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Prog rock still alive and kicking thanks to Kaprekar's Constant

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 September 2019

Prog rockers Kaprekar's Constant are bringing a famous long lost park back to life with music. Picture: www.seankellyphotos.com

Prog rockers Kaprekar's Constant are bringing a famous long lost park back to life with music. Picture: www.seankellyphotos.com

Archant

Prog rock is alive and well, and no longer living in just the '60s and '70s.

There is not much left of what was set to be a new town called Rosherville. Picture: Nick JeffersonThere is not much left of what was set to be a new town called Rosherville. Picture: Nick Jefferson

Kaprekar's Constant - whose members hail from Longfield, Meopham and Kings Hill - are to release an album proving just that.

One 20-minute track tells the story of Northfleet's long lost Rosherville Gardens.

It forms part of their Depth of Field album due for release on Talking Elephant Records on September 20.

Band writer and bass player Nick Jefferson said: "We've been amazed at the interest shown in the track and how little known Rosherville Gardens are even amongst locals.

Prog rockers Kaprekar's Constant are bringing a famous long lost park back to life with music. Picture: www.seankellyphotos.comProg rockers Kaprekar's Constant are bringing a famous long lost park back to life with music. Picture: www.seankellyphotos.com

"We also touch on the sinking of the Princess Alice, a paddle steamer returning to London having picked up visitors to the garden. Over 700 people were believed to have lost their lives, making it one of the worst maritime disasters in history."

The band's 2017 debut album, Fate Outsmarts Desire, was universally praised by the music press and public alike.

They played Progdreams Festival in Holland and UK festivals, and had their own show in Italy.

Fate Outsmarts Desire was voted album of the year by listeners of The Progmill Radio Show and the band were nominated as best newcomers at the Prog Awards in London

There is not much left of what was set to be a new town called Rosherville. Picture: Nick JeffersonThere is not much left of what was set to be a new town called Rosherville. Picture: Nick Jefferson

Nick said: "I knew nothing about Rosherville other than a road sign that I had passed many times.

"As a local boy for over 30 years, I was astonished by what I found out."

Work on the gardens began in 1837 in a chalk pit owned by entrepreneur Jeremiah Rosher who had a vision for a new town, Rosherville. In its heyday the gardens had theatres, a Greek temple, hermit's cave and bear pit amongst its attractions.

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Catering primarily for Londoners looking to escape the filth of the Victorian city by steamboat along the Thames, numbers declined following the tragic sinking of the SS Princess Alice in 1878 near Woolwich.

An estimated 700 people lost their lives.

Nick said: "As the railways expanded enabling people to reach coastal towns of Margate and Southend, so Rosherville Gardens struggled to compete, finally closing in 1911.

"Very little remains of the gardens today although the tunnel entrance still exists and the bear pit was discovered during excavations in 2012. The hermit's cave is also visible but the resident hermit has long gone."

Quite a challenge, then, to tell the tale in a musical context, but members of Kaprekar's Constant said they were more than up to the challenge.

Co-writer, keyboard player and producer, Mike Westergaard, is an established composer of film and TV music from his Meopham studio. His work can be heard on the BBC's Dragons Den amongst many other projects.

Sax and flute player David Jackson rose to prominence as a key member of 1970s progressive rock giants Van der Graaf Generator. David was asked originally to contribute to one track on the first album but so loved the music that his wonderful playing can be heard throughout.

The glorious, soaring melodies are provided by guitarist and keyboard player Al Nicholson who taught in local schools for many years.

The band needed someone to perform a poem that was written shortly after the Princess Alice disaster that is included in the track. The proceeds from the sale of the piece were intended originally to benefit the victim's families.

Nick said first choice was Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, a musical hero of of the band. And to their immense surprise and delight, Ian found time during preparations for a world tour to perform the poem.

Nick said: "Ian's involvement is the icing on the cake for us.

"We're really pleased with the way the new record has turned out. Apart from Rosherville, tracks tell of the three White Star liners, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic and the V1 flying bomb attacks on the South East at the end of World War Two." And did Little Tich end up featuring? "Of course, we sneaked him in."

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