A photograph which shows a collection of naval books and diagrams of a ship on a table.
Collections at Medway Archives Centre
Published: Tuesday, 17th January 2023

Whether you’re looking to research your family history, get inspiration from Medway’s rich heritage, or find out more about the history of your local area, Medway Archives Centre can help.

The centre, in Bryant Road Strood, reopened for 2023 yesterday (Monday, 16 January) following Collections Care Fortnight. The centre closes for two weeks after the festive period to enable our specialist staff to care for the thousands of items which are kept at the centre.

The centre holds archival and published records from the geographical area covered by us as well as material from the parishes within the Archdeaconry of Rochester. Many of the records are unique to the archives centre and residents can also add to the archives by donating material.

Next year, 2024, is the 40th anniversary of the closure of Chatham Dockyard so the team spent some time looking at the centre’s naval collection – scanning and cleaning each item.

The vast collection includes volumes on the general history of the Navy, from past battles and administration to ships’ crests, badges and past uniforms as well as a book which lists British naval slang.

There is also a small sub-collection of books and periodicals which relate specifically to Chatham Dockyard. Residents can search for items in the Naval Collection through the Medway Libraries catalogue.

Other highlights of the collections at the Medway Archives Centre include the Charles Dickens Collection – an extensive collection which includes copies of Dickens’ works, literary criticism, biography and topography; the Short Brothers Collection – containing more than 200 books and monographs, site and aircraft plans and drawings, photographs and illustrations, interviews and recording of the aviation pioneers who moved their main works to Rochester Esplanade in 1914; and industrial and business archives including Winget of Strood and Blaw Knox of Rochester, engineers; Dove Phillips and Pett of Rochester and Strood, mineral water manufacturers; Best, Hulkes and Budden and Biggs, brewers.

We're very proud of the Medway Archives Centre

Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Community Services, Cllr Howard Doe, said: “We are very proud of the Medway Archives Centre. It is home to thousands of items which tell the story of Medway’s fascinating history through newspaper cuttings, books, theatre programmes, invitations, adverts and much more. I would encourage residents to book an appointment to view some of the unique and interesting collections.”

Find out more.

News archive