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Other notable sea-faring and naval figures, such as William Adams, were raised on the Medway but apprenticed elsewhere.The river was further protected by such fortifications as Upnor Castle which, in 1667 in varying accounts says it was partly successful in thwarting the Dutch raid on the dockyard, or the commanding officer fled without firing on the Dutch.
There are mass and individual graves in Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham for the Bulwarks dead, who were mostly drawn from the Portsmouth area.
Another warship built at Chatham that still exists is HMS Unicorn (a 46-gun "Leda" class frigate) laid down in February 1822, and launched 30 March 1824.
She never saw active service and has been restored and is (as of 2005) preserved afloat in Dundee, Scotland.
Because of its strategic location by the major crossing of the River Medway, it has made a wide and significant contribution to Kent, and to England, dating back thousands of years, as evident in the siting of Watling Street by the Romans and by the Norman Rochester Castle, Rochester Cathedral (the second oldest in Britain) and the Chatham naval dockyard and its associated defences.
The main towns in the conurbation are (from west to east): Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, and Rainham. Many smaller towns and villages such as Frindsbury, Brompton, Walderslade, Luton, Wigmore etc., lie within the conurbation.
After several trips she was back in the Medway for a refit when on the morning of a huge internal explosion tore through the vessel, shaking the ground for miles around and showering the surrounding villages with remains of bodies and debris.
278 died, including 78 workers from nearby towns and villages. A Court of Inquiry was held into the loss and evidence was given that priming of the mines was being carried out hurriedly and by untrained personnel. The Royal Marines also have a long association with Chatham.Rochester later became a walled town and, under later Saxon influence, a mint was established here.The first cathedral was built by Bishop Justus in 604 and rebuilt under the Normans by Bishop Gundulf, who also built the castle that stands opposite the cathedral.The explosion could be heard from up to 20 mi (30 km) at Southend and Whitstable.In terms of loss of life it remains the second worst explosion in British history.It stands on the Great Lines between Chatham and Gillingham.