The Personal Memoirs Of Charlie Westwick, born 1879, The Oldest Gillingham Supporter In The World. (As told to his grandson).
June 1912 to August 1913
The extensive influx of people from the London area in the last two decades of the nineteenth century meant that by 1900 the population of New Brompton was nearing 50,000. There was now a solid area of housing bordered by Watling Street on the south, the Naval Hospital and the Great Lines on the west, Barnsole Road on the east, and the River Medway to the north. It was clear to the local administrators that such a growing population needed a clear local structure to deal with its needs, and after much lobbying in 1903 His Majesty King Edward VII granted the area Borough status. The oldest part of the area was Gillingham Village, which was located down and around the bottom of Strand Hill, and that became the name for the whole Borough.
The Government Commissioners drew the boundaries for the new Borough of Gillingham very widely, taking in the area of Old Brompton, close by the Dockyard Main Gate, and the outlying villages of Rainham, Wigmore, Hempstead and Bredhurst, all of which were separated from New Brompton by several miles of open fields and woodlands. In 1903, Gillingham was the biggest borough in Kent, and the third biggest borough in England. It was a time of fierce local pride, as Grandad remembered.