Thurrock’s Hidden Treasure
Report by Lisa Chapman
The Purfleet Heritage and Military Centre is an historical Aladdin’s Cave that can be found situated in Centurion Way and can be reached by car, bus or train. It recently hosted the local D-Day celebrations (see our “history” section) and has plans throughout the coming year for many other events, the next one being Veteran’s Day on the 28th June.
There were originally five buildings on the site which had served as “Royal Magazines for Gunpowder”. Each of these “magazines” had, in their heyday, housed around 10,000 barrels of gunpowder which was transported to Purfleet by barge or horse and cart and then tested, graded and stored ready for emergencies. During the Napoleonic period the gunpowder was used by Nelson’s Navy and Wellington’s Army! When the garrison closed in the 1960’s four of the magazines were
demolished but Magazine No 5, the Proof House (Barrel Store), Clock Tower and sections of the Inner Sanctum Wall survived. The Centre was a project set-up by Alan Gosling in 1992 who, along with a few volunteers, was interested in saving the old building and surrounding area.
There are a wide variety of exhibits here that range from the 1760’s through to the Second World War. Each section brims with memorabilia, artefacts and information but thoughtfully labelled displays make the Centre simple to navigate. The 1930/40’s kitchen and living room are certainly worth stopping to view as well as the lifelike Anderson Shelter. Exhibits include Victoriana, the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, The Hornchurch Wing, Women at War and the Brigade of Ghurkhas.
The list is endless and growing all the time so why don’t you go along and take a look for yourself? You will not be disappointed and can also enjoy a cup of tea and slice of cake come rain or shine!
For further information, future events and opening times please visit the Purfleet Heritage and Military Centre website at www.purfleet-heritage.com.