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The evolution of Thurrock: Agriculture to industry

FLASHBACK: The Port of Tilbury as it looked in 1948, including the now closed Tilbury Riverside Station

ONE OF the first sights the new arrivals would have seen is the now-closed Tilbury Riverside station. The railway was nationalised into British Railways in 1948, becoming part of the London Midland Region.

Now, after a number of changes, the line through Thurrock has been operated by c2c since 2002 and the borough is today just a 35-minute train journey from central London.

Although 70 per cent of Thurrock remains greenbelt, the borough is much more built up now and the population has signi cantly increased since 1948, with housing estates built at Aveley and Belhus in the 1950s in the west of Thurrock.

In the east, Corringham has also expanded with new housing, while the borough is set to undergo significant growth and regeneration in the years to come, with a further 32,000 new homes expected over the next 20 years.

EVOLVED: The port is much-changed nowadays and there are plans to develop Tilbury 2 on the site of the old Tilbury Power Station

Thurrock was more agricultural than industrial in the Windrush era, but after the Second World War, industry began arriving, with Van Den Bergh’s margarine factory opening in Pur eet and Ford later opening in Aveley.

The cement industry, which had been in the area for decades, gradually diminished and the borough is now home to retail and creative industries. The rst phase of High House Production Park in Purfleet was completed in 2010, bringing a totally different dimension to Thurrock.

Facilities at the park include the Royal Opera House and the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop and Costume Centre, a national training centre for creative and cultural skills, and Acme Artists’ Studios.

MEMORIES: South east Lakeside was still relatively undeveloped in 1948

Thurrock also boasts one of the country’s leading shopping centres, Lakeside, which, together with its connected retail park, is among the largest retail areas in Europe. In 1948, the A13 was an entirely single carriageway road.

Parts of the road now have three lanes, while a further 2.3-mile stretch is set to be widened to three lanes as part of a multi-million pound Thurrock Council project, supported by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and the Local Growth Fund, which will have signi cant bene ts to businesses and residents.

Approval was first given for a tunnel between Purfleet/ West Thurrock and Dartford in Kent way back in 1929 and a pilot tunnel was completed in 1938, but the Second World War meant no further progress was made until the subject was raised again in the 1950s.

The crossing was eventually opened in 1963 when the toll for cars was 2s. 6d. (12.5p) per crossing and just 11,000 vehicles a day used it. Following a huge increase in usage, a second tunnel was completed in 1980 and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge opened in 1992, with about 140,000 vehicles a day now using the crossing.

SHOPPING: Lakeside is now part of one of the largest retail areas in Europe

Nowadays Thurrock is well positioned on the M25, with excellent transport links into London, Essex and Kent. The borough is at the heart of global trade and logistics, with no fewer than three international ports (Tilbury, DP World London Gateway Port and Pur eet Thames Terminal) and the UK’s largest logistics park. The Port of Tilbury continues to grow, with plans to develop Tilbury 2 on the site of the old Tilbury Power Station.

Despite its growth and development, Thurrock retains a unique cultural identity, including two historic forts and many areas of wildlife and natural beauty such as Chaf- ford Gorges Nature Park, Rainham Marshes and Thameside Nature Park.

With special thanks to Thur-rock Local History Society.

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