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Historic Gravesend canal basin given official listing

PUBLISHED: 12:24 27 October 2010

left, Keith Hunter, with co-director Chris Bentley

left, Keith Hunter, with co-director Chris Bentley

Archant

A major part of the riverside frontage has been officially recognised as a national monument.

The canal basin, locks, and swing bridge area along Gordon Promenade East, Gravesend, has been listed Grade II by Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt after consultation with English Heritage.

Co-directors Chris Bentley and Keith Hunter are delighted - and surprised - because they do not even know who put them forward for the key designation.

Part of the Thames and Medway Canal, the basin dates back to the 1800s.

Mr Bentley said: “To achieve the listing you have to be recommended and we do not know who recommended us. It was a complete surprise”

English Heritage visited the site in the summer and news has just come through and for the duo, who’ve been running the marina for five years., The listing was in recognition of not just the area but also of their hard work.

The two, who have marine backgrounds and are both sailors, were offered the freehold after operating the marina under contract for four years. Now they are setting their sights on even greater things.

He added: “One of our objectives is to try and get the other lock system that is on the east of the marina across the road, opened up again. It is covered over at the moment but it could be scrapped away.”

The two have rejuvenated the marina and, from a handful of moorings when major dredging was carried out in 2003, it now has 30 berths.

The sea wall, present lock chamber and canal basin go back to the late 1700s, early 1800s and were designed by civil engineer Ralph Dodd.

An adjoining swing bridge is late 19th century and the lock gates date from the last century.

On the River Thames frontage the sea walls are curved. They lead into the barrelled lock chamber which itself is unusual because it has a curved shape, partly to match the shape of ship hulls.

New flats overlooking the historical site have been developed in recent years capitalising on the river views across the Thames to Tilbury.

English Heritage said: “This is the only currently navigable part of the Thames and Medway Canal and the lock has unusual curved rather than straight sides.

“The architectural interest is that the 1799 to 1801 brick walls with York Stone coping and quoins bearing incised Roman numerals indicating the canal depth is handsome and robust, as well as early in date.

“It has also been designated because of its intactness. The sea walls, lock chamber and canal basin are mainly of original fabric, except where patched for repairs As regards rarity, the Thames and Medway Canal was one of the very few canals constructed in the counties south of London.”

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