Home   Kent   News   Article

Now and then: How Google helps track developments across Kent

The changing face of our towns and cities over the years often happens so gradually that it's easy to forget how things looked before the latest development emerged on the scene.

But Google Maps allows for a fascinating glimpse back through time at a hot of some of the county's key changes.

Maidstone High Street - a fair few years before the first Google Maps car started taking snaps
Maidstone High Street - a fair few years before the first Google Maps car started taking snaps

By clicking on 'street view' you can see how areas have changed over the last 11 years. It may not be a huge span of time, but you may be surprised at how much changes during it.

And for some areas it is a reminder of some of the significant changes which we have become so familiar with.

We take a look a just a few - and give you the opportunity to see the before and after images by scrolling across the image.

Simply hold and drag the white spot in the middle of the images to see how things have changed.

Turner Contemporary, Margate

It's easy to forget the fuss over the building of the Turner Contemporary in Margate - but all its promises of breathing new life into a once proud seaside town have subsequently come true.

Perched by the harbour arm, it's difficult to imagine what it was like before it was built. But here's your chance to do just that with images from 2009 and 2019.

And while we're in Margate, Dreamland has seen a quite staggering facelift over the last decade as this image, capturing a ten-year gap at the 'public face' of the theme park, demonstrates. Gone are a dodgy nightspot and grotty pub and hello something a little more appetising for the London visitor.

ABC Cinema, Tunbridge Wells

It was one of the great on-going sagas - just what to do with the old ABC cinema in Tunbridge Wells town centre. Once so well loved, but closed since 2000, plans for redevelopment came and went, while the weeds grew on one of the town's most prominent sites. Eventually, in 2014, it disappeared beneath the bulldozers...much to the relief of campaigners. These images capture the scene in 2009 and again in 2019,

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury may still be sat on the same site, but the look of the building has changed beyond recognition when its former incarnation closed in 2009 (the year pictured). It's former distinctive exterior was transformed into a glass-fronted, modern facility which welcomed theatre-goers in 2011 and is pictured here from 2017.

St James' Place, Dover

St James' Place has certainly breathed plenty of new life into Dover town centre since it was created - with an array of shops, restaurants, hotels and cinema screens - and it's certainly enhanced a high profile stretch of Dover town centre. Compare and contrast the site from 2009 to 2018.

Ashford College

There was much trumpeting of the state-of-the-art Ashford College building opposite the town's international rail terminal. And while it's had a bit of a rollercoaster time since - courtesy of Hadlow College's financial woes - it certainly gives a very different view of the town to visitors today. You can also spot the Connect 38 office building in the background as you compare images from 2009 and 2019.

Next, Maidstone

The development of land just off the M20 at Maidstone has been on-going for many years now - seen as a perfect spot to allow people to access stores, hospitals and hotels straight off the motorway. But it's weird to remember how things used to be - namely before the Next store arrived. "I remember when it was all fields," you'll be able to say. Compare and contrast between 2009 and 2019.

Waterfront UTC, Chatham

We could spend all day examining before and after images of the transformation in and around what was once the Chatham dockyard. But the one we've chosen is the Waterfront UTC in Chatham - a building familiar to anyone who has driven in and out of the town and one which simply didn't exist in 2009.

Peter Cushing, Whitstable

Not all that long ago Whitstable was a quaint little fishing town full of students keen to live there as a far cheaper alternative to nearby Canterbury. Today its house prices are sky high and is the number one destination for the Down From London brigade. So much has changed - one of which was the transformation of the old cinema and bingo hall into a Wetherspoon pub - the Peter Cushing - pictured here in 2009 and 2019.

Onyx, Folkestone

If you grew up in east Kent over the last 40 years, one venue it seemed obligatory to attend was La Parisienne on Folkestone seafront. It changed its name over the years and was Onyx when it finally shut its doors for the final time, before arsonists torched the place in 2016 and that was the end of that. Today, instead of sweaty party-goers, its all shingle as theses pictures from 2009 to 2019 reveal.

Dartford Crossing

Swiping between these two images, one from 2008, the other 2019, would give you the distinct impression that things have really changed for the better since the toll booths were scrapped on the approach to the tunnels from this fine county of ours. The reality, of course, is that it's better coming back, but still heavily congested heading into Essex.

A251, Faversham

We're all so used to seeing roads upgraded, but these images from 2009 and 2019 capture a major change in Faversham; not only that of a huge new housing development just off the A251, close to the junction with the M2, but also how the roads are transformed to accommodate the expected additional traffic.


And finally, a bit of a self-indulgent one. But many will remember the KM's traditional headquarters at Larkfield - once the home of the printing presses. Today it is a housing estate, while the KM's headquarters are now on the riverside in Medway.

For more quirky and unusual stories, click here

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More