Story Competition Winner Jodie Frost
Milton Creek By Jodie Frost, 11, Fulston Manor School (11-14 year category)
The barges had been loaded and were on the move to Crown Quay with all of the trade with them, Men were making bricks and every barge was on the move each minute of the day. I moved with quick feet passing every piece of paper, brick and cement there was. As we passed each other the brick and cement manufacturers were making plans to make our trade better.
At Crown Quay, businessmen were agreeing and signing paperwork to buy the trade, to help keep their own business going. 500 men were on and off the barges every hour of the day where one or two people left another one or two people came in. All day long people were in and out with tons of bricks, paper and cement each worker had upon their own hands and you got small blisters all over your hands after a days worth of work.
Only our smallest vessels could reach Crown Quay and Milton Wharf on the high spring tides and some of our larger vessels had no choice but to anchor at the mouth of creek to discharge their cargo into lighters. Many barges were brought to the old creek for repair as some of them were damaged or needed repainting. Although the barges were used for trade, George Smeed had decided to hold 79 vessels at the creek just so he could pull in some more trade.
The famous Brick makers Wills & Packham had maintained a fleet of barges in which to transport their bricks. Their barges were known as the ‘Teetotal’ barges as each of their vessels were named after some temperance reformers. Mr Wills had decided to build a large turret-room window where he could see his barges come into the creek with their men and trade. This we found disturbing as we could see his face from the far side of the creek where we were all transporting the paper, cement and bricks to the barges.
Most of our bricks had come from Murston, these were transported from southeast England to Murston, then finally to the creek. All of us who worked at the creek had worked with the bricks once or twice in a year. Most of the men at the creek started making bricks for our trade and many of our workers had decided to leave and become a brick maker.
Our cement trades had been delivered from the cement mills in Sittingbourne at the east or the town and north of the main railway. The chalk that had been made to go into the cement itself was extracted from the quarries like the old Highsted pit by hand everyday and then washed and steam powered wash mill then pumped through the pipes to the Murston works. This was passed on to each man everyday to one of the barges they were working and made sure that it was still fresh and still sellable.
Most of the workers on the creek were helping out with the paper delivering and loading it onto the barges. The paper mill had always made a rich and rough stack of paper, which was freshly made, packed and delivered straight to the creek. Although everything had been made well and the barges were working fine it looked there were fewer workers, less barges and the water had become shallower. I was wondering to myself why has the creek gone down hill, what has happened, why is it so quiet once again?
The water was mucky and you could see the mud, you could see the bottom of the river. Many of us were talking about how the creek will someday come to an end. We were all dreading the day that we were going to be moved out of the creek and although most of the memories of the creek had gone, we all still had it in our souls and minds.
George Smeeds boats had always been the favourites of the workers and they were a fantastic sight but most of the other barges were just about the same, but the only problem was that the barges were becoming unseen and not being noticed. We wished we could find a way out to save the creek but there was no way we could.
The day came after a year of the loss of workers, barges, trade and money. All of us were completely devastated and tried to get back to the creek where we all had one last look at the creek, it was one of our saddest moments.
We all just stood there and looked out at the creek, it brought back all the memories we had all the fun, on the creek. But all there was left of the creek was a muddy bank and one barge that’s all there was left of this once busy site. Nothing but that and a little pond. We all looked around there was nothing left of the creek that once used to run and be a busy place where the trade was always carried.
All was lost and all we had was a house to live in, a family, food and water, clothes and the memories of the creek. Most of us had faded away and everything had been published in the newspaper about the creek and its tragic ending, all it had done was make the workers who used to work at the creek invisible.