Live updates

Thieves close off road and steal pavement slabs

Medway council and Kent Police are appealing for witnesses after Yorkstone paving slabs worth more than £7,000 were reported stolen from Rochester’s historic centre.

It is believed that stolen highways barriers may have been set up to make it look as if legitimate work was being carried out while 40 square metres of paving were dug up at the junction of St Margaret’s Street and Boley Hill on Friday night. The footpath has been temporarily closed.

This appears to be a brazen operation to make it look genuine. It would have taken time and effort to set up and work in this way. It could be very difficult for the council to replace the missing slabs with matching Yorkstone as it is difficult to get hold of. "

– Cllr Phil Filmer, Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services

A 35-year-old man from Chatham has been arrested on suspicion of theft and bailed until 14 January. Anyone who saw any suspicious activity is asked to contact PC Richard Strable of Kent Police on 07980 770496, quoting reference 26-0446.


Short aircraft, long project

The fuselage arrives at Rochester Airport Credit: Robin J Brooks

A rare Short Scion aircraft has arrived at Rochester Airport to undergo a lengthy restoration.

The work will be carried out by the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPSL) Ltd and the fuselage and wings will eventually form part of a fully-restored static aircraft.

MAPS publicity director Robin Brooks provides the following information:

The Scion was a break with tradition for manufacturers the Short Brothers, which specialised in building marine aircraft.

All that survives of the shell of the aircraft Credit: Robin J Brooks

The five-seater monoplane went into production in the 1930s and although floats were sometimes fitted it was the land-based version that became the preferred model.

A total of 22 Scions - marks I and II - were built, ten at the new factory at Rochester Airfield.

This model is a Scion II G-AEZF.

Built by Pobjoy at the Shorts factory alongside the River Medway, it first flew on December 9 1937. Fitted with floats, it was initially operated by Elders Colonial Airways flying between Bathurst and Freetown in Sierra Leone.

It returned to the UK in November 1941 when it was converted to a land based aircraft to become a civil communications aircraft. Demobilised from the military in 1945 it was used by Air Couriers Ltd until it became surplus to requirements.

It then passed through a number of private owners before acquired by the Historic Aircraft Society at Southend Airport.

Over the years the aircraft slowly deteriorated and was kept at Croydon and then Redhill.

Coming to the notice of MAPS, an agreement was reached whereby the fuselage and wings of Short Scion II G-AEZF have been brought to Rochester Airport and in years to come the Short Scion will become the flagship of MAPS, Rochester Airport and Medway.

REPORT: Fagin, the Copperfields and more celebrate Dickens Festival

He's Rochester's most famous resident, and export, and this weekend author Charles Dickens is remembered along with his famous characters and novels.

It's the annual Rochester Dickens Festival, an event that attracts thousands of people each year, including Dickens' great great grandson Gerald. Derek Johnson meets him and festival actors Ashley Davis, Colin Greenslade, Agnes Whitfield and Peter Homewood.


Crowds flock to Dickens celebration

Dickens characters mingle with the crowds in Rochester Credit: Derek Johnson

Kent's many links with author Charles Dickens are being celebrated at the start of the Dickens Festival in Rochester. It's a three-day event now in its 35th year. Hundreds have turned out to see characters in costume, music and later a march through Rochester High Street.

Dickens spent his formative years in Medway when his father worked at Chatham Dockyard. He lived for much of his life and died at nearby Higham. Books such as Pickwick Papers and Great Expectations use locations from Rochester and Kent.

Load more updates