Friday, 14 August 2015

Riverside - south of the river and east of the Tower. Denton


Riverside – south bank, east of the Tower.  Denton

A scruffy but interesting area down river of Gravesend.  The mighty Port of London Authority moved here to a portacabin from their palatial headquarters on Tower Hill, and Dickens knew the Ship and Lobster  - you can't beat it.

Post to the north Tilbury Power Station
Post to the west Milton

Canal
Thames and Medway Canal. The canal now effectively starts at Mark Lane where restoration work by a local group starts. It was opened between Gravesend and Higham in 1801 and continued in use until 1934. The area between Mark Lane and the basin were later infilled. The Sustrans Cycle Route No.1 now runs along the tow-path. An entry ramp has been built near Mark Lane by the volunteer group working on the canal and other improvements are planned.
Denton Wharf
Marine House. This is now the Port of London Authority offices
Port of London Authority. Marine Services’ base for their fleet of 40 vessels and as well as buoys, lights, mooring and counter-pollution equipment and a centre for and salvage. There is a 40-tonne heavy-lift crane and a 50-tonne mobile crane, and a 70-tonne capacity boat-lift.
Port Health Authority offices. This relates to the now closed isolation hospital the sire of which is nearby.  A team is available 24 hours a day to board ships and aircraft and can implement control plans and emergency measures.  There are also Port Health Inspectors, all qualified environmental health officers, who inspect ships and aircraft.  The Authority owns two launches and three rigid inflatable boats. All ships arriving from a foreign port must possess a Ship Sanitation Control Certificate. 
Shornmead Lighthouse. This was built on the foreshore at Shornemead in 1913 and removed to Denton Wharf in 2003. It is a hexagonal skeletal tower, with lantern and gallery, originally on timber pilings.
Denton Wharf and the surrounding area are also the sites of numerous businesses – scrap, haulage and aggregates.
Mark Lane
Denton Halt. This station was opened in 1906 and was renamed Denton Road in 1914, reverting to Denton Halt in 1919. It remained open until the withdrawal of the passenger service to Allhallows in 1961.
Denton Crossing signal box. This ceased to control the trains from 1971 and only covered the level crossing. The crossing was later closed and replaced by a footbridge.
Swing bridge. This crossed the canal until at least the 1920s
Underground roads.  There are stories of underground passages all round Gravesend and Northfleet. One is said to have run from Cobham Hall to the river bank near the Ship and Lobster. It is assumed that they were to do with smuggling, if they existed.
Smock windmill. This was built by Nicholas Gilbee on the waterside at the end of Mark Lane around 1790, apparently with a wharf. Gilbee was a local land owner who financed a number of local projects among other activities in the town. Presumably this is the mill mentioned as a ‘sulphur’ mill, which may have a connection with gunpowder manufacture and which would not have been unusual on a waterside site in this period. It is later marked on maps as a corn mill. It was pulled down towards the end of the 19th.
Port of London Authority Sanitary Hospital. Before 1872, ships entering British ports were held in quarantine until they had been inspected and cleared. The Public Health Act enabled Port Sanitary Authorities to be set up and in 1883 the Corporation built an isolation hospital here. Quarantine continued until 1889, medical officers had authority to board and inspect the crews and passengers.  Any person with an infectious disease was taken by launch to Denton. The hulk Hygeia, moored off Gravesend since 1922, was used as a quarantine station and a base for medical officers. During the 1930s the Hospital was enlarged.  In the Second World War the hospital was bombed and closed for bed cases and in 1942 the Admiralty requisitioned it for treatment of venereal disease and parasitic infections. It reopened in 1947 and joined the NHS in 1948.  It closed in 1976.  Services moved to Joyce Green Hospital. The site is somewhat derelict but one of the buildings is in use as the Denton Quarantine Station and other buildings remain. The pier is no longer used.
Sewage works. Part of the sewage works in this square. It was built in 1926 & extended in 1933.
Woodville Cottages. These were built in 1883, but all except three have been demolished.
Cornwall Lodge. This was the hospital school and lodge of the Training Ship Cornwall and was immediately to the south west of the railway crossing. Cornwall was a boys' reformatory and training ship. The institution was based off Grays but in 1926, following being adrift in a storm, it moved to Denton.  Here most activities took place on shore, the old ship only used for seamanship practice. At the start of the Second World War the boys were moved away to Brandon and the ship was eventually bombed and broken up.
Mark Lane Youth Club. This appears to be no longer there.
Boat House. This was a shed which was the last of its kind on the Lower Thames and probably used for repairing timber boats. It dated from after 1897 but before 1932 with a jetty down to low water. Demolished.
Ship and Lobster. Riverside pun with a reputation as a smugglers pub.  I was first built in 1813 and was rebuilt in 1890. Charles Dickens, used the pub as the basis for the inn he described in Great Expectations, which he called “The Ship”.
There were and are a number of works along Mark Lane, including some for marine engineering.
Norfolk Road
Bridge between here and Mark Lane.
The road is lined with various industrial and other units – largely haulage and scrap with some others,
Railway
This stretch of line is on that of the Gravesend and Rochester Railway of 1845, and taken over in the same year by the South Eastern Railway. They had taken over the canal and built the railway alongside it.

Wharf Road
The road is lined with various industrial and other units – largely haulage and scrap with some others,

Sources
Carradice. Nautical Training Ships.

Gravesend Railway Enthusiasts. Web site
Gravesend Historical Society. Transactions
Higham Village History Web site

Kent Rail. Web site
Lighthouses of South East England. Web site
Lost Hospitals of London. Web site
Philip. History of Gravesend
Port of London Authority. Web site
Thames and Medway Canal Association. Web site

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