Sir Edward Banks, born in 1770, started his career as a builder and contractor. Eventually his good work was noticed and he became a principal contractor for public buildings. He was knighted in 1822 in recognition of the construction of Southwick and Waterloo Bridges.
Sir John Rennie started to employ him for works and his first big jobs under Rennie were the Lancaster and Ulverston Canals. In 1801 he moved south so he could work on the Surrey railway, and it was around this time he went into partnership with a man called William Jolliffe, they called the business Jolliffe and Banks.
Jolliffe and Banks carried on with the building of important bridges, lighthouses, dockyards and prisons. These are some of the things they built:
Southwark Bridge Staines Bridge Waterloo Bridge Huddersfield Canal Heligoland Lighthouse New London Bridge Sheerness Dockyard
Jolliffe and Banks bought a 14-year lease for Butterley quarry and limeworks with two other partners and in 1824 they invested in a steam packet service - this ran vessels to Richmond, Gravesend and Margate. This was also the year Jolliffe and Banks joined promoters of the General Steam Navigation Company, they had capitalised £200,000 by the end of the year.
In 1825 Sir Edward Banks came to Sheerness, he planned and built the Crescent, Bank Terraces and The Royal Hotel. The houses in Banks Town still remain, as do the other buildings. Around this time he bought Red House, a farm at Halfway. It was here he built Sheppey Court, a large imposing mansion that was to be his family home. This was his third home as he already had property at Oxney Court and Adephi Terrace, The Strand. Pleasure gardens were placed around The Royal Hotel and there was a road added in front of the hotel named Edward Street in honour of Sir Edward Banks although it was later renamed The Broadway.
In 1831 improvements were made to Sheerness Royal Dockyard, Sir Edward Banks carried out these works and in 1836 he is also credited with building Holy Trinity Church although this was built in 1836 and he died in 1835. Sir Edward Banks is buried in Chipstead Churchyard in Surrey.
One of Sir Edwards Son’s, Delamark, also spent a long time in Sheerness and helped build and improve the island. Delamark started with building a racetrack opposite his home, Sheppey Court. The racetrack was hugely popular to begin with but unfortunately numbers dwindled and it was closed in 1857.
As the years went by Delamark acquired land in Eastchurch and Leysdown and he also owned Warden Court which he reshaped and added gardens.
By this time Warden Church was in a terrible state, in 1836 Delamark rebuilt the church, the tower was rebuilt using stones from the Old London Bridge. He added a turret, stone floors, a ceiling and sound pews. Another two stones from London Bridge were laid in gardens at Warden. One was laid in the garden at Warden Court and one in his bailey’s garden, this one was inscribed ‘London Bridge 1176-1832’. There is also a stone from the tower of Warden church in the garden at Stone Bridge House, this stone was put there after Warden Church was taken down prior to the cliff eroding and the churchyard falling away. The stone is inscribed ‘The tower of this church was erected at the expense of Delamark Banks esq. Magistrate of this county. AD 1836 with the stone of Old London Bridge, which was built in the year AD 1176 and was taken down in the year 1832.
Delamark Banks Died in the late 1830’s - his tombstone, which lay in Warden Churchyard, was removed and placed in Eastchurch churchyard where it can still be seen. There is also a commemorative plaque on the north wall of Minster Abbey.