Sheerness Town Centre
Sheppey - Kent's Sunshine Island
The Isle of Sheppey is situated on the north coast of Kent at the junction of the Thames and Medway estuaries some 50 miles from London. It is separated from mainland Kent by the Swale which is crossed by means of a lifting bridge that carries both road and rail links. (This bridge lifts on average 12 times a day or alternatively every time you are in a hurry). The Isle of Sheppey is in fact made up of three Islands, being Harty, Elmley and Sheppey all of which are accessible. The three islandsare nevertheless completely different in character.
Sheppey also enjoys the dubious distinction of being the only part of mainland Britain to be lost to a foreign power since William the Conqueror in 1066. This was in June 1667 when the Dutch fleet sailed up the Medway and captured the fort at Sheerness. The fort at the time was incomplete and the garrison underfed and unpaid. With no pension plan or private health arrangements resistance was hardly enthusiastic and the Dutch overran and occupied the whole Island for a week before withdrawing.
Sheerness is the 'capital' and heart of Sheppey with some 12,000 of the 36,000 population living there. Originating as a garrison town to guard the entrance to the Medway Sheerness became a Royal Dockyard in the 18th century. Gradually over the years first Blue Town then Marine town and Mile town were developed into what is now the town of Sheerness.
Sheerness town centre has over 200 shops and is dominated by the town clock, which is made of cast iron and believed to be the largest freestanding clock of its type in Kent at nearly 35 feet. It was built in 1902 and commemorates the Coronation of Edward the Vll. This magnificent clock was restored in 2002 to celebrate the Queens Golden Jubilee.
The town centre has just received a major refurbishment, with generous help from English Heritage, which will allow selected road closures for events and the development of a café culture in the future.
Sheerness is a pedestrian prioritised town with all through traffic routed round a new ring road, Millennium Way. Whilst Sheerness cannot boast a branch of Harrods or Harvey & Nichols there is a wide range of small family retailers in addition to National names; Market days are Tuesdays and Saturdays with three farmers markets and one Christmas market held during the year.
Sheerness is also a safe friendly holiday town boasting a newly refurbished park, clean beaches, ample parking and an abundance of sunshine and healthy sea air. It is Kent's best kept secret.
Sheppey is famous for Whelan's gnome factory in Bluetown, which manufactures and sells over 1000 types of concrete ornament. Also worth a visit is the O'Hagan sausage factory in Bluetown featuring the delicious 'Bluetown Burgers' and 'Sheppey Sausage' amongst over 50 types of exotic sausage, one for any occasion. Other musts are the Stones Garden Centre in Marine Town and sampling the local moonshine cider known as 'Swampie'. The latter is brewed in limited editions for locals only, but visitors have been known to acquire the odd bottle of this rare treat if they can find it.
Sheerness, the capital of Sheppey is Kent's best kept secret, all visitors are now welcome, even the Dutch come and enjoy.