Brompton 200: Civilian Life in a Military Village explores how squaddies and locals co-exist

By Culture24 Reporter | 26 June 2012
an old postcard showing a military band parade circa 1900
A Church Parade on Mansion Row, Chatham (circa 1900)© Royal Engineers Museum
Anyone who has grown up in a military town knows the pervading influence the forces cast over all aspects of local life.

In the village of Brompton, in north Kent, it’s a long cemented union that goes back to the 18th century when the Chatham Naval Dockyards expanded and the defences known as the Chatham Lines were developed to meet the threat of invasion or attack from Napoleonic France.

The link between the military and the small civilian population was bolstered further with the establishment of the Brompton Barracks and the arrival of the Royal Engineers in 1812.

Today, given the way the physical presence of the Chatham Lines restricted the development of Chatham village, many of the houses and buildings that lie within its boundaries have a history that stretches back across the centuries.

Now the Royal Engineers Museum, which is based at the still functioning barracks, is hosting a community exhibition exploring this 200-year-old bond between the Corps and the local population and the history of the village and its houses.

The exhibition, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been curated by members of the Brompton History Research Group and features items from the Royal Engineers Museum’s stores which have never previously been on display alongside objects on loan from members of the local community.

A selection of oral histories collected by the Museum and History Group during the past few months can also be listened to.  

A website, which goes live on June 30, takes a more in depth look at the topics covered in the exhibition and also allows members of the public to upload their own stories and memories of Brompton. Visit it at www.bromptonhistory.org.uk

More pictures:

a photo of hand holding an old black and white photo of a building in front of the modern day version of it
Mansion Row, then and now© Royal Engineers Museum
a photo of a street sign saying Mansion Row on the bricks of a house
Mansion Row today© Royal Engineers Museum
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