The Town Hall was the most expensive of the projects announced by Chatham's Town Council in the 19th century. The building work started in 1898, and was completed in January 1900. The new building provided offices for various council departments, as well as a council chamber.
The building still stands in The Brook, at the bottom of Dock Road and Whiffens Avenue. With the coming of the new Medway Council it became redundant, and is now a theatre and art centre.
This photograph shows the Town Hall viewed from Whiffens Avenue (The fence on the left edge of the photo is that of the Town Hall Gardens).
I recently received an e-mail from Ann Barrett, who has provided some more information about the Town Hall:
I was Director of the Medway Arts Centre until 1996 (having been there since 1989) and can tell you of very strange events taking place in the building. I was often called out by the Police in the middle of the night for supposed break ins - but all I encountered were 'ghosts and the like...
The basement is vast and has walled up tunnels! Some, supposedly ran from the Naval Hospital beside the Great Lines and others to the Dockyard via Fort Amherst. There were lots of stories - but all I can say is that I saw the 'nurse in old fashioned uniform' several times. There was also mention of yet more chambers beneath that, however I would imagine that they were filled with water from the confluence of the Medway and Brook years before, as they frequently flooded. The Theatre, formerly the Ballroom, is extremely haunted: the building is known to be one of the most haunted places in Kent. We kept this very quiet so as not to alarm the users and visitors which included many children.
There used to be a number of buildings behind the town hall, including the National School. These have been replaced by car parks. The wooded area in the distance is the Great Lines.
To the north of the Town Hall, on Dock Road, is the Armed Forces Recruitment Office. I remember passing this on the bus when the dockyard was open, and it was the "Royal Navy and Royal Marines Recruitment Office". Although it looks like a shop from the front, viewing it from the back gives a better idea of its age. According to one of the old maps I have, it used to be a storehouse.
Behind the recruiting centre, on the site of one of the historical Admiralty buildings, is "The Eye", a new apartment block.
All photographs copyright 2004 Jason Ross