UK City of Culture 2025: Medway announces bid for honour
Medway is bidding to become the UK's City of Culture for 2025.
The official announcement was made as thousands of people gathered at Rochester Castle for the start of the 12th annual Medway Mile running event.
Medway is made up of the Kent towns of Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Rochester and Strood.
Medway Council hopes its aspiration to be awarded the honour will further boost its economy, which is one of the fastest growing in the south-east and is currently worth about £5.17bn.
Council leader Alan Jarrett said it was a "very exciting time" for Medway.
"Having looked at other areas - Hull and most recently Coventry, and what it's meant for them and what it's brought to their places - it's quite obvious to us that there's big opportunities there.
"It's not just a label, it's an opportunity to actually increase the recognition of the area and that brings with it economic benefits as well, so there is really more to it than meets the eye," he said.
Medway has a rich cultural heritage and boasts the Norman-era Rochester Castle: Rochester Cathedral - the second oldest cathedral in England; Chatham's Historic Dockyard; and Fort Amherst.
It also has strong connections with Charles Dickens, who spent five years of his childhood and the last 13 years of his life in the area.
Medway was also the place where the author found inspiration for some of his work's greatest characters and settings.