Our trip on the PS Waverley starts at Gravesend, which is a town with a long and interesting history.
Royal Terrace Pier was built in 1842 to accomodate day trippers from London who arrived by steamer. One notable visitor in 1863 was Princess Alexandria of Denmark on her way to marry the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria.
St Andrews Chapel was built in 1871 as a mission church to the waterfornt community. It is now an arts centre. The area around the chapel was known as Bawley Bay and was a wharf for shrimp boats in the 19th century. It was also a departure point for families emigrating to Australia and New Zealand. In the gardens of the Royal Clarendon hotel is the remains of the Gravesend Artillery Blockhouse, which dates from the reign of Henry VIII. It was one of 5 built in the area to protect the river access and docks. The hotel was originally built as a house for James, Duke of York, later James II. It became quarters for the ordinance depot keepers and subsequently a hotel.
Town Pier was built in 1834 and restored in 2000. At the town end is the ‘Three Daws’ which claims to be the oldest Public House in Kent.
The cruiser is named after the Indian princess Pocahontas who had married tobacco planter John Rolfe in Virginia in 1614. In 1616 the Rolfe’s decided to return to England and Pocahontas became something of a celebrity even attending a ball at Whitehall Palace, the prinicipal royal residence at that time. In 1617, the Rolfe’s made ready to return to Virginia, but Pocahontas had to be taken from the ship at Gravesend due to illnes. She did not recover and died. She was buried in the churchyard of St George’s church in Gravesend. Unfortunately that church was destroyed by fire about 100 years later and no record survives of the location of the grave.
As we leave Gravesend to make our way upstream the scenery changes and the industrial side of the river becomes evident.