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Tourism and Heritage Strategy

Last updated on: 25-Feb-2021

4. Qualities, heritage and assets

All places have a history and each has heritage. ‘History’ relates to the discovery, collection, organisation and presentation of information about the past of people, places and events. The word ‘heritage’ refers to those things from the past which are valued enough today for them to be saved for future generations and heritage is normally associated with artefacts, sites, buildings, traditions, literature, etc.

The Borough’s historic associations, buildings, landmarks and parks define Gravesham’s ‘story’ and are what makes Gravesham distinctive and attractive. They are the subject of immense local and civic pride and create a framework for strengthening Gravesham’s local culture. Together they comprise a unique offer for visitors to the area.

  • The Thames riverside and its history around shipping, immigration etc.
  • Strong associations with important historic figures, including Charles Dickens, Pocahontas, General Gordon and others.
  • A unique ‘cluster’ of defence heritage, associated with the protection of London - New Tavern Fort, Shornemead Fort, the Woodlands Cold War bunker, Gravesend
    Blockhouse.
  • Industrial heritage derived from its Thames-side position and as a cradle of innovation in cement, paper, power and engineering.
  • Exceptional countryside with the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Thames Estuary and popular country parks at Shorne Woods, Trosley, Camer Park and Jeskyns Forestry Park.
  • Historic landscapes at Cobham Park, Ashenbank Woods and Mausoleum, Cobham Hall.
  • Characterful rural settlements at Cobham, Luddesdown, Lower Higham, Sole Street and Meopham.
  • Gad’s Hill Place – the home of Charles Dickens.
  • Cultural diversity with a range of cultural and community and the largest Sikh Gurdwara complex in Europe.
  • A strengthening cluster of arts and cultural activity.
  • An expanding ‘experiential’ visitor offer, including the open air multi-sport centre at Cyclopark and Panic Room’s cluster of escape rooms in Gravesend Town Centre.
  • Gravesham’s leisure and entertainment facilities

Despite the variety and strengths of Gravesham’s heritage, qualities and assets, as things stand, Gravesham is lacking a concentrated cluster of commercial visitor and heritage attractions which would help develop the visitor economy further.

The operation of heritage sites in the Borough rely heavily on volunteers and most of these open seasonally and often only for a couple a days a week or as with Gad’s Hill Place and Cobham Hall during school holidays.

Gravesham has a series of strong heritage themes which can create an attractive offer for visitors, but it will be those visitor attractions which are open throughout the year, especially within the expanding ‘experiential’ sector, together with additional visitor accommodation, which will contribute to a growing visitor economy.

Part of Gravesham’s draw to visitors is the town centre, its independent/distinctive businesses and its strengthening arts and cultural offer, including the Woodville theatre/cinema programme.

Given the disparate nature of Gravesham’s offer, supporting data as to why people visit, needs to be collated more effectively.

Clarity as to why people are visiting and how that might change, can be strengthened through the undertaking of some branding work to define the Borough’s messaging and marketing going forward.

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