Recording Chatham’s Military History

The common perception of archaeology is of digging holes in the ground, but here at Wessex that’s just one aspect of the service we provide to our clients. When new developments are proposed, the impact on the entire historic environment – above ground, below ground, and sometimes underwater – needs to be carefully considered.
As a Senior Heritage Consultant my role is to advise our clients on how to make best use of the historic environment within their schemes, and how to promote that idea through the planning process. One of the areas we specialise in is the recording of the built environment, and these skills were recently put to the test on a project at The White House in Chatham. This is a key development in the regeneration of the town – the building is in a highly prominent position, and is scheduled for refurbishment as part of the Chatham Dynamic Bus Station Scheme.

The White House, ChathamThe White House, Chatham

The White House, built in 1816, has strong associations with Chatham’s military history, and our research found that the building sits within the footprint of ‘New Gun Wharf.’ The White House was occupied by military personnel and was in use as both offices and residential quarters throughout its history.  The wharf originally formed an extension to the Ordnance Depot of the Chatham Historic Dockyard – a highly significant complex that is currently short-listed for World Heritage Status.
The White House is not a listed building, but the association with Chatham’s military history meant that it was a key facet in the planning process and decision. Having worked on a number of other projects in Chatham Dockyard, we were ideally placed to advise our clients on the best course of action to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. The final design for the Bus Station firmly retains The White House’s prominence in the modern streetscape and ensures its future for the next generation to enjoy.


Heritage and conservation

As a keen amateur interested in local history it is pleasing to know that the relevent steps are being taken to preserve and safeguard these and other important buildings within Chatham, are there any plans to further excavate/explore the former Gun Wharf site?

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