ThamesPilot logo Thames Pilot logo
search border search border
  search title  
advanced search
search border search border
  Home     Themes     Where to go     Partners     Send an e-postcard  
search tips Oxford Buckinghamshire Henley Maidenhead Wokingham Richmond Hounslow Newham Bexley Lambeth Wandsworth Kingston Kent  
From source to sea
Theme Sections
Thames Head
St. Johns Lock
St. Paul's
London Bridge
Thames Tunnel
More Themes
Thames Riverside Pubs
Special Collections
From source to sea
Working on and along the river
The river environment
Enjoying the river
The changing riverside landscape
The river in art
Timeline Gallery
  Themes Homepage > Gravesend
From source to sea

go to first sectiongo to previous sectionprevious sectionnext sectiongo to next sectiongo to last section
Gateway to London
"Gravesend, owing to its position as the gateway of the port of London, is one of the most important towns on the river." So wrote Charles Dickens Junior, in his "Dictionary of the Thames" published in 1889.

He went on to write, "All foreigh-going ships are compelled to stop here and take on board pilots, and, on homeward voyage, Custom House officers. The river here narrows to the width of about half a mile, and the narrow channel is day and night full of shipping of every class and description, from the stately ironclad, to the fussy tug, the clean-cut China clipper to the picturesque if clumsy Dutch galliot, and the graceful schooner yacht to the ungainly hay-barge."

Today, Gravesend is the official gateway to the Port of London, monitoring and controlling river traffic, including cruise ships, container ships and oil tankers.
Off Gravesend
Off Gravesend
Gravesend Waterfront, 1895
Gravesend Waterfront, 1895
Rapid growth in 1800's
The village was recorded as Gravesham in the Domesday book, but within a century was known as Graves-hende. The community led a quiet life, until the beginning of the 1800's.

"The Book of the Thames" by Mr. and Mrs. Hall, published in 1859, stated that "It has risen into its present importance very rapidly, and increased enormously in the last thirty years. Steamboats and railways have conspired to do this, and the cheapness and quickness of these modes of transit have made Gravesend a favourite place for Londoners to spend their leisure time."
Military value
Tilbury fort on the northern bank of the Thames provided protection to the mouth of the river. Gravesend, complimented Tilbury, with its lighter fortifications on the south bank. The print shown here from c1790, shows a busy river scene at Gravesend, with large numbers of troops being transported across the river to Tilbury Fort.
View of Gravesend with troops going by river to Tilbury Fort
View of Gravesend with troops going by river to Tilbury Fort
Gravesend Sea School, c1910
Gravesend Sea School, c1910
Sea School
Gravesend continued its martime traditions into the 20th century. Gravesend Sea School opened in 1918, at the end of WWI, to train merchant seamen. In 1996 it finally closed, by which time it had become the National Sea Training College.
go to first sectiongo to previous sectionprevious sectionnext sectiongo to next sectiongo to last section
  Themes Homepage > Gravesend
  Copyright Info | Sitemap | About ThamesPilot | Contact Us | Links
 Working in partnership with New Opportunities Fund logo
SoPSE logo