People and places of historical interest in Thurrock
Tilbury Cruise Terminal
In Thurrock to have our heritage preserved and protected is rare but thankfully that is not the case here thanks to The Tilbury on Thames Trust Limited/Port of Tilbury. This iconic building has been reroofed and weatherproofed and now redecorated in accordance with Historic England guide lines. Gone the horrible green seats to be replaced by a much more suitable blue seating. Gone too is the false ceiling. Now visible the original ceiling is glowing white highlighting the brick columns with their Ionic scroll capitals. Whenever this building is open to the public railway enthusiasts and locals alike wax lyrical about the Tilbury Riverside Station. The rail enthusiasts love the state of preservation of the old station whilst for locals it is the nostalgia quotient. I have lost count of the number of visitors who have told me about buying their ferry tickets here purchasing magazines from W. H. Smith’s bookstall. I have even heard men who were thrilled by the sight of the art deco gents’ urinal!
Tilbury Cruise Terminal is a Grade II* listed building. The listing includes the floating landing stage and the railway station for the following reasons:
Before the Cruise Terminal could be constructed an
act of parliament had to be passed. This happened in 1922.
Construction started in 1926 to a neo-Georgian classical design by
Sir Edwin Cooper architect. The landing stage was 1,142 feet long
(842ft. for liners and 300ft. for ferries). It was officially opened
on 10th May 1930 by J. Ramsey McDonald. In 1934 666 boat trains were
run to service liners. By 1947 300 liners per year were visiting
Tilbury bringing about 140,000 passengers. The ferry acted as a
tender to the liners and carried 3,000,000 passengers per year.
Thanks to the Tilbury on Thames Trust Limited this building is now being restored to its former glory. The Tilbury on Thames Trust was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in February 2016. The Trust is governed by a board of 7 trustees drawn from the Port and the local community, bringing considerable expertise in skills and training, regeneration and local community knowledge to this project. The board has approved a vision statement which is to blend community and commercial uses at the Grade II* Cruise Terminal complex in Tilbury as part of a wider ambition to restore heritage, generate training opportunities and connect the Port of Tilbury to the communities of the Thames Gateway.
Gone now are the awful green couches now reupholstered in a much
more suitable blue fabric. Redecorating in accordance with Historic
England guidelines and removal of the false ceiling has opened up
the interior to the light. Even before we enter the building we see
the new sign telling us ‘No Smoking’ and nearby is the brass plaque
to commemorate the opening of the terminal on 8th January 1985 by
Victor Paige. Looking to our left we see the Luggage Hall alongside
a large black and white photo of how it used to be. Inside we see
the expected x-ray machine for the luggage. A common site in any
airport these days but whilst this is the maritime equivalent of an
airport this building is not plastic, artificial and characterless
but it has class and history. It was here on 22nd June 1948 that the
s.s. Empire Windrush disembarked its passengers who had come to the
homeland to help rebuild it after the war. There is a wonderful new
mural which illustrates the occasion in the hall. The newly painted
revealed ceiling and the Ionic capitals of the columns look
magnificent. The War Memorial is still present. Not to be missed is
a second mural depicting the sites of London. Well this is the port
Whatever it is used for we know that in the hands of the Tilbury on
Thames Trust Limited/Port of Tilbury at least one part of Thurrock’s
Heritage is safe.
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