Images Through Time - Photo Trail
Official dedication of the Clock Tower 1889
Gravesend Clock Tower is a symbol of the confidence of the town in the Victorian period –its gothic style architecture was built by William Henry Archer, a local builder also responsible for the King’s Head building in King Street. The clock tower’s foundation stone was laid on 10th September 1887 by William Fletcher, the Mayor. It was completed and dedicated on 9th November 1889 on a vacant piece of land at the top of Harmer Street and at the bottom of The Grove- the latter a wealthy street full of imposing houses and entrance gates at each end. The chimes for the clock were the last feature which were completed in 1890 and given by Alfred Tolhurst a wealthy councillor, solicitor and cement manufacturer who sat on both Gravesend Borough and Northfleet Urban District councils. The mayor John Hanks Cooper officiated at the completion of the clock tower building in 1889 – Cooper, a wealthy furniture businessman and undertaker, was the councillor who pushed through Gravesend Corporation into adopting the Public Libraries in 1892 which led to the first public library being established in 1893 at the then Technical School (now Victoria Adult Education centre).
Gravesend’s eastern end was greatly adorned in 1889 by the Clock Tower seen here – one of the town’s iconic buildings which was considered for demolition in the 1960s to improve the traffic flow through the town!
On the right is a row of buildings demolished in the 1960s and housed one of Gravesend’s many “lost” pubs – The Shakespeare. In addition to providing a public time piece and a celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the clock tower became the scene of rallies and national occasions. In 1912 suffragettes were abused by local louts at their public meetings and the Labour Party and trade unions also held public rallies from around the clock tower in the early twentieth century.
Milton Road looking West
The town centre as it looked about 1907. The electric trams were running at this time and the Gravesend Methodist church can be seen in the rear having been rebuilt in 1906. Berkley Crescent on the right is part of a grand vision for Gravesend which ended with the crescent’s construction – it was to be repeated on the southern (left) side as well as part of a new town development from the 1830s.
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