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A Great ending to a great summer

Date: 19/09/2008           Category: Medway Renaissance

A fantastic summer season of free opening at Fort Amherst literally ended with a bang last weekend, as re-enactors from the 60th Rifle Regiment supported a day of on-site consultation activities about the Great Lines City Park. The master planners for the park, HTA Landscape Design, have been seeking the views of residents and stakeholders throughout the summer. The consultation period began in August at The Royal Engineers Museum with a packed out meeting of more than 130 people who helped shape priorities for the park. The master planners spent last Saturday updating people on proposals for the park, and collecting further ideas from the 250-strong crowd. Local artists Fiona Watt and Tracy Ashmore were on site, helping young children create a 3D “Map of Ideas” for the park. The Kent Architecture Centre also supported the event, working specifically with young people aged eight to 13, ensuring their views were taken into account. The afternoon concluded with a family engineering (egg-throwing) competition, based on the historic Brennan torpedo and reflecting the skills of a Royal Engineer. The competition was judged by the Mayor of Medway Cllr David Carr and the winners received prizes donated by the Royal Engineers Museum. Cllr Carr, who is also a Trustee of Fort Amherst, spoke of his delight in supporting such a significant project for Medway. Supported by Chatham World Heritage, Fort Amherst has opened its doors for free each Sunday from July. 4,925 people enjoyed a free tour of the historic tunnels and caverns, took in spectacular views of Medway from one of the highest points in Chatham and learned about the exciting plans to add Chatham to the World Heritage Site list, and bring new life to the Great Lines. On the final Sunday, the Fort recorded its highest ever visitor numbers in its 25 year history of being open to the public. Early proposals for the park can be viewed at www.chathamworldheritage.co.uk under ‘Great Lines City Park latest’, where a full report from the August meeting can also be found. Detailed findings from last weekend’s event will be added in the coming weeks. ---END --- Background: (1) Chatham Dockyard and its Defences is on the UK government’s shortlist of potential World Heritage Sites. Decisions on which sites will be added to the World Heritage List are made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list comprises 850 sites in 138 countries. (2) The Great Lines provided a superlative layer of defence for Chatham Dockyard. Its immense open ground, and series of ditches and ramparts, connected with Fort Amherst to protect the Dockyard from landward approach. (3) The UK proposes one World Heritage Site each year. The application is prepared locally, but submitted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The next potentially available application date is January 2011. Announcements of future nominations will be made once a review of the UK shortlist for nominations is complete, later this year. (4) Chatham World Heritage is funded by the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Medway Council and English Heritage. (5) Results on a £2.1m application to government to take forward the proposals for the park are expected in October. The first phase of the park - at the Lower Lines - will open in just a year from now. For further information please contact Lisa Caleno on 01634 338308 or email lisa.caleno@medway.gov.uk