Medway has a long connection with maritime and the Royal Navy. For close to 400 years there was a naval base here. The docks closed as a working place in 1984 and have since then been preserved as a site of historical importance.
Within the dockyard are many fine examples of Georgian buildings. Upon some of these, dockyard workers and sailors have left their mark over the years in the form of graffiti scrawled into the brickwork. Scrawled is perhaps a little harsh as many of the inscriptions have been carefully made and in a manner which suggests the writer was at least a little aware of the historic mark they were leaving.
My friend Brian served an apprenticeship in the dockyards has a long held fascination for the ‘graffiti’ and quite rightly sees it as providing a unique social history of the dockyards over time. The earliest I have seen on the walls dates back to 1741 – the latest right up to the docks closure in 1984 and beyond.
My friend has for some years had a dream project to share with the world the “writings on the walls” and to create a project to do so. Early this year I went with him to meet with the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust to share with them his ideas and request their permission / cooperation to enable his project to become a reality. The meeting was fruitful and henceforth the project began.
Over the summer just gone local photographers have taken the time to make a photgraphic record of individual bricks that have been inscribed over the years. A collection of the shots have been collated and can be found here. Brian is working on researching some stories behind the inscriptions and is aiming to present these together with the pictures using his project to do so.
Just this week he has created an online vehicle to move things on. It’s called The Writings On The Walls. Go visit and leave some encouraging comments if you have the time.