About the River Medway
The River Medway is the second largest river in Southern England after the River Thames. An Act of Parliament in 1740 allowed the Medway Navigation Company to make the river navigable up to Tonbridge. The Company was highly profitable until the arrival of the railway in 1842, but struggled on until 1911 when the company collapsed and commercial traffic ceased. The river eventually became under the control of The Southern Water Authority, and then the National Rivers Authority when the water companies were privatised, and then the Environment Agency when that was formed. Today, the Agency operates the 19 mile navigation with its ten locks, from Allington Lock to Tonbridge (Lucifer Foot Bridge). Downstream of Allington the river is managed by the Medway Ports Authority, now part of Peel Ports, having been transferred from the Medway Lower Navigation Company in 1968.
The Thames & Medway Canal, which linked the River Thames at Gravesend to the River Medway at Strood, was completed in 1824. It was large enough to take the sailing barges used for coastal shipping with the second longest canal tunnel in the UK. It was not a commercial success, however, and was bought by the South Eastern Railway in 1846 and the tunnel was converted into a railway. The Thames & Medway Canal is a separate Silver Propeller destination.