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Welcome to Icon Theatre’s Cabbage Island website

‘Cabbage Island’ is Icon Theatre’s local history project designed to uncover, research, share and celebrate the hidden historical sites, local vocabulary, cultural traditions and memories of Luton in Chatham.

Cut off from the rest of Chatham by a steep hill, a Victorian railway viaduct and the open space of Horsted Valley, Luton started life as a small rural village and is now home to over 20,000 people, having experienced significant changes throughout its history. You can see our timeline of changes in Luton here.


Our project taught volunteers how to identify and record local heritage and engaged a broad range of participants in exploring and celebrating their local history.

We discovered hidden histories, including finding out that:

  • One of the most respected Victorian botanical illustrators, Anne Pratt, lived in and was married in Luton;

  • The painter Richard Dadd’s father Robert, (who would later be murdered by him) discovered fossils including a mammoth tooth in Luton; and

  • A Luton man built an airplane in his backroom on Magpie Hall Road in the 1930s!

You can find out more about Luton’s history in our Research section and email us with your own memories and photos.

Schools Pack

Download our Schools Pack which supports an introduction to working as a historian and using local history sources for KS2-3 students, and is based on the question ‘How do we know?’ 

There is also a PowerPoint to accompany the pack - please email us if you'd like this.  


The Project

Starting in October 2017, we ran a range of local history activities including talks and memory sessions, in Chatham and Luton Libraries, at Fort Luton, Medway Archives, and Victory Academy and All Saints COE Primary School. We put some of the most interesting things that we found out into a touring exhibition which was displayed at the Magpie Centre Café; Chatham Library and Luton Library. 

You can follow our two Hidden History walks around Luton to find out more about some of the places of interest; check out the map page.  

You can watch the film that students of Icon’s Youth Theatre made with Physical Folk. 

You can listen to, or read, 20 oral histories. We interviewed a wide range of people who live in, or have links to Luton; you can hear them here

You can visit our Luton Heritage Resource in the Magpie Centre Café from November 2018. (33 Magpie Hall Rd, Chatham ME4 5LE) 

The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support from Medway Council’s Arts Development Team. 

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