St. Mary’s Island History Group started life, with the support of Chatham Maritime Trust, in February 2013. An inaugural meeting was well attended and a temporary committee formed to get the new organisation on a firm footing. Since then, there has been an Annual General Meeting, a constitution approved, elected officers and committee, a pattern of meetings established and a lot of willing research undertaken.
Chatham Maritime Trust has helped us with cash to start us off and St Mary's Island Residents' Association
(SMIRA) very kindly looked after what little money we had until we had our own bank account. We have joined the British Association for Local History to be part of the family of local history groups which gives us access to many benefits, much advice, insurance and news about historical events.
We have had a varied selection of talks including “The Medway Hulks” by Dana Adler, “The Chatham Scandal : Prostitution in Victorian Medway” by Brian Joyce, “Songs about the Medway Towns” performed by Sally Ironmonger and Brian Carter, “Medway Tales of a Dividing River” by Wilf Lower….a History Group Christmas Social in December, well-known author, broadcaster and historian Bob Ogley talked about “Kent in the 19th Century”. Add to that First World War subjects, Mudlarking and paranormal Kent!
Recent news is that our first two research projects have uncovered valuable detail and stories about our island. One project is finding out information about our island history leading up to the Dockyard Extension (our basins) being completed. The co-operation of the Historic Dockyard Library and the detective work of our members has yielded a wealth of archive material. Our meetings have already included some of their findings and a display.
We have also gathered information on the first steps of our island school and church with their findings shown from our Research page.
St. Mary’s Island History Group has taken part in the “Community Fair” and now the Christmas Fayre. Displaying and raising awareness about the history of our island will hopefully enhance our island community and inform the wider public of our importance in the history of the Medway towns, Chatham Dockyard, the Royal Engineers and the Royal Navy.
Please join us if you would like to find out more about local history. We have a hard-working committee, a group of enthusiastic researchers and a wealth of history on our doorstep. You may just want to come to our meetings and follow our events. Annual membership is £10 and this allows you entry to all our meetings or you may like to check us out first at £2 for entry.
St Mary's Island History Group actively seeks information on source or copyright of illustrations shown and aims to give credit for them. Where this is not shown perhaps you can help us to find this out and we will happily link with that organisation or group etc to help promote them too.
Welcome to our web site which is still growing and where you can see information about our island, the latest Newsletter, our future meetings and how you can get involved.
If you would like to be on our mailing list, please contact the Chairman (Barry Woolford) on 01634 891114 or email b.woolford@
We look forward to your joining us soon!
Welcome to our History Group
An Ordnance Survey map of 1783 showing
St Mary's Creek and Finsborough Marsh where the Islanders
Here are some links to important organisations on or near St Mary's Island.