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

 

1917
• Gravesend Corporation approved allotments scheme.
• Northfleet U.D.C. agreed in April to the election or co-option of women onto civic committees.
• Mayoress of Gravesend (Mrs Huggins) received one of the last decorations conferred by Empress of Russia, in recognition for services rendered in connection with the Russian Flag Day movement. The decoration was in the form of a brooch or pendant, with the Russian double eagle surmounted by the Imperial crown.
• Case of bubonic plague was diagnosed aboard S.S. “Sardinia” which arrived at Gravesend.
• Posthumous award of V.C. was made to Lt. Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Ferguson of Wombwell Hall, Northfleet and Ightham Mote who died of wounds on 31st July.
• Several bombing raids took place and houses in Prospect Place and Prospect Grove were damaged. There were no serious casualties.
• Temporary War Memorial unveiled in Gravesend Town Hall in November.
• Lily Langtry, the “Jersey Lily”, London’s star comedienne appeared at the Grand Theatre, Gravesend for the first time.
• “Great Hermitage” house in Higham was used as a hospital during the First World War.

1918
• H.R.H. Princess Beatrice opened fourth Tipperary Fete in Gravesend’s Promenade and Gordon Gardens in June. First Royal visit since war was declared in 1914.
• Capt. David Thomson, Trinity House Pilot, captained S.S. “Ella” taking part in Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Spitzbergen expedition which left from Gravesend in July.
• Gravesend Hospital fete opened by H.R.H. Princess Arthur of Connaught.
• Gravesend Sea Training School opened on the site of the Sailor’s Home in Commercial Place. (See 1967, 1996)
• Prime Minister of Australia (W.M. Hughes) visited Gravesend and was presented with the Freedom of the Borough.
• End of war celebrations included civic ceremony at the Clock Tower, thanksgiving at St. George’s Church and the burning of an effigy of the Kaiser. The town was again illuminated.
• Mrs. Woodrow Wilson (wife of U.S.A. President) presented a signed portrait of herself and of her ancestor (Princess Pocahontas) to St. George’s Church, Gravesend.
• Parliamentary Borough of Gravesend enlarged with over 31,000 voters.
• “Gratitude week” raised nearly £200 for the fund for disabled ex-servicemen.

1919
• “Gratitude Sunday” - Mayor and Corporation at St George’s Parish Church, Gravesend in January.
• Returned prisoners of war entertained to supper at Gravesend and repatriated men entertained at Northfleet.
• Local Government Board inquiry into Gravesend Corporation’s application for loan of £8,500 to purchase King’s Farm for housing.
• Civic reception at Gravesend for homecoming of 1st Royal West Kent Regiment, in April.
• Local Government Board inquiry into Gravesend’s application for £25,825 for electricity undertaking.
• Barge “Portage” sunk in a collision, with one man drowned.
• Boat from H.M. Tug “St. Alban” capsized with three drowned.
• Peace treaty signed in June amid wild scenes. Peace celebrations held at Gravesend and Northfleet.
• Ex-servicemen declined Gravesend Council’s “Welcome Home” feast.
• Gravesend Council held first evening committee meeting in November.
• A coal porter was shot in the “Norfolk Arms”. The man was shot through the heart and died instantly.
• Mary Rosher of “The Knowle” Higham, died. Her children endowed a fund in her memory. This provided prizes for children at Higham Primary School for knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. These prizes are still presented each year.

1920
• Two bells added to St. Botolph’s Church, Northfleet, as a war memorial and old bells rehung.
• First sod on Northfleet Housing Estate cut in January.
• Gravesend Council resolved not to sell German guns on the Promenade but to preserve them in Gordon Grounds.
• Gracie Fields, popular singer, made her first appearance in the south, at the Grand Theatre of Varieties, Gravesend.
• King and Queen of Denmark arrived at Gravesend on S.S. “Fiona” in December, accompanied by Duke of York and Princess Mary.

1921
• The Mayor cut the first sod on the King’s Farm Housing estate.
• Public meeting at Northfleet to discuss the amalgamation of Northfleet with Gravesend for elementary education purposes. A proposition was passed to the effect “that it was not in the interests of Northfleet to enter into the amalgamation”.
• Remarkable scenes at Gravesend and Northfleet as demonstrations by local unemployed men were held. They were protesting against the action of the Gravesend Board of Guardians in refusing to provide outdoor relief to able-bodied men, where other local Boards had given assistance. Demonstrations took place during March and April and on May Day. One delegation of 50 men marched on the Workhouse in Trafalgar Road, seeking admission, but there was insufficient accommodation for them all.
• Gravesend’s first lady magistrate Mrs J.Berrey, took the oath as a Justice of the Peace.
• Princess Mary visited Gravesend Hospital Fete on the Promenade and Gordon Gardens.
• The “Quest” conveying Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to the Antarctic arrived off Gravesend.
• Members of the Town council inspected the additions to the Electricity works.
• The Thames overflowed its banks and flooded the Gravesend Promenade and West Street.
• The windmill in Hermitage Road, Higham was demolished.
• The first pipe in the new £221,000 drainage system was laid, in Parrock Avenue.
• Three Chinamen from the SS “Batavia” were charged at Gravesend Police Court with having concealed and imported opium. They were later fined and released.
• Population of Gravesend and Milton 33,025. Population of Northfleet 15,571.

1922
• Gravesend’s War Memorial in Windmill Hill Gardens was unveiled by General Lord Home. Approximately 20 tons of granite were used in its construction.
• Gravesend’s wedding gift to Princess Mary was presented to Her Royal Highness at Buckingham Palace on 20th February. This consisted of two pieces of antique silver of the Georgian period and an illuminated address.
•  Gravesend Corporation announced intention to buy land for a sewerage purification system at Denton marshes in connection with the Gravesend main drainage scheme.
• “The Tollgate” public house (or Turnpike Gate) Watling Street, was buried when the A2 road was being upgraded. The present hotel was built the following year. (See 1924)
• Ten bungalows in Wrotham Road (on the corner with Cross Lane) for local disabled soldiers and sailors opened by Lord Desborough KCVO. Named the Elizabeth Huggins Cottages Charity, it is still administered today by the Borough Council. (See 2000)
• Installation of modern petrol pump at J. Barty’s Stone Street premises allowing accurate measurement and easier dispensing of large amounts of petrol.
• Fire on Gravesend Promenade destroyed the kiosk near the swimming pool. It was reported that the reflection in the sky could be seen for miles around.
• Opening of the Co-op grocery branch in Wrotham Road and the new bakery in Echo Square.
• Opening of the improved Bat and Ball Ground and the new pavilion by the Mayor.
• The 5th Tipperary Fete held on promenade to help disabled war heroes - opened by Lady Darnley.
• The speed limit for cars and lorries reduced to 10mph within the Gravesend Borough.
• War Memorial unveiled at the Milton Road Wesleyan Church.
• A shooting incident in Queen Street, Gravesend, left one man dead and two women injured.
• A serious railway accident occurred on the South Eastern and Chatham Railway at Milton Range Halt, Chalk. Three workmen were killed and about 85 people were injured in the three-train disaster. A fourth victim later died in hospital.
• A motor bus and tram collided in Milton Road opposite the Clock Tower - 5 people were injured.
• A woman was shot and killed by her husband while they were acting a “burglary” at their home.

1923
• Appearance of film star, Miss Flora le Breton, at the St.Dunstan’s carnival ball, at the Drill Hall in Gravesend.
• Unveiling of War Memorials at both Northfleet (on the Hill) and Milton.
• Mr. E.P. Gaston, an American archaeologist, began a search for the remains of Princess Pocahontas in St. George’s churchyard. The search unearthed a pit containing the remains of some 80-100 persons, plus animal remains and a quantity of rubbish and scrap iron. The churchwardens of St. George’s protested at the disturbance of the corpses, especially as the remains of the Princess were not discovered.
• The first annual show of the Kent County Agricultural Society was held at Wombwell Park, Northfleet.
• Public demonstration of wireless concerts by the Marconi Company took place in the bandstand on the Promenade. A 6 valve Marconiphone set was used to relay a BBC concert.
• The Public Library adopted an open-access system, allowing borrowers direct access to the shelves for the first time. Work on the conversion began in August and was to be completed by 4th September.
• Gravesend obtained its first ambulance - a welcome contrast to the wheelbarrow stretchers previously used.
• Kent Education Committee recommended that a new county school for girls should be built at Gravesend. The chosen site was the sports ground in Pelham Road. The school would have 350 pupils and cost an estimated £24,500.

1924
• The Public Library reopened after extensive alterations - the most important feature being the “open-access” lending library.
• Miss Wilhelmina Stewart Burt and her sister founded Gad’s Hill Place School in the former home of Charles Dickens. This was an independent school for boys 4-8 years old and girls 4-18 years old. The school still exists today.
• Gravesend and District Scientific and Archaeological Society formed (later to become the Gravesend Historical Society).
• The “Matatua”, a Shaw Savill and Albion Company liner, collided with the liner “American Merchant” off Hole Haven. Eight men were killed and many injured, the most serious casualties being brought to Gravesend Hospital.
• Two American warships, “Parrott” and “Pittsburgh” anchored off Gravesend and were visited by the Mayor.
• Gravesend Hospital fete was opened by Princess Beatrice.
• Seven British destroyers moored in the Thames off Gravesend and Northfleet were open to visitors. Officers and men from the ships were entertained by the Mayor during their stay.
• Harmsworth Athletic Club’s new sports ground opened off Parrock Avenue in Milton, by Brigadier-General Mildren.
• T.S.S “Tessa” vehicle ferry brought into service on the Gravesend - Tilbury ferry, capable of carrying 30 cars and 250 passengers.
• The Mayor and Mayoress, attended by the Mace-bearer, visited France in October and were given official receptions at Boulogne, Calais and Paris. Mayor Davies had previously served in the fire brigade and made former visits to France. This official visit was to build on the Mayors work “to further efficiency in the fire brigade and life saving”.
• Stanley Baldwin (Prime Minister) spoke at the Market Hall, Gravesend, in support of the Conservative candidate in the forthcoming General elections.
• Henry Thomas Ruck of Gravesend, on hearing the official job of Hangman was to become vacant, put himself forward as a candidate - but was not appointed.
• HRH Prince of Wales opened the new Watling Street running from Dartford to Strood and drove along it. Presentations were made to the Prince at Northumberland Bottom. (See 1966)