infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
region= London
official_name= Erith
latitude= 51.4763
longitude= 0.1681
london_borough= Bexley
constituency_westminster= Erith & Thamesmead
constituency_westminster1= Bexleyheath & Crayford
post_town= ERITH
postcode_district=DA8 and DA18
dial_code= 01322
os_grid_reference= TQ505775

Erith (Audio|En-uk-Erith.ogg|pronunciation; pronEng|ˈɪərɨθ) is a place in the London Borough of Bexley, south east London on the River Thames. Erith's town centre has undergone a series of modernisations since 1961.


Work at the former British Gypsum site in Church Manorway by the Museum of London Archaeological Service showed that the area had a dense forest of oak, yew and alder during the Neolithic Period, which by the Bronze Age had given way in part to sedge fen [ Museum of London summary of archaeological work carried out in 2001] accessed 6 Apr 2008] .

Their work at the former site of Erith School in Belmont Road revealed the presence of prehistoric settlement, and of a substantial settlement or farmstead dating from the first century [ Museum of London summary of archaeological work carried out in 1996] accessed 6 Apr 2008] .

Following the collapse of Roman rule at the beginning of the 5th century, Britain was colonised by invaders from northern Europe called the Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tells us that they won the Battle of Crayford in 457, slaying many men in the process, and shortly after claimed the whole of Kent. Their different way of life was reflected in their pattern of settlement. The town and country estates of the Roman bureaucrats gave way to a network of villages, occupied by warriors and farmers. Erith was one of thesevillages, and has a Saxon name, thought to have been derived from a word meaning `muddy harbour' or `gravelly landing place'. There was probably a church on the site of the present St John the Baptist back in Roman times and almost definitely a Saxon building. The earlysettlement was based around this church meaning that the centre of Erith would have been slightly to the west of where it now is.

The earliest reference to the area is in a Latin charter of 695 recording a grant by the Bishop of the East Saxons of certain lands at Erith. In early times the area may also have been known as Lesnes or Lessness. After the Norman Conquest in 1066 Erith passed into thepossession of Bishop Odo and is mentioned in the Domesday Survey. In 1315 a Royal Charter was granted for a market to be held in Erith every Thursday. However, it was noted in 1776 that the market had long been discontinued. [ Bexley Local Studies Note 51 - Historical References to Erith Market] accessed 6 Jun 2008]

Erith owes its existence to the Thames and was, until the 1850s essentially a small riverside port, originally given prominence by Henry VIII's decision to open a naval dockyard in the town. At that time, and until the 19th century, Erith was a popular anchorage. Ships often discharged some cargo here before proceeding through the shallows upstream. In 1797 Edward Hasted described Erith as 'consisting of one small street of houses, which leads to the water side', and mentions two annual fairs, on Ascension Day and Michaelmas Day. [ 'The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2' (E.Hasted), on] accessed 6 March 2008] In 1831 Erith's population was 1533 people, and it was described (in 1840), as being 'composed chiefly of two streets, one leading down to the water side, the other branching off to the left towards the church' [,_erith_&c_.htm 'Pigots 1840', on website] accessed 5 December 2007] .

The Local Government Act 1894 brought into existence Erith Urban District, which became the Municipal Borough of Erith in 1938. It included Northumberland Heath and Belvedere.

In 1961, plans were put forward by local planners to redevelop Erith into a modern, sleek shopping and working environment. This involved clearing the substandard housing by the riverside and the old street layout in order to incorporate more cars.

In 1965, under the London Government Act 1963, the Erith Municipal Borough was abolished and its area transferred to Greater London to form part of the present-day London Borough of Bexley.

Demolition of the old town started in 1966 when the mayor of Bexley smashed Headley Mitchells shop window, and continued in phases until by 1980, all that remained of the old town was Queens Church, The Crosskeys pub and Christchurch.

From the river front there are two point block towers opened in the early seventies, the new playhouse theatre (begun in 1973) and two rather drab shopping centres (1969 and 1973). Recently, these shopping centres have been redeveloped to provide new social housing and better quality shops to go hand in hand with the W.M.Morrisons supermarket to the east of town in an attempt to make Erith a nicer place to visit.

In 1975/76 everything to the south of Pier Road was swept away for more modern housing and a new dual carriageway, which still stands today.

In 1996, the two sites of Erith School, the East and West buildings, merged onto one site on Avenue Road. In 2005, the school was awarded Specialist Schools status by the Government, recognising its excellence in PE, Maths and ICT. A new sixth form block opened in 2007. Its Community Sports Centre is used during the evenings and weekends by a variety of teams.


Erith Iron Works was established in 1864 in Anchor Bay by William Anderson [ Bexley Local Studies Note 66 'Sir William Anderson'] accessed 6 Jun 2008] . From 1881 Erith was home to a large cable works founded by William Callender. This became British Insulated Callender's Cables (BICC), and eventually Pirelli who announced its partial closure in 2003. The remainder became Prysmian. During the First World War Erith was an extremely important area for the manufacture of guns and ammunition largely due to the presence of the large Vickers works in the Fraser Road area. In the Second World War, Erith found itself in the thick of the conflict being directly on the German bombing routes from Europe to London and also because of the nearby armament factories. [ [ Bexley Local Studies Note No. 11 - Erith] accessed 6 Jun 2008]


Since the late 1990’s Erith has been undergoing significant changes with the Erith Western Gateway [] project being the culmination of a number of years of regeneration.

The regeneration of the area falls within the remit of the Thames Gateway project, with Erith being a key focus [] for Bexley Council as its only population centre on the River Thames.

Since 2000 a significant number of new flats have been constructed by the River Thames by private companies such as George Wimpy. It is expected that the Erith Western Gateway, that will include a significant number of new riverside flats [] , will continue to rejuvenate the area which suffered from the blight of post World War Two rebuilding. The area under consideration in the Erith Western Gateway is a large, underused area of the town centre. Bexley Council are seeking to provide a mixed use development with the potential for 6,000 square metres of new commercial space and over 500 new homes [] .

The London Borough of Bexley announced the selection of Crest Nicholson/Orbit South to take forward the Erith Western Gateway regeneration scheme. The timing and contruction of the gateway is uncertain.

port and leisure

A new swimming pool has recently been built at the same location as its sports centre and the David Ives Stadium [] , which is home to Bexley Athletic Club [] and Erith Town F.C. ('The Dockers'), who play in the Kent League. (Note [ Erith and Belvedere Football Club] play in Welling). Erith Rugby Club play at Northumberland Heath Recreation Ground.

The Erith Playhouse Theatre is the largest in London Borough of Bexley and there is a [ museum] about the history of the area.

Erith is home to the longest pier in London, on the River Thames. It has been recently adapted from commercial to leisure use, and is popular with anglers. The annual Erith Riverside Festival has been held for a number of years in Riverside Gardens alongside the Thames. Erith Yacht Club is very active in both competititve and social sailing and is located on the edge of Crayford Marshes in the direction of Slade Green and Erith Rowing Club is a successful and friendly club located on the waterfront on Erith High Street.

Erith is the starting point for the LOOP (London Outer Orbital Path) and one of the starting points for the Green Chain Walk. [] The start of the Thames Path National Trail [] which runs to the source of the River Thames at Kemble is at nearby Crayford Ness.

The initial broadcasts of pirate radio station West and North Kent Radio (WNKR) took place at Norvic House, Larner Road, Erith during the bank holiday weekend in August1987, on a frequency of 91.8FM. The station transmits music shows on the short and medium waves, with some internet streaming options offered since 2000.


*A traditional (anonymous) rhyme has it that:::"There are men in the village of Erith that nobody seeth or heareth,::and there looms on the marge of the river a barge, that nobody roweth or steereth".

*John Downton, artist, poet and philosopher.
*The late Linda Smith, comic and writer, came from Erith. She joked it wasn't twinned with any town but did have a suicide pact with Dagenham.
*Wendy Cope, poet
*Edward Butler, inventor [ Bexley Local Studies Note 76 'Two Local Inventors'] accessed 6 Jun 2008] .
*Sir William Anderson, engineer and philanthropist [ Bexley Local Studies Note 66 'Sir William Anderson'] accessed 6 Jun 2008]
*Stuckist artist Philip Absolon, Motor racing driver Tony Brise, cartoonist Mike Jupp and author James Leasor were all born in Erith.
*19th century engineer Anthony Reckenzaun worked at the Erith Ironworks and set up evening classes for the workmen.


The largest part of Erith is in the Erith ward of the London Borough of Bexley. The local councillors are Bernard Clewes MBE (Conservative) and Chris Ball and Margaret O'Neill (both Labour). The eastern part of Erith is in North End ward and the southern part in Colyers ward.

Most of Erith lies within the Erith and Thamesmead constituency. The current M.P. is John Austin (Labour). The eastern part of Erith is within the Bexleyheath and Crayford constituency. The M.P. is David Evennett (Conservative).

Erith is in the Bexley and Bromley London Assembly constituency and is represented on the London Assembly by James Cleverly (Conservative).

Community interests are represented by Erith Town Forum. In the eastern part of Erith (in North End ward) community interests are also represented by Slade Green Community Forum. []


:"For education in Erith see the main London Borough of Bexley article"

Places of Worship

Christadelphian Hall, Lesney Park Rd. Erith

Christ Church, Victoria Rd. Erith

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness, Fraser Rd, Erith

Northend Baptist Church, Larner Rd, Erith

Northumberland Road Baptist Church, Belmont Road, Erith

Our lady of the Angels, Carlton Road, Erith

Queen Street Baptist Church, Erith

St Augustines Church (Slade Green), Slade Green Rd, Erith

St Paul's Church, Mill Road, Erith

The Treasure House, Bexley Road, Erith

Transport and locale

Erith is in Travelcard Zone 6.

Nearest places

* Belvedere
* Bexleyheath
* Northumberland Heath
* Rainham
* Slade Green


The nearest railway station in the area is the Erith railway station, which is isolated from the town centre by 1 km. Peak service includes hourly trains from this station to London Charing Cross and London Cannon Street via Woolwich and Greenwich to the west. Peak service to the east includes hourly trains to Dartford and a limited service to Crayford or Gravesend and Gillingham. Evening, weekend, and especially Sunday train service is extremely limited.

Nearest railway stations

* Erith railway station - North Kent line
* Slade Green railway station - North Kent line
* Belvedere railway station - North Kent line
* Barnehurst railway station - Bexleyheath line


*99 - Erith Town Centre and Woolwich Shopping Centre
*229 - Thamesmead Town Centre and Sidcup Queen Marys Hospital
*428 - Erith Town Centre and Bluewater Shopping Centre
*469 - Bexleyheath Shopping Centre and Woolwich Common Queen Elizabeth Hospital
*B12 - Erith Town Centre and Bexleyheath Shopping Centre
*N89 - Erith Town Centre and Trafalgar Square

External links

* [ Bexley Local Studies Note 11 - Erith] - gives a good outline history of the area
* [ North West Kent Family History Society - Erith Parish Page]
* [ Erith Museum]
* [ Erith Playhouse Theatre]
* [ Profile of Erith-born Colin Webb]
* [|The John Downton Trust]
* [| Erith Town Football Club]
* [ Erith Rugby Club]
* [ Erith Yacht Club]
* [ Erith Rowing Club]
* The [ Thames Estuary Partnership's fishing page] gives details of what fish can be caught from Erith Pier.
*'Vision of Britain' [ Map of Erith Urban District]
* [ Two maps of the area c.1800]
* [ The Erith Group] A significant employer in the area servicing the construction industry


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  • Erith and Crayford (UK Parliament constituency) — Erith and Crayford was a parliamentary constituency in the London Borough of Bexley, south east London.It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1955 until it was abolished for the… …   Wikipedia

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