Thurrock and the river Thames

 The Thames is an important part of Thurrock's history

During the 20th century, Thurrock appeared to turn its back on the river Thames. However, the river has played an important role in Thurrock's history - as a source of food; as a means of communication and as the reason for many military associations with the area.

For many years, Purfleet was the home of a succession of wooden sailing ships -

Wooden Walls


The river was also home to generations of boys who served on the Training Ship Exmouth.

Since the reign of Henry VIII, the riverside forts in Thurrock have played a key role in protecting the country from invasion and defending London -

Tilbury Fort

Coalhouse Fort

The importance of Thurrock as a defensive site led to Queen Elizabeth's speech at Tilbury which is one of the most well known events of Thurrock's history - Armada speech

For hundreds of years, crossing the river to Kent was by means of the ferry. There were ferries at Tilbury, Grays and Purfleet at different times. In 1991, with the opening of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, it became possible to drive across the river.

The Thurrock riverside was home to a number of Inns used by vistors and locals alike since at least the 17th century.

During its peak years, Tilbury was a major passenger port. Douglas Jardine's England cricket team left from Tilbury for the infamous bodyline series.

One of the most famous arrivals was the Empire Windrush bringing the first immigrants to Britain from the Carribean.

Tilbury is now primarily a container port, but the occasional cruise liner serves as a reminder of its recent past.

The Thames foreshore is a rich source of archeology, described in a society lecture by Fiona Haughey


Recent finds include a Georgian artifact - finds.


The river at Thurrock remains one of the busiest waterways in England. It is used for recreation and commerce and a wide variety of ships can be seen heading up stream to London or begining their journey by the Thames to all peoples of the world.