Milton Creek is a shallow tidal inlet which runs north-east from Sittingbourne to join the Swale at Elmley Reach. The area has a rich heritage dating from the Roman period and was an important industrial waterway from the Middle Ages to the middle of the last century.
Once an important centre for the oyster industry, by the mid-19th Century the Creek had become an important commercial hub for the paper and brick manufacturing trades, and of the cement industry. Collectively, these industries changed the fortunes of Sittingbourne and the surrounding areas, as well as the local natural environment. The banks of the Creek were scattered with wharves, yards and berths of the many companies utilising its resources.
The paper industry made use of the Creek’s supply of water by sinking wells into the Creek to increase the flow of water. The waste water returned to the Creek is said to have given the area it’s bad smell. The Brick and Cement industries utilised the abundance of natural raw materials in the area, chiefly clay and chalk. The Creek also provided the means of transporting the finished goods using Thames spritsail sailing barges and later tugs and lighters.
The escalation of the rail and road networks in the early 20th Century meant the barges became a less viable means of transport. Along with much of the industry along Milton Creek they had all but disappeared by the end of the Second World War. So called ‘slum clearance’ in the 1970s made way for multiple industrial estates which now dominate the right side of the Creek whilst a substantial housing estate and lately the new Country Park can be found on the left side. Today Milton Creek is mostly silted up and the new Swale Way bridge mean that it is no longer navigable by vessels with fixed masts.