Images Through Time
Site of The Civic Centre & Community Square
View of the Queen’s Arms public house (on left) and Albert Terrace in around 1963. Woodville Gardens in the extreme front left of the picture and it, and Woodville Terrace which was further down Wrotham Road, gave their name to the Woodville Halls Theatre which was subsequently built on part of the site along with the new Civic Centre which opened fully in 1968. From the 1920s Gravesend Borough Council purchased properties in this area to use as offices as local government had completely outgrown the Town Hall in the High Street.
This house was the home of Richard Austin Freeman (1862-1943) a very successful detective story writer who lived here from 1902 to 1921. His main character was Dr John Thorndyke which became a television series in the early 1960s. This house was listed in street directories as the Justices’ Clerks Office in 1956 but by the early 1960s was the Civil Defence HQ – the centre of Cold War preparations and other calamities for Gravesend, Northfleet and Swanscombe. The neighbouring buildings were those occupied by part of Gravesend Borough Council. This whole area was cleared from about 1964 onwards to building Woodville Halls and part of the forecourt (now called Community Square).
The Woodville Gardens were once a very pleasantly laid out public garden and formally a burial ground of the town. Some of the tombstones can still be seen today at the far end of what is now known as Community Square. The site was closed for burials in 1855 and laid out for gardens.
Please spare a few moments to complete our visitor survey
Please click here: Museum Survey