Thames Tributary Darent - Dartford
The Darent flows generally northwards though Dartford then turns north west as Dartford Creek
TQ 54392 74039
The eastern side of Dartford town centre around the progress of the Darent through the town. Remains of important paper mills as well as Boroughs Welcombe's pharmaceutical and the great J.&E. Hall works. Here is the pub where Trevithick died.
Post to the south Dartford Central Park
Post to the west Dartford
Post to the east Bow Arrow
Dartford Printing Works site. This was a silk printing mill set up here in 1865 with connections with Applegarth from 1844. Set up by James Keymer The firm was taken over by Messrs. Warner and Sons in 1927 and continued in production until 1939.
The Wat Tyler Pub. Tudor building close to the- church. A sign on the wall says that Wat, leader of the Peasants' Revolution of 1381, drank here on his way to London or it was where he lived, or something. It was called the 'Crown and Anchor until 1966 and in 1955 it had been partly demolished. Interior decor of windlass and binnacle.
Medieval building at the junction with High Street is 15th when it was owned by John Groveherst. It was originally a hall with walls hung with tapestries woven by the nuns at the Priory.
3 Trinity House
Darent (Dartford Creek)
Darent flows through a formal channel with shrubs and seats.
Canalisation. There were attempts in 1836 by Hall to make Dartford and Crayford Creeks into navigable channels and an Act was obtained in 1840, and a civil engineer William Cubitt, appointed. A new cut was opened in March 1844 and a toll of 3d. A single lock was .constructed close to the site of Telegraph Paper Mills in and 1895. Navigation reached its peak in.1936.
Priory Lock. Opened in 1895 and includes an office and Bascule Bridge, a Lock basin and a controllable weir. The lock is of considerable size with a lock-keeper's and a superintendent’s cottage alongside and built by the commissioners. It allowed loaded barges up to the town wharves at all states of the tide and it held two river or one sea-going lighter. The barge lock was on the north bank because Lord Tredegar didn't want it on his side.
Basin. Empty and derelict. Tides have overshot the weir in the past. Flood banks raised after 1953, Imposing. Long straight reach to the lock
Lift Bridge. Built because the fords used above the lock would become useless
Bridges. Single leaf bascule type. One for foot passengers and one for vehicles. Caused a lot of trouble and rebuilt by Stockton Forge Co.
Cable Bridge. behind the bus depot. Damage on this put the whole of the area out of electricity supply for a long time in 2009.
Flood banks - Heavy tides have overshot the weir, and they were widened and raised after the 1953 East Coast flood.
Ship breakers. Part-submerged wreck of a large motor boat with a funnel. Similar vessels had been broken up here.
Riverside Mills built in 1880. The London Paper Mills Company was formed to acquire the old Riverside Mills and adjoining land, and a new mill was built on the other side of the Creek. These came to be known as the London Paper Mills and they were in turn acquired by the well known company, Albert Reed and Co. Ltd. in 1909. Further equipment was installed, and the mills continued until 1968 when they were closed by Reed Paper Board owing to 'steadily increasing costs and competition'.
New Town Tavern
Great Queen Street
Watling Street crossed the Darent here and it was an important Roman station. There is the only kink in the road around the church, which shows it is older.
Kings Head Inn. In place in 1690 when John Woody was the landlord. By the 19th it was the King’s Head County Hotel. Closed 1960s
House of correction. By 1909 this was a fish and chip shop
Blackboy Inn. there in the 1920s. Dated from c.1700 and was where the workhouse trustees met. Coach services between here and the Borough. Demolished 1966.
Burtons. with the Cafe Devonia and a lookout on the roof.
Crown Brewery stood between the Bull and George and the Black Boy
Bull's Head. Dated to 1467 and then called Hole Bull and owned by the nuns. Where the Odd Fellows met and Queen Victoria said to have stayed there. Closed in 1972.
Royal Victoria and Bull. 1703 coaching inn. Were probably originally pilgrims’ lodgings, called The Bull, then a coaching inn, later given the royal approval by Queen Victoria? Richard Trevithick died there. Inside is an old coaching yard, and rooms accessible by galleries on three sides. There is a preserved coach.
Boots the Chemist. It was the Bull and George where Jane Austin stayed there, which was closed in 1872 and demolished in 1980. .
Holy Trinity Church. Built c.1080 by Bishop Gundolf it is flint and rag stone smoked to blackness. There are probably Saxon foundations but also additions from almost every succeeding age. Built on a Saxon site, with a Norman tower built originally as a stronghold to defend the ford. The Wedding of King John's daughter Isabella to Frederick II Hohenstaufen was held here in 1235. Henry V held a service there on the way to Agincourt and later his body rested there as it returned to London. . It has some strange asymmetries - the clock faces, and the reshaped corner due to road widening in 1877. Wall painting of George and the Dragon. Royal Arms of George III. Memorial: to Sir John Spilman, Elizabethan goldsmith who started first successful paper mill in Dartford in 1586; plaque to Trevithick; brasses.
The Vicarage. Next to the Darent and sometimes flooded.
Baltic Saw Mills 1776;
Foot bridge over the Darent.
110 Hufflers' Arms. A huffier was a sort of river pilot, taken on board to guide barges up to the wharves.
19 Post office 1926 moved here from Lowfield Street
Cottages with plaque 'Nelson Row 1906'
Dartford Wharfage Co. largest users of Dartford Creek
Gas works: Two sites North of Victoria Road and East of Plough and Hufflers Arms; the other east of Hythe Street and north of Bridge Lane and west of Dartford Creek and Daren Flour mills 1928. Dartford Gas Co was started by local businessmen in 1827 plus some involvement by John Hall.
37 Stage Door. Pub
J & E.Hall. John Hall bought an old tanyard as their second works. Which grew to become the major works.1780s. A mill set up here on the Cranpit stream. Trevithick was employed at Hall’s works. Halls produced a vast amount of manufactured goods from here – including entire factories, supplying the structures but all the equipment themselves including their own design of steam engines. There activities covered a vast array of work and included many important innovations. They worked in all sorts of milling, explosives, marine engineering and developed lifts, escalators and refrigeration equipment. They built lorries and ships and became an international business, expanding greatly in the 20th. The foundry was closed in 1968 and Halls now operate worldwide from Questor House in Hawley.
James Sharp. builder and timber merchant was here. Also owned the Baltic Saw Mills
Victoria Wharf. Erith and Dartford Lighterage
Public House Trust Co. like the pubs in Carlyle, providing cheap meals for the workers and Built by Edward Hesketh of Hall’s. It wasn’t a success but it remained in use as offices after 1907 with a polar bear on the top. It was called The North Pole as a reference to Halls’s work on refrigeration. Demolished.
Salvation Army citadel from 1912
Wesleyan Methodist church
Knights Manor Way
Lower Hythe Street
Originally called Waterside.
London Paper Mills was a new mill in 1880 on the other side of the creek from the Phoenix Mill. It was, bought by Albert Reed & Co in 1909 and continued until it closed in 1968. It was a vast mill, with five paper making machines erected here for the facility to receive shipments esparto grass. As late as 1983, many of its buildings still had wartime camouflage paint.
149 Phoenix pub named for Phoenix Mill;
Hall Place 1825
Dartford Gas Mantle Factory. Largest manufacturer of these in England
Mill Pond Road
Phoenix Mills. Demolished. Huge impressive site forming the barrier between the Darent and the Creek. Once the largest milling complex on the Darent. The old wooden buildings were on the site of a wire mill 1596 by Box of Liege, which made iron rods and nails for Speilman. Two iron mills recorded here in 1590 and in it was a 17th a brown iron mill. In 1650 it was Wildings. Matthew Wilkes ex pirate and slave runner, had oil, corn mills. Huge saw mills in the 18th, followed by a cotton mill. Steam power also installed then- a Boulton and Watt engine in the mustard mill, replaced by one by John Hall. In the 19th alongside each other, was an oil mill and a very substantial corn mill – a stamp mill run by John Harrison who went bankrupt, This mill had been built by John Hall. There was a cement mill on site which was said to have made cement for Brunel’s Thames Tunnel but it didn't work and was sold in 1841. . There was a wrought iron breast water wheel 20' in diameter, and a pit for a second wheel. A head of water was supplied from the Darent, with two brick trough. There was a cart way in front with a water way at the mill tail on Dartford creek. Burnt down in 1852 and rebuilt as a paper mill by R.H.Saunders using beam engines built by John Hall. This was machine made paper, and it closed 1889. The brick-built paper-mill formed part of the pharmaceutical premises after it was bought by Burroughs Wellcome in 1888. Keyes of Daren bread also installed a roller plant here until taken over as a lab.
Burroughs Wellcome. Pharmaceuticals moved to Phoenix Mill in 1889 from Wandsworth. Taken over by Glaxo,
Mill Pond. The mill pond which powered many different processes in the past is now reduced to fountains and fishing. This ornamental pond was once the great mill-pond of Phoenix Mill,
Cart way in front of the mills with water way at the mill tail.
Mount Pleasant Road
Orchard Shopping Centre
The Pipe House, so-called because clay tobacco pipes were made there in the 19th, it is thought to be 14th
Prospect Place Retail Park
Riverside industrial estate
19-33 Co-operative House.
Stricklands, corn and seed merchants shop. They had a wharf on Dartford creek Coach and horses. 1823 but may have been earlier and called The Ship.
57 Royal Oak
17 Fat Sam
Old Court House
Wesleyan Methodist Church. 1845
St.Anselm’s Church – Catholic Mission church by Capuchin fathers. Gift of EJ.Fooks of Chiselhurst in 1900 to designs of F.Waters. Demolished for the Arndale Centre.
Beadle’s Garage. On the site of the roller skating rink.
Westgate House. Priory Lane corner site of Halls second family house. Became the Dartford Working Men’s Institute.
Dartford Station 30th July 1849. Between Stone Crossing and Slade Green and also Crayford and also Barnehurst on South Eastern Trains. The first station was opened here when North Kent Line extended from Gravesend to London. Electric trains from 1926. The original building was of an Italianate design; this has now been replaced by a modern ticket office complex using glass and metal. A footbridge leads across the line to two island platforms, which have a very large number of train movements during each working day. There are four carriage sidings at the country end of the station. The station site is very cramped and cannot be extended.
Silk mill site on the river slightly upstream of the railway bridge. Buildings still said to be there in 1986
Temple Hill Estate
Post Second World War council estate
St Edmund’s Church. Healthy Living Centre
Boroughs and Wellcombe factory 1924, became Wellcombe Foundation, dixigin discovered there and in 1929 first insulin. Glaxo-Wellcombes pharmaceutical business is the largest manufacturer in present-day Dartford. The Wellcombe firm has operated in the town since 1889. Two of the life-saving drugs that have been developed in Dartford are the heart stimulant digoxin and insulin, used in the treatment of diabetes.
Materia Medica Farm
St.Vincent’s School. Crisp additions
Baldwin. The River and the Downs,
Carr. A spot that is called Crayford
Cinema Treasures. Web site
Dartford Council. Web site
Dartford Historical and Archaeological Society. Newsletter
Fairfax. Walking London's Waterways
Hesketh. J.&E. Hall
Holy Trinity, Web site
Huffers Arms. Web site
Kent County Council. A history
Kent County Council. Web site
Lost Hospitals. Web site
Miller. Halls of Dartford
Penguin. The Penguin Kent
Pevsner and Cherry. West Kent
Porteus. Book of Dartford,
Tapsell. Kent Cinemas Wat Tyler, Pub,
Welcombe Foundation. Web site
Wood. Lets Explore the River Darent