Maidstone’s Industrial Heritage

With its river, road and rail routes to London and the Continent, Maidstone became the County Town of Kent.

The town’s history really begins in the medieval period, when the Archbishops’ Palace, overlooking the River Medway, became the focus of small-scale development with markets and fairs. The river provided water, power and transport and was another key factor in the town’s development.

Maidstone began to boom as an industrial and society town in the 18th century, with principal trades including brewing and papermaking and, in its heyday, Maidstone supplied London with “more particulars than from any single market town in England.” The coming of train links in the 19th century also meant easier commuting for workers, as well as transportation of good and materials.

However, the economy has changed over the years from predominantly heavy to light industry and increasingly service industries. Maidstone remains the administrative centre of Kent in the 21st century but has expanded as a retail centre, as well as developing its social side, particularly with its bars, clubs and night-time economy.