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Prior to colonisation Sheppey held a mostly unremarkable history. Its greatest claim to fame was being the only piece of mainland Britain occupied by a foreign power since William the Conqueror's invasion of 1066. The occupation occurred in 1667, when a Dutch fleet launched a raid on the rivers Thames and Medway. On Doomsday a nuclear device set to detonate over Sheerness and the oil refinery on the Isle of Grain malfunctioned and buried itself into a warehouse in the town, where it subsequently leaked extremely concentrated radiation. The oil refinery later burned down in 1989 as a result of a hot and dry summer.
In 2006 the Essex navy's first mission brought it on a scouting mission to Sheerness. However they soon stumbled across the warhead and before realising its danger had lost most of their force to radiation poisoning. The nuke was removed and the area landscaped, but the negative image of Sheppey hang in the common psyche for several years.
However this failed to dissuade further exploration missions. An expedition in April 2008 found that the island had several small survivor communities, mostly concentrated around the former prisons on the island. They lived mostly on the abundant sheep, which they hunted across the island's marshes which were beginning to grow again. News of this reached the ears of Norman Hammond, an entrepreneurial Essex citizen with a number of relatives, all of whom were very influential in the running of their communes. Hammond soon realised that there was a major profit to be made from Sheppey's ovine resources. With his younger brother Edward a minister in the Essex parliament he was able to carry through the suggestion of creating a chartered company which would legally own the island. Throughout the rest of 2008 Norman Hammond would convince the rest of his family and several close friends that moving to the island was a good idea, and then begin thorough research into how to go about establishing a colony.
The idea eventually matured and became a serious possibility. However, HM Lee Evans said that he would not allow the colony to go ahead without clear guidelines on what the organisation could and could not do. After protracted discussion a series of guidelines was eventually drawn out. Summarised, they are:
- The company could entertain no diplomatic relationships other than those held by the current Essex administration - the company would have the same allies and enemies as Essex
- The company's trade agreements with foreign agencies could not take precedent over its obligations to customers in Essex - in case of shortages of goods, quotas from Essaxon customers had to be met; whatever remained after that was all that would be allowed to be shipped to foreign customers
- Essex law applies in company property, though the company may institute its own laws
- At the military's discretion the island may be occupied by Essex troops at any time; no foreign troops of any kind may be allowed onto the island in a military capacity
- A council of observers will ensure that these rules are abided by
- The company will have representation in the Essex parliament, and reserves the right to renegotiate these agreements
ColonisationThe first wave of seventy seven settlers arrived in early September 2010. They immediately moved into Minster, which would become the home of the estimated six hundred initial colonists. Their job was to clear out the local area and make it suitable for habitation. The colony would be focused around Minster Abbey, which would serve as a meeting hall. Water would be drawn from three ancient wells which in prehistory had been thought of as having healing properties. Electricity would be provided by a trio of wind turbines built in the Glade at the centre of Minster; these proved problematic to operate, and as of October 8th only one is operational.
The majority of the colonists began to trickle over the following months. By the start of October there were one hundred and thirty three colonists, most of whom were men, whose main job was repairing the houses in which the community would live. A few took bicycles to survey the island. Contact was made with a 400-strong survivor community operating out of one the former prisons on the island. Though skeptical of the newcomers some headway is being made in negotiations to employ the colonists in the company in return for food.
Norman Hammond visited the island on September 16th to proclaim that the island was officially the territory of the Chartered Company of Sheppey. Two days earlier a single improvised firework was launched from the island to welcome King Andrew of New Britain to Essex.