Sittingbourne grew from a small fishing settlement on the bank of the Milton Creek into one of the country's most important and well-known overnight stopping places on the main road between London and Dover. For many centuries this was the most important road in Kent and it determined Sittingbourne's growth and development right up to the mid-19th century. After the death of Thomas Becket in 1170 a steady stream of pilgrims started passing through on their journey from London to Canterbury and back. The townspeople realised there was a profitable living to be made from these travellers and slowly the town migrated from its original creek-side location to the main road, Watling Street, where inns and hostelries developed. Over a period of almost a thousand years the focus of the town has moved from being a medieval centre of hospitality to a 19th century industrial centre famous for brick-making to what it is today, a prominent and famous town in the County of Kent.