Jobs in Rochester, United Kingdom
Rochester is situated just 30 miles east of London, in a marshy low-lying area near the confluence of the Thames and Medway rivers. It was recognised as a Cathedral City in 1211 and retained this status until 1998. In that year it joined together with Chatham, Gillingham, Strood and several outlying villages to form a unitary urban area, the Medway Towns, administered by the new Medway Urban Authority.
The Rochester Bridge crosses the Medway River at its lowest point, connecting Rochester to Strood and thence to London. The first bridge was a wooden structure dating from Roman times. It was followed by a medieval stone bridge and then by a Victorian cast iron structure which is still used today. In the early medieval period, Rochester Castle was constructed to guard the waterway; Rochester Cathedral also dates from that time. In the 16th century, the Royal Navy began to moor large warships in Gillingham waters and established a refitting dockyard in Chatham and a provisioning depot in Rochester. The Chatham Dockyard subsequently became a major shipbuilding centre, employing thousands of workers and building more than 500 ships for the Royal Navy before its closure in 1984.
During the Industrial Revolution, Rochester experienced a boom in manufacturing. Aveling and Porter developed and produced agricultural steam engines and steamrollers there from 1862 to 1938. The Short Brothers, a pioneer in the aviation industry, opened a seaplane factory on the Medway River near Rochester in 1915. The factory expanded into production of flying boats for military use during the war years, but it was heavily damaged by German bombs, and in 1948, all production activities were relocated from Rochester to a sister company in Belfast. When the Chatham dockyards closed, many jobs were lost and large numbers of British military personnel who had been stationed there to man the dockyard’s defences left the area. Only The Regimental Headquarters of the Corps of Royal Engineers and the Royal School of Military Engineering remained in Chatham. The unemployment rate soared, and local shops and services lost much of their business. Chatham and Gillingham fell into economic decline and many parts of the Medway area became derelict.
21st Century Transformations
Today, even though some derelict areas still remain, the situation has been largely turned around, thanks to the success of the following initiatives. (1) In 1985 the first office building opened in Medway City Estate on land acquired in Rochester for development of a business park. The Estate has now expanded to include several retail and residential complexes in Rochester and Strood, as well as working space for over 600 small businesses. (2) Tourism has been successfully promoted as a growth industry. A portion of the vacant docks has been restored as the Chatham Historic Dockyard.
Here, tourists can see restored Georgian and Victorian docks and buildings, an anchor wharf and ropery, and three historic warships. Rochester’s historic centre features a number of medieval landmarks, and several sites that commemorate Charles Dickens, who resided nearby for much of his adult life. (3) Improved rail and motorway links to London and provision of attractive new housing at affordable prices have turned Medway into a bedroom community for London. Medway’s rural character and rundown conditions initially discouraged commuters from settling there, but waterfront conversions and new housing developments are attracting first-time buyers from the city. Also, formerly unemployed Medway residents are now going in to London to work.
Rochester offers Georgian and Victorian terrace homes at affordable prices which are competitive with modern housing in neighbouring towns. Its High Street is dotted with independent shops and cafes, and there are plenty of scenic, leafy side streets that are ideal for wandering. Local options for leisure pursuits include seven game and entertainment centres; the Medway Little Theatre; three outdoor venues for nature walks, and a number of bars and pubs. The Medway Council owns and manages Capstone Farm Country Park, which occupies 114 hectares of converted farmland in Gillingham. Ancient woodlands, green meadows, cycling paths, a lake for fishing, a horse riding trail, picnicking and play areas, and a field for kite flying can be found there. Kayaking, canoeing and other water sports are also available nearby.
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