The event, which had originally been planned for January but was postponed due to heavy snow, saw chairman of the Dockyard Trust, Admiral Sir Ian Garnett KCB, inaugurate the new community space located at the Lower Lines on Gillingham’s Medway Road.
Undeterred by wet weather, more than 100 special guests and residents from the local community gathered to watch the Sir Ian Garnett cut a ribbon to mark the park’s official opening. “At least it’s not snowing,” he joked, before continuing, “I’m delighted to officially open the Lower Lines Park here today. May it give you many years of pleasure.”
Designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the Lower Lines comprise a series of fortifications and brick trenches constructed from 1803 onwards to help defend Chatham Dockyard from attack during the Napoleonic wars. Construction of the Lower Lines Park has seen 5.5 hectares of the open land linked to the Lines - and next to MidKent College’s Medway Campus - revitalised thanks to college funding. The picturesque community space now features a view of the historic Lines, as well as woodlands and a wildlife trail for local residents and visitors of the park to enjoy.
The new park is the first step in many planned improvements to Chatham’s historic Lines and the construction of the Great Lines Heritage Park, and is owned and managed by a Charitable Trust chaired by John Spence. Mr. Spence said, “I would like to thank the Friends of the Admirals Gardens group and all those within the local community who continue to support this project.
“The Lower Lines Park is not just a park; it signifies the historical importance of the Lower Lines, and forms an important part of the regeneration taking place across Medway.”
The ceremony was attended by local sea cadets who performed a guard of honour, as well as the Mayor of Medway, Cllr David Brake, and senior staff from MidKent College.