Published: Monday, 20th May 2019

Residents are invited to celebrate the history of The Strand Leisure Park in Gillingham with a day of traditional entertainment on Saturday, 25 May.

The Strand is at the heart of a community heritage project which has uncovered the interesting past of the much-loved leisure park. The Strand was originally developed as a riverside pleasure ground between 1921 and 1926, with additional facilities for ‘holidays at home’ during World War 2.

In 2017 Medway Council, in partnership with MidKent College, successfully secured a £49,500 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the Talking Telescopes project.

The funding was used to launch the project, which is part of a Young Roots project, in partnership with MidKent College students which aims to preserve, interpret and enhance the heritage and look of The Strand using interpretation boards and three talking telescopes.

The telescopes ‘talk’ to visitors as they look through the lens, playing pre-recorded soundbites from people who experienced The Strand in its heyday. Listen to residents describe the ‘magical place’ they visited with their families.

One said: “The boating pool was absolutely fantastic, as we’d never been on a boat in lives before, so we’d just peddle away to our heart’s content. My fondest memory though was of the main pool, where I learnt to swim.”

The establishment of a Friends of the Strand group is also being supported as part of the project.

A family fun day will be held at The Strand on Saturday, 25 May, from 10am to 4pm, to celebrate the completion of the project. Visitors will be able to try out the talking telescopes and enjoy a day of traditional entertainment including hook-a-duck, a coconut shy and other old-fashioned stalls. Medway Plus is helping organise the event.

Families will also have the chance to have their picture taken in a Volkswagen campervan photobooth.

Medway is steeped in history

Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “Medway is steeped in history and I’m pleased that local residents are now able to learn more about the heyday of the Strand in a fun and engaging way. I would encourage residents to go along and discover more about the history on their doorstep.”

Proud of Medway's rich heritage

Ross Buttery, Deputy Head of department for Media and IT at MidKent College, said: “We’re incredibly proud of Medway’s rich heritage, and delighted that our Media students can support this project to shine a light on The Strand’s importance as a community facility through the ages. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect people to Medway’s history.”

The Strand pool also opens on weekends from Saturday, 25 May, to Sunday, 21 July, and opens daily from 22 July to 2 September.

Find out more about the project.

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