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Rochester Bridge Trust

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Rochester's Relationship with the Village

The Rochester Bridge Trust purchased parts of the former Farnley Estate in 2018. This was mainly the let farms, houses and a number of commercial properties in and around the village including the Field Lane units, bowling club and rifle range.  Since then, the Trust has undertaken a programme of building maintenance works and has refurbished a number of the houses as they became empty.


The Trust has sold a few properties when opportunities have presented themselves.  This includes Yew Tree Farm in the centre of the village.  At the time of buying the estate an agreement was already in place for the sale of Yew Tree Farm once planning consent was granted.  The sale of Yew Tree Farm has recently completed following the grant of planning consent in 2023 and this property is no longer owned by the Trust.


The Trust employs Savills to manage its property estates outside of Kent and they are regularly on the ground.  Issues relating to any property owned by the Trust should be directed to Savills York Office.


Some parts of the former Farnley Estate are still owned and managed by the Sykes family, including the Farnley Ride.

About the Rochester Bridge Trust

The Rochester Bridge Trust is a charity founded in 1399 to maintain the bridge over the River Medway at Rochester in Kent. At that time the bridge had been rebuilt in stone after the previous Roman timber bridge had been severely damaged by floods in the 1380s.


Rochester is located on the Roman Road between London and the channel ports at Dover and the bridge was strategically very important in providing a safe crossing over the river, which is over 500 feet wide with a tidal range of over 20 feet.


For more than six centuries the Trust has continued to maintain a bridge over the river at Rochester, providing new bridges when needed to meet the changing demands of the public. This includes those people using the bridges themselves and users of the river which flows underneath.


The primary objective of the Rochester Bridge Trust is to maintain and provide the bridges over the River Medway at Rochester. Over the centuries there have been a number of bridges and today there are three, the Old Bridge, which opened in 1914, the New Bridge, opened in 1970 and the Service Bridge (1970), which is located between the two other bridges and carries all major services (water, sewage, telecommunications) over the river.

Since the mid-1800s the Trust has contributed towards the construction of other crossings of the River Medway in Kent and in the 1990s the Trust contributed towards the construction of the Medway Tunnel, which passes under the River Medway at Chatham.

The Trust is entirely self-funding and provides the bridges at Rochester at no cost to the public.  It has done this since its foundation in 1399, at which time a number of benefactors gave property and money to provide an endowment, the income from which was to be used to maintain the bridges.  

The Trust still operates on this basis today, using the income from its property investment estate –which includes the properties owned in Farnley Tyas – and from its financial investments to maintain the bridges and other crossings of the River Medway.

Grants, Education and Scholarships

In addition to the maintenance of the bridges, the Trust operates a grants programme distributing funds for various charitable purposes; provides education in engineering and agriculture directly through its own education team; and awards scholarships to students in engineering and agriculture.


The Trust is particularly keen to support communities where it owns investment property, as is the case at Farnley Tyas.  Soon after buying the properties the Trust’s education team delivered hands-on bridge building activities at Farnley Tyas C of E First School and a grant of £30,000 was made towards the internal re-ordering and extension at St Lucius Church, which plays an important role in the community.

Grants have also been given towards new equipment at Almondbury Cricket Club and most recently the establishment of the Farnley Film Club. The Trust is also supporting the Honley Show with sponsorship of one of the cattle classes.


The Trust is keen to receive applications for new grants.  Visit www.rbt.org.uk to read the Trust’s Grants Policy and how to apply.


Details of the Trust’s engineering and agriculture scholarships can also be found on the website.

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