Medway Council's Head of Sport, Leisure, Tourism and Heritage, Bob Dimond, attended our heritage and tourism round table last week with Historic England, to talk about the future of visitor attractions in region.
He told Future Cities Forum that 'the trouble is not the physical connection' of an excellent and fast railway line (Javelin train connection from St Pancras) to Medway for visitors, ' but the mental perception of the connection ' concluding that Medway has to 'tell its story' better in terms of infrastructure and attraction.
At the round table, Historic England's Director of Planning, Ian Morrison, spoke about some heritage buildings and sites being swamped by too many visitors to make for comfortable tourism experiences and Bob admitted that he wished Medway 'had some of HE's issues over numbers'
Bob gave the example of Dickens' writing chalet which he would like to draw international visitors to but he says the council needs to find ways to grow awareness of it as an important attraction.
The Chalet was Dickens' writing retreat at his home, Gad's Hill Place, in Higham, and was used as a summer study by the author from 1865 until the day of this death in 1870, where he was writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Bob says that Medway Council wants to expand the appreciation of this area of Kent as more than just the 'garden of England' and wants to tell the story of its many historic attractions.
He gave a further example - Rochester Castle with its Norman tower-keep of Kentish ragstone built around 1127 by William of Corbeil, the Archbishop of Canterbury - discussing how to enhance the attraction with a modern visitor attraction or building intervention.
Ian Morrison commented that 'while every site is unique and what's appropriate to build depends on the setting, there have been numerous examples where creative design has been helpful alongside a heritage structure'.
For a fuller understanding of the opportunities that Medway faces in its future development, please watch our interview with Richard Hick's Deputy Chief Executive of Medway Council in our blog after our City Hall, London forum :https://www.futurecitiesforum.london/single-post/2018/05/10/Medways-transformation-towards-proposed-city-status