HistoryOvercliffe, and its eastward extension New Road, was a turnpike road which was constructed in 1802 to replace the old road (only part of which remains, as Clifton Road) which had become dangerous as a result of chalk excavations.
The first houses there were built around 1835 on the north side of the road but were demolished in 1953 to be replaced by a garage (now a car showroom). At the time they were first built and occupied the surrounding ground had not been cut away as it is now and there was pastureland on both sides and at the rear. This formed part of the old Fairfield, which extended to Bath Street and was named after the annual Gravesend Fair, which was held there.
The houses on the southern side of the road were built between 1864 and 1870 and extend as a promenade of villas. They had long rear gardens behind which was pastureland extending back to Pelham Road. This land was known as Mr. Cove's field and Gravesend Cattle Fair was held there in the early 1890s having been displaced from the old Fairfield by further chalk excavation. The north side of Overcliffe with its wide flagged pavement was an attractive promenade.
The western part of the conservation area was part of Rosherville New Town which was developed between 1820 and 1830 and extended north towards the river. (The history of this is discussed in greater detail under Lansdowne Square).
CharacterThe area is characterised by nineteenth century housing, some of which, particularly at the eastern end of Overcliffe, has been converted to commercial uses. Although the product of a concentrated period of speculative development, the grouping and detailing of the buildings was directed towards a conspicuous display of wealth. The pairing of two buildings to look like one, the use of symmetrical elevations and classical elements in the detailing is evident in most of the facades and the use of features such as bay windows also gives prominence to the buildings.