Residents invited to join virtual bookclub to mark 150th anniversary of Dickens’ last novel – May to October 2020 – Medway

Medway Council is inviting residents to take part in an online book club to discuss Charles Dickens’ final unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

To mark the 150th anniversary of Dickens’ death, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Mystery of Edwin Drood, the council is encouraging residents to download a copy of the eBook from Medway’s library service and join them in reading the mystery in monthly instalments, the same way the original readers would have enjoyed the novel.

The central mystery, the disappearance of Edwin Drood, plays out in a thinly-disguised gothic Rochester.

Can you solve the mystery? Download the eBook and join in discussions about the novel on the Reading Drood blog each month from May to October. If you’re not already a member of Medway libraries you can join online and borrow eBooks immediately. In recent weeks more than 15,500 eBooks, eMagazines and eNewspapers have been accessed by residents.

Chapters one to five will be read in May, six to nine in June, 10 to 12 in July, 11 to 16 in August, 17 to 20 in September and finally chapters 21 to 23 in October.

Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “I am pleased we are launching a virtual book club to discuss Dickens’ last novel, it is one of the ways in which we are adapting services in these unusual times. I would encourage residents to sign up for an online library account as there are thousands of eBooks, audiobooks and eMagazines on offer for them to read, as well as The Mystery of Edwin Drood and I hope as many people as possible join in with the online discussions. We look forward to welcoming you all back into Medway’s libraries and community hubs as soon as we can.” 

To sign up for a library account visit

Swale Film Festival – 20th to 22nd September 2019 – Sittingbourne

Swale Film Festival is running from Friday 20th September – Sunday 22nd September at the Avenue Theatre in Sittingbourne.

Across 3 days they will be showing three feature length movies, a selection of short films about Swale and hosting a Movie Quiz!

The theme of the Swale Film Festival is LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE, which is why all of the films have links to the local area.

To see the programme visit and to book.

They welcome everyone to all events (subject to age restrictions of course!), with special discounts for Swale Film Society members. If you’d like to, you can sign up for membership for £6 for the rest of 2019, which will also get you discounts for the rest of our films this year.

The Swale Film Society shows one film on the last Friday of each month at the Avenue Theatre.

This year’s Swale Film Festival kicks off on Friday night with the 1944 classic movie A Canterbury Tale, showing at 7:45pm at the Avenue Theatre in Sittingbourne. 
There is also a very exciting Movie Quiz taking place on Saturday night, 6:30pm – 8pm, where participants can win big film related prizes such as free cinemas tickets, popcorn and drinks – a mega movie bundle at its best! The quiz will be followed by the multi-award winning British feature film Jellyfish, another film that has links to the local area as this movie was made in Margate. 

Sunday sees the final screenings of the festival. At 2pm there will be FREE FILMS about Swale, such as the very retro yet fascinating short film ‘Swale Ready for the 90s’, which takes a look at how our borough was gearing up for big changes in business, leisure and tourism. Our final screening is Juliet, Naked, a comedy starring some very familiar faces (Chris O’Dowd, Ethan Hawke and Rose Byrne), which was also filmed very close by in Broadstairs! A resident of Sittingbourne will coming along to share their personal experience of working on this big budget as an extra, so lots of first hand behind the scenes highlights will be shared! 

The Swale Film Society is a volunteer community cinema group, and we hope many of you will come along and enjoy the wonderful festival that we have put together for the residents of Swale. 

Medway Open Studios –  Saturday 6th to Sunday 14th July 2019


The wonderful Medway Open Studios returns for it’s eight year (I know we can’t believe it either!) during Saturday 6th to Sunday 14th July 2019, with many different venues to visit and a wide variety of work on show by local artists.

Visitors are welcomed to explore the hidden creative work spaces and secret studios of Medway, take part in activities and events at local arts venues, view exhibitions, talk to artists, buy art and crafts, and see first hand the array of artistic talent and opportunities in this impressively creative area of Kent.

You can find a PDF version of the guide here and full website at

Medway Print Festival – 7th to 23rd June 2019


Medway Print Festival is now in its fourth year! Created by Allison Young and Matt Bray to celebrate printmaking and fine art in Medway. Running for two weeks across multiple sites, the festival includes a wide variety of events and activities to showcase some of the best printmaking being created today as well as highlighting the fascinating local history of the medium. The festival includes activities in 12 venues, welcoming back some regular participants as well as some new organisations for this year. 

Download the 2019 Festival Guide here

See events listings here :

Strand Pool Mural Workshops – 16th and 23rd June 2019 – Rainham Riverside Park

Join artist Natasha Steer in designing artwork and stencils for a new mural on the side of The Strand Pool, Gillingham, which will be situated in the Commodores Hard slipway area (see photo).

This free session will involve sketching estuary plants and marine wildlife as well as helping to design stencils for use in creating the mural. All materials and inspiration will be provided and the workshop will take place in the Education Room in the visitor centre.

Suitable for adults and also children over the age of 5, should families wish to attend.

The mural is being created in collaboration with Medway Council and the Medway Swale Estuary Partnership.

Book your place at

Circle Of Life Exhibition – 13th to 29th May 2019 – MCH House – Gillingham


As part of Dying Matters week, which takes place between 13th to 19th May, The Brown Bread Collective is holding an exhibition at MCH House in Gillingham of work created by local creatives in response to the brief ‘The Circle Of Life’.

The exhibition is on display in the foyer and waiting room from 13th to 31st May and all are welcome to visit and view. Free parking is available on site and there is full disabled access.


The Medway based Brown Bread Collective was created in January 2019 to help encourage the conversations that should be happening around the subjects of death, dxying and bereavement. In Spring 2019 the collective made a call out to local creatives in Medway and Swale to create responses to the brief ‘Circle of Life’.

This exhibition runs during the month of May, in which Dying Matters week occurs. Every year in May, Dying Matters and their coalition members, of which the Brown Bread Collective is part of, host an Awareness Week, which gives an unparalleled opportunity to place the importance of talking about dying, death and bereavement firmly on the national agenda. In 2019, the week will run from 13th to the 19th of May and the theme is ‘Are We Ready?’.

The Brown Bread Collective host a monthly Death Cafe at Dragon Coworking in Chatham. The next Death Cafe is on the 29th May from 6pm to 8pm and all are welcome. At a Death Cafe people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. The aim is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives.

Collabs – Art Exhibition By Matt Bray – 10th to 27th April 2019 – Sun Pier House – Chatham

Sun Pier House are hosting an exhibition during April of works created by Matt Bray in collaboration with Daisy Parris, Darrell Hawkins, Wendy Daws, Adam Newton, Zara Carpenter and the artist’s 5 year old nephew Miles Bray.  The exhibition features paintings, sculptures, distressed prints and a latex installation. One timely sculpture on show is a field of ten heads on spikes named after the politicians involved in Brexit.

Matt Bray is an artist and curator with an MA in Fine Art from University of Kent. He is co-founder of the highly successful Sick! project and annual Medway Print Festival. He has curated exhibitions with some of the areas leading artists such as Billy Childish, and last year’s hugely popular show with Laurie Vincent from Slaves and Daisy Parris at Rochester Art Gallery.

Sun Pier House is open Wednesday – Saturday (11am-4pm). Matt will be there every day making new work and meeting visitors as well as live streaming to social media.

Dates: 10 – 27 April 2019
Closing party: 27 April 6-9pm (open to all)