Maidstone is the county town of Kent, England, south-east
River Medway runs through the centre of
the town linking Maidstone to Rochester and the Thames Estuary.
Historically, the river was a source and
route for much of the town's trade. Maidstone was the centre of the
agricultural county of Kent, known as
the Garden of
There is evidence of a settlement in the
area dating back to beyond the Stone Age.
is within the borough of Maidstone.
In 2001, the town had a population of
Maidstone's economy has changed over the years from being involved
in much heavy industry: now light industry predominates; and to
more service industries.
(c975) show the first recorded instances of the town's name: de
and maegdan stane
with the possible
meaning of either stone of the maidens
, or possibly
stone of the people
. The latter meaning may refer to the nearby
megalith around which
gatherings would take place.
The name evolved through
as reported in the Domesday Book
until, in 1610, the modern name
appeared It has also been suggested that the name derives from
stones set into the river to allow clothes to be rinsed in the
cleaner water away from the banks of the river.
finds have revealed the earliest
occupation of the area; and the Romans
have left their mark also: the road through the town and evidence
of villas. The Normans set up a
shire moot, and religious organisations
established an abbey at Boxley, as well as
hospitals and a college for
priests. Today’s suburb of Penenden Heath became a place of execution in medieval
Maidstone's charter as a town was first confirmed in 1549; although
briefly revoked, a new charter in 1551 created the town as a
borough. The town’s charter was ratified in 1619 under James I
, and the coat of arms, bearing a
golden lion and a representation of the river, was designed (in
heraldic terms: "or, a fes wavy azure between three roundels gules,
on a chief gules a leopard passant gardant or"). Recently these
arms were added to by the head of a white horse (representing
, the motto of the county of
Kent), a golden lion and an iguanodon
iguanodon relates to the local discovery in the 19th century of the
fossilised remains of such a dinosaur : The
remains are now displayed in the Natural History Museum in London.
Civil War a battle took place here in 1648, resulting in victory for
the Parliamentarian forces.
, who was Mayor of
Maidstone in 1649 (and also Clerk to the High Court of Justice) was
responsible for declaring the death sentence on Charles I
, and today a plaque in
Maidstone Town Centre memorialises Andrew as 'Mayor and Regicide'
(a killer of kings).
Maidstone has had the right to a town gaol since 1604; the present
prison lies north of the town centre and was completed in 1819.
Army barracks have been a feature of the town since 1797, when the
first was built. The present Invicta Barracks is home to the
Regiment, which includes two Gurkha
From an economic point of view, Maidstone’s history has developed
around the river, and also the surrounding countryside. Paper
mills, stone quarrying, brewing and the cloth industry have all
The modern town of Maidstone incorporates a number of previously
outlying villages and settlements (see Geography
The county council offices, to the north of the town centre were
built of Portland stone
and 1913. Maidstone General Hospital opened on the outskirts of the
town in 1983, replacing West Kent General Hospital, which opened
150 years earlier in Marsham Street. The new Maidstone
General Hospital is located just to the north of the former Oakwood
Hospital (originally the Kent County Asylum) which closed in
Many of today's residents are employed within the retail,
administrative or service sectors within the town; there are many
industrial estates around the town providing employment. Some of
the workforce commutes to other towns, including to London.
Previously covered by the single county constituency of
(once held by Benjamin
) until 1997 when boundary changes led to its break-up,
the town is now divided between the constituencies of Maidstone and
the Weald and Faversham and Mid Kent. Ann
has been Conservative Party Member of Parliament
for Maidstone (and
later Maidstone and the Weald) since 1987. Since 2001, the MP for
Faversham and Mid Kent has been Hugh Robertson
is within, and is the main town of, the local government district of Maidstone, which includes the surrounding rural areas.
The town is divided into the twelve local government wards
of Allington, Bridge, Downswood and
Otham, East, Fant, Heath, High Street, Park Wood, Shepway North,
Shepway South, South, and North. These wards have thirty of the
fifty-five seats on the Maidstone Borough Council. As of November
2009, 28 of those seats were held by the Conservative party, 21 by
the Liberal Democrats
, and 3
independents. The Labour Party
no sitting Councillors, however.
ref> Maidstone Borough Council is responsible for running local
services, such as recreation, refuse collection and council housing
; while Kent County Council
is responsible for
education, social services and trading standards. Both councils are
involved in town planning.
A former millpond on the River Len,
Mill Street/Palace Street Maidstone.
Lower Chrisbrook Mill mill pond and
Upper Chrisbrook Mill, on the Loose Stream.
The town is situated at a point where the River Medway
has previously flowed in a
generally west-east direction; now, having been joined by the
, its course changes to a northerly one. As
it does so, it cuts through the ridge formed by the Greensand
, so that the town occupies a site on two
opposite hills; the more easterly one containing the town centre.
Beyond that, and still higher, is Penenden Heath.
The River Len
joined the River
Medway at Maidstone; though a short river it provided the water to
drive numerous watermills
. The Loose Stream, that rose at Langley and joined at Tovil powered over
The resultant mill ponds on these rivers, are a
prominent feature of the landscape.
Because of that situation, Maidstone had an industrial base, and
became a nodal point for communications, both along the ridge and
beside the river, and on the river itself. Roads radiate from
here, connecting with Sevenoaks and Ashford (the A20); the
towns and Hastings (A229); Tonbridge (A26) and Tenterden (A274).
these roads were served by the Turnpike
in the 18th/19th centuries.
The two railway routes, in spite of the fact that Maidstone is the
county town, are not principal ones, due to an accident of history.
two principal stations: Maidstone East, the more northerly of the two, connects with
London and Ashford; whilst Maidstone
West is on the Medway
Although the River Medway was historically responsible for the
growth of the town, because of its capability to carry much of the
area's goods, it is no longer a commercial stream. There is however
a great deal of tourist traffic upon it.
As with most towns, Maidstone has continued to grow. In doing so it
has incorporated hitherto separate settlements
, villages and hamlets within
its boundaries. These include Allington, Barming, Bearsted, Penenden
Heath, Sandling, Tovil and
Weavering Street. Housing estates include Grove Green, Harbourland, Ringlestone, Roseacre, Shepway and Vinters Park.
Maidstone was at one time a centre of industry: brewing and paper
making being among the most important. Nowadays smaller industrial
units encircle the town. The site of one of the breweries is now
Walk shopping centre.
The pedestrianised areas of
the High Street and King Street run up from the river crossing at
Lockmeadow; Week Street and Gabriel’s Hill bisect this route.
|Source: 2001 UK census
As of the 2001 UK census
Maidstone town wards had a total population of 75,070, and a
population density of 28 residents per hectare
. The town had 31,142 households; of which,
38% were married couples, 29% were individuals, 10% were cohabiting
couples, and 9% were lone parent
families. 14% of households had someone living alone at pensionable
the town was given as 96.6% white, 0.9% mixed race
, 0.3% Chinese, 1.5% other Asian, 0.4%
Black and 0.3% other.The place of birth of the town's residents was
94.1% United Kingdom (91.4% England), 0.6% Republic of Ireland,
0.6% Germany, 1.3% other European countries, 1.7% Asia, 0.9% Africa
and 0.8% elsewhere.
Religion was recorded as 73.9% Christian, 0.8% Muslim, 0.7% Hindu,
0.3% Buddhist, 0.14% Sikh and 0.11% Jewish. 15.8% were recorded as
having no religion, 0.6% had an alternative religion, and 7.7% did
not state their religion.
Aylesford (on the northwest side of Maidstone) has the
largest paper recycling factory in Europe, manufacturing newsprint for the newspaper industry.
Until 1998, the Sharps toffee factory of (later part of Cadbury
Trebor Basset), makers of liquorice
, was in central Maidstone and provided a significant
source of employment.
Loudspeaker manufacturer KEF
was founded in 1961
in Maidstone on the premises of a metal working operation called
Kent Engineering & Foundry (hence KEF). Today, KEF still
occupies the same river-bank site. In the late 1990s KEF
manufactured a loudspeaker called “the Maidstone”.
The town centre has the largest office centre in the county and the
area is a base for the paper and packaging industry. Many
high-technology firms have set up on surrounding business
Southern Water and Mid Kent Water operate the Maidstone water
is ranked in the top five shopping centres in the south east of
England for shopping yields and has more than one million square
feet of retail floor space, including the new Fremlin Walk.
That shopping arcade opened, on the site of
a former brewery, in the centre of the town. It has an area of .
Other recent developments include the riverside Lockmeadow Centre,
which includes a multiplex cinema, restaurants, nightclub, bowling
alley, and market square
As of the 2001 UK census, 45.2% of the town's residents aged 16–74
were employed full-time, 12.7% employed part-time, 7.6%
self-employed and 2.5% unemployed, while 2.3% were students with
jobs, 3.0% students without jobs, 12.9% retired, 6.6% looking after
home or family, 3.8% permanently sick or disabled and 3.2%
economically inactive for other reasons. These figures were roughly
inline with the national average.
Employment, by industry, was 19% retail; 13% real estate; 11%
manufacturing; 9% construction; 7% transport and communications
; 10% health and social work
; 8% public administration
; 7% education;
5% finance; 4% hotels and restaurants; 1% agriculture; 1% energy
and water supply; and 5% other. Compared to national figures,
Maidstone had a relatively high percentage of workers in
construction and public administration, and a relatively low
percentage in agriculture.
According to the Office
for National Statistics
estimates, the average gross income of
households in Maidstone between April 2001 and March 2002 was £595
per week (£31,000 per year).
Army barracks have been a feature of the town since 1797, when the
first was built. The present Invicta Barracks is home to the
Regiment, which includes two Gurkha
On 29 September 1975
a local pub serving the barracks - The Hare
- was damaged by a bomb during the IRA
campaign against the
English mainland. Another pub - The White Rabbit
occupies the former Officers’ Mess of the original barracks, now a
Transport and communications
Residential developments along the
river upstream of the Palace.
One of the first roads
in Kent to be turnpiked
was that from Rochester to Maidstone, in
1728, giving some indication of the town’s importance. The A20
runs through the town and the
runs to the north.
Originally opened in 1960 as the Maidstone Bypass
this was the first motorway standard road to be constructed south
of London.Maidstone is a hub for major roads such as the M20 motorway
, the A229
M2 motorway is also a
short distance to the north and the A21 is not too far away.
The historic centre of
the town is largely pedestrianised or of restricted access to
The River Medway
until the coming of better roads and the railways, long been one of
the principal means of transporting goods to and from Maidstone.
Improvements had been made in about 1730 to
the River Medway, so that barges of 40 tons could get upriver to
Farleigh, Yalding and even Tonbridge.
This meant that a good deal of trade,
including corn, hops, fodder, fruit, stone and timber passed
through the town, where there were several wharfs.
The medieval stone bridge was replaced in 1879 to give better
clearance: it was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette
. A second bridge, St.
Peter's Bridge, was built in 1977.
Today the river is of importance mainly to pleasure-boat owners and
the considerable number of people living on houseboats. For many
years there has been a river festival during the last weekend in
July, and a millennium project inaugurated the Medway River Walk,
the Medway Park and a new footbridge linking the former cattle
market (which is now a multiplex cinema and nightclub) west of the
river to the shopping area to the east.
in Maidstone is provided by Arriva Southern Counties
services are centred on High Street, King Street and the Chequers
Bus Station adjacent to the Mall shopping centre. New Enterprise Coaches, an Arriva subsidiary, will in January 2009 cease to
operate the commuter coach services 781 and 784 from Maidstone and
surrounding areas to London; these pass
to Chalkwell Coaches of Sittingbourne.
A larger commuter
network of services was previously provided by Green Line
but withdrawn in August 2005.
Prior to this, commuter buses were provided by Invictaway
, and, even earlier, by a number
of smaller operators in the wake of coach de-regulation in
In 2004 the centenary of Maidstone Corporation
was marked with several events, looking back at
several historic operators of transport in Maidstone, and featuring
a preserved trolleybus
Former bus operators in Maidstone include: Maidstone &
District Motor Services Ltd
(M&D); Maidstone Borough Council
, later Boro'line
; and Bygone Buses
When the railways
were built in the 1840s,
Maidstone was not well served. It was reported at the time that
inhabitants were bitterly opposed to the railway: the mayor
suggesting that “Maidstone will be ruined as a commercial town”. It
was said that wharfingers and corn and coal merchants would be
event, in 1842, the South
Eastern Railway, in its haste to reach the Channel ports of
Folkestone and Dover, put its
main line through Tonbridge and Ashford, some to the south.
named Maidstone Road was built in an isolated spot called Paddock Wood, from where coaches were run to the county
The 1874 Maidstone East line crossing
the River Medway; also on the bridge is a footpath connecting
Maidstone East with Maidstone Barracks.
years later a branch line was built to Maidstone. In 1846 another
branch line (the Medway Valley
Line) connected Strood with the
It was not until 1874 that the line from London
arrived; and another ten years before Ashford was connected by
rail. There are three stations: Maidstone
West and Maidstone Barracks on the Medway Valley Line (whose platforms are
visible one from the other); and Maidstone
East on the Ashford line.
a railway was authorised under the 1896 Light Railways Act to link
Maidstone with Sutton
Valence and Headcorn, linking with the Kent & East Sussex
Railway. The only part of the Headcorn & Maidstone Junction Light
Railway ever built was a short branch serving the paper
mills at Tovil.
Two long-distance footpaths
are easily accessible
from Maidstone. The Medway Valley Walk between Tonbridge and Gillingham passes through the
town, following the banks of the river. The North Downs
Way, which incorporates the Pilgrims' Way to Canterbury, runs for between Farnham, Surrey and Dover,
passing about five miles (8 km) to the north and
- see List of schools in
The town of Maidstone has fifteen secondary schools; twenty-three
primary schools; and two special schools. Two of the secondary
Noakes and Invicta Grammar School, have been awarded Business and Enterprise
Grammar School include James Burke, television
presenter, and Lord Beeching,
responsible for cutting British railway routes. William Golding
, author of Lord of the Flies
was a teacher there.
Maidstone is a regional campus of the University
for the Creative Arts (formerly
Kent Institute of Art & Design) at which the British artist
[[Tracey Emin, and the Graphic designers Toby Dison, Tony
Rolfe, Andy Wall and Hassain Rauf began their artistic
Maidstone has two independently/non-government funded
. Cornwallis Academy (formerly The Cornwallis
Technology College) and New Line
Academy's (formerly Oldborough Manor School and
Senacre Technology College) which were all State Schools. The New
Line Learning Academies will soon form one Academy, with the
Senacre site being closed down, and all activities moving to the
Oldborough site, which will then be re-built. Cornwallis Academy
will also be re-built, at a cost estimated to be over £62M.
Shaun Williamson, TV actor, attended the
local Catholic Seconday School, St. Simon Stock School.
The school serves Catholic families
throughout the whole of mid-Kent.
As of the 2001 census, 15.7% of the town's residents aged 16–74 had
a higher education
the equivalent, below the national average of 19.9%. 27.5% had no
academic qualifications, compared to the national figure of
The town’s religious base was recorded as 73.9% Christian, 0.8%
Muslim, 0.7% Hindu, 0.3% Buddhist, 0.14% Sikh and 0.11% Jewish.
15.8% were recorded as having no religion, 0.6% had an alternative
religion, and 7.7% did not state their religion.
There are a number of churches and other religious congregational
buildings within the town of varying denominations.
- Maidstone is twinned with Beauvais in Picardy, France. This used to be
announced on signs at the entry to the town, but these were not
included when the signs were replaced in 2005/6.
Radio and television
Maidstone has long held links to local radio
There are three radio stations: Invicta Sound (now Heart Kent
) used to broadcast from studios in
Earl Street; and Hospital Radio Maidstone is one of the longest
serving hospital radio stations in the UK. KMFM Maidstone
, formerly CTR, broadcasts from
studios in Mill Street. It is part of the KM
who acquired the station in October 2006. A new version of
former pirate radio station Radio
Caroline, broadcasts (via Sky and the internet) from The
Maidstone Studios, in the Vinters Park area of the town.
is home to the Maidstone
Studios, an independent television
production base that was once home to the former ITV company
TVS in Vinters Park.
in Maidstone include: The Hazlitt Theatre; RiverStage (also known as "The River Theatre); The
Exchange (also known as ‘‘The Corn Exchange’’); and the Hermitage
United football team was formed
in 1897, and has had mixed fortunes in recent years.
peak of the club's achievement was gaining promotion to the Football League
in 1989 after many
years of success in non-league
. However, the club could not bring their own London
Road Ground up to Football League
standards so they ground-shared Dartford's
Watling Street stadium and played
their games there. The club could not keep up with the financial
pressures of the Football League
folded in 1992. A new club was formed and made its way from the
Kent County League
Division 4 to
the Isthmian Premier
. The club currently plays at Sittingbourne F.C.
's Bourne Park stadium.
In January 2007, work started on a new home for Maidstone F.C. at
James Whatman Way in the town. Little activity has happened since
however the club are (as of mid 2008) finalising an application to
the Football Foundation
for the funding to allow the club to relocate back to the town.As
at mid-2009 no progress had been made,and Maidstone United are
ground-sharing with Ashford Town for the 2009/10 season at
Maidstone Hockey Club is one of the oldest field hockey
clubs in the country, founded in
1878. For the 2009/10 season, the Ladies' 1st XI play in the East
Womens Premier League, and the Men's 1st XI play in the South
Hockey League 1st XI Premier League Division 1. The Men's 1st squad
are also represented in the Indoor England Hockey League Division 1
England Hockey League
won the Division 2 title in 2008/09. In total, the club has 7 men's
sides and 4 women's sides playing at all levels of National,
regional, and County leagues.
Maidstone Rugby Football Club is one of the oldest rugby
clubs in the country, founded in 1880.
The club run 6 senior men's sides and a junior section.
Kent County Cricket Club played
occasional matches on pitches at Mote Park for some 150 years until 2005.
Park itself is Maidstone's largest park and includes a number of
recreational and sport facilities. The Lashings World XI
team is based in Maidstone and has included
a number of high-profile professional cricketers.
Maidstone Sailing Club are a small club that sail on Mote Park
lake. Maidstone also has a rowing
club, a martial arts
school, a tennis
club, an athletics club, an American football
team, and a basketball
team, Medway Mariners, are
also based in the town. As of 2008 they play in the British AA
- Robert Blatchford, socialist
campaigner, journalist and author
- Daniel Blythe, author (including
Doctor Who novels)
- Julius Brenchley, explorer
- Michael Chaplin, artist and
- Mackenzie Crook, actor
- David Edwards,
- Robert Fisk, journalist and
- Guy Fletcher, musician
- Samantha Giles, actress
- Albert Goodwin,
- Alexander Henry Green,
- Christopher Newman Hall,
priest and anti-slaver
- Jon Harley, footballer
- Tony Hart, artist and TV
- William Hazlitt, essayist and
- Edmund Walker Head, colonial
- Noel Howlett, Actor
- John Jenkins,
- Bill Lewis, artist, story-teller,
poet and mythographer
- Sir John Monckton ,
lawyer, Town Clerk of London
- Carol McGiffin, presenter
- Karen Millen, fashion designer
- Frederic J. Mouat, surgeon
- John Orrell, theatre historian and
- Anthony Pawson,
- Mike Ratledge, musician
- John Reilly, soldier (survivor of the Charge of the Light
- Simon Stock, Monk and Saint
- Andy Townsend, footballer
- Shaun Williamson, actor
("Barry" from EastEnders)
- Peter Wolfe,
- William Woollett, engraver
- Yeborobo, indie nu-rave/punk rock band
(now primarily London based)
- Nan Youngman, painter
- Dan Abnett, author