Cray - Tributary to Darent and Thames. Barnes Cray

Thames Tributary
The Cray flows north and slightly east towards the Darent and the Thames. It is joined by the Wansunt Stream
TQ 52267 75044

Industrial area on the edge of the North Kent marshes, crossed by Thames Road and the North Kent Railway line heading into Dartford. There is housing from an early 20th century work place housing project and the remains of some important industries, gradually being taken over by modern housing. There is also a small theatre set up in the 1950 to bring culture to the area.

Post to the south Maiden Lane and the Stanham River
Post to the east The Cray meets the Darent
Post to the north Slade Green

Barnes Cray Road
Crayford Cottages Society, garden city style for the Vickers workers. 1914
Barnes Cray cottages. Associated with the mill
Barnes Cray House – waterside properties on the site of the house. Demolished in the 1930s. Had been a nursing home. Later owned by Vickers, hospital then sold for building.
Calico printing works taking water from the Wansunt. Later made rubber goods, then felt and then carpets.

Beech Walk
Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre. 1959, red brick, with a fine, intimate interior. Geoffrey Whitworth founded the British Drama League, and was a strong advocate of the 'little theatre'. Raked auditorium, proscenium stage, rehearsal rooms, foyers and studio. Established originally 1952. 1999 extended with mosaics by Oliver Budd. A red brick box with no road access and big security fence round it
Houses built as part of Barnes Cray

Crayford Way
Retaining wall along the Cray against swallow holes, etc.
Behind the Co-op 1915. Roman urn found,
Co-op building was planned as a Village Hall,

Crayford Creek
Cray - at this point the river becomes tidal and is called Crayford Creek.
Canalised 1840. Barge turning bay on the south bank. Terminates in two barge docks. Head of the tidal creek fed from the millpond at the end of the freshwater section of the Cray. Bank width 9.3 m. The Creek dug out for Mr. Stoneham in 1845
Bakers Mill pond. Is fed by the River Cray, and although now much smaller, can still be seen - a sluice falling about ten feet controls its flow. It also takes water from the Wansunt. The sluice may itself by the remains of an earlier mill. Bakers were a saw mill.
Giant Hogweed has become established. This huge plant can grow up to 3.5m tall, with 10cm diameter stems, and was introduced as a garden plant from the Caucasus. It is very invasive and can rapidly become the dominant plant in an area. In addition the combination of its juice and sunlight can cause severe blisters. Other plants here include purple loosestrife, common mallow, bristly tongue and ivy leaved, wall and field speedwells. Mudflats are exposed at low tide and small invertebrates are food for birds - Herons feed here and short-eared owls hunt.
Barge Works & brick works on the west bank. Malters & Co. bricks also built barges from 188l, two slipways.
West Kent sewer flows into the Creek.

Iron Mill Lane
Brick kiln site. - Firms included Rutters, Norris, Furner. Crayford Potteries Co.
Crayford Sand & Gravel Pits, Talbot Estates Sand and Gravel Pits,

Subsidence and dene holes

Mount Nod
Name of the hillside between Iron Mill Lane and the Cray. Possible site of old temple, on hillside overlooking the river
Battle of Crayford. C456 the Anglo-Saxons were led by Hengest and defeated the Britons led by Vortimer. The Britons were driven out of Kent which was then ruled by Hengist and his son Aesc.

Railway viaducts. The brick viaducts crossing Thames Road and running behind Crayford Flour Mill site are part of the North Kent Line, and were built by the South Eastern Railway to replace timber structures in 1863

Thames Road
Railway viaduct over Crayford Creek, 1849. Carries North Kent Line over the canalised creek. Embankment from the north. 2 km long. The centre of the viaduct is supported on the island formed by the building of the barge dock in 1840.
Optima Park. Was British Telecom site
Crayford Flour Mill. Part of the Sawmills site. Vitbe Mills from 1927 but used to be an iron mill - making armour. The iron mill had been set up in the 13th – it is a. Domesday and Elizabethan mill site. There were two mills sited where the Cray becomes tidal. John Kent in 1763. Iron was milled there until the 19th but it was also a battery mill for cloth fulling, iron slitting and copper, flour and saw milling. The white mill building was a landmark in the 1950s but it has not produced Vitbe flour since 1962 although the Vitbe Bread sign was still there in the 1980s. At that time there were still barges at the wharf stacked with drums, and commercial traffic had not completely ceased - Grain barges were still coming from Tilbury Grain Terminal 1980s. Partly demolished 2004 and 2009. Millstone set into the modern brick wall fronting Thames Road from the sawmills site.
Dussek, Bros. Factory. Gone. The front office on Thames Road was like a semi bungalow with a clock on top. The factory chimney with -its lettering 'Dussek Bros' was there until the 1980s. The processing plant was to the rear with refining oil, solvents and preservatives. They made Putty, tiling cement, varnish and printing ink. Became part of Burmah Castrol. On site of Rutter’s brick yard.
Rutter’s Brickworks. Sent bricks to London in barges built on the local creek. D. & C.Rutter 1866-1918. Crayford Potteries 1922 to World War II.
Rutters Barge Yard. Used barge dock built for the export of bricks to London from their brick works.
Braby. On PO site and from 1839 had been in the in Euston Road and then Surrey Canal. Made Steel sheets, etc., closed 1970s
Jolly Farmers. Pub, originally 1830, in area called Saw Mills, by land owner Miles Barne. Rebuilt 1851. In classical style with massive stone quoins. Later owned by Gravesend Russells Brewery.
Mallinsons Saw Mill. Where Buckingham Palace floor was cut. The Factory at the Sawmills made laminated wood and domestic products Mallod Ware. Production ceased in 1970. Now site of Crayford Industrial Estate.
Stoneham Clay Pit. Worked by J Eastwood 1828-1832 and then J.Stoneham 1839-1907. Then landfill site after World War II. Grassed over 1965.
V2 attack 15 February 1945 on open ground by railway. 18 injured. 7.05am
Abattoir remains.

Venner Farm estate:
Vickers Maxim gun works.

The stream has come down from the area once known as Wansunt pit through Crayford and running between the Cray and the Stanham rivers.

Barr-Hamilton and Reilly. From Country to Suburb
Bygone Kent
Carr. A Spot that is Called Crayford

Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre. Web site
Goldsmiths. South East London Industrial Archaeology
Hamilton . The Industries of  Crayford
Kent Underground  Research. Newsletter

London Borough of Bexley. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry.  West Kent
Port of London magazine
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford


Anonymous said…
I am very impressed by the way you are writing about this area. I was pointed to your web site by a search for Crayford and a problem I and several other geneologists have in trying to determine some addresses from 1850's including Lady Grey Yard, Lady Gray Cottages, Lady Grey Lane, Lady Grey Place. There appears no ref to these in current gazetteers and quite at a loss as I cannot get to local library/archives. I was just hoping with your extensive knowledge of the area if you have any suggestions. I would appreciated if you could supply any advice and help.

Many Thanks
Byron Evans email
sasha said…
I am also anxious to get the same information about Lady Grey Yard, Lane, Place or Alley.
My family lived in Lady Grey Alley in the late 1890's and I would love to know something about the area.
Unknown said…
Lady Grey Alley was in Bexleyheath
Unknown said…
I hope this helps you if you have not already found it Lady Grey Alleyis From name of beer-house on corner of Watling Street. Later Westbourne Grove.

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