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Maidstone, also known as the Garden of England is a large county town of the Kent with a population of around 107,627 according to 2011 census. The Medway River flows in the west-east direction connect the town to the Thames Estuary and Rochester and passes through the centre of the town. The town served as an agricultural county of Kent. The history of the city found its root back before the Stone Age. The town was affected by the Second World War, and the heavy industries were replaced by light industries and services. It has been suggested that the name of the town is derived from medestan, meaning stone of the people or stone of the maidens.
The education, maintenance of infrastructure and social services of the town are administrated by the Kent County Council. There are two constituencies in the town, one is Faversham and Mid Kent, and other is Maidstone and the Weald. Maidstone comprises various villages, hitherto settlements and hamlets including Barming, Sandling, Allington and Tovil.
The evidence of Roman settlement in the area found in the architectural buildings and villas of the town. The charter was granted in 1551, created the town as a borough. The Normans established an abbey, shire moot, hospitals and a college for priests. The Parliamentarian troops won over the Royalist forces in the Battle of Maidstone during the Second English Civil War in 1648. The town flourished with the arrival of stone quarrying, paper mills, brewing and the cloth industry. The cavalry barracks were built in the town to establish the permanent military presence in the 17th century and also known as Invicta Park Barracks
A number of outlying settlements and villages can be found in the modern town. The significant development of the town Maidstone General Hospital, which was built in 1983 on the outskirts of the town replaced 150 years old West Kent General Hospital located in Marsham Street. The Portland stone was used during the construction of county council offices between 1910 and 1913. During the Irish Republican Army campaign, local pub serving Invicta Park Barracks was severally damaged by a bomb in 1975. The major employers of the town include administrative, retail and service sectors and few industrial estates established on the outskirts provide the employment to the workforce of the town. Some residents also commute to the other towns including London for better job opportunities.
The major employer of the town was the Sharps toffee factory located in the central Maidstone flows until 1998. The electrical engineer founded he loudspeaker manufacturer in 1961 and named after Kent Engineering and Foundry (KEF). They manufactured a loudspeaker in the late 19th century and named the Maidstone. The water system of the town is operated by Mid Kent Water and Southern Water. The major offices of the county are located in the centre of the town and many high-tech firms have started their operations in the surrounding business parks. The town is ranked 50 in the United Kingdom for having largest retail floor space and higher shopping yields. The main shopping centres Fremlin Walk and Mall Maidstone are located in the town centre having the floor area of 32,500 square meters and 49,700 square meters respectively. Other recent developments such as multiplex cinema, nightclubs, restaurants and market square are contributing towards the economy of the city.
There are 23 primary, 15 secondary and two special schools in the town. The town is also served by the grammar schools, and non-selective secondary schools include Invicta Grammar School, Cornwallis Academy, New Line Learning Academy, Valley Park School, Maidstone Grammar School and Oakwood Park Grammar School. The regional campus of the University for the Creative Arts is located on the west of the town.
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