Sittingbourne is an industrial town situated in the Swale district of Kent in south east England, 17 miles (27 km) from Canterbury and 45 miles (72 km) from London. The town sits beside the Roman Watling Street, an ancient British trackway used by the Romans and the Anglo-Saxons and next to the Swale, a strip of sea separating mainland Kent from the Isle of Sheppey. The town became prominent after the death of Thomas Becket in 1170, since it provided a convenient resting point on the road from London to Canterbury and Dover.
Sittingbourne is growing due to a number of large residential developments, and its railway line links to London Victoria and HS1 to St Pancras International, the journey taking about an hour from Sittingbourne railway station.
Sittingbourne High Street
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Sittingbourne owes its name to a modernised version of an observation on its location. The town's name came from the fact that there is a small stream or "bourne" running underground in part of the town. Hasted writing in the 1790s in his History of Kent states that:
The Kent Hundred Rolls of 1274-5, preserved in the National Archives, record Sittingbourne as Sydingeburn in the following entries " Item dicunt quod Johannes Maresescall de Synele tenet unam parvam purpresturam in villa de Sydingeburn et solvit domino regi per annum 1d et dominus rex nichil perdit et quod Petrus de London tenet unam parvam purpresturam in villa de Sydingeburn et solvit inde per annum domino regi 1d et rex nichil perdit." Translated as, "Then they say John Marshall de Synele holds one small encroachment in the vill of Sittingbourne and he pays the lord king 1d. each year and the lord king loses nothing and that Peter of London holds one small encroachment in the vill of Sittingbourne and he pays 1d. each year to the lord king and the king loses nothing."
There is evidence of settlement in the area before 2000 BC, with farming and trading tribes living inland to avoid attack, yet close enough to access the sea at Milton Creek. In AD 43 the Romans invaded Kent, and to make access quicker between London and Dover, built Watling Street, which passed straight through Sittingbourne. As a point where sea access met road access, the port of Milton Regis became the Roman administrative centre for the area, with some 20 villas so far discovered, but Sittingbourne remained a minor hamlet throughout Roman times. Most Roman finds in this area were due to the efforts of 19th century brick makers who used topsoil to make bricks, and uncovered the finds; and preserved thanks to banker George Payne, who preserved or bought materials and published his works in 1893 in Collectanea Cantiana.
There was no entry for Sittingbourne in the Domesday book of 1086, merely a note attached to Milton Regis showing a population of 393 households. However, after the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket in 1170, pilgrims began to travel to Canterbury Cathedral and Sittingbourne became a useful hostelry for travellers. Sittingbourne is mentioned as a stopping point in The Canterbury Tales, with the Summoner in the Wife of Bath's Prologue says:
The parish church of St Michael was built in the 13th century. At that time the High Street had 13 pubs and hostels. The Lyon – now the Red Lion – hosted King Henry V of England on his way back from the Battle of Agincourt, and Henry VIII visited Sittingbourne in 1522 and 1532. In 1708 the Rose Inn was built, originally called Rose Place and used as a private house. According to Edward Hasted "the principal inn now in it (Sittingbourne), called the Rose, is perhaps the most superb of any throughout the kingdom." In 1825 the future Queen Victoria and her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld stayed overnight at the Rose Inn.
After the railway came in 1858, Sittingbourne became less a market trading and hostelry stop-off, and more a 19th-century centre of production to fuel the expansion of London, by producing bricks and paper from its clay substrata.
The area around Sittingbourne was subject to constant air raids by Zeppelins and aeroplanes during the First World War. The Germans used the town as a reference point for bearings on the way to London.
The first visit by a German aeroplane happened on Christmas Day 1914. Guns at Sheerness fired at the lone invader but still one shell dropped into a field at Iwade. The next event was to occur on 16 January 1915 when another solitary pilot from a German aerodrome in Belgium bombed Sittingbourne. This aircraft, a Taube, was pursued by two local airmen, but managed to escape after dropping a couple of bombs.
About 100 air raid warnings were sounded in Sittingbourne during the First World War and anti-aircraft batteries were strengthened in 1917. The last big raid to pass over the town on Whit Sunday (19 May 1918), carried out by a number of Gothas, eliciting perhaps the most ferocious barrage from the ground defences the town had ever seen.
The local newspaper, the East Kent Gazette, reported:
The second Gotha was surrounded by British fighters shortly after, returning from a successful raid on London.
Donald John Dean VC OBE of Sittingbourne was awarded the Victoria Cross for deeds carried out in France in 1918. His ashes are interred in the family plot at St John the Baptist Church, Tunstall, Kent.
Sittingbourne and its consumed suburb of Milton today is a growing town, with much recent expansion by way of house-building in the former chalk and brick clay works digs. Expansion is attributable to the town's train line links to London, some 60 minutes away by high speed rail and easy access to the A2, A249, M2 and M20 (see Transport).
Paper manufacture at Kemsley Paper Mill was the area's largest employer. Much of the surrounding Kentish countryside is good farming land, and being southerly in the UK many varieties of fruit are grown nearby, with this part of Kent being particularly famous for apples and cherries. Fruit preserving and packing are hence large employers, while new industrial and retail parks provide additional employment and services.
The local clay was suitable for making bricks, and North Kent is geologically rich in chalk, which is not found in many other places in Europe in such abundance. This led to the development associated industries: water transport, paper, and cement; all of which continue today in the area.
In 1870, up to 2,628 men were working in the brick and tile industry, this is compared to Staffordshire (the next largest brick manufacturing area) that had only 1,566 men working in the industry. Brickmaking continued in the town well into the mid twentieth century. The bricks for the 3.45-mile (5,550 m) London Bridge – Greenwich Railway Viaduct were all made at Sittingbourne and transported to the site by barge.
Barges were needed to move many other raw materials and finished goods into the Thames and to London and beyond. Sittingbourne was ideally suited for this purpose and a successful barge-building industry developed at Milton Creek.
Sittingbourne developed into a port during the industrial revolution, from which Kentish produce was transported to the London markets. During this era over 500 types of barges are believed to have been built, centred around Conyer, a Roman hamlet of the village of Teynham, found at the head of a small creek between Sittingbourne and Faversham.
After World War II, these activities began to fall into a decline, so that only the Burley yard continued with the repair of barges until about 1965. Charles Burley (was a brick maker and barge owner). He occupied the yard in Crown Quay Lane. Now occupied by a builders' merchant. This lack of barge repairs led the creek to become silted and derelict. In 1968, the site was owned by Bourncrete Limited, manufacturers of concrete products.
The yard was then leased to the newly established Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum Trust. The inlet alongside the Museum usually contains at least one vessel brought to the yard for restoration, including the famous sailing barge Cambria.
The town's links with water transport survive today, through a bronze statue of a bargeman in the town centre. The Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum was destroyed by arson in 2008. The museum is now awaiting relocation to a new site Plans to move to Whitstable Harbour were refused in 2013.
Paper mills and brickfields were fed by barges that brought in sand, mud and household waste such as cinders for brick making, and took away the finished product on the return journey.
Paper manufacture started in Sittingbourne in 1708, when Peter Archer was recorded as a Paper Maker. Sittingbourne Mill existed from circa 1769, which by 1820 had grown and was owned by Edward Smith. The Daily Chronicle owner Edward Lloyd bought the site in 1863. Using pulped straw from the local farmers and esparto (imported from Algeria and Southern Spain) as a replacement for expensive cotton rag which was becoming more expensive; the output supplied newsprint his mills in Bow.
To speed production, in 1904 Lloyd built a wharf on the tidal inlet at Milton Creek, and a horse-drawn tramway to carry materials to the mill. On what is now known as the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, in 1906 the first of three steam locomotives, Premier, came into service, all 0-4-2 Brazil type tank engines sourced from Kerr Stuart. In 1913 the railway was extended to the new dock built at Ridham. In 1912, Sittingbourne Paper Mill was the largest producer of newsprint in the world, with its 1,200 employees using 17 machines to make over 2000 tonnes per week, supplying the demands of Fleet Street.
In 1924, Lloyd's son built a new factory at Kemsley, together with a model village for employees. He died in 1936, when the Lloyd group was taken over by Sir William Berry, who in 1936 formed the Bowater-Lloyd Group. After both plants were acquired by Metsa Serla in 1998, the decision was made to close the Sittingbourne Mill in October 2006, with the last reel produced on 23 January 2007.
Sittingbourne and the surrounding area have a number of primary schools. The main secondary schools in the town are Fulston Manor School, Sittingbourne Community College, The Westlands School and two single sex Grammar Schools, Borden Grammar School (Boys) and Highsted Grammar School (Girls). Pupils wishing to apply for a year 7 place at grammar school have to take the Kent Test (11+) to assess if grammar school is a suitable option for them.
Sittingbourne Adult Education Centre provides some post-16 and adult training in the town and there is an Adult Skills centre located in the town centre. In May 2015 a post-16 technical college opened in the town.
Transport has always played a large part of Sittingbourne's history, geographically located midway between the major port of Dover and the important capital of London was the reason for an enlarged settlement at Sittingbourne.
Roads came early to Sittingbourne, with the Roman construction of Watling Street. The equally straight A2 main road and M2 motorway now follow a similar route, and provide access to the town. The A249 passes the town on the west, heading between Maidstone and Sheerness.
In 2011 Sittingbourne Northern Relief road, linking Kemsley with the Eurolink Business Estate and East Hall Farm residential development (on the north-east of the town), was opened. Bus services are provided mainly by Arriva Southern Counties.
From 1858, after the agreement to connect Strood to Canterbury via the East Kent Railway of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, Sittingbourne has had a railway station. Today the three platform station is served by both the Chatham Main Line and the Sheerness Line, and is located 44 miles 1260 yards from London Victoria according to the mileage sign on the footbridge. Train services are provided by Southeastern.
Since 2010, Southeastern have opened up a service from Faversham involving the HS1 line, this service runs from Faversham to London St Pancras. It also links with the Eurostar service (to France) from Ebbsfleet International.
The preserved former paper mill railway the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway still exists today. In 1965 it was decided that the railway was uneconomic, with the significant progress made in the use of the car, and so lorries were more commonly used for transporting produce. Consequently, by 1969 the Bowater Light Railway, much loved as it was by the firm (and with assistance of Capt Peter Manisty) was handed over to the Locomotive Club of Great Britain to be preserved and operated as the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway. It has since become a significant feature in the town's tourist industry, and provides the only method of transport to the annual Sittingbourne Beer Festival. However, it has been under threat of closure since 2008 when M-real sold the site to a property developer.
Alternative Bus Transport In March 2017 Sittingbourne became the pilot for Arriva Transports on demand transport system called ArrivaClick. The success of the Sittingbourne trial will see the trial extend to several more town and cities.
The local radio station for Sittingbourne is 106.9 SFM. They provide a full local community radio service and have been broadcasting since Thursday 26 July 2012. The local newspaper is called KM Sittingbourne Messenger and the mid-week edition KM Sittingbourne News Extra, published by the KM Group. In December 2011, the East Kent Gazette, the town's other local newspaper, closed down with the loss of 39 jobs, having been the town's local news outlet since 1856.
The town has one senior football team, Sittingbourne F.C. (nicknamed "The Brickies"). Sittingbourne F.C. currently play their games at Woodstock Park, part of the Kent Science Park complex. The club play in the Isthmian League Division One South.
Motorcycle speedway racing has been staged near Sittingbourne for a number of years. The track was originally used for training alone but since 1994 the Sittingbourne Crusaders took part in the Conference League and other competitions. The track remains today as a popular speedway training facility open to riders all over the country.
Sittingbourne is also home to Bayford Meadow's Kart Circuit. The 1100m MSA licensed circuit and the 300m leisure circuit are set within a 12 acre landscaped site. 
Borden Grammar School is a selective boys grammar school with academy status situated in the centre of Sittingbourne, Kent, England, which educates students aged 11–18. Whilst the school mainly admits boys, a small number girls have been educated at the school within the Sixth Form. The School holds specialist status in Sports.Borough of Swale
Swale is a local government district with borough status in Kent, England and is bounded by Medway to the west, Canterbury to the east, Ashford to the south and Maidstone to the south west. Its council is based in Sittingbourne. The district is named after the narrow channel called The Swale, that separates the mainland of Kent from the Isle of Sheppey, and which occupies the central part of the district.
The Roman Watling Street passed through the area, as witness the straightness of the A2 main road, now by-passed by the M2 motorway. Apart from the northern coast of the Isle of Sheppey, and the town of Sittingbourne, it is a mainly rural borough, containing a high proportion of the UK's apple, pear, cherry and plum orchards (the North Kent Fruit Belt), as well as many of its remaining hop gardens. Most of the southern half of the Borough lies within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whilst Sittingbourne and the Isle of Sheppey forms the concluding part of the Thames Gateway growth area.The district was formed in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, from the Borough of Faversham; the Borough of Queenborough-in-Sheppey, which covered the whole of Sheppey; the Sittingbourne and Milton Urban District; and Swale Rural District.
Swale railway station is at the southern end of the Kingsferry Bridge.
There are four towns in the borough: Sittingbourne and Faversham on the mainland, and Sheerness and Queenborough on Sheppey.Central Park Stadium
Central Park Stadium formerly Sittingbourne Stadium is a greyhound racing track, and speedway track and former football stadium located in Murston, Sittingbourne, Kent, England. Greyhound racing takes place every Friday evening in addition to their four SIS morning meetings.Gordon Henderson (politician)
Gordon Henderson (born 27 January 1948) is a British Conservative Party politician. He is the member of parliament (MP) for the Sittingbourne and Sheppey constituency in Kent, having won the seat at the 2010 general election.Highsted Grammar School
Highsted Grammar School is a state-funded selective secondary school (grammar school) for girls in Sittingbourne, Kent.John of Sittingbourne
John of Sittingbourne (died before 1238) was Archbishop of Canterbury-elect in 1232.
John was a monk of Christ Church Priory, Canterbury, and was selected as prior of Christ Church in 1222. John was elected to the archbishopric on 16 March 1232, but his election was quashed on 12 June 1232 when he resigned the office at the papal court.John died sometime before 1238.Kent Derby
The Kent Derby is a greyhound racing competition held annually at Central Park Stadium. It was inaugurated in 2000. The event is currently a category two race.List of churches in Kent
This is a list of churches in Kent, a county in South East Region of England. There is a mixture of Christian denominations.List of schools in Kent
This is a list of schools in Kent, England.Murston
Murston is a suburb of Sittingbourne in Kent, England. It is about 1 mile north-east of central Sittingbourne, on the east bank of the Milton Creek.Shepherd Neame Kent 2
Shepherd Neame Kent 2 is an English level 10 Rugby Union League and is made up of teams predominantly from south-east London and Kent. The teams play home and away matches from September through to April. Currently promoted teams move up to Shepherd Neame Kent 1 and there is no relegation although until the 2007-08 season teams could drop down to Kent 3 (now folded). Now a single division, in the past Kent 2 was divided into regional divisions - Kent 2 East and Kent 2 West.
Each year some of the clubs in this division also take part in the RFU Junior Vase - a level 9-12 national competition.Sittingbourne Community College
The Sittingbourne School (formerly Sittingbourne Community College) is a secondary school and sixth form with academy status located in Sittingbourne, Kent, with around 1100 students. This school specializes in performing and creative arts, sports and engineering.The school is part of the Swale Academies Trust which also includes Westlands Nursery, Westlands Primary School, Regis Manor Primary School, South Borough Primary School, Beaver Green Primary School, Westlands School and Meopham School.Sittingbourne F.C.
Sittingbourne Football Club are an English football club based in Sittingbourne in Kent. They were established in 1886 and were founder members of the Kent League. They have reached the 2nd round of the FA Cup twice in their history. They are currently playing in the Isthmian League South East Division.Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway
The Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway in Kent is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway that operates from Sittingbourne to the banks of The Swale.
The line was developed as an industrial railway by paper maker Frank Lloyd in 1904, to transport pulp materials and finished products between Ridham Dock, on the Swale, and the company's paper mill at Sittingbourne, and from the mid-1920s to a second mill at Kemsley.
In the late 1960s, the railway faced closure by its then owners Bowater, but the Locomotive Club of Great Britain accepted an offer to operate the railway from 1970. However, the section of line from Kemsley Down to Ridham Dock was abandoned for redevelopment of the paper mills.
In 2008-09, the line survived a threat of closure due to the owners of Sittingbourne Paper Mill closing the mill and selling the land. The lease then held by the railway expired in January 2009, but negotiations resulted in the railway being saved, although no public trains ran in 2009.
In September 2010, press reports announced the possibility that the railway would operate an anniversary service - over a short section between Kemsley Down Station and the Milton Regis Halt - to celebrate 40 years of operation. The service carried more than 700 passengers over several days during October.In 2011, the railway reopened in late May and operated until the end of September. During this time, Milton Regis Viaduct's deferred maintenance, from winter 2008, was carried out and Essential Land's contractors completed the removal of pipelines around Sittingbourne Viaduct station. The very last train of the season ran over Milton Regis Viaduct to the gate at Sittingbourne Viaduct station - the first public train to cross the Viaduct since 26 December 2008.
2012 saw the railway return to Sittingbourne Viaduct when it reopened on Sunday 27 May. (See "Reopening" section below.)Sittingbourne and Sheppey (UK Parliament constituency)
Sittingbourne and Sheppey is a constituency represented in the House of Commons since 2010 by Gordon Henderson, a Conservative.Sittingbourne railway station
Sittingbourne railway station is on the Chatham Main Line and the Sheerness Line in north Kent. It is 44 miles 59 chains (72.0 km) down the line from London Victoria. Train services are provided by Southeastern. Ticket barriers are sometimes in operation, depending on the time of day.
Two new lifts linked by a new footbridge have created a step-free route between the station entrance and platforms to provide better access to train services. The improvements have been funded through the government’s Access for All programme and cost around £1,800,000.The work has also included a series of enhancements to station facilities funded through the National Stations Improvement Programme and include relocating and increasing the number of cycle parking spaces outside the station; renovating all passenger toilets; creating new waiting shelters on the platforms and a new waiting room on platform; repositioning the ticket gates to create more space for passengers in the ticket office; and installing a new customer information screen and non-slip flooring in the ticket office.
The Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway's station, at Sittingbourne Viaduct, is a short walk away.WJ
WJ may refer to:
Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ), a generation of Jeep Grand Cherokee
Air Labrador, based in Canada (IATA code WJ)
West Jersey Railroad, a predecessor of the West Jersey and Seashore Railroad
Wiking-Jugend, a German Neo-Nazi organization
Woodcock–Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities, a set of intelligence tests
Word joiner, a Unicode character
Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling, also known as World JapanWestlands School, Sittingbourne
Westlands School is a coeducational secondary school and sixth form with academy status, located in Sittingbourne in the English county of Kent.Previously a foundation school administered by Kent County Council, Westlands School converted to academy status on 1 September 2010. Westlands School has specialist status in Mathematics, Computing & Science. The school is now part of the Swale Academies Trust which also includes Westlands Primary School, Regis Manor Primary School, Meopham School and Sittingbourne Community College.Westlands School offers GCSEs and BTECs as programmes of study for pupils, while students in the sixth form have the option to study from a range of A-levels, City and Guilds courses and further BTECs.
It is the largest school in Sittingbourne, with a total of 1,742 students. The school I’d adapting new communities which include a separate year 11 group.
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See: Rivers of Kent