Copyright Kent Past 2010
The History of Kent
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History of Sheerness
Sheerness comes from the Old English ‘scir’ meaning ‘bright, gleaming’ and the Anglian word ‘næss’ as a ‘ness, promontory, headland, a projecting piece of high land’; therefore, a ‘bright headland’.
To prevent enemy ships from entering the River Medway, King Henry VIII built a fort
at a desolate area on the edge of the Isle of Sheppey. In 1666, work commenced on
its replacement, a much stronger fort, although the Dutch destroyed it in their raid
of 1667 before it could be completed.
A shortage of labour resulted in a new naval dockyard -
Following a fire at the yard on 5 September 1823, with the destruction of many buildings including the blue houses, they rebuilt the yard. As a defensive measure, they constructed a high brick wall surrounded by a moat. As the area outside the yard expanded, it became known as
Sheerness parish church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It opened on 30 August 1836, with a day school opening in the following year. In 1851, it became a district church and enlarged, and 1933 saw further alterations.
In 1856, the Sittingbourne and Sheerness Railway formed to construct a seven mile line from the station at to Sheerness, thus providing a rail connection to London. The railway station at Sheerness opened on 19 July 1860. Initially the line terminated half a mile from the town centre. In 1883, a more convenient site emerged. They named the new station ‘Sheerness-