Chatham Intra Sun Pier House© Rikard Osterlund

Many locations along the Estuary have become legendary. Often because they reflect the diverse character of the place and its people. Here are a few of their stories in brief.


Remarkable places

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East Tilbury and the Bata Estate

In the 1930s a radical new estate was built to house the employees of shoe company, Bata, with a modernist factory complex at its heart. It was an early and idealistic model for living and working in a cohesive community with its own facilities and infrastructure.

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Ebbsfleet and the new garden city

The development of Ebbsfleet Garden City aims to become a benchmark for 21st century living and working. Learning from earlier generations of New Towns, Ebbsfleet will create a place founded on quality placemaking developed through and with communities. Much of the new city will be built on post-industrial sites. Cultural facilities and creative workspace will be designed into the built environment to help create a uniquely active identity.

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Independent Canvey Island

Canvey is a low-lying island hugging the south Essex coast. Bounded by a long sea wall it defends its independence as a community with determination. Settled early on by a Dutch community that helped reclaim the marshland, it has more recently been a performance location for rock musicians and today a place of inspiration for contemporary artists.

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Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour

Ramsgate sits at the most easterly part of the Estuary on the North Kent coast. The town has long been a significant port for arrivals and departures, from Julius Caesar who came to conquer, to St Augustine who came to convert. Its harbour, England’s only Royal Harbour has, over time, launched warships to fend off Napoleon and flotillas to rescue British troops at Dunkirk in World War II.

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Sheerness Dockyard and the Isle of Sheppey

On the northern corner of the Isle of Sheppey lies Sheerness Dockyard, a place with a maritime and industrial history that lives on in the characteristic buildings right alongside the active Port of Sheerness. The island is remarkable for its vast areas of inspiring and wild marshland which includes the extensive wildlife reserve at Elmley.

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The sea forts of the Estuary

Half way between the Essex and Kent coastlines stand groups of extraordinary sea forts towering up out of the Estuary on stilts. Built to defend the Thames during World War II these forts have been used for military and civilian purposes, most famously as pirate radio stations in the 1960s and 1970s. Now joined by massive offshore wind farms they demonstrate how the Estuary has been inventive both on sea and on land.

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Tilbury Port and the Empire Windrush

Ever since Elizabeth I addressed her troops here before the Spanish Armada, Tilbury Port has earned its place in Estuary legend. In 1948 the S.S. Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury bringing 500 people from the Caribbean in search of a new life and to help rebuild the country after the war. This event has become a landmark in the history of modern Britain. Virtually synonymous with London as a port, Tilbury continues as a major centre for the import, export and storage of goods.