Original article from Kent Live
Kent is full of disused train stations dating back as far as the Victorian era.
The station's past is an odd one, but one that is still very much visible in Gravesend and the surrounding countryside.
In fact, if you look at aerial views of Gravesham, you can actually still see where Gravesend's old train line used to run, breaking off from one of the still operational Southeastern rail lines at Pinden, just east of Longfield.
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Gravesend West not only connected the town to London, but also to Essex – as the station was served by boat trains, which connected to ferries across the Thames to Tilbury, and also to nearby coastal towns.
The primary use was freight though, and speaks to the history of Gravesend in the 1800s.
Originally, Gravesend West was simply Gravesend – the second major rail station built in the town in 1886, though it was renamed in 1899 to Gravesend West Street to avoid confusion.
The station extended over West Street as it is today, with the pier functioning as part of the goods yard, whilst boats also launched from there, taking holidaygoers to Southend, Clacton-on-Sea, Walton-on-the-Naze, Felixstowe, Harwich and Great Yarmouth.
It also served as a means to link Kent to the Netherlands during the First World War, this service continuing right the way through until the Second World War – with some signs being put up in Dutch during this period to accommodate those travelling from Europe.
The transfer of the connection to The Netherlands to Tilbury – the Essex town on the opposite shore of the Thames – pushed the station into decline.
Passenger services were ended in 1953, and by 1968, even the use of the station for freight was discontinued, and since then it has been abandoned.
The decline of the station has changed the shape of this part of Gravesend permanently – with the car park for Wickes now built where the tracks once ran.
The station platforms themselves were demolished in 1991, and the bridge over West Street was knocked down in 2006, after conservation efforts in 2001 were brushed aside.
The pier is currently all that remains of the station – and it may yet survive into a new incarnation.
As the development boards around the site suggest – that make it very difficult to see the pier itself – there is a planned redevelopment for the pier, which would transform the old site into something not dissimilar to London's Southbank.
With business spaces, new blocks of flats and public seating space, the preservation of the pier is central to the project's proposals – though there seems to be very little work being done at the moment.
A relic of a lost part of Kent's history when Gravesham was once a central part of England's dockyards, the regeneration of West Street Pier might be just what Gravesend's riverside needs.