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Library links - Leisure

Medway Libraries' subject guide to the internet for leisure

There are sections for:


Books and reading


Creative writing

Family history and genealogy



Food and drink







Newspapers and magazines



Travel and tourism


Please note that clicking on the links below will take you away from the Medway Libraries' webpages.


EaselArt on the net (www.art.net)

An international site for artists to get together and share their work digitally. Currently features over 100 artists.

BBC Arts and Culture (www.bbc.co.uk/arts)

All the latest news and events in the arts world plus radio and TV listings. Features books, reviews, poetry, Tate@BBC, digital arts and much more.

British Arts (www.britisharts.co.uk)

An excellent overview of the arts in Britain. Includes a list of arts competitions across the country with details of how to enter.

Medway Arts

Medway Council's Arts Team has a commitment to providing the best arts and entertainment possible by offering a comprehensive programme of visual art exhibitions and projects, an active music and performing arts programme with specialist dance provision, a range of youth arts initiatives and a literature programme.

National Gallery (www.nationalgallery.org.uk)

Including virtual tours of the famous London gallery's collections and exhibitions.

Royal Academy of Arts (www.royalacademy.org.uk)

A comprehensive guide to the Royal Academy's exhibitions, collections, artists, archives and picture library.

Tate Gallery (www.tate.org.uk)

Home page of the Tate Gallery, includes links to Tate Modern and regional Tate galleries.

Books and reading

Pile of booksAbe Books (www.abebooks.com)

Source for second-hand books.

About.com - Manga (http://manga.about.com/)

Manga Reviews, news and artist interviews.

Achuka (www.achuka.co.uk)

Children's book information with loads of great links.

Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk)

Said to be the biggest bookseller on the Internet, it is useful for searching both for in-print and out-of-print books. Also useful to see what other people think about the book you just read!

BBC Books (www.bbc.co.uk/tv/seasons/books/)

BBC website with news about books, and a bookclub.

Blackwell's bookshop (http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/welcome.jsp)

Bookshop with many good links, including students' reading lists and books in the media.

The Bookseller (www.thebookseller.com)

The magazine for the book trade. Great links to publishers.

Booktrust (www.booktrust.org.uk)

Booktrust runs book prizes and brilliant projects to encourage readers of all ages and cultures to discover and enjoy books.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (http://sf-encyclopedia.com/)

An unparalleled reference work of unrivalled authority. First published in 1979, and revised in 1993, the forthcoming online third edition will provide coverage of authors, films, TV series, themes in science fiction, magazines and Manga and anime.

Fantastic Fiction (www.fantasticfiction.co.uk)

Bibliographies and information on authors, very good for finding out the order of series of books.

Google books (http://books.google.com/)

Google is digitising thousands of books, all searchable. If the book is out of copyright, you get the whole thing. If the book is in copyright, you just see a fraction. Try it out!

The Guardian - Books (www.guardian.co.uk/books)

Guardian book site. Very useful for information on books, authors - mini biographies, current reviews and a searchable archive of reviews and a discussion list.

Love to Read

Do you love to read?  Discover the most borrowed books and authors from Medway libraries. Use Medway's online library catalogue, to see what's new or write a book review to share your reading experience. You can meet other readers in a readers group and get the latest news about book awards and prizes. 

Opening the Book (www.openingthebook.com)

A website for reader development. "The best book in the world is quite simply the one you like best and that is something you can discover for yourself, but we are here to help you find it."

Penguin find your next read (penguin.co.uk)

A truly magnificent site for any reader with guidance for reading groups on a selection of texts.

W.H. Smiths (www.whsmiths.co.uk)

Website of the bookseller, with plenty of links.

Waterstones (www.waterstones.com)

Website of the bookseller, with plenty of links

Which book (www.whichbook.net)

This site will tell you what books you might enjoy: all you have to do is tell it whether you like your books happy or sad, safe or disturbing.


Campaign to Protect Rural England (www.cpre.org.uk)Gillingham Park Trees

The Campaign to Protect Rural England: aims to promote the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England by encouraging the sustainable use of land and other natural resources in town and country.

British Butterflies (http://www.britishbutterflies.co.uk/)

Photographic guide, with flight times for each species.

Butterfly Conservation (www.butterfly-conservation.org)

Habitats, behaviour and distribution of butterflies and moths, as well as conservation issues.

Natural England - The Countryside Code (www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/enjoying/countrysidecode/)

The official website for the Countryside Code and maps of Open Access land in England. The Countryside Code applies to all parts of the countryside. Most of it is just good commonsense, designed to help us all to respect, protect and enjoy our countryside.

Plantlife (www.plantlife.org.uk/)

The Wild-Plant Conservation Charity, joint managers of Ranscombe Farm reserve near Cuxton, with Medway Council. Interactive map easily locates 23 nature reserves in Britain; with a guide to rare and threatened species.

Creative writing

Photo of a girl with a pen17percent (http://17percent.wordpress.com/)

Working to promote women as playwrights by offering practical help and networking opportunities.

Creative Medway - writing (Writing Medway) is a space where local writers can have their work published, for free. Managed by Medway libraries.

ME4Writers (http://me4writers.wordpress.com/)

A small Medway-based writers collective who work together on projects and events.

MsLexia (www.mslexia.co.uk/)

The magazine for women who write - debate, analysis, fiction, news, grants competitions and MORE!

Poetry Library (www.poetrylibrary.org.uk)

Founded by the Arts Council in 1953, the library works to support and promote modern British poetry. They aim to stock all poetry published in the U.K. since about 1912, as well as a wide selection of international work.

Poetry Society (www.poetrysociety.org.uk)

Events, Competitions and More!

Rochester LitFest (http://rochesterlitfest.com/)

Brings writers and performers together, and arranges an annual festival of literature.

Family history

1901 Census online (www.1901censusonline.com)Photo of book in the archive

Search more than 400million people living in England and Wales between 1841-1901 and view images of the original documents.

Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com)

Ancestry library edition can be accessed for free from the public access computers in any Medway library and at Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre.

BBC - Family History (www.bbc.co.uk/history/familyhistory)

Try out the Family History Trail, a really useful starting point for those new to family history research. Check out Bloodlines, the family history gateway, packed with links to resources.

British and Irish Genealogy Blog (http://www.bi-gen.blogspot.com/)

Family History News, Entertainment and the a Directory of Genealogical Services on the Web

Churchyard monumental inscriptions (www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Libr/MIs/MIslist.htm)

A Kent Archaeological Society Site that links to notes compiled by LL Duncan from 1890s to 1923.

Cityark (http://cityark.medway.gov.uk/)

Searchable catalogue of the archive collections at Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre including an imagebase of digitised documents and parish registers.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org)

Contains information on the 1.7 million members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First or Second World Wars.

Curious Fox (www.curiousfox.com)

The village by village contact site for anyone researching family history, genealogy and local history in the UK and Ireland.

Cyndi's List (www.cyndislist.com/miluk.htm)

International genealogy gateway to sites

Free births, deaths and marriages (http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/)

FreeBMD is an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records.

GenUKI (www.genuki.org.uk)

A virtual reference library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK.

Origins.net (www.origins.net)

Provides access to genealogical data for online family history research. Includes access to the archives of the Society of Genealogists and extensive records for Scotland.

The National Archives (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/)

National portal for archive collections


Fashion.net (www.fashion.net)

"The Global Meeting Point for the World of Fashion". Lists magazines, fashion houses, fashion shows, modelling agencies etc.



British Film Institute (www.bfi.org.uk)movie film

This website is an excellent starting point for those interested in film.

British Pathe (www.britishpathe.com/

View and buy films and still photographs from the entire archive of 90,000 videos covering newsreel, sports footage, social history documentaries, entertainment and music stories from 1896 to 1976.

The Guardian - Film (www.guardian.co.uk/film)

News, features, reviews of latest films.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (http://sf-encyclopedia.com/)

An unparalleled reference work of unrivalled authority. First published in 1979, and revised in 1993, the forthcoming online third edition will provide coverage of authors, films, TV series, themes in science fiction, magazines and Manga and anime.

The Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)

The Internet Movie Database - if a film isn't on here, it's never been made. Wide-ranging information covering all aspects of the film industry.

Screen online  (www.screenonline.org.uk)

A website dedicated to the history of British film and television

Food and Drink

CupcakesBBC - Food (www.bbc.co.uk/food)

Links to all your favourite BBC food programmes. Features top 10 recipes and the latest radio and TV listings . Why not create a culinary wonder using the Recipe Finder or check out the link to Asian Life Food.

Beer in the evening (www.beerintheevening.com)

Information about pubs locally and nationally. Searchable database, with maps and directions.

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) (www.camra.org.uk)

Advocacy group that supports consumers rights in the United Kingdom and Europe with respect to the beer and drinks industry.

Epicurious (www.epicurious.com)

American site, with 9,000 recipes from the magazines Gourmet and Bon Appétit.

Food Standards Agency (www.food.gov.uk)

Includes information on food handling, healthy eating, additives, regulations, research, BSE etc.


BBC - Gardening  (www.bbc.co.uk/gardening)

Links to all your favourite BBC gardening programmes, gardening tips, information on plants, pests and diseases plus a useful search facility.

Crocus (www.crocus.co.uk)

encyclopedia and garden centre

Fungus.org.uk (www.fungus.org.uk)

Comprehensive range of links to sites covering all aspects of fungi.

Kew - Royal Botanic Gardens (http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens)

Home page of the world famous Botanic Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst Place, West Sussex.

The Japanese Garden Society (www.jgs.org.uk)

Encouraging, informative support for both new and experienced gardeners interested in the orient.

Royal Horticultural Society (www.rhs.org.uk)

Plenty of information about horticulture across Britain.


Hobbies and crafts

Photo of craft materialsAll free crafts (www.allfreecrafts.com)

Photographs and how-to instructions so you easily learn new craft ideas.

Art Attack (www.hitentertainment.com/artattack/menu_artattacks.html)

On this page you'll find fact sheets for all the Art Attacks featured in over the last few series of the children's television show.

Better Homes and Gardens (www.bhg.com)

A lot of free instructions for crafts and recipes.

Craft and fabrics (www.craftandfabriclinks.com)

fully illustrated free sewing and craft patterns.

Guild of Machine Knitters (www.guild-mach-knit.org.uk)

The Guild is run by machine knitters for machine knitters, all on a totally voluntary basis.

The Lace Guild (www.laceguild.org)

A site which offers details of membership, a magazine, notification of events, publications and suppliers and a gallery of beautiful works.

Stanley Gibbons (www.stanleygibbons.com)

For current news and your philatelic (stamp collecting) needs.


BBC - News (www.bbc.co.uk/news)

Daily news, details of programmes, plenty of information and interactivity.

News Now (www.newsnow.co.uk)

NewsNow's computer systems index thousands of news sites on the internet, giving live updates every few minutes



Photo of a grey vintage carBBC - Topgear (www.bbc.co.uk/topgear)

Homepage of the popular BBC TV programme

Car Survey (www.carsurvey.org)

Thinking of buying a second-hand car? Find out what other people think of it.

Driving Theory Tests (www.direct.gov.uk/en/Diol1/DoItOnline/DG_4017669)

Online tests where you can check your driving theory skills, from the Driving Standards Agency.


The Historic Dockyard Chatham (http://www.thedockyard.co.uk/)

Home page for one of Medway's biggest tourist attractions.  Particularly useful for people researching dock workers or ships built at Chatham Dockyard. Try the Message Board.

Imperial War Museum (www.iwm.org.uk/)

Site for the national museum for wars of the 20th century. Contains a set of pages devoted to family history research at the Imperial War Museum.

Medway Museums

Museums in the Medway area.

Museum of London (www.museumoflondon.org.uk)

Tells the story of London from pre-historic times to present day.

The National Maritime Museum (http://www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum)

Access to maritime resources and information.

Natural History Museum (www.nhm.ac.uk)

Very useful home page of the museum, giving information on all aspects of the Natural History Museum and it's work.

Science Museum (www.sciencemuseum.org.uk)

Home page of the Science Museum with information about the museum and current exhibitions.



Last FM (www.last.fm)

Listen with Last.fm and fuel the social music revolution. It's easy. What are *you* listening to?

Rolling Stone (www.rollingstone.com)

Excellent source of information on rock music and artists. The search engine brings up biographical information on thousands of groups.

man newspaper

Newspapers and magazines

All Newspapers (www.allnewspapers.com/)

Links to newspapers worldwide, plus other media sources.

Daily Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk/)

Daily Telegraph in electronic form with archives back to November 1994.

Financial Times (www.ft.com/)

This includes a searchable archive going back three years - they claim to index 5million articles from 3,000 publications. Articles from the FT can be retrieved free.

The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk/)

The Guardian Newspaper online.

National Geographic Magazine (www.nationalgeographic.com/)

A site as glossy and fascinating as the magazine itself.

New Scientist (www.newscientist.com/)

"...you can search the whole of the New Scientist Planet Science Site and an archive of material that has appeared since 3 April 1997. [The website contains approximately one third of the material that appears in the magazine each week"

Reuters (http://uk.reuters.com/)

Reuters is possibly the world's leading financial information provider.

The Times (www.thetimes.co.uk/)

Back issues of the paper available from January 1996. A search facility also available.



Photo of footballActive Places (www.activeplacespower.com/)

Provided by Sport England, this gives information on over 10,000 sports facilities.

BBC - Sport (www.bbc.co.uk/sport)

Providing up to the minute information on all major sporting events including up to the minute scores and scorers.

British Swimming (www.swimming.org/britishswimming)

Find out about local and national swimming events.

England and Wales Cricket Board (www.ecb.co.uk/)

Official cricket website of England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

England Athletics (www.englandathletics.org/)

Hundreds of thousands of people across England are involved in athletics. In many different ways it really is the most exciting, diverse and vibrant sport there is.

Formula 1 (www.formula1.com/)

The official F1 website

Gillingham Football Club (www.gillinghamfootballclub.com/)

The official website of Gillingham Football Club.

Go4awalk (www.go4awalk.com/)

Website for walkers with impressive route maps. Nothing for Medway (yet) but reasonable for the national parks.

The Guardian - Sport  (www.guardian.co.uk/sport)

Sport news, results, fixtures, blogs and comments on UK and world sport from the Guardian.

Kent Country Cricket Club (www.kentcricket.co.uk/)

The official web-site for Kent County Cricket Club, providing news, fixtures, results and much info about our County's first-class professional cricket team.

London 2012 (www.london2012.com/)

The Official website for the London Olympic Games 2012.

MCC Offroad (www.mccoffroad.co.uk)

Mountain and offroad biking in Kent.

The Premier League (www.premierleague.com)

The official site with news, fixtures, results, league table, statistics, club profiles and travel details.

Rugby Football League (www.therfl.co.uk)

Governing body for Rugby League in the UK. Information about the game, news and information about the Great Britain team and the Tri-Nations tournament.

Rugby Football Union (http://www.englandrugby.com/)

Contains information about all facets of English rugby and merchandising. The Rugby Football Union is the governing body of English rugby.

Silver Blades Ice Rink - Gillingham (www.silver-blades.co.uk/gillingham)

Information about the ice rink in Gillingham.

Sky Sports (www.skysports.com)

Sports coverage from around the world.

Sporting Life (www.sportinglife.com)

An electronic sport and betting service, run by the Mirror Group and the Press Association.


London Theatre guide (www.londontheatre.co.uk)

Provides a reliable source of information about London Theatre. "The objective of the guide is to be as comprehensive as possible for West End theatre listings."

Medway Little Theatre (www.mlt.org.uk)

Forthcoming productions of Medway Little Theatre in Rochester.

Medway Theatres

Website for The Central and Brook Theatres in Medway

National Association of Youth Theatres (www.nayt.org.uk)

The national association of youth theatres website.

Travel and Tourism

ABTA (www.abta.com)

For 60 years ABTA and its Members have been helping holidaymakers to get the most from their travel by working to high professional standards and offering choice, value and quality.

The UK Passport Office (hm-passport-office)

The Identity and Passport Service is responsible for issuing UK passports and for administering the civil registration process in England and Wales. It is an executive agency of the Home Office.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com)

Information and articles about travel, and an online forum where you can pick up useful travel tips.

MapQuest Maps (www.mapquest.com)

Driving directions and road maps.

National Express

UK Coach service. Includes a search facility which gives you timetable details and fares.

National Rail Enquiries (www.nationalrail.co.uk)

National Rail enquires.

Public Transport in Kent

Information on bus services in Kent and Medway, park and ride, rail, air and ferry services.

Timeout (www.timeout.com)

Guide to what's happening in the most exciting cities on the planet.

Tourism South East (www.visitsoutheastengland.com)

Guide to the South-east of England.
Tripadvisor (www.tripadvisor.com)

Over 45 million traveller reviews and opinions.

Visit Britain (www.visitbritain.com)

If you're planning a holiday to the UK, looking for hotels and accommodation in Britain, or simply after UK travel, attractions or events information, VisitBritain.com has everything you need to know.