Sunday, 19 July 2015

Riverside east of the Tower and on the north bank. South Stifford

Riverside east of the Tower and north of the river
South Stifford
TQ 59532 77402

Post to the south West Thurrock
Post to the east Grays


The main road into Grays passing through the barely perceptable village of South Stifford. Factories and marshland surround the strange and isolated church of St. Clement's.  Why is it there?? Is it true about the pilgrims??  What’s all this about Hastings?


Foxton Road
TCS Yacht Chandlery in portacabins
South Stifford Baptist church. This began in 1900 as a mission in Grays Thurrock. The building here was first hired, and purchased in 1908. In 1915 the building was replaced by a school-church and a hall was built in 1932 on the other side of the road. The church had closed by 1976 and is now in other use. The hall fronting on London Road appears to be totally derelict.
Martin Cross Church Organ Builders are now in the church building. They appear to have a national reputation and to have restored and built many organs


Gumley Road
Road running parallel to the railway with trading estates and light industry. Before the road appears on maps in the 1970s there were a number of industrial sites here behind buildings in London Road
Hedley Avenue
Proctor and Gamble detergent factory. This detergents plant was built by the Newcastle based soap manufacturer Thomas Hedley & Co, which had been part of Proctor and Gamble since 1930.  The Thurrock plant was opened in 1940 and in 1962 Hedley's became part of the Proctor & Gamble group. The factory produces a wide range of soaps and detergents. They make products like Fairy washing-up liquid and Ariel, Bold, Fairy and Daz laundry detergent powders. They also have a distribution centre on site. The original Hedley plant was the easternmost part

Lion Cement Works
Lion Works opened in 1874 on the site of an old steam mill. Chalk was quarried locally from sites to the north. Clay was obtained from river mud. , Originally there were two wet process bottle kilns with three more added in 1880. From 1880 to was owned by D. Robertson and Sons and in 1888 six chamber kilns were built and more added in 1892, and 1896. From 1898 the owners were S. Pearson & Son Ltd
Wouldham Works. Pearson’s aimed to upgrade the plant to state-of-art and formed the Wouldham Company as a partnership with J. B. White & Bros. named as a result of Robertson’s transfer of business from Wouldham, Kent. The company installed six rotary kilns in 1901.in 1912 it was taken over by British Portland Cement Manufacturers and installed what was Britain’s largest kiln. The plant ran through both World Wars. A rail link was established after the Second World War but much of the cement continued to be despatched by barge until closure. After 1970, it was the last Blue Circle plant on the north side of the Thames. The kilns stopped in 1976, the end of the Essex industry. It became a distribution centre for cement from Northfleet. A section of silos and packing plant was kept and appear to be still there.
London Road
The eastern part of the road – roughly as far as the railway bridge, constitute the old village of South Stifford.
Railway line on west site of Old Shant once went from quarries to cement works
432 Old Shant. This seems to have once been known as The Club House –although it appears to be a 19th building this is not shown on OS maps until the mid-20th and even then not marked as a pub.
470 Ship pub. This dates from at least the 1820s.
Vicarage on a large site to the east of the present church pre-920
St Clements Health Centre
567 St Clements Church. This is clearly a new church and appears to be part of the same complex of buildings as the Health Centre. It is part of the Grays Thurrock Team Ministry. It appears to be on the site of a previous church hall and vicarage in the 1960s
Parsonage Farm to east of that up to the railway. The farm was sold for industrial development in 1917. The farm house of brick and tile, stood until the 1960s
Railway bridge. This carries the line from Upminster over the London Road to West Thurrock Junction. .
471 Ultimate House site. Also called Drapers Yard – Drapers were a haulage company who moved there in 1974 and the site later became the William Ball, kitchen, distribution centre.
Home Farm – this was in the area of the Europa Trading Estate
Horns Farm.  This was on the north side of the road in the area of Palmerston Road. It is said that a small piece of land on the corner of Mill Lane remained into the 1970s with pigs and cows. This would have been between Mill Lane and a now defunct railway line. This piece now appears to be open land but the corner of London Road and Mill Lane has a fine piece of walling with coping stone and the remains of entrances – however some maps show this as the site of Brickwall Farm.
Railway crossings – the road was crossed by a number of industrial rail lines and tramways going to and from pits to the north and cement works to the south.

Manor Road
West Thurrock Primitive Methodist church may have begun in 1845, a small chapel was built here in 1876 and it was closed and sold c. 1903. The building was demolished in the 1960s to make a lorry park.   At the time the chapel was built there were houses on Manor Road – now it’s all lorry parks and sheds.
Railway
West Thurrock junction. This is the junction between the Fenchurch Street to Southend line and the Romford to Grays line which was built in 1892.
West Thurrock Signal Box.
Parsonage Road
On the site of Parsonage Farm.

St Clements’s Road
St.Clement's. This church is thought to be on a pilgrim road which crossed the Thames here. There are only three churches like this in the whole country. – It originally had a circular tower which was also the nave, in imitation of the Jerusalem Holy Sepulchre abs these are - usually Knights Templar churches.  It has a 15th tower and is built of knapped flint and Reigate stone, badly repaired in the 17th century. In 1632 three bells made in Whitechapel and a ringing chamber was added to the tower... The church had a rector from 1100. Had been sold to Hastings Grammar School which Beckett was associated with and it has a long connection with Hastings collegiate church. Knights were sent from here to guard the castle of Hastings for 15 days a year. The tower arch has the arms of Hastings. It has recently been restored by Procter and Gamble.
Old St.Clement's Wildlife Sanctuary. This is the old churchyard allowed to run wild.

Sources
Barnes, Grays Thurrock Revisted
British History online. Thurrock
Cement kilns. Web site
Dean and Studd. The Stifford Saga
Procter and Gamble. Web site
Pub History. Web site
St.Clement’s Church. Web site


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