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12 Market Place, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AE

Port of Faversham

Without the Creek, Faversham would never have existed. Its value for the discharge and loading of cargoes was recognised in prehistoric times, when a settlement was established not far from Standard Quay; a Roman villa (luxury farmstead) came next; and then 1,000 years later, in 1147, work began on building a huge Abbey nearby. Stone for this was imported from France through the Creek.

Faversham Creek

By now Faversham was one of Kent's leading ports. As a 'limb' (associate) of Dover, it became a corporate member of the Confederation of Cinque Ports, whose oldest charter still belongs to it. By the 16th century it eclipsed Dover, whose early harbour had silted up. It traded mainly with the Baltic and the Netherlands (in present-day terms, Holland, Belgium and NE France). Vessels from Holland crowded the Creek to satisfy the Dutch appetite for local oysters.

In the 17th century more wool was exported from Faversham than from any other British port. When London began to expand in the same century, it was the main source of its crucial supplies of wheat. Cargoes of gunpowder from the town's factories increased steadily from the 16th century to the early 20th.

Faversham Creek c1895
Faversham Creek c1895

The Creek was busiest in the 19th century when London's exponential growth was fuelled by cargoes of locally produced 'stock' bricks and cement. Thronged with sailing barges and schooners, the Creek was a picturesque sight. The later 20th century saw a decline in its commercial fortunes, as the explosives and cement industries ceased, the local stock brick was ousted by the Bedfordshire fletton, and remaining freight traffic took to much improved roads.

Today many of its wharves and quays have been redeveloped for housing, but enough features remain to link us with the town's great maritime past - a handsome 15th-century warehouse, now the local Sea Cadet Corps HQ, on Town Quay; a huge and stately early Victorian warehouse nearby, now apartments and a restaurant; and Standard Quay, where, against the picturesque backdrop of a 17th-century warehouse and an array of 19th-century ship-chandlers' sheds, authentically conserved sailing barges are berthed by their proud owners.

And just beyond the Quay, the home of the town's greatest 19th-century shipbuilder John Mathew Goldfinch; another landmark early Victorian warehouse; and Iron Wharf, where boat-builders still ply their trade.