A Virtual Museum - Your Town, the Borough and its History

1786
• Princes Ernest, Augustus and Adolphus (brothers of Prince William Henry), attended by Lord Howe, embarked for Germany at New Tavern.
• Robert Pocock established the first printing press and circulating library in Gravesend.

1787
• Garden barnyard purchased by Mr Wakefield and added to St. George’s churchyard.
• Old brick mill removed from Windmill Hill.
• “Colossus” (74 guns, 1,703 tons) launched from Cleverley’s Yard.

1788
• Thomas Pitcher purchased land for shipbuilding at Northfleet.
• Earl of Darnley (Lord of Gravesend Manor) came of age and gave a feast at Cobham Hall.

1789
• Thames frozen over. At Gravesend the ice covered the river, driven in large blocks by the tide. Several ships lying icebound in the river and two men walked ashore across the ice, from one of the ships. Some shipwrights from Pitcher’s Yard amused themselves with cricket bats and balls on a drifting field of ice.
• 18 fishing smacks belonged to Gravesend owners. The town was the centre of the fishing trade for the North Sea fisheries and famous for its shrimping boats, locally called Bawley boats, fishing the Thames.
• “Queen Esther”, West Indiaman, launched from Cleverley’s Yard.
• Ground to the south of Gravesend, purchased by the parishioners, was consecrated for burials by the Bishop of Rochester (this is now where the Woodville Gardens are situated) The first person to be buried was in December of this year (Thomas Wren). (See 1854)
• Arms of the Corporation of Gravesend were first recorded in the Herald’s College. (The authority that grants Coats of Arms)
• “Royal Charlotte”, East Indiaman, (1238 tons and 54 guns) launched, this being the first ship built in Pitcher’s Dock yard.

1790
• Licence granted to hold meeting of dissenters (non-conformists) at a room in the High Street (“Ebenezar Meeting”).
• Several houses built between New Tavern and the east end of the town on ground known as “the camps”. (Southern side of the Terrace)
• Two children fell 80 feet from a cliff at Northfleet, but were unhurt.
• Milton Fair held. A Brig and two armed cutters anchored off Gravesend. The next day the crews began to press gang seamen.
• “Alfred” (1198 tons) East India ship built at Pitcher’s Dockyard.
• East Indiaman the “Lord Walsingham” on fire off New Tavern, but soon extinguished - half an hour later a meteor was spotted to the south.
• Work started on roof repairs at Milton Church. (See 1792)
• Early morning storm with thunder, lightning and hail, destroyed mast of an East Indiaman and ran two vessels ashore. Also destroyed a house on the way to Rochester.

1791
• New farmhouse at Ifield built by John Tilden.
• Remarkably high tide with NorthWest wind.
• Thirty-six convicts from Maidstone embarked at Gravesend for Botany Bay on 11th February and sailed on 6th March.
• Six Indian Chiefs sailed for America.
• First coal ship unloaded at the new coal wharf at Denton to evade the duty normally paid on arrival at the Port of London. The tax was first imposed upon the port of Gravesend in 1666.
• Following a collision on the river, four persons in a Peter boat (the local name for a decked fishing vessel) were drowned - the naked body of one, a woman, was afterwards found on shore.
• Denton Court built by Nicholas Gilbee on the site of the ancient Manor house at Denton. (See 1936)
• James Leigh Joynes built a row of 32 houses, called the Terrace, joining the village of New Tavern with the town of Gravesend.

1792
• Violent storm at Chalk - hedges, dung etc. washed into valley below the church called Deadman’s Bottom, forming a lake.
• The “Prince of Wales” public house (adjoining Milton Church) commenced building by Michael Bedell. (Lord of the Manor of Milton)
• East and West Streets repaired.
• Cricket match between Kent and Hampshire played in the grounds at Cobham Hall.
• A banking house under the name of Dalton, Joynes and Collins opened for the first time.
• Effigies of Thomas Paine (author of “The Rights of Man”) publicly burnt in the Fair field. Barrel of strong beer was given away on the occasion.
• Milton Church re-opened after being closed for two years for repairs and a new roof.

1793
• Two bells in St. George’s Church re-cast.

1794
• Gravesend Volunteer Artillery corps raised by Major Gyles. Charles Kite chosen as Captain. Northfleet Volunteers formed under Major Birch.
• “Lark” a sloop of war launched from Pitcher’s Dockyard also a brig “Force” and a frigate “Emerald” of 36 guns.
• Town illuminated to celebrate Lord Howe’s victory over the French fleet.
• Coldest Christmas day ever known.

1795
• The Thames was twice frozen over in February.
• Princess Caroline of Brunswick arrived in “Jupiter” man-o-war, to marry the eldest son of King George III.
• A mill erected in a field towards Perry Street by Mr John Fiveash. (Five Ash Mill)
• In his will Bonham Hayes of Cobham left property in trust for “poor widows dwelling in and being parishioners of Cobham”. A condition of the trust was to repair and keep clean the family tomb in the churchyard, for which the trustees are to receive a guinea (£1.05p). The trust still continues today with an annual distribution to the beneficiaries.
• Shorne Mead fort begun and completed the following year.
• Milton churchyard enlarged.

1796
• Forty-nine inhabitants paid five guineas each to found a bathing establishment (Clifton Marine Baths). Bathing machines were first introduced.
• Mr Pink, carpenter of Gravesend, attacked by two footpads by the White Post near Northfleet and robbed of £100.
• Last Court of Conservancy held before the Lord Mayor at the Falcon Inn. The first court was held in 1420.
• Battery at Lower Hope point built.
• “Ardent” (64 guns, 1422 tons) launched from Pitcher’s Dockyard.
• James Parker of Northfleet patented the process for making Roman cement (a quick setting cement, inferior to Portland cement).
• Two skeletons of men buried in chains were found near the Bathing House. They were thought to be the remains of the watermen Smith and Gurney who committed a murder. (See 1656)
• A system of telegraph stations set-up to send messages quickly in view of threat of invasion from France. One station was at Gad’s Hill (now Telegraph Hill ) Higham.

1797
• The fare by boat to London was 1 shilling.
• At this time it was estimated that there were 700 houses and a population of 4,000 in Gravesend. There were 9 streets: High Street, West Street, Pipe Street, Church Street, Bread Street, King Street, Queen Street, East Street and the Terrace.
• 5,000 people at Cobham Park watched Lady Darnley present colours to Lord Darnley’s troop of Cavalry.
• Twenty sailors from an East Indiaman broke a window of the Bear public house and assaulted the press gang.
• Sloop “Osprey” and gunboats “Griper”, “Grapler” and “Gallant” were launched from Pitcher’s Dockyard.
• Negotiations took place with delegates of the Nore mutineers. The 49th Regiment reinforced Tilbury Fort. A delegate of the mutineers, William Wallace, shot himself and after being paraded through the streets of Gravesend was buried on 16th June in Four Went Way, London Road (now Old Road) where a stake was driven down between his thighs. (See 1997)
• Mr Buchanan, midshipman of the “Leopard” man-of-war was killed by a sailor on board the ship, who ran a pikestaff into his body. The midshipman was buried at Milton Church. The sailor was later hanged at Maidstone.
• Gravesend parishioners resolved to build a workhouse to the west of the burial ground.
• Mr Knight (a pilot who had hanged himself) was buried near the “Sun” public house, Parrock Street at the crossroads (Four Went Way).
• Princes Street Chapel enlarged and lease renewed. (See 1717)
• Town illuminated to celebrate Admiral Duncan’s victory over the Dutch fleet.
• A hurricane caused the King, on his way to review the fleet, to pull into Gravesend for shelter.
• Freemason, William Ward, landlord of the Leather Bottle (Northfleet) killed by falling down a chalk cliff at Northfleet.
• Ruins of St. Mary’s Church, Gravesend and churchyard walls grubbed up by James Bayley, tenant of Manor Farm.

1798
• Meeting at Town Hall to discuss the proposed Gravesend to Essex tunnel. The Corporation of Gravesend took up a subscription towards the cost and plans were submitted by Ralph Dodd.
• “Superb” (74 guns) launched from Pitcher’s Dockyard, also navy transport vessel “Supply”.
• Town illuminated to commemorate Nelson’s victory against the French at Aboukir Bay at the mouth of the Nile.
• William Cruden, Searcher, died.

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1799
• £30,000 raised in subscription towards the proposed tunnel and later an Act of Parliament was passed for incorporating the company with the powers to build the tunnel.
• Lucy Bowen, formerly of Gravesend, hanged at Maidstone for the murder of a newborn infant.
• The Reverend Sharpe, curate of Meopham, with two other gentlemen, caused a brawl . Reverend Sharpe challenged Mr. Henry Cleverly (grandson of William Cleverly, shipbuilder) to a duel but the Mayor prevented this taking place and imposed a fine upon the Reverend Sharpe.
• Two ladies, two gentlemen, one servant and two watermen, drowned in a boat carrying too much sail (one was Mr. Pritchard, curate of Prittlewell in Essex).
• Town illuminated for victory over the Dutch.