The Thames at Greenhithe
Dickens visited Greenhithe when compiling his 1880 Dictionary of the Thames and had this to say:
“Except as a yachting station Greenhithe itself offers but little to notice.”
Just east of the Dartford Crossing it’s better known today for its proximity to Bluewater shopping centre and Ebbsfleet International station. In my view, there is now something distinctive about the place; for it’s one of the few low rise developments along the banks of the Thames.
Built around the remnants of the High Street, which has period properties dating back to 1768, the new development blends in well.
Ingress Abbey Estate
It’s good quality housing that’s been designed to complement the landscape and heritage of the area. You get a distinct sense of community. There are riverside playgrounds which reinforces that this is a sustainable community, where people live, use schools and other local services and pay taxes. Prices are considerably lower than riverside properties further upstream. It’s been awarded a gold standard by Cabe.
The estate takes its name from Ingress Abbey a large mansion built facing the river for a local alderman. It was built in part by stones from the Old London Bridge.
A road sweeps down to the restored Ingress Abbey in the centre of the estate, surrounded by its grass amphitheatre. A car-free avenue leads to the Thames.
There are two pubs on the High Street, the John Franklin and The Pier. At low tide the rotting carcass of a boat can be seen close to the John Franklin, it looks as though its been there for many years. The landlord explained that a Dutch couple had some engine difficulties and left it there 30 years ago never to return. The London Port Authority assessed it as not a danger to shipping and so it has remained.
Abandoned boat Greenhithe
The riverside pathway takes you past the Pier Hotel which had a jetty erected around about 1880 which can still be seen and is now a resting place for basking sea gulls. There is also the marker for the berthing place of HMS Worcester which from1862 was the Thames Marine Officer Training School. In 1938 the college acquired the Cutty Sark and it remained here until 1954 when it moved to Greenwich.
Local estate agents boast of a 45 minute train journey to London Bridge. Progress seems to have faltered, back in 1880 Dickens writes about the express train into Charing Cross taking 45 minutes.