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Tilbury-Gravesend Ferries
 
Page 3: Tilbury & Gravesend Piers
 
 
This page is one of a series devoted to postcards and photographs of the Tilbury-Gravesend ferries, and describes the piers used at Tilbury & Gravesend, plus the other Gravesend piers.
 
It can argued that Gravesend was the first seaside destination of mass tourism. Brighton and Margate were older, but travel to them was still difficult in the early 1800s. Gravesend was the first town suitable for day trips by steamer from London, and 50,000 people visited annually in the early 1820s, growing to 120,000 by 1831. Initially travel was by stagecoach or sailing boat, but the steamship rapidly gained ascendance, and the last sailing boat ceased in 1834. The London-Gravesend trip was known as the 'Long Ferry' (the 'Short Ferry' being Gravesend-Tilbury). In the mod-1830s, 8000 day trippers could arrive at Gravesend by steamer on a Sunday (the only day that most people were not working). By the mid-1840s there were 1.5 million visitors per year - mass tourism had arrived. Many hotels were built to cater for the visitors, and there were pleasure gardens at nearby Rosherville. Initially, passengers would disembark from the steamers using watermen, but piers were soon built - Gravesend Town Pier (1834), Rosherville (1840), and Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier (1842). The site of Rosherville Pier can still be seen, but the pier is long gone. By 1836, there were 28 steamboats on the Gravesend run. The North Kent Line of the South Eastern Railway to Gravesend Central opened throughout in 1849, but despite this, steamboat excursions to Gravesend remained popular for many years to come. The rival London Chatham & Dover Railway line to Gravesend West did not arrive until 1881. Gravesend's heyday as a tourist resort had declined by the end of the Eighteenth Century, mainly due to the industrialization of the surrounding areas, and the railways now making more distant locations available for day trips.
 
 
Sections on this Page:-
Gravesend Railway Pier
Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier
Gravesend Town Pier - used by Tilbury-Gravesend Ferries
Gravesend West Street Pier - used by Tilbury-Gravesend Ferries
Tilbury Riverside - used by Tilbury-Gravesend Ferries
 
Tilbury & Gravesend Pages:-
Tilbury - Gravesend: Page 1 - Railway Ferries: 1862-1984
Tilbury - Gravesend: Page 2 - Private Operators: from 1984
Tilbury - Gravesend: Page 3 - Piers - this page!
Lower Thames & Medway Passenger Boat Co - Ferry operators in 2007
 
Associated Pages:-
Invicta Line
Kingswear Castle - Page 1
Kingswear Castle - Page 2
Ferry Postcards
Cruise Ship Postcards
Ocean Liner Postcards
Simplon Postcards - Recent Updates
Simplon Postcards - Home Page
www.gres.org.uk - Gravesend Railway Enthusiasts Society
www.gres.org.uk/News - Gravesend Railway Enthusiasts Society - Gravesend-Rotterdam Service
 
References:-
The Five Minute Crossing - John M.Ormiston - Thurrock Local History Society, 1998
London, Tilbury & Southend Railway - R.J.Essery - Oxford Publishing Co, 2001
London, Tilbury & Southend Album - George Dow - Ian Allan, 1981
   
 
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Tilbury Riverside
 
The London Tilbury and Southend Railway built a station and large booking hall by the river at Tilbury . There was a floating pontoon about 300 feet long connected by a long covered walkway. the landing stage was used from 1854 until 1928 when it was dismantled to make way for the much larger Tilbury Passenger Landing Stage. The construction of this was authorised in 1922, but did not start until 1926. The landing stage was over 1100 feet long and 80 feet wide. The 300 feet at the eastern end were allocated to the Gravesend ferries. The Riverside Terminal consisted of a Port of London Authority baggage hall and railway booking hall. Four bridges connected these to the new landing stage, which was used by ocean liners of many companies such as P&O. More recently it has been used for cruise ships. The complete terminal was formally opened in 1930.
 
 
Photograph of Rose (1) and Catherine (1) at Tilbury in 1922, before the building of the Riverside Terminal and Passenger Landing Stage.
 
 
 
Postcard of the London Belle of Belle Steamers at Tilbury.
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Postcard of the Walton Belle of Belle Steamers at Tilbury.
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Photograph of Edith (1) at Tilbury Riverside in 1934.
 
 
 
Photo of Duke of Argyll in use as a hospital ship at Tilbury during WW2
Scan: Roger Corfield
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Photographic postcard of Catherine (2) and Edith (2)
 
 
 
Photographic postcard of Catherine (2) or Edith (2)
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Photographic postcard of Tilbury Riverside



The vehicle bridge to the ferry pontoon at Tilbury Riverside
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - Images link to larger copies




Rail Replacement mini-bus at Tilbury Riverside
A bus service replaced the trains from Tilbury Town to Tilbury Riverside when the branch was closed. Initially, standard-sized single deck buses were used.
In January 2007, a small mini-bus was in used which could drive down onto the ferry pontoon.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - Images link to larger copies

Rail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.ukRail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.ukRail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.ukRail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.ukRail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.ukRail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.uk




Rail Replacement bus at Tilbury Riverside
In 2012, Clintonia were running midi-buses to the top of the pier
Photo: Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012 - Images link to larger copies

Rail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.ukRail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.ukRail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.ukRail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.ukRail Replacement bus Tilbury Riverside - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007 - www.simplonpc.co.uk




Duchess M at Tilbury (spring tide)
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 22nd January 2008 - Image links to larger copies







Gravesend Town Pier
 
Gravesend Town Pier was built for the local council in 1834, and was originally open-sided apart from two small pavilions at the end. The Town Pier is the oldest surviving cast iron pier in the world. Steamers were boarded from a series of steps and landings. Initially services were run by Gravesend Council. With the coming of the railway to Tilbury, traffic increased and railway ferries also began serving the Town Pier. A pontoon was added to allow more than one steamer call at a time. The promenade section of the pier was also covered in, resulting in a very attractive structure. Goods and livestock also used this pier, but the railway considered charges to be too high, and built the new goods pier at West Street. Gravesend Council had lost control of the pier to receivers on their bankruptcy in 1852, but it was not until 1884 that the Railway obtained ownership. All ferry services switched to the West Street Pier in 1965, and the pontoon was removed.

In 2000, the was restored by the Gravesham Borough Council, partly funded by the organizations English Heritage, English Partnerships, Heritage Lottery Fund, Kent County Council, and Manifold Trust. In 2002, this renovation project was finished.

Following a further restoration, the pier partially re-opened as the bar Riva in 2006. The latest restoration was not finally completed until November 2007 with the opening of the restaurant section of Riva. There is a small public viewing area adjacent to the new restaurant at the end of the pier. The delay in completion (the bar area near the pier entrance had been open for some time) was problems with installing the modern floors and large glass windows into a structure based around the world's oldest surviving cast iron pier.

In 2012 a new floating pontoon was installed, accessible from the end of the Town Pier. This was used by the Balmoral excursion vessel in July 2012 instead of Tilbury Riverside which had been used previously. The Tilbury ferry is scheduled to run form the new pontoon from 29th July 2012.



Early photograph of Earl of Essex at Gravesend Town Pier.
The withdrawal date of Earl of Essex is unknown, but it was before 1880.




Postcard of Tilbury (2) at Gravesend Town Pier.
Image links to a larger copy




Photograph of Gravesend Town Pier entrance in 1922.
Photo: © NRM




Postcard of one of the LTSR steamers at Greenwich Town Pier.
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Postcard of ferries at Gravesend Town Pier.
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Photograph of Catherine (1) at Gravesend Town Pier.
Photo: © NRM
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Photograph of Rose (1) at Gravesend Town Pier.
Photo: © NRM




Photograph of Catherine (1) at Gravesend Town Pier.
Photo: © NRM




Postcard of ferries at Gravesend Town Pier.
Image links to a larger copy




Pamlin photographic postcard of Catherine (1) at Gravesend Town Pier.




Gravesend Town Pier in 2002, prior to latest restoration.
Photo: © David Glasspool - www.kentrail.co.uk
Each image links to a larger copy
Gravesend Town Pier - Photo:  David Glasspool - www.simplonpc.co.uk




Gravesend Town Pier
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
Each image links to a larger copy
Gravesend Town Pier - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005Gravesend Town Pier - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005




Gravesend Town Pier
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 12th March 2006
Each image links to a larger copy
GRAVESEND TOWN PIER - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 12th March 2006




Gravesend Town Pier - with Royal Terrace Pier in the background
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 5th May 2006
Each image links to a larger copy
GRAVESEND TOWN PIER - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 5th May 2006GRAVESEND TOWN PIER - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 5th May 2006GRAVESEND TOWN PIER - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 5th May 2006




Gravesend Town Pier
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007
Each image links to a larger copy




Restored Gravesend Town Pier
Showing public viewing area
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 22nd January 2008
Each image links to a larger copy
GRAVESEND TOWN PIER - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 22nd January 2008GRAVESEND TOWN PIER - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 22nd January 2008GRAVESEND TOWN PIER - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 22nd January 2008GRAVESEND TOWN PIER - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 22nd January 2008




Gravesend Town Pier
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008
Each image links to a larger copy
GRAVESEND TOWN PIER - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008 - www.simplonpc.co.uk




The new pontoon installed by the Town Pier in 2012, with MV Balmoral
Photo: Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012
GRAVESEND TOWN PIER PONTOON - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER PONTOON - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER PONTOON - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER PONTOON - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012 - www.simplonpc.co.uk GRAVESEND TOWN PIER PONTOON - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER PONTOON - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER PONTOON - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012 - www.simplonpc.co.ukGRAVESEND TOWN PIER PONTOON - Photo:  Ian Boyle, 16th July 2012 - www.simplonpc.co.uk








Gravesend West Street Pier
 
The West Street Pier was built in 1857 for use by the railway, who acquired full ownership in 1876. The pontoon and ramp was added by 1860. Goods and livestock used this pier, whilst the passenger ferries continued to serve the Town Pier. From 1906, vehicles were also landed at West Street. Car traffic increased from 1924 when the first full car ferry entered service, and the pier was renamed Gravesend Car Ferry Pier. It retained its importance until 1963 when the first Dartford Tunnel was opened, car and passenger traffic declining rapidly thereafter. Car ferries ceased running in 1965, and the new diesel passenger ferries transferred their terminal from the Town Pier, the original name West Street Pier being reinstated at the same time. The pier continues in use for the Tilbury Ferry in 2006
 
 
Photograph of Gertrude at Gravesend West Street Pier, February 1922.
Photo: © NRM
 
 
 
Photograph of Gertrude at Gravesend West Street Pier, February 1922.
Photo: © NRM
 
 
 
Photograph of Gravesend West Street Pier entrance, February 1922.
Photo: © NRM
 
 
 
Photograph of Gravesend West Street Pier, 1932.
Photo: © NRM
 
 
 
Photograph of Gravesend West Street Pier, 1932.
Photo: © NRM
 
 
 
Duchess M and Princess Pocahontas at the West Street Pier, Gravesend.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
 
 
 
Duchess M and Princess Pocahontas at the West Street Pier, Gravesend.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
 
 
 
Duchess M and Princess Pocahontas at the West Street Pier, Gravesend.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
 
 
 
Duchess M at the West Street Pier, Gravesend.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
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Princess Pocahontas at the West Street Pier, Gravesend.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
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Duchess M and Princess Pocahontas at the West Street Pier, Gravesend.
Seen through the Railway Pier.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
 
 
 
Princess Pocahontas at the West Street Pier in Gravesend.
Town Pier and Millennium of London in the background.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 12th March 2006
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West Street Pier in Gravesend
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 12th March 2006
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Duchess M and Princess Pocahontas at Gravesend West Street Pier
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 5th May 2006
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Gravesend West Street Pier
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008
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Gravesend Railway Pier
 
Gravesend Railway Company opened a double track branch from the main line between Farningham Road and Fawkham stations (London Chatham & Dover Railway - LCDR) and Gravesend on 18th July 1881. The railway terminated by the River Thames on West Street, adjacent to the West Street Pier. They built a substantial pier into the river, with railway lines running along it. The LCDR took over the railway and pier in 1883. From 1922 until the war, the passenger/cargo steamers of Batavier Line used this pier to load passengers for their Rotterdam service. Special boat trains were operated to Victoria Station. In recent years, the land above was used by White Horse Ferries, and two of their trimarans remained laid up on the pier. These were removed in 2006 when the surviving viaducts and embankments to the pier were demolished. The pier itself remains, however.
 
 
Gravesend Railway Pier
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
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Duchess M and Princess Pocahontas at the West Street Pier, Gravesend.
Seen through the Railway Pier.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
 
 
 
Uriah Heep laid up on the Railway Pier at Gravesend.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 13th November 2005.
 
 
 
Gravesend Railway Pier
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008
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Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier
 
Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier was built in 1845, and was used by the steamers from London. It is now used by the Port of London Authority, whose offices straddle the entrance.
 
 
Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 12th March 2006
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Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 12th March 2006
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Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier.
Photo: Ian Boyle, 12th March 2006
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Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007
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Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier.
Photo: Ian Boyle, 12th March 2006
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Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007
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Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007
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Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier.
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 4th January 2007
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PLA vessels Verifier and Yantlet at Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier.
Photo: Ian Boyle, 12th March 2006
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Gravesend Royal Terrace Pier
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008
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Gravesend Royal Terrace, Town and West Street Piers
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 9th June 2008
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