Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The London/Kent Boundary - Darenth meets the Thames

London/Kent Boundary - The Darent meets the Thames

TQ  54 77

Post to the west TQ 53 77 Dartford Marshes

Post to the north TQ 53 78 Purfleet Reserve

An area of Dartford Salt Marsh.

The London/Kent boundary at its junction with the Thames here. It goes south down the line of the River Darent.

On the boundary
River Thames - Long Reach. The square shows only the south bank which runs from Darent Mouth. It is an area which until recently was very desolate and somewhere that activities took place that the rest of us don't want to know about. Its a good place to start a boundary - still, in some weathers, it seems like the edge of the world.

Long Reach goes from Crayford Ness to Greenhithe. From Erith Rands the ebb tide sets to Purfleet. East of Crayford Ness is a shelf of 5-18 feet extending from the Kent shore and continuing and widening.
Measured mile. This is a long straight stretch of water, including a measured mile which was used for speed trials of ships. Three pairs of beacons mark two measured sea miles – one set was outside the pub.

Dartford Creek - River Darent
This is the line of the London/Kent boundary in this square
The river Darent – flows into the Thames here more or less opposite the mouth of the Mardyke at Purfleet. It has been speculated that the Mardyke is in fact part of the Darent which became isolated after the Thames changed its flow to its present position.
Mouth of the Darent/Dartford Creek. It as been said the sand bar looks formidable from the river. Dartford Creek is famed for its wildlife - great crested grebe, heron etc
Dartford Creek Barrier. Flood barrier which came into service in November 1982. It has two drop leaf gates between tall towers, was planned along with the Thames barrier and is inspected twice a day. It is controlled by Southern Water Authority which looks after the Darent and Cray. When high tides are anticipated the barrier is manned for a twelve-hour period before high water. Much of the marsh area is three to five metres below the maximum tidal reach of the river and the flood defences have to also to ensure that any tidal surge does not pass up tributary rivers like the Darent. Also, in a time of heavy rainfall inland, by shutting out the Thames on a flow tide, excess rainwater can gather in the Darent's creek without flooding over its banks.
Large warning notice: 'When this red light is on the Creek Flood Barrier is closed and vessels will be unable to pass through',
Beacon on east bank

Kent/Dartford side of the boundary
Ferry– a ferry once ran from Long Reach Tavern to Purfleet. This may traditionally have been used by Pilgrim travelling to Canterbury, although they were said to more usually travel to Erith. It may also have been used by bare knuckle fighters. Dracula is said to have associations with the riverside here. Long Reach Tavern. The pub was on the riverside and had a large notice facing the river ‘You may PHONE from here’. There was a Causeway from the pub to the river. Closed in the 1960s Was there an island? Some old foreign maps have shown an island in the river here.

Dartford Salt Marsh
Royal Flying Corps
took over the northern end of the Vickers airfield in 1914 –1919. It housed two FB5 gunbuses under No.6 Wing. There were hangars, etc. here. No 10 Reserve squadron flew from here with Vickers FB5, FB9, DH2 and FE8 aircraft.
Cement Works, 1891 William and Charles Hewitt and joined by William Goreham, taken over by A.W. Grevill, Engineer of Bexley, closed in 1911. Was this actually in this area of the marsh?
Ferranti missile factory, left in the 1960s ? Was this actually in this area of the marsh?



Compilation of this work has taken many years and numerous sources of material. However, for many item in this section I would like to thank, and refer readers for more detail, to Darrell Spurgeon's 'Discover' series and to a series of works about Crayford industrial and other sites published by London Borough of Bexley.

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