Rochester and Strood is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election.
Rochester & Strood Constituency is located in north Kent alongside the River Medway estuary with the River Thames on its north border. Based on the Medway Towns of Chatham, Rochester and Strood and the villages of Strood Rural and the Hoo Peninsula.
The Medway Towns is a thriving city in all but name. Medway or Medway Towns are the collective names for the single conurbation, the largest conurbation in south east England outside London that compasses the towns of Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and their surrounding areas. Additionally there are several rural settlements on the Hoo Peninsula and on the west bank of the Medway valley.
The area has a wide range of historic and natural assets including the castles at Rochester-upon-Medway, Upnor and Cooling, Rochester Cathedral and town centre, the Chatham Historic Dockyard, Fort Amherst, the Royal Engineers’ Museum and a variety of urban and rural conservation areas. The area’s attractive countryside includes part of North Kent Marshes and River Medway Estuary (which have the highest international nature conservation designations) and part of the North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Rochester is best known for Charles Dickens who lived nearby at Gad’s Hill, Higham, and who based many of his novels in the area. Descriptions of the town appear in Pickwick Papers , Great Expectations and lightly fictionalised as Cloisterham in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Restoration house located on Crow Lane was the house on which Charles Dickens based Miss Havisham’s (from Great Expectations) house, Satis House. This link is celebrated in Rochester’s Dickens Festival each June in the Summer Dickens Festival and December with the Dickensian Christmas Festival.
Chatham town centre is an important sub-regional shopping centre and the proposed £1 billion regeneration programme will transform Chatham as Medway’s new town centre. Rochester and Strood Riversides are large urban brownfield sites, one of the most exciting development projects in the Thames Gateway. A substantial new mixed use developments will include some 3,000 plus new mixed tenure homes, offices and shops, two new hotels, restaurants, river walks & open spaces and links to historic Rochester.
The area has also seen significant change over the last ten years with a focus in education, The area now boasts a number of sites of learning including the University of Greenwich, University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University and the development of the new purpose Mid-Kent College site. In addition, in celebration of the diversity of the town the University of the Creative Arts has one of its sites in Rochester and is considering relocating as a whole to a single campus in Medway.
The Rochester constituency is an old one, going back to the 16th century, but it saw many changes in the 20th century. In 1918 it was split between Chatham, Gillingham and the “old”, rural, Medway constituency. The Chatham seat became Rochester and Chatham in 1950, and then Medway in 1983. When the boroughs of Rochester upon Medway and Gillingham merged to form the larger unitary Borough of Medway in 1998, the Parliamentary constituency of Medway only covered part of the new borough, so for the next election the seat will be renamed Rochester and Strood.
The electoral wards used to create this seat are as follows:
Cuxton and Halling, Peninsula, River, Rochester East, Rochester South and Horsted, Rochester West, Strood North, Strood Rural and Strood South