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Strood
High Street, Strood (3) - geograph.org.uk - 714438.jpg
High Street, Strood
Strood shown within Kent
Population 33,182 
OS grid reference TQ725695
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ROCHESTER
Postcode district ME2
Dialling code 01634
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
  • Rochester and Strood
List of places
UK
England
Kent

Strood is a town in the unitary authority of Medway in South East England. It was, until 1998, part of Kent and is still ceremonially associated via the Lieutenancies Act. It lies on the northwest bank of the River Medway at its lowest bridging point, and is part of the Rochester post town.

Strood was part of Frindsbury until 1193, but now Frindsbury is considered part of Strood. Strood's history has been dominated by the river, the bridges and the road and rail links they carried. It is now a mainly residential suburb of Rochester, and a commuter town for London.

Strood comprises several named areas, notably Earl Estate and Marlowe Park.

History

MerrallM2OverStrood9931
High Speed 1 and the M2 form the southwestern boundary of Strood.
StroodCTRL2
A Eurostar train passing Strood heading for the Medway Viaduct
Strood TempleMarsh RochWire
The River Medway and its marshes in Strood, showing Strood juxtaposed with Rochester
Medway Valley Leisure Park - geograph.org.uk - 1226876
The far end of Medway Valley Leisure Park.
StroodCrispin8591
The Crispin and Crispianus pub is typical of the shiplapped houses in Strood on the higher ground, On 27 March 2011 the pub was set alight.

Pre-conquest

Strood was part of Frindsbury until 1193. It was named "Strodes" in the Textus Roffensis, though most early records use the spelling Stroud. The Old English name Strōd refers to a "marshy land overgrown with brushwood".

The Romans built a stone bridge and laid a road on a causeway across the marshy ground. The foundations were about 8 ft below the level of the 1856 road. The road went up Strood Hill, and was called Watling Street, as it still is today. This is the A2 road . There is further evidence of a causewayed road leading along the bank towards the Frindsbury Peninsula leading to a villa, was found in 1819. The present road and field pattern suggest that there was a substantial Roman agricultural settlement centred near Frindsbury.

In 764 AD Offa King of Mercia and Sigered King of Kent granted to Eardulph lands in Easlingham (Frindsbury). In 840, 994, and 998 AD Strood was pillaged by the Danes. In 960 AD a wooden bridge was built across the Medway.

Medieval

A small wooden church was erected at Strood in 1122, as a chapel of ease in the parish of Frindsbury. Land was granted in 1160 to the Knights Templar by King Henry II. The Manor House was used as a Lodging House.

In 1193, Strood became a parish. It was run by the monks of Newark Hospital, and had its own burial grounds. Corruption in the finances of the Newark Hospital set in and worsened until reforms were put in place formally in 1330 by the Bishop of Rochester Hamo de Hethe.

In 1264 Simon de Montfort laid siege to Rochester Castle from the Strood Side. In the action the wooden bridge was destroyed by fire. After Simon's death a heavy fine was levied on Strood because he had stayed there during the siege. The Strood Quay and Strood Wharf had been built by Bishop de Glanville with rents going to Newark Hospital. In 1293 the Rochester wharf was in such disrepair that ships had to use the Strood facilities, however as the bridge was out of use, ferries had to be used to cross the river. In 1309, a harsh winter, the bridge was damaged by ice. In 1312 the Knight's Templar were suppressed and the Manor of Strood passed into private hands briefly before being passed on to the Abbess and Sisters Minorites of St. Clare of Denney in Cambridgeshire. In 1387 a stone bridge was built by John de Cobham and Robert Knolles. In 1460 Edward IV appointed a mayor of Rochester with jurisdiction over Strood river frontage and the houses there.

Early Modern

Strood was owned by the Rochester monastery from the 18th year of Edward III's reign until the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII, after which time as part of the Hundred of Sharnel(Shamwell) which included Cobham, it was passed to George Brooke, Lord Cobham. His grandson Henry Brooke lost his estates to James I in 1603 through a false charge of treason, although he escaped with his life.

1554 Thomas Wyatt of Allington, heard that the queen intended to marry a Catholic and gathered an army with intention of marching to London. He took Rochester Castle and The Bridge. According to Marsh there was to have been a battle at Strood, but the Queens men deserted. However Coulson records that Wyatt defeated the Duke of Norfolk and seized six cannon. Wyatt then marched on Cooling Castle. The rebellion fizzled out and Wyatt was executed along with captain of the deserters.

The parish accounts begin in 1555. Following the accession and marriage of Queen Mary (known as "Bloody" Mary) the country reconverted to Roman Catholicism and a considerable sum was spent re-converting the church. However just nine years later in 1565 a further five-year period of refurbishment was required to convert the church back to Protestant usage following the accession of Queen Elizabeth I. The parish registers start from this date. Possibly mindful of the changes, the churchwardens waited until 1574 before going to St. Dunstan's Fair in Rochester to sell "a cross and other relics of Roman superstition, formerly used in Strood Church".

To the Honour of God.
and for the Benefit of the Poor.
of this Parish, This House was.
Built with Mr. Watt's Charity.
A.D. 1671 in which the Sick and.
Aged are taken care of; ye Ignorant.
instructed, Such as are Able to.
Work Imployed, & a Comfortable.
Maintenance Provided for All..

Go and do Thou Likewise.

Inscription above Strood workhouse

In the 1672 the parishes of St. Margaret's, Rochester and St Nicholas, Strood jointly applied to the Court of Chancery for a ruling which was decided in their favour to extend the area over which Watts charities could operate. The parish of Strood utilised some of the money to provide a workhouse for the poor. Above the door was set a stone slab which is now displayed in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester. The text is reproduced alongside.

In 1769, under authority of the 1768 Paving Act, a tollgate was erected at The Angel Inn on North Street in Strood, to pay for improvements to the parish. Hasted, in his study of Kent (1778–99), said Strood's inhabitants were chiefly seafaring or fishermen, and engaged in dredging oysters.

Nineteenth century

Between 1804 and 1824 the Thames and Medway canal was dug. See below, under Transport for more details.

Twentieth century

The ancient City of Rochester merged with the borough of Chatham and part of the Strood Rural District in 1974 to form the Borough of Medway, later renamed the City of Rochester-upon-Medway. In 1998 another merger with the rest of the Medway Towns created the Medway unitary authority.

Geography

Strood lies on the edge of marshy land alongside the River Medway. The chalk hills of the North Downs have been breached at this point, forming a river cliff rising to 100 ft directly behind. Two gentle chalk valleys, or bournes, descend to the River Medway here, one takes the A2 towards London on its north slope. Another takes the road to Cliffe, and to Hoo. The land has been extensively quarried for chalk and the covering brickearth. These quarries have then been used for housing. The river frontage has been drained and infilled, firstly for industry, then for transport links, and finally for housing. To the north of Strood are the remains of the canal basin, and to the south the M2 motorway bridge and High Speed 1 bridge.

Strood Fair

An annual fair was instituted in 1206 during the seventh year of King John's reign to the priory of Rochester, to be held on 26 August, which continued well into the 18th Century, according to Hasted, the Kent historian. It was traditionally held over three days, and associated with Christian celebration of the Assumption (15 August). The Strood Fair was held regularly into the 1970s. The land used for the Strood Fair was sandwiched between Grange Road and Station Road, adjacent to Strood railway station. It was for many years part of a dairy farm, though by the 1970s the farm building had been turned into a motor repair business. The fair ground was passed on to the people who ran the Strood Fair. It was then used by them to stay through the winter months. Gradually the number or fairs held on the land dwindled.

The land is still occupied as winter quarters by the Showman's Guild with its running costs supported by an annual fair on the site. In June 2007, the motor repair building was demolished to be replaced by flats. Today's market is held on a Tuesday and Saturday, and a boot fair is held on a Sunday.

Newark Hospital

Gilbert de Glanvill, Bishop of Rochester, in 1190, early during the reign of Richard I founded a hospital in Strood, east of the church, which was afterwards called the Newark or Stroud Hospital, the Yoke or North Yoke being a small manor in Strood. Newark Hospital was important in raising the profile of Strood, however there was constant concern about it financial management, and the rivalry between it and the Rochester Priory.

The location of the former Newark Hospital is now mainly a car park behind Strood High Street. The 19th century railway embankment carrying the Chatham Main Line cuts across the back of the old hospital site. Strood Market is held on part of this land, but is relocating to make way for a food store. An archaeological dig of the site was done in the 1970s.

Transport

1863 Strood
1863 Map of Strood and Frindsbury: note the undrained land between the railway and Frindsbury Hill, the creeks behind the Civic Centre and the lack of houses.
1909 Strood
1909 Map of Strood and Frindsbury: note the growth in houses. There is no separation between Strood and Frindsbury, an extra church in Frindsbury parish to accommodate the new houses, and note also how Jane's Creek has been developed; later this will be back filled to provide land for retail.
Strood Station 5842
A British Rail Class 466 unit and a British Rail Class 395 unit at Strood railway station

River

Transport in Strood was dominated by the river. From the earliest times river transport used Strood, but before the coming of the Romans the area was marshy and not well populated. Once Strood started to be filled in various boatyards and ship repair businesses started up both on the river and in the creeks which drain the marshes.

Road

Although Strood must have lain on ancient tracks, the coming of the Romans started to fix the road pattern. The lowest bridging point of the River Medway is between Strood and Rochester, and the first bridge was built soon after the Battle of the Medway. This road from Dover via Longdon towards north Wales became known as Watling Street and forms two of the major highways of the Kingdom. The section from Dover to London became the A2 trunk road.

The 20th century has seen a major expansion in road transport and the consequent building of the M2 motorway. The route roughly parallels the old A2 and has necessitated the building of two high level bridges in Strood to the south of the town.

Beyond the M2 is the M20 motorway leading to the south of London and accessible by major roads from Strood.

Strood is on National Cycle Route 1.

Canal

The Thames and Medway Canal was dug between 1804 and 1824 to provide a safe route between the rivers Medway and Thames. Barges were able to avoid the long passage into the Thames estuary and around the Isle of Grain. At the Strood end the canal was entered through a lock into Frindsbury basin and then entered a tunnel. It opened 4 October 1824.

The canal was 8 ft deep (2.4 m) with 27-foot (8.2 m) headroom and 26 ft 6 in (8.08 m) wide, to take 94-foot-long (29 m), 60-ton Thames Barges. It had a 5-foot (1.5 m) tow path its entire length. Spoil from the tunnel was used to infill the marshland between St Mary's Church Strood and the River Medway. Frindsbury Basin could handle vessels to 300 tons. A steam pump was installed there to keep the canal topped up.

Commercially the venture was a failure, because tolls were high to recoup the cost, entry to the basins could only occur at high tides (making it quicker to sail the 47 miles (76 km) round the Isle of Grain). With the end of the Napoleonic wars the military justification had also been removed.

In 1844 A single line railway was laid through the tunnel, part on the towpath and part on a timber structure over the canal. The canal was sold in 1845 to the South Eastern Railway (SER), who filled in the canal within the tunnel and laid a double track (see North Kent Line).

Rail

See also: Medway Towns railway map

The South Eastern Railway terminated at Strood, with passengers taking a steamer or coaches to reach Rochester or Chatham. The station, completed 10 February 1856, was opposite The Railway Tavern. More recently it was called the Old Terminus.

On 18 June 1856, the line was extended along the river bank to Maidstone, and Strood Station we see today, was opened (see Medway Valley Line). Also in 1856 the new road bridge over the Medway was opened, in its present position, back where the Roman bridge had been. In 1857 the mediaeval bridge was demolished the stone being used to build the Strood Esplanade in 1858. In 1860 the SER built the Strood pier.

The East Kent Railway had permission to run a line from Faversham to Chatham, and intended to connect with the South Eastern Railway at Strood. When negotiations failed, the East Kent, now called the London Chatham and Dover (LCDR), linked with the Mid Kent Co. at Bromley (see Chatham Main Line). The East Kent Railway built a bridge over the Medway (1853) and taking their line to the North of the Angel, over Gun Lane, and Watling Street then south to Cuxton where it followed the Bush Valley and hence to Sole Street. The London Chatham and Dover built a station on the A2, adjacent to Canal Road, this was called

  • Strood Station, when it was built, then
  • Rochester Bridge Station,1 April 1861
  • Rochester & Strood, 1 November 1861
  • Rochester Bridge (Strood), 1862
  • Rochester Bridge, 1905

The South Eastern Railway retaliated by building a parallel bridge (after 1866 and before 1909) and running a separate line into Chatham. To do this the Watermill was demolished and the Mill Pond filled in. Over the pond was built an Oil and Seed Mill with its own sidings.

There was a loop between the lines at Strood, opened 29 March 1859 which closed in 1860. In 1875 Mayor N. E. Toomer forced the two companies to reopen the loop, now nicknamed Toomers Loop. The service resumed 1 April 1877.

The SER and LCDR effectively merged on 1 January 1899 to form the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. Subsequent rationalisation saw the closure of the SER branch to Chatham, and the closure of the LCDR Strood station. The SER bridge over the Medway was retained for the Chatham Main Line, and the LCDR bridge was abandoned (its piers were later used for the second road bridge). The link between the two lines was used to run services from the Chatham line onto the North Kent Line.

For the current railway station see Strood railway station.

River and the Strood Basin

Strood JanesCreek Dark
The remains of Jane's Creek in 2006

All Strood below The Angel Inn, on North Street, near Strood Post Office, was built on marshland which was fed by small creeks, these were excavated to make usable jetties and wharf. Two such creeks are well known, Janes Creek which once extended back to the Cricketers Inn, and Temple Creek. Joining Janes Creek, at a right angle was Pelican Creek which has been in-filled and now forms a car park and the foundations of B&Q. Strood frequently flooded and the area around Temple Street (now a car park and a Tesco) was known as the 'Swamp'.

In such a low-lying area, flooding is a danger. The reconstruction, after a flood, provides a boost to economy and the opportunity to effect structural change. Floods of significance have been recorded in Strood in the years 1158, 1235, 1309, 1682, 1735, 1791, 1854, 1874, 1887, 1953, 1968 and 1979.

William Curel was Medway's oldest establish barge builder, with two yards on the Strood bank. The Curel's Upper Yard was next to the Railway Tavern. In 1900 Gill and Son took over the yard, and it became a sail loft.

Mills

There was a windmill on Strood Hill, two on Broom Hill and five in neighbouring Frindsbury.

  • The Strood Hill Mill was a smock mill that was demolished in 1860. It was unsuitably sited, and suffered from variable winds The site now forms part of the Cedars Hotel.
  • Killicks Mill on Broom Hill cap was blown off for the second time in 1880. It was replaced and worked again for a year in 1890 but was unprofitable and was probably demolished in the 1920s. It had six sides rather than the usual eight.
  • Fields Mill on Broom Hill burnt down in 1875. In Dickens' times the Miller was a Mr Clark, but the owner was Mr Field. Mr Field was an amateur musician, who kept a piano, a harp and a barrel organ in his sitting room. It is said that the organ was bought from Loose Church, and so fixed that the power from the mill turned the organ's handle. Dickens would visit the mill on his walks, and listen to the organ music.

The Frindsbury Mills.

  • The oldest was a tripod – or post mill.It was called the Quarry Mill and was 100 yards south east of the church. Destroyed in 1850.

The other four mills were all owned by Mr Kimmins.

  • On Prospect Hill there were two mills. The first was called Manwaring Mill, or Little Mill. It was a black tarred smock mill, and it drove four sets of stones. Little Mill was struck by lightning and demolished in 1886.
  • Also on Prospect Hill was Great Mill or Rose's Mill. It was the highest in Kent with 40 feet by nine feet sweeps. Together the two mills produced 400 sacks of flour a week. Great Mill was demolished in 1890.
  • Kimmin's Mill on Frindsbury Hill was a smock mill with no base. The land became a brick field. A man was killed by its sweeps.
  • House Mill, also known as Kimmins Mill or Frindsbury Mill, stood on Frindsbury hill and was a black smock mill. It was demolished in 1931.

There was a tidemill. When the tide was rising, water flowed into the mill pond driving a mill, when the tide was falling, water flowed back into the river, driving the mill.

Sport and leisure

Non-League football club Rochester United F.C., formerly Bly Spartans, plays at Bly Spartans Sports Ground in Strood. The club is in the Kent League, at level nine of the English football league system.

People

AnnePrattColumbineLarkspur
An illustration of flowers including Columbine and larkspur by Anne Pratt

Anne Pratt (1806–1893), the botanist, was born in Strood. She wrote several books in the 19th century covering a wide range of botanical subjects. She was so well respected for her knowledge of wild flowers that she was granted an allowance from the Civil List. A portrait of her was placed in the Rochester museum. Her most famous work is The flowering plants, grasses, sedges, and ferns of Great Britain and their allies the club mosses, pepperworts, and horsetails. London: Frederick Warne and Co.

Charles Roach Smith (1806–1890) notable amateur archaeologist, died in Strood. He was born at Shanklin, Isle of Wight, the youngest of 10 children. In 1826 he moved to London, and established his own business as a chemist in 1834. In 1876 he and his sister bought Temple Place in Cuxton Road, Strood, and some adjoining horticultural land.

In London he made the first collection of Roman coins from London excavations which was bought by the British Museum. He subsequently pioneered 'urban site observation' and his 'Illustrations of Roman London '(1859) remained the principal work on the subject until 1909. He pioneered the statistic study of Roman coin hoards.

He was elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (1836), London Numismatic Society (1837) and was founder member of the British Archaeological Association (1843).

After his death, four streets in Strood were named in his honour, Charles Street, Smith Street, Roach Street and Antiquarian Street. Three of these still exist in the vicinity of the Tesco supermarket with Antiquarian Street being demolished and the area now being under the Tesco car park.

Isaac Newell (Strood, 24 April 1853 – Rosario, Argentina, 16 October 1907) a teacher and a pioneer of football in Argentina. He was the founder of the Colegio Comercial Anglicano Argentino and the founder of Argentinean football club Newell's Old Boys, which is named in his honour. This club is considered the sixth most important team of Argentina.

Visits

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