Learning from the river & industry:
Northfleet trade & industry

wharves, warehouses & kilns

northfleet cement factory circa 1920.jpg

The River Thames developed historically as a major communications corridor. In Roman times, Northfleet was the trading connection on the Thames and the Fleet river was used to connect Watling Street to the Thames. 

In 1796 when James Parker set up kilns along Northfleet creek to make his ‘Roman’ cement, it marked the beginning of the large cement works industry which developed along this stretch of the river. 

1860s_Ebbsfleet river.jpg

1860 map of Ebbsfleet river

© Crown copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited 2018. All rights reserved.


The Bevan Portland Cement Works, Northfleet, 1939 - Britain From Above

https://britainfromabove.org.uk/en/image/EPW060578 © Historic England

the creek northfleet .jpg

The Creek Northfleet - saw tooth roof forms, warehouses and chimneys

Tony Larkin postcard collection - Discover Gravesham http://www.discovergravesham.co.uk/postcards-of-gravesham/category/12-

dockyards, wharves, kilns, brick fields and ‘chalk hills’

© Crown copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

© Crown copyright and Landmark Information Group Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

The map of 1860 (above) shows a hive of industry: cement works, wharfs, a brick field and ship building slips at the dockyard.

‘... we comes to Gravesend, the whole shore being low, and spread with marshes and unhealthy grounds, except with small intervals, where the land bends onwards as at Erith, Greenwich, North-Fleet, etc in which places the chalk hills come close to the river, and from thence to the city of London, and adjacent countries, and even Holland and Flanders, are supplied with lime, for their building, or chalk to make lime, and for other uses...’  Daniel Defoe A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain - 1724-6

The drama and industry of the ‘chalk hills’ defined the character of Northfleet as early as the Eighteenth Century. Similarly it is interesting to note the strong trading links with the low countries through the manufacturing of lime.

Lime Kilns at Northfleet', Kent, 19th century.jpg

Lime kilns at Northfleet


Northfleet Dockyard © Thames Pilot

© Thames Pilot


Launch of the Orinoco, West India Mail Steamer at Northfleet Dockyard, Kent, England, UK, 1851 Engraving


Bottle kiln - oldest cement kiln in world

© Northfleet Harbour Restoration Trust