How Time Flies!

The Historic Buildings Exhibition of March 2020

The Historic Buildings Exhibition – A Year Ago

Just a year ago, in March 2020, the Gillingham Local History Society held its exhibition ‘Heritage, Buildings, and People’. The exhibition was a presentation of the work undertaken in compiling the Historic Buildings Register, a survey and listing of all buildings in the town built before 1920, together with their architectural detail and what is known of their uses and occupiers. Details of some 350 buildings were on view, with the displays beginning in the Library and spreading across into the Museum. The exhibition, held over several days, was supported by a talk on the history of the buildings and how the survey came to be made.

We were all thrilled with the public response to the project. There was a steady stream of people through the week, and comments were of the ‘I never knew that any of this existed …’ variety. Other people enjoyed finding their own houses and learning something about them. Others again left us with contact details so that they might be able to provide us with a bit more information. The exhibition also gave some visitors the opportunity to see the Museum – including people who had lived in Gillingham for years but until then had never visited us !

Family historians will be familiar with the magazine ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, which gave us a full page article amongst its very busy pages, with the title ‘The Secrets Hidden in the Walls.’

The pandemic has of course curtailed any ideas we might have had about following up the exhibition. So many people said they didn’t have time to see everything that we had been thinking of remounting it in stages over a period of months – something which we might still decide to do. However, there has been the opportunity for further research to be done, and a larger publication about our buildings is on its way. We are also in the process of developing a digital archive, and it is likely that a lot of our buildings information will be available in this way in the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, the face of Gillingham continues to change, and the loss of the old Wesley Villa on New Road to the new junction reminds us how important it is to know about our built heritage.

John Porter

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