Published: Friday, 19th July 2019

Medway is today announcing its aspiration to become UK City of Culture in 2025.

The announcement will be made by the Leader of Medway Council in front of thousands of residents as they gather at the annual Medway Mile event in Rochester on Friday, 19 July. Flags to signify the start of Medway’s aspiration to bid will be draped over the historic castle, a fantastic backdrop for this momentous occasion. 

The ambition to bid has been driven by a large number of organisations across Medway working in partnership and recognising the strong cultural heritage and culture of innovation that personifies Medway.

Sporting excellence 

The Medway Mile is not the only sporting event Medway holds each year; the unitary authority has a strong track record of hosting national and international sporting events. Medway’s excellent facilities have hosted pre-Olympic training camps, European Championships as well as Modern Pentathlon World Cup and European Championships and the British Transplant Games. There are four council-run sports facilities in Medway, and one of them - Medway Park – is renowned for being a regional centre of sporting excellence. It is home to England Wheelchair Rugby League, and the modern sports facility has hosted international events such as table tennis and handball. This weekend Britain’s elite national cyclists will race around one of Medway’s historic towns after British Cycling announced Rochester would host the 2019 HSBC UK | National Circuit Championships on Sunday, 21 July.

Medway has one of the fastest growing economies in the south-east

But Medway is not only known for sporting excellence. Each year the council organises more than 30 days of free festivals and events which are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people, including Medway residents and the five million visitors each year.

Medway has one of the fastest growing economies in the south-east and is now worth £5.17bn. The area’s aspiration to become City of Culture will further boost the economy and benefit residents. Medway is the biggest regeneration zone within the Thames Gateway and it is one of the most promising growth areas in the south-east so it comes as no surprise that more than 14,000 businesses are based in the area. More businesses are being attracted to Medway thanks to the many innovative businesses such as Dovetail Games and The Fountain Workshop. Rochester Airport is part of the pioneering North Kent Enterprise Zone and offers an exciting opportunity for businesses to grow. Innovation Park Medway is a prime development which is expected to become a magnet for businesses. Medway has fantastic connectivity with good motorway links and high-speed services to the capital. Local business owners and organisations have become Medway Champions - proactive advocates who work as ambassadors to promote the local area.

Rich cultural heritage 

Medway has a rich cultural heritage and it boasts historic gems including Rochester Castle, the finest and tallest Norman castle in the country, Rochester Cathedral, the second oldest cathedral in England, Chatham’s Historic Dockyard and Fort Amherst. Medway also has close ties with Charles Dickens - Eastgate House in Rochester features in The Pickwick Papers and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The Grade 1 listed Elizabethan mansion, which was built in 1590, was used as a Victorian school. Medway’s schools are performing very well with 86 per cent rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. MidKent College is the largest Further Education College in the county.

As well as being a great place to work, learn and visit Medway is a fantastic place to live. The area has picturesque greenspaces with the equivalent of 13.3 Hyde Parks under the council’s direct management and seven parks are Green Flag accredited. There is also a highly successful, vibrant and innovative arts scene.

Creating a legacy for Medway

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “I am delighted to announce our aspiration for Medway to become City of Culture in 2025. Medway has so much to offer including historic landmarks, award-winning country parks, excellent schools, thriving economy and inspirational residents. City of Culture will show our pride in our local communities, create a legacy for Medway and promote our cultural offer, not just across Medway, but across the country too. We’ve come a long way over the past 20 years and we are continuing to make improvements, but our aspiration will further establish Medway as a place where people are proud to live, work, learn and visit and there is a huge amount to be proud of.”

Cllr Jarrett added: “This is a very exciting time for Medway. Our monumental regeneration programme, which will provide growth for all, is currently taking shape and we are investing heavily in Medway’s future. Medway’s residents are always at the heart of everything we do and I would encourage them to support our aspirations and post their stories and photos on social media and tell us why they are proud to live in Medway. The aspiration to become the UK City of Culture 2025 that is widely shared by the huge range of businesses and community organisations across Medway and we will be working together to shape the bid at this exciting time. We are also looking forward to welcoming thousands of residents to our summer festivals and sporting events and we hope that they will help spread the word of our aspiration to become UK City of Culture in 2025.”

Back the bid

The people of Medway are proud of where they live and residents are being encouraged to support the campaign by spreading the word of Medway’s aspiration to their family, friends and work colleagues and residents. If you attend Medway’s cultural activities including the sports events and free family festivals post your stories and photos on social media using #Medway2025 and #WeAreMedway.

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