Gravesend is a town in northwest Kent, England, on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Tilbury in Essex. It is the administrative town of the Borough of Gravesham. It still retains today a strong link with the river. The opening of the Eurostar railway station at Ebbsfleet, the arrival of the High Speed service at Gravesend station itself and the fact that it lies within the Thames Gateway, add to the town’s importance.
The Thames has long been an important feature in Gravesend life and may well have been the deciding factor for the first settlement here. One of the town’s first distinctions was in being given the sole right to transport passengers to and from London by water in the late 14th century. The “Tilt Boat” was a familiar sight on the river. The first steamboat plied its trade between Gravesend and London in the early 19th century, bringing with it a steadily increasing number of visitors to The Terrace Pier Gardens, Windmill Hill, Springhead Gardens and Rosherville Gardens. Gravesend soon became one of the first English resort towns and thrived from an early tourist trade.
Gravesend “watermen” were often in a family trade; and the town is the headquarters of the Port of London Authority Port Control Centre (formerly known as Thames Navigation Service), supplying both river and sea pilots. Today radar plays an important part in the movement of shipping on the river. The connection to Kilkie is a recent one (30 years) with only one family here.