Lower Upnor Through the Years

I came across some old photographs of Lower Upnor the other day and wanted to share them online. I'm not too sure when the older pictures were taken or by whom, but perhaps somebody will be able to help. They show an fantastic glimse into how upnor has changed over the last 70 or so years.

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This first picture (above) is the most recent, taken in 2006 by Alan R. Fuller of Albion Place. Not a huge amount has changed between then and the present day. The things I notice are that the pontoon at the bottom of the picture has been removed, the bushes outside the sailing club have recently been removed in order to install a disability ramp and the tree outside of the Waterfront is no longer there. There is a small yacht stored for decorative purposes on the hard area outside of the Pier which has been thre now for some time. It's difficult to be certain but I believe the covered boat on the bottom left, stored in Patman's Wharf is still present, or has been replaced with a similar looking boat.

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This picture I'm unsure on the age but it's certainly after 1955, which was the year Courage Brewery merged with Barclay, Perkins & Co to form Courage and Barclay - this can be seen painted on the side of the Ship pub. The most significant change from this picture is that the houses north east of the Pier and behind the Ship are no longer there, replaced with the present Brissenden Close and Margetts Place in the late 80s.

Patman's yard is a little different, with a mound of what appears to be some kind of aggregate piled up. Some of the present day concrete yard is yet to be built but some of the yard must exist as it has been there a very long time. The photographer is also presumably standing on the (now dismantled and removed) travelling crane.

The cottages between the Waterfront and Ship have changed too, although I don't believe they have been rebuilt completely. Certainly the doors, windows and even chimney stacks have changed. From what I can recall, the inside upstairs of Upnor sailing club is resonably old, with visible beams supporting the roof.

The village green can be seen with a structure of some kind too, which I believe is a shelter. The concrete base for this still exists but not sure why it was removed.

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This is my favourite picture, I think that it is from around the same time as the second. The thing that I love is that you can just about see where our house now sits, to the left of the Ship.

The shelter can be seen more clearly, on the village green and the two barges give upnor a much different look. Surprisingly the dinghy park is still present although the ramp has since been converted into a pontoon.

The number of houses that would have been demolished to make way for Margetts Place and Brissenden Close seems quite mad too, it must have been quite a controversial development at the time.

For the Lifeboats!

As all of the very few people who read my blog will know, I am a big supporter of the RNLI. The charity has been close to my heart since childhood, I used to build lifeboats out of lego bricks, subscribe to Stormy Stan’s monthly magazine and became known as Lifeboat Lolly. I recall with glee the fantastic opportunity I had once to sit on the Atlantic 75 stationed at Hunstanton Lifeboat Station. As I grew up into a bigger lifeboat lolly I dropped the name but didn’t drop the passion for the charity, I was lucky enough to have had the chance to ride aboard the Sheerness Trent class lifeboat in the Thames Estuary and with my friend @geekyjames visited all almost all of the lifeboat stations in the North West Wales area in one day.

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Getting married is of course a huge life milestone and it wouldn’t be right to not acknowledge the RNLI in some way during such a big event - so we did. I am incredibly proud and honoured to say that on our wedding day we were able to raise £691.43 for the RNLI. It was absolutely fantastic to see such generosity from everyone and while it may not be the best part of the day (that was marrying Mrs Andrews!) it was absolutely up there with the warmest and most lovely part of the day and year. I stomped around Commissioners House in by big stupid yellow wellies shaking a fund-raising bucket and was met with nothing but eager desire for everyone to do their bit for the lifeboats. So to all who contributed on our special day - thank you! A special thank you also to Eileen and John Allison of the Medway RNLI Fundraising branch who were incredibly helpful and kind in providing literature, goodies and the famous lifeboat buckets which made everything very special.

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As mentioned in my previous post, it was totally coincidental that in getting married at Commissioner’s House meant that we were right next door to the biggest collection of historic RNLI Lifeboats. Frankly, it would be rude to to take advantage of that fact and so we wandered over passing cheering visitors to have a few photos. My particular favourite is the photo below, where in totally agreeable circumstances we stood aboard a Arun Class lifeboat! Thank you to Mrs Andrews for putting up with me just minutes after being married!

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A Very Special Birthday

Birthdays are always a bit special for us since we share the same day. Every year since Victoria and I have been together we have done something special on our birthday to celebrate. It seems like the level of birthday extravagance increases year on year, last year we went spent a weekend in Singapore, in 2015 we flew in a Helicopter over London and in 2013 we went to the top of the newly-opened Shard.

This year was a little different; it was the most extravagant thing and the best birthday present we could have ever imagined: We got married! ...and it was absolutely perfect.

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We held our reception and ceremony at the beautiful Commissioner's House in Chatham's Historic Dockyard. The venue was fantastic, we were on the banks of the River Medway and a stone's throw from home and where we first met over ten years earlier. The weather gods were with us for the day and we spent time in the gardens around the house taking photographs with all of our wonderful guests.

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Everyone thought I was crazy, but there was only one way I was getting to our wedding and that was on a boat. The Medway is a constant in my life, though growing up, sailing, spending time with grandparents and of course meeting Victoria. We arranged for Bellis of Medway Yacht Club take us on the 10 minute journey to Thunderbolt Peir just outside Commissioner's House. Thankfully the river wasn't too choppy and we all arrived safetly, although I did wear my wellies just encase!

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We held our ceremony on the first floor of Commissioner's house in a gorgeous room with floor to ceiling glass doors. All of our guests were here on time, a group of people that I've never seen together before which was really quite overwhelming! Seeing Victoria in her dress for the first time was more overwhelming, she was absolutely stunning. While we were messing around on the boat she and her bridesmaids had been busy getting ready in the room next door. Victoria's dress was absolutely goregous, looking her in the eye on that Friday is a moment that I'll never forget.

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We had the opportunity to take some fantastic photographs around the dockyard. We were able to visit No.3 slip, built in 1838 whcih is an absolutely incredible space, we were very lucky to have it all to ourselves. We also visited the Tarred Yarn Store, adjacent to the Ropery, it's a bit of a secret and famously used in a Kanye West music video. Best of all, we were able to visit the biggest collection of RNLI lifeboats which happens (totally coincidentally) to be located at the dockyard - more on that in another post.

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A special day doesn't quite give it justice, absolutely the best day of our lives. We couldn't have asked for anything more, we had each other, our friends, our family, a perfect part of the world, fresh Cornish beer and an amazing time.

Mr & Mrs Jones!

My Sister and Lomas (my new Brother-in-Law!) have been planning their special day for what seemed like a really long time - almost two and a half years ago! All that waiting is in the past now and is was clear that the planning, preparation and effort was absolutely worthwhile, their day could not have been better.

Mr & Mrs Jones outside All Saints Church, Frindsbury, Kent

Mr & Mrs Jones outside All Saints Church, Frindsbury, Kent

Their ceremony was held at Allsaints Church, Frindsbury on the 23rd June 2018. They coudln't have picked better weather, it was absolutely incredible, perfect sunshine and not a cloud in the sky!

Available for photoshoots, please contact my agent

Available for photoshoots, please contact my agent

I was appointed Chief Usher for the day, responsible for making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be, which I sort of managed. Victoria was a bridesmaid and did a very good job of making sure Esme and the everyone was ready. Esme arrived at the church in a Volkswagen Beetle with her bridesmaids following behind in a Volkswagen Camper. Their wedding ceremony was perfect, formal but fun and happy with both Esme and Lomas perfectly dressed!

Hymns in the Church

Hymns in the Church

The photographer did a great job of capturing everyone in the churchyard and took some fantastic pictures of the family and wedding party. I don't envy Esme after having to walk around the orchards in high heels for some of these pictures, but they are absolutely worth it!

Esme & Lomas in the Barnyard's orchards

Esme & Lomas in the Barnyard's orchards

The reception was held at the Barnyard in a large marquee in the gardens. A very picturesque part of Kent and very fitting for the occasion. They shared their first dance on the special dancefloor and hosted everyone for food and drinks. A very happy occasion, that went without a hitch. Victoria and I couldn't be happier for them and are so pleased that they are now husband and wife.

Victoria and I in the Churchyard

Victoria and I in the Churchyard

...now I just need to get used to the fact my sister has a different surname!