The Strand 125th anniversary | Medway Council

This year marks the 125th anniversary of The Strand since it first opened in June 1896. We will be celebrating this landmark year with residents. 

The Strand Leisure Park has provided generations with many happy memories. 

Share your favourite memories

We are looking to hear your favourite memories of The Strand from years gone by, including family photos which showcase the history of this iconic Medway attraction.

You can:

  • send us a photo of The Strand from your family archives
  • tell us your favourite memory.

Send us your photos, comments, and favourite memories to medwaysport@medway.gov.uk.

We will be installing new signs in July to showcase memories and milestones from the park's history. You can view the signs when you next visit The Strand. 

View our online gallery of memories

#TheStrand125

Image of The Strand

The Strand in time

We have been asking you to send in your favourite memories and moments from The Strand over the years.

We've already received lots of entries, you can read some of our favourites within our timeline to celebrate the 125th anniversary.

Take a walk down memory lane with our video memories and timeline of The Strand.

June 1896

The Stand first opened

It’s the home to one of Britain's earliest open air pools. It is the country's only remaining riverside salt-water pool and is the only surviving shoreside open air pool in Kent.

The outdoor pool was the first main attraction available when The Strand opened. Along with bathing, a special sports programme provided popular activities, including underwater swimming, water polo matches and a greasy pole competition.

Below is an image of Thomas Cuckow who helped create The Strand outdoor pool.

The Stand first opened
1910

The beach in 1910

How the beach at The Strand looked in 1910.

The beach in 1910
1914 to 1918

Summer holidays during World War 1

The government promoted stay-at-home holidays to save money and fuel. This ensured The Strand remained a popular venue through the summer of WW1.

1920s

Gillingham Swimming Club

An image of Gillingham Swimming Club in 1920.

Gillingham Swimming Club
1930s

New attractions in 1930s

The interwar period also saw the addition of a putting green, car park, café, pony rides and a timber hexagonal bandstand that attracted large crowds on Sunday afternoons.

The café rented out deck chairs and in the mid 1930s annual deckchair rentals reached over 30,000.

1940s

Memories from the paddling pool

The paddling pool at The Strand has always been a popular attraction.

"My aunt, mum and uncle at the paddling pool around 70 years ago."

  • From Chez Jackson

Memories from the paddling pool

"I spent many years going to The Strand as a child. I love the old paddling pool, paddle boats, and even went there with my primary school for activities week in Year 6."

From Natasha Prescott

1948

The miniature railway at The Strand

The miniature railway was opened after the war in 1948.

The railway is one of the oldest miniature railways still in operation in the country.

"My Grandad used to drive the train, and I remember going to see him and having a ride or 2."

  • From Sue Lowrey

The miniature railway at The Strand

"The little steam train and everyone cheering through the tunnel. We would hire boats, and fall out (my brothers fault). Even used to swim in the river, and we would skim pebbles. Happy carefree days."

From Claire Colstone

1949

Play park additions

In 1949 The Strand added swings and roundabouts in the play park for the first time.

1950s

The Strand in the 1950s

"I used to go with my Mum and Aunt. She lived in Gillingham and this was the highlight of her holiday." - From Susan Reeves

The Strand in the 1950s

"I remember my Auntie took me there in the 1950s. We sang 'Let's all go down The Strand' - we had a lovely time".

From Margaret Goodbun

1960s

The Strand in the 1960s

  • "My husband and family were one of the families that were always there back in the 1960s. I can remember going on a Sunday with my dad and brother, going on the swing boats. There we took our girls to the pool and the park. Later, our daughter worked there as a lifeguard and drove the little train." - From Maureen Hadlum

  • Get close to the picture and you can smell the gas! - From Ian Dearing

The Strand in the 1960s

"I have many memories of the paddling pool, boat swing pull with rope, paddle boats and the open air pool. In recent years the August fairground rides with my grandchildren."

From Susan Smyth

Late 1960s

Memories from the 1960s

"We met on the little grass patch outside the café on 30 July, 54 years ago."

  • From Dave Marion Slater and Kerry Wilkinson.

Below is an image of The Strand tea rooms.

Memories from the 1960s

"The Strand has been a part of my whole life. Mum would take me to the old paddling pool (where the overflow carpark is) in the 1960s. We also went swimming in the larger pool. The Strand was a regular place as my son grew up. He loved the miniature railway. During lockdown The Strand has been an invaluable resource forming part of a local regular circular walk. It’s great to see the new tree planting in the former golf course."

From Anita Brunt

1970s

The Strand in the 1970s

"Me, my brothers and sisters at The Strand."

  • Colin Crocker

The Strand in the 1970s
1980s

The Strand in 1980s

"I spent my childhood summers at The Strand. I even wrote about it in my school book in 1983. I loved the orange slide." - From Tania Camburn

The Strand in 1980s

"I swam at The Strand as part of the local swimming club. If you were any good and won at the Medway swimming championships, you received free entry to The Strand for the summer. We would have fun in the pool all day."

From Glen Issacs

Early 1990s

The Strand in the early 1990s

Record numbers visited the outdoor pool in the summer of 1995 with over 51,000 visitors in total.

The Strand in the early 1990s

"I used to work at The Strand swimming pool when it was the old style pool back in 1990 to 1991 and it was the best summer. Amazing people and so much fun."

From Julia Gribben

1996

100 year celebrations

Gillingham Borough Council organised a programme of events at The Strand pool to celebrate 100 years.

Below is the 100 year poster for The Strand.

100 year celebrations
2000s

New attractions open

Attractions that opened in later years included a pitch and putt course which became a footgolf course in 2014 before closing.

Refurbishment works have been done in recent years to the playground areas.

The image below is the summer opening of The Strand Leisure Park in 2005. Derek Smith is driving the train.

Image: Kent Messenger.

New attractions open

"The golf course that was at the back. I still have an unbeaten record on there in competitions and general play as well as the course record."

From Karl Baker-May

2018

Book about The Strand Miniature Railway

"I wrote a book about the railway in 2018 titled The Strand Miniature Railway."

  • From Jonathan James

Book about The Strand Miniature Railway
2019

The launch of Talking Telescopes

In 2019 saw the launch of ‘Talking Telescopes’ - a joint project between students and staff at Medway Council and Mid Kent College.

The project aimed to capture, preserve and share people’s memories of The Strand and surrounding landmarks, especially from the 1950s and 1960s.

In May 2019 over 400 people attended a celebration event at The Strand.

The launch of Talking Telescopes
2021

The Strand and lockdown

"I've spent my entire life at The Strand.

From playing in the boating lake, school swimming lesson in 1970s the bandstand and collecting stone on the beach.

Recently I ran my first half marathon with Medway Runners and celebrated my 50th birthday in January with a socially distanced lockdown swing in the park.

There have been so many changes over the years, I'm glad it is still going strong."

  • From Nicky Sutton.

The Strand and lockdown
Summer 2021

The Strand Lido re-opens

The Strand Lido will re-open this summer after being closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Book your visit to The Strand

The Strand Lido re-opens