From the sale of Downs Farm in 1897 the majority holder was a company called Rutters (of 10 Norfolk Street, Strand, London). The minutes of the meetings of the former Northfleet Urban District Council from 1898 record planning applications for dwellings and smallholdings from individuals and Rutters. During the period from 1900 to 1939 large commercial nurseries and a large orchard were also created. Most of this early development took place along Downs Road.
This pattern of small developments continued in much the same way until the late 1950s. The electoral register of 1912 indicates less than 40 houses in Istead Rise and this had increased to around 90 by the mid 1930s. Records then show from 1958 to 1974 the main residential development of larger plots and the creation of new roads to serve them.
One of the occupants of the Haven in the 1930s (since replaced by Haven Close) was Sybil Endsleigh who was reputed to have been the model for ‘Jane’ of the Daily Mirror and/or ‘Sally’ of the News of the World.
During the Second World War a property at the Wrotham Road end of Lewis Road was used as a safe house and became known as the House of Exelby. These properties were secret places where allied service personnel could stay for periods of rest after intensive training for special operations or after returning from hazardous missions.
The Memorial Hall in Lewis Road was built by local families and opened on 23 July 1949. An informal Istead Rise Association existed during the Second World War and met in a wooden building known as the Chicken Hut and then relocated to the Memorial Hall. The scope and objects of its original constitution were to provide support and opportunities to the local community. Over the years the Association has supported action by local residents over matters of concern (usually regarding built developments).
The Association supported the set up of an action group in 1987 opposed to the original proposed route of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link adjacent to Istead Rise. This group became the Istead Rise Rail Action Group that successfully lobbied Parliament and the route was amended to its current position. The group was then disbanded on 31 March 1996.
Following lobbying of Kent County Council in the early 1960s on behalf of the growing school age population, the Istead Rise Primary School was opened on 6 January 1966.
The building of the Parish Church of St Barnabas began in 1960 and was completed in 1961. The vicarage was erected at the rear of the church in 1966. An annexe was added to the church in 1992 following local fund raising.
Following the period of rapid development the electoral role of 1974 recorded 1,350 voters in Istead Rise. This gave rise to demands from the local community for additional social facilities. Lobbying of Gravesham Borough Council by the Istead Rise Association started in a formal way on 23 April 1976. This led to proposals for the Istead Rise Community Centre on land off the Drove Way. Planning permission was eventually granted on 16 October 1979 and construction of the community centre was based on funding from a wide variety of sources. It was officially opened on 29 November 1980.
As a consequence of the responsibilities relating to the community centre, the constitution of the Istead Rise Association was amended to be much more comprehensive and it became the Istead Rise Community Association. To support local fund raising for the community centre, the Istead Rise Fete and Committee was established and it organised annual events from 1978 to 1983. The Community Centre was extended to provide a new lounge bar, a stage and storage areas and this was opened on 22 February 1986. A fire started during a burglary on 20 March 2007 damaged Istead Rise community centre. Work started on rebuilding the centre to its original specification in March 2008.
Istead Rise has grown 10 times in size over the last 50 years and almost 100 times since the turn of the nineteenth century.
The Rise of the Rise by Ken Jones (December 2007).