William Cory Promenade along the River Thames frontage and Riverside Gardens
|Erith shown within Greater London|
|OS grid reference|
|• Charing Cross||13.3 mi (21.4 km) WNW|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Erith (i//) is a town next to the River Thames, in the London Borough of Bexley, south-east London, and the historic county of Kent, north-east of Bexleyheath and north-west of Dartford. Erith town centre has undergone modernisation and an increase in dwellings since 1961. The curved riverside high street contains three listed buildings, including the Church of England church and the Carnegie Building, while the district otherwise consists primarily of suburban homes. Erith is linked to central London and Kent by rail and a dual carriageway. It has the longest pier in London, and retains a coastal environment with salt marshes as well as industrial land.
Work carried out at the former British Gypsum site in Church Manorway by the Museum of London Archaeological Service shows that the area was covered by a dense forest of oak, yew, and alder during the Neolithic Period, which by the Bronze Age had given way in part to sedge fen.
The museum's work at the former site of Erith School in Belmont Road revealed traces of prehistoric settlement, and of a substantial community or farmstead in the first century AD.
Following the collapse of Roman rule at the beginning of the 5th century, Britain was colonised by Anglo-Saxon invaders from northern Europe. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that they won the Battle of Crecganford (thought to be modern Crayford) in 457 and shortly after claimed the whole of Kent. Their different way of life was reflected in their pattern of settlement. The town and country estates of the Roman bureaucrats gave way to a network of villages, occupied by warriors and farmers. Erith was one such village and has a Saxon name, originally Ærre hyðe meaning "old haven".
There was probably a church on the site of the present St John the Baptist's during the Anglo-Saxon period. The early settlement was based around it, meaning that the centre of Erith was once west of its current location.
The earliest reference to the area is in a Latin charter of 695 recording a grant by the Bishop of the East Saxons of certain lands at Erith. The surrounding area was known as Lesnes or Lessness, which is mentioned in the Domesday Survey. After the Norman Conquest, Lessness passed into the possession of Bishop Odo. In 1315, a Royal Charter was granted for a market to be held in Erith every Thursday. However, it was noted in 1776 that the market had long been discontinued.
Erith owes its existence to the Thames and was, until the 1850s, essentially a small riverside port, given prominence by King Henry VIII's decision to open a naval dockyard there, approximately where the Riverside Gardens are now. Henry's famous warship, Henri Grâce à Dieu, was fitted out there in 1515. Up until the 19th century Erith remained a popular anchorage. Ships often discharged some cargo there to reduce their displacement before entering the shallows upstream.
In 1797 Edward Hasted described Erith as "consisting of one small street of houses, which leads to the water side", and mentions two annual fairs, at Ascension and Michaelmas. In 1831 Erith's population was 1533 – it was described in 1840 as being "composed chiefly of two streets, one leading down to the water side, the other branching off to the left towards the church."
From 1881 Erith was home to a large cable works founded by William Callender. This became British Insulated Callender's Cables (BICC), and eventually Pirelli, which announced its partial closure in 2003. The remainder became Prysmian.
Engineering became an important industry around Erith, with armaments and cables being the main products. Vickers was a major employer and was linked to the Royal Arsenal at nearby Woolwich. Another local firm was Callender's Cables).
During the First World War Erith was an important area for the manufacture of guns and ammunition, largely due to the presence of the large Vickers works.
The town suffered heavy bomb damage in the Second World War, mainly due its position on the riverside near the Royal Arsenal. The bomb damage and a gradual decline in local trade prompted major redevelopment in the 1960s.
In 1961, plans were put forward to redevelop Erith into a modern, sleek shopping and working environment. This involved clearing the sub-standard housing by the riverside and altering the street layout. Some of the buildings erected, particularly the social housing tower blocks, are of a brutalist form that typified the overspill estates put up by almost all councils in England's major cities as an affordable way of clearing the slums.
Demolition of the old town started in 1966 and continued in phases until 1980, leaving only a few reminders of the old town centre. Many of the original Victorian buildings were lost, but some of the original townscape remains, including the White Hart in the High Street and St John's Church in West Street.
Erith is the site of the Erith Oil Works, originally British Oil & Cake Mills (BOCM). It now processes various seeds into vegetable oils.
Since the late 1990s Erith has been undergoing significant changes, with the Erith Western Thames Gateway project being the culmination.
Since 2000 a significant number of new flats have been constructed by the river by private companies. The Erith Western Gateway will include a significant number of new riverside flats, and is expected to continue the regeneration of the area, hitherto a large underused area of the town centre. Bexley Council is seeking to produce a mixed-use development with a potential of 6,000 sq.m of new commercial space and over 500 new homes.
Erith is a post town in the DA postcode area, consisting of the DA8 and DA18 postcode districts. DA8 covers Erith, Northumberland Heath and Slade Green; and DA18 covers Erith Marshes and part of Thamesmead. The nearest areas are Abbey Wood, Bexleyheath, Crayford, Dartford, Plumstead, Sidcup, Slade Green, Thamesmead and Woolwich.
||Belvedere||Coldharbour (across the River Thames)||Forty Hill|
|Lessness Heath||Darent Industrial Park & Dartford Salt Marshes|
|Northumberland Heath||North End||Slade Green|
62% of the population is White British, according to the 2011 census. The second most common ethnicity is Black African, at 14%.
A large part of Erith is in the Erith ward of the London Borough of Bexley. The local councillors are Joe Ferreira (Labour), Edward Boateng (Labour), and Abena Oppong-Asare (Labour). The eastern part of Erith is in North End ward, and the southern part in Colyers ward.
Most of Erith lies within the Erith and Thamesmead constituency. The current Member of Parliament is Teresa Pearce (Labour). The eastern part of Erith is within the Bexleyheath and Crayford constituency, whose MP is David Evennett (Conservative).
- For education in Erith see the main London Borough of Bexley article
Erith Leisure Centre, including swimming facilities, was opened in 2005.
Erith has a Health Centre and a library with a meeting room.
The annual Erith Riverside Festival has been held for a number of years in Riverside Gardens alongside the Thames. Erith is the starting point for the LOOP (London Outer Orbital Path) and one of the starting points for the Green Chain Walk. The Thames Path National Trail, which runs to the source of the River Thames at Kemble, begins at nearby Crayford Ness.
Erith Rowing Club is located on the Erith waterfront. Erith Yacht Club is based a short distance downstream from Erith on the edge of Crayford Marshes.
- Philip Absolon (1960–), Stuckist artist, was born in Erith
- Ronnie Aldrich (1916–93), jazz pianist and band-leader, was born in Erith
- Patrick Young Alexander (1867–1943), aeronautical pioneer, born in Erith or Belvedere
- William Auld (1924–2006), Scottish poet, author and Esperantist, born in Erith
- Sir William Anderson (1834–98), engineer and philanthropist, lived in Erith from 1864 until 1889 and contributed substantial time and money to the local community
- Tony Brise (1952–75), motor racing driver, born in Erith
- Wendy Cope (1945–), poet, born in Erith
- John Downton (1906–1991), artist, poet and philosopher, born in Erith
- Elaine Everest (1953–) historical novelist, born in Erith and lived there until 1994. Her novels are set in the town.
- Kevin Horlock (1972–), footballer, Northern Ireland international, born in Erith
- Bill Jaques (1888–1925), footballer, born in Erith
- James Leasor (1923–2007), journalist and author
- Dave Martin (1985–), footballer, born in Erith
- Douglas McWhirter (1886–1966), amateur footballer, part of the gold-medal winning English team at the 1912 Summer Olympics, born in Erith
- Percy Hilder Miles (1878–1922), professor, violinist and composer, was born in Erith
- Alan Morton (1950–), footballer, born in Erith
- Robert Napper (1966–), serial murderer and rapist, born in Erith
- Anthony Reckenzaun (1850–93), the 19th century engineer, worked at the Erith Ironworks and set up evening classes for the workmen
- Steve Rutter (1968–), footballer, born in Erith
- Sam Saunders (1983–), footballer (Brentford F.C.), born in Erith
- Linda Smith, comedian and writer, came from Erith. Smith famously joked that Erith was not twinned with any town but did have a suicide pact with Dagenham.
- Jim Sterling (1984–), video game journalist, born and grew up in Erith
- Dave Suich (1957–), AKA Joe Bazouki, an original member of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, was born in Erith.
- Denis Thatcher, husband of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, headed the family-owned Atlas Preservatives, based in Erith, until 1965
- Henry Wheatley (1777–1852), keeper of the privy purse for King William IV and Queen Victoria from 1830 to 1846, born and grew up at Lesney House
A rhyme by William Cosmo Monkhouse:
- "There are men in the village of Erith that nobody seeth or heareth,
- and there looms on the marge of the river a barge, that nobody roweth or steereth".
Places of worship
- Barnehurst Methodist Church, Erith
- Christ Church, Victoria Rd. Erith
- Christadelphian Hall, Lesney Park Rd. Erith
- Northend Baptist Church, Larner Rd, Erith
- Northumberland Road Baptist Church, Belmont Road, Erith
- Our Lady of the Angels, Carlton Road, Erith
- Queen Street Baptist Church, Erith
- St. Augustines Church (Slade Green), Slade Green Rd, Erith
- St. Johns the Baptist Church, West Street, Erith
- St. Paul's Church, Mill Road, Erith
- The Treasure House, Bexley Road, Erith
The A2016 road bisecting Erith, is a dual carriageway stretching across the Erith Marshes.
- Museum of London summary of archaeological work carried out in 2001 accessed 6 April 2008
- Museum of London summary of archaeological work carried out in 1996 accessed 6 April 2008
- Hasted, Edward. "'Parishes: Erith', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2". British History Online. Canterbury. pp. 227–263. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
- Good Stuff IT Services (20 May 1953). "Parish Church of St John the Baptist – Bexley – Greater London – England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "The Bexley Area in the Domesday Book". Bexley borough council. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
- Bexley Local Studies Note 51 – Historical References to Erith Market accessed 6 June 2008
- "History of Erith | History of Bexley and Districts". Ideal Homes. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- 'The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2' (E.Hasted) Retrieved 6 March 2008.
- 'Pigots 1840', on website freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~shebra/pigots_1840 Retrieved 5 December 2007.
- Bexley Local Studies Note 66 'Sir William Anderson'[permanent dead link] accessed 6 June 2008
- Urban regeneration: the essentials The Guardian
-  Archived 7 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- "London – Places – Why Thames Gateway is good for Bexley". BBC. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "Erith Western Gateway". Retrieved 17 September 2007.[permanent dead link]
- "Erith Councillors". London Borough of Bexley. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
- "Erith Stadium". Runtrackdir.com. 31 March 2005. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "Erith Playhouse". Playhouse.org.uk. 21 January 2012. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "Explore South East London's Green Chain". Greenchain.com. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- Ramblers. "Thames Path National Trail | Paths by name | Ramblers, Britain's Walking Charity". Ramblers.org.uk. Archived from the original on 28 September 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "Surnames beginning with A". bexley.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
- "William Auld". The Scotsman. 15 September 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- "Sir William Anderson, 1834–1898". bexley.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- "Tony Brise". historicracing.com. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- Lewis, Helen (3 December 2011). "Wendy Cope interview: "I can't die until I've sorted out the filing cabinets"". The New Statesman. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- "Awards entry catches the eye". Kent Online. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- "Author Interview - Elaine Everest talking to Karen Aldous". karenaldous.co.uk. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Chatham Town unveil former Manchester City midfielder Kevin Horlock, 42, as their new manager". Kentish Football. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- Joyce, Michael (2004). Football League Players' Records. soccerdata. p. 137. ISBN 1-899468-63-3.
- Adrian, Jack (22 December 2007). "James Leasor: Journalist and thriller writer". The Independent. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2009). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2009–10. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84596-474-0.
- "Douglas McWhirter bio, stats and results". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- Musical Times through Google Books. 37. 1 February 1896. p. 98. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
- "Players: Alan Morton". The Historical Don. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- Hughes, Mark (19 December 2008). "Rachel Nickell: Six mistakes in hunt for serial killer". The Independent. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- Rollin, Glenda; Rollin, Jack, eds. (2012). Sky Sports Football Yearbook 2012–2013 (43rd ed.). London: Headline. p. 439. ISBN 978-0-7553-6356-8.
- "Linda Smith – Obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 1 March 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
- Jim Sterling (11 April 2012). "Beautifully bleak, a quasi-defense of "dark and gritty" games". gamefront.com. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- "The Ukulele Orchestra Players - The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain". www.ukuleleorchestra.com. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- "Surnames beginning with T". bexley.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- Christopher Winn: I Never Knew That about the Thames (London: Ebury Press, 2010).
- "The Wheatley's Housekeeper's accounts, 1792–1817". bexley.gov.uk. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- Nonsense Rhymes, Cosmo Hamilton, R. Brimley Johnson, London, 1900
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Erith.|
- erithtown.net – an introduction and guide to Erith, with comprehensive directory
- Bexley Local Studies Note 11 – Erith – gives a good outline history of the area
- North West Kent Family History Society – Erith Parish Page
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