Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend. Erith

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend
The railway continues south eastwards

Post to the north Erith

Aperfield Road
Road built on the site of a brickworks – Erith Clay Pit in the 1860s and through various owners to become Amalgamated Brickworks in the 1930s
Anchor Bay Farm was partly on the site of the brickworks
Appold Street
The road is cut off by bollards after a short distance but once extended to the deep water jetty.
Railway bridge over line going to works to the east. There were marshalling yards for coal trains between here and Wheatley Terrace. The railway is said in 1930 to be a private railway belonging to Turner and Newall whose works was on the old Easton and Anderson site, to the east of this square. The line once the railway to the asbestos works now appears to be a footpath alongside Morrison’s car park.

Arthur Street
Cobham House. This is a 13 storey block approved in 1960.
Playground and youth shelter
Mission Room. This 19th mission building was on the north side of the road and was supported by Sir William Anderson who took services there.
Avenue Road
Laid out around.1769 to form the driveway to the newly built Manor House for the Wheatley family. The house was demolished in 1858 and the estate was sold in 1874 and developed thereafter. The road had been built as a direct route in the town and named from the long avenue of trees which lined it. Until recent redevelopment the road extended into the town centre as what is now James Watt Way
Bowling green. Since 2006 this has been run by Avenue Road Bowling Club. The previous occupants were Crayford Social Club.
Erith Recreation Ground.  This opened in the early 1900s.  The original Park Keeper's House survives at the leisure centre turning circle. Second World War air-raid shelters have left a footprint visible in dry summers. There are lime trees along the northern boundary and copper beech and horse chestnut remain in the shrubbery belt near the entrance. There are two hard tennis courts operated by a private company as well as football pitches and a children's playground. There was once a bandstand
Erith Stadium. This was developed alongside the recreation ground post Second World War.  The original cinder running track and the stadium were built in the 1950s. It was rebuilt and upgraded in 1999. The pavilion at the track is The Myra Garrett Pavilion.
Football pitch used by Erith Town Football Club. The club dates from 1959 and was originally as Woolwich Town Football Club, a Sunday club. In 1989 they briefly changed their name to Woolwich Heathway Football Club but reverted back. In 1991, the club switched to Saturday football and left Woolwich Barracks Stadium, and in 1995 came to Avenue Road. In 1997 they changed their name to Erith Town Football Club.
Erith Leisure Centre. Swimming Pool and gym. Modern centre built in 2005 by LA Architects. Operated by commercial company.

Bexley Road
The stretch between Cross Street and the High Street was once called Back Lane
Police Station. Erith become part of the Metropolitan Police in 1840 and until 1847 Bexley officers were deployed. In 1847 a Station was built and remained in use until 1908 when the riverside station was built. The site is now under new roads
Wheatley Arms. This, also called the Wheatley Hotel, stood at the site of the roundabout where Bexley Road meets Queens Road
Fish Sculpture. This is the De Luci Pike by Gary Drostle.  It is a 7.5m mosaic sculpture inspired by the former Erith Urban District Council's coat of arms that incorporated three pikes, the symbol of the De Luci family landowners in medieval Erith.
Boundary Street
The boundary between Erith and Crayford. Once called Powell road check
Cranbrook House. This is a 13 storey tower block with 77 flats, was approved in 1960.
Pigs – these are bronze, and by Philip Bews cast by the Castle Fine Art Foundry.
Canterbury house. This is a 13 storey tower block approved in 1960
Britannia Close
Britannia Close is built on the line of the railway to Erith Pier from the main line. The siding connection trailed off the ''down'' North Kent Line to Cory Wharf and originally opened in 1864 to connect with the deepwater Erith Pier. By 1900 this network of lines served a coal terminal, an iron works, a brick works, clay pits and a gravel pit. It went out of use in the late 1980s

Colebrook Street
Mural. This was created by William Mitchell in the late 1960s for the side of the now-demolished Riverside Baths. It used the cloisonne technique to show events and individuals that have a connection to the history of the local area. He used a raised sand and epoxy border to define the different compartments which were then painted in bright colours. Tile mosaics were used to provide greater detail to the faces. The mural was restored and re-erected in 2010, plus an interpretation plaque. It was unveiled by Mitchell, then aged 86

Compton Place
Built partly on the sites of rail lines and sidings as part of the complex of industrial lines from the North Kent Line to the riverside.
Crescent Road
The northern side of the road is taken up with the wall behind which were rail lines and sidings for the transshipment of coal. Railway Line Vast amount of coal went to Bell Green gas works from here. Several train loads a day.
Crescent Road Board Schools. These were built in 1875 and consisted of a girls' school and an infant school. The School Board offices were also here. There is now modern housing on the site.

Erith High Street
This section of the High Street redeveloped in 2013 following reconfiguration of the Siefert built centre
100 Erith Library. New built as part of the new centre.
The Public Hall was built in 1871. It was used as a cinema from 1908 by Sydney Bacon, who had a small local circuit. It closed as a cinema in 1926, and became a dance hall. It later became Mitchell’s Second Hand Store, and was burnt out in the 1960’s, and demolished.

Erith Riverside
This replaces the Siefert built Town Square which had been refaced and extended to provide social housing and better quality shops.
Shopping Centre Gates by Onya McCausland. These feature images taken from x-rays of items borrowed from shoppers visiting the centre. It includes pens, lamps, glasses and socks and so on. They are reproduced on blue and green colour backgrounds to look as if they are under water

Frobisher Road
This road and a series of closes off it is built on the site of the British Fibrocrete Factory which lay largely to the east of this square and fronting on Manor Road.
Eonit Works. The siding from British Fibrocrete curved to meet the North Kent Line. South of the curve was the Eonite Works. They were an engineering company but here they made blocks from pumice aggregate which was sold as a building material. The majority of the works however was in Richmer Road a private gated road to the east of this square.
The southern end of the road which turns westwards is probably on the path of railway sidings which ran into the British Fibrocrete Works.

Glebe Way
Christchurch Hall. Built as a Sunday School and used for a variety of local activities
Scout Hut alongside the church hall.

James Watt Way
This was previously part of Avenue Road
Atrium Court.  This is on the site of the Odeon Cinema. It has 23 flats, a Resource Centre shell and a Young Persons Foyer.  There is a Water Sculpture by Sokari Douglas Camp in hand forged glass and metal inspired by the River Thames.  It transforms when lit up at night
Odeon. Built for the Oscar Deutsch chain, it was opened in 1938 when it was on the corner of High Street and Avenue Road. The frontage was entirely covered in faïence tiles, broken only by long narrow window, just above the canopy. Kt was designed by George Coles in his Ocean Liner style on a triangular site.  The flamboyant sweptback 65 feet high fin-tower, tower with the Odeon name inserted gave it an imposing presence on a prominent site which became a landmark in the town centre. Inside was a Deco style auditorium and on each side of the proscenium were panels with back lit horizontal bands. There were a series of decorative plaster bands along the ceiling towards the proscenium, which were broken only by a light fitting in the centre of the ceiling. It had a central 'island' pay box with the design reflected in the balcony to the circle foyer above.  It was taken over by the Classic Cinemas Ltd. chain in 1967, and re-named Classic Cinema. From 1971, on Sundays only, it became a Tatler Cinema Club playing uncensored adult films. 1973 there was a Mecca Bingo Club operating in the former stalls area, and a cinema in the former circle, Classic Cinemas leased the entire building to Mecca Ltd. from 1974, and the cinema was re-named Mecca Cinema. It closed in 1976 and the Mecca Bingo Club took over the stalls and circle levels. In 1995, it was taken over by the independent Jasmine Bingo Club chain, and was closed in 1996. The building was boarded-up and lay unused until late-2002, when it was demolished. A block of retail units and flats was built on the site in 2005. It is said the developer tried to keep the tower but were unable to do so for structural reasons.
Avenue Congregational Church. This was on the corner with Queens Road
20 Avenue Hall, this was attached to the Congregational Church. It was built in 1850.
Cottage Hospital. This was on the corner with the High Street, The Erith, Crayford, Belvedere and Abbey Wood Hospital had opened in 1871 in the Sun Cottages in Crayford Road.  It was always busy and too small. In 1875 Col. Wheatley, offered this site. It had 12 beds but was too short of money to use them all. The building was cramped, and had only one bathroom for everybody. The staff were housed in cellars near the morgue and Noise was a problem.  In 1922 a site in Park Crescent was donated and the hospital moved there.
4 Erith Trades and Social Club. Red brick building of 10-8 previously the Erith Amalgamated Engineers and Allied Trades Club and Institute.  This opened in 1908 but is now closed due to debt.  There is now new housing on the site.
Morrison’s Store. The weathervane in the cupola, is of a Thames sailing barge. The store was built on the site of coal sidings and transshipment facilities
Prince of Wales Hotel. This was on the site now occupied by Macdonald burger café.
Royal Arsenal Co-operative store with distinctive tower. The Erith Branch of the Society began in 1882 Kent House

Larner Road
Local authority housing in North End clay pit. Now being demolished. The new housing to be called Erith Park
Pretoria House now demolished. It dated from 1967
Cambria House one of the earliest two blocks built on the estate. 15 storeys approved in 1964
Sara House one of the earliest two blocks built on the estate 15 storey approved for construction in 1964. Now demolished
Medina House 1967. Now demolished
Hamlet House 1967.  Now demolished
Norvic House 1967. Now demolished
Verona House 1967. Now demolished

Lesney Park Road,
Developed by the Wheatley family
6 Christadelphian Hall

Manor Road
Cottages. Rows of houses from 1866 and larger houses from the early 1900s on the other side of the road. Those older ones near the Royal Alfred were built for the workers of Easton and Anderson’s, Erith Ironworks.
British Fibrocrete Factory. This was a very large works most of which lay on both sides of the road but largely to the east of this square. The factory dated from 1911 when it was set up to make construction materials using cement and asbestos. It had rail links in from the west with sidings off the North Kent Line. It appears to have become part of Bells United Asbestos group before 1928 when Bells were taken over by Turner and Newall.  The works was demolished in the 1970s. 
Erith Brickworks. This was on the site of what became the asbestos factory. It was worked from 1839-1903 by J.White and from 1900-1915 by C.Norris. 
Railway Bridge where the line from the North Kent line to sidings and the jetty one passed under the road
101 Royal Alfred. This pub dates from the early 1870s and may now be closed.

Pier Road
This was previously Stanley Road.  It is now a pedestrianised area within the shopping centre
Hedley Mitchell’s Department Store. It was this store which was ceremonially smashed by the Mayor to start the Siefert development in 1966. The shop had closed in 1961. Hedley Mitchell was one of 12 children of Lesney Farm owner. He opened a shop in Pier Road in the 1890's, and later purchased other premises until he had a very large site Hedley himself lived in South Africa and the Company was run by Mr. Cope
Ritz Cinema.  This was built in 1926 as The Picture House for and the Sydney Bacon Circuit. It was the first cinema in the local area to show ‘talkies’ in 1929, It was taken over by Union Cinemas, modernised two years later by Percy Brown and renamed the Ritz  . It became part of ABC in 1937. It was demolished in the 1960s and shops built on the site.
70 Bank Chambers. Built for London and Provincial Bank in 1898. From 1901 it was the head office of Herbert Clark, tug owners and lightermen, who had a coal wharf based in Anchor Bay the Clarke family now operate a travel agency from the build.
Wind Wave and Sail Sculpture. Designed by Penumbria Compilers 

Queen's Road
Earth Core Columns by Gary Drostle and Onya McCausland. These pillars feature words and artwork created by children and young people, abouy their personal history as Erith residents and drawings of fossils and finds.

Queen Street
Baptist Church.  Church of 1877 now the church hall with a new church from 1892
South Road
Bridge which carries the roads across the North Kent Line.

Stuart Mantle Way
This road was named in 1945 after Councillor Stuart Mantle

The Nursery
Previously St Martins Vale

Town Square
This now refurbished shopping complex was designed by Richard Siefert in 1968. I was in concrete and pretty nasty. It has been reconfigured as Erith Riverside Centre with better quality shops
Erith Market. This was behind the Town Square and replaced a medieval market which had fallen into disuse. It dated from around 1980. This is now a car park.

Victoria Road
Christ Church. The church is partly built over a chalk pit. It is large with a tower and a stone spire added in 1915. It was built in 1874 by James Piers St Aubyn in brick with some patterning. Inside the walls are covered with murals by Ward & Hughes, 1906-9. Reredos has a painted triptych of the Adoration of the Magi in a c15 Italian style, by A. O. Hemming, 1904. Stained glass by Hardman and Sons, 1875. Windows commemorate the coronation of Edward VII.   
Churchyard. This is mainly grass with specimen trees including a row of Lime trees which screen it from the busy road. It has never been used for burials.
War Memorial. This dates from the 1920s and is a marble cross on a stepped plinth

Wharfside Close`
Erith Gardens. In the 19th these were on the site now covered by Morrison’s’ supermarket. They opened in 1845 . There was a broad walk, archery field, bowling green, conservatory, maze, refreshment rooms and a fountain. It was not a success and was sold on 1874. Beadle Bros. coal merchants took over the site of the gardens from the 1870s.  From 1896 the site was operated by Wm. Cory and Sons ltd.
Pier the Guardians of the Wheatley Estate built a wooden pier going out, 444 feet into the river. This was opened in 1842. Two ships called here from Gravesend/London every day. Following a takeover of the site by Beadles and later Cory’s it was known as ''Cray Coal Wharf'' or ''Cory's'' connected to the rail network although the rails on the Pier were narrow-gauge. In 1957 a new concrete pier was built allowing access to larger ships. This has since been renovated by Morrison’s as a local attraction. It is the the longest pier in London, with many benches and good views along the Thames.
Rail lines. Line which opened in 1864 and connected the North Kent Line with the deep water Pier.
Pier Hotel. This was built in 1844.It was later used as offices and demolished in 1957.
Shuttleworth's ship yard

Wheatley Terrace
This road once ran parallel to the river through the area now used as Morrison’s car park and to the then Easton and Anderson Works to the east of this square.
General Metal Spinners

Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich.  Web site
Bexley Civic Society. Walk
Bygone Kent
Chelsea Speleological Society, Newsletter
Christ Church Erith Centenary Booklet
Cinema Treasures. Web site
Erith and Belvedere Local History Society. Facebook page
Erith. Official guide,
Field. London Place Names
Hudson. Archaeology of a Consumer Society
Ideal Homes. Web site
Kent Rail. Web site
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
London Gardens Online. Web site
London Mural Preservation Society. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. South London
Pevsner and Cherry. West Kent
Pritchard. A History of Erith
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford
UK Housing Wiki. Web site
Waymarking. Web site

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend. Erith

This entry relates only to the south bank of the river in this square

Railway line from London Bridge to Gravesend
The line continues south eastwards

Post to the west Erith
Post to the south Erith

Bexley Road
Bexley Road also seems to be the name of the steps going down to the High Street from Bosworth House.
33 Celestial Church of Christ – this is an old retail, tyre workshop building.
33 Redeemed Christian Church of God, as above

Bronze Age Way
This is the Erith -Thamesmead Spine Road opened in 1997 and named Bronze Age Way after archaeological discoveries during its construction.  It is the A2016.

Chandlers Drive
Modern housing which part of a development called Ocean Park. To the north and west is a succession of industrial buildings based in West Street or Gas House Lane – predecessors to Telcon’s Ocean Works.

Chichester Wharf
Modern housing which part of a development called Ocean Park. This is the old Ballast Wharf siding.

Cricketers Close
This site is near part of the chalk pit used as a cricket ground and where a touring Australian side played in 1884 and 1890

The name of Erith is thought to mean a muddy harbour.  This harbour developed where prehistoric track ways met the River.

Erith High Street
Lane leading to Erith Causeway
Pilots' Hut. PLA building at the landward end of the Causeway
22 Police Station. This was used by the ordinary police, following the departure of Thames Division from 1994. It is now housing.
River Police Buildings. These are adjacent to the old police station. The Thames Division extended its patrols with a combined river and land stations at Erith in the early 20th.
Hudson Coal Merchants. This was replaced by the police station
Erith Rowing Club. This is now in the old police station. The club was established in 1943, and had a club house behind the Running Horses pub. The old Thames river police station is now called The Boathouse and the club occupies the ground floor of the building for its indoor training and clubhouse.
Kort. This is a family run firm which operates worldwide and is based in the old River Police building. Kort Propulsion was founded in 1935 in Germany but the licence was suspended in war time and became a UK based enterprise. They were then owned by ship repairers R and H Green and Silley Weir, then P and O. And later was a management buyout .The company has international links and is regarded as the best of marine engineers.
32 Stone Court. Housing built in 1985 with replicas of some pre-existing 18th cottages. Behind is a raised walk way with gardens leading to a modern brick block and Anchor Retirement Home. Stone’s barge yard was to the rear.
Mosaic by Gary Drostle. The design for the frieze was taken from the pargetting plasterwork above no 38’s balcony.
40 Cross Keys. Built in 1892, with fantastic decorative features, replacing a 17th pub. May be closed following problems with customers’ horses – said to be renovated as offices.
43 The Crown. This was on the opposite corner to the Running Horses and was destroyed in bombing with some loss of life
44 Potion Bar. This was the White Hart built in 1903 which had a garden with birds and animals to amuse children. It also had a bell in the bar which summoned theatre-goers when the curtain was due to rise in Erith Playhouse. There is a mural on a side wall of a Thames sailing barge painted by Gary Drostle in 2005 as part of a series of public art works in the town
57 Yacht Tavern. This stood opposite to the police station and was demolished in the mid-1930s as part of a road widening scheme. The licence was taken by the Yacht public house in Bexleyheath.
89 Post Office. Built by the office of Works in 1929
Erith Playhouse. This is on the site of the Oxford Cinema which opened in 1913. It was built for W.T. Collar of the Oxford Picture Theatre Co. and had a Classical facade. In 1929 it was taken over by the independent Sydney Bacon Circuit which was in turn taken over by Union Cinemas who closed it in 1935. After in 1939 it was used by Erith Council as a furniture store for bombed out families.  In 1946 the building was leased to the Erith Theatre Guild who got permission to convert it into a playhouse. Following work by the Guild members this opened in 1949 with a new proscenium and stage as well as a scene dock and dressing rooms. In 1973 a new front of house was built and the original entrance and facade were demolished following which was another grand opening. The building continues to house amateur productions of plays and is administered by a registered charity
Riverside Gardens. Public riverside path running from the West Street junction to the PLA jetty entrance.  The land for the gardens was partly given to the people of Erith by William Cory & Son, the coal and barge company. It began in 1937 when the whole sweep of the river could be seen but there were alterations in 1982 to build the flood wall. The William Cory promenade is along the riverside.
Site of Cannon and Gaze flour mill. The original mill belonged to Fletcher & Gaze, who amalgamated in 1892 with Stephen Cannon of Bexley Mill to form Cannon & Gaze Ltd of Erith. New mills were built in 1903, after the original was destroyed by fire. From humble beginnings in a small country water mill, working three pairs of stones, to one of the most prosperous flour milling enterprises in N.W. Kent. Cannon had worked the South Darenth watermill from 1806 and the family continued with other mills in North Kent. By the 1870s work was concentrated at the Old Mill in Bexley and in 1878 Stephen Cannon bought Erith Water Mill. Two years he formed a partnership with Mr Gaze, from a Norfolk milling family. They were to go on to purchase more mills in the area. In 1892 the steam roller mill was built at riverside Erith to more easily access grain from America. It was Built by Kirk and Randall of Woolwich with 4/5 storeys and a turreted tower fronting the street. The milling machinery was by Robinsons of Rochdale powered by Yates and Thorn and Easton and Anderson steam engines.  There was a Davey and Paxman generator set for electricity.  The old Erith Mill remained in the new buildings which were lit by electricity. A joint stock company was formed as Cannon and Gaze Ltd with all the shares held by family members. In 1913 Erith Mill was remodelled on the cyclo pneumatic plansifter system, increasing capacity to 35 sacks an hour. By 1913 they employed the largest fleet of motor wagons in the industry. Most of it was demolished following fire in 1937 to make way for the Riverside Gardens
Running Horses pub. Originally with an address in West Street in 1874 it had been established in 1834 and rebuilt in its present form in 1938. It was badly bombed in 1940 and many killed.
Swimming bath. This was built in 1968, having been designed by Richard Siefert. It had a glass wall, to give a panorama of the river to the swimmers. A mural by William Mitchell showed scenes from Erith’s history. It closed in 2005 and has since been demolished.

Maxim Road
West Street Nursery

Maximfelt Road
During road works engineers found a cave complex - maybe do it yourself air raid shelters.

Mildred Road
Mildred Road now runs down to new housing which back onto Bronze Age Way, which itself is parallel to the railway line. In the past the road was shorter and the new housing is on the site of sidings running northwest ward from the main line, and curving at the bottom of Mildred Road to what is now Nordenfeldt Road, where it joined the line from the chalk pits.

Nordenfelt Road
This is the line of the railway from the ballast pits.

Riverside Walk
Long modern pier for private boats. This is apparently called Monarch Pier.
Naval Storehouse. The ship building industry was integral to Erith in the early Tudor period and a naval storehouse was built under Henry VIII. Newly-built warships anchored here to be fitted out from the storehouse: the most notable of these being the “Henri Grace de Dieu” or “Great Harry ". This was built at Woolwich Dockyard in 1515, and was then the largest ship ever built in England. Samuel Pepys records visits to the town in the course of his Admiralty duties, and John Evelyn came here about the sale of ships captured from the Dutch. The dock is said to have been west of Railway Station Wharf. There was also a gun emplacement erected somewhere on the Erith waterfront.
Upper Ballast Wharf’. This was built in 1842 and worked until 1971. There was a railway line from Parish’s pits which was used for shipping ballast from Parish’s pits in Fraser Road. Also called Parish’s Wharf it was a wooden cross braced jetty built 1900 11.25m wide and 57.5m from the bank. Locomotives from the pit were uncoupled before they reached the wharf and a horse was backed onto it.  The horse then pulled the trucks the 50 yards along the wharf.  The horse was then uncoupled and the trucks continued alone. A man then fastened a chain under the trucks and as the trucks hit the end of the wharf the tipping mechanism was released – and the sand fell into the hold of the waiting ship. The truck was then pushed back to the siding by a lad. The assembled trucks were then returned to the pit by the locomotive. Later this system continued with lorries which also were not allowed on the wharf.  The wharf ceased working in 1971, but a white lantern tower remained as a land-mark. The cricket pavilion could also be seen, with an engine shed and fitters' shop and an old forge in a long low building. Now all gone, last to go was the engine shed.  The cricket pavilion was burnt down in the 1970s.    Parallel to this was a standard gauge line going to Fraser and Chalmers.   There was also an old wooden house used by the Venture Scouts.
Railway Station Wharf.  This was previously called Lower Ballast Wharf and was used for shipping ballast from Parish’s pits in Fraser Road between 1808 and 1842. A large structure built here with a slipway extending out into the mudflats indicates the presence of ship building or repair work. In 1897 it was renamed ‘Railway Station Wharf’ and it was cut back into the river bank in 1900 when its working side was 50m long. It was later used by Vickers and by Fraser and Chalmers up to the 1930s. It was rebuilt in concrete in a 1977 as a river walk way topped with railings.
A site which thought to be the location of a submarine pen but this has largely been disproved by research
Thames Steam Sawmills. Opened in 1898 by Beadle Bros.with their own riverside wharf built 1897 - 1909 a network of encircling railway or tram tracks. The wharf itself had  was built after the river wall and apparently cut through it. A previous slipway had gone being replaced with a covered entrance to the river with an pair of dock gates. hames Steam Saw Mills built a wharf by 1909 which seems to have incorporated the existing wharf. The site was taken over by Venesta for wood laminates and partitioning in 1949 and a new building erected cutting back much of the wharf area. The works closed in 1995.
Chandlers’ Quay housing is on the site of the saw mills and surroundings.
Cannon and Gaze.  Old Wharf used for the flour mill fronting on hr High Street. There was accommodation for ten 250- ton barges alongside the mill,
William Cory Promenade – this fronts the Riverside Gardens in the High Street
Erith Causeway.  This is a landing Stage first built in 1909 for tenders for ship crews. It was renewed in 1951 and then in 1970. It extends into deep water at low tide and includes a 175m long 2.5m wide Jetty currently used as a landing stage by Erith Rowing Club. It was previously used by the river police. It is said to be owned and maintained by the PLA and the PLA once had a wooden office building at the landward end.
Ferry from Erith to Coldharbour Point. Thought to have been there in 1512.
Stone Brothers Barge Yard.  Operating from Chalk Farm Wharf, they were the main sailing barge builders in the Erith area also operating a lighterage and tug business. The yard was behind the Cross Keys pub and the wharf built in 1890. Stones, also based in Brightlingsea, were the first barge builders to fit a steering wheel, rather than a tiller, to a barge.

Saltford Close
Bosworth House. This is a 15 storey tower block approved in 1967 and completed in 1971.  It has 56 flats.

Stonewood Road
Stonewood Road is roughly on the line of what was Station Road, accessing the station from the junction of the High Street and West Street before the building of Bronze Age Way. Parallel to it ran the line from the Nordenfelt works to the river at what became known as Railway Station Wharf.
Erith Station. The South Eastern Railway's opened their North Kent Line between London Bridge and Strood via Blackheath and Woolwich in 1849. It had a double track and at Erith there were two staggered platforms.  There was a brick building designed by SER's architect Samuel Beazley on the down side and a goods shed was located at the London end of the down platform. On the up platform was a timber shelter. After 1900 more facilities were provided on the up side platform. There was a water column at the Dartford end of the ''down'' platform. A riveted-steel footbridge was provided by the Southern Railway in 1935 and they also put a valance on the main buildings canopy. The platforms were rebuilt by the Southern Railway in the Exmouth Junction-produced prefabricated concrete and re lengthened in 1954 for ten-vehicle EMUs. . In the 1990s, the single-storey extensions of the station building were demolished, the old brickwork restored, and the taxi forecourt re-laid.
Goods Sidings. There was a goods siding from the start at the Dartford end of the up platform. In 1898 a second set were opened at the Dartford end of the down platform, with a cattle pen. The domestic goods yard closed in 1968. ,
Standard gauge lines.  By 1900 a line looped under the station through a tunnel, linking two armaments works to a railway wharf on the Thames. These joined the South Eastern Railway network by way of the freight sidings built for the goods shed on the ''down'' side.  A spur from the Nordenfelt works ran parallel to the narrow gauge line and used the tunnel under the main line
Narrow gauge line A 4 ft narrow gauge line belonging to Parish passed under the North Kent Line beyond the London end.
Signal Box. This was installed in early 1870s next to the timber shelter, behind the siding. It was without a brick base but had a chimney and sash windows.  Another box was later built next to it. In 1970 the South Eastern Railway designed box from 1890 was closed, and its functions taken over by the Dartford Panel. The original ground structure from the 1870s remained there for the next ten years.
Garden on the roundabout with plinth and interpretation panels.
Baths. The open air swimming pool was on the corner with Walnut Tree Rd and opened n 1907 with a display by the Erith Swimming Club. The pool was damaged by a land mine in 1940. It never reopened to the public but was still usable by clubs who could book it.  It could no longer be properly filled.

Walnut Tree Road
Built by Erith Urban District Council as part of the Erith tramway project. It allowed trams to go from West Street up towards Northumberland Heath
Walnut Tree House this was a big house in grounds where John Parish, of the local loam pits, moved in 1876. It was named for a line of Walnut Trees which had led to the Manor House. He held parties for the district's old people. The estate was acquired by Erith Council in 1900 who laid out Walnut Tree Road and built the generating station, tramshed and library
Tram Depot built for Erith Urban District Council in 1905. Proposals for an electric tramway were agreed in 1902. This included a plan to build a new road through Walnut Tree House Estate and a site for the depot. The existing power station had to be doubled in size for the extra equipment. The depot for 16 cars was built on o the West side of Walnut Tree Road opposite the powerhouse. It had four roads and entrances with a 19 foot clearance. There was a berthing shed and attached maintenance workshops. . In 1933 the undertaking passed to the London Passenger Transport Board. The Erith cars continued running until 1935 when they were replaced by trolleybuses. It was demolished in 1980 and nothing is now left.  The site is to be used for a new Community College.
Generating Station built by Erith Urban District Council in 1903 initially for street lighting. It was a basic 2 storey brick building at one end opening into a hall with five Westinghouse/Bellis generators. To the back was the boiler house with 5 Yates and Thorn Lancashire boilers. It was extended as part of the tramway scheme. In 1927 it was replaced by a cabled supply from Woolwich but continued as a substation. It was demolished after a fire in 1998.
Community College building opened 2015
Town Hall. A two storey brick building built in 1931-2 to the designs of Harold Hind, surveyor to Erith Urban District Council. It was refurbished and given a mansard roof in the 1990s. Used as offices the old council chamber for the Urban District remains with a domed ceiling.
Erith Museum and Library. This was built by Erith Urban District Council in 1906 and designed by W. Egerton in red brick and funded by Andrew Carnegie. There is a cupola surmounted by a bronze sailing ship weathervane. Inside are two war memorial plaques to individuals. On the porch floor is a mosaic with ‘Labour overcomes all things’.  The building has not been used as a library since 2006 and is currently apparently unused.
Erith Museum. In 1931 E. Bridgstock Choat, offered his services as honorary curator for a museum. Part of the library basement became a Museum in 1934. In 1959, the Museum the Carnegie Trust and the Erith Borough Council financed alterations to the first floor and the Museum moved there. As part of the London Borough of Bexley Erith Museum was turned into a Museum Study Centre for schools in 1974. Schools found it difficult to get to Erith and the Museum was closed. It was reopened in 1983 after repairs and redecoration with a new lay out. The Museum was closed by London Borough of Bexley in 2014.
Tram siding protected by the longest level crossing gate in Britain.

West Street
Level crossing for the railway from Parish’s Pit to Upper Ballast wharf which was probably laid at the time the wharf was built. Horses were used at first, but steam had taken over by 1881. Talbot took over the pit in 1932 and they went on running the 4'0" gauge railway until 1957. The lorries which replaced it were not licensed for road use and continued to cross West Street by the old level crossing which It survived for many years with its control box and a standard gauge siding. Traffic was warned of the locomotive about to cross by a bell.
Crossing from the Nordenfelt works by railway which had run alongside Station (now Stonewood) Road and gone to the Lower Ballast Wharf.
71 house once used by J.Stone, barge builder.
105 Erith Youth and Family Centre
110 The Ship. Sports pub. This dates from the 1860s

Archaeology Data Services. Web site
Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich. Web site.
Baldwin. The River and the Downs
Bexley Civic Society. Walk 
Bird. Geography of the Port of London
British Listed Buildings. Web site
Bygone Kent 
Chelsea Speleological Society. Newsletter
Cinema Treasures. Web site
Erith official guide
Erith. Official Handbook
Erith Rowing Club. Web site
Grace’s Guide. Web site
Kent Rail. Web site
Kort. Web site
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
London Encyclopaedia,
Pevsner and Cherry. South London 
Pevsner. West Kent
Port of London Authority. Web site
Pritchard. History of Erith
Reilly Country to suburb 
South East London Industrial Archaeology
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford
Thames Police Division. Web site
Tucker. Ferries of the Lower Thames
Woolwich. Antiquarians. Transactions

Friday, 13 February 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend. Erith

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend
The railway continues south eastwards

Post to the north Belvedere Marshes
Post to the east Erith

Alford Road
Road built with houses from the 1890s along one side. The other side is a steep slope with trees and at the far end steps leading down to Fraser Road
Pom Pom Fish Bar. Chip shop named for the locally produced “Pom Pom” Machine Gun.

Athol Road
Road built with houses from the 1890s along one side. The other side is a steep slope with trees – going down to what would have been a pit

Battle Road
Road built with houses from the 1890s along one side and on the other a belt of trees with steps going up towards the main, Lower Road and later the railway with a retaining wall.
57 Shri Guru Ravidass Bhawan. Hindu Gurdwara

Birch Walk
A pathway between Kempton Close and Fraser Road
Birch House. Offices and trading units.
G.E.C. (Process Engineering) Limited, Fraser & Chalmers Division. Buildings now in other use.
Birch Walk Open Space. A small grassed area with mature trees and a natural habitat for wildlife, this open space is along the side of Birch Walk

Bramble croft
An estate of town houses on the hillside – built on one side only with a steep slope and steps on the other side.

Bronze Age Way
This is the Erith -Thamesmead Spine Road opened in 1997 and named Bronze Age Way after archaeological discoveries during its construction.  It is the A2016.

Bullbanks Road
The name Bullbanks belongs to a traditional name for a piece of land in this area, belonging to the Ducketts Charity.  This may relate to Bolbec, in France, or various British sites with that name.

Church Road
St.John’s Works. This site has now been redeveloped as housing and the road renamed, Wheatstone Road. The final use of it was by BATT Cable Works, now at The Belfry in Fraser Road.
Vickers Son and Maxim. This site had their woodworking shops and a Maxim and sights factory

Corinthian Manor Way,
Corinthian Yacht Club. In 1872 the Corinthian Yacht Club moved to Erith and in 1892 received its royal title but in 1899 moved away to Port Victoria. The old club house remained on the premises of British Gypsum Limited, and the name is recalled in "Corinthian Manorway".
Plinth. Brick structure at corner with West Street.  This covers a manhole built in 1926 to access the culverted Bedon Stream.
Millennium Milepost. National Cycle Network marker. This one is by Ian McColl, called 'The Cockerel'.
Railway lines crossed the road to access the Vickers Armstrong works from siding east of Belvedere Station.
Bedon River enters Thames here. Now underground

Corinthian Road
Road between West Street and Bronze Age Way. New housing on the site of old housing and some works

Erith Road
This was previously and traditionally called Friday Hill
Trinity School. This is a Church of England Secondary School, dating from the 1970s. It has now converted to an ‘academy’.
Lodge. This is at the school entrance and was built as the lodge for The Oaks
The Oaks. This was the home of Frank Beadle in the 1870s and demolished in the 1970s when the school was built. Beadle left money for the purchase of Franks’ Park which is named after him.
153 The 9th Erith Air Scout Group. This is for young people with an interest in air activities. It is part of the UK Scout Association and has a Beaver Scout Colony, a Cub Scout Pack, An Air Scout Troop, an Air Explorer Scout Unit
181 Nordenfelt Tavern. This was built to the design of Jonathan Ensor in-house architect to Watney Combe & Reid, in 1902 and is named after the local armaments firm. Also known locally as the Pom Pom Tavern after their machine guns.

Franks Park
A wooded park on part of the estate of Belvedere Park which was attached to the house later used as the Royal Alfred Merchant Seaman's Institution. The park was set up by Erith Council in 1920 and named after Frank Beadle who donated the money for its purchase. The Green Chain Walk and associated trails run through the park.
A sunken concrete bowl on top of the hill to the north near the children’s playground is the remains of a garden feature belonging to Temple Mount, a mid 19th house which once stood on the site.

Fraser Road
The road was originally a footpath from the quarry to part of the quarry used as a cricket ground.
Pit. Originally the pit was quarried for ballast to go on ships leaving the Thames. However fine loam lay under the ballast and used as moulding sand for foundries and the workings extended half a mile inland. The land had originally been owned by the Wheatley Estate but from the 1870s it was John Parish. In 1891 Parish sold the land to Fraser and Chalmers and in 1932, it was sold to Talbot Estates. Much of the pit face can still be seen around the industrial site built within it.
Cricket Pitch. Land in a worked out area of the pit was cleared for a cricket ground and a touring Australian side played here in 1884 and 1890. 
Talbot Estates. While part of the quarry was used for factories, some of it continued to be worked for the loam. Talbot worked it from 1932. They were a Hartley based company with pits in Borough Green and Slade Green. Ballast was loaded onto side tipping truck on a two foot gauge railway. There was a four foot gauge railway understood to be unique. They had two Hawthorne Saddletank engines dating from the 1880s and still in use in the 1950s.
Railway tunnel. The trucks with the quarry owner’s locomotive went under the road. This tunnel was used as an air raid shelter for the quarry horses during the Second World War.  In the 1990s the tunnel was blocked but could be identified by screening.
The Nordenfelt Gun and Ammunition Co. bought the northern part of the pit in 1887 with an entrance in Sandcliffe Road. Thorsten Nordenfelt was a Swede who was domiciled in Britain who had developed a machine gun. In 1888 they amalgamated with the, local, Maxim Company. Hiram Maxim was an American domiciled in Britain who had developed a machine gun. In 1897 they were taken over by Vickers as Vickers Son and Maxim Ltd. Vickers were producing armour plate and guns. By 1911 they were Vickers Ltd. and as well as guns they were producing aircraft and had other local sites. From 1919 they made machine tools and production machinery.  Fromm 1910 they made Siddley Autocars. In 1927 they became Vickers Armstrong and went back to making guns. The Erith works was closed in 1931.  In the 1990s some of Vickers Buildings from the 1990s remained on site. These were the gun turnery, the shell and the gun mechanism departments.
Fraser and Chalmers. This company, started by two Scots made mining and milling machinery based in Chicago.  They bought the site in 1891 from Frederick Parish and eventually moved onto the area used as the recreation ground. In 1901 the Fraser US works was sold to Allis Chalmers and the Erith Works independent of them by 1903 Steam Engines were made here from c.1900. They made mine winding engines and electric winders.  They were taken over by GEC in 1918. In the 1990s some buildings remained on site from Fraser and Chalmers – this was the Boiler Shop and the Foundry and the steel framed, brick clad Turbine and Machine shop dated 1907.
GEC – the General Electric Company - took Fraser and Chalmers over in 1918 and bought the next door Vickers factory in 1937 they made electricity generating steam turbines.  The GEC Atomic Energy Division was there and Hunterston Nuclear Power Station was built there. They continued here until the 1980s
The Belfry.  BATT cables. This company is a cable supplier specialising in electrical cables and accessories internationally. It was founded in 1952, making it the oldest cable distributor in the UK. The Head Office and ’superhub’ is based in Erith
Madford Trading Estate. Wickes Store on the site of the Atlas Preservatives. Chemical and paint makers owned by Denis Thatcher. They began in New Zealand and moved to Deptford in 1898. They make paint and wood preservatives as well as degreasing and descaling, camouflage and ammunition paint. It was a steel framed building clad in corrugated iron.  Established here in 1928 to manufacture preservative paint for timber and metal, their de-greasing much used in the Second World War. In 1965 they were taken over by Castrol and then Burmah Oil. Agrochemicals from 1982. Closed  in 1987.

Sewage Pumping Station.  Small single storey flat roofed unmanned sewage pumping house. Erith UDC 1933.
Electricity sub-power station. This was a circular kiosk with a spire which stood at the junction with Alford Roads.
Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  This was built in 1900 as a Primitive Methodist Chapel. As the Tower Cinema it was opened in 1923 and altered by F.W. Pamplin of Abbey Wood. In 1932 it was equipped for talkies and was re-named Rialto Cinema. In 1939, it was re-named Rex Cinema and in 1946, it was re-named Tivoli Cinema. It closed in 1956 and was converted into Kingdom Hall

Galleons Close
New housing adjacent to what was the Gas works site

Gas House Lane
West Kent Gas Works. Opened in 1862 as the foundation works of the West Kent Gas Light and Coke Co. and closed in 1914 having been taken over by the South Suburban Company in 1901 and last used in 1900. There were two holders. a retort house, workshops and rail lines to jetties. 

Nordenfeldt Works – the riverside site here downriver of the gas works was used by Nordenfelt/Vickers works. It was then used by Thorn, portable buildings, and then became the Telcon/SCC Ocean Works
J. Thorn Portable Buildings Works. James Thorn took over the riverside works in the 1930s to make portable buildings supplied as hutting to the authorities during the Second World War. This was a second factory to their Bexleyheath works and became the largest supplier in Britain.
Ocean Works. Submarine Cable works. This was a Telcon/SCC works set up to produce transatlantic telephone cables. It was opened in 1954 by the Post Master General and was to manufacture, polyethylene dielectric coaxial cables. The first Atlantic Telephone cable (TAT-1) was a major contract here.
Vencel Resil. This company was based at Ocean Works from 1973 and was a large producer of expanded polystyrene insulation with the Jablite range.  It is now a UK brand leader and the company also supplies other innovative products. The company is now based in Anderson Way off Crabtree Manor Way.

Halt Robin Road
This road goes through Franks Park as a footpath, to emerge as a road at the western end.  It is a woodland path and part of the Green Chain Walk.

Hawthorn Place
Housing development on part of the strip which was once the edge of the ballast pit.  As this site is only a few yards from the tunnel which took pit locomotives under Fraser Road it is to be hoped that the name refers to that of those locomotives and not the plant.

Jessett Close
Named after Frederick Jessett, Erith's first Medical Officer of Health. It was previously part of Pembroke Road – but also where Friday Hill, coming into Erith from the West, crossed the railway to meet West Street going from the north into the centre of Erith.
Church Crossing. This was a controlled railway crossing with a gatekeeper – one of whom was sadly killed by a train in 1865.  There is now a footbridge over both the railway and Bronze Age Way.

Lower Road
The road was once part of the lower main road between Erith and Woolwich, A2016. This has now been superseded by Bronze Age Way.
Bridge over the railway and Bronze Age Way. In 1902 as part of the plans for an Erith tramway it was decided to replace the level crossing over the South Eastern Railway in Lower Road between Erith and Belvedere by a girder skew bridge. It goes by a more complicated system across Bronze Age Way.

Lowry Road
On the site of Vickers Gun Carriage works in Sandcliffe Road.

Nordenfelt Road,
Route of railway from Parish's Pits to Railway Wharf

Park Gardens
Part of the Hillside Estate built by Doultons for their ‘more important’ workers in the 1900s.

Industrial railway lines from Erith Station. A number of lines ran from the London end of the station and were all standard gauge. One line looped under the SE&CR site through a tunnel, linking two Gun Works and a railway wharf on the Thames. The gun works' lines joined the SER network through freight sidings which also served a single-track goods shed, on the ''down'' side.
A 4 ft narrow gauge line belonging to Parish Loam's quarry pits passed under the North Kent Line, about 320 yards beyond the Erith Station up platforms. This narrow gauge line ran parallel with another spur off of the Standard Gauge line of the Nordenfelt Gun Works.
Siding beyond the Fraser Road tunnel was accessed by Ballast trucks leaving the Talbot quarry hauled by their locomotives. They then reached an overhead gantry. The ballast was then loaded onto standard gauge railway trucks hauled by Fraser and Chalmers Locomotive Another siding had a gantry for loading lorries. .

Riverside Walk
Gasworks Jetties 1& 2. These were built in 1863 and all that remains of either is now ruinous timber. One extended 35m from the bank the other was originally 40 m from the bank.

Sandcliff Road
Vickers Gun Carriage works. This was on the corner with Church Road. They also made aircraft in 1911 and for the 1922 Antarctic expedition. It was also the Maxim gun factory which Opened in 1906 as a range of interconnecting single storey brick built engineering workshops. In the basement was a machine gun testing range. In 1991 it was in use by Batt Cables.
Talbot Quarries offices were based here, plus a weighbridge for lorries leaving the Quarry.

St Fidelis Close
New housing on the road. The road and the area under Bronze Age Way are roughly on the site of the original sand pit in this area. Ballast was dug and sold from this pit from 1805 when it was owned by Lord Wheatley. By 1870 it was owned by John Parish and the working site had moved west.

Burndept Electronics (E.R.) Ltd. .They made electrical equipment and Vidor radios. Before th Second World War made radioactivity measuring equipment.  In the Second World War they made military communication equipment until 1941, when the factory was almost completely destroyed by bombing. They relocated production to Dundee.  However, after the war, they set up St Fidelis Road and in the 1960s, made the SARBE lifejacket beacon for the RAF and other forces. The beacon sent an automatic and continuous transmission of a homing signal as soon as the life jacket entered the water.

St Johns Road
Sovex.  This was founded in 1860 by M.Sauve.  In 1909 the building was used for the construction of timber gun wheels with the Boiler House adjacent. They made Vickers conveyors in 1918. Sovex took the buildings over in 1936 and continued in the same line of manufacture.  They made armaments in the Second World War and then continued with mechanical handling devices until 1980 when they closed. Made mechanised systems of all sorts – sorting systems, escalators, etc etc.

Tower Road
Tower Church. Sir Culling Eardley was a "zealous but liberal non-conformist", and built a chapel in Belvedere Park. This was the "Tower Church", which opened in 1848. It was a self-governing church, the congregation called "Independents", and the pulpit was open to preachers of all Christian denominations. It was replaced on a different site by 1853.  The site is now that of Bexley College.
Bexley College. Originally this was built by Kent Education Committee and was the Erith College of Technology. There is a workshop block of 1966, an administration block of 1971, a tower block set inside a concrete frame and in front was the Library. It was designed by Charles Pike & Partners, in association with E. T. Ashley-Smith, the Kent County Architect.  The second phase was built in 1968-71. The site was closed in 2014.

Valley Road
Erith Working Men’s Club

West Street
St.John the Baptist.  This parish church includes some Roman work but it is hidden. The church is thus possibly on the site of a Roman Christian church, or it is the site of a dene hole. There was probably a Saxon church here but the stone and flint building dates largely from the 12th while the tower was built in the 14th. The steeple has wooden shingles. The church was restored in 1877 by Habershon & Pite. The roof was blown up in explosion. There is a sundial on an outside wall given by Nicholas Stone in 1643. The Wheatley Chapel off the chancel was for 400 years the private property of the lords of the manor. It has brasses and memorials including monument to Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury. There is also a stained- glass window to Maj-Gen William Wheatley a commanders in the Peninsular campaign.
Churchyard. This is enclosed within a stone wall, trees and screens the churchyard from the nearby main road to the north. There is a wooden lych-gate and a path leads to the church porch. There is the grave Sir William Anderson, engineer and head of the local firm of Easton and Anderson and a war memorial in the churchyard dedicated in 1921.
Erith Central School. In 1901 a new Central School was built near St John's Church. Two years later Erith School Board was abolished and Erith Urban District Council took over. The school had departments for Boys, Girls and Infants, each with its own Head Teacher. In 1944 the School now called West Street County Primary School under Kent County Council. In 1973 the Infant School moved to Crabtree Manor Way and in 1987 the Junior School moved next to it and they became Belvedere Infant School and Belvedere Junior School
West Street level crossing – this was for the trucks of ballast leaving the sidings hauled by Fraser and Chalmers Locomotives in sets of ten, a total of 25 tons. The crossing was controlled b two gas operated by a bell from a gatehouse. The control box and the standard gauge siding survived for many years. Talbot went on running the 4'0" gauge railway until 1957. The lorries which replaced it were not licensed for road use and continued to cross West Street by the level crossing.
Erith National School was founded in 1850 on a site near the gas works. The Anglican Church could not support the National School adequately and in 1876 it was transferred to the newly established Erith School Board. In 1901 it was demolished
St Fidelis. In 1867 a Capuchin Fr Maurice was working in Erith and secured a plot in West Street a church dedicated to St Fidelis, a small school and a presbytery were built. This mission was served from the Capuchin base at Greenhithe. In 1875 a Capuchin Friary was funded in Erith with new friary buildings attached to the church. However in 1902 a large site was acquired in of Bexley Road and a new Friary was built there. The church was closed and demolished in 1989.
St. Fidelis Catholic School. This was founded with the church in West Street. The school has been based in Bexley Road since 1960.
St John’s Hall. This is used by Re-Instate, a charity that provides a sheltered workshop environment for adults with mental health problems
177 D.Sebel & Factory previously used by Vickers with an impressive frontage. This Company made Mobo toys. The Mobo Bronco was the most famous but also Stak-a-Bye, Nest-a=Bye and Fold-a-Bye steel furniture. The Mobo Bronco pressed-steel toy ride-horse was first made in 1947 by David Sebel and his son, Harry. It illustrated the change in toy horse production from timber to plastic via pressed metal. The firm continued in production until 1971. From 1948 the toy horses were exported to the United States and other major markets were in Australia and South Africa. In 1951 David and Harry Sebel immigrated to Australia and set up their factory in Bankstown, New South Wales. The horses continued to be made in England and shipped to Australia for assembling and painting. From 1957 the firm concentrate on furniture and this continues. The West Street works demolished in 1990.
177 Albert Products. Synthetic Resin Manufacturers. They made a range of chemicals including pharmaceuticals.

Wheatstone Road
This is a renaming of the eastern end of Church Road

Bexley Civic Society. Walk
Bygone Kent
Catholic Churches in Kent. Web site
Cox. Kent
Erith. Official Handbook.
Erith. Official guide
Field. London Place Names
Grace’s Guide. Web site
Hamilton. The Industries of Crayford
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
London Gardens Online. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. South London
Pevsner. West Kent
Powerhouse Museum. Web site
Pritchard. Belvedere and Bostall
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford
South East London Industrial Archaeology
Timber Trades Journal.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend. Belvedere Marshes

Railway between London Bridge and Gravesend
The railway goes south eastwards

Post to the west Belvedere
Post to the south Erith

Anderson Way
Road presumably named for William Anderson, of Anderson and Amos, Erith steam engine manufacturers.  The road appears to be built along the line of one of the marshland dykes.
Infinity House. Vencil Resil, the UK largest producer of expanded Polystyrene insulation under the Jablote range. This company was established in 1973, at the Ocean Works in West Street, Erith and claims to be the UK's largest producer of expanded polystyrene insulation products. There are some other companies on this large site, including a recycling centre for ASDA’

Bronze Age Way
This is the Erith -Thamesmead Spine Road opened in 1997 and named Bronze Age Way after archaeological discoveries during its construction.  It is the A2016.
Footbridge from Crabtree Manor Way
Pirelli tyre works. Now closed. This was the old BICC site fronting Bronze Age Way and running as far as the Thames. The site and the landmark tower were demolished in the early 2000s.

Cables Close
This is now stopped up from Bronze Age Way

Church Manorway
Silver Quay. W. T. Henley. They design and manufacture electrical equipment for electricity distribution and supply networks by electricity supply utilities
Gyproc Trading Estate. The Erith Technical Academy is the longest serving training facility which has been here since 1966. It trains for plaster and drywall systems. It is one in a network of Saint Gobain technical academies.
British Plasterboard.  The development of plasterboard dates to the late 19th in the USA. A site was acquired at Wallasey in 1916 and the assets were sold to British Plaster Board Limited in 1917.  They built a new factory at Erith in 1934 which could manufacture the gypsum plaster and they imported gypsum rock from Canada.  BPB became the dominant force in the industry and became an international company over the next 80 years. Products were Paramount and Thistle. Since 1996 they have been involved with French Saint-Gobain, making glass fibre insulation and were eventually taken over by them. The Erith site is now a training base only
Tracks of an old rail siding to the site from the main line east of Belvedere Station crossed the road here and remained until the 1990s.
Erith Wharf. Conway Asphalt Plant. Conway is an infrastructure services company (road mending and cleaning) which started in 1961 with one lorry.
Piers of a railway bridge remain on the west side of the road, partly hidden by trees and shrubs, which were part of a siding going into Erith Oil Works.
Erith Oil Works. This became British Oil and Cake Mills and was part of Unilever.  The factory processed rapeseed oil for human consumption and for animal feed. It was the largest such works in the country.  A major feature of the site is a bank of 24 concrete cylindrical silos in four rows. These were built in 1916, and were the first major work in Britain using the reinforced concrete techniques from Denmark by Christian & Nielsen.  The architect for the factory, built in 1913-17, was Percival M. Fraser.  Linking the silos to the riverside jetty are two concrete sheds. The original office building has a plaque “1908 EOW 1914”.  The site was badly bombed in the Second World War Part of Archer Daniels Midland Ltd since 1990
War Memorial and Garden of Remembrance unveiled in 1923, to BICC employees who lost their lives in the Great War.
Lorry Park on the west side of the road belonging to ADM. There is a green and seating and what appears to be a semi-derelict electricity sub-station fenced off.
BICC - British Insulated Callenders Cables. This was dominated by a cable-cooling tower 75 metres high. Five sheds were basically cable sheds built in 1902. Callender & Sons was founded to import bitumen by William Ormiston Callender in 1877, and moved to Erith in 1880.  Manufacture of cables was at first a sideline which became the main activity. In 1896 it became the Callender Cable and Construction Co, later British Insulated Callender's Cables. They were a major national supplier of underground and sub-marine high tension electrical cables.  Power was generated on site until 1905.  They made much of the cable for PLUTO in 1944. The cable was loaded into ships from the jetty of Erith Oil Works.  By 1965 this was the principal main factory of the world's largest cable group. In 1999 the works was sold to Pirelli, who closed the works and demolished it in 2005. 
Doulton’s Sanitary Ware. This was Doulton’s Pipe Works. Royal Doulton was the Lambeth based pottery company producing art works as well as the basic artefacts made here and some of their other factories. They bought the site 1925 and made pipes, drains and conduits.  The site was purchased by Hepworth in 1970 and production ended in 1974.
BICC sports ground. Large derelict site to the north of the oil mills. Part of it was the Church Manorway Nature Area which was developed for nature conservation but which is now in a development area and lost. Much of the vegetation was planted but there was a wide range of invertebrates and breeding birds. There was a small pond, choked with reeds and grassland. There were ditches, and a section of Corinthian Dyke. There were water voles
Cedars Transport Depot. Includes Gillray Plant, and others. There is also a filling station.
Hercules Powder Co. Paper making chemicals

Corinthian Dyke
One of a number of waterways in the area – these are drainage ditches and probably not natural. It has several branches and is a complex system. There are some white willows on some sections of this dyke and some other unusual plants, along with frogs and weasels.

Crabtree Manor Way
The road consists of a series of industrial sites and trading estates with numerous businesses.
Euro Trade Centre. Concorde Metal Recycling – a family firm of scrap dealers based in Sittingbourne.
Crabtree Farm. This was on the west side of the road north of what is now Anderson way.
Football Ground. This was one of several football grounds in Crabtree Manor Way before the Second World War. This was opposite Crabtree Farm, there was another south of Claytonville Terrace and others near the railway.
Oyo Business Park.  This is on the site of what was the Helio Mirror Co. OYO stands for ‘Own Your Own’.  This is now divided into trading units.
Helio Mirror Co. The site has now been cleared following a takeover of the company by Thales. Some sheds on the site were built by BICC sheds in 1917 to produce field telephone cable for trench warfare in the Great War.
79 Crabtree Tavern. This was demolished for road widening in 1970 In 1913 the landlord was a Thomas Clayton, however it appears to have been rebuilt since photographs show two very different buildings. The brewer was Kidd and Sons.
Houses. This had a plaque on which says “Claytonville Terrace. 1857”.  Presumably this has some relationship to the landlord of the Crabtree Arms in 1913 – Thomas Clayton
Burgess Cottages. These cottages were south of Claytonville Cottages and were there before the Second World War
Footbridge over Bronze Age Way
Durable House. Offices and trading area Durable Contracts
North Kent Indoor Bowls Centre
Croda Chemicals and Resins. This was previously Plastanol Ltd. They made Phthalic Anhydride and synthetic resins - products for the manufacture of paints and inks. They still make a range of chemicals and paints and sealants.
Cleveland Cable. Cable distribution company with international branches and links
Pura. Manufacture of edible oils and part of the ADM group.
Maybrey Reliance. Die and Sand Casting Foundry. The foundry goes back to the 1850's. George England were engineers based in New Cross, South London, producing railway locomotives, and machine tools at the Hatcham Iron Works.  Reliance Foundry was a major supplier to them and they merged in the 1930's as Reliance Foundry Ltd and General Engineering & Boiler Co. in 1986 they were bought by Hills Diecasting Ltd and later by F.W.Birkett of Yorkshire. The name of Reliance Foundry was kept as part of the Caro Group

Jenningtree Way
Housing for gypsy families. Up to the 1940s in the winter months up to 1,700 Gypsies would congregate on the marshes. Erith Borough Council tried over 20 years, to remove them. In the 1953 floods many sites were washed away the site and many families were housed by the council. The 1956 700 people were removed from the marshes but Norman Dodds, the local Labour MP campaigned for their rights and his successor James Wellbeloved took up the campaign and in 1968 the Caravans Sites Act was passed which placed a duty on all local authorities to provide sites. The Cob horse statue on Picardy Manorway is a reminder of the old horse drawn carts.

Lower Road
Entrance to Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple
165 Halfway House Pub

Belvedere Marshes extend to the Thames. The Romans probably built the original river walls and the monks at Lesnes Abbey kept them repaired drained the marshes. Sometimes the river has broken through and flooded the marshes – in 1230, and again in 1527, when the land was not reclaimed for 60 years. In 1928 there was serious flooding and when the whole marsh area was water the railway line was cut.

Mitchell Road
31 Guru Nanak Durbar (Sikh Temple)
Queensland Stores. Shop said to be next door to the Queensland Cinema which had doors from the Empire Exhibition at Wembley, depicting Queensland in Australia
Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church. The Belvedere Electric Theatre or the Cinematographic Picture Palace opened in 1913 in what had been an auction room, converted to the plans of W. Roberts of Erith. After 1924, it was re-named Queensland Cinema, as it was next door to the Queensland Stores. The Cinema was operated closed in 1929. It was later converted into a skating rink, and then became the Pentecostal Baptist Church
Belvedere Community Centre.  The Centre dates from the 1970s and shares grounds with the Belvedere Infants and Junior Schools.
Belvedere Junior School

Mulberry Way
Named because some of the Mulberry Harbours made there in the Second World War. This is now a trading and industrial area with many units and companies
Conway Asphalt offices and material testing laboratory
Denton’s Wharf – many units and companies
Crawley Parker. Timber and fencing company.  This is made up two older names in the timber trade. Crawley originates from the Burt Boulton Timber Group and the Parker name from the Parker Timber Group, two of the largest timber importers in the UK.  Belvedere was the historic London base for the two original companies who were fierce competitors

Riverside Path
RMC Erith/Gyroc/British Plasterboard jetty.  This was built and extended in 1928.  It is a T plan timber jetty extending 200m into the river and had two cranes and a conveyor system for access. It is a safeguarded wharf which has previously handled waterborne aggregates but it is understood it is being re-designed and reconstructed for general cargoes as well as in association with a new concrete batching plant.
Conway’s jetty. This is a new jetty built in 2011 alongside the old Plasterboard jetty, celebrates 50 years with a new Thames-side Jetty. This is in association with their new Asphalt Plant which is said to be the busiest in the UK.
Jetty – disused timber jetty used by Doulton’s earthenware works. This dated from 1928 and was equipped with two travelling Butters cranes which ran on electric current run in a conduit along the jetty.  There was a large loading hopper made of concrete half way along with a conveyor to the shore. The main incoming cargo was the clay used in the works.
Albion Wharf Erith Oil Works Jetty. This is a T plan concrete jetty.    It supports a 4 floor concrete cargo handling building which was partially renewed 1951.  It was used for loading and unloading Pluto pipework .  It is a safeguarded wharf.
Albion Wharf. This is a second jetty built in 1909 to a T plan with a section parallel to the river.
Pioneer Wharf. This is an aggregates wharf used by United Maine aggregates. It is a safeguarded wharf used by self discharging dredgers

Viking Way
Stone Vickers Warrior Works. This was the sole surviving Vickers site in the area. Now closed.
Telecommunications tower and associated switching station.

ADM Web site
Baldwin. The River and the Marsh
Ballard. Nuisance
Belvedere Comunity Centre. Web site
Belvedere Junior School. Web site
Bexley Civic Society. Walk
BICC. History
BPB Web site
Bygone Kent
Cara. Web site
Cinema Treasures. Web site
Conway. Web site
Jablite. Web site
London Assembly. Web site
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
Pevsner. West Kent
Pevsner and Cherry. South London
Port of London Authority. Web site,
Port of London Magazine
Pritchard. Belvedere
South East London Industrial Archaeology
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford
W.T. Henley. Web site

Friday, 6 February 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend Belvedere

Railway between London Bridge and Gravesend
The railway continues eastwards but, after Belvedere Station, begins to turn south eastwards

Post to the west Yarnton Way
Post to the east Belvedere Marshes

Bronze Age Way
This is the Erith -Thamesmead Spine Road opened in 1997 and named Bronze Age Way after archaeological discoveries during its construction.  It is the A2016.

Eastern Way
This section of Eastern Way, A2016, from Thamesmead to the roundabout with Picardy Manorway was completed in the mid-1980s.

Gilbert Road
Gilbert Road is named for the last owners of Heron Hill.
St Augustine. A large red brick church built in 1916. This was built to serve the growing part of All Saints' Parish at Lower Belvedere. Originally it was an iron mission church dedicated to St. Augustine opened in 1884. A building fund was opened after a meeting in 1909 but there was locally unemployment and the collection of money was hard. The architect C. Hodgson Fowler, with Temple Moore, altered the plans and the foundation stone was laid in 1915 but the church could not be completed until 1965.
66 Belvedere Workings Men’s Club.

Hailey Road
Hailey Road Business Park
Europa World Wide Services. This is Europa’s Head Office. They began in 1966 with one van going to and fro to Italy, by 1976 they restructured as an international haulier

Lower Road.
Erith and Belvedere Football Club. An Erith FC had existed at the turn of the 20th century, however Erith and Belvedere FC was formed in 1922. They played at Park View Ground. In 1997 the club was forced to leave this ground, after a fire wrecked the main stand and they moved to a ground share arrangement at Park View Road in Welling.  The original site is now a super store.
Belvedere Family Centre

Mitchell Close
Belvedere Junior School. The Erith National School was founded in 1850. The Church could not support it adequately and in 1876 it was transferred to the Erith School Board. In 1901 a new Central School was built and the duties of the school board were transferred to Erith Urban District Council, from 1938 Erith Borough Council.  In 1944 Erith ceased to be an Education Authority and the School now called West Street County Primary School came under Kent County Council. In 1973 the Infant School moved to Crabtree Manor Way and in 1987 the Junior School moved next door changed its name to Belvedere Junior School. This school is now an ‘academy’ with another local school in a Trust

Picardy Manor Way
Picardy Manorway was built in the late 1980s and replaced a nearby level crossing. At one time the A2016 took this route and turned left along Lower Road and West Street until Bronze Age Way was built
Horse on the roundabout. This is the Belvedere Cob by Andy Scott with associations to the Gypsy community who lived on the marshes.

Picardy Street
Picardy is an old name locally; it appears in a document of 1569 and conjectures as to its origin include unconvincing. The road was sstraightened in 1962
Co-op shop was replaced with a library. That seems to have gone too, and the Tesco is about to close.

Sheridan Road
Grand Cinema.  Built in 1913 and renamed Cosy Talkie Cinema in 1931. This became the Kit Kat Ballroom. Demolished 1961 and a flats built on site. It was on the corner with Picardy Street

Station Road
38 Belvoir Tavern. Closed.
Belvedere Station. Built in 1859 by the South East and Chatham Railway it lies between Abbey Wood and Erith Stations on South Eastern Trains.  It was built on the North Kent line at the time that estates being laid out in the area and has two storey brick building on the up side with wooden hutted platforms buildings and a steel framed passenger footbridge.  It was bombed in 1941.  It was rebuilt in 1968 and in 1999.
Goods Yard. This closed in 1968.
Level crossing. This closed in 1989 and a bridge built over the tracks.
Railway Electricity Sub Station. This brick building was installed by the Southern Railway upon electrification in 1926. It contained two rotary converters driven by ac power from Deptford Power Station supplying dc power to the conductor rail.
A grass strip alongside the down track was the track-bed of the siding to Belvedere Gas Works.

Yarnton Way
Belvedere Gas Holders. Set up by the South Suburban Gas Company around 1922 as a gasholder station. The two gasholders are from 1923 and of 1931.

Bygone Kent 
Friends of the Earth. London Gasworks
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
Pritchard, Belvedere & Bostall
SABRE. Web site.
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend. Yarnton Way

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend
The railway continues eastwards

Post to the west Thamesmead
Post to the east Belvedere

Alsike Road
Parkway Primary School

Centurion Way
Anchor Bay. Southern England offices of construction materials Supply Company

Northwood Place
Northwood Primary School.

St Augustine Road
St.Augustine of Canterbury. Church of England Primary School and Children’s Centre. This school is in a building clearly older than other local schools.

Veridion Way
Horizon Business Centre. Light industry and trading areas in Veridion Park
Thames Innovation Centre. Business units and support

Woodland Way
Nature Reserve. Area off Yarnton Way designated as a Nature Reserve. This constituted CrossDyke2 and Alders Dyke which were habitats for water voles. Since destroyed

Yarnton Way
Wurth.  The British head office of a German company set up in 1954 and with outlets worldwide trading in assembly and fastening materials
Emmanuel Baptist Church Thamesmead. Pastor David Manktelow, moved to one of the first flats in Thamesmead in 1968. The Thamesmead Baptist Church was formally constituted in 1972 and absorbed members of Abbey Wood Baptist Church. It became Emmanuel Baptist Church in 1995.  The church has been involved in much social action in Thamesmead and integration of new residents.
Parkview. Built 1969-79 some in point blocks, but the lower housing behind is arranged around large, more open spaces
The Business Academy. This is school for ages 3–19 is an ‘academy’. It appears to have two sites – and some sixth form input. The web site tells you absolutely nothing concrete.  It was previously Riverside Secondary School
Lime Row Shopping Centre. A parade of small shops.

Anchor Bay. Web site
Emmanuel Baptist Church. Web site
London Assembly Web site
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
News Shopper. Web site
Northwood School. Web site
Parkway School. Web site
St.Augustine of Canterbury Primary School. Web site
Thames Innovation Centre. Web site.
Wurth. Web site

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend - Thamesmead

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend
The railway continues eastwards

Post to the east Yarnton Way

Abbey Way
This footpath leads for from Southmere to the Lesnes Abbey ruins and the woods. It is mostly on a ridge, created using soil excavated from Southmere. It is carried by bridges across main roads and the railway line.   It is described as a linear park.

Binsey Walk
The earliest residential buildings in Thamesmead were built here as a linear block of maisonettes and old people’s accommodation. The construction method turned out to be inappropriate for industrialised construction methods.  These early homes were restricted to having no ground floor rooms because of by-laws against flooding. This area has now largely been demolished.
Newacres Library. Thamesmead Library managed by Bexley Council. This has now been demolished and a new library is planned.

Boxgrove Road
Mulberry Park Childrens' Centre. This includes Grace Neighbourhood Nursery.
Boxgrove Primary School. The school has recently been extended.

Corraline Walk
The earliest residential buildings in Thamesmead were built here as a linear block of maisonettes and old people’s accommodation. The construction method turned out to be inappropriate for industrialised construction methods.  The first show house on the estate was here, and the first residents moved into an adjoining property in 1968.
32 The Barge Pole. Pub

Eynsham Drive
Thistlebrook Industrial Estate
1c Freda Powell Centre, People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. The hospital opened in 2001 funded by Jim Powell in memory of his wife, Freda . Freda and Jim Powell grew up near Eynsham Drive, where the PDSA PetAid hospital, stands.

Felixstowe Road
Lyndean Trading Estate
137 African Community Centre

Great Marsh
From Erith marshes stretch westward to Plumstead, below the high water level of the Thames and kept from flooding by the river wall. little creeks run through it. The marshes were a grazing ground with alluvial clay 4 to 10 feet thick above a peat bed, full of trunks and roots of as 'submerged forest'.
Plumstead parish included 1000 acres of marsh between Crossness and Woolwich Arsenal. In 1279 the abbots of Lesnes enclosed a great part of the marsh and in following years a commission was set up which included the Lord of the Manor. Nevertheless there were great breaches in the wall and terrible floods ensued.  Following the reformation is was difficult to identify the monastic land and various commissions followed. Effective drainage and river walls were eventually put in place.

Harrow Manor Way
On the east side are some of the original system built Thamesmead flats. Because of Bexley by law about flooding of ground floor habitable rooms had to be on the first floors and it became too expensive to complete.

Kale Road
St John Fisher School. Small catholic primary school

Lensbury Way
Bexley Referral Unit
Pathways Short Stay School
Church of the Cross. An ecumenical church shared by the Church of England, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church

Seacourt Road
Willow Bank Primary School. Now an ‘academy’.

Southmere. The largest of the Thamesmead lakes – this square contains only the southernmost tip.

Tavy Bridge Centre
Shops and community rooms along a on a windswept plaza and the first local shopping centre, built in 1972. This has now been demolished and is being redesigned and rebuilt.
Lakeside Health Centre. Attractive angular by Derek Stow & Partners, 1970-2, dramatically jutting out on piers over the shallow southern corner of the lake. Quite dramatic

Built from the mid-1960s and planned by the London County Council as a self contained community rather than a suburb. Altered as building fashions changed. Thamesmead was built as part of the new Labour vision. Although it was aimed to provide homes for 60,000 people, it never achieved its target.

Thistlebrook Travellers' Site. Built 1967. The Plumstead and Erith marshes has been a traditional camping ground for Travellers. Their horses used to be seen in very great numbers on the marshes here, The Travellers were very badly affected by the 1953 floods.  The council provided a site for about 54 caravans on a site planned in conjunction with the Gipsy Council.

Wilton Road
Abbey Wood Station. Opened in 1849 it lies between Belvedere and Plumstead Stations on South Eastern Trains. It was built by the North Kent Railway, along the line of land where the marsh and river cliff meet. It was managed by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway from 1899, and in 1923 it became part of the Southern railway. A new station was built in 1975.  The station is again is being rebuilt in preparation for Crossrail for which it is to be terminus of one of two eastern branches and will offer an interchange between terminating Crossrail services and existing Southeastern services

Abbey Wood Station. Wikipedia. Web site
Boxgrove Primary School. Web site
Bygone Kent
Green Chain walks
Greenwich Historical Society Journal
Ideal Homes. Web site
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
London Borough of Greenwich. Web site
London Encyclopaedia
North West Kent Family History Society. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. Kent
Spurgeon. Discover Woolwich
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford
Wright. Thamesmead. Back to the Future