Strange Things in Gillingham
Every town and city in the world has its strange and unusual features or places. These are some of the ones in Gillingham. There are also strange things in Chatham.
Admittedly that's not much, but it's all I have at the moment. If you know of any mysterious things or places in the Medway Towns, or if you know anything about the ones here, please e-mail me.
The Mind Reader
There is a path across the Great Lines which runs along the perimeter of the Medway Maritime Hospital. On the hospital's glass-fragment-topped perimeter wall, amongst the usual "X loves Y" graffiti, are some much older examples. One says "Ban the mindreader / the murdering computer / it has caused a number of explosions and fires", while others say "Ban the mindreader / It makes the criminals" and "It causes sickness bends and vomiting".
The following photographs show this graffiti:
So, what exactly is, or was, the mindreader? I have no idea whatsoever. I once asked my Dad about it when we walked past it together a few times in the 1980s, and he said he didn't know what it was about, but the graffiti had been there for as long as he could remember. Perhaps strangely, very similar graffiti appeared on a wall of Rochester's old marketplace, now the car park of the new Rochester Railway Station.
During May 2004 I was contacted by Steve Rayner, who writes the "Memories" column in the Medway News (the weekly local paper). He used to live in Rochester when the graffiti first appeared, and told me that there were quite a few of these daubings, including one near the old police station in Epaul Lane, and another in New Cut, Chatham. Many people thought they were written as a prank by medical students (the Medway Hospital is a teaching hospital) or possibly someone who was under the influence of LSD.
Steve wrote about this in his column (including a couple of the photos from this site and a reference to it - thanks again Steve!) and asked if anyone knew who was responsible for painting the messages. Within the week, the mystery was solved. Far from being a prank or drug-induced, the graffiti was painted by a local man who actually came to believe that his employers were making mind-reading equipment. Sadly this man had died in hospital a few years afterwards.
More Recent Changes
As part of the changes made to the Great Lines to turn it into the Great Lines Heritage Park, this graffiti was removed. Most of the area seems to have been "tidied up" as well, The Lines have changed a lot since the area was just open space, with rutted areas caused by army exercises and ponies tethered to steel posts there.
As if that's not enough, there's more "strange stuff" in Chatham.