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

1983
• “The Gay Gordons” public house, Cedar Avenue, changed its name back to “The General Gordon”. (See 1992)
• The front entrance to the Woodville Halls had a £3,000 facelift.
• A restored swing bridge at the canal basin was re-opened.
• The Gravesham Volunteer Bureau moved from the Victoria Centre to new premises in Parrock Street.
• Walkers, naturalists and conservationists descended on Luddesdown village to register their opposition to Ministry of Defence plans for a military training ground in the area.
• Gravesham Borough Council celebrated its 1,000th council house sale.
• The Duke of Gloucester visited Higham in his capacity as President of the National Association of Boy’s Clubs, at the club house in School Lane, Higham.
• Lord Hunt, mountaineer and philanthropist visited Gravesend’s riverside to meet organisers of “Youth Challenge Afloat”.
• The St. George’s Shopping Centre was officially opened by Princess Michael of Kent on 8th July. (See 1964, 1980)
• 50 beds travelled at speed through Gravesend town centre in Gravesham’s first “Great Bed Race”. The event was organised by the Rotary Club in aid of Gravesend Hospital.
• A 7 year old child survived when he fell 80 feet into a disused chalk pit at South Kent Avenue, Northfleet.
• A 9 foot 6 inch python escaped from a house in Culverstone, but was found later the same day.
• Damage totalling £2,350 following a storm, to Parrock Manor, Old Manor and the Granary.
• Bavarian brewer Prince Luitpold, visited the “Somerset Arms” public house in Darnley Road.
• The entrance hall and ticket office at Gravesend’s historic railway station was completely refurbished.
• TV gardening expert, Percy Thrower, visited Gravesend in search of the best pub garden. He visited “The Duke of York” at Shorne and the “Windmill Tavern” in Shrubbery Road.
• A coloured tourist map of Gravesham was published by the council.
• A trust fund was set up to benefit local pensioners, following the death of local millionaire businessman William Pinn. The trust fund continues to this day.
• 64 athletes arrived in Gravesend at the end of the world’s first Quadrathon; a gruelling 160 mile race from Brighton to Gravesend involving 4 tough disciplines; swimming 2 miles, walking 32 miles, cycling 100 miles and running a marathon.
• The first ever resource centre for multi-cultural education in Kent, was opened at the Chantry School, Ordnance Road.
• Actor Richard Briers opened a shop at the Helen Allison School, at the Overcliffe. The shop sold items from the school’s workshop.
• Six people died in a fire in Arthur Street.
• A new branch of an organisation for ex-servicemen opened in Canon Walk, Gravesend. MOTHS - Memorable Order of Tin Hats - the opening was attended by the widow of World War II hero Pierre Le Chene.

1984
• “The Dickens Inn”, Rochester Road, Denton changed its name to “The Colonial” but closed in 1992. (See 1996)
• 200 jobs lost at Bowater-Scott’s Northfleet Paper Mill.
• The Town Pier, a listed building, was sold to tug and barge owners C. Crawley Ltd. For £75,000. (See 1998)
• The “Three Daws” public house was closed by the owners, Trumans Brewers. The pub was originally built from five cottages on the site, in the 16th century. After talks with the Department of the Environment the brewery drew up plans to restore the listed building.
• German cargo ship “Fridel” which sank after a collision with another vessel off Denton marshes, was raised by salvage experts.
• Asian News Bulletin, a bi-monthly, bi-lingual newspaper was launched in Gravesend.
• A group of American visitors were guests at a dedication service held for the new gates at the Princess Pocahontas Gardens in the grounds of St. George’s churchyard.
• 13 pine trees were cut down in Pine Avenue. The trees had stood in the avenue since the days when it was a private drive, leading to Milton Hall. (See 1874)
• Two Gravesend brothers were among 12 finalists in which there were 600 entries for a national sausage competition at London’s Alexandra Pavilion.
• Mr Ross Swimmer, a direct descendant of Princess Pocahontas, laid a corn wreath and a tomahawk at the Pocahontas statue in the grounds of St. George’s church. The ceremony commemorated the 254th anniversary of the visit to England by Cherokees, to cede their lands to King George II and become British Subjects.
• A six tonne hunk of metal from the Blue Circle Cement Works was added to the Science Museum collection. The 3 foot long cylinder is a section from one of the first rotary cement kilns to be installed in the U.K. and was built in 1903.
• One of Gravesend’s oldest pubs “The Albion” in the High Street re-opened after a face-lift. It had been closed for 18 months.
• The “Leather Bottle” public house in Cobham re-opened after a £100,000 refurbishment.
• Two light aircraft collided over Cobham village during an air race from Rochester Airport. Both pilots were killed. Debris from one plane landed in the car park of the “Ship” public house.
• The Tourist Information Office opened in Parrock Street. (See 2000)
• Gravesham Borough Council’s £200,000 British Telecom system was opened by TV personality Judith Hann.
• A stained glass window made 100 years ago has been restored and replaced in St. Botolph’s Church, Northfleet. The window had been vandalised earlier in the year.
• A fire at Gravesend Grammar School for Boys.
• Gravesend tug “Implacable” sank in heavy seas off the Isle of Wight. The tug was on route to the Falklands. 10 crew were rescued and one was lost.

1985
• Churches in the Borough held services to commemorate the death of General Gordon 100 years ago.
• Gravesham Borough Council reported 736 burst pipes since the onset of an unrelenting Siberian blast of weather.
• The merger of sister companies AEI Cables and GEC Henley at Gravesend, took place. (See 1906, 1945, 1989, 1990)
• The Guru Nanak Nursery opened in The Grove, Gravesend.
• An exact replica of the sailing ship “Godspeed” which carried the first American settlers from England to Virginia in 1607 moored off Gravesend. The crew laid a wreath at the statue of Pocahontas in St. George’s churchyard.
• A 200 ton bridge collapsed after being hit by an earth digger, on the A2 at Cobham.
• A 32 pound canon used in the late 1700’s when the fleets of France and Holland menaced England, was lifted into Fort Gardens.
• A 77 year old Higham woman died after being attacked by a swarm of bees.
• Coins, medals and a chain of office belonging to a former Mayor, were bought by Gravesham Borough Council at auction. The items belonged to Captain Henry Edward Davis J.P., Mayor in 1902, 1908, 1909,1910 and 1911. (See 1929)
• Torrential rain set off 27 burglar alarms in Gravesend.
• A proposal to change the Borough of Gravesham’s name included such alternatives as Thameside, Thamesfleet, Gordonstown, Pocahontasville, Shrimpton and Toltingtrough.
• Members of the Gordon Action Group, ramblers, and local conservationists joined a memorial walk of General Gordon’s haunts, led by Tony Larkin, local historian who also wrote a leaflet on Gordon’s life.
• Dartford and Gravesham Community Health Council agreed to support the planned closure of St. James’s Hospital, Trafalgar Road, Gravesend. (Previously the workhouse, see 1847) The closure went ahead in December and the site was later bought by a developer.
• A “Rockathon” took place at the Gordon Promenade with 13 bands lining up for a 7 hour rock spectacular.
• The star attraction at the Kentish Rural show at Cobham Hall was Lola, a baby elephant.

1986
• Plaques presented by Gravesend Heritage Group commemorating the bicentennial of print, introduced to Gravesend by Robert Pocock, were installed at 4 different locations - Milton Church, 48 High Street (the site of the original printing press), the Gravesend Reporter offices and the library in Windmill Street. (See 1786).
• An old stone plaque commemorating General Gordon’s death was included in the centennial celebrations at Milton Chantry. The plaque was in Holy Trinity Church before the church was demolished in 1965.
• Sixty firemen spent 6 hours tackling a huge blaze at AEI cables in Crete Hall Road, Northfleet.
• Gravesend celebrated Prince Andrew’s wedding to Sarah Fergusson in July with numerous street parties and dances.
• The “Darnley Arms” public house at Cobham re-opened after a three month refurbishment.
• A huge hole appeared in Dover Road, Northfleet and a £12,000 electricity sub-station tumbled into it. The hole measured 50 feet deep by 30 feet wide and was the site of a former chalk quarry, previously infilled with power station. waste.
• Another gun was installed at the New Tavern Fort. A replica of the original 12 tonner, the modern version was built by Martin Engineering of Northfleet.
• Railway Tavern, Railway Place, closed. Re-opened after refurbishment in 1990.

1987
• The worst winter weather to hit Gravesham for many years with heavy snowfalls, brought chaos to the Borough. Blizzards hit the area with outlying villages being cut off for several days. Hodsoll Street villagers had vital food supplies flown to them by helicopter. Only seven staff managed to get into British Home Stores, it opened late, then closed at 1pm. Banks also closed early. Out of 120 schools in the North West Kent area, 100 were closed for almost a week.
• Higham Branch library, Villa Road, opened with 6,000 adult books and 2,500 books for children.
• St. Mary’s Church, Lower Higham, made redundant following a three year battle by parishioners to keep it open. (It is no longer open for regular services - only 3 times a year).
• Gravesham schools computer project raised £50,000 out of a target of £70,000 to buy computer equipment for all the public sector schools in the area.
• Local family lost, presumed dead, in the Zeebrugge ferry disaster.
• The hermit of Cobham woods, (André Johnson) lost his 12 year battle to stay in his woodland home.
• Shorne Wood Country Park opened at Easter. The 174 acre site, previously part of Lord Darnley’s estate, had 12,000 visitors during the first three weeks it was open. (See 1992)
• Simes (Nurserymen) on the corner of New Road and Garrick Street, one of Gravesend’s oldest shops was demolished for a new road scheme.
• A floodlit multi-use recreation area opened in Higham.
• A window, depicting scenes from the Book of Revelations, once part of the demolished Holy Trinity Church, was found in a place of worship close to the township of Gravesend in Australia.
• Princess Alexandra visited Gravesend’s Port of London Authority headquarters.
• Kentish Times Newspapers, publishers of 16 local newspapers, including the Gravesend Reporter and Gravesend Leader, moved its headquarters to Harmer Street from Sidcup.
• HMS Ark Royal passed Gravesend on her way to her first visit to London.
• The Gordon School, Lower Higham Road, Chalk closed. (See 1960) The building was taken over by the North West Kent College in December.
• Three children died in a house fire in Valley Drive area.
• 300 demonstrators rallied outside the Gravesend & North Kent Hospital, to see Edwina Currie, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Health, in a bid to secure the hospital’s future.
• The Bandstand in Wombwell Park, Northfleet, erected in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI, was reduced to just a raised platform. The roof of the bandstand had been badly damaged by high winds earlier in the year. The council consulted residents about repairing it, but due to a lack of response, it was decided not to replace the damaged structure.
• The hurricane that swept across southern Britain on night of the 16th October hit Gravesend hard, causing tremendous damage. The top of the steeple of Lawn Road School, Northfleet collapsed. A wall was blown out at Northfleet ambulance station. Numerous homes, schools and shops were damaged and thousands of trees uprooted. 500 tiles were blown off the roof of St. Mary’s Church, Chalk and 70% of Cobham Hall’s ancient trees were lost.
• Princess Michael of Kent opened a new £3 million optical laboratory, Rodenstock UK at Springhead Enterprise Park, Northfleet.
• Rosherville Primary School, London Road, Northfleet, six classrooms were destroyed in a second arson attack within a week.
• Baxter Fell, Tower Wharf, Gravesend closed down after 40 years in the area. The shipping company employed more than 70 people.