Monday, 13 April 2015

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend. Northfleet Stonebridge

Railway from London Bridge to Gravesend
The line runs south eastwards

Riverside area of Northfleet including a historic harbour area now being restored by volunteers. This was where the Ebbsfleet met the Thames and the Ebbsfleet valley, until recently mud, contamination and sports grounds, is now the site of major infrastructure works for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link - including Ebbsfleet Station and some sites for use by Crossrail. From the early 19th to the late 20th centuries the riverside was dominated by vast cement works taking raw materials from the chalk pits which cover the area.  Much of this now lies derelict. There were also paper works here, and much 19th century urban infrastructure.

Post to the west Swanscombe
Post to the east Northfleet
Post to the north Botany Marshes


Black Eagle Drive
The name of the road relates to a pub which once stood in Stonebridge Hill.
New housing on the site of the Paper Sacks factory.
Paper Sacks was set by Robinsons, a large Bristol based paper company.  They had becomeinvolved with a USs company making paper sacks for cement and took the idea to APCM.  They initially set up a works at Kenysham and then moved production in 1930 to Northfleet .There was a siding into the works from the main line railway and In 1948 a new factory was built here with a pre stressed concrete shell roof. In the 1970s following a merger with the Dickenson paper group they became the Dickenson Robinson Group, and in the 1980s were taken over by the Swedish Kornsas company. The factory closed in the early 2000s, the site bought be developers and housing built.


College Road
This was once called One Tree Lane
Huggens College. John Huggens was a corn factor and philanthropist who. Built this College for old and impecunious gentlefolk. He had a cement works at Sittingbourne, and was a hoy owner who has made a lot of money on grain shipments. He built the college, designed by W.Chadwick, in 1847. Residents had a weekly allowance of and a ton of coal each annum. It was demolished in 1968 and new bungalows and a new chapel built on part of the site, and the remainder sold to the Council, who used it to build Wallis Park.  The chaplain's house, which is all that survives of the original college, is said to have originally been a farmhouse
Football ground. This was south of the College on the west side – and appears to be still present, albeit possibly derelict.
Northfleet Lawn Tennis Club. On the east side post Second World War
Ebbsfleet
The Ebbsfleet stream provides the western boundary to Northfleet.  Historically it was called The Fleet.  It was navigable by small craft in Roman times.
Northfleet villa. A substantial Roman villa complex was discovered in 1911 on the west bank of the Ebbsfleet. The earliest part was built in the early 2nd and later expanded with construction a two large aisled buildings, a bath house and a river-side wharf
Tide Mill. A 6th timber-built water tide mill discovered close to the Northfleet villa. The water ran from the pond through two square funnels, made of hollowed-out tree trunks, and drove two horizontal paddle wheels. Each wheel was connected by a shaft to a pair of millstones on the milling floor above.  Boats could ne load and unloaded from a jetty alongside the tailrace. The mill stood on its own in grassland dotted with trees.
Buildings. Eight Saxon sunken feature buildings were found in and around the Northfleet villa complex, and a further four nearby.
APCM sports ground. This took up much of the area now covered by Ebbsfleet Station. Some methane was burnt off here in the 1980s.
Northfleet Pleasure Park. This lay alongside the railway on the south side. It had a bandstand, a putting green, children’s swings, slides and roundabouts with the Ebbsfleet running along the perimeter and a footbridge leading to the APCM sports ground. It was opened in 1909 and in the early days children used to paddle and play in the Ebbsfleet, until the construction of the sewage works There was a brick park keeper's hut along with a drinking fountain. It closed in 1971 when the new railway sidings for Northfleet Cement Works were built on the site.

Ebbsfleet walk
Modern housing on what Station Street

Galley Hill Road
Dartford Strood road through Gravesend, built by KCC in 1926
Walls – changes in brick work showing place where an industrial railway from the S.E. main line to riverside wharf passed below, having circled the Paper Sacks Factory.

Grove Road
Runs parallel to and east of the Ebbsfleet Creek
Grove House.  Grove House is a 20th office block now occupied by a dentist. The house originally on the site overlooked the cement works and may have been built for Butchard Francis, owner of Tower Cement Works to the east. It was later the home of William Aspdin.  In the Second World War it was the headquarters of Northfleet Home Guard. It is said to have been standing, although derelict in 1965.
Territorial Army Hall. This was where commando raids were planned and led from during the Second World War. It was built as a drill hall in 1934 for the Kent Fortress Royal Engineer Territorial Unit, searchlight training. It was also used by the St.John’s Ambulance service. There was a foundation stone near main door. There was a 25 yard rifle range alongside. The site is now industrial units.
Tramway. This crossed the road north of the Drill Hall. It came from the Bevan Cement works to the east of the site and curved round northwards to riverside wharves
Blue Circle Heritage Centre. This was in this area in the 1980s and 1990s.
Old Foundry. This dates from the 19th and is partly on the site of a brickworks. A brick building dates from around 1870 and follows the original line of the mill pond.  The site is on the west side of the road and a number of works are there, although the foundry itself left in 2014.
Thames works. Cardboard box factory currently on site. This appears to be on the site of a square of housing called Warwick Place.
Cement works. The gates to this works appear to be still extant in Grove Road. Works on the site was operated 1798-1846 by Parker and Wyatt; 1846-1847 by Jones and Aspdin; 1848-1851 by Robins, Aspdin and Co.; 1851-1900 by Robins and Co. Ltd; 1900-1910 by APCM (Blue Circle). It was originally occupied by James Parker, who had invented Roman Cement and made it here in the late 18th, using septaria nodules from the Isle of Sheppey.  Under Wyatt cement manufacture employed 12 men and there was an output of 700 three bushel casks a week.  In 1846 William Aspdin moved here from Rotherhithe. Clinker was ground by the tide mill at the head of the creek and Parker also used a windmill. There were five wet process bottle kilns south of the creek to which three were added in 1847, and there were twelve by 1876. Aspdin left and it was then managed by R. A. Gibbons. Most of the plant was relocated north of the creek and a new wharf built, abandoning the old site. By the time of the APCM takeover, its operations were coordinated with Bevan’s, and the kilns were phased out but the wharf remained in use. Some structures still remain including an intact and much-restored bottle kiln claimed as one of Aspdin’s, although it was later. The area used north of the creek later became part of an oil depot
Bevan’s Works. This was to the east of the earlier works and was operated in 1853-1900 by Knight, Bevan and Surge, and 1900-1970 by APCM (Blue Circle). It was built on the site of the parks and orchards of The Hive. When Aspdin left the Robins company he sold the technology to a whaler, Thomas Sturge. This works was second only to Swanscombe in size in the 19th and early 20th. It was built on an old brickfield adjacent to Robins on the east. Sturge secured a huge swathe of chalk land to the south. The plant used wet process bottle kilns throughout, Rotary kiln installation followed after APCM was set up. The original rotary kilns were cleared in 1922 to make way for the largest APCM installation of the time. Some of the kilns here were the largest in Britain until overtaken in 1929. With its huge reserves of chalk it remained one of Blue Circle’s main sites for forty years. It was shut down in 1970, with much of the cement handling and wharfage kept in use, incorporated into the adjacent Northfleet site. It never had any rail link, and had the best deep water jetty on the south bank. Chalk came to the plant via a tramway.
Bevan’s Beehive Kiln. This kiln sometimes described as an Aspdin beehive kiln or as a mid 19th century bottle kiln, is preserved as an ancient monument. There are also the remains of rails which ran from it to other processing areas.
Public Slipway. This is at the bottom of College Road and is excavated as part of the Northfleet Harbour Project.

High Street
175 Cooper's Arms. This pub is now a chip shop – The Codfather. It probably dates from the 1870s.
Mission Rooms. These were built in 1882 on the corner of Station Street. In the mid 1880s they were used as a boys' school by the Northfleet Education Board. The Northfleet Silver Band practised here.
79 The Little Wonder. This pub stood at the top of Hive Lane from the 1840s until at least the Second World War. It had green tiles and was a Russell’s house called. It was called after the 1840 Derby winner.
Sturge's British School. This was built by local industrialist George Sturge in 1858, He was a Quaker who financed this Non Conformist school which was built on family property on the north side of the road slightly to the west of Hive Lane. It was a flint building with one large room, an office and a playground at the back. At the front was a drinking fountain. It had closed by the Second World War and was used as a 'British Restaurant' and from 1945 was used by the 1st Northfleet Scouts.
Court Mews. This was once the Northfleet Police Station built in 1866. The Magistrates' Court was at the rear and was opened on 1887.
Rayner's Court. These flats replaced shops which had been built in the in 1883. The name comes from a family of shop keepers.
Lodges – two octagonal lodges stood at either side of Hive Lane as the entrance drive to The Hive house.
Windmill. This is said to have stood between Hive Lane and Lawn Road before 1749

Hive Lane
Hive Lane was originally the drive to a large house and grounds called Hive House.
Hive House and Park. The name could be a corruption of ‘The Hythe’ – the area in which it stood.  The estate belonged to the Crown and was eleven and a half acres, extending from the High Street almost to the river and between College Road and Lawn Road. It was a brick three storey house with ten bedrooms, library and so on in walled gardens with carriage shed and stables, in park land and orchards. In the 18th it was a private house and the home of members of the Chiffinch family who held a series of important public appointments. In 1830, a Mr. Gibbons opened a boarding school here. The estate was auctioned in 1838 and purchased by Thomas Sturge, who in 1853 built the Knight Bevan and Sturge cement mill on the site.
The site was redeveloped for Northfleet Urban District Council in the 1960s including two terraces of shops, and a six storied building. Mostly flats and maisonettes

Huntley Avenue
Called after James Huntley Northfleet Councillor Chairman of school management and founder of Gravesend WEA

International Way
Road built across what was an area of infill and sports grounds in order to proved access to the station and a vast amount of car parking.
Ebbsfleet Station. In 1989, British Rail and Trafalgar House had devised a Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) and then submission of various plans. Eventually a route devised by The Arup & Partners was adopted but it was not until 1993 that a station here was considered. Work began in 2000 initially to dispose of flue dust from Southfleet Quarry and importing Thanet Sand to the area to stabilise the old chalk pit plus archaeology. Seven tracks would approach the site from the north, and six platform faces provided: four at ''low-level'', and a two above. Domestic services would be able to leave the CTRL at Ebbsfleet via double-track line on a 1410 yard-long viaduct. This would also accommodate a single island platform, and a direct rail connection would be made with the North Kent Line east of Northfleet station. The station’s main ‘building would be above the low level lines and be of steel, clad with 2,200 square metres of glass. Construction work was complete by 2006 and equipment recycled from Waterloo International was installed. The station opened in November 2007 and called Ebbsfleet International.
Railway
Channel Tunnel Rail Link. The first section of the CTRL opened in 2003 using the old closed branch West Street Railway. The second section leaves this at Pepper Hill and turns north-west heading for a tunnel under the Thames and passing through Ebbsfleet International railway station. However Ebbsfleet International Station has no short and convenient pedestrian connections to Northfleet.
APCM rail line going towards a tunnel under the main line. This was built in the early 1970s.

Robins Creek
Northfleet Harbour. The area now called Northfleet Harbour was formed from the inlet of the Ebbsfleet, or Fleet river into the Thames. Upstream is evidence of Roman and Saxon communities. By the 18th the Fleet was no longer navigable. It was later used for shipping Portland Cement around the world – Robins was the name of one of the early manufacturers here.
Slipway dating from pre 1800. With a dock on either side recently excavated
Watermill and weir. This was set up for flour production in the 18th in the mouth of the Fleet. It was later superseded by a watermill for cement production parts of which survive. These remains are 19th with a sluice gate, through which water still flows, with controls on the flow of water. The exit from the mill pond was designed to channel the backed up River Fleet through to the sluice.  Wyatt is said to have installed mill stones here made by Mr. Green, millwright, of the Borough and in addition, Hall of Dartford estimated for the machinery. The Tide mill was used for bruising and grinding and a windmill for grinding.
Orme House. This is said to have stood on the waterfront, to be possibly 17th and also possibly to be owned by the Crown.  It is said to have had a connection with Judge Jeffreys. In 1827 8t had stabling, coach-house, a walled kitchen garden, lawn and pleasure-grounds and a water gate. It was apparently rebuilt in 1834 and demolished in 1872 by Knight, Bevan and Surge cement company.

Robinson Way
Housing named after the original company who operate the Paper Sacks plant.

Rose Street
The Rose Pub

Station Road
Northfleet Station. Train services are operated by Southeastern. The ticket office is on the down side with a PERTIS passenger-operated ticket machine outside the station. The station is close to Ebbsfleet International station but the walking route between the two stations is 1 km and a pedestrian link has not been built because of funding issues and objections.  This station was opened by the South Eastern Railway with the North Kent Line in 1849, with two staggered platforms. It had a two-storey brick main building, on the down side - a small version of Greenwich. In 1891 this building was demolished and replaced by a wooden one on the eastern side of the subway entrance.   With the extension of third rail here the platforms were lengthened. The buildings were modernised in the mid-1960s, with the removal of the ornate canopies.  The up side shelter went in 1970 but the down side building was left although the chimney stacks being removed and windows were boarded up. Since privatisation, all windows have been boarded up
Goods. The station had single road goods shed opened with the station in 1849. These closed in 1968
A timber signal box was built in the early 1890s which controlled the goods sidings and this section of the main line. This closed in 1968
Siding in 1849 a siding ran  from west of the station to go under the London road. Tailing junctions from other chalk pits and from the new Northfleet paper mills joined it.
Sidings in 1970 a new cement sidings complex for the Portland Cement Company was installed adjacent to the up platform. The main line embankment beyond the east end of the platforms was dug out and a bridge installed allowing a second, lower track bed to be created.
Rainbow centre. Community centre
Catholic Church. The  first  catholic church  at  Northfleet  was  dedicated  to  Our  Immaculate  Mother  and  St Joseph and built in 1867. It was used as a school during the week and as a church on Sundays. It closed in 1932 and  is now the Mercy Centre for the Redeemed Christian Church of God

Stonebridge Road
Stonebridge Hill was originally called Fisherman's Hill
1 The Ebbsfleet Grill. The Ingress Tavern. This pub closed in the late 1990s. One of the rooms was at one time headquarters of National Amalgamated Stevedores, Lightermen, Watermen and Dockers union, set up in 1922
The Stone Bridge. Thus is, first mentioned in 1451, and it crossed the Ebbsfleet river and valley. A stone bridge was built in 1634, being replaced by a brick bridge around 1790. The turnpike road began here. The bridge was angled slightly to the north and not directly towards Stonebridge Hill. The reason may have been that the lower road originally went round by the Creek as the route to Gravesend. The second brick bridge was aligned to Stonebridge Hill, alongside the old bridge.
Battle of Stonebridge Hill. on 1 June 1648 this was the site of a Civil War skirmish, when a force of six hundred Royalists, under Major Childs, were defeated by four hundred Parliamentarians, mounted and foot soldiers, under Major Husband.
Black Eagle Pub. This was at the bottom of Stonebridge Hill and said to be an old manor house. Demolished in 1968
Gates to Huggens College. These are now disused.
65 Plough opened in 1715 and closed in 2010. It reopened later that year as The Cosmopolitan, closing again in 2012. It is now used as a cafe India arms
Plough Pond this was at the bottom f the hill, fed by the Ebbsfleet, and controlled by a sluice. In 1775, the Trustees of the Turnpike Road had issued instructions that a sheep wash was to be constructed in the space between the two Stone bridges. This fell into disuse in the 19th and became a pond which was filled in at the end of the 19th and the Ebbsfleet diverted under the road through a pipeline. 
Plough Marsh. This was the field on the opposite side of the road from the Football Ground was known as Plough Marsh. In the North West corner was a pond which was formed from flooded clay digging from the turn of the 18th/I9th. By 1870, it was called the 'mud hole' and there were a number of drownings. In the 1890s it was filled in by Bevan. In the Second World War a barrage balloon was sited here. It is now an industrial estate and petrol station
Ebbsfleet United Football Ground. Before the Second World War it was the home of Northfleet United founded in 1890 and playing from here in 1905. In 1946, the Gravesend and Northfleet Football Club was formed and they became Ebbsfleet United in 2007.

The Creek
The Huggens Arms. This pub opened in 1860 and closed in 1976. It had been renamed The Riverside Tavern in 1975
Wallis Park
Housing built by Noethlleet Council on Huggens College Land

Wood Street
This road ran downhill from the High Street to Station Street
Wood Street Primitive Chapel opened 1875,

Sources
Bygone Kent
Cement Kilns. Web site
Francis. The Cement Industry
Gravesend Historical Society Web site

Gravesend Historical Society. Journal
Gravesham Council. Web site
Green. Pubs of the Gravesend Area

Hoskins. History of Gravesend
Kent Rail. Web site
Lost Pubs in Northfleet. Web site
Millward and Robinson. Lower Thameside
Northfleet Harbour. Web site
Northfleet Station. Wikipedia. Web site
Robinsons of Bristol. Web site


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