Saturday, 28 February 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend. Erith

This entry relates only to the south bank of the river in this square

Railway line from London Bridge to Gravesend
The line continues south eastwards

Post to the west Erith
Post to the south Erith
Post to the north Wennington Marshes  and Shared part square to the north Coldharbour Point
Post to the east Great Coldharbour


Bexley Road
Bexley Road also seems to be the name of the steps going down to the High Street from Bosworth House.
33 Celestial Church of Christ – this is an old retail, tyre workshop building.
33 Redeemed Christian Church of God, as above

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.

Chandlers Drive
Modern housing which part of a development called Ocean Park. To the north and west is a succession of industrial buildings based in West Street or Gas House Lane – predecessors to Telcon’s Ocean Works.

Chichester Wharf
Modern housing which part of a development called Ocean Park. This is the old Ballast Wharf siding.

Cricketers Close
This site is near part of the chalk pit used as a cricket ground and where a touring Australian side played in 1884 and 1890

Erith
The name of Erith is thought to mean a muddy harbour.  This harbour developed where prehistoric track ways met the River.

Erith High Street
Lane leading to Erith Causeway
Pilots' Hut. PLA building at the landward end of the Causeway
22 Police Station. This was used by the ordinary police, following the departure of Thames Division from 1994. It is now housing.
River Police Buildings. These are adjacent to the old police station. The Thames Division extended its patrols with a combined river and land stations at Erith in the early 20th.
Hudson Coal Merchants. This was replaced by the police station
Erith Rowing Club. This is now in the old police station. The club was established in 1943, and had a club house behind the Running Horses pub. The old Thames river police station is now called The Boathouse and the club occupies the ground floor of the building for its indoor training and clubhouse.
Kort. This is a family run firm which operates worldwide and is based in the old River Police building. Kort Propulsion was founded in 1935 in Germany but the licence was suspended in war time and became a UK based enterprise. They were then owned by ship repairers R and H Green and Silley Weir, then P and O. And later was a management buyout .The company has international links and is regarded as the best of marine engineers.
32 Stone Court. Housing built in 1985 with replicas of some pre-existing 18th cottages. Behind is a raised walk way with gardens leading to a modern brick block and Anchor Retirement Home. Stone’s barge yard was to the rear.
Mosaic by Gary Drostle. The design for the frieze was taken from the pargetting plasterwork above no 38’s balcony.
40 Cross Keys. Built in 1892, with fantastic decorative features, replacing a 17th pub. May be closed following problems with customers’ horses – said to be renovated as offices.
43 The Crown. This was on the opposite corner to the Running Horses and was destroyed in bombing with some loss of life
44 Potion Bar. This was the White Hart built in 1903 which had a garden with birds and animals to amuse children. It also had a bell in the bar which summoned theatre-goers when the curtain was due to rise in Erith Playhouse. There is a mural on a side wall of a Thames sailing barge painted by Gary Drostle in 2005 as part of a series of public art works in the town
57 Yacht Tavern. This stood opposite to the police station and was demolished in the mid-1930s as part of a road widening scheme. The licence was taken by the Yacht public house in Bexleyheath.
89 Post Office. Built by the office of Works in 1929
Erith Playhouse. This is on the site of the Oxford Cinema which opened in 1913. It was built for W.T. Collar of the Oxford Picture Theatre Co. and had a Classical facade. In 1929 it was taken over by the independent Sydney Bacon Circuit which was in turn taken over by Union Cinemas who closed it in 1935. After in 1939 it was used by Erith Council as a furniture store for bombed out families.  In 1946 the building was leased to the Erith Theatre Guild who got permission to convert it into a playhouse. Following work by the Guild members this opened in 1949 with a new proscenium and stage as well as a scene dock and dressing rooms. In 1973 a new front of house was built and the original entrance and facade were demolished following which was another grand opening. The building continues to house amateur productions of plays and is administered by a registered charity
Riverside Gardens. Public riverside path running from the West Street junction to the PLA jetty entrance.  The land for the gardens was partly given to the people of Erith by William Cory & Son, the coal and barge company. It began in 1937 when the whole sweep of the river could be seen but there were alterations in 1982 to build the flood wall. The William Cory promenade is along the riverside.
Site of Cannon and Gaze flour mill. The original mill belonged to Fletcher & Gaze, who amalgamated in 1892 with Stephen Cannon of Bexley Mill to form Cannon & Gaze Ltd of Erith. New mills were built in 1903, after the original was destroyed by fire. From humble beginnings in a small country water mill, working three pairs of stones, to one of the most prosperous flour milling enterprises in N.W. Kent. Cannon had worked the South Darenth watermill from 1806 and the family continued with other mills in North Kent. By the 1870s work was concentrated at the Old Mill in Bexley and in 1878 Stephen Cannon bought Erith Water Mill. Two years he formed a partnership with Mr Gaze, from a Norfolk milling family. They were to go on to purchase more mills in the area. In 1892 the steam roller mill was built at riverside Erith to more easily access grain from America. It was Built by Kirk and Randall of Woolwich with 4/5 storeys and a turreted tower fronting the street. The milling machinery was by Robinsons of Rochdale powered by Yates and Thorn and Easton and Anderson steam engines.  There was a Davey and Paxman generator set for electricity.  The old Erith Mill remained in the new buildings which were lit by electricity. A joint stock company was formed as Cannon and Gaze Ltd with all the shares held by family members. In 1913 Erith Mill was remodelled on the cyclo pneumatic plansifter system, increasing capacity to 35 sacks an hour. By 1913 they employed the largest fleet of motor wagons in the industry. Most of it was demolished following fire in 1937 to make way for the Riverside Gardens
Running Horses pub. Originally with an address in West Street in 1874 it had been established in 1834 and rebuilt in its present form in 1938. It was badly bombed in 1940 and many killed.
Swimming bath. This was built in 1968, having been designed by Richard Siefert. It had a glass wall, to give a panorama of the river to the swimmers. A mural by William Mitchell showed scenes from Erith’s history. It closed in 2005 and has since been demolished.

Maxim Road
West Street Nursery

Maximfelt Road
During road works engineers found a cave complex - maybe do it yourself air raid shelters.

Mildred Road
Mildred Road now runs down to new housing which back onto Bronze Age Way, which itself is parallel to the railway line. In the past the road was shorter and the new housing is on the site of sidings running northwest ward from the main line, and curving at the bottom of Mildred Road to what is now Nordenfeldt Road, where it joined the line from the chalk pits.

Nordenfelt Road
This is the line of the railway from the ballast pits.

Riverside Walk
Long modern pier for private boats. This is apparently called Monarch Pier.
Naval Storehouse. The ship building industry was integral to Erith in the early Tudor period and a naval storehouse was built under Henry VIII. Newly-built warships anchored here to be fitted out from the storehouse: the most notable of these being the “Henri Grace de Dieu” or “Great Harry ". This was built at Woolwich Dockyard in 1515, and was then the largest ship ever built in England. Samuel Pepys records visits to the town in the course of his Admiralty duties, and John Evelyn came here about the sale of ships captured from the Dutch. The dock is said to have been west of Railway Station Wharf. There was also a gun emplacement erected somewhere on the Erith waterfront.
Upper Ballast Wharf’. This was built in 1842 and worked until 1971. There was a railway line from Parish’s pits which was used for shipping ballast from Parish’s pits in Fraser Road. Also called Parish’s Wharf it was a wooden cross braced jetty built 1900 11.25m wide and 57.5m from the bank. Locomotives from the pit were uncoupled before they reached the wharf and a horse was backed onto it.  The horse then pulled the trucks the 50 yards along the wharf.  The horse was then uncoupled and the trucks continued alone. A man then fastened a chain under the trucks and as the trucks hit the end of the wharf the tipping mechanism was released – and the sand fell into the hold of the waiting ship. The truck was then pushed back to the siding by a lad. The assembled trucks were then returned to the pit by the locomotive. Later this system continued with lorries which also were not allowed on the wharf.  The wharf ceased working in 1971, but a white lantern tower remained as a land-mark. The cricket pavilion could also be seen, with an engine shed and fitters' shop and an old forge in a long low building. Now all gone, last to go was the engine shed.  The cricket pavilion was burnt down in the 1970s.    Parallel to this was a standard gauge line going to Fraser and Chalmers.   There was also an old wooden house used by the Venture Scouts.
Railway Station Wharf.  This was previously called Lower Ballast Wharf and was used for shipping ballast from Parish’s pits in Fraser Road between 1808 and 1842. A large structure built here with a slipway extending out into the mudflats indicates the presence of ship building or repair work. In 1897 it was renamed ‘Railway Station Wharf’ and it was cut back into the river bank in 1900 when its working side was 50m long. It was later used by Vickers and by Fraser and Chalmers up to the 1930s. It was rebuilt in concrete in a 1977 as a river walk way topped with railings.
A site which thought to be the location of a submarine pen but this has largely been disproved by research
Thames Steam Sawmills. Opened in 1898 by Beadle Bros.with their own riverside wharf built 1897 - 1909 a network of encircling railway or tram tracks. The wharf itself had  was built after the river wall and apparently cut through it. A previous slipway had gone being replaced with a covered entrance to the river with an pair of dock gates. hames Steam Saw Mills built a wharf by 1909 which seems to have incorporated the existing wharf. The site was taken over by Venesta for wood laminates and partitioning in 1949 and a new building erected cutting back much of the wharf area. The works closed in 1995.
Chandlers’ Quay housing is on the site of the saw mills and surroundings.
Cannon and Gaze.  Old Wharf used for the flour mill fronting on hr High Street. There was accommodation for ten 250- ton barges alongside the mill,
William Cory Promenade – this fronts the Riverside Gardens in the High Street
Erith Causeway.  This is a landing Stage first built in 1909 for tenders for ship crews. It was renewed in 1951 and then in 1970. It extends into deep water at low tide and includes a 175m long 2.5m wide Jetty currently used as a landing stage by Erith Rowing Club. It was previously used by the river police. It is said to be owned and maintained by the PLA and the PLA once had a wooden office building at the landward end.
Ferry from Erith to Coldharbour Point. Thought to have been there in 1512.
Stone Brothers Barge Yard.  Operating from Chalk Farm Wharf, they were the main sailing barge builders in the Erith area also operating a lighterage and tug business. The yard was behind the Cross Keys pub and the wharf built in 1890. Stones, also based in Brightlingsea, were the first barge builders to fit a steering wheel, rather than a tiller, to a barge.

Saltford Close
Bosworth House. This is a 15 storey tower block approved in 1967 and completed in 1971.  It has 56 flats.

Stonewood Road
Stonewood Road is roughly on the line of what was Station Road, accessing the station from the junction of the High Street and West Street before the building of Bronze Age Way. Parallel to it ran the line from the Nordenfelt works to the river at what became known as Railway Station Wharf.
Erith Station. The South Eastern Railway's opened their North Kent Line between London Bridge and Strood via Blackheath and Woolwich in 1849. It had a double track and at Erith there were two staggered platforms.  There was a brick building designed by SER's architect Samuel Beazley on the down side and a goods shed was located at the London end of the down platform. On the up platform was a timber shelter. After 1900 more facilities were provided on the up side platform. There was a water column at the Dartford end of the ''down'' platform. A riveted-steel footbridge was provided by the Southern Railway in 1935 and they also put a valance on the main buildings canopy. The platforms were rebuilt by the Southern Railway in the Exmouth Junction-produced prefabricated concrete and re lengthened in 1954 for ten-vehicle EMUs. . In the 1990s, the single-storey extensions of the station building were demolished, the old brickwork restored, and the taxi forecourt re-laid.
Goods Sidings. There was a goods siding from the start at the Dartford end of the up platform. In 1898 a second set were opened at the Dartford end of the down platform, with a cattle pen. The domestic goods yard closed in 1968. ,
Standard gauge lines.  By 1900 a line looped under the station through a tunnel, linking two armaments works to a railway wharf on the Thames. These joined the South Eastern Railway network by way of the freight sidings built for the goods shed on the ''down'' side.  A spur from the Nordenfelt works ran parallel to the narrow gauge line and used the tunnel under the main line
Narrow gauge line A 4 ft narrow gauge line belonging to Parish passed under the North Kent Line beyond the London end.
Signal Box. This was installed in early 1870s next to the timber shelter, behind the siding. It was without a brick base but had a chimney and sash windows.  Another box was later built next to it. In 1970 the South Eastern Railway designed box from 1890 was closed, and its functions taken over by the Dartford Panel. The original ground structure from the 1870s remained there for the next ten years.
Garden on the roundabout with plinth and interpretation panels.
Baths. The open air swimming pool was on the corner with Walnut Tree Rd and opened n 1907 with a display by the Erith Swimming Club. The pool was damaged by a land mine in 1940. It never reopened to the public but was still usable by clubs who could book it.  It could no longer be properly filled.

Walnut Tree Road
Built by Erith Urban District Council as part of the Erith tramway project. It allowed trams to go from West Street up towards Northumberland Heath
Walnut Tree House this was a big house in grounds where John Parish, of the local loam pits, moved in 1876. It was named for a line of Walnut Trees which had led to the Manor House. He held parties for the district's old people. The estate was acquired by Erith Council in 1900 who laid out Walnut Tree Road and built the generating station, tramshed and library
Tram Depot built for Erith Urban District Council in 1905. Proposals for an electric tramway were agreed in 1902. This included a plan to build a new road through Walnut Tree House Estate and a site for the depot. The existing power station had to be doubled in size for the extra equipment. The depot for 16 cars was built on o the West side of Walnut Tree Road opposite the powerhouse. It had four roads and entrances with a 19 foot clearance. There was a berthing shed and attached maintenance workshops. . In 1933 the undertaking passed to the London Passenger Transport Board. The Erith cars continued running until 1935 when they were replaced by trolleybuses. It was demolished in 1980 and nothing is now left.  The site is to be used for a new Community College.
Generating Station built by Erith Urban District Council in 1903 initially for street lighting. It was a basic 2 storey brick building at one end opening into a hall with five Westinghouse/Bellis generators. To the back was the boiler house with 5 Yates and Thorn Lancashire boilers. It was extended as part of the tramway scheme. In 1927 it was replaced by a cabled supply from Woolwich but continued as a substation. It was demolished after a fire in 1998.
Community College building opened 2015
Town Hall. A two storey brick building built in 1931-2 to the designs of Harold Hind, surveyor to Erith Urban District Council. It was refurbished and given a mansard roof in the 1990s. Used as offices the old council chamber for the Urban District remains with a domed ceiling.
Erith Museum and Library. This was built by Erith Urban District Council in 1906 and designed by W. Egerton in red brick and funded by Andrew Carnegie. There is a cupola surmounted by a bronze sailing ship weathervane. Inside are two war memorial plaques to individuals. On the porch floor is a mosaic with ‘Labour overcomes all things’.  The building has not been used as a library since 2006 and is currently apparently unused.
Erith Museum. In 1931 E. Bridgstock Choat, offered his services as honorary curator for a museum. Part of the library basement became a Museum in 1934. In 1959, the Museum the Carnegie Trust and the Erith Borough Council financed alterations to the first floor and the Museum moved there. As part of the London Borough of Bexley Erith Museum was turned into a Museum Study Centre for schools in 1974. Schools found it difficult to get to Erith and the Museum was closed. It was reopened in 1983 after repairs and redecoration with a new lay out. The Museum was closed by London Borough of Bexley in 2014.
Tram siding protected by the longest level crossing gate in Britain.


West Street
Level crossing for the railway from Parish’s Pit to Upper Ballast wharf which was probably laid at the time the wharf was built. Horses were used at first, but steam had taken over by 1881. Talbot took over the pit in 1932 and they 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 old level crossing which It survived for many years with its control box and a standard gauge siding. Traffic was warned of the locomotive about to cross by a bell.
Crossing from the Nordenfelt works by railway which had run alongside Station (now Stonewood) Road and gone to the Lower Ballast Wharf.
71 house once used by J.Stone, barge builder.
105 Erith Youth and Family Centre
110 The Ship. Sports pub. This dates from the 1860s

Sources
Archaeology Data Services. Web site
Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich. Web site.
Baldwin. The River and the Downs
Bexley Civic Society. Walk 
Bird. Geography of the Port of London
British Listed Buildings. Web site
Bygone Kent 
Chelsea Speleological Society. Newsletter
Cinema Treasures. Web site
Erith official guide
Erith. Official Handbook
Erith Rowing Club. Web site
Grace’s Guide. Web site
Kent Rail. Web site
Kort. Web site
London Borough of Bexley. Web site
London Encyclopaedia,
Pevsner and Cherry. South London 
Pevsner. West Kent
Port of London Authority. Web site
Pritchard. History of Erith
Reilly Country to suburb 
South East London Industrial Archaeology
Spurgeon. Discover Erith and Crayford
Thames Police Division. Web site
Tucker. Ferries of the Lower Thames
Woolwich. Antiquarians. Transactions

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