Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The London/Kent boundary - Maiden Lane and the Stanham River

A SQUARE BY SQUARE LOOK AT LONDON
TQ 52 75 covering an area of Crayford Marsh and some roads of suburban Dartford

Post to the east Dartford
Post to the west Crayford centre
Post to the north Crayford Marshes

The London (Bexley)/Kent Boundary

On the boundary
The boundary leaves TQ 5376 and follows the Stanham River, which it leaves at Maiden Lane. It follows Maiden Lane south to Crayford Road and then goes west along Crayford Road to turns south at a right angle again to bisect Waltham Close and then runs parallel with North Road at the back of the houses.

Having reached a world of human activity the boundary does some very interesting things: it follows the tiny Stanham stream and crosses an area, including a tiny farm, isolated between marshes and railway lines. Ever encroaching brand new housing turns its back on this wilderness. The boundary reaches Maiden Lane, a road which looks ancient however much 20th century industry once surrounded it - and then it crosses Roman Watling Street to cut across the end of an early 20th century bypass - and apparently prevent it going further into London.

Post to the west Crayford
Post to the north Barnes Cray

Maiden Lane
This is clearly an ancient street name – elsewhere it has been suggested the name means ‘midden lane’ – and here, crossed by the Cray, the Stanham and the Wansunt it clearly must once have been extremely muddy. It is said that at the corner with Crayford Road there was once a statue of a maiden. The Crayford/Dartford boundary runs down the middle of the road at the southern end.
Coal post. Boundary marker on the east side just south of the railway bridge. Above the base is written 24&25 VICT CAP 42 plus two mouldings on which are the arms of the City of London. Above this is a flattened pyramid. At the foot is the maker’s name ‘Regent’s Canal Ironworks London Henry Grissell 1861’
Coal post boundary marker - south of the railway behind the fence but only the base remains
Cray Cottages. A terrace of farm workers' cottages converted from five to three cottages. They were cottages for Westbrook Farm, which was just north of the River Cray. Other buildings, c1695, remain from the farm - the farmhouse, a barn, a building converted from another barn and a former slaughterhouse.
Railway bridge abutments north of the existing railway bridge ere for the line to Vickers factories and connected them to the main Vickers works. Traces of the siding are said to remain, as does the railway embankment; the retaining parts of a former bridge over the lane. Roneo Samas factory - Site to the west of Maiden Lane containing derelict buildings of the Roneo Samas factory. In the 1860s a rail track ran into it and up to a possible mine entrance. Air shaft also on the OS map.
Water mill. Site adjacent to road bridge. No remains

Stanham River
Coal duty obelisk. boundary marker, a tall granite obelisk 1851. This unusual marker is in a field to the east of the railway line, by the River Stanham. Basal plinth 37m 9m high. Above a cornice the obelisk rises 2.75m tapering with a pyramidial finial. No obvious inscription.

Across the boundary
Railway Lines
The Dartford Loop line between Dartford and Crayford Stations.
Curve There is also a connecting line running between Slade Green and Crayford Stations. Built north/south from the Dartford Loop round to Slade Green October 1942 Vickers Line. There was a rail connection between Vickers main Crayford works and their Thameside works dating from early in the First World War. The main works was connected to the Dartford Loop and this single-track standard gauge line went over Maiden Line, on the abutments, which can still be seen, and ended on the other side of Thames Road where it also latterly served the flourmill and a ply wood factory. It was revived in the Second World War and the track was lifted in the 1950s.

On the London/Bexley side of the boundaryBarnes Cray Fields - An area of marshland between the Rivers Cray and Stanham.
The Cray Riverway footpath, runs alongside the Cray.
The West Kent Main Sewer crosses the site, on both sides of the railway line. The Sewage outfall crosses the marshes where there is a siphon point. It drains most of Bexley Borough and takes sewage to Long Reach treatment works. There are Penstock Chambers and redundant machinery where the sewer crosses the Cray.
three valve control cages near the river.
Bleach Fields - the area just south of the Cray was used for textile bleaching by both Swaisland and Applegarth in the first half of the 19th.
An India-rubber factory was set up here 1847, which changed to rug and carpet manufacturing continuing until 1885.
A mill once stood here.
Vickers workshops, - Vickers used the area In the First World War

Crayford Road
The road is on the line of Roman Watling Street – which is its subsidiary name. This main road is Crayford Road as far as the boundary when it changes to Dartford Road
1 Whitehill House. An early 19th house. Was this the farmhouse for Whitehill Farm?
Coal post. Boundary marker On the Maiden Lane corner a coal duty boundary marker, of 1861
Coal duty post boundary marker outside on a grass embankment outside no.8 at the junction with Princes Road. Above the base is written ‘24&25 VICT CAP 42’. Two mouldings on which is the arms of the City of London and at the top a flattened pyramid. At the foot is the maker’s name ‘Regent’s Canal Ironworks London Henry Grissell 1861’.

Wansunt Stream
Starts as a ditch on the hillside 'above Vickers' and flows into Bakers Mill pond at Thames Road – and the flows into the Cray, between the Cray and the Stoneham.
Lattice bridge for the Vickers Railway over the stream. Is this still there?
Whitehill Estate
Whitehill was the name of a farm previously on the site.
Vickers housing. The estate, Whitehill Road and parts of Maiden Lane and Crayford Road, was designed by Gordon Allen and built in 1915 for Vickers to house munitions workers. The houses were mainly in groups of six and have archways each covering two entrances.

On the Kent/Dartford side of the boundaryAshen Drive
Library
Community Centre

Dartford Road
The road is on the line of Roman Watling Street – which is its subsidiary name. This main road is Crayford Road as far as the boundary when it changes to Dartford Road
13 Denehole

Devonshire Road
Built early 1930s

Havelock Road
House building started 1914.

Princes Road
Dartford Bypass Built by Dartford UDC with Kent County Council and the Ministry of Transport 1924. It may be significant that this new road stops dead at the boundary line between London and Kent – although, of course, at the time the road was built this was not the London boundary but that of a different Kentish local authority

Swaisland Road
Named for the local cloth printing dyeing company, opened by Charles Swaisland in 1812 at Crayford.
Area built up in 1902

Willmot Road
Allotments. There since 1933. Willmot Road Allotments Association.

Windsor Road
Built early 1930s

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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