General DescriptionThis area includes the river frontage from the PLA site in Royal Pier Road, eastwards as far as the lock and Canal Basin.
HistoryCentral to the area is one of the town's most striking features, New Tavern Fort; built in 1779/80, a poignant reminder of the role long played by Gravesend in the defence of the realm, as are the indicators of the Tudor blockhouse near the Canal Basin and the remains of another in front of the Royal Clarendon Hotel, just outside the area.
This historic defensive role has now been interlaced with leisure uses which take full advantage of the changes of level to provide a natural auditorium around the bandstand and a viewing platform for the river, which can be viewed at closer quarters along the promenade. A joint venture between the New Tavern Fort Project and the Borough Council for the restoration, rearmament and display of the fort has continued since 1975 with the aim to promote an understanding of its role as a defensive organism and a military community. It now has a museum within its structures. Within the gardens also stands Milton Chantry, a late fourteenth century building on the site of a former leper hospital. Converted to a dwelling at the Reformation, in the eighteenth century to a public house called the New Tavern, and used during the nineteenth century as a barracks and a hospital, it is now Gravesend's heritage centre.
The Canal Basin is the western end of the Thames and Medway Canal. Built by the engineer William Tierney Clark, it was opened at the Gravesend end in 1824. It was not a success and was eventually abandoned for commercial use in 1935. The basin is now separated from the canal.