Thurrock Local History: From Aveley to Horndon

Across Thurrock by Philip Edgar – 21 January 2022

AT our first meeting in 2022 we welcomed Phil Edgar, showing many old photographs around Thurrock, too numerous to mention, but here are a few of them:

Purfleet was covered by images of the chalk pits and the garrison, only one of the powder magazines remaining (now a museum). There were several photos of the 1953 floods showing how devasting this was for local industry. The Royal Hotel with its connections with Edward VII was shown, together with the T.S. Cornwall berthed off Purfleet and the dovecote and lighthouse on Beacon Hill. We also saw the Dartford crossings, the bridge being opened in 1991.

Aveley covered the Belhus mansion, its fireplace still in Grays museum. The unusual round tower of South Ockendon church was shown, together with the now demolished windmill. Pictures of West Thurrock depicted St Clements church, where pilgrims visited before crossing to Kent for Canterbury. Views of the chalk pits gave us a glimpse of what was there before Lakeside. We saw Belmont Castle at South Stifford which was bombed in WW2 and several photos showed the many pubs around Thurrock, including the newly opened Wharf.

Grays was covered by the old High Street, the Dutch house, the parish church, behind which stood Palmer’s Boys School, Seabrooke’s brewery, Grays beach and the Exmouth swimming pool, evoking fond memories. Phil also showed us images of Joyes, Ambrose market, the railway station and the war memorial where a toilet used to stand. Also covered were the cinemas, library (now where Thameside stands), The Dell where Alfred Wallace lived and Piggs corner, now an OAP complex. Little Thurrock gave us the church, a map of the daneholes and hangmans woods.

Stifford church and Ardale Homes were shown and at Orsett we saw old views of the workhouse, Piggs bakery and the Foxhound. Chadwell covered Chadwell Place, home of the Temple family, Sleepers Farm and the Cross Keys public house. There were many photos of Tilbury where Daniel Defoe once lived, showing the old brickworks, Tilbury Riverside booking hall, Tilbury Hotel, St Clere’s Hall, Coalhouse Fort and Batas, complete with swimming pool.

Views of Horndon showed the woolmarket, windmill base and church. There were cattle markets just off Victoria Avenue in Stanford le Hope, where we also saw the old Doctor’s House on The Green. Corringham and Coryton were also represented. Fobbing was where the Rev John Pell who invented the division sign lived, The Five Bells being a prominent pub.

This was an enjoyable trip down memory lane (and before), showing us what a diverse borough Thurrock is. As our Christmas party had been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, we also held the delayed raffle.

Our next meeting is at 8pm on Friday 18 February at St John’s Church hall, Victoria Avenue, Grays, when Emma Cannell will be talking about The Spas of Essex. Visitors are always welcome.

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