallows Parish Council. Take a look at their website by clicking here. The magazine now features items from St. Mary Hoo Parish Council. Take a look at their website by clicking here.

2 September 2011

High Halstow Times - September Edition

The latest edition of the High Halstow Times is now available. Just click the image below to see the full copy.

The High Halstow Times is the magazine of High Halstow Parish Council. Take a look at their website by clicking here.