Published: 12:36, 24 May 2022
| Updated: 09:33, 25 May 2022
It's gone. The distinctive illuminated triangular sign that once marked the Kent Police headquarters in Sutton Road, Maidstone, has been taken away.
Its removal is symptomatic of the end of an era as Kent Police get ready to quit the site that has been their home for the past 80 years.
It is the most visible - or actually invisible - change yet as the police force continues its gradual run-down of the site ahead of selling it for housing. The police have occupied the building since 1940, but say the maintenance costs have now made it uneconomical.
The various police functions are being re-distributed to other police properties in the county, although the adjacent training school will remain.
Deputy Chief Officer Ian Drysdale said: "The relocation project relating to the sale of the Sutton Road site is ongoing, with the chief officer team and other departments now based at the new Force Headquarters in Northfleet and at other existing sites across the county.
"It is important these changes continue to be made efficiently and effectively without compromising the first-rate service we provide.
"Our staff will be kept updated on the progress of the sale of the Sutton Road site, which is subject to planning approval."
The closure plans were announced in May 2020.
The police departure is just one in a series of moves that are bringing into question Maidstone's claim to remain as the County Town.
The Government has already announced plans to close Invicta Park Barracks, which will end Maidstone's long history as a garrison town.
Invicta Park has been home to the 36 Engineer Regiment and the Queen's Gurkha Engineers since 1965, but the Army's connection to the town springs from a much earlier date, with the first permanent barracks established in 1797 in response to the threat from French Revolution in 1797.
During the 1800s, it was home to a prestigious cavalry school, one of whose riding instructors was Captain Louis Nolan, of the Charge of The Light Brigade fame.
The Government currently has the closure pegged for 2029.
Only two months ago, Kent County Council announced a proposal to sell off some of County Hall for conversion to 80 flats.
The building which dominates the area near Maidstone East Station has been home to the county council for more than 130 years.
It was originally built in the Greek Revival style as a sessions house for the judiciary in 1824, with the council moving in after it was established by an Act of Parliament in in 1888. The building's current faced dates from a redesign in 1913.
The council says the building is to big for its requirements with many functions now outsourced and staff still working from home.
But the headquarters of Kent Fire and Rescue Service remains in Godlands in Tovil.
The authority has previously closed a number of fire stations across the county in a steam-lining moved and the The Firefighter Museum, once based at the Tovil building in Straw Mill Hill has already been removed - to the Woodlands Garden Centre at Ash, near Sevenoaks.