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The demolition of St Martins House in Queen Street, Gillingham, to make way for 59 ‘extra care’ homes for older people, has begun.

On Tuesday 24 September children from the nearby Topsie Rabbit nursery looked on as the distinctive red brick building was taken down.

st martins demolish Topsie rabbit
Children from Topsie Rabbit nursery watch the demolition of St Martins House in Gillingham.

Topsie Rabbit’s owner Sarah Snook said: ‘It’s funny as they were very excited about it with the diggers and crashing of building and will remember it in years to come, whereas us grown ups were very sad to see yet another Gillingham building be flattened.

‘Many people walking by stopped and commented on how much work went into building it, as all those traditional Gillingham red bricks were being thrown into rubbish. Why could ‘they’ not update this building rather than squash it.’

She added: ‘It was an emotional day for Gillingham in many ways, excitement for those younger children who do not understand and sadness from those who grew up and live in Gillingham.

‘Many of my staff including me, registered births, had baby health checks, participated in out of hours learning…. in this building.’

Despite misgivings, councillors in Gillingham  recently gave their backing to plans by Magna Housing Association to build the extra care homes on the site.

Last year there was a campaign to stop the existing red brick St Martins House, built by entrepreneur Thomas Hudson in the 19th century as a show home, from being demolished.

But Dorset Council, the owners of the site, insisted that there was a strong need for ‘extra care’ homes in the area and that the building had to be pulled down.

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