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Chatham Past Hardcover – 1 Dec 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Phillimore & Co Ltd; First Edition, First Printing edition (1 Dec. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860771211
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860771217
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 2 x 25 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,049,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book after seeing it on a bookstand in one of my local bookstores. From the minute I picked it up I was hooked. I actually work in the dockyard in Chatham, albeit in a profession that is not normally associated with a dock yard (web development). My father, my uncles and one of my grandads worked in the dock yard. This book has basically filled in the background to my own small role in Chatham's history.
The book contains interesting anecdotes about Chatham and its people. I learned new things about Chatham (why is Best street called Best street? Or likewise with James Street and Rhode Street. I learned about the less than satisfactory conditions that my ancestors lived in. The disease and squalor that made Chatham such a terrible place to live.
Philip MacDougal has reasearched the subject really well. He draws his information from primary sources, rather than relying on hearsay. The pictures give you just enough atmosphere to put into context the prose of the book. (Chatham has changed so much in recent years that it is difficult to imagine what it was like before the turn of the 20th Century).
An excellent read for any Medway inhabitant wanting to know more about the history of this naval town.
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Format: Hardcover
With Chatham Past not being the first Philip MacDougall book that I have read, I had high expectations of this book. I have to say that I was not disappointed.
The book attempts to describe the history of Chatham from the 16th century, when Chatham Dockyard was established, to 1999. This could have so easily been a book about the dockyard itself, but the author has described the effect the dockyard had on the local community. This is not to say that the dockyard has been totally ignore, Philip MacDougall has added further material researched since his last book about the dockyard. Included are a number of referrals to diaries of former dockyard employees, giving an insight in to life in the naval base.
Chatham has not always been a nice place to live. Read how the rapid growth of Chatham Village also led to the rapid growth of prostitution, disease, poverty and lawlessness. Find out why Rochester wanted nothing to do with it's Chatham neighbours. Understand how Charles Dickens went from living in one of the most up-market areas, to the poorest area of the town.
The book is well illustrated, but at times the photographs seemed to have little to do with the text. This is balanced by the fact that each image is accompanied by descriptive notes and are interesting in their own right. It can also be a little difficult to follow the chronological order of the text. The author picks a subject, or place and describes it's history, which means that you can be skipping forwards and backwards decades or centuries. Having said that, I'm not sure that this book could have been written in any other way, and it doesn't really detract from the interest of the subject.
The book is worth every penny I spent on it.
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