Grays Beach

  The beach today
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By 1912 the pond was open daily during the summer months, the charge for a private dressing box being 2d (about 1p). Various elementary schools used the pond for swimming lessons. The beach, which had been covered in sand brought in from Great Yarmouth, had to be renewed more than once as the tide washed it away! Over the years vandalism was a problem, this being reported in 1930, with damage to the fountain. It was removed by the Council for safety but its present whereabouts are unknown. On 20 August 1954 a letter appeared in the Gazette deploring the state of Grays Beach with the sand gone, rubbish galore deposited on the beach and a venue for louts and vandals. It stated that apparently £175,000 was going to be spent on a new and better pool. In the mid-1980s there were plans to redevelop the beach area as a marina. This didn’t come about but it was redeveloped as a children’s playground in 1999. The pond was filled in with sand and new playground equipment was added, including a climbing frame and an activity centre in the shape of a pirate ship.

Grays Beach Riverside Park received a Green Flag award from the Civic Trust in 2001. By 2005 this was still in place and a report in the Gazette stated that at peak season it attracted an estimated 1500 visitors a day. However, in 2007 Grays councillors and residents are concerned that Grays Beach is about to lose its Green Flag status and be sold. The park was said to be in a poor state, with the crazy golf closed, the skateboard park unusable due to damage and the Go-kart track suffering from a spate of thefts.

Looking upstream from Grays Beach

Plans for the development of Grays Town Centre were launched by the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation in November 2007. Their exhibition included a marina and The New Grays Beach Riverside Park, costing £4m. In their masterplan it states “A major new children’s playspace and waterpark will be created on the riverfront. Themed around water and boats, it will have many of the best loved features of the existing beach park, including a large sand pit and wet play areas. There will be a café, plenty of parking spaces and a secluded sandy beach on the water’s edge, recreating the town’s historic beach”. It looks very promising for the future.

Norma Leach

Establishing the beach

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