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Medway Council bids to become UK City of Culture in 2025

ByRebecca Tuffin

Medway Council is bidding to become a UK City of Culture.

The announcement will be made by council leader Alan Jarrett in front of thousands of people at the annual Medway Mile event in Rochester Castle Gardens this evening.

Flags to signify the start of Medway’s aspiration to bid will be draped over the castle, an historic backdrop for the occasion.

Which places in Medway could play a part in a year of events?

The ambition to bid in 2025 has been driven by a large number of organisations across Medway.

The Medway Mile is not the only sporting event the area holds each year; the unitary authority has hosted several national and international competitions.

Medway’s facilities have hosted pre-Olympic training camps, European Championships and more.

A huge banner plugging the bid has been draped over the side of the castle
A huge banner plugging the bid has been draped over the side of the castle

There are four council-run sports facilities and one of them - Medway Park - is a centre of sporting excellence.

It is home to England Wheelchair Rugby League, and has hosted international events such as table tennis and handball.

This weekend, Britain’s elite cyclists will race around one of Medway's historic towns after British Cycling announced Rochester would host the UK National Circuit Championships on Sunday.

But Medway is not only known for sporting excellence.

Chatham Historic Dockyard's Festival of Steam and Transport has year
Chatham Historic Dockyard's Festival of Steam and Transport has year

Each year the council organises more than 30 days of free festivals and events, enjoyed by thousands of people including five million visitors each year.

Medway has one of the fastest growing economies in the south east and is now worth £5.17bn.

It is the biggest regeneration zone within the Thames Gateway and is one of the most promising growth areas in the region.

More than 14,000 businesses are based in the area, with others being attracted to the Towns thanks to the many innovative businesses such as Dovetail Games and The Fountain Workshop.

Rochester Airport
Rochester Airport

Rochester Airport is part of the North Kent Enterprise Zone and offers an opportunity for businesses to grow.

Innovation Park Medway is a prime development which is expected to become a magnet for businesses.

The Towns have good connectivity to motorway links and high-speed services to the capital.

Medway also has a rich cultural heritage.

Rochester Cathedral is the second oldest cathedral in England and Rochester Castle is the tallest Norman castle in the country.

The Castle Concerts take place in Rochester Castle Gardens
The Castle Concerts take place in Rochester Castle Gardens

The Castle Concerts saw performances from Craig David, Rudimental and Example this year.

But the future of the concerts is in jeopardy, after councillors said poor ticket sales have made the event 'unsustainable.'

Also in Medway is Chatham’s Historic Dockyard - one of the Royal Navy's main facilities for several hundred years until it closed in 1984.

It now homes three historic war ships for visitors to marvel at and Grade I-listed Victorian ropery.

Medway has close ties with Charles Dickens - Eastgate House in Rochester features in The Pickwick Papers and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

The Grade I-listed Elizabethan mansion, which was built in 1590, was used as a Victorian school.

Rochester Cathedral
Rochester Cathedral

Schools are performing very well in the district, with 86% rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

MidKent College is the largest Further Education College in the county.

The area has around 5,000 acres of green space under the council’s direct management and seven parks are Green Flag accredited.

Leader of Medway Council Cllr Alan Jarrett said: "I am delighted to announce our aspiration for Medway to become UK City of Culture in 2025.

"Medway has so much to offer and City of Culture will create a legacy for the Towns and promote an interest in culture.

Golfers could be seeing off inside Rochester Cathedral soon
Golfers could be seeing off inside Rochester Cathedral soon

"We’ve come a long way over the past 20 years and we are continuing to make improvements - this is a very exciting time for Medway.

"Our monumental regeneration programme is taking shape and we are investing heavily in Medway’s future.

"We are also looking forward to welcoming thousands of residents to our summer festivals and sporting events and we hope that they will help spread the word of our aspiration to become UK City of Culture in 2025.”

If you attend Medway events this summer, the council asks you post your stories and photos on social media using #Medway2025 and #WeAreMedway.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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