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Faversham Society News November 2019

A printable PDF version of this newsletter can be downloaded from HERE

Making the most of Faversham's natural heritage

Matthew Hatchwell, until recently director of conservation, Zoological Society of London.

Fleur Hall, off Gatefield Lane - 7.30pm Monday 28th October 2019

"Making the most of Faversham’s natural heritage” is what people have been doing in this landscape for thousands of years. Indeed, its natural heritage – its coastal location, surrounding landscape and underlying geology – is why the town is here at all. But what does that natural heritage consist of, how has our relationship with it changed over the centuries, how does it still benefit us today, and how can we ensure that it continues to provide benefits to our descendants in this rapidly changing world? Matthew Hatchwell will take a look at the town through the eyes of a wildlife conservationist.”

There will be a collection to support environment projects in Faversham.

LynPowell's Music of the Marsh
Jane Carle's Graveney Marshes

Chairman's Column

Our exhibition, The Views of the Marsh, the Landscape, Flora and Fauna of the Graveney Marsh, was a great success.

We organised it to raise awareness of what beauty is to be found there. So many of us who know it only from the Graveney Road are inclined to see it as wasteland. It is far from that.

Those who visited the gallery to see the exhibition clearly enjoyed it. Lyn Powell's Music of the Marsh was the public's choice for best photograph. Jane Carle's Graveney Marshes was the public's favourite painting. Lyn and Jane both won £50 prizes.

For the first time we have placed all the paintings and photographs on the Faversham Society website www.favershamsociety.org/image-galleries.

We urgently need a volunteer or two to look after our website. It runs in WordPress which is not much different from Microsoft Word. You could work from home or come into the Fleur. Please contact me if you would like to discuss what's involved.

The Cleve Hill Examination is now at deadline No 7 on 13 November. The society will review the draft development consent order. On 30 November we should have the inspectorate's decision. If it approves, we shall have to begin to campaign. The final decision rests with the business secretary, and we may need to make our voice heard.

You may have noticed that Faversham Town Council is consulting about the future of the downstairs of No 11 Market Place. There are four options - if you want to have your say then go to www.favershamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

If you receive the CommunityAd magazine, you will find an article in the next edition discussing what makes Faversham special.


Hopping in Wartime

Peter Stevens

A recent visitor to Faversham and the Fleur was the daughter of Mr Bones of Homestall Farm. In 1950 in an item in the Faversham News said hop-picking at Homestall started on 5 September and that buses left Court Street at 6.10am and 6.30am.

In 1940, with air raids raging over London, pickers flocked down to Kent, feeling that they would safer in the hop-huts than in their own homes. In Faversham an appeal went out for gifts of old clothes and blankets for those who had lost all their belongings as a result of the bombing The collection point was Newton House, where the library now is.

Major Berry of Brenley gave six acres of hops, worth £900, for the Faversham Spitfire Fund and said 350 pickers were wanted. Volunteers were asked to bring old umbrellas and boxes to pick into. Transport from the railway station was daily from 8am. The Spitfire appeal was led by the mayor, Phil Johnson, who joined in the picking and £1,163 was raised.

In 1943 the local Civil Defence mobile gas-cleansing units provided showers and baths. The Ministry of Health had invited councils to try the scheme and Kent County Reserve was first off the mark with bath nights at Faversham, Boughton and Selling.

1951 brought a major change to local hopping when the Kent Education Committee decided that school holidays would no longer be extended for child hop-pickers.

Two more recent visitors were a Canadian couple researching their ancestors who lived in Abbey Street and who were known to me in my 1930s and 1940s childhood. Robert Wise of No 88 worked in the gunpowder industry at Oare for 40 years before becoming gardener for the Neames at Alfred House. William Adey of 24a was employed at the cement works and other Adeys lived at 22 and 31 Abbey Street.


Ends 28 October Derek Cox art, Fleur gallery

28 October Making the most of Faversham's Natural Heritage, talk by Matthew Hatchwell, until recently head of conservation at the Zoological Society of London, Fleur hall, 7.30pm

1-18 November Paul Fowler exhibition, Fleur gallery

21 November Ships Rule the World, illustrated talk by Chris Wright, Purifier Building, 7.30pm

22 November-9 December Nick Stewart, Mudlark Furniture, Fleur Gallery

27 November Talk by Dr Pat Reid on Faversham's Saxon finds, Market Inn, 7.30pm

16 December Michael Whiting, KCC cabinet member for planning, highways, transport and waste, speaks about modelling traffic in and around Faversham, Fleur hall, 7pm. Hall capacity limited to 80

21 March One-day Historic Swale conference on the Swale, Swale and our Identity. Plus heritage fair, Appleyard, Sittingbourne

Next step in the Creek Bridge

PAUL CARTER - Leader, Kent County Council

Apologies in the delay in producing a Faversham Creek Bridge update. I am pleased to report that I believe we are making good progress and continue to build momentum. Many will have heard that I am standing down as the Leader of Kent County Council (KCC) after 14 years on 17 October. However, this should enable me to devote more time to this project to see it through to fruition.

From various meetings and conversations held in the past few weeks (upon which I shall expand) it is clear that if we are to achieve our objective of seeing vessels navigating the creek and mooring in the basin, there are many more obstacles to overcome than just providing a bridge that opens and closes. These include:

  • A bridge that opens and closes
  • Functional sluice gates
  • Dredging of the creek and the basin
  • Agreement with surrounding landowners to facilitate regeneration projects
  • Legal and contractual obligations
  • Raising the necessary funding
  • Should the current bridge be restored or a new bridge built?

The sluice gates and the bridge

KCC's highways technical team has been working on the best long-term solution to both the sluice gates and the bridge. There is quite appropriately a debate going on as to whether restoration of the lift and swing bridge or a new bridge is the best way forward. We are progressing work on both options. In relation to a new bridge, I am pleased to report that we now have soil analysis information available to us and will start the design and supplier engagement phases.

On investigating the viability of restoring a bridge, our plan is to carry out a detailed inspection in the next six to eight weeks which will involve a weekend road closure to enable the bridge to be lifted off. The inspection will involve investigation of the bridge deck, supporting structures and moving parts. When this information is to hand, we will be able to assess whether restoration is the best option or commissioning a new bridge. It is being suggested that one of the advantages of a bridge restoration is that this may avoid the necessity for a range of public agency consents that could extend the timeframes.

I have had several meetings and conversations with Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, who has been most helpful and is carrying out further investigations alongside us to work towards a resolution of the complex arrangements around ownership, legal liabilities and responsibilities including maintenance and operational issues. Various meetings and conversations have taken place with stakeholders and partners involved.

Project costs

Significant work has been carried out on costing the whole project - bridge, the sluice gates and the dredging. Current estimates show a total approximate project cost of between £2.5 and £3 million. Noting the wharf side regeneration will be delivered by others, subject to satisfying all necessary planning requirements.

The current funding pledges are as follows:

  • KCC £850,000
  • Swale Borough Council £200,000 (confirmed at a recent meeting, see below for a further update)
  • Faversham Town Council £170,000
  • The Faversham Creek Trust through the community £125,000
  • Philanthropic donation £200,000
  • Total: £1.545 million

This leaves a shortfall of about £1 million and we continue to explore a range of options including understanding legal responsibilities and additional funding avenues.

Finally, I met last week with Roger Truelove, the new leader of Swale Borough Council, accompanied by officers of both local authorities. This meeting went very well and I am pleased to report their continuing commitment to this project.

Negotiations are progressing with adjoining landowners concerning planning considerations and Swale Council's Local Plan encompasses Faversham Town Council's Neighbourhood Plan (that relates to the future of the Faversham creek and basin).

I hope you find this update helpful and would agree that we are now starting to make good progress. We will issue a further update as soon as we have the outcome of the detailed inspection of the bridge, scheduled to be carried out in the next six to eight weeks. I very much intend to be there on the day to witness the event.

How we found the Saxons


Dr Pat Reid will be giving a presentation at the Market Inn on 27 November at 7.30pm on our excavations there over the past two years.

Market Inn finds Saxon Bone Pin

Faversham Society Archaeological Research Group unearthed several significant finds supporting the theory that there was a Saxon manor and that metalworking was taking place in Faversham in the Saxon era.

We will also be celebrating 16 years since the founding of FSARG by Pat. Without Pat the archaeology group would not exist. We hope to continue the high standards she has set us as she reduces her involvement in running the group. We know that she will still be available for guidance and for us to make use of her encyclopaedic knowledge. Without Pat, many of the archaeology secrets of Faversham would have remained undiscovered, or may have been lost without being recorded.

An early Saxon bone comb
A set of hobnails from a Roman sandal

Ships rule the world

what they are doing to the ocean, and what the ocean is doing to them

An illustrated talk by Chris Wright in the Purifier Building

7.30pm on 21 November 2019

In his last talk at a joint meeting of the Creek Trust and the Faversham Society in April 2018, Chris Wright took a sideways look at ships, touching on their remarkable ability to carry cargo, how they move through the water, and whether they are stable. He finished with an unanswered question about the lives and safety of passengers and crew.

In this second instalment, he will follow up with a wide-ranging look at the world of shipping and enquire into the conditions for the people on board and what ships are doing to the ocean environment – as well as what the ocean is doing to them. What are rogue waves, where do they come from, how fast do they travel, and how are they capable of breaking any cargo vessel in two? Is your holiday cruise likely to be threatened by a tsunami?

Along the way, he’ll touch on some historical, ecological and philosophical issues: how shipping activity threatens some species of whale, even though they’re not being hunted, the strange properties of a fluid vortex, and how consumer goods often finish up in the sea, before concluding with a brief look at how ships are likely to evolve over the next decade.

For further information please contact Griselda Mussett, email griseldacmussett@gmail.com

October 21, 2019

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The Faversham Society Newsletter is edited by Stephen Rayner, who is independent of the board.

Contributions are welcomed, and should be received by midday on the 15th of the month before publication, by email to favnewsletter@gmail.com. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the Faversham Society or of the editor. All contributions will be edited and the editor’s decision is final.

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