Friday, 13 February 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend. Erith


Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend
The railway continues south eastwards

Post to the north Belvedere Marshes
Post to the east Erith  and Post to the east Coldharbour Point


Alford Road
Road built with houses from the 1890s along one side. The other side is a steep slope with trees and at the far end steps leading down to Fraser Road
Pom Pom Fish Bar. Chip shop named for the locally produced “Pom Pom” Machine Gun.


Athol Road
Road built with houses from the 1890s along one side. The other side is a steep slope with trees – going down to what would have been a pit

Battle Road
Road built with houses from the 1890s along one side and on the other a belt of trees with steps going up towards the main, Lower Road and later the railway with a retaining wall.
57 Shri Guru Ravidass Bhawan. Hindu Gurdwara

Birch Walk
A pathway between Kempton Close and Fraser Road
Birch House. Offices and trading units.
G.E.C. (Process Engineering) Limited, Fraser & Chalmers Division. Buildings now in other use.
Birch Walk Open Space. A small grassed area with mature trees and a natural habitat for wildlife, this open space is along the side of Birch Walk

Bramble croft
An estate of town houses on the hillside – built on one side only with a steep slope and steps on the other side.

Bronze Age Way
This is the Erith -Thamesmead Spine Road opened in 1997 and named Bronze Age Way after archaeological discoveries during its construction.  It is the A2016.

Bullbanks Road
The name Bullbanks belongs to a traditional name for a piece of land in this area, belonging to the Ducketts Charity.  This may relate to Bolbec, in France, or various British sites with that name.



Church Road
St.John’s Works. This site has now been redeveloped as housing and the road renamed, Wheatstone Road. The final use of it was by BATT Cable Works, now at The Belfry in Fraser Road.
Vickers Son and Maxim. This site had their woodworking shops and a Maxim and sights factory

Corinthian Manor Way,
Corinthian Yacht Club. In 1872 the Corinthian Yacht Club moved to Erith and in 1892 received its royal title but in 1899 moved away to Port Victoria. The old club house remained on the premises of British Gypsum Limited, and the name is recalled in "Corinthian Manorway".
Plinth. Brick structure at corner with West Street.  This covers a manhole built in 1926 to access the culverted Bedon Stream.
Millennium Milepost. National Cycle Network marker. This one is by Ian McColl, called 'The Cockerel'.
Railway lines crossed the road to access the Vickers Armstrong works from siding east of Belvedere Station.
Bedon River enters Thames here. Now underground

Corinthian Road
Road between West Street and Bronze Age Way. New housing on the site of old housing and some works

Erith Road
This was previously and traditionally called Friday Hill
Trinity School. This is a Church of England Secondary School, dating from the 1970s. It has now converted to an ‘academy’.
Lodge. This is at the school entrance and was built as the lodge for The Oaks
The Oaks. This was the home of Frank Beadle in the 1870s and demolished in the 1970s when the school was built. Beadle left money for the purchase of Franks’ Park which is named after him.
153 The 9th Erith Air Scout Group. This is for young people with an interest in air activities. It is part of the UK Scout Association and has a Beaver Scout Colony, a Cub Scout Pack, An Air Scout Troop, an Air Explorer Scout Unit
181 Nordenfelt Tavern. This was built to the design of Jonathan Ensor in-house architect to Watney Combe & Reid, in 1902 and is named after the local armaments firm. Also known locally as the Pom Pom Tavern after their machine guns.

Franks Park
A wooded park on part of the estate of Belvedere Park which was attached to the house later used as the Royal Alfred Merchant Seaman's Institution. The park was set up by Erith Council in 1920 and named after Frank Beadle who donated the money for its purchase. The Green Chain Walk and associated trails run through the park.
A sunken concrete bowl on top of the hill to the north near the children’s playground is the remains of a garden feature belonging to Temple Mount, a mid 19th house which once stood on the site.

Fraser Road
The road was originally a footpath from the quarry to part of the quarry used as a cricket ground.
Pit. Originally the pit was quarried for ballast to go on ships leaving the Thames. However fine loam lay under the ballast and used as moulding sand for foundries and the workings extended half a mile inland. The land had originally been owned by the Wheatley Estate but from the 1870s it was John Parish. In 1891 Parish sold the land to Fraser and Chalmers and in 1932, it was sold to Talbot Estates. Much of the pit face can still be seen around the industrial site built within it.
Cricket Pitch. Land in a worked out area of the pit was cleared for a cricket ground and a touring Australian side played here in 1884 and 1890. 
Talbot Estates. While part of the quarry was used for factories, some of it continued to be worked for the loam. Talbot worked it from 1932. They were a Hartley based company with pits in Borough Green and Slade Green. Ballast was loaded onto side tipping truck on a two foot gauge railway. There was a four foot gauge railway understood to be unique. They had two Hawthorne Saddletank engines dating from the 1880s and still in use in the 1950s.
Railway tunnel. The trucks with the quarry owner’s locomotive went under the road. This tunnel was used as an air raid shelter for the quarry horses during the Second World War.  In the 1990s the tunnel was blocked but could be identified by screening.
The Nordenfelt Gun and Ammunition Co. bought the northern part of the pit in 1887 with an entrance in Sandcliffe Road. Thorsten Nordenfelt was a Swede who was domiciled in Britain who had developed a machine gun. In 1888 they amalgamated with the, local, Maxim Company. Hiram Maxim was an American domiciled in Britain who had developed a machine gun. In 1897 they were taken over by Vickers as Vickers Son and Maxim Ltd. Vickers were producing armour plate and guns. By 1911 they were Vickers Ltd. and as well as guns they were producing aircraft and had other local sites. From 1919 they made machine tools and production machinery.  Fromm 1910 they made Siddley Autocars. In 1927 they became Vickers Armstrong and went back to making guns. The Erith works was closed in 1931.  In the 1990s some of Vickers Buildings from the 1990s remained on site. These were the gun turnery, the shell and the gun mechanism departments.
Fraser and Chalmers. This company, started by two Scots made mining and milling machinery based in Chicago.  They bought the site in 1891 from Frederick Parish and eventually moved onto the area used as the recreation ground. In 1901 the Fraser US works was sold to Allis Chalmers and the Erith Works independent of them by 1903 Steam Engines were made here from c.1900. They made mine winding engines and electric winders.  They were taken over by GEC in 1918. In the 1990s some buildings remained on site from Fraser and Chalmers – this was the Boiler Shop and the Foundry and the steel framed, brick clad Turbine and Machine shop dated 1907.
GEC – the General Electric Company - took Fraser and Chalmers over in 1918 and bought the next door Vickers factory in 1937 they made electricity generating steam turbines.  The GEC Atomic Energy Division was there and Hunterston Nuclear Power Station was built there. They continued here until the 1980s
The Belfry.  BATT cables. This company is a cable supplier specialising in electrical cables and accessories internationally. It was founded in 1952, making it the oldest cable distributor in the UK. The Head Office and ’superhub’ is based in Erith
Madford Trading Estate. Wickes Store on the site of the Atlas Preservatives. Chemical and paint makers owned by Denis Thatcher. They began in New Zealand and moved to Deptford in 1898. They make paint and wood preservatives as well as degreasing and descaling, camouflage and ammunition paint. It was a steel framed building clad in corrugated iron.  Established here in 1928 to manufacture preservative paint for timber and metal, their de-greasing much used in the Second World War. In 1965 they were taken over by Castrol and then Burmah Oil. Agrochemicals from 1982. Closed  in 1987.

Sewage Pumping Station.  Small single storey flat roofed unmanned sewage pumping house. Erith UDC 1933.
Electricity sub-power station. This was a circular kiosk with a spire which stood at the junction with Alford Roads.
Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  This was built in 1900 as a Primitive Methodist Chapel. As the Tower Cinema it was opened in 1923 and altered by F.W. Pamplin of Abbey Wood. In 1932 it was equipped for talkies and was re-named Rialto Cinema. In 1939, it was re-named Rex Cinema and in 1946, it was re-named Tivoli Cinema. It closed in 1956 and was converted into Kingdom Hall

Galleons Close
New housing adjacent to what was the Gas works site

Gas House Lane
These sites now all housing
West Kent Gas Works. Opened in 1862 as the foundation works of the West Kent Gas Light and Coke Co. and closed in 1914 having been taken over by the South Suburban Company in 1901 and last used in 1900. There were two holders. a retort house, workshops and rail lines to jetties. 
Nordenfeldt Works – the riverside site here downriver of the gas works was used by Nordenfelt/Vickers works. It was then used by Thorn, portable buildings, and then became the Telcon/SCC Ocean Works
J. Thorn Portable Buildings Works. James Thorn took over the riverside works in the 1930s to make portable buildings supplied as hutting to the authorities during the Second World War. This was a second factory to their Bexleyheath works and became the largest supplier in Britain.
Ocean Works. Submarine Cable works. This was a Telcon/SCC works set up to produce transatlantic telephone cables. It was opened in 1954 by the Post Master General and was to manufacture, polyethylene dielectric coaxial cables. The first Atlantic Telephone cable (TAT-1) was a major contract here.
Vencel Resil. This company was based at Ocean Works from 1973 and was a large producer of expanded polystyrene insulation with the Jablite range.  It is now a UK brand leader and the company also supplies other innovative products. The company is now based in Anderson Way off Crabtree Manor Way.

Halt Robin Road
This road goes through Franks Park as a footpath, to emerge as a road at the western end.  It is a woodland path and part of the Green Chain Walk.

Hawthorn Place
Housing development on part of the strip which was once the edge of the ballast pit.  As this site is only a few yards from the tunnel which took pit locomotives under Fraser Road it is to be hoped that the name refers to that of those locomotives and not the plant.

Jessett Close
Named after Frederick Jessett, Erith's first Medical Officer of Health. It was previously part of Pembroke Road – but also where Friday Hill, coming into Erith from the West, crossed the railway to meet West Street going from the north into the centre of Erith.
Church Crossing. This was a controlled railway crossing with a gatekeeper – one of whom was sadly killed by a train in 1865.  There is now a footbridge over both the railway and Bronze Age Way.

Lower Road
The road was once part of the lower main road between Erith and Woolwich, A2016. This has now been superseded by Bronze Age Way.
Bridge over the railway and Bronze Age Way. In 1902 as part of the plans for an Erith tramway it was decided to replace the level crossing over the South Eastern Railway in Lower Road between Erith and Belvedere by a girder skew bridge. It goes by a more complicated system across Bronze Age Way.

Lowry Road
On the site of Vickers Gun Carriage works in Sandcliffe Road.

Nordenfelt Road,
Route of railway from Parish's Pits to Railway Wharf

Park Gardens
Part of the Hillside Estate built by Doultons for their ‘more important’ workers in the 1900s.

Railway
Industrial railway lines from Erith Station. A number of lines ran from the London end of the station and were all standard gauge. One line looped under the SE&CR site through a tunnel, linking two Gun Works and a railway wharf on the Thames. The gun works' lines joined the SER network through freight sidings which also served a single-track goods shed, on the ''down'' side.
A 4 ft narrow gauge line belonging to Parish Loam's quarry pits passed under the North Kent Line, about 320 yards beyond the Erith Station up platforms. This narrow gauge line ran parallel with another spur off of the Standard Gauge line of the Nordenfelt Gun Works.
Siding beyond the Fraser Road tunnel was accessed by Ballast trucks leaving the Talbot quarry hauled by their locomotives. They then reached an overhead gantry. The ballast was then loaded onto standard gauge railway trucks hauled by Fraser and Chalmers Locomotive Another siding had a gantry for loading lorries. .

Riverside Walk
Gasworks Jetties 1& 2. These were built in 1863 and all that remains of either is now ruinous timber. One extended 35m from the bank the other was originally 40 m from the bank.

Sandcliff Road
Vickers Gun Carriage works. This was on the corner with Church Road. They also made aircraft in 1911 and for the 1922 Antarctic expedition. It was also the Maxim gun factory which Opened in 1906 as a range of interconnecting single storey brick built engineering workshops. In the basement was a machine gun testing range. In 1991 it was in use by Batt Cables.
Talbot Quarries offices were based here, plus a weighbridge for lorries leaving the Quarry.

St Fidelis Close
New housing on the road. The road and the area under Bronze Age Way are roughly on the site of the original sand pit in this area. Ballast was dug and sold from this pit from 1805 when it was owned by Lord Wheatley. By 1870 it was owned by John Parish and the working site had moved west.

Burndept Electronics (E.R.) Ltd. .They made electrical equipment and Vidor radios. Before th Second World War made radioactivity measuring equipment.  In the Second World War they made military communication equipment until 1941, when the factory was almost completely destroyed by bombing. They relocated production to Dundee.  However, after the war, they set up St Fidelis Road and in the 1960s, made the SARBE lifejacket beacon for the RAF and other forces. The beacon sent an automatic and continuous transmission of a homing signal as soon as the life jacket entered the water.


St Johns Road
Sovex.  This was founded in 1860 by M.Sauve.  In 1909 the building was used for the construction of timber gun wheels with the Boiler House adjacent. They made Vickers conveyors in 1918. Sovex took the buildings over in 1936 and continued in the same line of manufacture.  They made armaments in the Second World War and then continued with mechanical handling devices until 1980 when they closed. Made mechanised systems of all sorts – sorting systems, escalators, etc etc.

Tower Road
Tower Church. Sir Culling Eardley was a "zealous but liberal non-conformist", and built a chapel in Belvedere Park. This was the "Tower Church", which opened in 1848. It was a self-governing church, the congregation called "Independents", and the pulpit was open to preachers of all Christian denominations. It was replaced on a different site by 1853.  The site is now that of Bexley College.
Bexley College. Originally this was built by Kent Education Committee and was the Erith College of Technology. There is a workshop block of 1966, an administration block of 1971, a tower block set inside a concrete frame and in front was the Library. It was designed by Charles Pike & Partners, in association with E. T. Ashley-Smith, the Kent County Architect.  The second phase was built in 1968-71. The site was closed in 2014.

Valley Road
Erith Working Men’s Club

West Street
St.John the Baptist.  This parish church includes some Roman work but it is hidden. The church is thus possibly on the site of a Roman Christian church, or it is the site of a dene hole. There was probably a Saxon church here but the stone and flint building dates largely from the 12th while the tower was built in the 14th. The steeple has wooden shingles. The church was restored in 1877 by Habershon & Pite. The roof was blown up in explosion. There is a sundial on an outside wall given by Nicholas Stone in 1643. The Wheatley Chapel off the chancel was for 400 years the private property of the lords of the manor. It has brasses and memorials including monument to Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury. There is also a stained- glass window to Maj-Gen William Wheatley a commanders in the Peninsular campaign.
Churchyard. This is enclosed within a stone wall, trees and screens the churchyard from the nearby main road to the north. There is a wooden lych-gate and a path leads to the church porch. There is the grave Sir William Anderson, engineer and head of the local firm of Easton and Anderson and a war memorial in the churchyard dedicated in 1921.
Erith Central School. In 1901 a new Central School was built near St John's Church. Two years later Erith School Board was abolished and Erith Urban District Council took over. The school had departments for Boys, Girls and Infants, each with its own Head Teacher. In 1944 the School now called West Street County Primary School under Kent County Council. In 1973 the Infant School moved to Crabtree Manor Way and in 1987 the Junior School moved next to it and they became Belvedere Infant School and Belvedere Junior School
West Street level crossing – this was for the trucks of ballast leaving the sidings hauled by Fraser and Chalmers Locomotives in sets of ten, a total of 25 tons. The crossing was controlled b two gas operated by a bell from a gatehouse. The control box and the standard gauge siding survived for many years. Talbot went on running the 4'0" gauge railway until 1957. The lorries which replaced it were not licensed for road use and continued to cross West Street by the level crossing.
Erith National School was founded in 1850 on a site near the gas works. The Anglican Church could not support the National School adequately and in 1876 it was transferred to the newly established Erith School Board. In 1901 it was demolished
St Fidelis. In 1867 a Capuchin Fr Maurice was working in Erith and secured a plot in West Street a church dedicated to St Fidelis, a small school and a presbytery were built. This mission was served from the Capuchin base at Greenhithe. In 1875 a Capuchin Friary was funded in Erith with new friary buildings attached to the church. However in 1902 a large site was acquired in of Bexley Road and a new Friary was built there. The church was closed and demolished in 1989.
St. Fidelis Catholic School. This was founded with the church in West Street. The school has been based in Bexley Road since 1960.
St John’s Hall. This is used by Re-Instate, a charity that provides a sheltered workshop environment for adults with mental health problems
177 D.Sebel & Factory previously used by Vickers with an impressive frontage. This Company made Mobo toys. The Mobo Bronco was the most famous but also Stak-a-Bye, Nest-a=Bye and Fold-a-Bye steel furniture. The Mobo Bronco pressed-steel toy ride-horse was first made in 1947 by David Sebel and his son, Harry. It illustrated the change in toy horse production from timber to plastic via pressed metal. The firm continued in production until 1971. From 1948 the toy horses were exported to the United States and other major markets were in Australia and South Africa. In 1951 David and Harry Sebel immigrated to Australia and set up their factory in Bankstown, New South Wales. The horses continued to be made in England and shipped to Australia for assembling and painting. From 1957 the firm concentrate on furniture and this continues. The West Street works demolished in 1990.
177 Albert Products. Synthetic Resin Manufacturers. They made a range of chemicals including pharmaceuticals.

Wheatstone Road
This is a renaming of the eastern end of Church Road


Sources
Bexley Civic Society. Walk
Bygone Kent
Catholic Churches in Kent. Web site
Cox. Kent
Erith. Official Handbook.
Erith. Official guide
Field. London Place Names
Grace’s Guide. Web site
Hamilton. The Industries of Crayford
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
London Gardens Online. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. South London
Pevsner. West Kent
Powerhouse Museum. Web site
Pritchard. Belvedere and Bostall
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford
South East London Industrial Archaeology
Timber Trades Journal.

No comments: