Upon the Highstreet

  • Joshua Atkins

Upon the High Street is an ongoing documentary project, shot in collaboration with photographer Daniel Loveday. The images in this project focus on the high street and surrounding streets of Chatham in Kent. The two photographers make regular trips here, documenting the people and landscapes that make up this area. Chatham is a town steeped in history and makes up part of the Medway Towns in the north of Kent. It is a working-class area that grew around the nearby dockyard and army barracks. The town is situated alongside the River Medway and is dissected by the A2, a major road that leads to London. Away from the high street the town is made up of rows of Victorian terraced housing and council flats. Following the closure of the dockyard in 1984, anti-social behaviour resulting from alcohol and drug usage in Medway has increased and the youth unemployment rates for the area are well above the national average. Medway has seen a large increase in the diversity of its inhabitants over the past 20 years. From 2001 to 2011 the ethnic minority population of Kent and Medway has increased by over 100%. With this movement of minorities into the area comes an added variety to the cultures that make usage of the different spaces in Chatham, particularly along the high street. In 2016, 64.1% of Medway voted in favour of Brexit. With the rise of the internet and next day delivery, high streets across the UK have seen a substantial reduction in the everyday shopper. To let signs and vape stores fill the spaces left by closures of fixtures that had been there for an eternity. This however does not deter the hardened locals that visit every day. The project looks to document the possible ‘last generation’ of high street shopper, as well as celebrating the diversity of the town. You can find more of the images here: www.joshua-atkins.com/upon-the-highstreet