Feature, Sea

Down by the Riverside

[ June 30, 2022   //   ]

Many of us who have been involved in freight in London for long enough will remember the old Tilbury Riverside Railway Station. It was a handy jumping off point for the docks area but its main purpose was to connect with the ferry to Gravesend.

However, it was rather awkwardly sited on a short stub branch line and, with the numbers of passengers using the ferry sharply declining, British Rail decided in the early 1990s to close it and replace it with shuttle bus service from the nearby Tilbury Town station on the mainline.

But the historic station, designed by Sir Edwin Cooper in the 1920s, is all still there and, despite the absence of trains, it is still a well-used building today with regular cruise ship calls and community events taking place.

Now the Tilbury on the Thames Trust in Partnership with Forth Ports, owner of nearby port of Tilbury, have secured £340,050 funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to fully refurbish it to develop its ‘Back on Track’ proposal. And, over the next 18 months or so, this will enable detailed plans to be developed to unlock a further £3.4 million of National Lottery Heritage funding. 

The plans include the creation of heritage, creative and event spaces, as well as a new community café and refurbishing the building interior. It will also draw on the building’s heritage as the arrival of the first Caribbean immigrants on the Windrush.

The building also has another claim to fame. While it was still an operational railway station, it sported Russian language signs for the benefit of passengers arriving on cruise ships. This was at a time when relations between the then USSR and the West had thawed sufficiently for a limited amount of tourism to take place.