Monday, 6 April 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend. Swanscombe

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend.
The railway runs eastwards, veering to the south east

Post to the west Knockhall
Post to the east Northfleet

Ames Road
The road was developed by Swanscombe Urban District Council after 1926 to provide decent housing for working people. It was named after a local councillor, Walter Ames.
1 Wardona House. This is sheltered housing built on the site of the Wardona cinema. The cinema was originally the Electric set up in 1923 and run by a shopkeeper and his daughter. In 1935 it became the Jubilee and then the Tivoli.  In 1939 it was rebuilt as The Wardona and operated by Wardona Cinemas Ltd.  This was an Art Deco style building designed by Thomas Braddock, including a fin sign outside with cinema’s name in neon. It closed in 1958 and then used as a warehouse. It was later demolished.

Church Road
The road was once a footpath, running parallel to Stanhope Road and thus linking Galley Hill with Swanscombe Village. It was once known as Bird’s Row, and by 1881 Barnfield Road. It was Church Road by 1888
Swanscombe Fire Station. The fire station opened in 1908. In 1907 Swanscombe Parish Council bought land at the south end of the Primitive Methodist Chapel and in 1907 drew up plans for a new fire station. They operated this until 1941 when the National Fire Service was set up and in 1948 responsibility was devolved to Kent County Council.
Swanscombe Branch Library. This was in the upper floor of the fire station which was added in 1922 as the council chamber but unused by 1926. The library occupied the rooms from 1928 until they moved to the ground floor in 1968. Swanscombe was an early Kent County Library and this remained here until 2002
Church Road Hall. This is now a local community lettings hall. Post Second World War this was the Civil Defence Head Quarters
110 1st Galley Hill. Scout Hut
Morning Star. The pub originally operated as a small brewery and beer house. It was rebuilt about 1890 and in the 1930s tenanted by Russell's Brewery of Gravesend. It is now closed and has been converted to housing.

Craylands Lane
The Rising Sun. Pub
House – there was a 19th detached house, since demolished, which stood opposite the Rising Sun pub. It was on the site of a farm yard, with barns and an oast house in the 1860s. In the 1930s it was used by Stone Court Ballast Company.
Crown Farm. This was further down the road towards the Swanscombe Centre. A barn survived until the 21st
Pit to the east of Craylands lane. This pit lay between the London Road and the main line railway. These belonged to the J.B.White Cement Works which lay to the north of the London Road and were accessed via tunnels under the road. In time a tunnel was also dug under the railway.  There was a transshipment siding here with the South Eastern Railway. In the 1920s the light railway to the works was replaced with a standard gauge line on a steep and curving route. This line eventually led to Alkerden Lane pits.  A factory complex was also built in this pit – and later engine sheds. Edith personally remembers huge circular tanks with stirring apparatus, constantly in use here in the 1950s

Eglington Road
This was developed from 1885.

Galley Hill
Galley Hill was a separate hamlet to Swanscombe into the 1840s.
All Saints Church. It succeeded an iron church of 1882 for a parish created from St Peter & St.Paul. Built for cement maker Bazeley White by Norman Shaw in 1894. Declared redundant in 1971 it became a Roman Catholic Church. Closed again, it has since been converted to housing. On the site of Galley Hill Farm
Church Hall. This once stood to the rear of the church and was the old church hall. It was the home of slate clubs and community events.
Vicarage next to the Church
Pit to the north of Galley Hill. Appears to have exploited by the Tower Cement Co., and/or the Onward Cement Co., and/or Britannia Cement Co. Once the pits were no longer being worked they had other used. In the pit to the north of Galley Hill were a number of paper mill and related industries and that within the area of this square were the British Vegetable Parchment Mills.
British Vegetable Parchment Mills. Vegetable Parchment was used to wrap butter and similar fatty substances. The process of making vegetable parchment by immersing suitable paper in sulphuric acid was discovered by W. E. Gaine in England in 1853. Machinery, enabling its production as a continuous was developed in Bohemia. After the Great War William Harrison (chairman of the Inveresk Paper Company), established the British Vegetable Parchment Mills, at Northfleet. The Mill closed in 1971.

Gunn Road
Named for the Gunn family. Local politicians who ran Manor Farm
War Memorial. This is in the south west corner of the Recreation Ground, near to the Gunn Road gate. It is a simple, free standing memorial inscribed "To the memory of all from this district who lost their lives in the defence of freedom. Their names liveth forever more. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them".

Harmer Road
Harmer Road School which functioned 1927-1949. In the 1960s it was Harmer Road County Primary School which closed in 1967 and then used as a youth club before demolition in November 1998.

High Street
Pits lay to the east of the High Street both north and south of the main line railway.  These seem to have been the pits operated for the Tower Cement Works on the Northfleet riverside and to have been linked to them by a light railway. A tunnel under the London Road allowed access to the southern pit.
26 The Alma.  Pub built in 1860
29-33 Post Office Site.  This was site of The Forge operated by Bundy and Williams in the 1900s.  It later became 'Old Forge Garage'. In the 1960s it was redeveloped as a post office but was in other use from the mid-1980s. A sorting office remains to the rear.
40-44 Lions Hospice shop.  This is the old Co-op shop. The parade was opened in 1913 by the Gravesend Co-Operative Society. The branch had originated here about 1889. The Cooperative movement in Gravesend closed in the 1980s, and the building has had different uses since
60 Wheatsheaf Pub
Swanscombe Station. This was a wooden platformed halt opened by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway as Swanscombe Halt’ in 1908. Existing services did not stop here and a rail motor service was provided in competition with the tram networks.  In 1930 the Southern Railway built a new station from prefabricated concrete to the east of the original.  The road bridge was used to link the two platforms and flights of steps were built carved into the hillsides. Waiting accommodation here was a timber shelter on each platform, complete with canopy. It was called just 'Swanscombe' from 1969 and was served only by stopping trains.  The wooden shelters remained and were replaced in 1995 by quasi bus shelters.

London Road
Dartford/Strood road through Gravesend built by Kent County Council in 1922. It had been turnpiked in 1738
1 George & Dragon pub. This provided accommodation and stabling and stood on the main Strood to Dartford road. The building dates from the 1840s replacing an earlier house.
Sites of houses which stood next to the pub were developed in the late 1970s into industrial units.
All Saints Room. This building, also described as a club stood opposite the George and the Dragon on the corner of London Road. A mechanics institute associated with Galley Hill School was supported Bazeley White at whose factory many of its members worked. In 1847 the works had supported a Literary Institute which met at All Saints Room.
Galley Hill School. This was founded by cement maker Bazeley White in 1858, and was associated with a mechanics' institute. The school stood in London Road opposite the George and Dragon.
Council Offices. At the entrance to White’s Cement Works, on the corner of Manor Road, White built a house like an Elizabethan mansion in concrete in the 1840s.  This was the first concrete house. It was associated with a school and a teacher’s house. From 1926 to 1964 it was used as the offices of Swanscombe Urban District Council. It was demolished when the council moved out.

Milton Road
Primitive Methodist chapel. Built in 1888 and where the congregation is still active.
59 Moore Brothers Mineral Water Company. This opened in 1879 and closed in 1963. This was classed as a brewery which produced mainly ginger beer and mineral water. Moore Brothers were active in local politics
A Strict Baptist chapel was opened in 1901 and closed in 1932

Milton Street
Swanscombe Consolidated Almshouse Charity which is made up of a number of 16th to 19th bequests for the poor which were put together to make up a house for four people. This dates from 1911.
The Woodman Pub. Closed 1913.

Park Road
Swanscombe Recreation Ground. This opened in 1932 having been built by local unemployed labour. It ground was opened by Councillor Alexander Entwhistle, chairman of the council 1930-1931, There was a bandstand and a Memorial Fountain, dedicated to the memory of Councillor Edward Moore, who died in 1932. A boating pond, was used by model boat enthusiasts During the Second World War this facility was used for roller-skating and cycles

Railway
The Channel Tunnel Rail Link passes under Galley Hill road through what are described as ‘two chalk spines’ and passes through the area once covered with paper mills in an old chalk pit.
Industrial rail and tram lines. In 1825 James Frost opened the country's first cement manufacturing plant in Swanscombe, to make ''British Cement'' and a narrow gauge rail system linked the works with the quarries. Initially horses hauled the wagons.  In 1837 under John Bazeley White & Sons steam locomotives were introduced and by 1900 this network was the most extensive in North Kent. It was later converted from narrow to Standard Gauge along with a single line connection to the North Kent Line.  The system closed in the early 1980s.

Stanhope Road
Salvation Army Barracks. This stood on the east side near the junction with Swanscombe Street.
Swanscombe Lodge. This farm dated from the 18th and owned much of the land between Stanhope Road and the Northfleet border.  It was sited at the northern end of Stanhope road and was demolished in 1984.

Swanscombe
The name is said to mean the pasture of the swan or swineherd. 

Swanscombe Street
Swanscombe Street was the original village of Swanscombe before industry brought an increased population. It has had several names. In 1881 it was Church Road and in 1909 it was High Street.
The Mansion House was on the south side of the street east of the church. It was thought to be 16th In the 19th on occupant was John Russell the Gravesend brewer and later it was home to Henry Stopes and his daughter, birth control pioneer. The estate was sold in 1890 and the house demolished in the 1920s.
16 Sun Inn
St Peter and St Paul’s Church. There has been a church on the site since Saxon times, one building having been burnt down by Sweyne the Viking. The altar includes remnants with consecration marks of Saxon Bishops. The first stones of the current building were laid in 1050 but the south wall of the tower is all that remains of that building. The surrounding wall is built of Roman tiles.  In the 6th the Lady Chapel, was the shrine of St Hildefirth whose relic, a finger bone, was brought to Swanscombe by Bishop Odo.  It was a stop off point for Canterbury pilgrims but was destroyed during the Reformation.  There are many tombs in the church – one to Elizabethan courtier Ralph Weldon now has a replica sword and helmet over his tomb. There is also a monument to the 19th dermatologist, Sir Erasmus Wilson. Until the 19th women who died as virgins had garlands of flowers placed on their coffins.  The church was ‘restored in 1870s with money from Erasmus Wilson and the White Brothers. The tower clock and box pews were removed and the gallery and porch were rebuilt. The church was damaged by a lightning strike in 1902. This destroyed the tower and melted the bells. The church was restored within a year and the bells replaced with a peal of eight new bells replacing the six dating from 1751. They were restored again in 1995. The organ was built by Henry Fineham but has been replaced with an electronic one.
Churchyard. In 1995 the Invic6ta monument was moved here. This records the story that William the Conqueror was being forced by a Kentish army at Swanscombe to retain Kent's ancient rights in 1066. The monument originated in 1958 on the A2 and in 1965 was moved to Swanscombe Urban District Council's offices in 1965 and then into a council store.
Cemetery. The Swanscombe Burial Ground was opened in 1885. There is a small chapel built in 1905. The 4.5 acre site has an avenue of mature trees, shrubs and rose bed. Entrance at the Swanscombe Street end is via a traditional lychgate opposite the church. Swanscombe Urban District Council were responsible for this Cemetery until the 1970s when it was then taken over by Dartford Council.
Houses on the site of the Blue Anchor Pub. This was a Style & Winch house, taken over by Courage in 1958. It was built in 1735 with big garden with a stable and a skittle alley.  The name is supposed to come from storey of a chain with an anchor coming from the sky one Sunday morning to the churchyard. A sailor climbed down the chain and tried to free the anchor and apparently drowned. The metal of the anchor became the hinges of the north door of the church. The old pub was demolished and in 1965 replaced with a new pub set back from the road. This has also now been demolished

The Grove
Broomfield Park. This sports ground is managed by Fields in Trust.
Swanscombe and Greenhithe Council Offices and Community Hall.
The Grove Hall. Used by playgroups, etc.
Fire station was opened here in 1966
Squash Courts. Opened in 1975
The Pavilion Athletic Sports and Social Club


Sources
Bull. Concise History of Swanscombe
Bull. Swanscombe in Old Picture Postcards
Cinema Treasures. Web site
CTRL. Web site
Dartford Council. Web site
George and the Dragon. Web site
Kent Rail. Web site.
Stoyel and Kidner. The Cement Railways of Kent
St.Peter and St.Paul. Web site

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