Sort file:- Gillingham, July, 2022.

Page Updated:- Tuesday, 19 July, 2022.


Earliest 1776-

Green Dragon

Closed 2008

85 Church Street


Green Dragon 2009

Above photo 2009.

Former Green Dragon 2011

Above photo 2011, from by Ben Levick.

Green Dragon 2011

Above photo 2011, from by Ben Levick.

Green Dragon 2012

Above photo, February 2012, kindly sent by Arthur Cornwell.

Green Dragon location 2021

Above photo, November 2021, kindly sent by Arthur Cornwell.


Information below by Ben Levick

Mary Boy was recorded as landlady as early as 1766 although the pub may have been there for some time before that date. It was known to have smuggling connections in the 18th century. In the early 20th century a whale was washed up on the Gillingham shore nearby, and for many years the bones were exhibited in the pub!

I believe it closed in the early 2000s.


Addressed as number 12 in the 1881 census.


Kentish Gazette - Saturday 29 June 1776.


On THURSDAY, the 4th Day of July, 1776, at the "Golden Lion," in Brompton, near Chatham, between the Hours of Four and Five o'Clock in the Afternoon precisely.

ALL those four Freehold Messuages or Tenements, with the several Yards and Gardens thereto belonging, with their Appurtenances, the one of them the "Green Dragon," and the others close adjoining; situate in Gillingham in the County of Kent; and now in the several Occupations William Newnham, John Simson, James Basset, and Bennet Davis, under several reserved Rents, amounting to 16l. 5s. a Year.

For further Particulars enquire of Mr. DIXON, or Mr. HICK, in Rochester.


From the South Eastern Gazette, 6 December 1853.


On Friday night last, at about half-past nine o'clock, a violent explosion took place at the Gillingham gas works near St. Mary's barracks, Brompton, by which the lives of two men, named John Rensby Culyer and William Hall, have been sacrificed.

It appears that the Messrs. Rickon have been engaged for several months past in erecting extensive gas works near the river Medway, at Gillingham. The works had been proceeded with all possible despatch, and at the time of the explosion were in so forward a state that a supply of gas would have been ready by the next night. During the whole of Friday evening the workmen were engaged, under the immediate superintendence of Mr. Rickon, in charging the gasometer, a large quantity of gas having been admitted. A loud noise attracting the attention of the men, it was at once suspected that there was something wrong, and Culyer, the engineer, accompanied by Hall, ascended to the top of the gasometer to discover what was amiss, foolishly taking a light with them. Mr. Rickson advised Culyer not to go that evening, but he appeared not to have attended to the directions given. On the two men reaching the top the escape of gas must have come in contact with the flame, for immediately after a loud explosion took place, bursting the top of the gasometer, which was lifted some height, and tearing of three of the new pillars or “guide lines."

The body of Culyer was found in the tank of the gasometer, frightfully disfigured, and quite dead. The body of Hall had not been discovered on Sunday evening, but it was supposed to be lying beneath the gasometer. At the time of the explosion there were several persons in and about the premises, none of whom were hurt. It is a rather singular circumstance that one of the persons who has met with his death was the individual who got Mrs. Henniker out of the ruins at the recent fatal explosion of fireworks, at Chatham, and carried her across the street to the "Chest Arms."

Owing to this untoward accident it will be some time before the works are in a fit state to supply the parish of Gillingham with gas.


The inquest was held yesterday (Monday) morning, at the "Green Dragon" on the bodies of the unfortunate men. John Ormsby Culyer and John Richard Hall, who were killed by the explosion.

Mr. Shindler, solicitor, attended to watch the proceedings for the Messrs. Rickon.

The Coroner and jury having viewed the bodies which lay at the the gas-house, the following evidence was taken.

Mr. Weeks, surgeon, at Brompton, deposed that he was called on Friday night to the gas-works. The body of Culver was then lying near the retort-house and quite dead. The body had been taken out of the gasometer tank, having been thrown in by the force of the explosion Witness made an external examination, and discovered a severe bruise on the right side of the head. The cause of death was from drowning, the blow on the head having no doubt stunned him.

John James Rickson, the manager at the works, deposed that they had been forcing gas into the holder all day on Friday, having commenced at 4 o’clock. About 9 o’clock in the evening, witness was sitting in the retort-house, telling a workman what to do, when the deceased (Culyer) came in; witness had not seen him since Monday afternoon. The deceased was in very high spirits. Witness at this time was congratulating the workman that the third charge just driven in would forca the crown of the holder out. Two charges, each of 49lbs. of coal, had been driven in, the mixture causing what was known as "choke damp." Deceased called for a candle, went out with Hall, and ascending to the top of the holder, on his return said that everything was going on right. As far as witness could judge Culyer was perfectly sober. When deceased arrived at the top of the holder, Hall turned the tap of the standpipe, to which he applied a light, when there appeared a beautiful blue flame about the size of a pea. When Colyer went to the top witness felt a peculiar sense of dread come over him. Deceased put out the flame and returned to the retort-house. On finding that the burner in the retort-house would not burn, they proceeded to the top of the holder a second, and subsequently a third time, on each occasion taking the lighted candle with them, trying the same experiment. On the third occasion witness saw Culver apply the light as before, and for a few seconds no flame appeared from the pipe, but witness saw the light of the candle as if drawn into the pipe. The gas holder then rose bodily, and when it was not able to resist the force, the explosion took place. The holder was rent asunder, and the men went down into it. Culyer’s body was taken out, quite dead, a few minutes afterwards, but Hall's was not discovered till Sunday night.

Henry Beaumont, one of the workmen in the retort-house, hearing the explosion, ran out. Heard Culyer struggle in the water and groan two or three times, when taken out he was quite dead.

Mr. Pope was also examined, who proved assisting to get Culyer’s body out of the water.

The jury, after a few remarks from the coroner, returned a verdict, “That the deceased John Ormsby Culyer was killed by an explosion at the gas works, but whether drowned or suffocated by gas there was not sufficient evidence to show.


Windsor and Eton Express, Saturday 10 December 1853.

Fatal explosion at Chatham.

On Friday night, about 9:30 o'clock, the inhabitants of Chatham were thrown into a state of excitement in consequence of a rumour that a dreadful explosion had occurred at the new gas works recently erected nearly St. Mary's Barracks for supplying the out-parish of Gillingham with gas, and by which two lives have been sacrificed.

It appears that two brothers, the Messrs. Rickon, have erected, at their own expense, extensive works near the River Medway, for the manufacture of gas on a large scale. The gasometer had been erected, and everything was so far completed that it was determined to fill the gasometer, preparatory to lighting up the parish on the following (Saturday) night. A large quantity of gas had been admitted into the gasometer. Mr. Rickon himself superintending the operation, when it was found that the gas was escaping from some part of it, and the engineer (John Ormsby Collier), and also a workman named William Hall, proceeded to the top of it to see from what part of it the leakage came, incautiously taking with them a lighted candle. Mr. Rickon requested Culyer not to venture, but he appears to have disobeyed the order, for, immediately after reaching the top of the gasometer, the gas, coming in contact with a flame of the candle, blew up with a loud report. Culyer, the engineer, was blown a great distance into the adjacent marshes, and, when discovered, was frightfully mangled, and, of course, quite dead. The force of the explosion was so great as to blow out the top of the gasometer and break three of the guide lines. The other parts of the premises have received little or no damage.

An inquest was held on the bodies of Culyer and Hall on Monday, at the "Green Dragon," Gillingham. The jury, having been sworn, proceeded to view the bodies, which lay in the retort-house at the gasworks. The effects of the explosion had been most complete. The large gasometer appeared as if broken in half, the iron-work having collapsed. The brickwork of the tank in which the gasometer floated was destroyed in several places, and three of the "guide-lines" broken off. About 9 feet of water were in the tank at the time of the accident.

After a patient enquiry, the jury returned a verdict:- "That the deceased were accidentally killed by an explosion at the gasworks; but whether drowned or suffocated by the gas there was not sufficient evidence to show."


The pub was auctioned for the sum of 250,000 in June 2012 for housing.


From the By Jenni Horn, 19 July 2022.

Works starts on site of The Green Dragon pub in Gillingham.

Work has begun on the site of a former pub which closed down more than 10 years ago.

The Green Dragon in Gillingham dated back to 1776 and had a colourful history before it shut in 2008.

It was known to have smuggling connections in the 18th century and inquests were held there in the 1800s, including the inquest into the deaths of two men who were killed in an explosion at Gillingham gas works in 1853.

In the early 20th century a whale was washed up on the shore nearby and for many years the bones were on display in the pub in Church Street.

The pub sold at auction in for 250,000 in June 2012.

Work has started on the site of the Green Dragon pub in Church Street.

The site has a long planning history with permission first granted in 2007 to demolish the pub and replace it with 16 flats.

Another application was approved in 2013 for 14 flats. This was followed by two more applications in 2014 and 2015 but these were withdrawn. Permission was granted for 17 flats in 2018.

The latest application to be approved was in 2019, for 16 flats arranged over the ground, first, second and third floors with ground floor parking. The blueprints include 22 residents' parking spaces and four visitor spaces.


Local knowledge, further pictures, and licensee information would be appreciated.

I will be adding the historical information when I find or are sent it, but this project is a very big one, and I do not know when or where the information will come from.

All emails are answered.



NEWNHAM William 1776-90 dec'd

NEWNHAM Elizabeth (widow) 1790-1812+

ORGAN William Thomas 1828+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

LUFF Mary 1832+ Pigot's Directory 1832-34

VENNER William 1858-61+ (age 21 in 1861Census)

SWADDEN Thomas 1862-67+

BAKER William 1871+ (age 51 in 1871Census)

BAKER William 1881+ (son) (age 41 in 1881Census)

BAKER James E (son) 1891-1901+ (age 32 in 1891Census)

GREEN Nathaniel 1903+ Kelly's 1903

LOVE Walter Edward 1911+ (age 23 in 1911Census)

MORRIS Charles G 1913-22+

BARNARD George 1930+

MURR Robert James Thomas 1938-59+ (age 38 in 1939)


Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903



If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-