Faversham has always been a hard-working town. Its very name, which was derived from Latin and Old English, means `the metal workers' village', and in Saxon times the area was a centre for the manufacture of jewellery. Its town market has been in continuous use for over 900 years and when King Steven established a huge abbey here it became, for a while, capital of the kingdom. With a navigable creek leading to the Swale seaway, fishermen have always plied their trade here; in fact the Faversham Oyster Fisheries Co. is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as being the oldest. Shepherd Neame's Brewery, which was established here, also claims to be Britain's oldest, and many surrounding farms supply the essential raw material: hops. Faversham is best known, though, for its explosives industry, which has been based here since the seventeenth century. Faversham gunpowder blasted through rocks and tunnels to allow faster growth of the railways. They also aided extraction of vital ores and minerals from mines. An increase in demand led to enlarged works at two different sites until an accidental explosion in 1916 brought about decline.
Faversham at Work explores the working life of this charming Kent market town nestled in the heart of the `Garden of England'. In a fascinating series of contemporary photographs and illustrations, it looks at the rise and fall of the explosives industry, the town's long association with shipbuilding, the influence of brick making during the Victorian era and the continuing importance of fruit growing on the local economy.
Robert Turcan is a retired fund manager who was brought up on a fruit farm in the North Kent horticultural belt. He has a lifelong interest in local history, in the pursuit of which he has amassed a considerable collection of topographical postcards, books and maps. His appreciation of the constantly changing environment is complimented by keen amateur photography, as well as a number of previously published titles on Kent's towns.