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About Medway Council

Medway Council was inaugurated on 1 April 1998 under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1992 and Statutory Instrument No.1876 ("The Kent (Borough of Gillingham and City of Rochester upon Medway) (Structural Change) Order) of 18 July 1996, by which it became a County Borough. Arms were granted on 22 November 1999 and have been lodged in the Archives.

The geographical jurisdiction of Medway Council combines the areas formerly administered by Rochester upon Medway City Council and Gillingham Borough Council. The former area comprises the towns of Rochester, Chatham, Strood, the rural area of the Hoo Peninsula and the north bank of the River Medway as far south as and including Halling. The latter area also includes the historical parishes of Brompton and Rainham. The northern boundary of Medway Council extends midway into the River Thames, the western boundary adjoins Gravesham District, the eastern boundary Swale District and the southern boundary Tonbridge & Malling and Maidstone Districts.

Medway Council lies in the Historical County of Kent and for ceremonial purposes remains under the jurisdiction of the Lord Lieutenant of Kent as the Sovereign's representative. Joint arrangements exist between Medway Council and Kent County Council for Fire and Police Services.

Medway Council results from hundreds of years of continuous Local Government by several previous Authorities.

The "city of Rochester"* is mentioned by Bede in A History of the English Church and People (completed in 731) as having been destroyed by King Ethelred of Mercia in 676; it is also recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Rochester's municipal records survive from 1227 and extend to 1974; Rochester was incorporated by Royal Charter on 1 June 1446 and the office of mayor was established by Royal Charter on 14 December 1461. The present Mayor of Medway Council continues the Rochester City Council tradition of serving as Admiral of the River Medway, with jurisdiction between Hawkwood and Sheerness. The Arms of Rochester were first recorded at the Heralds' Visitation of Kent in 1619 and were allowed at the Heralds' Visitation of Kent in 1674.

Chatham Borough Council was incorporated on 22 November 1890 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1882 in succession to Chatham Local Board of Health (1849-1890) and the Court Leet (whose records survive for 1756-1890), its records extending to 1974. Arms were granted on 1 August 1891.

Strood Rural District Council and Hoo Rural District Council were both inaugurated in 1897 under the Local Government Act 1894 and were amalgamated to form an enlarged Strood RDC in 1935. The former Authority succeeded the Rochester Highway Board (1862-1897), the latter Hoo Highway Board. Arms were granted on 6 June 1953. Both District Councils' records survive from their foundation dates to 1974 and 1935 respectively.

Rochester City Council, Chatham Borough Council and Strood RDC were amalgamated to form a single new District Council on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. However, several parishes from Strood RDC passed to the new Gravesham Borough Council at that date.

This new District Council was initially known as Medway District Council 1973-1974, became Medway Borough Council on 19 June 1974, Rochester upon Medway Borough Council on 3 December 1979 and Rochester upon Medway City Council on 25 January 1982. The post-1974 Authority was granted Arms on 1 March 1977.

Gillingham Borough Council was incorporated on 17 August 1903 in succession to Gillingham Urban District Council (1893-1903), Gillingham Local Board of Health (1874-1893) and the Manor of Gillingham whose records date from 1315. In 1929, Gillingham was enlarged by the transfer of the Parish of Rainham from Milton Rural District Council. Arms were granted on 22 April 1904.

[* The See of Rochester, whose first Bishop was Justus, was founded under King Ethelbert of Kent in 604.]

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