Facts about Chatham
Chatham is one of the Medway towns located within the Medway unitary authority, in North Kent, in South East England. The town developed around Chatham Dockyard and several Army barracks, together with 19th-century forts which provided a defensive shield for the dockyard. The Corps of Royal Engineers is still based in Chatham at Brompton Barracks. The Dockyard closed in 1984, but the remaining major naval buildings are an attraction for a flourishing tourist industry.
The A2 road passes by Chatham along the line of the ancient Celtic route. It was paved by the Romans and named Watling Street by the Anglo-Saxons. Among archaeological finds here have been the remains of a Roman-era cemetery. Chatham was long a small village on the banks of the river. By the 16th century, warships were being moored at Jillingham water (Gillingham), because of its strategic sheltered location between London and the Continent.
In addition to the dockyard, 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 defences were 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.