PUTTING DARTFORD ON THE WATERWAYS MAP
The little-known and seldom-visited Dartford Creek played host to the inaugural Dartford Nautical Festival on Sunday 27 May at Dartford Lock. Activities centred around the 1899 Thames sailing barge
Decima, joined by a flotilla of six narrowboats who formed part of the St Pancras Cruising Club Five Creeks Cruise, plus kayaks and other small boats.
On land the West Hill Morris Dancers danced from the Hufflers’ Arms along the river bank, and then in the hold of the sailing barge. The afternoon’s musical festivities continued with a sea shanty sung by Jim Radford who as a young seaman crewed on a tug which helped build the ‘Mulberry Harbour’ (partly built in the dry dock on the west bank of Dartford Creek) for the Normandy invasion in World War 2. This was followed by an excellent afternoon and evening of folk singers and musicians from South East London, enjoyed by many visitors including the mayor and mayoress of Dartford and the leader of Dartford Council, Cllr Jeremy Kite.
The narrowboats remained at Dartford Lock for the remainder of the week before continuing to Barking Creek. During the week they also visited Crayford Creek and gave councillors and planning officials from Bexley council a tour of the Crayford Creek basins and a cruise back to Dartford lock.
The event was made possible by the hard work of the volunteers of the Dartford and Crayford Creek Restoration Trust who have done much to clear the lock and quayside at Dartford and remove obstructions to navigation. See our restoration feature on page 70 for the full story of the Dartford and Crayford creeks.
Top: Entertainment from the deck of barge Decima Above: Six narrowboats from the St Pancras convoy spent a week in the disused lock after the festival