St Mary's Island History Group

Newbadge 2013-08-14 13.13.53 BASINS 1871 Masons at Work BASINS 1871 Sentry

St Mary's Island is a wealth of stories -- of people, heritage, new life and hope.


Welcome to our web site  that is growing as our Group grows.


We have already had some very successful meetings and set up some contact groups.


We have identified research that we want to do on this Island as well as present its many layers of history.



Take time to read our latest Newsletter and we will then look forward to meeting you soon.



Our Twenty Years and more booklets

Dockyard2 shipbuilding BASINS 1871 Mending Blacksmith's Bellows Lord Nelson 05 Folly point BASINS1871 convicts drawing stone Kent, Chatham, Dockyard BASINS 1871 Convicts Excavating Large Basin chatham70 Newsletter

There is a further booklet in the St Mary’s Island History Group series where we have drawn together history on the Dutch Raid on the River Medway of 1667. This is a compilation of information with some illustrations describing some of the history leading up to the raid and vario

We also have our booklet on the Medway Hulks -- the de-masted hulks of warships fitted out to take hundreds of convicts and prisoners of war. They floated in the River Medway and off Sheerness with each having a crew of guardians and the convicts coming ashore to work.

We already have sold over a hundred copies of the booklet produced alongside the 20 Years of St Mary’s Island Exhibition.

To get your booklet copies, priced £1, telephone Brian Portway on 01634 891708 or send us a contact message through our web site.  Or see us at the meeting. We meet at St Mary's Island Community Centre, Island Way West,  Chatham  ME4 3EP on the sewcond Monday each two months. See you there.



See how basins and docks were built 



St Mary's Island History Group has discovered a collection of original photographs dating from the 1870's showing the building of the basins and docks that are now part of our home.


Each photograph has a hand written caption and the scale of the 35 year project is  huge when you consider most of the excavation was by man, shovel and wheelbarriow. As the years move on there are some steam locomotives and steam cranes on view. But in the main when convicts especially were building a river wall and draining and levelling the marsh and when the task was digging down the 12 metres to create the basins and docks it was mainly managed by manpower.


The photographs show the docks also being created in brick and granite. There were 21 acres of brickfields that produced 112 million bricks for the project. In all it was the biggest civil engineering project in the South East until the Channel Tunnel came along.


Come and see at St Mary's Island Community Centre, Islland Way West, St Mary's Island on Saturday, 5 August, from 1.00 to 5.00pm



Our next meeting is on Monday, 11 September, when we will be teling the full story of finding and recording the photographs of Chatham Dockyard's extension to create the basins and docks.

Join us on the Island for 7.30pm. Visitors welcome at £2 which also includes refreshments

Full story

20Cover Dock5A