Erith can boast a couple of things. It once had the longest pier along the Thames, it’s the town where Margaret met Denis (Thatcher of course) and its probably got the naffest piece of public art to celebrate its maritime past. It’s an unlovely place but that’s no surprise considering it was so badly bombed in the Second World War. Redevelopment of the town centre has left little of architectural interest apart from the two churches Christ Church and St John the Baptist.
St John the Baptist Church dates back to Norman times. It is now like an island isolated within a busy road system. Entrance is still through the Lych Gate and the turquiose, brick red and dark grey Victorian flooring tiles reflect that it was expanded in the C19th century. The inscriptions of the ancient gravestones are barely visible obscured by lichen or ivy. Some are still erect but many are at a precarious angle or have completely fallen and are like paving stones.
One inscription that was still clear is that of Sydney Robert Lush aged 15 and the stone was erected by his work mates from the Maxim Norde Felt Gun Company. This and the Callender Cable Company were the two main industries. Many of the streets in the area take their names from these industries, such as Maxim Street and Maximfeldt Road.
Christ Church in the centre of the town is Victorian Gothic but of a medieval scale. In the Victorian period it would have been a significant feature on the river landscape. It was built in 1874 to a design of J. P. St Aubyn a prolific church architect.
The town enjoyed a brief period of fame as a place to visit when it built some pleasure gardens in 1842. Now, it has Ocean Park on the river front which is small and uninspiring. The Green Chain will take you out of the town through Franks Park. Named after a local businessman Frank Beadle. The information board is idiosyncratic as it tells you where things used to be like the former bandstand and air raid shelter. There are no actual markers of these landmarks in the park. In the centre of the park is a well equipped play area that has a wide horizon view of the river. This is a view of a working river.