Welcome to Gillingham Town Council
Gillingham is a town in the Blackmore Vale area of Dorset. It lies on the B3095 and B3081 roads in the North Dorset administrative district, approximately 4 miles south of the A303 trunk road and 5 miles northwest of Shaftesbury. It is the most northerly town in the county. Gillingham is pronounced with a hard initial 'G' as in 'Goat', unlike Gillingham Kent, which is pronounced with a soft 'G' as in 'Germany'.
This website aims to inform the public on the Town Council's work, the service it provides as well as local information and news.
This site contains agendas and draft minutes for all committees, ward representation and contact details for council members, Standing Orders and Financial Regulations together with policy documents and much more.
The site is updated on a regular basis with news and information on local issues and also includes links to a number of local organisations.
There is a stoneage barrow in the town and evidence of Roman settlement in the 2nd and 3rd centuries; however the town was established by the Saxons. The church of St Mary the Virgin has a Saxon cross shaft dating from the 9th century.
The name Gillingham was used for the town in its 10th century Saxon charter, and also in an entry for 1016 in the annals, as the location of a battle between Edmund Ironside and the Vikings
In the Middle Ages, Gillingham was the site of a royal hunting lodge, visited by Kings Henry I, Henry II, John and Henry III. A nearby royal forest was set aside for the king's deer. The lodge fell into disrepair and was destroyed in 1369 by Edward III.
Gillingham became a local farming centre and gained the first grammar school in Dorset in 1516 and a mill for silk in 1769.
In the 1820s, the artist John Constable stayed at Gillingham vicarage and, being impressed by the beauty of the countryside, executed several local sketches and paintings. His painting of the old town bridge is in the Tate Gallery.
In the 1850s, the arrival of the railway to the town brought prosperity and new industries including brickmaking, cheese production, printing, soap manufacture and at the end of the 19th century one of the first petrol engine plants in the country. In the Second World War Gillingham's position on the railway from London to Exeter was key to its rapid growth. In 1940 and 1941 there was large-scale evacuation of London and other industrial cities to rural towns, particularly in the north, southwest and Wales. Gillingham grew rapidly because of this.