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24 September 2014
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Hartlake memorial: the river
Busy waterway.On a bright, early autumn day the River Medway slips serenely through the Kentish countryside. It's tree lined banks cut through the flat fertile plain between Tonbridge and Maidstone which was once one of the main hop growing areas of West Kent.
The River Medway was a major trade route
Centuries ago the river was also a major trade route between these towns.

Being a low-lying area which doesn't readily shed its water, the roads would have been almost impassable in winter. Thus it had not only created the fields by depositing silt brought from upstream but it also provided the means whereby the produce from them could be transported.


River Medway.
The River Medway: the spot where the accident happened

For most of its life the river remains almost silent as it winds its slow way from one side of the county to the other. As you watch the water pass gently by it is easy to be deceived into thinking that this broad and deep stretch of water exists only as a benign friend and has no other personality.

But when the weather breaks and the rain begins to fall, the river quickens its pace as thousands of tiny streams and tributaries add to its burden. No longer does the surface lie flat and smooth reflecting the skies above but becomes contorted and furrowed by the impatient waters below.

Eventually the river can flow no faster, the water rises and its banks give up the fight to contain it.

For centuries the Medway has flooded and in spite of man's attempts to contain it with sluices, barriers and weirs, nature will always have her way.

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