Heritage regeneration project re-establishes link to Chatham’s military history

Article: David Styles | Image: © Medway Council

A new amphitheatre has been created in Chatham as part of a heritage regeneration project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Medway Council and the Fort Amherst Heritage Trust.

The £2.2million project, which received £1.78 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and a further £400,000 from its local council, was conceived as a way to reconnect the Kent town to its military past.

Work originally began in 2018, with the wider project including both a new entrance to Fort Amherst from Chatham town centre and the transformation of Spur Battery into a 200-seater amphitheatre. The Battery is the highest part of Fort Amherst and in its original guise was used for siege warfare training, troop encampments and military punishments.

Leader of Medway Council, Councillor Alan Jarrett, said: “This is a fantastic project which showcases Medway’s rich military history. I am delighted Medway now has an open air amphitheatre where residents and visitors will be able to watch performances at one of Medway’s heritage sites.

“This is a very exciting time for Chatham and I would encourage residents to find out more about the Command of the Heights project. I would also like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund for their ongoing support of the project and other heritage initiatives in Medway.”

The amphitheatre can accommodate up to 200 seated visitors © Medway Council

In response to Jarrett’s praise, Stuart Hobley, area director for London & South with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, described the scheme as a “great example of what that investment achieves – revealing little-known histories, protecting heritage for future generations and ensuring as many people as possible can share in Medway’s fascinating stories.”

The project also included the demolition of the Riverside One building, which had previously been situated within the walls of the Barrier Ditch. This will be completed later this year, opening the areas up as a greenspace.

“Fort Amherst is entering an exciting new phase in its story,” according to Bill Fowler, chair of the Fort Amherst Trustees. “Medway has a ‘World Class’ heritage offer and Fort Amherst is proud to play its part in that. The Trustees at Fort Amherst are extremely grateful for the support of Medway Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund in the delivery of this project.”