The Medway area has a long and varied history dominated originally by the city of Rochester and later by the naval and military establishments principally in Chatham and Gillingham.Rochester was established on an Iron Age site by the Romans, who called it Durobrivae (meaning "stronghold by the bridge"), to control the point where Watling Street (now the A2) crossed the River Medway.
In terms of loss of life it remains the second worst explosion in British history.
Less than six months later there was a second explosion. She was a 1,500-passenger liner built at Dumbarton in 1914 for Canadian Pacific.
It was here that HMS Victory, Admiral Lord Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, was built and launched in 1765.
Sir Francis Drake learned his seamanship on the Medway; Sir John Hawkins founded a hospital in Chatham for seamen, and Nelson began his Navy service at Chatham at the age of 12.
Outside the urban area, the villages retain parish councils.
Cuxton, Halling and Wouldham are in the Medway Gap region to the south of Rochester and Strood.
It was protected by a series of forts including Fort Amherst and the Lines, Fort Pitt and Fort Borstal.
The majority of surviving buildings in the Historic Dockyard are Georgian.
Rochester was also an important point for people travelling the Pilgrims' Way, which stretches from Winchester to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury. In Rochester, parts of the Roman city wall are still in evidence, and the city has many fine buildings, such as the Guildhall (today a museum), which was built in 1687 and is among the finest 17th-century civic buildings in Kent; the Corn Exchange, built in 1698, originally the Butcher's Market; the small Tudor house of Watts Charity endowed by Sir Richard Watts to house "six poor travelers" for one night each; Satis House and Old Hall, both visited by Queen Elizabeth I, built in 1573.
The Chatham naval memorial commemorates the 18,500 officers, ranks and ratings of the Royal Navy who were lost or buried at sea in the two World Wars.
It stands on the Great Lines between Chatham and Gillingham.