St Mary's Church in Chalk near Gravesend in Kent, England. Thames estuary and Essex can be seen in the distance© Alan Smithers

The Estuary has an active town life. Here are places that reflect the diversity and continuity of our communities, our rich local history and maritime heritage that provide homes for businesses, for individuals and for families that offer what you need to enjoy a balanced and rewarding life.


Our towns


Basildon town centre

Just nine miles inland in South Essex, Basildon was one of the pioneering New Towns of the post-war era. It is now one of the Estuary’s largest urban areas with a growing population and a new commitment to creative culture and a renewed interest in its mid-century built environment. The town centre is a walkable space recently being revitalised as a dynamic place for living and working.



England’s most famous, and first, cathedral city, and home to three universities, Canterbury has a long heritage as place of learning. Established in the 7th century, it became a destination for medieval pilgrims and scholars. Today its evident history is matched by its dynamic academic, research and cultural life and its lively student population.


Creative Estuary Towns Gravesend and the Thames© napa74

On the south side of the Thames and only 20 miles from central London Gravesend has fast rail connections direct to the capital and from Ebbsfleet to the continent. The town’s pedestrian ferry, which connects with Tilbury, is the most easterly link across the river. Gravesend is home to the Sikh community whose Gurdwara complex is one of the largest outside India. In recent years the town has become a favoured location for fast-growing digital businesses.


Margate Kent England

Once best known as a resort town on the far eastern edge of Kent, Margate has reinvented itself as a radical and thriving centre for art, culture and entertainment, with many creative people choosing to make it their home and workplace. With the acclaimed Turner Contemporary close to its long town beach, and the reimagined vintage theme park at Dreamland fast becoming the UK’s coolest music venue, Margate draws visitors from far afield.


View to historical Rochester across river Medway

Medway combines the five towns of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Strood in a busy conurbation spanning the Medway river. History is represented by Chatham Historic Dockyard, Rochester Cathedral and Rochester Castle, while the modern world is embraced by the town’s new waterfront regeneration projects, its multi-university campus and expanding creative services sector. Medway has ambitious plans for its future and is bidding to be UK City of Culture 2025.


Purfleet sits to the east side of London, on the north bank of the Thames. It is a town with a strong industrial past and present. Since 2006 Purfleet has been the location of the creative industry’s production centre at High House Production Park which includes the Royal Opera House’s scene-making facility and costume store, as well as ACME Studios, South Essex College and the Backstage Centre. This successful creative campus is a model for further developments along the Estuary.


Aerial view of the skyline in South end on sea village in sun set light.

Southend has been a popular South Essex resort since the 19th century, famed for its seaside location and pier – the world’s longest. In recent years Southend has nurtured its own creative and artistic resonance. Its galleries, community of artists and creative businesses have contributed significantly to the town’s regeneration and its cultural reputation. Just north of the town, London Southend Airport provides an important link to the continent.