Tilbury is a town in the borough of Thurrock, Essex, England. The
present town was established as separate settlement in the late 19th
century, on land that was mainly part of Chadwell St Mary. It contains
a 16th century fort and an ancient cross-river ferry.
Tilbury is part
Port of London
Port of London with a major deep-water port which contributes
to the local economy.
5 Transport and industry
6 People and culture
7 Sport and leisure
The name of the present town of
Tilbury is derived (by way of the
port) from the nearby settlements of East and West Tilbury. The name
of these settlements is derived from the Saxon burgh, "fortified
place", either belonging to Tila, or perhaps at a lowland place.
The 8th century spelling (Bede) was "Tilaburg", and the spelling in
Domesday was "Tilberia".
Tilbury's history is closely connected with its geographical location
(see below). Its counterpart on the south bank of the River Thames,
Gravesend, has long been an important communications link, and it was
there that a cross-river ferry (see below) was connected, mainly due
to the narrowness of the river at this point. In addition, Gravesend
Northfleet (also on the south shore) both became vitally important
to shipping on the Thames: the former as the first port of call for
foreign shipping bound for London, and the latter as a naval dockyard.
There is archaeological evidence of Roman occupation. At the time,
sea-levels had dropped, making the marshes habitable. There may well
have been a Roman settlement on the site of what is now Tilbury
Docks. In the 12th century the river, which had hitherto consisted
of difficult channels with uncharted shoals, was changed by the
process of embanking the river and enclosing areas of marsh. This
improved the river's flow, and also resulted in improved land
resources on the marsh. It was nevertheless an unhealthy place in
which to live; Daniel Defoe, who, in 1696, operated a tile and
brick factory in the
Tilbury marshes and lived in a nearby house,
wrote about "the
Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I came ashore here to review her main army at
the nearby village of
West Tilbury (see Speech to the Troops at
In 1852 an
Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament had authorised the building of the London
Tilbury and Southend Railway (LTSR), with a short spur to take
advantage of the ferry over the Thames; a pier nearby was constructed
for the steamboat traffic. The station was originally named Tilbury
Fort and opened in 1854. The station was renamed
railway station in 1936.
A few houses were built for the railway workers, but it was not until
the construction of
Tilbury Docks (see below) that there was any
settlement worthy of a name. Whilst the docks were being built, the
thousands of workers were either provided with temporary accommodation
or had to commute from surrounding villages and towns. As a result of
overcrowding, more permanent housing was built once the docks were
completed, including tenement blocks; but these were poorly
constructed, and until the formation of
Tilbury District Council (see
below) the town was in a poor state, as it largely remained until
1918, when government funds were available to better the situation.
Tilbury Ferry in 1640
The landing stage in 2001
Main article: Gravesend -
Tilbury–Gravesend Ferry has operated from very early times. A
sketch-map of 1571 shows evidence of two jetties, the one on the
north bank leading to a northward road crossing the marsh. There are
also houses marked on the marsh itself, which became important for
sheep grazing; and there is some evidence to suggest that the ferry
was used for the cross-river transport of animals and wool.
Although the 17th century drawing might suggest a boat too small for
large consignments, the long-established Gravesend market encouraged
such traffic, and a contemporary account suggests that one of the
boats used was a hoy, a forerunner of the Thames sailing barge.
The curve and narrowness of the river here made it a suitable place to
construct forts for the defence of London against foreign invaders.
The first permanent fort at Tilbury was a D-shaped blockhouse
built in 1539 by Henry VIII and initially called the "Thermitage
Bulwark", because it was on the site of a hermitage dissolved in 1536.
Tilbury blockhouse was designed to cross-fire with a similar
structure at New Tavern, Gravesend. During the Armada campaign (1588),
the fort was reinforced with earthworks and a palisade, and a boom of
chains, ships' masts and cables was stretched across the Thames to
Gravesend, anchored by lighters. The fort was rebuilt under Charles I
and is now owned by English Heritage.
Until 1903, the marshland area was part of the traditional parish and
civil parish of Chadwell St Mary, which reached south to the River
Thames. The parish of
Tilbury Docks was established in 1903 and the
Urban District Council (UDC) in 1912; it merged with Thurrock
UDC in 1936. This in turn became a borough in 1984 and then the
Thurrock Unitary Authority in 1998. There are two wards covering the
town, each served by two councillors:
Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock
Park for the southern part and
Tilbury St Chad's in the north. As
of May 2016 there are 3 Labour and 1 UKIP councillors. The Member
of Parliament for
Thurrock is Jackie Doyle-Price.
Tilbury is on the north bank of the River Thames, where the river's
meander has caused it to narrow to approximately 800 yards
(732 m) in width. The area to the north is one-time marshlands;
to the north of that there is higher ground, where lie the villages of
Chadwell St Mary, West and East Tilbury. The town lies to the north of
the London-Southend railway line.
The major landmarks are the docks, the cruise-ship landing stage, and
Tilbury Power Station. There are two churches in Tilbury: St
John's (Church of England) and Our Lady Star of the Sea (Roman
Catholic); there is also a Convent of Mercy. There is, in addition, a
synagogue in Dock Road. The educational institutions in Tilbury
include primary education, which are Lansdowne Primary School, St
Mary's RC Primary School and
Tilbury Manor Primary School. The last
serve Infant and Nursery, as well as Junior children.
Transport and industry
Map of the town from 1946
Main article: Port of Tilbury
Port of Tilbury
Port of Tilbury handles a variety of bulk cargo, timber, cars and
container traffic and remains, along with
Southampton and Felixstowe,
one of Britain's three major container ports. It is the main UK port
for importing paper, including newsprint. The one-time passenger
landing stage was reopened by the
Port of Tilbury
Port of Tilbury group as the London
Cruise Terminal, though it is no longer served by the railway.
Until the introduction of standardised containers, the majority of the
town's inhabitants were employed in the docks. The resulting loss of
jobs has never been made up, and
Tilbury today has high unemployment
and education and employment prospects are widely perceived as
Thurrock Council, together with Kent County Council, subsidises the
Tilbury and Gravesend, which is currently operated by
the Lower Thames & Medway Passenger Boat Company.
railway station is on the c2c (London,
Tilbury and Southend) rail
Tilbury Riverside railway station
Tilbury Riverside railway station was closed on 29 November
1992, although the railway still serves the nearby container
depot. Bus route 99 (operated in partnership by both c2c rail and
Ensignbus) now connects
Tilbury Town railway station
Tilbury Town railway station and the ferry.
Ensignbus services 66 and 73/73C serve Tilbury, connecting to Grays
and Lakeside Shopping Centre.
National Cycle Route 13 from London to
Norfolk passes through the town.
People and culture
Tilbury Band, dating from 1919, is among the leading brass bands
in the UK.
Tilbury and its environs have been used in some
Tilbury Fort was used as a location for Sharpe's
Regiment, starring Sean Bean; an episode of London's Burning (a
fireman drama show) was shot in the old fire station in Civic Square;
and a scene from an episode of James Nesbitt's Murphy's Law was filmed
Tilbury Docks' Cruise Terminal.
Notable people who have had some connection with
Tilbury include: two
football players, John Evans (1929–2004), who played for Liverpool,
Tom Scannell (1925–1994); Noel Betowski, artist, who was born
there in 1952; and
Thomas Horrocks Openshaw
Thomas Horrocks Openshaw (1856–1929), who was a
consultant surgeon at
Tilbury was home to one of the
UK's most notorious gangs of skinheads, the
Tilbury Trojan Skins,
who were featured the headlines in a Sun newspaper article[when?]
entitled Aggro Britain. The skinheads were also featured in the 1982
film Pink Floyd—The Wall.
Tilbury is featured in the award-winning 2009 film Fish Tank, with the
star, Katie Jarvis, having been recruited after a scout saw her
arguing with her boyfriend at
Tilbury Town railway station.
Some of the scenes from the 2007 TV film of
Oliver Twist were filmed
In the 2014 BBC series The Honourable Woman, the title character Nessa
Stein is made Baroness of
Tilbury in the first episode.
Sport and leisure
Tilbury has a
Non-League football club
Tilbury F.C. who play at
^ "Town population 2011". City Populations. Retrieved 7 September
^ James Kemble,
Essex Place-Names (Historical Publications, 2007)
Domesday Book Online
^ FCJ Spurrell, Early sites and embankments on the margins of the
Thames estuary (in The Archaeological Journal, 1885)
^ The Book of Gravesham Sydney Harker, 1979 ISBN 0-86023-091-0
^ Defoe. D. (1724). A tour thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain.
^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Daniel Defoe". Books and Writers
Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from
the original on 5 September 2008.
^ Disused stations: site record (Subterranean Britannica)
^ a b Thurrock: a Visionary Brief in the Thames Gateway
^ Drawn by a one-time Portreve (Mayor) of Gravesend, William Bourne,
and included in The Book of Gravesham Sydney Harker, 1979
Tilbury Ferry: historical notes
^ Journey described by Celia Fiennes
Tilbury churches etc
Tilbury Riverside station (Subterranea Britannica
^ Thurrock: A Visionary Brief in the Thames Gateway
Ceremonial county of Essex
Boroughs or districts
South Woodham Ferrers
River Lee Flood Relief Channel
Population of major settlements
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings
Traditional parishes in Thurrock
Chadwell St Mary
Other places in Thurrock
Bill Meroy Creek
Chafford Gorges Nature Park
High House, Purfleet
Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve
Thurrock Thameside Nature Park
Historic buildings in Thurrock
Baker Street Mill, Orsett
High House, Purfleet
South Ockendon Windmill