Northfleet in old picture postcards

Northfleet in old picture postcards

:   C.R. Bull
:   Kent
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-3490-3
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Northfleet in old picture postcards'

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Northfleet is a town situated on the southern bank of the River Thames in North-West Kent. It is bounded on the east by Gravesend and on the west by Swanscombe and Dartford.

Until the mid and late nineteenth century, Northfleet was a predominantly rural parish consisting of the village of Northfleet around The Hill and High Street, the riverside area and the hamlets of Perry Street and Northfleet Green. The southern part of Northfleet, beyond the above mentioned hamlets, was a vast area of arable land dotted with woods and also farms such as Durndale, Wingfield Bank, Hazells and Ifield Court. Rural though Northfleet was, the parish was no stranger to industry as limeburning, shipbuilding and gun flint manufacture were just three examples of local non-agrarian pursuits. The new town of Rosher-

ville and the garden attractions of Rosherville Gardens and Springhead were also developed during the early and mid-nineteenth century.

The present town of Northfleet developed rapidly throughout the mid and late nineteenth century and on into the twentieth century only slowing down during the past decade. The initial reason for this massive growth (Northfleet's population increased from 3,621 in 1841 to 16,429 in 1931), was cement. Cement had been made locally since the 1790's but the advent of Portland Cement in 1824 created a superior product to all previous cements. By 1848, William Aspdin had founded his factory at Northfleet which produced this new 'artificial stone'. As the cement industry grew so did the population which was employed by it.

Cement was joined in the second half of the

nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by other industries such as engineering and paper manufacture. The development of the town was also increased by the expansion of employment in Gravesend, Swanscombe and Tilbury as workers could easily commute to these places from Northfleet. By 1930 Northfleet had been transformed into an industrial town. This book intends to cover Northfleet in three ways:

Firstly the main town and Rosherville (northern area); secondly Perry Street, Springhead and Istead Rise (southern area) and tbirdly a selection of pictures of Northfleet people at work and at play.

The pictures included are selective and do not represent a universal coverage of the town. Many have not been published before and it is hoped that they will bring bath interest and memories to the people

of Northfleet and those who know the town.


Heartfelt thanks are extended to Doug Grierson for the loan of his marvellous collection of Northfleet postcards. Sineere gratitude is also due to Gravesend Library for its help and especially to Colin Crook, the Group Librarian, for bis co-operation, Mr. R.H. Hiscock and mr. G. Mackley are similarly thanked. lam especially grateful to Mrs. Dorothy Mowbray for typing the text. Finally three dedications: To Heather who suggested this, to my Mother for her constant support and to the people of Northfleet.

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"l 1. This postcard, sent in September 1908, shows five views of Northfleet town. Each of the above views will be dealt with later in the book but as a postcard it illustrates Northfleet's growing confidence in itself. The card portrails the tewn's attractions and boldly proclaims facilities for entertainment (Factory Hall and Rosherville Gardens), for the elderly (H uggens' College), for industry and communications (The Creek) and for religious worship in a fine medieval parish Church (St. Botolph's).

2. The view shown here was taken looking north and is dated 1910. On the horizon can be seen the industrial chimneys which were the backbone of Northfleet's growth and prosperity. Most of the chimneys were from the large number of independent cement factories, which occupied the riverside area before they were all amalgamated into the A.P.C.M. (Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers) in 1900. Next can be seen the rash of housing which sprang up with the industry and the railway station . with its important rail communications. The ugly chalk pits in the foreground are the price Northfleet paid for the benefits of cement. Swanscombe, Northfleet's western neighbour, is very similar to Northfleet and was also only a village before cement.

3. The Northfleet Paper Mill, shown here, was ereeted between 1883 and 1886 for Carl Daniel Ekman (1845-1904). Ekman was a Swedish chemist who invented a process of papermaking by manufaeturing pulp from wood by the sulphite process. However, economie problems coupled with a lawsuit against Ekman, over the leaking of some sulphite waste into a nearby quarry and eausing the formation of sulphurous acid, ended his business. He died in 1904 and was buried in an unmarked grave at Northfleet Cemetery. In 1934, in recognition of bis contribution to paper manufaeture, a memorial was unveiled in the cemetery and a block of flats has the name 'Carl Ekman House' .

The Creek, Northf!eet

4. The Creek is formed where the little 'river' Ebbsfleet meets the Thames, Until recently, this area was heavily industrialised with factories and warehouses occupying the banks and a network of local factory tram tracks and light railways carried communications on to other establishments further from the river. The Robins Cement Works operated from here sending its products to ships in the Thames via barges and lighters. Throughout the 1880-1930 period The Creek was also a community with three pubs, a general shop and 46 houses where as today the site is largely unoccupied.

5. Bevan's Cement Works was one of the most successful in N orthfleet. The factory had excellent river facilities with a deep water pier and a well-used wharf. Thomas Bevan was a well-known figure who stood for Parliament in 1880. Even though winning the election, Bevan was disqualified because he had allowed his workers the afternoon off to vote for hirn. Bevan's works remained in business after 1900 when most of the smaller factories closed. The building contractor (J.B. Lingham) was wellknown in Northfleet having built the Roman Catholic Church on The Hili as weIl as a major work on Bowaters and Kent Kraft Mills. Lingham was also a great figure in Northfleet United Football Club (74). This picture shows Bevan's cement works being rebuilt during the 1920's.

6. Northfleet CastIe was built as a house by William Pitcher, the owner of Pitcher's Dockyard, during the early nineteenth century. Pitcher's wife was supposed to have flatly refused to live in this 'prison' and the house was thus known as 'Pitcher's Folly'. The castle was largely constructed from the stones of the demolished Norman London Bridge and it survived the famous doekyard when that closed in 1860. In 1926 the building became the offices for Bowater Paper Mil! which occupied the doekyard site. Northfleet Castle was itself eventually earmarked for demolition in 1935. A brief revival in shipping occurred during the First World War when concrete barges were made.

7. Plough Pond occupied the area now covered by Gravesend and Northfleet Football Club's entrance area. The pond was fed by the Ebbsfleet on its way to the Creek and was used as a water supply for both domestic and other uses, This picture was taken around 1900 and shows Mr. Samuel Honeyeombe on the left, engineer and surveyor to the Northfleet Local Board (later Urban District Couneil) 1893-1905. This area was, on 1st June 1648, the site of a Civil War skirmish when a force of 600 royalists, under Major Childs, was defeated by 400 parliamentary mounted and foot soldiers under Major Husband,

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