Great Lines Heritage Park
The Great Lines is over 70 hectares of open space at the heart of Medway. It is visible from much of Chatham, and the Chatham Naval Memorial at its apex is one of Medway’s best-known landmarks.
The huge expanse of the Great Lines was in its own right a layer of defence to protect Chatham Dockyard from attack. It was the ‘Field of Fire’ which provided no shelter for an approaching enemy. The majority of the site is flat, and offers stunning views to Gillingham, across Chatham and Rochester, and through to Strood.
A part of the site has been designated a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI), for its chalk grassland flora. Notable species include the exceptionally rare red star thistle, as well as wild clary and squinancywort. Notable wildlife includes the skylark, and kestrel, as well as many other birds, butterflies and insects.
The Great Lines has a history of recreational use – all of the plateau has been used as sports pitches at some point (indeed, the Great Lines was the home pitch of the Royal Engineers – winners of the FA Cup in 1875). Today it is used for informal leisure pursuits, such as kite-flying, cycling and walking, as well as the annual fireworks display.
The Great Lines are being provided with a new future as part of the Great Lines Heritage Park. This exciting project will unite Fort Amherst and the Chatham Lines with the Field of Fire in a single park boundary. More than £3m has been invested by MidKent College in the first phase of improvement at the Lower Lines, which was officially opened to the public in May 2010. In December 2008, government announced a further £2m of investment from its “Parklands” fund, to be invested in pathways, lighting, entrances and a pedestrian bridge connecting the Great Lines to Fort Amherst.
Throughout 2008, over 200 residents and stakeholders assisted in the development of a master plan for the Great Lines Heritage Park, helping to decide how the £2m from government’s “Parklands” fund should be spent, as well as setting future priorities for further bids for funds. The history of the site, as well as the long-term vision, is set out in the following documents (warning – large documents – may take some time to download):
NB. During the design phase the park was known as the “Great Lines City Park” and this is the name that appears in the documents. The name was changed to “Great Lines Heritage Park ” following a public vote in December 2008.