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THE TILBURY FERRY
From Tilbury in Essex to Gravesend in Kent

Research by John Tilbury of Nottingham
 

 

Passengers embarking, 1901

A 'Tilbury' was a nickname for a sixpence,
this being the fare from Tilbury Fort to Gravesend across the Thames.
H. Vaux Flash Dict. 1812: Tilbury, A Sixpence

The Tilbury Ferry, which at one time had its terminal within Tilbury Fort (early 16th century), was the only way for people, animals fattened on the marshes, and other goods, to cross from Essex into Kent without a long detour. (Not to be confused with the Gravesend to London "Long Ferry" and its "tilt-boats".)

14th Century
"... a topographical curiosity ... extracted from a manuscript of the time of Edward II (1307-1327) ... a list of about a hundred places in England, with the addition ... of the thing ... for which each place was at that time celebrated or remarkable: 'PASSAGE DE TILLSBURY' ___ Tilbury Ferry, not yet out of date."
The Gentleman's Magazine, 1862

1798
"An ingenious plan was proposed, by an engineer, named Dodd, to form a circular passage, or Tunnel, under the bed of the Thames, between Gravesend and Tilbury, sufficiently capacious for all the pusposes of land-commerce, and to be illuminated by lamps; so that an uninterrupted communication might be preserved. This scheme being warmly patronised by the gentlemen of the two counties, a subscription was opened to defray the expense of carrying it into effect, and the work was commenced on the Gravesend side, under a strong impression that it would be successfully completed. The water, however, soon began to impede the progress of the workmen, and increasing in quantity with every yard excavated, occasioned the whole concern to be relinquished."

1864
"...And of human works and institutions many notorieties survive: the Schools of Oxford, the navy of Southampton, and Tilbury Ferry."
The East Anglian

1905
"If vehicles could travel from Dartford to Purfleet by way of a tunnel, instead of following the present route via the Tilbury ferry, there would be a saving of at least 3s. a ton."
The Commercial Motor

1912
"The Tilbury ferry was taken over from the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway by the Midland Railway"
Steamers of British Railways and Associate Companies

1919
"The Tilbury ferry is one of the oldest cross-river routes on the Thames."
Sea Breezes

1926: The 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, for they were unused to the tricky local current."
Historical Portrait, 1957

1988
"... the Tilbury Ferry across the Thames is 9s. 2d."
The Motor

2007, July
Thurrock Council subsidises the passage from Tilbury to Gravesend ... "The ferry runs approximately every half hour between about 6am and 7pm on Mondays to Saturday (excluding Bank Holidays)." A photo of today's ferry boat on the Council website:

Tilbury Ferry Services
 

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