Riverside - south bank east of the Tower. Rosherville

Riverside south bank east of the Tower. Rosherville

Acres and acres of riverside dereliction, with some scandalous demolitions, awaiting 'regeneration' with tower blocks et al on a useful riverside.  Surrounded by an area which had pretensions and lost them - plus an ex resort and an art deco suburb that only Edith appears to have noticed

Post to the west Gravesend
Post to the south Perry Street
Post to the north Tilbury Docks
Post to the west Northfleet

Burch Road
The road is named after Rosher’s father in law, Benjamin Burch, who was a Limehouse base lime merchant. It was laid out as part of Rosherville New Town in 1830 by H. E. Kendal, the architect
2-6 Houses which date from the first designs for the new town.
Entrance to Rosherville Gardens At the south-west corner of Lansdowne Square and on the bend in Burch Road. This entrance was flanked by a lodge and had a grand gateway topped with sphinxes. There is now a security gate and some dereliction around this area.
39 Rosherville Hotel. This was built for Jeremiah Rosher in connection with the gardens. At the foot of the road on the west side built by H. E. Kendal. This played its part in the Gravesend Yacht Week. On the ground floor was a bar called “Rosherville Shades”.  It was used as a hospital during the First World War and then became flats and was demolished about 1963.  The site now has a tile warehouse open to the public, and a clothing factory.
Rosherville V.A.D. Hospital.  At the outbreak of the Great War the Kent/42 and /92 Voluntary Aid Detachments quickly established two hospitals near Gravesend - and soon they were full. The long disused Rosherville Hotel was then requisitioned and opened in November 1914 with 64 beds for enlisted men. It was affiliated with the Graylingwell War Hospital in Chichester and had a fully equipped operating theatre, and a dispensary. The convalescent patients were entertained by the local population, who arranged whist drives, concerts, and river trips. It closed in 1919.
Shawline House. This is the remains of the hotel. It is a single storey flat roofed building of irregular shape. It was used as drawing offices and before that as a works canteen by Fleetway Press.The building is a remnant of the former Rosherville Hotel which was demolished in 1963.
60 Burch House.  This is shown on maps of the 1860s and marked as such. In the 1930s it was offices for the National Union of Paperworkers with a membership in nearby print works and paper mills.  It now appears to be flats.
Rosherville Court. This was the ‘big’ house built as part of Rosherville on the corner of the main road. It probably dated from around 1850 and was built by George Rosher.  It subsequently had a number of local businessmen and others as residents. By the 1930s it was the Research Department for British Portland Cement Association. Apex House is on the site
St.Mark's Vicarage. On the corner of Burch Road until 1964. A ragstone Gothic building in the same style as the church. It was demolioshed in 1968 and replaced by Apex House,
Apex House. Commercial office block built in the late 1960s presumably for Apex Construction, who make process equipment for the chemical engineering trade, but who left the site in 1988 for a base in Dartford.

Clifton Marine Parade
Slaves Alley.  Beneath the cliffs was a row of cottages, at right angles to the river known as Slaves Alley, in which the 'chalkies' lived
Hit or Miss Pub. The pub had this name in 1805 and it has been conjectured that it refers to a 17th bowling-green nearby, or by a rifle range for volunteer regiments here in the 1860s, or from archery practice in the garden.  The pub was rebuilt in 1929, closed in 1987 and demolished
Bycliffes. This house was built, probably by Cleverley, at the western end of his shipbuilding yard east of Slaves Alley.  It was lived in by a succession of industrialists, who had works on this site, including Gladdish, and Fletcher, and eventually became offices for the Imperial Paper Mills and eventually demolished.
Rails. The road ends at the Northfleet boundary.  Here were tramlines coming down from the chalk pits and lime works to the south and going to riverside wharves for transshipment.

Crete Hall Road
Crete Hall. This was on the east side of the later printing works. It sat in a little miniature park on the riverside with lawns at the back. It was built by Benjamin Burch about 1800 and was later the home of his son-in-law, Jeremiah Rosher. In 1905 it was bought by W. T. Henley’s Telegraph Works, Ltd... It was used as housing for their local manager, and was later used as offices, being demolished in 1937
W.T.Henley. The Henley submarine cable works had been set up in North Woolwich in 1859 and, in order to expand, bought the Crete Hall Estate in 1903.  This first Northfleet works made paper insulated power cables. In 1921 the Henley Tyre and Rubber Co made tyres and balls. They expanded through the 1920s to land in the south and eventually the whole of what had been Rosherville Gardens. In 1939 the site was cleared to build a factory for electrical distribution equipment. During the Second World War the Henley organisation played a major role in development and producing equipment including input into PLUTO.  In 1959 Henleys were taken over by AEI who were in turn taken over by GEC in 1967. In 1997 the cable operations passed to T T Electronics.  Most of the site is cleared but the art deco Engineering Building from 1939 possibly still remains with ship emblems in between windows.  When ships loaded cable it was run in a continuous length from the factory. The art deco research laboratory with ceramic tile decoration has also now gone. The whole site is to be developed for housing.
Fleetway Press. This had begun as Harmsworth's Printing Works opened in 1901 along with their paper making works at Imperial Paper Mills. In the 1960's it became part of the International Publishing Corporation and eventually the Reed Group. It was renamed as Fleetway Press.  Originally there were gas-powered generators, flat-bed and rotary presses, collators and binders.  The works undertook runs of weekly magazines with massive circulations.  By the 1960s it had been modernised with rotary letterpress, and a large sheet-fed offset-litho. They could fold and bind journals as well as produce unsewn paper-backs and children's annuals, and long run comics and weekly women’s magazines. The factory was demolished in 2013.
The Mount. This was a big house owned by Mr. Killick and standing between the Crete Hall Estate and industry. It was bought by Alfred Tolhurst.
British White Lead Company. This had been the Northfleet White Lead Company who had a works on land adjacent to London Road, previously owned by Tolhurst.
Imperial Portland Cement Co took over the white lead works in 1898 and the Little Dockyard to the north and made cement. By 1900 they were part of APCM.
Northfleet Power Station was a coal fired 720 MW power station opened in 1963 by Central Electricity Generating Board on the site of the Red Lion Cement Works. It was oil fired from 1970.  It had two five hundred foot chimneys and a wharf .It closed in 1991 and was demolished, although final demolition of foundations has only taken place in 2015
Red Lion. The current pub dates from around 1900. It now has an attached night club and loud music venue called Leo’s.
Red Lion. The old Red Lion public house was on a site nearer the river to the south of Red Lion Wharf and dated from 1723Sheeps Hill cottages were nearby.
Red Lion Cement Works. This was later the site of the Northfleet Power Station in the 1960's and 1970s. When Alfred Tolhurst built the Red Lion Cement Works about 1880 it had had a previous existence. There were two pits and a tramway which ran under the London Road in a Tunnel.  Tolhurst was a Gravesend solicitor.  He built the cement works in 1896 and was the first cement manufacturer to use locomotives to haul his chalk trucks. He exploited the Red Lion Works to sell chalk as ballast and for cement manufacture. The works became part of APCM in 1912 and was closed during the First World War
Red Lion Deepwater Wharf. In 1894 Tolhurst built the Deepwater Wharf, a wooden T-shaped structure jutting which enabled a large sailing vessel to operate from the wharf at low tide. It carried a tramway and had tipping facilities. Locomotives replaced horses.  The site was not used between the wars but in the Second World War concrete anti-aircraft towers were built here. These  were the 4,500 ton reinforced concrete floating forts designed by Guy A. Maunsell placed in the Thames Estuary to deter enemy mine laying. The first fort was towed down the river in 1942 followed by three more - Shivering Sands, Red Sand Fort and Nore Fort. They are five stalked towers in a star shape with four legs and joined by a walkway.   Holloway Brothers then constructed twenty one towers for the Army, also to be placed in the Thames Estuary to deter German Aircraft. The Red Lion Wharf site was used for the construction of reinforced concrete Floating Dry docks and a single Normandy Bombardment Tower, all designed by Guy Maunsell. The site was finally cleared when the generating station was built in 1951.
Gravesend Welding and Electrical Engineering Ltd. This company which existed from at least the 1920s employed 140 men and in the Second World War and made gun carriages as well and components of Mulberry Harbours.  In peacetime they made machinery of many sorts and also electrical equipment. They had factories here and in Sittingbourne.
Imperial Cement Company's works adjoining Red Lion and closed in the Great War.

Fountain Walk
This is an estate built in the 1960's on the site of large houses which had been demolished.  Flats called Rosher House, owned by the Gravesend Churches Housing Association were built in the late 1970's on the site of St Mark’s church. The entrance road which replaces the tower has a fountain from which the estate takes its name.

Lansdowne Square
Laid out as part of the scheme for Rosherville New Town in 1830, by H. E. Kendal. It was planned as a block of four large villas - 1-8 - surrounded by open space and then terraces and having a strong relationship to the pier which lies downhill of the houses and the river.

London Road
Immediately after crossing the parish boundary the name of the road changes from Overcliffe to London Road.
Rosherville Schools. This small flint school was built in 1871, as church schools by the Rosher family. It became a junior mixed and infant school in 1937.
Tunnel under London Road which now carries Rosherville Way. This dates from about 1870 and carried a tram way from the riverside cement works to pits to the south.
Lodge. This stood at the north side of the road from where a path now descends northwards, This was a road known as the Coach Road and is said to have been a private carriage drive to Crete Hall,
27 Fox and Hounds. Pub which dated from 1839 and has been demolished, probably since 2000.
52 Nisa and post office.  This was once St Marks Social Club
75-81  Shops. This parade of shops, though neglected, are in a pretty art deco style, like so much of this part of Rosherville and very much reflects its period.
Bus Depot. Until about 1930 the site was Johnson's dairy farm. The bus depot was built here to replace an old tram depot in Old Dover Road, which had been compulsory purchased by London Transport along with the buses and routes. It opened in 1937 having been planned for 85 vehicles. It was the first London Transport Country Bus garage to have a staff canteen and also included office accommodation for district staff in a pretty art deco entrance block. There was some air raid accommodation and facilities for dealing with contaminated buses.  Room for expansion was included. The garage is now owned by Arriva.
Rosherville Substation. This was the Northfleet sub station for the Gravesend electric works and the Gravesend coat of arms remain on the building. It is enclosed by the original railings. The supply was extended to Northfleet in 1907. It is still in use as part of UK Power Networks
Rosherville Halt.  This was opened in 1886 by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway to serve Rosherville Gardens and tickets could include admission to the gardens. The West Street railway line went under road in a tunnel.  The station was in a cutting with an island platform and had wide staircases because they expected big crowds. There was a second entrance.  .  In 1886 on Whit Monday 14,000 people visited the gardens which closed in 1910. The station closed in 1933 July. 
Signal box. This was in a recess in the cutting wall. 
The stationmaster's house remained on the bank but now appears to have gone.
Labour Exchange. This closed in 1973 when new offices were opened in The Grove
Fountain Court. This estate marks the site of the London Road entrance to Rosherville Gardens. The garden entrance, built to open in 1864, had a tower with a clock with chimes which played tunes. It was replaced by circular windows. The tower was demolished in 1938, but the entrance remained with its wall plaques until 1965. Remains of the Upper Walk and steps in the cliffs can be seen at the end of the housing estate, and the urns and statues now forming part of the ornamental gardens come from there,.
Rosherville Gardens. Cliff top entrance with a platform, terrace walls, tunnel and stairs to the Gardens built in 1869 by James Pulham and Sons in Pulhamite over brick, clunch and plaster. The staircase leads into a 17 metre sloping tunnel excavated in the chalk. The platform has terrace walls, balustrades and places for statues. One arch in the tunnel once went to an Ionic temple.  Ultimately it now leads out onto the cliff
St. Mark's. This modern church replaces one built in 1855 which was demolished in 1976. The architects were Messrs. H. and E. Rose, and it was paid for by the Rosher family. It was built of Kentish rag which weathered very badly, and extensive repairs were carried out in 1896 under W. and C. A. Bassett Smith, when the four stone angels which stood on supports round the spire were removed. The new church was built in 1977 and included some stained glass windows saved from the original church. The new church was built to be used both as a church as a community centre. The sanctuary can be closed with a screen. It was extended in 1997 to include a room for small group activities and meetings
War memorial. This is outside the new church centre and comes from the original church.
106 Elephant’s Head Pub. This probably dated from 1843. An elephant's head was the crest of the Rosher family. The pub is now apparently Sikh owned along with the two Asian food shops adjacent.

Marina Drive,
Site was until about 1930 a small dairy farm known as Johnson's. The houses were built, like the rest of Rosherville in this period, in an art deco style.

House with gate posts that appear to come from a previous site. May be a path which went down to Bycliffes??
Walkways down the cliff side to Thames Way below. Tunnel is that provided for the Gravesend West Line to run under the road.

Pier Road
Laid out as part of a scheme for Rosherville New Town in 1830, by H. E. Kendal.
32-39 Full Gospel Church. In the 1930s this was known as the Glad Tidings Hall.  It appears to date from between the wars.

Rosherville Gardens
Rosherville Gardens. These were laid out in 1837 by George Jones in a disused chalk pit on a site bounded by Crete Hall Road, London Road, and Burch Road. He had leased the land from Rosher and set up the "Kent Zoological and Botanical Gardens", which were intended as a botanical garden and educational project. It was to become a popular resort of Londoners. Gardens were laid out with flower beds, paths and many attractions. From 1842 it was renamed Rosherville Gardens. Visitors coming by boat via Rosherville Pier entered from Burch Road but in 1869 a new entrance was made from the London Road with steps inside a tunnel to the gardens below. The remains of this entrance have now been listed.  There was a maze, a hermitage, a lookout tower and a Gothic Hall with Baron Nathan who was the Master of Ceremonies. The Hall was used as a restaurant, ballroom and theatre.  An outdoor dancing platform was built outside it in 1860 and later a Drawing Room Theatre and later Bijou Theatre. An open-air stage was built by the dancing platform. Entertainments included fireworks, tightrope walkers, balloon ascents and a gypsy fortuneteller.  There was much else. In 1872 George Jones died and the gardens were taken over by the Rosherville Gardens Company Ltd. Gradually less people came to the gardens despite in 1886 the provision of Rosherville Halt. In 1900 Rosherville Gardens went bankrupt and re-opened following changes in 1903. However the site continued to lose money and closed in 1913. In 1914 they were the location of a film made by the Magnet Film Company, which planned to make more films there, but the Great War intervened. In 1924 five acres of land were sold to T Henley's Cable Works and in 1939 they bought the rest of the land and the gardens were completely cleared. Recently all 20th building on the site of the Rosherville Gardens have also been completely removed.
Bear Pit. The bear pit of 1837 has recently been excavated and listed. It was an open bear pit with four attached chambers or dens.

Rosherville Place
This tiny row of shops and a pub was on The Shore, facing the river at the bottom of pier road and below the balustrade which continued above it. It has now been demolished, probably in the 1970s – since known families were living there until then. This is probably what was also called ‘Teapot Row’.
1 British Tar. Russell’s Brewery house extant from 1851 until 1914.

Rosherville Way
By pass road from the river southwards on the line of a tram line from the Red Lion Cement Works to pits south of the London Road.

Thames Way
New Road built on the line of the West Street Railway Line

The Shore
Rosherville Place. Shops and a pub built at the eastern end
Rosherville Pier. This was built at the foot of Burch Road in 1840 to bring visitors to the gardens. It was designed by the architect H.E.Kendall for Jeremiah Rosher. The quay walls are constructed in stone rubble with stuccoed gate piers. The steps are of York stone. There is a central entrance in the quay wall with steps leading down to the drawdock, which goes under the road.  The pier which ran from here was wooden.
Drawdock with lower walls of coursed stone
Mine-watching post from the Second World War in yellow brick with a concrete roof.
Ferry from this pier to Tilbury in the mornings and a return trip at night for those who lived at Rosherville and travelled to London by the London, Tilbury and Southend railway.

The Old Sun. Believed to have been present by 1766 but rebuilt in 1905. Now closed and flats and offices, but manages to look open.

Bygone Kent
DoverKent. Web site
Fountain Walk Residents News. Web site
Glazier. London Transport Garages
Gravesend Historical Society, Transactions
Gravesham Borough Council. Web site
Historic England. Web site
Lost Hospitals of London. Web site
Northfleet Heritage Trail. Web site
Romance of the Amalgamated Press
Stoyel and Kidner.  The Cement Railways of Kent
Tolhurst and Hudson. Alfred Tolhurst
Turner.  The W.T.Henley Telegraph Works.

Again Edith must confess to her Gravesend childhood - with a father who worked at one of these factories and houses visited in these streets. So some unsourced memories here.


Peter Humphrey said…
This was a most wonderful find and now makes things my parents told me Gravesend (both born and bred in Gravesend). much clearer. A site I will most certainly return to as I am building my family tree and following information on census forms etc.

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