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

1974
• New Borough of Gravesham formed, which combined the Municipal Borough of Gravesend, with the Urban District of Northfleet and the five Parishes of Cobham, Higham, Luddesdowne, Meopham and Shorne. The new Coat of Arms incorporated parts of the previous two Coats of Arms (1562 & 1635) granted to the Borough, as well as the new symbols of an East Indiaman in full sail, the sails of a windmill, crossed quill pens and the white horse of Kent. These Armorial Bearings were fully granted to the Borough on 15th July 1975.
• Due to a National Strike by the National Union of Miners a power cut rota for local shops was brought into operation. Power only available in the morning or afternoon according to areas. Shortages of goods in local shops including food, cigarettes, confectionery, hardware and toilet paper.
• “Three Crowns” public house in West Street, gutted by fire (demolished in 1988).
• Northfleet Sports and Youth centre opened in Hall Road, adjacent to Cygnets Leisure Centre.
• Human bones discovered at Prospect Place, Gravesend during building work. Appeared to be from a burial ground on the site used by the East India Company known as “Prospect field”.
• Plans for a multi-million pound shopping centre were unveiled. This was to be the Anglesea Shopping Centre, which destroyed a large number of (historic) shops in New Road. The centre opened the following year.
• New day centre for the elderly opened in Clarence Row, Gravesend, at a cost of £68,000, replacing the old centres at 35 The Grove and in Kitchener Ave.
• Church Street School, Gravesend closed in July after redevelopment of the area drastically reduced the town centre population, leaving only 38 pupils on the role. (See 1876)
• Plans to extend Vigo village with more housing were vetoed by Kent County Council because of the adverse effect on the landscape of the North Downs. At the same time Kent County Council was preparing to create Trosley Country Park at Vigo, having already purchased the land. (See 1947, 1965)
• Santokh Singh Nirpakh, founder of Gravesend’s Sikh Temple (originally in Edwin Street 1956 and later Clarence Place), died.
• Shorne village school, built in 1872 on Butcher’s Hill, was demolished and a new school built at the end of Cob Drive. Shorne village hall also re-built and enlarged.
• The Gravesend Reporter was reduced to a one page free issue because of the strike by SOGAT (National Society of Graphic and Allied Trades).
• Old Gravesend National Sea Training School on the promenade demolished. (See 1918, 1967)
• London Tugs three storey operations tower, next to the Terrace Pier, demolished to make way for the new pilot’s offices.
• Channel tunnel rail link proposals would destroy Cobham, Sole Street, Nash Street and Nurstead.
• Blue Circle House (now Joynes House) office block on the corner of New Road and Darnley Road was completed. (Built on the site of St. James’s Church, demolished in 1968)
• Dutch cargo ship “Trias Trader” which had been hit by violent storm in the channel had its deck covered with pyridine - a colourless toxic liquid and threatened to pollute the Thames. The vessel was stopped at Gravesend and allowed no further up river. There followed a call for tighter controls on shipping - especially with dangerous cargoes.
• The bells of St. Andrew’s Waterside Mission were restored after a complete overhaul of the bell’s mechanism. The bells were rung for the first time in 5 years.
• Port of London Isolation Hospital (Denton) closed. Opened in 1884.

1975
• Gravesham Borough Council purchased St. Andrew’s Waterside Mission Church.
• Gordon Boys School, Ordnance Road, moved to Lower Higham Road, Chalk with Gordon Girls School, to become a mixed school. Work began on the Ordnance Road site to adapt it for use as a Primary school. (See 1976)
• Len Murray, General Secretary of the TUC came to Gravesend to address the Comrades Club in Queen Street.
• Three Spanish seamen appeared before Gravesend Magistrates accused of being drunk and disorderly in Gravesend High Street. The case was proved and the men were each fined £5.
• The mildest winter for years saw cherry trees at Higham in bloom in January.
• The junction with Bath Street and West Street was under several inches of water in January due to a higher than normal tide. Flood waves also washed over much of the front at the Promenade.
• A runaway Bantam cockerel which had made it’s home in the Fort Gardens for the last 2 years was finally caught by an RSPCA inspector and was eventually found a more suitable home.
• A new all purpose Salvation Army Community Service Centre was planned at a cost of £35,000, to be built in the Grove next to the existing Citadel, and completed by the end of the year.
• A new shelter was erected at St. Andrew’s Riverside Gardens. This was the first addition to the gardens since they were opened in 1951.
• Devil worship and black magic rituals were reported to have taken place in the woodlands at Cobham.
• A 22 year old man was accused of murdering Father Anthony Crean, a 62 year old Roman Catholic priest, at Shorne. The accused was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
• Gravesend’s fleet of tugs were given new funnel colours as they became part of the Alexandra Towing Company fleet. Formerly London Tugs Ltd. - some of the funnel colours dated back to 1830’s. The new colours were black top funnel with broad white band trimmed below with a thin black line and the rest being yellow/cream.
• Marling Cross housing development was completed. The last houses were handed over. The 132 home development was started in January 1974 and completed 4 months ahead of schedule. “The houses are centrally heated and all have garages”.
• A Gravesend family featured in a BBC2 programme “World about us”. The film told the story of a Sikh family who left the Punjab to come and live in Britain and how their lives changed.
• A new look was given to the Fort Gardens. After 2 years of work, extensive clean up and landscaping, the gardens were opened.
• Former Training Ship “Arethusa”, moored in the Medway, and renamed the “Peking” was towed down the Thames passed Gravesend on her way to America where she became a museum.
• Mark Lane Youth Centre destoyed by fire. Twenty fireman fought the blaze for one hour.
• New PLA vessel “Benfleet” came into service, the most modern Port cutter (small, fast vessel) of her day. Based at the Royal Terrace Pier and fitted with equipment to deal with minor oil spills.
• The wreck of the “Northfleet” was located by divers off the North Kent coast. It was as a result of the loss of this ship that red flares as the international signal for distress were introduced. The white flares of the “Northfleet” had been mistaken as a call for a pilot. (See 1873) There was talk of raising the vessel from the sea bed.
• Excavations carried out at Clarendon gardens, Royal Pier Road revealed a length of Tudor wall forming part of a riverside Blockhouse Fort built during the reign of Henry VIII. The remains to be opened to the public when the excavations were completed.
• Interviewer Monty Modlyn from Thames television spent 3 days in Gravesham interviewing local people for a TV series called “A Town called … Gravesend” which was broadcast later in the year.
• Valley Lodge, old people’s home, Ifield Way, was officially opened at a cost of £151,000.
• New Police station, costing half a million pounds, in Windmill Street, officially opened after 3 years in construction. It replaced the inadequate and outdated police station that stood on the same site since 1940.
• During a heatwave summer more than 4,000 people visited Gravesend’s open air swimming pool in just 2 days. The opening times were criticised as long queues formed outside, many queuing through the hottest part of the day in order to be first inside when the pool opened at 1pm.
• The Shrimper’s Regatta was revived as the “New Shrimper’s Regattta” taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend. (See 1988)
• Meopham Branch library opened, the building being part of the Secondary School in Wrotham Road, also serving as the school library.
• Tailor, magistrate, soldier and charity worker, Mr Edgar “Gussie” Mole, one of Gravesend’s best loved and most respected figures died aged 79. Once proprietor of Nottons menswear at the Clock Tower and former director of the Gravesend & Dartford Reporter.
• A record 7lb 14 oz Bass was caught in the Thames off Shorne Mead Fort.
• The PLA “Clipper Regatta” a grand procession of sailing ships passed Gravesend. Over 60 ships representing 12 countries were taking part in a race to Sydney and back. The parade attracted one of the biggest crowds of spectators the waterfront has ever seen. It took nearly an hour for the fleet to pass the town.
• The campaign to improve the state of the canal basin got underway with a boat rally held in the basin.
• A man in Thong Lane grew a giant cucumber, weighing 4lb 14oz, 181/2” long and with a circumference of 125/8” it was grown in just 5 weeks.
• Fire caused several thousand pounds worth of damage to stock in a warehouse in Princess Street, which belonged to Chiesmans Store.
• The Multi-storey car park at the Anglesea Centre was opened. The car parking fees were 5p for 11/2 hours.
• A 12 year old boy caught a flatfish with a difference off Gravesend Promenade - a 3oz flounder, coloured black all over.
• The Heavyweight boxer, Henry Cooper, opened the Grand Bazaar at the Woodville Halls in aid of the Gravesend & District Multiple Sclerosis Society.
• The Gravesend - Tilbury ferry came under threat as both Kent and Essex councils voted to discontinue the subsidy they paid to British Rail to operate the service.
• Raynehurst Infants School was damaged by fire just 2 years after a mystery blaze gutted the school. Rebuilding work was nearing completion when the fire broke out.
• Radio One DJ Noel Edmonds visited Gravesend’s Tesco store and signed autographs.
• TV Newscaster Gordon Honeycombe visited Northfleet Fire Brigade on the trail of his great grandfather, Samuel Honeycombe, who was founder and original captain of the first Northfleet fire brigade.
• Freezing fog blanketed the A2 in Gravesend in December. Seven serious accidents occurred between Tollgate and Pepperhill junctions. For the first time in more than 13 years, buses were also brought to a standstill on local roads, because of the conditions.
• A serious chemical spillage of 40 gallons of titanium tetrachloride happened in Denton. Firemen from stations throughout North Kent battled for over 12 hours to stop fumes spreading.

1976
• Milton Road Primary School closed. (See 1885)
• In February the flu epidemic sweeping the country hit Gravesend.
• The foundation stone for the new St. Botolph’s School in Dover Road was laid. The new school would cost £100,000 and was due to open in March 1977. The old school on the Hill was built in 1838.
• A new Mayoral chain was made and presented by Benjamin Battershill, a Gravesend jeweller, for the newly formed borough.
• Hundreds of Sikhs from all over the country joined a protest march in Gravesend against crash helmet laws.
• British Rail sought to be relieved of their legal obligations for the ferry service as passenger numbers declined, but were refused by Parliament after opposition from the local councils. A High Court ruling allowed them to adjust their hours of operation.
• British Rail proposals to demolish Gravesend Railway station were defeated by the council and the station was subsequently restored.
• The state coach at Cobham Hall was restored with money from the Department of the Environment. (See 1953)
• The Thames and Medway Canal association was formed to clear the canal of rubbish and re-open it for leisure purposes.
• Trosley Country Park was opened in May. The 160 acre site on the edge of the North Downs was one of the first two country parks to be opened by Kent County Council.
• New sports hall opened in Thong Lane, Chalk, improving existing facilities as work began on a £21/4 million housing estate, comprising 263 new homes in the area.
• Vigo Primary School officially opened in June.
• A 200 foot tall chimney weighing 1,000 tons at Bowater Scott, Northfleet was demolished.
• Chantry Primary School was established in the building of the former Gordon School for Boys, Ordnance Road.
• The “General Gordon” public house changed its name to “The Gay Gordons”. (See 1932, 1983)
• A huge fire gutted “Pounce” furniture shop in New Road, Gravesend causing damage estimated at £130,000.