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Essex UK location map.svg
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Location within Essex
Population12,450 (2011) [1]
OS grid reference TQ639761
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town TILBURY
Postcode district RM18
Dialling code 01375
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°27′38″N0°21′30″E / 51.4606°N 0.3582°E / 51.4606; 0.3582 Coordinates: 51°27′38″N0°21′30″E / 51.4606°N 0.3582°E / 51.4606; 0.3582

Tilbury is a town in the borough of Thurrock, Essex, England. The present town was established as separate settlement in the late 19th century, on land that was mainly part of Chadwell St Mary. It contains a 16th century fort and an ancient cross-river ferry. Tilbury is part of the Port of London with a major deep-water port which contributes to the local economy.

Thurrock Borough & Unitary authority area in England

Thurrock is a unitary authority area with borough status in the English ceremonial county of Essex. It is part of the London commuter belt and an area of regeneration within the Thames Gateway redevelopment zone. The local authority is Thurrock Council.

Essex County of England

Essex is a county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south, and London to the south-west. The county town is Chelmsford, the only city in the county. For government statistical purposes Essex is placed in the East of England region.

Chadwell St Mary village in the United Kingdom

Chadwell St Mary is in the unitary authority of Thurrock in Essex, England. It is one of the traditional parishes in Thurrock and a former civil parish. Its residential areas are on the higher ground overlooking the former Thameside marshland. Grays is a town centred 2 miles (3.2 km) west of it. Closer still, 1 mile (1.6 km) south is the modern town of Tilbury which was almost wholly part of the parish until the end of the 19th century. The settlement is frequently referred to simply as Chadwell, particularly before the 19th century.



The name of the present town of Tilbury is derived (by way of the port) from the nearby settlements of East and West Tilbury. The name of these settlements is derived from the Saxon burgh, "fortified place", either belonging to Tila, or perhaps at a lowland place. [2] The 8th century spelling (Bede) was "Tilaburg", and the spelling in Domesday was "Tilberia". [3]

East Tilbury village in the Essex, England

East Tilbury is a village in the unitary authority of Thurrock borough, Essex, England and one of the traditional parishes in Thurrock.

West Tilbury village in United Kingdom

West Tilbury is a village on the top of and on the sides of a 30 metres (98 ft) tall river terrace overlooking the river Thames. Part of the modern town of Tilbury is within the traditional parish of West Tilbury.

Bede 7th and 8th-century Anglo-Saxon monk, writer, and saint

Bede, also known as Saint Bede, Venerable Bede, and Bede the Venerable, was an English Benedictine monk at the monastery of St. Peter and its companion monastery of St. Paul in the Kingdom of Northumbria of the Angles. Born on lands likely belonging to the Monkwearmouth monastery in present-day Sunderland, Bede was sent there at the age of seven and later joined Abbot Ceolfrith at the Jarrow monastery, both of whom survived a plague that struck in 686, an outbreak that killed a majority of the population there. While he spent most of his life in the monastery, Bede travelled to several abbeys and monasteries across the British Isles, even visiting the archbishop of York and King Ceolwulf of Northumbria. He is well known as an author, teacher, and scholar, and his most famous work, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, gained him the title "The Father of English History". His ecumenical writings were extensive and included a number of Biblical commentaries and other theological works of exegetical erudition. Another important area of study for Bede was the academic discipline of computus, otherwise known to his contemporaries as the science of calculating calendar dates. One of the more important dates Bede tried to compute was Easter, an effort that was mired with controversy. He also helped establish the practice of dating forward from the birth of Christ, a practice which eventually became commonplace in medieval Europe. Bede was one of the greatest teachers and writers of the Early Middle Ages and is considered by many historians to be the single most important scholar of antiquity for the period between the death of Pope Gregory I in 604 and the coronation of Charlemagne in 800.


Tilbury's history is closely connected with its geographical location (see below). Its counterpart on the south bank of the River Thames, Gravesend, has long been an important communications link, and it was there that a cross-river ferry (see below) was connected, mainly due to the narrowness of the river at this point. In addition, Gravesend and Northfleet (also on the south shore) both became vitally important to shipping on the Thames: the former as the first port of call for foreign shipping bound for London, and the latter as a naval dockyard.

River Thames river in southern England

The River Thames, known alternatively in parts as the Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London. At 215 miles (346 km), it is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom, after the River Severn.

Northfleet town in the Borough of Gravesham in Kent, England

Northfleet is a town in the Gravesham Borough of Kent. It borders the Dartford Borough. It is immediately west of Gravesend and on a western border has its own railway station about a hundred metres east of Ebbsfleet International railway station.

There is archaeological evidence of Roman occupation. At the time, sea-levels had dropped, making the marshes habitable. There may well have been a Roman settlement on the site of what is now Tilbury Docks. [4] In the 12th century the river, which had hitherto consisted of difficult channels with uncharted shoals, was changed by the process of embanking the river and enclosing areas of marsh. This improved the river's flow, and also resulted in improved land resources on the marsh. [5] It was nevertheless an unhealthy place in which to live; Daniel Defoe, [6] who, in 1696, operated a tile and brick factory in the Tilbury marshes [7] and lived in a nearby house, wrote about "the Essex ague".

Shoal A natural landform that rises from the bed of a body of water to near the surface and is covered by unconsolidated material

In oceanography, geomorphology, and earth sciences, a shoal is a natural submerged ridge, bank, or bar that consists of, or is covered by, sand or other unconsolidated material, and rises from the bed of a body of water to near the surface. Often it refers to those submerged ridges, banks, or bars that rise near enough to the surface of a body of water as to constitute a danger to navigation. Shoals are also known as sandbanks, sandbars, or gravelbars. Two or more shoals that are either separated by shared troughs or interconnected by past or present sedimentary and hydrographic processes are referred to as a shoal complex.

Daniel Defoe 18th-century English trader, writer and journalist

Daniel Defoe, born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer and spy. He is most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe, which is second only to the Bible in its number of translations. He has been seen as one of the earliest proponents of the English novel, and helped to popularise the form in Britain with others such as Aphra Behn and Samuel Richardson. Defoe wrote many political tracts and often was in trouble with the authorities, including a spell in prison. Intellectuals and political leaders paid attention to his fresh ideas and sometimes consulted with him.

In 1588 Queen Elizabeth I came ashore here to review her main army at the nearby village of West Tilbury (see Speech to the Troops at Tilbury).

Speech to the Troops at Tilbury

The Speech to the Troops at Tilbury was delivered on 9 August Old Style 1588 by Queen Elizabeth I of England to the land forces earlier assembled at Tilbury in Essex in preparation for repelling the expected invasion by the Spanish Armada.

In 1852 an Act of Parliament had authorised the building of the London Tilbury and Southend Railway (LTSR), with a short spur to take advantage of the ferry over the Thames; a pier nearby was constructed for the steamboat traffic. The station was originally named Tilbury Fort and opened in 1854. The station was renamed Tilbury Riverside railway station in 1936. [8]

An act of parliament, also called primary legislation, are statutes passed by a parliament (legislature). Act of the Oireachtas is an equivalent term used in the Republic of Ireland where the legislature is commonly known by its Irish name, Oireachtas. It is also comparable to an Act of Congress in the United States.

Tilbury Riverside railway station

Tilbury Riverside railway station is a closed railway station located in the town of Tilbury in the borough and unitary authority of Thurrock in Essex, England, south of a triangular junction on the railway between Tilbury Town and East Tilbury. The station was 22 miles 45 chains (36.31 km) down the line from London Fenchurch Street station via Rainham.

A few houses were built for the railway workers, but it was not until the construction of Tilbury Docks (see below) that there was any settlement worthy of a name. Whilst the docks were being built, the thousands of workers were either provided with temporary accommodation or had to commute from surrounding villages and towns. As a result of overcrowding, more permanent housing was built once the docks were completed, including tenement blocks; but these were poorly constructed, and until the formation of Tilbury District Council (see below) the town was in a poor state, as it largely remained until 1918, when government funds were available to better the situation. [9]

Tilbury Ferry

The Tilbury Ferry in 1640 Ferryman.jpg
The Tilbury Ferry in 1640
The landing stage in 2001 River-front-at-Tilbury.jpg
The landing stage in 2001

Tilbury–Gravesend Ferry has operated from very early times. A sketch-map of 1571 [10] shows evidence of two jetties, the one on the north bank leading to a northward road crossing the marsh. There are also houses marked on the marsh itself, which became important for sheep grazing; and there is some evidence to suggest that the ferry was used for the cross-river transport of animals and wool. [11] Although the 17th century drawing might suggest a boat too small for large consignments, the long-established Gravesend market encouraged such traffic, and a contemporary account suggests that one of the boats used was a hoy, a forerunner of the Thames sailing barge. [12]

Tilbury Fort

The curve and narrowness of the river here made it a suitable place to construct forts for the defence of London against foreign invaders. The first permanent fort at Tilbury [13] was a D-shaped blockhouse built in 1539 by Henry VIII and initially called the "Thermitage Bulwark", because it was on the site of a hermitage dissolved in 1536. The Tilbury blockhouse was designed to cross-fire with a similar structure at New Tavern, Gravesend. During the Armada campaign (1588), the fort was reinforced with earthworks and a palisade, and a boom of chains, ships' masts and cables was stretched across the Thames to Gravesend, anchored by lighters. The fort was rebuilt under Charles I and is now owned by English Heritage.


Until 1903, the marshland area was part of the traditional parish and civil parish of Chadwell St Mary, which reached south to the River Thames. The parish of Tilbury Docks was established in 1903 and the Tilbury Urban District Council (UDC) in 1912; it merged with Thurrock UDC in 1936. This in turn became a borough in 1984 and then the Thurrock Unitary Authority in 1998. There are two wards covering the town, each served by two councillors: Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park for the southern part and Tilbury St Chad's in the north. [14] As of May 2016 there are 3 Labour and 1 UKIP councillors. [15] The Member of Parliament for Thurrock is Jackie Doyle-Price.


Tilbury is on the north bank of the River Thames, where the river's meander has caused it to narrow to approximately 800 yards (732 m) in width. The area to the north is one-time marshlands; to the north of that there is higher ground, where lie the villages of Chadwell St Mary, West and East Tilbury. The town lies to the north of the London-Southend railway line.

The major landmarks are the docks, the cruise-ship landing stage, and the Tilbury Power Station. There are two churches in Tilbury: St John's (Church of England) and Our Lady Star of the Sea (Roman Catholic); there is also a Convent of Mercy. There is, in addition, a synagogue in Dock Road. [16] The educational institutions in Tilbury include primary education, which are Lansdowne Primary School, St Mary's RC Primary School and Tilbury Manor Primary School. The last serve Infant and Nursery, as well as Junior children.

Transport and industry

Map of the town from 1946 Tilburymap 1946.png
Map of the town from 1946

The Port of Tilbury handles a variety of bulk cargo, timber, cars and container traffic and remains, along with Southampton and Felixstowe, one of Britain's three major container ports. It is the main UK port for importing paper, including newsprint. The one-time passenger landing stage was reopened by the Port of Tilbury group as the London Cruise Terminal, though it is no longer served by the railway.

Until the introduction of standardised containers, the majority of the town's inhabitants were employed in the docks. The resulting loss of jobs has never been made up, and Tilbury today has high unemployment and education and employment prospects are widely perceived as poor. [9]

Thurrock Council, together with Kent County Council, subsidises the ferry between Tilbury and Gravesend, which is currently operated by the Lower Thames & Medway Passenger Boat Company. Tilbury Town railway station is on the c2c (London, Tilbury and Southend) rail route. Tilbury Riverside railway station was closed on 29 November 1992, although the railway still serves the nearby container depot. [17] Bus route 99 (operated in partnership by both c2c rail and Ensignbus) now connects Tilbury Town railway station and the ferry. Ensignbus services 66 and 73/73C serve Tilbury, connecting to Grays and Lakeside Shopping Centre. National Cycle Route 13 from London to Norfolk passes through the town.

People and culture

The Tilbury Band, dating from 1919, is among the leading brass bands in the UK. [18]

Notable people who have had some connection with Tilbury include: two football players, John Evans (1929–2004), who played for Liverpool, and Tom Scannell (1925–1994); Noel Betowski, artist, who was born there in 1952; and Thomas Horrocks Openshaw (1856–1929), who was a consultant surgeon at Tilbury Hospital.

In the 2014 BBC series The Honourable Woman , the title character Nessa Stein is made Baroness of Tilbury in the first episode. [19]

Tilbury and its environs have been used in some television episodes. Tilbury Fort was used as a location for Sharpe's Regiment, starring Sean Bean. [20]

Sport and leisure

Tilbury has a Non-League football club Tilbury F.C. who play at Chadfields. Chadfields had previously been a greyhound racing track. The racing was independent (not affiliated to the sports governing body the National Greyhound Racing Club) and was known as a flapping track, which was the nickname given to independent tracks. [21] The racing is believed to have been operational in the 1930s [22] and lasted until 1947, when a betting licence had been granted. [23]

A later venue called the Tilbury Stadium on land at the end of Dunlop Road also hosted greyhounds between 1964 and 1967. [24]

Related Research Articles

The Port of London lies along the banks of the River Thames from the capital to the North Sea. Once the largest port in the world, it is currently the United Kingdom's second largest port, after Grimsby & Immingham. The port is governed by the Port of London Authority (PLA), a public trust established in 1908 whose responsibility extends over the Tideway of the River Thames, but which neither owns or operate any facilities.

Port of London Authority

The Port of London Authority (PLA) is a self-funding public trust established by the Port of London Act 1908 to govern the Port of London. Its responsibility extends over the Tideway of the River Thames and its continuation. It maintains and supervises navigation, and protects the river's environment.

Gravesend Town in Kent, England

Gravesend is an ancient town in northwest Kent, England, situated 21 miles (35 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross on the south bank of the Thames Estuary and opposite Tilbury in Essex. Located in the diocese of Rochester, it is the administrative centre of the Borough of Gravesham.

Grays town in Essex, England

Grays is the largest town in the borough and unitary authority of Thurrock in Essex and one of Thurrock's traditional parishes. The town is approximately 20 miles (32 km) to the east of London on the north bank of the River Thames, and 2 miles (3.2 km) east of the M25 motorway. Its economy is linked to Port of London industries, its own offices, retail and Lakeside, West Thurrock.

Tilbury Fort fortification

Tilbury Fort, also known historically as the Thermitage Bulwark and the West Tilbury Blockhouse, is an artillery fort on the north bank of the River Thames in England. The earliest version of the fort, comprising a small blockhouse with artillery covering the river, was constructed by King Henry VIII to protect London against attack from France as part of his Device programme. It was reinforced during the 1588 Spanish Armada invasion scare, after which it was reinforced with earthwork bastion, and Parliamentary forces used it to help secure the capital during the English Civil War of the 1640s. Following naval raids during the Anglo-Dutch Wars, the fort was enlarged by Sir Bernard de Gomme from 1670 onwards to form a star-shaped defensive work, with angular bastions, water-filled moats and two lines of guns facing onto the river.

Coalhouse Fort artillery fort at Coalhouse Point in Essex, England

Coalhouse Fort is an artillery fort in the eastern English county of Essex. It was built in the 1860s to guard the lower Thames from seaborne attack. It stands at Coalhouse Point on the north bank of the river, at a location near East Tilbury which was vulnerable to raiders and invaders. It was the last in a series of fortifications dating back to the 15th century and was the direct successor to a smaller mid-19th century fort built on the same site. Constructed during a period of tension with France, its location on marshy ground caused problems from the start and led to a lengthy construction process. The fort was equipped with a variety of large-calibre artillery guns and the most modern defensive facilities of the time, including shell-proof casemates protected by granite facing and cast-iron shields. Its lengthy construction and the rapid pace of artillery development at the time meant that it was practically obsolete for its original purpose within a few years of its completion.

Thurrock (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

Thurrock is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Jackie Doyle-Price, a Conservative.

Gravesend–Tilbury Ferry

The Gravesend–Tilbury Ferry is a passenger ferry across the River Thames east of London. It is the last public crossing point before the Thames reaches the sea.

Lower Thames Crossing

The Lower Thames Crossing, or Third Thames Crossing, is a proposed new road crossing of the River Thames estuary linking the county of Kent with the county of Essex through Thurrock. The route was confirmed on 12 April 2017 by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. It is designed to relieve the pressure on the existing A282 Dartford Crossing. After consideration, changes have been made to the plan to make it less obtrusive- the junction with the A226 has been eliminated, and the upgrade extended to the M2, junction 1.

Lower Thames and Medway Passenger Boat Company

Lower Thames and Medway Passenger Boat Company is a river boat company which provides cruises on the River Thames in Gravesend and London, UK. Bateaux London cruises operate on the Thames under licence from London River Services, part of Transport for London.

Port of Tilbury port

The Port of Tilbury is located on the River Thames at Tilbury in Essex, England. It is the principal port for London, as well as being the main United Kingdom port for handling the importation of paper. There are extensive facilities for containers, grain, and other bulk cargoes. There are also facilities for the importation of cars. It forms part of the wider Port of London.

Terrels Heath

Terrel's Heath is, in spite of its name, an area of woodland in Chadwell St Mary named on the 1938 six-inch Ordnance Survey map.

Orsett Heath human settlement in United Kingdom

Orsett Heath is a location and recently built hamlet in the unitary authority of Thurrock, in the ceremonial county of Essex. It is located about twenty miles away from London. Nearby settlements include the towns of Tilbury and Grays Thurrock and the villages of Orsett and Chadwell St Mary. For transport there is the A13 road (England), the A1089 road and the A1013 road nearby. The nearest railway station is Tilbury Town railway station. The Gateway Academy is about a mile away.

Biggin, Essex human settlement in United Kingdom

Biggin is a hamlet and manor in Chadwell St Mary, part of the borough of Thurrock, in the ceremonial county of Essex. It is about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the town of Tilbury and a similar distance east of Grays Thurrock.


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  18. The Tilbury Band Archived 6 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
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  20. Thurrock Council
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