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    • Crossness Incinerator to Tripcock Ness

      February 7, 2022 in England ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

      Literally 200 yards from the Belvedere Incinerator built in 2012 is the Crossness Sludge Powered Generator, also futuristic with a curved chimney, which was built in 1998; they are separated by the Crossness Nature Reserve, and the building of the former so close to the latter was contentious at the time.  Dried sewage sludge is burned here to generate renewable energy.

      The Crossness Sludge Powered Generator is adjacent to the Crossness Sewage Treatment Works.  This was opened in 1865 together with the Crossness Pumping Station as a result of the "Great Stink"; this was an event in Central London in 1858 during which the hot weather exacerbated the smell of untreated human waste and industrial effluent that was present on the banks of the River Thames - the stench from the river had become so bad that business in Parliament was affected.  The Pumping Station, a Grade I listed building, is now decommissioned but still has occasional open days as a museum since it still houses the old Beam Engines that were used to pump London's sewage into a reservoir and then out to the Thames on the ebb tide!  On the opposite side of the Thames we have views of the works at Ford Dagenham; car production stopped here in 2002, but engine manufacture continues.

      The Thames Path now follows the riverbank with the outskirts of Thamesmead on our left; Thamesmead mainly consists of social housing built from the mid-1960s onwards on former marshland on the south bank of the River Thames on the old Royal Arsenal site that extended over Plumstead Marshes and Erith Marshes - part of the large estate was used as a location for the film "A Clockwork Orange".  We see some historic cannons on the path as we proceed.

      We soon reach what was a dangerous bend where the River Thames turns south-west towards Woolwich; there is a small red lighthouse here now and the promontory is known as Tripcock Ness.  We also see an old pill box and have a view of the Barking Creek Barrier, a tidal flood barrier constructed in the 1980s as part of the Thames flood defence system; Barking Creek joins the River Roding in Essex to the River Thames.
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    • Erith Pier to Belvedere Incinerator

      February 7, 2022 in England ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

      From Crayford Ness the route leaves the river and goes along Manor Road, from Slade Green to Erith, and turns into Appold Street before reaching the Victorian Erith Pier and Pleasure Gardens; the proposed resort was shortly lived, however, due to the opening of the Southern Offall Works at Crossness in 1865 (see next post).  The pier continued as an industrial ships deep water wharf until the 1950s when the modern, concrete, boomerang shaped pier was built (the longest in London).

      We see the old Erith Causeway, 170m long and of historic interest (but due to be replaced soon because of its state of decay) and can look out across the Thames to Coldwater Point Lighthouse, on the side, marking the tip of Rainham Marshes in Essex, now a RSPB reserve.  We walk along the path past old wharves and new wharves, with chutes and cranes for loading the ships that stop close to the several large industrial estates on our left; this is all a lot more interesting to see than it might seem!  There are also many industrial sites on the other side of the Thames here.

      We round a large bend in the river and pass the large modern quay where waste is collected from ships and barges for the futuristic looking Cory Riverside Resource Recovery facility (RRR), aka Belvedere Incinerator; this UK waste-to-energy incinerator site was opened in 2012 on the outskirts of Belvedere, the next town on after Erith.
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    • Day 345

      Walk 3 - Crayford to Bexley

      August 3, 2021 in England ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      The walk from Crayford to Bexley is also part of the London LOOP.  On leaving the Waterside Gardens in Crayford, it is not possible to walk further along the River Cray due to industrial development.  Crossing the road we pass through the small Tannery Garden (there used to be a tannery and brickworks in Crayford) and onto London Road (Watling Street), forking left at the junction with Bourne Road until a garage is reached; the two posts either side of this are all that remains of Crayford Cinema and on the other side of the road is Shenstone Park.  Here there is a sculpture of cows (Cows about Crayford?) illustrating another aspect of Crayford’s industrial history; cow dung and the roots of the Madder plant were used to create red dyes for silk (there used to be a silkworks in Crayford too).  We walk down the edge of a playing field to reach the River Cray; it is a pleasant walk along the river bank and after a while we reach Hall Place; this is a beautiful Tudor house on the outskirts of Crayford and on the banks of the River Cray - we divert from the London LOOP route to explore the award-winning gardens,   .  

      Hall Place is a stately home; building started in 1537 for a wealthy merchant using, in part, stone recycled from nearby former monastery, Lesnes Abbey (in what is now nearby Abbey Wood).  In 1649, the house was sold to another wealthy City merchant who added a second wing built of red bricks, doubling the size of the house, but in highly contrasting architectural styles. Today Hall Place is restored to its original Tudor and later 17th-century designs and is managed by the charity Bexley Heritage Trust. There are 65 hectares of landscaped gardens and grounds, a topiary lawn, herb garden, tropical garden and long herbaceous cottage garden-styled borders.  It was lovely to walk round some of these.

      We head back to our route and have to skirt the outside of Hall Place gardens to the railway line and cross under the A2 (aka the East Rochester Way) via an underpass where the local graffiti artists have been busy.  From here we walk along the edge of Churchfield Wood to Bexley (aka Old Bexley or Bexley Village).  Walking along the High Street into Bexley we cross the River Cray at The Old Mill; this was destroyed by fire in 1966, rebuilt in replica form and is now converted to residential use.
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    • Crayford Ness to Erith

      January 4, 2022 in England ⋅ 🌧 4 °C

      The Thames Path follows the River Thames from its source near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton, South East London and is about 184 miles long; from here to Crayford Ness, 10 miles further and just beyond Erith, is considered an extension of the Thames Path - this trip is in reverse, from Crayford Ness to the Thames Barrier.

      Crayford Ness is a marshland area close to where the River Darent joins the Thames; the Dartford Creek Tidal Flood Barrier here prevents high rising tides and flooding of the local area. Just beyond this confluence is the Queen II Bridge over the Thames, the Dartford Crossing. As we walk along the footpath on the flood embankment, there is saltmarsh on the river side and the marshes on the other, with views of a wind turbine and the Erith Yacht Club ahead.

      We reach a small industrial estate where the Thames Path diverts from the river and along Manor Road for a mile or so to Erith.
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    • Day 1

      Erith 2 - Riverside

      August 24, 2020 in England ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      We start at Riverside and Erith Pier; many years ago, there were plans to make Erith a resort because of its location - these did not work out, although it still has the longest pier in London as a result of this and it is popular with anglers. There is talk of a proposed ferry connection between Erith and Rainham in order to close the missing link of the London Loop, but what goes round comes round - there was once a ferry to Erith from the other side of the Thames which was mainly used by pilgrims on their way to Canterbury! Close to this plaque is an interesting sign showing that Robinson Crusoe stopped at Erith on his way home…

      Further along and through the Erith Riverside Gardens , we reach the place where the Swimming Pool used to be (I learnt to swim here - it was demolished in 2010 and replaced by flats) before reaching the older part of Riverside.
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      Ant Travels

      Back in time ? Or a new trip? Next week I’m doing the start of the pilgrims way!


      Nice one! Winchester to London - how many days?

      Ant Travels

      Just to Otford to complete it 4 or 5 days

    • Day 71

      Dartford, part 1; school and other

      November 2, 2020 in England ⋅ 🌬 15 °C

      Born in Erith and raised in Slade Green, but Dartford is where I spent my formative years as this where I went to secondary school; I passed the 11+ exam and went to Dartford Grammar School, DGS (my mum went to DGS for Girls round the corner) - famous alumni from DGS include Mick Jagger (see subsequent post). Although the school was founded in 1576,, the school house dates from 1864; this is where the sixth formers used to hang out at breaks etc and play the music of the day (prog rock and rock in our case). The school motto "ora et labora" means "pray and work" which I have only just found out from Google; I honestly thought it meant "play and work" - a maxim I have adhered to during my life, although not as a result of it being the school motto (which I thought it was!)

      My grandad lived with us in Slade Green for several years in the late 1960s and used to come to Dartford to go to The Malt Shovel pub to read his paper and drink real ale in the wood panelled tap bar there; unfortunately, the pub was closed when I visited on a Monday, but I have been there many times previously. It was, and still is, a Youngs pub and grandad and my uncle (his son, mum's brother) got me into real ale and I have been drinking it all my life.

      Some parts of Dartford have been modernised beyond recognition but other parts are still as they were; not far from the railway station, the Orchard Theatre has a modern clock tower by it and on the other side of town - passing through the historic centre (see next post) - we have the 1916 Dartford Central Library and Museum on the edge of Central Park.
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      Wolfgang und Heidi

      Andrew, we are looking forward to have a pint together in a pub !!!!


      .me too

    • Day 71

      Dartford, part 3; The Rolling Stones

      November 2, 2020 in England ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

      It is well documented that Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were brought up in Dartford; they went to the same infants school, but different secondary schools, before being reunited on platform 2 of Dartford Railway Station - Mick was carrying blues records and they got chatting.  The rest is history!

      As a young child, Mick lived in Denver Road, attending Wentworth Primary School before moving on to Wilmington, near Dartford, where he was brought up as a teenager; the current owners of thease two properties apparently do not want signs there.  As a young child, Keith lived round the corner to Mick along Chastilian Road in a flat above what was a greengrocer's and went to Wentworth Primary School as well, before moving to Spielman Road on Temple Hill; these two properties have a blue plaque and a sign, respectively, to celebrate Keith's residency in them.

      Whereas Keith went to Dartford Tech, Mick went to Dartford Grammar School; the Mick Jagger Centre is a performing arts venue on the grounds of the school and was opened in March 2000.  Mick is also present in the town as a life-size sculpture by a commemorative bench in Dartford Central Park; he is joined there by sculptures of two other memorable sound makers from Dartford - a Vox amplifier, invented in the town in the 1950s, and a Dartford warbler, first spotted on nearby Dartford Heath.  The first Vox amplifier was made along Dartford Road, which is en route to Crayford, and there is a plaque outside the building to commemorate this; Vox amplifiers were used a lot by top British bands in the 1960s including the Shadows, the Beatles and the Yardbirds.
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    • Day 1

      Erith 1 - Town

      August 24, 2020 in England ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      I was born in Erith; it was then within the historic county of Kent, but has formed part of the London Borough of Bexley in South East London since 1965.
      In Victorian times, Erith enjoyed a brief spell as a riverside resort due its pier and the day-trippers arriving on Thames pleasure boats.  The town suffered heavy bomb damage in the Second World War, mainly due its position on the riverside near the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. This bomb damage and a gradual decline in local trade prompted major redevelopment in the 1960s; in 1961, plans were put forward to redevelop Erith into a modern, sleek shopping and working environment.....
      One of the first films I saw with my mother was the 1963 version of "Jason and the Argonauts" - with its amazing dynamation sequences by Ray Harryhausen - at the Erith Odeon cinema (it is still one of my favourite films ). I used to go there and see A and B films for sixpence (6d) and did not appreciate at the time that the building was in the Art Deco style.  The Odeon became a large Bingo Hall before being demolished and rebuilt as flats and office units; the picture shows things as they are now on the same site.
      The old Erith High Street and its side streets are long gone and this area has been replaced by the Riverside Shopping Centre.  Walking towards the river, we reach the end of what was the High Street; the White Hart pub is still there (albeit a restaurant now with a Thames Barge mural on one side), as is the Erith Playhouse and the Cross Keys pub (also a restaurant now).  At the river, we see Erith Pier (more correctly Erith Deep Water Wharf) - the longest pier in London (see Erith 2 - Riverside); from here, it is a short walk up West Street to see the Church of Saint John the Baptist. Doubling back and proceeding up Walnut Tree Road we reach the old library - Grade II listed and in a state of disrepair - before reaching the main roundabout, which has a De Luci fish mosaic sculpture at its centre; behind it we see the tall spire of Christ Church.
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    • Day 8

      Walk 1 - Erith to Slade Green

      August 31, 2020 in England ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      The walk from Erith to Slade Green is interesting and forms part of the London Outer Orbital Path, more usually known as the "London LOOP", a 150-mile (242 km) signed walk along public footpaths and through parks, woods and fields around the edge of Outer London.

      We start at Riverside and then it is a long slog via Manor Road; there is a lot of industry here and it is not possible to walk by the river. We double back to the river at a small industrial estate housing the Bexley Brewery (excellent beer). This is overshadowed by a 285-foot, 500 kW wind turbine and there is a good view of the turbine and the Erith Yacht Club from the Erith Saltings sign on the footpath along the flood embankment; next to the footpath is saltmarsh, campshedding (wooden piles) on the mudflat, remnants of fossilised forest and, finally, the river itself. On our other side we have Crayford Marshes.

      Proceeding east, there is a view of the marshes with the QE2 bridge linking the M25 clearly visibly beyond; in the foreground is the confluence of the Thames with the River Darent. As we walk from this confluence we reach the Dartford Creek Tidal Flood Barrier; on our right is a brownfield site with lots of scrap yards, recycling plants and light industry. We proceed further along the River Darent from the Flood Barrier and turn down track the which leads to Moat Lane and on to Slade Green.
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    • Day 8

      Slade Green

      August 31, 2020 in England ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      I was born close to, and brought up in, Slade Green; this is part of the London Borough of Bexley and the easternmost settlement in London south of the Thames - there are excellent train links to London Bridge and Charing Cross that pass through Woolwich, Charlton and Greenwich on their way to the City.

      Industrial development of Slade Green began in the late 19th century and the church of St Augustine was built in 1900 (it is now surrounded by small industrial units). Rapid expansion followed the construction of a major rail depot and a small station was added to serve the depot and community; Slade Green could be described as a railway town. Indeed, with the development of London Crossrail from Abbey Wood a few stops up the line, who knows what will happen next?

      Slade Green underwent a lot of growth in the late 1950's (when I was born) with council built flats, bungalows, semi-detached houses and shops being built; the large blocks of grey flats that I remember were demolished around 1990 and replaced by much more pleasant housing - it wasn't the best of areas back in the '60s and '70s! A lot of perople were moved down from parts of London as those areas became more gentrified (eg Islington) and I grew up with their children. This is why I look out for Arsenal FC (as well as Charlton Athletic).

      On the social side I note that the Corner Pin pub is still in business, but the Lord Raglan (which I used to frequent) is now flats. The old Railway Tavern, a listed building, has long been converted to flats after initially being reborn as a gymnasium. The demise of Slade Green Football Club in 2009 led to the loss of another watering hole, as well as local sport. Slade Green Secondary School (later Howbury Grange) has now gone, but the infants and primary school I attended is still there (although renamed to St Paul's).

      As you exit Slade Green and walk along Moat Lane you reach the listed monument of Howbury Moated Grange (c.900) which was formerly the manor of Howbury, known as Hov in the Domesday Book. Next to it is a Grade II Listed Jacobean Tithe Barn (c.1600).

      At the end of the lane, we reach part of Crayford Marshes; an ideal location for the 40 acre ammunition works that used to be there - and you can still see disused air raid shelters and pill boxes (where I used to play as a youngster!). A little further brings you to the banks of the River Darent and the opportunity to link up with the London LOOP walk - you turn left for Erith (see earlier footprint) and right for Crayford and beyond (see me t footprint).
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Bexley, BEX

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