Published: 15:00, 28 February 2016
His statue is known for being dressed with traffic cones and safety barriers, but Thomas Waghorn is now set to have a pub named after him.
Wetherspoon is investing £2.2 million in refurbishing The Old Post Office in Chatham and have chosen to name the venue after the local figure.
Work on the premises in Railway Street started on Monday and The Thomas Waghorn is set to open on July 19, creating up to 50 jobs.
Plans include a roof terrace, refurbishing the inner courtyard, expanding the kitchen area, installing a new front entrance and relocating toilets to the upper floors, over 774 sq m.
Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We are delighted development work has now started on our new pub for Chatham. We have been keen to open a pub in the town for a number of years and pleased this is now happening.
“We are confident the pub will be a great asset to Chatham and also hopefully act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in the area.”
The post office closed in 2010 and moved to Martin’s newsagents in The Pentagon Centre and then to a One Stop shop in Military Road. The building was taken over as a pub; first the Francis and Firkin and then The Old Post Office.
Wetherspoon completed the purchase last October. It will be the company’s second venue in the Towns and comes after a £1.5 million expansion of The Golden Lion in Rochester.
The extension saw them purchase the premises next door, previously occupied by the Thai Four Two restaurant, and the creation of nine en-suite hotel rooms.
The company has also submitted plans to Medway Council to bring The Railway, Station Road, Rainham, back into use and is still looking for a site in Gillingham after pulling out of a plan to buy former DIY shop Fads in Green Street.
Sailor, explorer and mail pioneer
Born in Chatham on July 16, 1800, Thomas Waghorn was a postal pioneer who developed a new shipping route between Britain and India. His route, via Egypt, reduced the journey from 16,000 miles or three months to 6,000 miles and just 35 to 45 days.
At the age of 12 he joined the Royal Navy at Chatham as a midshipman on the HMS Bahama. After leaving the Navy as a lieutenant in 1832, he made the journey to India via Egypt as an experiment to send mail.
It took four-and-a-half months but on his way back, he met the Pasha of Egypt, who supported his desert route idea. Waghorn later turned his attention to speeding up the post in Europe using the new railway system.
He was married twice, and lived with his second wife, Harriet Martin, in Rochester. He died at his home in Islington in January 1850 and is buried at All Saints’ Church in Snodland.
The statue in Railway Street was installed in 1888.