We were very excited to hear about this project, Faversham has so many stories, locals pass them around but, visitors should know them too, here is much more to the town than it’s pretty streets and impressive history. We asked Zoe Snazelle from Strange Cargo Arts to tell us more:
Strange Cargo Arts are currently researching an alternative guidebook to the station towns between St Pancras and Margate, on the North Kent coastal rail line. The book will be part of the Turner Prize 2019 wider programme, the concept being that a visitor who may otherwise travel straight through to Margate could get off at any town along the route and find interesting places to visit.
Rather than simply showcasing the usual landmarks and tourist attractions Strange Cargo want to feature the more quirky, hidden landmarks along with the stories that accompany them. For instance, Faversham was the location for a story that we received from a member of the public;
“The Guildhall was burnt down when the Napoleonic Wars came to an end. The celebrations using fireworks and gunpowder lead to the fire. But rather than stopping the party, the dredgermen, oystermen and fishermen dragged up a large boat which stood on the top of the pillars which became the centre of the party. After fifteen years of war they wanted to celebrate!”
People usually pass by the Guildhall without a second thought, but it becomes a location far more interesting when we know that something significant that took place there. There are many places in the towns that we are researching that have had some astonishing events, and whilst residents know these stories visitors often don’t. The guidebook seeks to address that, and to show that these towns that are often just a station stop along the way to a destination are worth getting off the train for.
The type of stories that Strange Cargo are looking for are very varied, but they do need to be attached to a location that can visitors can find. If it’s a place you’d point out to a friend along with a story, then it’s something that could be included in Everywhere Means Something to Someone.
The stories offered so far have been rich and varied. Faversham has the mystery of King Stephen and his missing remains. Margate has its sea bathing heritage, with both Marx and Engels being banished there for working too hard much to their upset – it was far too quiet for them. The Medway towns are awash with tales of Dickens, the Chatham Dockyard and the network of tunnels beneath them. Whitstable far from being the picture postcard tourist resort of today, had Britain’s first industrial plants which sadly its inhabitants cast a dreadful smell across the town.
Each town has its own wonderful stories, but there are more out there. We’d love you to participate and send in any stories that you have to Strange Cargo. The towns being featured are:
Kings Cross & St. Pancras, Ebbsfleet (Northfleet and Swanscombe), Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington, Westgate-on-Sea and finally Margate.
If you have any tantilising facts or stories about the towns that you live or work please do get in touch. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, the address is The Factory, 43 Geraldine Rd, Cheriton, Folkestone, Kent CT19 4BD, or contact Strange Cargo by telephone on 01303 278821.
Strange Cargo Arts have been sponsored by Southeastern Trains, Kent County Council and Gravesham Council to produce the guidebook for the Turner Prize 2019 wider programme.