Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for SHEERNESS

SHEERNESS, a town and a chapelry in Minster parish, Kent. The town stands on the N W extremity of the Isle of Sheppey, at the influx of the Medway to the Thames, and at the terminus of a branch of the London, Chatham, and Dover railway, 3½ miles S W of the Norelight, and 7¾ N of Sittingbourne; occupies low ground, which was a swamp so late as the time of Charles I.; originated, and acquired a fort with 12 guns, in the time of Charles II.; was taken in 1667, by the Dutch admiral De Ruyter; became afterwards a place of greater note, with increase of its fort to a regular fortification, and with formation of government docks; was the scene, in 1797, of the outbreak of the mutiny of the Nore; is nowdefended by works, 1½ mile in extent, constructed at a cost of about £100,000, and mounting more than 100guns; has dockyards covering 60 acres, formed at a cost of little less than £3,000,000, surrounded by a brick wall built at a cost of £40,000, and giving employment toabout 2, 500 mechanics and artizans; has also barracks, with accommodation for about 1, 750 men; is a sub-port to Rochester, a coast-guard station, and a seat of county courts; consists of four sections, called Blue Town, Mile Town, Banks Town, and Marine Town, the first within the limits of the garrison, the other three beyond; includes also a suburban tract, called West Minster, partly allotted for streets, and partly occupied by gas-works, drainage-works, and water-works, the last two constructed in 1862; publishes a weekly newspaper; and has a head post-office, ‡ a r. station with telegraph, abanking office, three chief inns, a handsome county court-house, three churches, five dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a Jews' synagogue, a mechanics' institute and reading-room, a national school, a public cemetery, a building society, a benevolent society, and someother institutions. The dockyard includes docks ofsufficient capacity for the largest men-of-war; two smaller basins, a storehouse 6 stories high with capacity forabout 30,000 tons of naval stores, a mast-house, a rigging-house, smitheries, a sail-loft, and residences for the port-admiral and other officers. The harbour fronts the Medway; underwent much recent enlargement; and has asteamboat pier 3,000 feet long. The Royal Hotel, in Banks Town, is a noble building, and was originally themansion of the late Sir E. Banks. The three churchesare one for the chapelry, one for the dock-yard, and onefor soldiers; and the last was built in 1864. A large public hall, with reading-rooms, was built in 1869. Water supply was formerly very scanty, but is now obtained from deep artesian wells. A subterranean forest was discovered at the sinking of one of the wells; and the work-men burned their way through it. Considerable businessis done in the corn and seed trade, in oyster-fishing, and in the furnishing of supplies to ships. Pop. of the townin 1851, 8, 549; in 1861, 12,015. Houses, 1, 998. The chapelry was constituted in 1851 Pop. in 1861, 13, 186. Houses, 2,018. The living is a p. curacy in the diocese of Canterbury. Value, £300. Patron, the Incumbent of Minster.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town and a chapelry"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Minster CP/AP       Kent AncC
Place: Sheerness

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