Gillingham Tourist Guide


Gillingham means a homestead of Gylla's family, from Old English ‘ham’ (village, homestead) and ‘ingas’ (family, followers). It was first mentioned in the 10th century as Gyllingeham.

In 1066 Gillingham was a small hamlet. It was given by William the Conqueror to his half-brother Odo of Bayeux. The land was mainly farmland and Odo rebuilt the parish church of St Mary Magdalene and constructed an archbishop's palace here.
In medieval times the part of Gillingham called the Grange was a limb of the Cinque Ports, and the maritime importance of the area continued until the late 1940s. A major part of Chatham Dockyard lay within Gillingham. The dockyard was founded by Queen Elizabeth I on the site of the present gun wharf, the enterprise being moved to the present location about 1622.

In 1667 a Dutch fleet sailed up the River Medway and, having landed at Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey and laid siege to the fort at Sheerness, invaded Gillingham in what became known as the Raid on the Medway. The Dutch in due course retreated but the episode caused great embarrassment to the Royal Navy.

The Seven Years' War began in 1756 and the government immediately gave orders for the defence of the dockyard. By 1758 the Chatham Lines of Defence had been built. Measuring over a mile long, the Lines stretched across the neck of the dockyard peninsula from Chatham Reach, south of the dockyard, across to Gillingham Reach on the opposite side.

The Roman road now known as Watling Street passed through Gillingham and until the opening of the Medway Towns bypass (the M2 motorway) in the mid-1960s the same route was followed by the traffic on the A2 to Dover. That road had been turnpiked in 1730, as part of the London–Canterbury coaching route. In June 1996 the Medway Tunnel opened, linking Gillingham with the M2 and Strood. Gillingham (Kent) railway station on the Chatham Main Line, serves Gillingham between Chatham and Rainham. Train services are provided by Southeastern.

Brompton Barracks have long been the home of the Royal Engineers. Today the regiment also has a museum there. Kitchener Barracks was one of the main Ghurka Rifles barracks and was home to the 69th Ghurka Regiment.

The marshland between the town and the River Medway's estuary is a vital habitat protected as the Riverside Country Park. Riverside Country Park in Lower Rainham Road, covers 100 hectares including Motney Hill and Berengrave Local Nature Reserve. There are a range of habitats within the park, including mudflats and salt marsh, ponds and reed-beds, grassland and scrub, which provide a sanctuary for wildlife. The estuary has special protection as part of the Medway Marshes SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and is internationally important for wintering birds that thrive on the invertebrate-rich mudflats. The salt marshes have a particular ecology and act as high tide roost sites. Riverside has several ponds at Sharps Green and Berengrave. These are cleared of vegetation to preserve open water.

The reed beds at Motney Hill are one of only 92 such sites which are larger than two hectares in the UK. The managing of this involves cutting a small area each year, which encourages thick growth and halts the natural development of the reeds.

Grassland at Eastcourt Meadows and Rainham Dock East is mown in early autumn to promote wildflowers and insects. Although the scrub is controlled, it makes up an important part of this habitat, providing cover for small animals, nesting sites for birds and entire ecosystems for insects.

Gillingham Marina has built up a excellent reputation for its outstanding facilities and high standard security arrangements. Positioned on the south bank of the River Medway, only eight miles from Sheerness, the Marina lies below the Chatham Historic Dockyard in Gillingham Reach. Five miles downstream of Rochester Bridge, It is an perfect base for both local cruising on the Medway and Thames or more extensive voyages to the East Coast and to France. Having awarded the Marina Five Gold Anchors, The Yacht Harbour Association believes it to rank among the best in the country. Check details at

The Royal Engineers Museum in Prince Arthur Road houses items highlighting the vast range of achievements of the Royal Engineers over the centuries, from the formation of the Ordnance Survey to the early development of flying, from the designing of the Albert Hall to the hazardous on-going duty of bomb disposal. There is something for all the family, such as the delicate Chinese embroideries, a World War trench and dugout, a working model of a military railway and port, a Harrier jump-jet and a Chatham house interior in the Blitz. The splendid medal displays include 26 Victoria Crosses and the regalia of Field Marshall Lord Kitchener. Tel: +44 (0) 1634 822 839.

Capstone Farm Country Park in Capstone Road is set in 114 hectares of former farmland on the North Downs. The park brings in more than 200,000 visitors a year and there are a range of habitats to explore, from ancient woodlands and orchards to wildflower meadows. Facilities include a visitor centre and a fishing lake. Telephone: +44 01634 812196 for details.

Try a round of golf at Gillingham Golf Club in Woodlands Road.

Alternatively you can spend all day shopping at the Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre.

MPH Maidstone Private Hire, 86 Long Catlis Rd. 01622 690090
Pauls 8 Seater Taxi, 72 Twydall La. 01634 268567
M L Taxis Executive, 78 Twydall La. 01634 318183
Club Taxis, 85 Livingstone Road. 01634 305080
Star Taxis, 162-164 Canterbury St. 01634 575656
Windmill Radio Taxis, 40 Canterbury St. 01634 851122
CNC Taxis, 12 Arden St. 01634 576666

Hill S G, 367 Maidstone Rd. 01634 232204
Khan Z A, 198 Fairview Av. 01634 231062
Murphy Dr Bridget K, 3 Maidstone Rd. 01634 231413
Hilton Dental Practice, Twydall La. 01634 231776
Watling Street Dental Care, 56 Watling St. 01634 576688
Nelson Road Dental Practice, 193 Nelson Rd. 01634 851317

Wigmore Health Centre, 114 Woodside. 01634 231752
Selvan Dr S, 119 Long Catlis Rd. 01634 360989
Patel Dr N R, Hempstead Medical Centre/144 Hempstead Rd, Hempstead, Gillingham. 01634 235531
Dholakia Dr R P, 52 Eastcourt La. 01634 232144

Abbey, 179 High St. 0845-765 4321
NatWest, 117 High St. 0845-600 2803
Halifax, 97-101 High St. 01634 490110
HSBC Bank plc, 87 High St. 0845-740 4404
Lloyds TSB Bank PLC, 106-108 High St. 0845-300 0000

general market
Mon & Sat 9am - 5pm High Street

Medway Maritime Hospital Address: Windmill Road, Gillingham, Kent
Phone: 01634 825698

To check any information given above contact Rochester Tourist Information Centre, 95 High Street, Rochester.
Phone: +44 (0)1634 843666

Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015