The Medway ports, incorporate Sheerness and Chatham docks, in the heart of Kent on the river Medway.
2010 saw Medway handle 13 million tonnes of cargo, and this should only increase with the redevelopment of the Chatham docks. Container transit routes are very good from the Medway ports, with its close proximity to the M2 motorway. Travel in one direction and in no more than 30 minutes you reach the M25, travel the opposite direction and you will find yourself at two other major ports in Dover and Ramsgate. Added to these road links is also the recommissioning of the rail link straight into the docks.
With the Medway ports being only 15 miles from the M25 motorway, this is a good alternative to London, for the transportation of shipping containers in the south and the UK generally.
Medway sends and receives cargo from all over the world. The Medway ports service all Africa, America, Canada and Europe.
Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds are in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional defences. For 414 years Chatham Dockyard provided over 500 ships for the Royal Navy, and was at the forefront of shipbuilding. At its height, it employed over 10,000 skilled artisans and covered 400 acres (1.6 km²). Chatham dockyard closed in 1984. Now part of the Peel Ports Group, Chatham docks are once again operating to a high standard handling a large volume of cargo each year.
There has been a long association between Sheerness and Chatham, and it is no wonder that they work so well in tandem to this day. Travelling from the Thames Estuary, you will encounter Sheerness first, someway before Chatham. The first known structure in Sheerness was a fort, built by order of Henry VIII to protect the then naval dockyard at Chatham from enemy ships. In 1960 the Royal Navy ceased use of Sheerness, leading to the closure of the dockyard, but now both areas of the Medway ports have diversified with container shipping around Europe and worldwide.