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Now and then pictures from Sheerness

In the fifth of our series comparing then and now photos across the county, we chose to head onto the Isle of Sheppey .

A fascinating part of Kent , it offers interesting history, lovely scenery and some top beaches as well.

Clyde Street, Sheerness in 1953
Clyde Street, Sheerness in 1953

In fact, Islanders are so keen to shout about what it has to offer, we recently reported how they feel the area could very well be the next Whitstable in terms of attracting tourists .

In previous weeks here on KentOnline, we have included 'now and then' photos from Sittingbourne , Rochester , Gravesend , Maidstone and West Malling .

To check out how the street scenes have changed, use the slider tool in the middle of the photos.

Alma Street

These photos of the same scene were taken on the corner of Alma Street and Richmond Street exactly 29 years apart.

The original image shows the once-popular former Heroes of the Crimea pub.

Now closed down, it still boasts signage at the front telling of its previous life.

Unseen in these images at the other end of the street, is the still-running Heights of Alma pub.

Check out those old cars, which we think are a Ford Fiesta and Ford Escort.

A minute's walk from here is James Street, which hosted some very special guests in 1965 .

Sheerness Court House, Blue Town

Not much has changed since the black and white photo was taken back in January 1976.

This impressive building was completed in 1852 and administered justice on Sheppey until it closed in 1969.

The area of Blue Town is just outside the former Royal Naval dockyard – near the Port of Sheerness .

It got its name from the colour of the houses decorated with paint 'liberated' from the yard.

It was once home to many pubs filled with sailors and dockyard workers.

Sheerness clock tower, High Street

The centre of Sheerness boasts the clock tower which was erected in 1902 to mark the coronation of Edward VII.

The first picture, which we believe was taken in the years soon after, shows a tram service and lots of well-dressed locals.

Trams arrived on the Island in 1903 but didn't last long at all as 14 years later they were scrapped and cannibalised for the First World War effort.

The clock tower, however, has remained the centrepoint of the town – often a meeting place for special occasions such as new year's eve when people used to climb and often fall from it.

Clyde Street

Our original photo was taken during the infamous 1953 floods which caused massive damage.

A two-day gale on January 31 and February 1 whipped the sea into such a frenzy, weakened flood defences at West Minster, Cheyney Rock, Scrapsgate, Queenborough , Rushenden and Warden were breached.

Along the east coast of England, there were 1,200 breaches and more than 300 people lost their lives.

On Sheppey, no lives were lost but cattle and sheep drowned and thousands of homes flooded.

Thankfully the town is now protected by a flood wall erected after the disaster.

High Street

These two photos were taken at the bottom of the high street across the road from the fire station.

The original was captured in January 1993, just days after Bill Clinton was sworn in as US President.

What are those cars across the road? The ones at the back look like a Rover and Ford Sierra.

We assume these ladies are on their way to the Salvation Army hall.

As for graffiti on the wall, we wonder who 'Ray' was?

Royal Fountain Hotel, Blue Town

This three-storey listed building was once a popular venue for visitors to the Island.

A close walk to the court house and Blue Town High Street, it is now used for housing.

We believe it operated between around 1800 and 2000.

Possibly, Admiral Lord Nelson – a visitor to the dockyard – once stayed here?

Russell Street

Back in April 1990 when this first photo was taken, the building had clearly seen better days.

Once the popular Sun Inn pub, it was all boarded up and looking for a new purpose.

These days, it is occupied by the New China takeaway, a short walk from the high street.

Thankfully, it looks to be in a better condition than it was 30 years ago.

Sheerness station

Wonder where this gent was going back in January 1992 when the black and white photo was taken?

The actual structure of the station is pretty much as it was, although the ticket machine is no longer outside.

A long-running bone of contention for Islanders has been a lack of direct trains to and from Sheerness with most people having to change at Sittingbourne .

Vincent Court, Vincent Gardens

When the original picture was taken of this sheltered housing accommodation back in 1973, Britain was about to go through the three-day week.

Even with Covid-19, luckily we're not having to contend with power cuts and industrial strife at the moment.

Can anyone tell us what type of car that is parked outside?

Trinity Road water tower

For years, people in Sheerness have wanted something done about the derelict water tower.

There have been many plans – youth clubs, community hub, restaurant to name a few – but nothing has come to fruition.

The original photo was taken in December 1992, and despite the loss of the front stairs, not much has changed there.

However, the Sheerness Town Council is now on the case .

Read more: All the latest news from Sheerness

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