Sunday, 3 June 2012


The Thamesgate Shopping Centre – the reason I had to visit Gravesend. For a 1970’s centre, the car park is in remarkably good condition and actually looks quite impressive (to sad people like me!).

The town’s clock tower at the top of Harmer Street. The foundation stone was laid on 6 September 1887. The memorial stone states that the clock tower was dedicated to Queen Victoria, to commemorate the 50th year of her reign. The design was based on St Stephens tower, the Westminster tower that houses Big Ben. The tower is built of Portland and Dumfries stone, backed with hard stock brickwork,. The centre of the clock itself is measured 15 m above the ground and the face is 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in) in diameter.

The view up Harmer Street to the Clock Tower. Harmer Street was built in 1836 as part of an elaborate and grand scheme by the Milton Park Estate, whose chairman was Alderman Harmer. It was attributed to the Brighton Architect Amon Henry Wilds. The street consists of two continuous brick-built terraces comprising pairs of buildings which step up to accommodate the slope of the land. The concept was for Harmer Street to open out in a circle, where now only Berkley Crescent and the clock tower is.

The Royal Terrace Pier was built in 1842 for day trippers to Gravesend using paddle steamers from London.

The foundations of the Gravesend Blockhouse - they are the only visible remains of the first system of artillery defence established for the River Thames by Henry V111 in 1539/40. It is a scheduled ancient monument.

St Andrews Art Centre  -  St Andrews Church was built to serve Gravesend’s waterside community. Prior to this the dock workers, boat crews, passengers and emigrants attended services in the bar of a former public house, the Spread Eagle which became the headquarters for the mission. The foundation stone for the new church was laid in 1870 adjacent to the Mission House and the church was finished and consecrated on St Andrew's Day in 1871. Services continued until 1971 and in 1975 the building was purchased by Gravesham Borough Council in 1975 and transformed into an Arts Centre.

The River Thames at Gravesend looking north east with Tilbury Power Station prominent. To the left is the Royal terrace Pier.

View along the Thames to the North West with the Town Quay Pier was which was completed in 1834, but soon faced competition from the new private Royal Terrace Pier nearby, which charged users less.

The refurbished Town Pier is the world's oldest surviving cast iron pier, it is a unique structure with the first known iron cylinders used for its foundation. The pier was completely refurbished in 2004 and now has a bar and restaurant on it.

The Three Daws is one of the oldest taverns in the country, gaining its first licence in 1565. It began its life by being converted from five traditional styled wood fronted cottages. The general structure is therefore some years older that the length of its history as a Thames tavern, and probably goes further back to at least 1501.

St George’s Church  -  Gravesend has been subject to several disastrous fires in its history. On 24th August, 1727 one such blaze swept through the High Street burning down 110 homes and engulfing the church. The new church, St George’s was built as one of the fifty new churches to be built out of dues on coal coming into the Port of London. The number of churches actually built was considerer ably less than fifty, (closer to about fifteen), but St. George's was one of the fortunate applicants. Charles Sloane, a local architect, built the church with the foundation stone being laid by Sir Roger Meredith M.P. in June 1731 and the new building was completed in 1732. The tower is part of the original building of 1732. Around the string-course above the bell-ringing chamber there is a Latin inscription affirming "This same building being destroyed by disastrous fire King George II most generously ordered to be rebuilt by Act of Parliament". In front of the church is the famous Pocahontas statue.

An American sculptor, William Ordway Partridge, had created a life-size statue of Lady Rebecca Rolfe, which was unveiled in Jamestown, Virginia in 1922. Queen Elizabeth II viewed this statue in 1957 and again on 4 May 2007, while visiting Jamestown on the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first successful English colonial settlement in America. On 5 October 1958 an exact replica of the Pocahontas statue by Partridge was dedicated as a memorial to the princess at St George's Church here.

Pocahontas (1595-1617) was the daughter of a Native American tribe chief who converted to Christianity and married an English soldier (John Rolfe). In 1616 they came to England but in the following year at the beginning of the voyage home Pocahontas was brought ashore at Gravesend, either dead or dying. She is thought to have been buried in the vault beneath the chancel of the original St. George’s.

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