Facts about Sheerness
Sheerness is a town and civil parish beside the mouth of the River Medway on the north-west corner of the Isle of Sheppey in north Kent, England. With a population of 12,000, it is the largest town on the island. Beginning with the construction of a pier and a promenade in the 19th century, Sheerness acquired the added attractions of a seaside resort.
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 Naval Fleet as part of what would be known as the raid on the Medway.
In the early 1820s a fire destroyed the old Blue Houses. New houses and a major redevelopment of the dockyard followed. 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, taking its new name from the brightness or clearness of the water at the mouth of the River Medway.