GRAVESEND For centuries the local economy of Gravesend, London’s trade and defensive gateway, has been bound to the River Thames. Many of the traditional riverside industries have closed down, but the paper mills and cement works are still operating and the headquarters of the Port of London Authority and Customs and Excise have moved here. The riverside part of town is heavily atmospheric, with narrow streets and alleyways peppered with old churches, inns and historic fortifications. The best place to watch river traffic ploughing the Thames, and view Essex across the water, is from the Gordon Promenade gardens. The potential of the river is now being realised with redevelopment, parks and new housing.
Efforts to work the London Docklands miracle by replacing old industrial sores with mix-and-match housing have been determined. A vast £150m scheme is planned in the town centre, emphasizing Gravesend’s heritage and reconnecting the heart of the town with its lifeblood, the River Thames. The Old Town Hall is being transformed to provide a gallery and bistro, and a farmers’ market spreads its wares outside the hall once a month. London, Paris, Brussels and Lille are all accessible by fast track via Eurostar from Ebbsfleet International station. There are swathes of Edwardian and Victorian houses, and some handsome Georgian houses. It is a good hunting ground for first-time buyers. A small two-bedroom Victorian house would cost around £130,000 to £140,000. On the river there are some modern developments in which two-bedroom flats with balconies sell from around £170,000. Large Georgian terraced houses with four or five bedrooms can be bought for around £300,000, depending on condition.
Property prices are higher to the south of the town, especially in the Thirties’-built roads around the golf course. A detached house will cost from £200,000 to around £650,000, for which you would also get a very large garden. Another more expensive part of Gravesend is the Windmill Hill conservation area, a mile from the town centre, where some of the houses have giddy river views. A two-bedroom Victorian house would cost at least £160,000. Some of the larger houses have been converted into flats. If you were looking for a house on a decent modern estate, then the answer could be Rivermount, built in the Eighties, where a four-bedroom detached house costs around £250,000 to £260,000, a three-bedroom semi £190,000, and you might get a good view thrown in.
The village of Shorne, two miles east, is pretty and old (though with its fair share of new), and very much sought-after since this part of north Kent can seem rather bleak. It is also close to the A2. Snob value adds to the prices of the 15th- and 16th-century timber-framed cottages. You would have to pay £180,000 to £200,000 for a two-bedroom house, £250,000 for a modest three-bedroom house in a terrace. There are a few detached Thirties’ houses, valued at around £600,000 to £700,000.