All about the Barge

barge exterior The Barge is a proper pub with a decidedly ‘local’ feel, but which is very definitely open to all - local or not. We are family-friendly, with a large beer garden (open during summer months) which enjoys splendid views over the River Medway and beyond.

Music and ale are always the mainstays of the Barge. Our raison d'être is to provide good live music and good beer in a relaxed and friendly environment. There is always a selection of regular and guest ales on offer, along with a choice of fine lagers, ciders, spirits, bar snacks, and all the other fare you would expect to find in a pub.

barge interior In the evenings the pub is lit by candlelight, which creates a wonderful cosy and intimate atmosphere. There are nooks and crannies where you can sit and have a quite drink with your friends, or you can join in with the banter at the bar, or, of course, watch the live music.

Our regular live music is mostly acoustic-based, ranging from Folk and Traditional to a more eclectic selection of blues, jazz, and contemporary 'unplugged' style acts. There is never a door charge to come and see the music - entry is always free!

Our stage has played host to many well-known and international artists. Click here to read about many of the hundreds of acts who have graced us with their performances.

We have an Open-Mic night once a month (“Bards at the Barge”), on the first Wednesday of the month, which is open to everybody. Just turn up, put your name down on the list and have your 15 minutes of fame!

History of the pub

relief of mafeking The Barge is situated on the north side of Layfield Road, at the end of a terrace of old and interesting houses. These houses were built in the late 18th / early 19th century by French prisoners of the Napoleonic War, and served as accomodation for the Naval Officers stationed at the Royal Naval Dockyard in nearby Chatham. The building which is now the Barge was originally the stables serving the Admiralty Office and the officers and their families living here. The original part of the building is timber-framed, with traditional Kentish weatherboarding to the upper storey.

During the 19th century the houses in Layfield Road ceased to become exclusively for the use of the Navy, and the stables were converted into three fishermen's cottages. If you look closely at the front of the building you can make out where the separation into three distinct dwellings would have been.

At some point around the turn of the 20th century the cottages were returned to a single use building, this time as a pub called the Cricketers. The exact date is unknown as it pre-dates UK licencing records, although there are certainly records of it from 1882 onwards.

It remained as The Cricketers until 1991 when the pub was bought by Tim Robinson (formerly of The Roseneath, Arden St. Gillingham), who re-named it The Barge and carried out extensive renovations over the following 20 years. Since Tim's retirement in 2013 the pub has been in the capable hands of Tim's daughter Charlotte and her partner Nat.