Thurrock History Timeline



Saxon Turroc includes part of both Chafford Hundred and Barstable Hundred


Coin circa this date suggests Royal Mint at Horndon on the Hill


Population of West Thurrock including Purfleet is 44


Thurrock Parishes in Domesday Book: Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, half brother to king William, & Count of Eu, cousin to king Wiliiam, hold land.

From 7 estates in Thurrock the largest manor held by the count of Eu, became the manor of West Thurrock.

Population of West Thurrock including Purfleet was 70


Manor of Thurrock granted to Henri de Grai by Richard I


Nave of Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Little Thurrock


First reference to Grays Wharf


The Knights Templar had a mill at Purfleet which stood at the mouth of the Mardyke.


Grant for fair at Hordon-on-the-Hill on feast of SS Peter and Paul


K. Edward & Q. Eleanor stay at ‘Turroke Grey’ probably to rest before crossing the Thames


First reference to windmill, South Ockenden


Pilgrims travel to Canterbury via Stifford and St Clements, West Thurrrock to the Thames.


Earliest archive reference to a Tilbury – Gravesend Ferry


Manor of Pourtfeet (West Thurrock) given to Knights Hospitallers when Knights Templars were discredited and broken up by the Pope


Priest’s Brass memorial, St. Mary’s. Corringham


Essex Archers cross the Thames at Tilbury


Brass Memorial to Radulphus de Knevynton


Local peasants join revolt led by Thomas Baker of Fobbing, hanged for treason.


East Tilbury, defensive earthwroks built against pirate attacks.


Appleton’s Farm, Bulphan

The Bell Inn, Horndon-on-the-Hill

St. Mary’s Church, Bulphan

c. 1520

Belhus Manor, Aveley, built by John Barrett


Military Blockhouse constructed at West Tilbury as part of national defence system


Blockhouses to defend the Thames & London built at Tilbury and West Tilbury

Bishop Bonner has a ‘Palace’ at Orsett


A windmill existed on Vyneyard Hill, in an area now known as the Dipping in Purfleet


Henry Wye, Protestant, a brewer of Stanford-le-Hope. Burned with 12 others at Stratford.


Most of Purfleet given by Mary I to Order of Knights Hospitallers


Queen Elizabeth I delivers her ‘golden’ speech at West Tilbury having viewed ‘West Tilbury Bulwark (Tilbury Fort) to assembled troops on the threat of the Spanish Armada attack on the Thames and London.


The herbalist John Gerrard’s comment on wilde roses: ‘from Graies unto Horndon on the hil… the the field is full fraught therewith all over.’

Sir Richard Saltonstall of South Ockenden appointed Lord Mayor of London


Edward Barrett receives knighthood from James I


Rev. William Laud, Vicar of West Tilbury


James I sells the rights of Lords of the Manor of Purfleet


Edward Barrett of Belhus raised to the peerage as Lord Newburgh also Chancellor of the Exchequer and Pricy Councillor


Ford Place, Country House, built at North Stifford.


Samuel Pepys “came to a little drinking house at the Blockhouse”, Tilbury.


Dutch fleet attacks English fleet in the Thames


After the Dutch raids of 1667, a new fortress is designed and becomes known as Tilbury Fort. It continued in use for another 300 years.


Sir Bernard de Gomme, Dutch military architect, commences redesigning and building Tilbury Fort.


New Ferry House built to west of Tilbury Fort


Tilbury Fort completed

High House in Purfleet replaced with a brick building by Sir Robert Clayton


1,000 Acres of Land from Purfleet to St. Clement’s Church in West Thorock flooded


Daniel Defoe owner of brickworks at Tilbury


Hill House, Horndon-on-the-Hill


23rd May Captain Kydd executed at Execution Dock, Wapping; his body then brought down to Tilburyness, for gibbeting.


William Palmer, Lord of Manor of Grays, sets up a trust for a school for poor boys.


First ref to Bricklayers Co. in London working the Purfleet chalk quarries


West Tilbury Mineral Water bottled for sale


Richard Baker, Ropemakeer of London, buys the Orsett Estate.


Caleb Grantham owned Purfleet chalk pits & lime works, also worked for the East India Company. He moved into High House.


Scottish Jacobite prisoners held at Tilbury Fort and in prison ships on the Thames


‘Capability’ Brown begins work at Belhus Park


The Royal Gunpowder Magazines move from Greenwich to Purfleet by an act of Parliament

Smock Windmill, Baker Street, Orsett


Five of the gunpowder magazines were built on the garrison site next to the Mar Dyke river by an act of Parliament


Samuel Whitbread bought the lease of the Purfleet chalk quarry from the Bricklayers Company of London


The Garrison Clock Tower at Purfleet was built


Benjamin Franklin was asked his opinion as to the design of lighting conductors at Purfleet Magazine


Samuel Whitbread MP purchased the Manor of West Thurrock and most of Purfleet for his estate


2rd August, a grand review of troops takes place on Dartford Heath, after which the troops are marched to Gravesend and are taken over in barges to make a sham attack on Tilbury Fort. It is thought some 500 troops are involved. This undertaking uses hawsers anchored on each shore and stretched across the river. The barges are ‘warped’ by the soldiers.


A daily letter post was established at the powder magazines at Purfleet


20th Jan John Wesley preached at Purfleet


Purfleet first supplied with gunpowder from Waltham Abbey

10–12 October: HMS Bounty, onload of arms and weapons at Long Reach from Gunpowder Magazines at Purfleet


World’s End Inn (Ferry House) rebuilt


Samuel Whitbread built a chapel, school, headmasters house and 12 cottages for his estate workers, Today called Hollow Cottages.


Belmont Castle built by Zachariah Button


A plan is proposed to build a tunnel by engineer, Mr. Dodd, under the bed of the Thames, between Gravesend and Tilbury, sufficiently capacious for all the purposes of land-commerce and military. This scheme is to be paid for through share subscription and the work commenced on the Gravesend side. The water, however, soon impeded the progress of the workmen and flooded the shafts.
The whole concern is abandoned and much money lost.


First reference to a tunnel under the Thames at Purfleet

Coalhouse Fort first battery is built

Thomas Seabrooke established a brewery at Grays


Purfleet magazines supply gunpowder to Army & Navy to help fight Napoleon who was blockading British ports


Whitbread installs first horse drawn metal rail track in Essex to speed up transport of chalk or lime


June, Mr Whitbread pays £5000 to extend his railway to the river and builds a new wharf


1st June Purfleet Land Bill passed to acquire some of Mr Whitbread’s land


Measles epidemic


1st Wesleyan Chapel, Baker Street, Orsett.


Purfleet quarries and kilns were worked by Meeson and Hinton


There were 85 chalk-pits in the parish


Population of West Thurrock & Purfleet 829


William Wingfield inherits Orsett Estate


Trinity House build an experimental lighthouse on Beacon Hill in Purfleet

Smock Windmill built at South Ockenden


Cattle Dock development at Thames Haven


Orsett Union Workhouse


A steam ferry from London to Gravesend could be hailed by boat from Purfleet. It was originally a Royal ferry.

In a newspaper it was stated the best oysters are now found at Purfleet and the worst at Liverpool

1st recorded military interest in diving came in 1838 when Colonel Pasley, Royal Engineers, of the School of Military Engineering at Chatham undertook to demolish the wreck of a collier blocking the fairway of the Thames at Tilbury.


On 14th October the steamer Archimedes fitted with the new the Archimedes Screw was trialled at Long Reach Purfleet

Corp. H Mitchell, RE, 1st recorded death of a diver during a diving operation near Tilbury Fort.


First Orsett Agricultural Show


A pier and telegraph station were built and was associated Mermaid causeway on the former Whitbread Wharf


25th Feb, Alice Diehl, musician and novelist, born at Aveley.

15th Nov, first reference to a London, Tilbury to Southend railway.


Grays Pier completed, 400 ft long.

E J Goldsmith founded Barge Fleet, Grays Wharf.


Purfleet chalk pits closed; they became overgrown and were turned into pleasure gardens known as the Botany.


LTSR Extension Act gave power to run a ferry at Tilbury to Gravesend and pay compensation to the Corporation of Gravesend


London Tilbury Southend Railway built and opened 13th April, the station at Tilbury Riverside, first called Tilbury Fort station, in between Grays and Stanford-Le-Hope stations. This station has a landing stage so takes advantage of the increasing steamboat traffic and ferry to Gravesend.


Coalhouse for first fort is built

William Morris; first of many visits to Thurrock.


2nd May, the School Ship Society established reformatory ships off Purfleet including Training Ship Cornwall.

7th Sept. Brunel’s SS Great Eastern (known as the Leviathan) moored on the first night of her maiden voyage at Purfleet opposite the Royal Hotel.


London debut of Alice Diehl, concert pianist.


27th Oct. First reference to Purfleet-on-Thames.

8th Aug.British Heavyweight Champion Jem Mace beat Joe Goss in 21 round bare knuckle boxing fight at Purfleet. It was the first time a 16′ ring was used.


Grays Co-Operative Society opens for business


In Jan, a group known as the Fenians attempt to blow up 3 x gunpowder ships moored next to the Garrison at Purfleet. They wanted independence from British rule.

23rd March auction of coast guard watch vessel Mermaid

TS Cornwall moved from Purfleet to South Shields and renamed TS Wellesley it was replaced by HMS Wellesley and renamed TS Cornwall


Training Ship ‘Goliath’ moors off Grays

8th Sep, fatal collision on the Thames. Boys from the TS Cornwall were run down by steamer Cormorant.


The National School in Grays is built in 1871 on a site in New Road given in trust by Mr Theobald. It cost £1781.5.11d to build.


Alfred Russel Wallace builds ‘The Dell’, Grays (now the Convent) wrote important work: The Geographical Distribution of Animals’.


Coalhouse Fort, East Tilbury, completed; work supervised by Gordon of Khartoum.

In Jul, first annual TS Cornwall Sports Day held in the in the Dipping at Purfleet.


TS ‘Goliath’ destroyed by fire, 20 deaths.


TS ‘Exmouth’ moors off Grays

Oil Company at Shellhaven


Disastrous Harvest. Depression in Farming.

Reinforcements for Zulu War – the 60th Rifles embark from Tilbury landing stage.


3rd July The East and West India Dock Company’s Bill, sanctioning the construction of their great new downstream dock at Tilbury, receives Royal Assent.


Grays and Tilbury Gazette published (till 1936)


17th April East and West India Docks at Tilbury opens including Tilbury Hotel designed by E.A. Gruning.

Progress of Submarine invention with Campbell and Ash’s ‘Nautilus’ and her diving trial at Tilbury Docks.


St Louis Park Mills Co was founded by Louis Cartiaux. Later it became Thames Paper Mill Co. – Thames Board Mills

Grays Town Park was given to the people of Thurrock by the squire, James Theobald. 


Grays Volunteer Fire Brigade

Anglo American Oil Company, later Esso, build storage tanks in Purfleet and employed 800 people.


Scots Dairy Farmer M B Watt comes to Heath Place, Orsett.


Prince of Wales, later King Edward Vlll reputed to be a regular visitor at The Royal Hotel at Purfleet.


The Garrison Magazine Pier was erected at the mouth of the Mardyke at Purfleet


First Public Library in Grays


Grays Urban District Council and Orsett Rural District Council inaugurated

Kynoch & Co built Explosives Factory on Corringham Marshes


Joseph Conrad moves to Stanford-le-Hope where ‘Karain’, ‘The Return’ and ‘Youth’ completed; ‘Lord Jim” & ‘Heart of Darkness’ begun.


25th January Cecil Rhodes arrives at Tilbury Docks on board “Dunvagan Castle” from South Africa to give evidence before a
Royal Commission on latest affairs in South Africa, the Jameson Raid etc.

19th April, Battle Ship Fuji in Tilbury Dock for final fitting out and vitualling before sailing to Japan to join the Japanese Fleet.

Bram Stoker writes Dracula which mentions Purfleet as the site for Carfax House. 1st edition published 16th May.


13th July – a fire on the SS “Kawachi Maru’ at Tilbury Docks killed Japanese crew. Two memorials to the Japanese sailors are at St Mary’s, Chadwell St Mary.


18th March Private Herbert Thomas Beard – 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment leaves Aldershot for Tilbury Docks to embark on the
steamship Braemar Castle.

Local lads enlisted to fight in Boer War


Corringham Light Railway opened for freight January 1st and for passengers in June.

TSS ‘Rose’, built of steel, joins Tilbury to Gravesend Ferry Fleet, capacity 600 passengers.


Sep 8, a special train conveys the New Zealanders from Aldershot to Tilbury Docks. They are accorded an enthusiastic send-of at Aldershot,
Major-General Douglas and the officers of the garrison attend.


Carnegie Public Library in Grays opened by Countess of Warwick

30th Sep, West Thurrock School Board ceases to exist. Responsibilities passes to the Education Committee of Essex County Council.

Purfleet Club and Institute was founded, although the building was formally opened in 1909.


Grays Pleasure Beach opens

The Tilbury branch of the Seaman Institute and hostel sited opposite the dock gates. Cost £4,000.


1st Grays Boy Scout troop forms


Christian Socialist Colony sets up at Moore Place, Stanford, self-supporting and mainly vegetarian.

Tilbury, along with the upstream docks, becomes part of the newly established Port of London Authority.


1st purpose built cinema, the Empire, Grays. American actress Lilian Gish appeared.

Museum established in Grays Library

After nearly eighty years the annual Purfleet Fair on 13th June is abolished by Winston Churchill on 10th May, under the Fairs act of 1871.


May 13. For northern passengers the Albion Steamship Company will despatch the Midnight Sun from New-castle on Tuesday, June 20.
Arriving at Tilbury the next day passengers can see the Coronation Procession in London on June 22, and embark for Spithead on the 23rd.
On the return journey the vessel will land London passengers at Tilbury on Monday, June 26, and will be back in the Tyne the next day.


10 week strike at Tilbury Docks. Armed soldiers present at dock.


Water-plane lands at Grays Beach


Purfleet musketry camp, used by regular and territorial army units opened and continued until 1961. It occupied a site west of Tank Hill Road,
near the powder magazines, and adjoining the rifle ranges, where 12,000 men were encamped.

Aug – Tilbury Docks secured with military guards

SS Persia embarks for Bombay with two Sopwith planes on board for military action in East Africa

Aug – Colonel Ulps a German actor, arrested on arrival at Tilbury from Australia. He was a little person who performed on stage with a troop
called ‘Tiny World’.


4/5th June German aerial bombing occurs over Tilbury.

HMS Clan McNaughton sunk, local crew lost.

15 boys and an officer from Training Ship Cornwall based at Purfleet drown

Jul – German POW Gunther Pluschow escapes via Tilbury / Gravesend. His remarkable escape from England earns him the Iron Cross, First Class, the most coveted award for valour and enterprise his country could offer.

Mar, HMS OPHIR converts at Tilbury into Armed Merchant Cruiser armed with 6” guns. Work work was completed between 2-21st March
Before she embarks from Tilbury for Tagus.

12th Jun, eccentric Commander Geoffrey Spicer-Simson – wearing his uniform with a skirt as its centrepiece – sets off to requisition two gunboats,
named Mimi and Toutou, from Twickenham to Lake Tanganyika in East Africa.


First Zeppelin destroyed, shot down by gunner John Reynolds with anti-aircraft gun, at Purfleet.

31st Mar, anti aircraft gunners at Purfleet shoot down the first Zeppelin, L15, earning them all a gold medal from Lord Mayor of London.

Complete Ambulance train at Tilbury docks, loaded for delivery in France.

Tilbury became the only port in the PLA to serve ocean liners when it opened berths specifically for the P&O within the dock complex.

26th February ‘Maloja’ embarks from Tilbury with 121 passengers. She struck a mine off Dover the following day and sank with the loss of
122 passengers and crew.


The Government invite margarine manufacturers Van Den Bergh, later Unilever, to Purfleet.


Margarine factory at West Thurrock

Aug 1918 – 1923 Tilbury Hotel taken over to accommodate cadets from the Training Ship ‘Warspite’ which had suffered a severe fire.


Feb – USS ‘Invincible’ in Tilbury docks – Originally begun as the British steamer ‘War Rock’, she was taken over by the U.S. Emergency Fleet Corporation freighter prior to completion and renamed. The new ship was transferred to the Navy in Oct 1918 and placed in commission at that time as USS ‘Invincible’. Dec ‘Invincible’ carried supplies to England, returning to the U.S. at the beginning of Feb 1919.

1st May construction of the concrete gates to Dry Dock by Christian and Nielsen Civil Engineers.

WD Concrete barge contract completed – Cretcole, Cretecoke, Cretefuel, Cretacite, Cretell. Launched same day as opening of concrete dock gates.

HMS ‘Tilbury’ in docks on public show. After three and a half years in the East returns to her home port. The people of Tilbury present her with a silken ensign.

1st May South African soldiers, commonly known as Springboks, on board a ship leaving Tilbury Docks for South Africa.

Jun the ex-Kaiser’s yacht ‘Meteor’ at Tilbury Docks.

Opening of Cashes Wells in Vange; produced mineral water with health giving qualities.


War Memorials built to honour the dead


3rd Nov Tilbury “SURPLUS WOMEN? First batch of discharged W.A.A.C.s and Land Girls leave for their new home in New South Wales”.

24th Jun, the Whitbread’s Purfleet Estate is sold at auction


17th Mar Tilbury. New Viceroy off to India. Lord Inchcape shows Lord Reading over P&O Liner “Kaiser-i-Hind” on which Viceroy travels.

Purfleet chalk quarries close


PLA get Assent for a Passenger Landing Stage after the promotion of a Bill in parliament with Midland Railway Company

9th Jan 1,500 Unemployed Ex – Service Men and their families leave to seek better future in Australia, in maiden trip of P & O Liner ‘Ballarat’.

Sep – Coldstream Guards embark from Tilbury Docks.


London Dock strikers march to Tilbury


Work starts on Passenger Landing Stage. Design by Sir Edwin Cooper.


Purfleet Tilbury Road (A13) opens

Thames Board Mills closed by General Strike

The Royal Navy had taken over the Gravesend-Tilbury ferry from the LMS and there was considerable resultant damage to wharves and piers, as they were unused to the tricky local current.


Cashes wells in Vange closed


Davy Down Pumping Station built


Esso’s Purfleet oil depot is largest in the UK

1st Apr. Purfleet Urban District Council formed, inc. parishes of W. Thurrock, Aveley & Sth. Ockendon

Approval was given for a tunnel between Purfleet/West Thurrock and Dartford

Jan – actor David Niven leaves Tilbury Docks when he embarks for Malta on the Kaisar-i-Hind two months before his
nineteenth birthday.


16th May Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister, opens the 1,142 feet long Landing Stage for large passenger ships at Tilbury – mentions
“the Thames is Liquid History”.

Regal Cinema opens in New Road, Grays


Palmer’s School for Girls at Little Thurrock


Palmer’s School for Girls at Little Thurrock


27th Oct Lord and Lady Baden Powell sail from Tilbury Docks to Australia on the passenger liner ‘Orama’ to go on world tour which will
include his stay in Melbourne, Australia, where the scout jamboree is to take place the next year.


20th May Tilbury Docks & Southend: Fleet searchlight display at Southend. Sir Stephen Killik Lord Mayor of London and his aldermen in
ceremonial uniform board the destroyer “Sturdy” at Tilbury to view the event from the river.


Col Whitmore of Orsett Hall appointed Lord Lieutenant of Essex

Thurrock Urban District Council inaugurated

Station at Tilbury ferry re-named Tilbury Riverside

17th Apr, an Avro 631 Cadet plane crashes into the River Thames off Purfleet, pilot Mr Rees rescued


A pilot tunnel began from Purfleet to Dartford


Essex and Thurrock Gazette replaces Grays and Tilbury Gazette (till 1965)

19th Apr. Liner ‘Malaya’ arrives at Tilbury bringing Lord and Lady Baden-Powell home from India. Scouts lined up to welcome the Chief Scout.

28th Jul. 300 men, 245 horses and 44 vehicles of the 22nd Field Brigade Royal Artillery are ferried across the River Thames at Tilbury on their
way from Colchester to Shorncliffe. The brigade is to be mechanised in two months, when the men and horses will part company.

10th Aug. Tilbury docks and oil depots along the Thames are heavily “bombed” by “hostile” aircraft to test London’s system of air defence.


State Cinema, Grays, opens with ‘The Hurricane’.

10th Apr. The ‘Wilhelm Gustloff’ having dropped anchor off Tilbury docks and collected its German residents moves over three miles offshore to remain in international waters.

17th Oct. Legionaries arrive from London by train on the first stage of their journey to Czechoslovakia and board a troopship at Tilbury.


War declared

2nd Sep. Thurrock school children evacuated from Tilbury Landing Stage and board Paddle Steamers ‘Crested Eagle’ and ‘Golden Eagle’ which takes them to Suffolk.

Bomb damage in many areas


De-gaussing monitoring station at Coalhouse Fort sweeps all vessels for magnetic reading

De-gaussing carried out in docks and at the Tilbury Riverside Station

Tilbury Docks becomes a holding area for small ships ready to evacuate the BEF from Dunkirk

The Ritz opens in Quarry Hill, Grays

Possibly 31st Aug, a Heinkel III crashee into the river at Purfleet

7th Sep, Esso’s Wharf at Purfleet is bombed on first night of the Blitz


Basin Tavern in docks hit by bomb

14-15th Mar. Tilbury landing stage hit by bomb. Not fully repaired until after the war.

19th May, Frederick James Leathers, former MD of Steamship Owners Coal Association becomes 1st Baron Leathers of Purfleet.


Preparations begun for D-Day at Tilbury Docks making Mulberry Harbours and PLUTO

4 Phoenix Units for Mulberry harbour & PLUTO Line set up in Tilbury Docks

The dwellings – East Block at Tilbury docks demolished, due to war damage.

PLUTO (Pipeline Under the Ocean) was invented to create a secure way of transporting fuel from the UK to Normandy. The original plan was to lay PLUTO 18 days after D-Day (24 Jun), but it was delayed until 22 Sept. Eventually four pipelines were laid between the Isle of Wight and Cherbourg in France, and from 27 Oct onwards 17 pipelines from Dungeness in Kent to Boulgone. The longest pipeline was 500 miles, from Normandy to Germany. For a while, PLUTO pumped 1 million gallons per day (equivalent to 250,000 jerry cans). But only 10% of fuel used from D-Day to end of war went by PLUTO – the rest went across mainly by tanker ships. So although it was a good idea, it didn’t really reach its full potential, and came into use too late to effect the Battle of Normandy (Jun to Aug 1944).


V1s & V2s bomb Thurrock

Tilbury Hotel destroyed by incendiary bombs

V2 rocket scores direct hit on sidings near Tilbury Riverside destroying 4 freight wagons and 140 passenger coaches, some reserved as
Ambulance trains. The goods yard almost destroyed and two ferries damaged.

May secret plans for D-day movements into Purfleet and Tilbury Docks.

Jul 1944– Aug 1945 hospital ship ‘Duke of Argyll’ in her guise of the Hospital Ship No.65 berths at Tilbury Dock 1944 with capacity for 416 patients and 60 medical staff.

Jun, build up of shipping in docks ready for D-Day and streets full of military vehicles and personnel in Grays / Tilbury / Purfleet.
Tilbury docks had three ‘hards’ available for Landing craft to run up the concrete ramps for loading of vehicles and troops.


9-10 Feb, Dutch children arrive to be sent to Coventry where camps are provided.

31 Dec. Poles leave from Tilbury passenger landing stage on SS Banfora.

No.3 commando arrive at Tilbury landing stage on LST

Victory celebrations and street parties

12th Jun, German ex-prisoners of war boarding a ship, under armed guard, at Tilbury from where they will start their journey home.

Prefabricated houses built for the homeless

New Parliamentary Constituency of Thurrock

First MP, L T Solley – Labour


Jul. Tilbury ‘zoo’ SS City of lille with animals for London zoo, includes elephants, monkey, bear, mongoose, galago, squirrels, lemurs, birds, leopards and a box of tortoises. Rommel’s charger – injured on right shoulder – question asked in Houses of parliament.

A new bridge is built and accommodation is provided for 50 lorry drivers and 12 passengers. The renamed ‘Empire Baltic’ makes the first voyageof the new company, sailing from Tilbury Docks to Rotterdam on 11th Sep.


SS ‘Mooltan’ takes first £10 POMS to Australia

Feb. The 2nd Battalion of the Queen’s Own Royal Regiment (the West Surreys) arrives at Tilbury on board the ‘Highland Princess’
after nearly 9 1/2 years overseas.

24th Apr. First Displaced Persons arrive out of 100,000 from the British Zone in Germany to work as cooks, canteen hands and waitresses for
one year on passenger liner ‘Empire Halladale’.

16th Jun. German brides of British servicemen arrive at Tilbury.


21st Jun. SS Empire Windrush arrives at Tilbury Docks with first wave of Caribbean migrants to work in UK; 492 from Kingston, Jamaica, Bermuda, Trinidad and México Docks on the 21 June 1948. Most had served in the armed forces.


Tilbury Fort transfer from WD to Ministry of Works

Purfleet identified as possible cold war A-bomb target by the Ministry of Food


First meeting of Thurrock Historical Society

Corringham Light Railway closed


Thames floods – 6000 evacuated from Tilbury

Industry devestated. Area visited by the Queen.

Greater London Council Housing Estates built at Aveley and South Ockenden 1953/1954

Britannia and Queen welcomed as she passes Tilbury docks


May. Britannia and Queen welcomed as she passes Tilbury docks.

18th Jan. Baron Frederick James Leathers of Purfleet elevated to 1st Viscount (Lord) Leathers.


17th Feb. Winston Churchill bids farewell to his wife at Tilbury Lady Churchill as she leaves aboard the SS ‘Himalaya’ for a convalescent cruise to Colombo.

12th Dec. Russian tank ‘Equipment’ captured by British troops in Port Said arrives at Tilbury.


T.U.D.C. granted a Coat of Arms

Belhus Mansion demolished


Tilbury Power Station opened


Population West Thurrock 6231 inhabitants, from electoral roll (x 1.55) 1959/60

Last two sections of Pufleet Tunnel, later Dartford Tunnel are completed


Thurrock Technical College opened by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Thurrock Arts Council inaugurated


Purfleet Musketry Camp closed


Army leave their barracks and land is sold to MOD

The Purfleet Royal Gunpowder Magazines is closed


in Nov, the Dartford Tunnel, formerly the Purfleet Tunnel opens.

Following excavations by Hornchurch Historical Society elephant bones are found in Botany pit at Purfleet, according to the Times


Civic Hall & Swimming Pool, Blackshots.

Thames Board becomes the largest factory of its kind in the country when north mill opens, occupying 45a. and with over 3,400 employees
producing cardboard and fibreboard for packing.


Romano British & Saxon Archeological dig at Mucking – continues for 13 years


Thurrock Gazette replaces Essex and Thurrock Gazette


Orsett Estate sold in separate lots


Thurrock twinned with Munchen Gladbach


New library, theatre & museum complex, Grays

Mark Anthony Turnage, future composer, joins Hassenbrook School at Stanford-le-Hope


M25 orbital road opens


Grays town shopping centre opens

Dutch Elm disease sweeps through the area

Garrison military site at Purfleet is cleared for a new Council housing estate


Thurrock Borough Council inaugurated, 1st Mayor, Councillor Margaret Jones.


Palmers Girls’ School becomes VI Form College


Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) established in a converted building in Maidstone Road


Fatima Whitbread of Chadwell St. Mary, wins European Junior (U20) Championship in Poland


Thames Board Mill becomes Thames Board, part of Unilever, South Mill closed later in the year

16th May, the second Dartford Tunnel opens

Purfleet Rifle Range signal box & level crossing closes with the opening of a new bridge and New Tank Hill Road


The Queen and Prince Phillip visit Grays


Section of M25 motorway to Thurrock opened


Procter & Gamble Ltd take responsibility for St. Clement’s Church, W. Thurrock & retun it to community use: to mark their 150th Anniversary.

Storm damage in Thurrock, many trees lost.


400th Anniversary celebrations of defeat of Spanish Armada and visit of Elizabeth I

2nd Aug. Work on Queen Elizabeth II bridge starts


Thames Chase community forest launched


Lakeside Shopping Centre


30th Oct. Queen Elizabeth II Bridge


Andrew MacKinlay MP for Thurrock


Tilbury Cruise Terminal reopens to offer a full service to the new European cruise market, a base for exciting voyages to the Baltic and tourists to London and the East of England.


Angela Smith MP for Basildon & East Thurrock


The Royal National Theatre performs ‘Oh what a lovely War’ at Blackshots

Thurrock Unitary Authority inaugurated


Smock Windmill, Baker St., Orsett, restored


All schools to be linked to the Internet

School children present our story ‘by Thames to all the Peoples of the World’ at the Dome

Replica 18th Century frigate ‘Grand Turk’ sails up the Thames ‘challenged’ by guns from Tilbury Fort

Thurrock Asian Association inaugurated

Cabinet style local government introduced

Pickets at refineries prevent distribution of fuel

Thurrock Council sends a Delegation to Brussels to promote funding for Thurrock

MOD sells Purfleet Rifle Range to the RSPB


31st Dec. The paper mill at Purfleet closes


Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation founded


12 Days of Christmas community theatre production performed annually for four years (2005-2008)

Remember Us Part 1 (community theatre production about Windrush) – Tilbury Cruise Terminal


Remember Us Part 2 (community theatre production about Windrush) – Tilbury Cruise Terminal

Arts & Business East Awards for 12 Days of Christmas

High speed channel rail link running through Purfleet completes


JTI Arts & Business Community Award (Port of Tilbury and Thurrock Council) for 12 Days of Christmas

New bridge over the mouth of the Mardyke opens giving riverside walking access to the RSPB reserve


Royal Opera House Production Park opens on a 14-acre site at High House Farm, Purfleet.


31st Oct. Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation abolished


Nov. DP World London Gateway opens, a fully integrated logistics facility, comprising a semi-automated, deep-sea container terminal.


10th April the Silk Road first freight train leaves from Stanley-le-Hope across Europe to Yiwu in Eastern China


23rd Oct. 39 Vietnamese found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Grays


4th Jul. Purfleet officially changes name to Purfleet-on-Thames, unanimously approved by Thurrock Council at full council meeting, 29/1

Many thanks to the Thurrock Local History Society who provided the backbone to this Timeline

Thanks also to Trevor Batchelor, Vice-Chair of the Purfleet Heritage & Military Centre, who contributed a substantial amount of facts; Jonathan Catton who provided much of the information about Tilbury Docks; Mary-Ann Connolly; Odette Stevens; members of the Heritage Group and Thurrock Museum.

Please contact us if you have anything that can be added to the Thurrock History Timeline.

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