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Then and now pictures from Rochester

Walking through Rochester can feel like its own trip down memory lane.

Watched over by a Norman castle, buildings that feature in the works of Charles Dickens and a cathedral that's nearly 1,500 years old makes it a feast for any historian.

Rochester Castle is a focal point for the town
Rochester Castle is a focal point for the town

But it's also moved with the times with new restaurants and bars appearing and disappearing in the recent past.

We took a look into the archives to see how much of Medway's historic town has changed over the last few decades.

Slide the white dot across the pictures to see how Rochester has changed over the years.


Rochester Castle provides a perfect viewing point over the River Medway.

It was strategically built to guard the river in 1127 but is now a tourist attraction and place for families to picnic. And while the castle itself remains pretty much the same, its view across the water has changed in recent years.

The trio of trees on the hilly backdrop curves in the same way, but the greenery and the structures in the water have certainly changed in the last 30 years.

Further north, this picture taken in 1988 shows the bridge that has stood tall for hundreds of years.

High street

The cobbled road through the high street has welcomed thousands of people over the years to enjoy festivals and the charming shops it has to offer.

These shots show the changing need from our shops, where there was once an antique and fabric shop there now stands The Cheese Room and Demelza charity shop.

The flags are also new but the beautiful hanging baskets remain 30 years on.

Rochester lost its last bank in 2017. This photo taken on February 3, 1987 shows NatWest where The Cumin Club now is.

And while the Royal Mail vans have changed drastically, the thorough traffic wardens in the town have clearly not...

The Sweeps festival has been a part of the town's social calendar for 40 years. This photo was taken the first year it returned in 1981 when work to restyle the road to its Dickensian cobbles were taking place.

Another part of the high street that has remained throughout the changes is the Sir Cloudesley Shovell clock. It stopped for two years but a huge fundraising effort bought it back to life in 2017 and gave it a facelift.

The Casino Rooms has been a place for entertainment for decades. From hosting boxing fights to rollerdiscos, it became the nightclub we all know in 1992.

So, while the building remains the same, what happens inside has changed a lot.

New Road

The main difference between to New Road is the greenery. While the route and buildings generally look the same, the row of trees and neat flower beds have grown into unruly part of the wildlife.

The levels of traffic are rarely that light too!

The Roffen

When the Roffen reopened in 1986, Brian Henslow had spent £25,000 to create a "Gentlemens' club for families". And after 30 years at the helm, Mr Henslow and his wife Sara sold the sport and social club to Cavendish Education in 2017 and it is not part of Trinity School.

Toys R Us

Aldi, Home Bargains and KFC have all opened in the Horsted Retail Park this year. But for many people living in Rochester and beyond, it will always be the Toys R Us site.

It was one of five stores built it 1987, as shown in this photo taken in that year.

Read more: Then and now pictures from Sittingbourne town centre

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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