Tilbury Walk – 31.10.2010

Tilbury Docks – Completely improvised idea to walk here and very unsure what we would find…. I had imagined massive container ships, not being able to walk anywhere – dock cranes and containers stacked to the hilt blocking the view to the Thames…. but it was not quite like that at all.

Although Tilbury docks had been steeped in history – the actual town itself had only been around since 1912 – previous to this time Tilbury had been in the Parish of Chadwell of St Mary.     As we started to walk down “Dock Road”  it was very odd to find all the roads had strange names – Bermuda Road, Sydney Road, Auckland Road – but as to no clue as to why except that we were near docks?   (but I think I was about to find out!) It was not long before we came across “National Cycle Network Route 13” which we decided to use as our walking route for the afternoon.

It was nice to know as we walked across the bridge we discovered some great graffiti art – in fact I apologise to the artist if they would consider this art and not graffiti… but it certianly brightened up the afternoon 🙂

From 2010 – 31.10.2010 – Tilbury Walk

The cycle route took us past exactly what I was expecting to see – lorries, warehouses, containers and even brand new cars ready to be shipped – all neatly stored… but…. the cycle path itself was tarmacked, signposted and very well maintained! One of the first things that struck me was the “International Cruise Terminal” which threw me… I didn’t expect to see that! Maybe in Southampton or even Dover but not in Tilbury docks.. (we even spotted a very large cruise ship in dock just around the corner 🙂 )

I did note that the terminal building was Art Deco in style, which fits in with what I have now discovered that the International Cruise Terminal had been here since the 1930’s.   Ships went as far out as Australia and the West Indies – this would explain the street names – Bermuda, Auckland and Sydney!!    Sadly the British Liner Fleet as  it was known, demised during the 1970’s and the terminal and it’s neighbouring train station was closed as a result.   But in the mid 1990’s the terminal was fully restored – in fact the liner we saw was probably going to the Baltics!  It was lovely to see something restored 🙂

As we past the industrial part of the Tilbury docks, I was completely stunned to find, a very green, peaceful and in fact a small haven to walk! We walked out on the small pier-head which was used by the Gravesend ferry – and with the warm autumn sun, I certainly could have spent time just contemplating and just resting here!

From 2010 – 31.10.2010 – Tilbury Walk

Leaving the small pier behind, we strolled along the riverside – it was quiet, and green – I was so taken aback to find a very small wooden building still surviving in the midst of industry – “The Worlds End” pub – shame I have no photo – because it has a history – it has been noted that in the 1660’s that the famous diary writer himself – Samuel Pepys travelled down the Thames from London on several occasions, had visited this small ale house to drink!

The writer Daniel Defoe was also well known to the area, as he owned a small farmstead on the marshes in the parish of Chadwell-St-Mary, which Tilbury Town was originally part of around 1698. A close neighbour at that time was a man called John Friday.   Having left the area for a number of years to live in Somerset,  where he lived in Nether Stowey   please see my Minehead walk! )  ,  around 1719 he published his book “The life and strange surprising adventures of Robinson Crusoe”.

The stroll then took us past an unusual building – Tilbury Fort.   A fort of some kind has been in this area since at least the 14th Century.   Its original intention was to protect the Tilbury – Gravesend Ferry – although it was not until 16th Century and the threat of the Spanish Armada that the fort was significantly strengthened.  I have to admit the entrance to the fort is very imposing!!

From 2010 – 31.10.2010 – Tilbury Walk

In fact,  Queen Elizabeth 1 herself rode to the fort to “rally” the English troops and although there are 3 recorded versions of her speech – one noted from Dr Leonel Sharp in a letter to the Duke of Buckingham,

“I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.”

But I must admit too remembering some of this quote in a different fashion – from Queenie (Elizabeth 1) in the BBC series Blackadder (forgive me for all those with historic sensibilities!!

Queenie: “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a concrete elephant.

Once we had walked past the fort, we continued along the cycle path – or so we thought… in fact I am not so sure at all to be honest.   The path just ran out!    We did however join a  muddy path on the outskirts of the Fort earthworks, which turned out to be a public footpath.   We rejoined the road.  We did not continue the walk to East Tilbury as we thought we could have done as the light was against us (the hour had just changed) so we ended our stroll which was shame as it was quite enjoyable!

All my photos for this short but “historic” walk are as follows –

2010 – 31.10.2010 – Tilbury Walk

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