The Medway Towns 1790 – 1850
The Emergence of Britain’s First Conurbation
We take it for granted now that the Medway Towns together form a single conurbation, the boundaries of the three principal towns having long since become so blurred as to be almost indistinguishable. But it was not always so. For centuries Rochester – former Roman settlement and centre of England’s second oldest diocese – stood separate and aloof from the small fishing hamlets of Chatham and Gillingham, but meeting the needs of the great naval and military bases which became established here led the two hamlets to expand in size and importance, physically to merge with one another and with their more historic neighbour, and in some ways to overshadow it. This process was already under way by the end of the 18th century, well before the emergence of many of the better known conurbations elsewhere in England. This booklet is invaluable in helping the student of British urban expansion to understand the cause and effect of this development.