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1997
• Blue Circle Cement’s sack manufacturing plant produced its 60 millionth sack. The plant produced 250,000 sacks a day for the UK Blue Circle Cement works.
• The ITV programme “Morning Worship” was filmed in Gravesend featuring St. George’s Church
• Gravesend’s Sikh community had talks with Gravesham Borough Council to find a site for a new temple. Increasing numbers of worshippers at Clarence Place meant it was too small to hold the congregation. Daily attendance had reached 500 and on Sundays 1,000. The site of the former Milton Barracks was favoured by the Sikh community. (See 2000)
• An episode of “Eastenders” the popular BBC soap was filmed in Gravesend. In the story one of the characters had come to live in the town, but was returning to Albert Square. Scenes were filmed at Bloomers Restaurant and the Clarendon Hotel.
• Gravesend river boat master Matthew Gandy was awarded the Royal Humane Society Certificate for Bravery after rescuing 2 women from the mud flats of the Thames, near the promenade.
• A replica of Captain Cook’s ship “Endeavor” sailed into Gravesend on a voyage from Sydney and stayed overnight before sailing upstream to Tower Bridge. Spectators watched from the waterfront as she set sail. “Endeavor” fired a 4 gun salute as she left.
• The Royal Coat of Arms which hung over the door of St. Mildred’s Church at Nurstead for 282 years, was stolen over the Easter week-end.
• A new altar piece made from Irish Bog wood was made for St. John’s Church, Milton Road. Irish Sculptor Michael Casey was commissioned to make the altar.
• An ITV Programme “The Street” filmed families in Glen View, Gravesend over 3 weeks and aimed to capture the mood of Gravesham voters in the run up to the general election. Numerous politicians visited Gravesend, in an effort to persuade people to vote, as Gravesend is traditionally known as a “barometer” seat.
• An 8,000 metre warehouse opened at Tower Wharf, Northfleet - one of the largest all weather working facilities in Europe. Development of the site took 4 years.
• The hosepipe ban introduced in August 1995 was finally lifted in April.
• River Radio, Gravesend’s first radio station began broadcasting in July.
• First Sikh Mayor of Gravesend elected - Makhan Singh.
• Southfields School, Singlewell Road was named as one of the worst in the country. The government set up special measures for dealing with failing schools. (See 1954)
• A family in Valley Drive discovered a World War II Anderson shelter in their garden. These family air raid shelters made of concrete and corrugated iron, covered by earth, were supplied to families in target area during the war and duly erected in back gardens. (See 1940)
• A picture showing a Gravesend photographer at work during the last century, formed part of a sale at Christies. Believed to date from the 1860’s it had the wording Martin’s Photographic Gallery, Windmill Hill, Gravesend on it. The print was on the back of an Ambrotype and formed part of a lot.
• A Gravesend family of bakers won a top prize - Brand’s Bakers of Pelham Road South and Echo Square became the Kent County Master Bakers.
• A new Post Office opened in Asda Superstore on the Imperial Business Estate, Gravesend and caused concern that the old Post Office in Milton Road would close as a result. (See 1995)
• A religious service was conducted in memory of William Wallace, Nore Mutineer, on the 200th anniversary of his death. (See 1797)
• A telescope was installed on Gravesend Promenade. It was the idea of children at Riverview Park Junior School when they were asked to suggest improvements for the town.
• Waterman Mike Russell from Gravesend won the Doggets Coat & Badge race - the longest and oldest annual boat race on the Thames. (See 1715, 1882, 1993)
• Gravesend town centre closed down on 6th September, the day of Princess Diana’s funeral, as a mark of respect. Virtually all shops, libraries and other public offices were closed and the streets were empty.
• Gravesend welcomed refugees from the island of Montserrat, where a volcano had erupted. The refugees were housed at Wallis Park in Northfleet.
• Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, opened a new swimming pool at North West Kent College, Lower Higham Road, Chalk. This was just one of a new range of facilities for the National Sea Training Centre, now part of the college. (See 1996)
• A new minor injuries unit was opened at the Gravesend & North Kent Hospital in Bath Street by MP Chris Pond. The unit operated 7 days a week from 9am to 9pm.
• The Royal Yacht “Britannia” passed Gravesend on its way to London and returned from London the following day on her farewell tour round Britain.
• Cobham parish boundary stone which had been in place for 190 years, had to be moved for construction work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. The details on the 3 faces being - North face a date of 1808, the east face the letters S & P and the west face the letters C & P. It was replaced at Brewers Gate, Watling Street in a special landscaped area within Cobham Hall park, where the public have access to it.

1998
• The Mayoral chain of office was stolen at Heathrow airport when Mayor Makhan Singh was travelling on an official visit to the twin town of Neumünster in Germany. (See 1999)
• Plans to restore the colonnades in Berkley Crescent, removed 80 years ago (1918), with funding from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund and Borough Council and completed the following year.
• The collapse of London & Continental Railways following their failure to raise enough money to build the Channel tunnel rail link was greeted with dismay and gloom. It was feared the route would be changed once again. A modified claim for a further subsidy was studied by the government. Finally the section from Folkestone to Ebbsfleet was approved as a new deal was struck with Rail Track.
• Gravesend once again recorded the highest temperature in the country in February with 140c.
• The war memorial in Windmill Gardens, unveiled in1922, was restored - the bronze statue was removed for cleaning and the granite base also renovated.
• Gravesend based White Horse Fast Ferries beat other firms to run new passenger services on the Thames for the millennium and beyond. Boat building operations would take place in West Street and help create jobs.
• Outline planning permission was granted for a major development centred around the Channel Tunnel Rail Link international passenger station at Ebbsfleet.
• The Northfleet by-pass was finally given the go-ahead by Secretary of State for Transport, John Prescott.
• Born in Gravesend, Professor Sir Derek Barton, age 79, died in Texas. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1969.
• One of the “Little Ships”, Gravesend steam tug “Challenge” revisited the Thames as celebrations commemorating the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 were held. The “Challenge” made two trips across the channel, rescuing about 400 men during the evacuation of Dunkirk, and is owned by the Dunkirk Preservation Society.
• English Heritage named two structures in Gravesham that were at risk - Grade I listed Mausoleum at Cobham (1783) and Grade II listed Town Pier (1834). A repair notice was served on the owner of the Town Pier by Gravesham Council. The total cost of renovation was estimated at over £1 million. The owner put forward proposals and the Council gave its approval.
• A serious fire gutted Baldwins shop in Perry Street, Northfleet. The family firm had been trading there for 100 years. It took 40 fire fighters 5 hours to bring it under control. The business continued trading in temporary accommodation for some weeks.
• Gravesham Borough Council allowed alfresco dining in Windmill Street, as a 3 month experiment. It proved to be popular and successful and so was decided to grant permits for outdoor eating every year. The refurbishment of Windmill Street also took place with a new surface, street furniture and lighting installed.
• Opening of a pub in Windmill Street named the “Robert Pocock”. (See 1786, 1986) The building was formerly the “Rainbow Stores”.
• Improvements to the Valley Drive shopping parade, including new pavements and lighting at a cost of £48,000 were made.
• Bells at St. Mary’s Church, Chalk were restored. The three existing bells went to Whitechapel Bell Foundry for re-tuning and three new bells were made, with a grant from the Millennium Commission.
• Prince Charles arrived by helicopter to visit Gravesend. He landed at the Guru Nanak Football Club, then as patron of Age Concern he visited the Day Centre at Clarence Row and then St. Andrew’s Arts Centre in Royal Pier Road where he did an impromptu walkabout, greeted by hundreds of residents and school children.
• The completion of a facelift for St. George’s Shopping Centre at a cost of £1.5 million was celebrated by the Mayor, with a cake cutting ceremony, live music and entertainment in the centre.
• Once again Gravesend was the hottest place in the country with a recorded temperature of 32.20c on 10th August. The warm air flow over the continent causing the temperature to rise.
• Major construction work began on a £17.5 million improvement plan at the Gravesend Waste Water Treatment Works. This would improve the quality of water recycled into the Thames and reduce the problem of smells that had persisted in the past.
• Gravesend’s first family fun day and Mela (festival) was held at the Guru Nanak sports complex and Holy Trinity School. More than 2,000 people attended. The event was organised by Guru Nanak Football Club, Jugnu Bhangra and the Asian Welfare Society.
• About 50 descendants of Indian Princess Pocahontas visited St. George’s Church. The Bolling family had been touring Britain, tracing their roots. The group was welcomed by the Mayor and they had a private reception in the town.
• A campaign to save the Magistrates court was stepped up by Court officials, councillors, Police, Asian groups and the MP for Gravesham. (See 2000)
• Channel Tunnel Rail Link finally to be built, more than a decade after it was first announced. Construction officially began on 15th October, the route running parallel to the A2 on its southern side, throughout the Borough. Prior to the excavation of the Rail Link an archaeological survey discovered a large cemetery at Springhead (Vagniacae) containing 500 interments, of which 200 were cremations and 300 burials. Also on the same site were 600 pottery vessels. Near the Tollgate a Bronze Age settlement was uncovered with a ritual horse burial. At Northumberland Bottom a World War II army encampment was also excavated.
• An 8 foot turtle was found in the River Thames off Gravesend, but was killed by the propellers of a boat.
• Illegal immigrants from Romania were given accommodation at the Inn on the Lake, Shorne. The hotel was besieged by journalists from the national newspapers and the police when the news broke. Their treatment added fuel to the flames of the row over asylum seekers in Kent. The immigrants were arrested after they were discovered hiding in a truck coming from the continent. Some later returned to Romania voluntarily.
• The Wainscott Northern Bypass near Cobham and Higham, was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Kent. The £65 million scheme was the second stage of the Medway Towns Northern Relief road. (See 1991,1992)