I grew up in the North Kent town of Gravesend, a pleasant enough Thames-side community that had never really recovered after its Victorian Rosherville Gardens faded as a popular and classy Londoner's day out and was replaced with Bowaters paper mill and a cement works.
It was home to much riverside activity including the Port of London Authority buildings and lots of Tug boats which plied their expertise in escorting huge passenger liners and freighters in and out of London docks and Tilbury. This was obviously before London Docks became an office building.
When my father was promoted from his job in London to offices in Southend, he became a regular daily user of the passenger services between Gravesend and Tilbury docks. At first this was via the car ferry, a large rickety old steamer which was as exciting as a fairground Waltzer with cavalier disregard of health and safety. This mighty beast also took us on day trips to Southend or just to go and row the boats in the Tilbury Fort moat but it was discontinued in 1964 following the opening of the first Dartford Tunnel the year before.
The Car ferries were replaced with a much more modern set of ex-British Rail steamers which ran a frequent and efficient service for foot passengers. This is the "Edith" which kept up regular services between 1961 and 1992.
However, I was quite astonished to see a picture the other day of a BRIDGE between Gravesend and Tilbury. I assumed this was some sort of joke, but looking down at the date it said the bridge had been built in 1915. That's almost a Century ago!
Apparently this amazing pontoon structure was built near the start of the Great War as a means of shifting troops quickly between Kent and Essex and also to provide a barrier against enemy fleets coming up the Thames. The centre section could be removed for larger home ships to enter.
What a great feat of engineering, almost as remarkable as Brunel's Thames tunnel opened 70 years before it.