More than Pocahontas

Rich Cottee moved to Gravesend on the north Kent coast six years ago and is a keen photographer. He set up his website four years ago after hearing some people say that there was nothing to do in the town. He writes about how Gravesend has more to offer than just a visit to see the bronze statue of Pocahontas.

I started to volunteer for community projects in Gravesham after I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and needed to get out of the house. I also had more time to concentrate on my passion for photography and through this I discovered just how much Gravesend has to offer.

Situated on the south side of the River Thames, Gravesend is just over 20 miles to the east of central London and  a short five minute drive from Ebbsfleet International. Many people have discovered the pretty villages that surround it; places like Cobham and Higham. Others have enjoyed Owletts, the family home of architect Sir Herbert Baker, now owned by the National Trust and Gads Hill, the former home of Charles Dickens.

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Probably many overseas visitors have been drawn to the town by the statue of Pocahontas in St George’s Church ground but most visitors don’t realise how much there is to see and do close by, in and around Gravesend’s town centre and along the river’s edge.

The Town Pier is the oldest cast iron pier in the world and the recently added Pontoon now offers moorings to Thames Barges; the Waverley paddle steamer and, from next year, the Balmoral paddle steamer. These offer trips along the River and even out to the Maunsell Forts in the Thames estuary, all of which offer unique views from the Thames. They are also excellent subjects for photography.

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Next to the Pontoon is one of the oldest pubs in the UK, The Three Daws, steeped in the history of smugglers and watermen. It has an excellent menu with locally sourced food and is a great place to start or finish a short walk along the river.

If you head east from the pub, along Royal Pier Road, you’ll arrive at the St Andrew’s Arts Centre, originally a mission church, which hosts various art events throughout the year in a unique venue on the Thames.

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A few yards away the Clarendon Royal Hotel was originally built in 1665 as a residence for the Duke of York and refurbished in 2010 as apartments and a hotel. It has a huge beer garden overlooking the Thames and is a great place to sit and watch the ships go by on their way to distant lands.

 

 

Further east is the New Tavern Fort, built in the 1780’s to defend the Thames against attacks from France. With its bandstand and open space it is the venue for many events throughout the year including The Arty Party event which takes place during the annual Gravesham Riverside Festival in July.

 

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The promenade also hosts various events throughout the year and a unique looking cafe that offers a full English breakfast, ice cream and a cheap cup of coffee.  Have a look at all the shipping related photographs on the cafe walls.

Next to the Promenade is Gordon Park and the Dell, one of my favourite areas, especially at dawn when I have seen herons, cormorants and foxes. I don’t tell too many people about the Dell, as it is great place to sit and contemplate ‘stuff’.

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Whether you’re a photographer, artist or writer or someone who wants to discover a different day out, take a trip to Gravesend and tell me what you think.

See a map of this walk.

Follow and contact Rich on Twitter @RichCImages 

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For information on getting involved with creative people in Gravesend visit Gravesham Arts.

The Gravesham Riverside Festival including the Arty Party takes place on 19th July 2014.

 

 

 

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