Sheerness-on-Sea via Kemsley
Kemsley was built to house workers from the nearby paper mills and is formally laid out with a central square containing a modern social centre built in Queen Anne style. The area is not greatly sought-after. A four-bedroom detached house with garden costs £230,000. There is also a large new estate on the outskirts where prices are low: three-bedroom semis sell for £160,000 and four-bedroom detached houses for £200,000 or more.
Swale station is in a bleak and remote spot where the only housing to speak of is the occasional farmhouse on the flattest of horizons. It was named after the channel that separates the Isle of Sheppey from the mainland, spanned by the Kingsferry Bridge and newer Sheppey Bridge. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ Elmley Marshes Nature Reserve begins here and stretches across the southern part of the island. At Queenborough, once again you find the typically north Kentish combination of relentless late-Victorian housing in a harbour setting. The High Street, which provides for local shopping, ends in an esplanade where you can watch the boats using all-tide landing gear. New housing is going up but locals are worried that the infrastructure may not keep pace with it. Two- and three-bedroom Victorian terraced houses sell from about £185,000. The possibility of a new airport on the marshes at Cliff keeps being raised, this time promoted by London mayor Boris Johnson, but is being resisted.
Sheerness-on-Sea, at the north-west tip of the Isle of Sheppey, is protected by a massive sea wall above the clean shingle beach, from which there are good views over the Thames estuary. The design of the old dockyards was supervised by Samuel Pepys in his capacity as Secretary to the Navy Board in 1665. This is where Nelson’s body was brought in HMS Victory after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Today Sheerness has a flourishing cargo port. Most of the town consists of Victorian terraced housing, built for dockyard workers and now selling at around £95,000 for two bedrooms. Ex-council semis sometimes fetch about £120,000. Minster, two miles to the east, is more popular. Bungalows here tend to sell for £175,000, three-bedroom semis for £250,000. Established between the wars by speculative developers who sold plots to Londoners who wanted seaside homes, Minster is still growing. There is a community hospital and local shopping. The coast from Minster to Leysdown is a more or less continuous run of caravan sites and chalets.