Sittingbourne in the twenty-first century
Many factors have conspired to increase the size of the town’s population from 93 in 1566 to 3,000 in 1801, 8,000 in 1861 and 16,800 in 1921. This has been brought about by the town’s economy changing from agrarian-based, to industrialisation, to what we have today which is difficult to define. The electrification of the railway in the 1950s made Sittingbourne a dormitory town for London commuters and new housing estates sprung up to accommodate them. These new estates gradually eroded away our remaining agricultural land and the town’s population continued to rise to 23,600 in 1961 and 41,409 in 2001. By now this figure will have significantly increased.
As we go into the twenty-first century Sittingbourne is once again poised for change but in what direction it is not certain. The use of its High Street is declining at an alarming rate and shops shut down almost every month. A new commercial stimulus is urgently needed.