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Title: Sittingbourne  
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Subject: List of schools in Kent, Kent, List of churches in Kent, PowaKaddy, London commuter belt
Collection: Post Towns in the Me Postcode Area, Swale, Towns in Kent
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Sittingbourne High Street
Sittingbourne is located in Kent
 Sittingbourne shown within Kent
Population 62,500 
OS grid reference
District Swale
Shire county Kent
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district ME9, ME10
Dialling code 01795
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Sittingbourne and Sheppey
List of places

Sittingbourne is an industrial town situated in the Swale district of Kent in south east England, 17 miles (27 km) from Canterbury and 45 miles (72 km) from London. The town sits beside the Roman Watling Street, an ancient British trackway used by the Romans and the Ango-Saxons and next to the Swale, a strip of sea separating mainland Kent from the Isle of Sheppey. The town became prominent after the death of Thomas Beckett in 1170, since it provided a convenient resting point on the road from London to Canterbury and Dover.

Sittingbourne is growing rapidly due to a number of large residential developments, and its train line links to London Victoria and HS1 to St Pancras International, the journey taking about an hour from Sittingbourne railway station.


  • History 1
    • Romans 1.1
    • Middle Age Hostelry 1.2
    • Railway and Industrial Revolution 1.3
    • The First World War 1.4
  • Present day 2
  • Economy 3
    • Brickmaking 3.1
    • Bargebuilding & water transport 3.2
    • Paper 3.3
  • Education 4
  • Transport 5
    • Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway 5.1
  • Media 6
  • Sport 7
  • Twin towns 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Sittingbourne owes its name to a modernised version of an observation on its location. The town's name came from the fact that there is a small stream or "bourne" running underground in part of the town. Hasted writing in the 1790s in his History of Kent states that:[1]

The Kent Hundred Rolls of 1274-5, preserved in the National Archives, record Sittingbourne as Sydingeburn in the following entries " Item dicunt quod Johannes Maresescall de Synele tenet unam parvam purpresturam in villa de Sydingeburn et solvit domino regi per annum 1d et dominus rex nichil perdit et quod Petrus de London tenet unam parvam purpresturam in villa de Sydingeburn et solvit inde per annum domino regi 1d et rex nichil perdit." Translated as, "Then they say John Marshall de Synele holds one small encroachment in the vill of Sittingbourne and he pays the lord king 1d. each year and the lord king loses nothing and that Peter of London holds one small encroachment in the vill of Sittingbourne and he pays 1d. each year to the lord king and the king loses nothing."[2]


A Copper Age grave group dating from 2500-2100 BC, found at Sittingbourne

There is evidence of settlement in the area before 2000 BC, with farming and trading Celtic tribes living inland to avoid attack, yet close enough to access the sea at Milton Creek. In AD 43 the Romans invaded Kent,[3] and to make access quicker between

  • Sittingbourne FC
  • Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne
  • SFM Radio

External links

  • D. L. Sattin: Barge building and barge builders of the Swale, 1990.
  • Alan Major: Hidden Kent, 1994
  1. ^ "The name Sittingbourne". Sittingbourne Heritage Museum. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Jones, Bridgett (2007). "Kent Hundred Rolls Project" (PDF). Kent Archaeology Society. Kent Archaeology Society. pp. 73,74. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Alan Abbey. "Where did the Romans land in AD 43?". Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne. HRGS. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "The Romans in Sittingbourne". Sittingbourne Heritage Museum. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  5. ^ George Payne (1893). Collectanea Cantiana: Or, Archaeological Researches in the Neighbourhood of Sittingbourne, and Other Parts of Kent ... Mitchell Hughes. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "Place Milton (Regis)". Open Domesday. Anna Powell-Smith. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Geoffrey Chaucer; Larry Dean Benson (2008). The Riverside Chaucer. Oxford University Press. pp. 116–.  
  8. ^ "Our History". The Red Lion, Sittingbourne. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  9. ^ Alan Everitt (1 July 1985). Landscape and Community in England. A&C Black. pp. 161–.  
  10. ^ "A brief history of Sittingbourne". Sittingbourne Museum. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Sittingbourne Rail". Kent Rail. David Glasspool. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Clancy, John. "Sittingbourne The Industrial Revolution". Sittingbourne.Me. Hudson Berkley Reinhart Ltd. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "25th December 1914 Kent". Zeppeline Raids Britains First Blitz 1914-1918. Retrieved 21 August 2015. 
  14. ^ Raymond H. Fredette; Hanson W. Baldwin; Tom D. Crouch (8 January 2006). The Sky on Fire: The First Battle of Britain, 1917-1918. University of Alabama Press. pp. 253–254.  
  15. ^ "Donald J Dean VC". Victoria Cross Online. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  16. ^ "Kent Coast in WWI" (pdf). Screen South. 2013. p. 6. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  17. ^ Turner, J.T. Howard (1977). The London Brighton and South Coast Railway: Part 1. Origins and formation. Batsford. p. 41.  
  18. ^ a b "Dolphin Yard and Milton Creek". Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Local History Study Group". Sittingbourne Museum. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "The famous Sailing Barge Cambria". Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  21. ^ "Sailing Barge Museum suspected arson attack". Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  22. ^ Jarrett, Ian (27 October 2008). "Sittingbourne sailing barge museum destroyed in blaze". This is Kent. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  23. ^ White, Joe (29 October 2008). "Barge museum will rise from ashes". This is Kent. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  24. ^ "Barge museum on the horizon". Whitstable People. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  25. ^ a b c d "Sittingburne Mill - History". Sittingbourne Mill. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  26. ^ Admission to primary school in Kent, 2011: Canterbury and Swale, Kent County Council, 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  27. ^ Admissin to secondary school in Kent, 2011, Kent County Council, 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  28. ^ "Kent Test". Kent County Council. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  29. ^ Sittingbourne Adult Education Centre, Kent Adult Education. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  30. ^ Skills Plus in the Forum, Sittingbourne, Kent Adult Education. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  31. ^ "New post-16 Technical College comes to Sittingbourne". Swale Skills Centre. 14 May 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  32. ^ "Sittingbourne Northern Relief Road opens". Kent News (Archant). 15 December 2011. Archived from the original on 18 September 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  33. ^ "ARRIVA - 333,334 - Summary of buses between Maidstone and Sittingbourne". 18 September 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  34. ^ "Tickets, Bookings, Timetables, fares and offers". Eurostar. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  35. ^ "East Kent Gazette newspaper closes after sale collapses". BBC News Kent. BBC. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  36. ^ "Gore Court Hockey Club". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  37. ^ "Old Bordenians Hockey Club". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  38. ^ "Sittingbourne Speedway Website". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 


Twin towns

Motorcycle speedway racing has been staged near Sittingbourne for a number of years. The track was originally used for training alone but since 1994 the Sittingbourne Crusaders took part in the Conference League and other competitions. The track remains today as a popular speedway training facility open to riders all over the country.[38]

The town has two hockey clubs: Gore Court Hockey Club, who play at Westlands School and share the clubhouse at Gore Court;[36] and Old Bordenians Hockey Club, who play at Borden Grammar School.[37]

The town has one senior football team, Sittingbourne F.C. (nicknamed "The Brickies"). Sittingbourne F.C. currently play their games at Woodstock Park, part of the Kent Science Park complex. The club play in the Isthmian League Division One South.


The local newspaper is the KM Sittingbourne Messenger and the mid-week edition KM Sittingbourne News Extra, published by the KM Group. In December 2011, the East Kent Gazette, the town's other local newspaper, closed down with the loss of 39 jobs, having been the town's local news outlet since 1856.[35]


The preserved former paper mill railway the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway still exists today. In 1965 it was decided that the railway was uneconomic, with the significant progress made in the use of the car, and so lorries were more commonly used for transporting produce. Consequently, by 1969 the Bowater Light Railway, much loved as it was by the firm (and with assistance of Capt Peter Manisty) was handed over to the Locomotive Club of Great Britain to be preserved and operated as the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway. It has since become a significant feature in the town's tourist industry, and provides the only method of transport to the annual Sittingbourne Beer Festival. However, it has been under threat of closure since 2008 when M-real sold the site to a property developer.

Triumph arriving with a train on the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway

Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway

Since 2010, Southeastern have opened up a service from Faversham involving the HS1 line, this service runs from Faversham to London St Pancras. It also links with the Eurostar service (to France) from Ebbsfleet International.[34]

From 1858, after the agreement to connect Strood to Canterbury via the East Kent Railway of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, Sittingbourne has had a railway station. Today the three platform station is served by both the Chatham Main Line and the Sheerness Line, and is located 44 miles 1260 yards from London Victoria according to the mileage sign on the footbridge. Train services are provided by Southeastern.

In 2011 Sittingbourne Northern Relief road, linking Kemsley with the Eurolink Business Estate and East Hall Farm residential development (on the north-east of the town), was opened.[32] Bus services are provided mainly by Arriva Southern Counties.[33]

Roads came early to Sittingbourne, with the Roman construction of Watling Street. The equally straight A2 main road and M2 motorway now follow a similar route, and provide access to the town. The A249 passes the town on the west, heading between Maidstone and Sheerness.

Transport has always played a large part of Sittingbourne's history, geographically located midway between the major port of Dover and the important capital of London was the reason for an enlarged settlement at Sittingbourne.


Sittingbourne Adult Education Centre provides some post-16 and adult training in the town and there is an Adult Skills centre located in the town centre.[29][30] In May 2015 a post-16 technical college opened in the town.[31]

Sittingbourne and the surrounding area have a number of primary schools.[26] The main secondary schools in the town are Fulston Manor School, Sittingbourne Community College, The Westlands School and two single sex Grammar Schools, Borden Grammar School (Boys) and Highsted Grammar School (Girls).[27] Pupils wishing to apply for a year 7 place at grammar school have to take the Kent Test (11+) to assess if grammar school is a suitable option for them.[28]


In 1924, Lloyd's son built a new factory at Kemsley, together with a model village for employees. He died in 1936, when the Lloyd group was taken over by Sir William Berry, who in 1936 formed the Bowater-Lloyd Group.[25] After both plants were acquired by Metsa Serla in 1998, the decision was made to close the Sittingbourne Mill in October 2006, with the last reel produced on 23 January 2007.[25]

To speed production, in 1904 Lloyd built a wharf on the tidal inlet at Milton Creek, and a horse-drawn tramway to carry materials to the mill. On what is now known as the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, in 1906 the first of three steam locomotives, Premier, came into service, all 0-4-2 Brazil type tank engines sourced from Kerr Stuart. In 1913 the railway was extended to the new dock built at Ridham. In 1912, Sittingbourne Paper Mill was the largest producer of newsprint in the world,[25] with its 1,200 employees using 17 machines to make over 2000 tonnes per week, supplying the demands of Fleet Street.

Paper manufacture started in Sittingbourne in 1708, when Peter Archer was recorded as a Paper Maker. Sittingbourne Mill existed from circa 1769, which by 1820 had grown and was owned by Edward Smith. The Daily Chronicle owner Edward Lloyd bought the site in 1863. Using pulped straw from the local farmers and esparto (imported from Algeria and Southern Spain) as a replacement for expensive cotton rag which was becoming more expensive; the output supplied newsprint his mills in Bow.[25]

Paper mills and brickfields were fed by barges that brought in sand, mud and household waste such as cinders for brick making, and took away the finished product on the return journey.


The towns links with water transport survive today, through a bronze statue of a bargeman in the town centre. The Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum was destroyed by arson in 2008.[21][22] The museum is now awaiting relocation to a new site[23] It will be moving to Whitstable Harbour[24]

The yard was then leased to the newly established Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum Trust.[18] The inlet alongside the Museum usually contains at least one vessel brought to the yard for restoration, including the famous sailing barge Cambria.[20]

After World War II, these activities began to fall into a decline, so that only the Burley yard continued with the repair of barges until about 1965. Charles Burley (was a brick maker and barge owner). He occupied the yard in Crown Quay Lane. Now occupied by a builders' merchant.[19] This lack of barge repairs led the creek to become silted and derelict. In 1968, the site was owned by Bourncrete Limited, manufacturers of concrete products.

Sittingbourne developed into a port during the industrial revolution, from which Kentish produce was transported to the London markets. During this era over 500 types of barges are believed to have been built, centred around Conyer, a Roman hamlet of the village of Teynham, found at the head of a small creek between Sittingbourne and Faversham.[18]

Barges were needed to move many other raw materials and finished goods into the Thames and to London and beyond. Sittingbourne was ideally suited for this purpose and a successful barge-building industry developed at Milton Creek.

Dolphin Yard Sailing Barge Museum, Sittingbourne. The site includes the original sail loft and forge which have been converted to a museum devoted to the history of the Thames Sailing Barge and the associated industries of brick and cement making which once sustained the local fleet of barges.

Bargebuilding & water transport

Brickmaking continued in the town well into the mid twentieth century. The bricks for the 3.45-mile (5,550 m) London Bridge – Greenwich Railway Viaduct were all made at Sittingbourne and transported to the site by barge.[17]


The local clay was suitable for making bricks, and North Kent is geologically rich in chalk, which is not found in many other places in Europe in such abundance. This led to the development associated industries: water transport, paper, and cement; all of which continue today in the area.


The current MP, is Conservative Party (UK) Gordon Henderson.

Paper manufacture at Kemsley Paper Mill is the area's largest employer. Much of the surrounding Kentish countryside is good farming land, and being southerly in the UK many varieties of fruit are grown nearby, with this part of Kent being particularly famous for apples and cherries. Fruit preserving and packing are hence large employers, while new industrial and retail parks provide additional employment and services.

Sittingbourne and its consumed suburb of Milton today is a growing town, with much recent expansion by way of house-building in the former chalk and brick clay works digs. Expansion is attributable to the towns train line links to London, some 60 minutes away by high speed train and easy access to the A2, A249, M2 and M20. (see Transport)

Present day

As a result of the number of soldiers blinded during the war, the Kent Association for the Blind was formed in Sittingbourne in 1920.[16]

Donald John Dean VC OBE of Sittingbourne was awarded the Victoria Cross for deeds carried out in France in 1918. His ashes are interred in the family plot at St John the Baptist Church, Tunstall, Kent.[15]

The second Gotha was surrounded by British fighters shortly after, returning from a successful raid on London.

"The first of these duels occurred about an hour after the raid had been in progress, and probably this machine was caught while on its way to London. It was engaged by a daring aviation officer while at a great height. The British airman attacked his opponent so fiercely that the German was forced down to a lower height, and ultimately, to the joy of the onlookers, the Gotha burst into flames, seemed to break in two and came down piecemeal, all aflame. The wrecked machine and the three occupants fell by a farm. Two of the Germans fell into marshy ground and their bodies were deeply embedded in the mud. The third man's head struck a wall and was shattered like an eggshell. All three bodies were removed to a local aviation establishment. The fall of the burning Gotha was seen for miles around."

The local newspaper, the East Kent Gazette, reported:

About 100 air raid warnings were sounded in Sittingbourne during the First World War and anti-aircraft batteries were strengthened in 1917. The last big raid to pass over the town on Whit Sunday (19 May 1918), carried out by a number of Gothas, eliciting perhaps the most ferocious barrage from the ground defences the town had ever seen.[14]

The first visit by a German aeroplane happened on Christmas Day 1914.[13] Guns at Sheerness fired at the lone invader but still one shell dropped into a field at Iwade. The next event was to occur on 16 January 1915 when another solitary pilot from a German aerodrome in Belgium bombed Sittingbourne. This aircraft, a Taube, was pursued by two local airmen, but managed to escape after dropping a couple of bombs.

The area around Sittingbourne was subject to constant air raids by Zeppelins and aeroplanes during the First World War. The Germans used the town as a reference point for bearings on the way to London.

The First World War

After the railway came in 1858,[11] Sittingbourne became less a market trading and hostelry stop-off, and more a 19th-century centre of production to fuel the expansion of London, by producing bricks and paper from its clay substrata.[12]

Railway and Industrial Revolution

At this time, the 13th century Parish church of St Michael was constructed, and the High Street contained 13 pubs and hostels. The Lyon - now the Red Lion - played host to King Henry V of England on his way back from the Battle of Agincourt, and Henry VIII visited Sittingbourne in 1522 and 1532.[8] In 1708 the Rose Inn was built, originally called Rose Place and used as a private house. According to Edward Hasted "the principal inn now in it (Sittingbourne), called the Rose, is perhaps the most superb of any throughout the kingdom."[9] In 1825 the future Queen Victoria and her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld stayed overnight at the Rose Inn.[10]

There was no entry for Sittingbourne in the Domesday book of 1086, merely a note attached to Milton Regis showing a population of 393 households.[6] However, after the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket in 1170, pilgrims began to travel to Canterbury Cathedral and Sittingbourne became a useful hostelry for travellers. Sittingbourne is mentioned as a stopping point in The Canterbury Tales, with the Summoner in the Wife of Bath's Prologue says:[7]

The Red Lion Public House, Sittingbourne

Middle Age Hostelry


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