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chdtbeatlesIt’s Full Steam Ahead to The Historic Dockyard Chatham this Easter, as thousands plan to travel to one of the South East’s biggest and best events – The Medway Festival of Steam and Transport. Visitors to the Festival on Easter Sunday and Monday, 20th and 21st April, are in for a real treat this year as one of the South East’s favourite events gets bigger and better still!

The Medway Festival of Steam and Transport is back this year with an injection of even more music to complement the classic and vintage vehicles across the 80 acre site. Visitors will be treated to a variety of music on two main stages located within a historical setting.

The Victorian Warship HMS GANNET, No. 3 Slip and No. 1 Smithery will encapsulate the Folk and Blues Stage, surrounded by vehicles dating from 1901 to 1930 and Steam Traction Engines, where visitors will be entertained with lively and toe tapping folk and blues music.

Acts performing to the crowds include: Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs an ‘off the rails’ skiffle band, well known on the Glastonbury Festival scene, with their quirky and comedic act playing music with wash boards, soap boxes, banjos and guitars and CoCo and the Butterfields, provide something a little different. A five piece band with a unique fusion of folk, pop and hip hop or ‘Fip Fok’ they are not to be missed! Funke and the Two Tone Baby a talented multi-instrumentalist will entertain with his mechanical alt-blues music; Kentish band The Flowing play alternative and folk songs with a range of instruments; and performances from Larkspur with their mix of lively traditional and modern folk music, will ensure that visitors will not be disappointed.

The River Medway sets the scene for a second stage, backed by the beautiful Commissioner’s House. This Sixties and Rockabilly Stage will be flanked by vehicles from the 1960’s, hot rods, trucks and American vehicles and this area will have an American Diner feel to it where visitors can rock ‘n’ roll the weekend away!

Acts on this stage include: Scarlett Rae and the Cherry Reds who perform a fusion of blues, rockabilly and jazz; Like…The Beatles bringing visitors the most accurate and fun Beatles tribute act in the UK, take a trip down memory lane; making a welcome return Thee Waltons, a playful act with a unique blend of hillbilly rock ‘n’ roll; The Kick-Backs are a six piece rock, funk and soul band with sing-a-long covers; The Scalextrics are a new-wave punk rock band with hits from the ‘60s, ’70s and ‘80s; and performances from Leroy and the Rockets with impressive credits in the music industry, be entertained with a mix of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and blues.

With such an impressive festival line up set to come to the Medway Towns, visitors are being encouraged to buy their discounted tickets in advance to avoid the queues, to enjoy their music filled Easter weekend at The Historic Dockyard Chatham. For more information and tickets, go to www.thedockyard.co.uk/steamandtransport
chdtbutterfields

cyclogocolour2Youngsters with dreams of tearing up the track represented Great Britain at one of the largest motorcross beach races in Europe.

Young bike enthusiasts from Medway competed in the Endurole du Touquest in France on 8 and 9 February – their first ever endurance race lasting a gruelling one and a half hours.

Riders Patrick O’Neil, 16, from Strood and Jordan Chapman, 15, from Chattenden came in 37th and 93rd place out of 150 riders.

The talented teens were supported by a trio of mechanics, Jack Staples, 18, from Chatham and Stuart Galloway, 18 and Charlie Knight, 16, from Gillingham, who managed the pit stop and kept the bikes in top condition.

The boys were able to take part in such a prestigious race as part of Cyber Youth Connect (CYC) Youth Project, lead by Medway Council and funded by Interreg.

The project works in conjunction with partners in France promoting English and French unity, and gives young people oppotunities to develop their skills and talents.

Not only did the youngsters have a great time on their racing trip, it also provided them with a platform to put their newly learnt skills from the CYC programme into practice.

Patrick said: “I’ve learnt different techniques, the way to move around the bike in the sand and how to perform and different ways to ride the bike. Because there are no sand tracks over here that’s why everyone goes to Dunkirk – it’s so hard and different out there.

“Without CYC I would have never had the opportunity to do this so I am so grateful to everyone involved in making this happen.”

Jordan never thought he would have an opportunity to take part in such an event. He said: “Motor cross is something that I really enjoy doing, it’s been in my head ever since my dad bought me my first bike with I was two and a half.

“I have really enjoyed this experience and to get the chance to represent Medway in this race is something I could never have dreamt of.”

Since being selected for the race in August last year, the team prepared for the big event with Dover based motocross project MXCP, riding 125cc Suzuki bikes.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services Cllr Mike O’Brien said: “It is wonderful that teenagers from Medway were able to take part in a big competition like this abroad, alongside other young people engaged in similar programmes to CYC.

“The CYC Youth Project can offer up some great opportunities to our young people.”

Youngsters who would like to get involved with the CYC project can still do so as a variety of courses will be running until March 2015.

CYC gives 11 to 19-year-olds an opportunity to gain skills and experience in music, cookery, motorbike mechanics and safe riding, as well as media including filming and photography.

To find out more and sign up visit www.medway.gov.uk/cyc or call 01634 332286

Shoveler Anas clypeata, drakes in flight, Norfolk, AprilLovely weather for ducks as a record number lands at RSPB Cliffe Pools

The North Kent Marshes are a vital winter retreat for European ducks and waders that escape the frozen north, a birdwatching spectacle that has drawn ornithologist Murray Orchard to Cliffe Pools for the past forty years. This month Murray counted 720 of one of the UK’s most attractive ducks, the Shoveler, dispersed across the flooded clay pits.

Murray said, “This count is probably the highest at a single site in Kent since 1961. In my experience, the last two winters have seen the largest gatherings of waders and ducks in the history of Cliffe Pools. I have never before seen so many Shoveler in one place at one time; the total is four times the national threshold and almost twice the international threshold for conservation significance.”

The male Shoveler has an enormous beak and striking plumage and is normally seen in much lower numbers, less than a hundred, than the other species of duck.

The clay pits became an RSPB reserve in 2000, and are unique in the Thames Estuary for their saline lagoons. Murray lived near Cliffe for thirty years and regularly travels down from his home in Hertfordshire; counting birds on this scale takes experience and patience, skills Murray has honed since the age of 12 when he started birdwatching in his garden. Murray said, “Seeing these Shoveler was a great pleasure but they were hard to count, taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend will be a much simpler task.”

Cliffe Pools recently attracted 10,000 Dunlin at high tide, which Murray described as “twisting and turning like a huge cloud of smoke over the pools,” and 9,000 Black-tailed Godwits were recorded last winter. The information gathered by enthusiasts such as Murray, and all those participating in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, provides a finger on the pulse of nature in the UK, buying time to respond to conservation threats before long term damage is done to UK wildlife.

New Photographic Display Outside IWM North
Launching the 2014 First World War Centenary programme at IWM North
From 18 January 2014 – Free Entry; Donations Welcome

IWM _Q28231: Female worker in Charles Macintosh and Sons’ Ltd rubber factory, Manchester, 1918 IWM _Q28231: Female worker in Charles Macintosh and Sons’ Ltd rubber factory, Manchester, 1918

Exploring how the First World War changed the society we live in today, a new external photographic display at IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums, in Manchester, reveals images of women working in industry during the conflict.

As IWM builds towards a major programme of events and displays commemorating the First World War Centenary, six images by official First World War photographer G P Lewis are being unveiled in huge, 5 metre high frames, outside IWM North, on the Quays in Manchester.

George Parham Lewis, an official photographer of the home front, specialised in documenting heavy industry and photographed women workers in the glass, vehicle and food industries.

The images in the free IWM North display document women’s vital contribution to the war effort in factories across the North West of England almost 100 years ago.

Taken from IWM’s renowned Photographic Archive, the images were jointly commissioned by IWM and the Ministry of Information, demonstrating the wide range of roles performed by women during the First World War.

Visitors are invited to contact IWM North on Twitter @I_W_M #IWMNorth or Facebook.com/iwm.north if they recognise family members in any of GP Lewis’ photographs on display.

IWM_Q28392: Female glass worker carrying a tube of rolled glass at Pilkington Glass Ltd., St Helen’s, 1918. The company still exists today IWM_Q28392: Female glass worker carrying a tube of rolled glass at Pilkington Glass Ltd., St Helen’s, 1918. The company still exists today

Graham Boxer, Director of IWM North, said: ‘The First World War was a major turning point that shaped the world we live in today, including the roles of women in society. These six powerful images depict women at work during an extraordinary time. It is a fitting start towards a major programme of exhibitions, displays and events marking the First World War Centenary at IWM North. Later this year we will open the largest exhibition ever created exploring the role of the North West of England during the First World War.’

The Women and Industry display opens on 18 January, while IWM North’s major exhibition marking the centenary, From Street To Trench: A War that Shaped a Region, will open on 5 April. For more information, visit http://www.iwm.org.uk

false_false_widowsNews stories about false widow spiders are an annual occurrence, but this year the coverage has been far more persistent, with more sensationalised, unsubstantiated and downright nonsense stories than usual. With over 650 species of spider in the country but very limited public awareness there is little appreciation of the diversity of spiders, and any spiders vaguely resembling false widows (and some spiders looking nothing like false widows), are being identified as such by the press and subsequently members of the public, and vice versa since it seems fact-checking by journalists is rare. Having said that, false widows are fairly common and widespread in the South, and have been around for some time. Read More

Copyroght Kennard Phillipps

Copyright Kennard Phillipps

Major New Exhibition, 12 October 2013 – 23 February 2014, IWM North Special Exhibitions Gallery, Free Entry, Donations Welcome.

IWM holds an unrivalled collection of twentieth and twenty-first century British art. Now, IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums, in Manchester is presenting the first major exhibition of IWM’s collection of contemporary art produced since the First Gulf War – placing more than 20 years of work by over 40 artists in this national collection on public display together for the first time. Read More

SpitfireChatham Historic Dockyard Trust is delighted to announce that The Spirit of Kent Spitfire from Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar will be making appearances at Salute to the ‘40s on 21st and 22nd September at The Historic Dockyard Chatham. Read More

hay wainThe life and times of two of Britain’s most famous artists will be revealed in a talk at Chatham Library, Chatham Community Hub next week. (Sept 5)

‘The Essential English Landscape’ highlights the importance of Turner and Constable in the history of the country’s art.

Martin Heard is one of Kent’s most popular speakers on art and brings to life the role of both painters.

J.M.W (John Mallord William) Turner went to the Royal Academy at the age of 14 and held his first exhibition there at the age of 15. He quickly became one of England’s foremost Romantic artists and almost single handedly established the country’s reputation for landscape and maritime art . He is known throughout the world for his links to Kent and for the influence the county had on his art.

John Constable was a contemporary and rival of Turner’s but during his lifetime did not achieve the same popularity in England, although his work was much in demand in France. However after his death his landcapes achieved wider acclaim at home.

The talk takes place at Chatham Library, Chatham Community Hub on Thursday September 5th at 7.30pm. Entry is free but booking is essential. Places can be reserved by ringing 01634 337799

4c Russia Launch lipscombThe National Alfa Romeo Day comes to Chatham!

Alfa Romeo owners and enthusiasts alike will be heading to The Historic Dockyard Chatham on Sunday 11 August for the National Alfa Day, as the award winning tourist attraction plays host to the Alfa Romeo Owners Club (AROC) National event. More

Krause006Free Family Printmaking workshops
Sunday, 11 August
10.30am – 12.30pm
1.30 – 3.30pm
Rochester Art Gallery, 95 High Street, Rochester (inside the Visitor Information Centre)
Families are invited to come along and try their hand at a range of fun and simple print making techniques as part of the Rochester Art Gallery’s exhibition ‘The Illustrators Art – Prints from London Print Studio’.

The free workshops will be led by artists from Medway Fine Printmakers. The exhibition features a range of work by five artists and includes pop-up books, and amusing prints of animals that families will love – can you spot the dog riding a donkey, a sausage fight or a rabbit with an egg?

The sessions are suitable for accompanied children aged 7 plus, and are free but must be pre-booked by calling Medway Council’s Arts Team on 01634 338319 or emailing arts@medway.gov.uk

Memories of Rochester High Street are the inspiration for a new exhibition that opened at the archive centre in June. More

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