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In terms of loss of life it remains the second worst explosion in British history.

Rochester was established on an Iron Age site by the Romans, who called it Durobrivae (meaning "stronghold by the bridge"), to control the point where Watling Street (now the A2) crossed the River Medway.

The river was further protected by such fortifications as Upnor Castle which, in 1667 in varying accounts says it was partly successful in thwarting the Dutch raid on the dockyard, or the commanding officer fled without firing on the Dutch.

Another warship built at Chatham that still exists is HMS Unicorn (a 46-gun "Leda" class frigate) laid down in February 1822, and launched 30 March 1824.

There are mass and individual graves in Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham for the Bulwarks dead, who were mostly drawn from the Portsmouth area.

The explosion could be heard from up to 20 mi (30 km) at Southend and Whitstable.

Before she could leave Britain she was commandeered for war service and became HMS Princess Irene, and was used as a minelayer.

After several trips she was back in the Medway for a refit when on the morning of a huge internal explosion tore through the vessel, shaking the ground for miles around and showering the surrounding villages with remains of bodies and debris.

Medway is one of the boroughs included in the Thames Gateway development scheme.