ⓘ River Cray. The River Cray is the largest tributary of the Darent. It is the prime river of outer, south-east Greater London, rising in Priory Gardens, Orpingto ..

River Cray

ⓘ River Cray

The River Cray is the largest tributary of the Darent. It is the prime river of outer, south-east Greater London, rising in Priory Gardens, Orpington, where rainwater percolates through chalk bedrock of the Downs to forms a pond where the eroded ground elevation gives way to impermeable clay. Initially it flows true to form northwards, past industrial and residential St Mary Cray, through St Pauls Cray and through Foots Cray, where it enters the parkland Foots Cray Meadows, flowing under by Five Arches bridge. It then flows by restored Loring Hall, home of the Lord Castlereagh who took his own life there in 1822. It continues through North Cray and Bexley. It neighbours a restored Gothic cold plunge bath house, built around 1766 as part of Vale Mascal Estate. It is then joined by the River Shuttle and then continues through the parkland of Hall Place, which was built for John Champneys in 1540. The Cray turns eastward through Crayford and Barnes Cray to join the Darent in Dartford Creek. The Creek is a well-watered partly tidal inlet between Crayford Marshes and Dartford Marshes by a slight projection of land, Crayford Ness. The villages through which the Cray flows are collectively known as "The Crays".


1. Overview

Clean-ups on the river and campaigns for responsible angling are organised by the Cray Anglers Conservation Group. The tidal section is effectively monitored and maintained by The Dartford and Crayford Restoration Trust, who also organise Lengthsman duties for the banks. There is a signposted public footpath called the Cray Riverway alongside the river, beginning at Foots Cray Meadows and continuing for 10 miles about 16 km northwards to the Thames. It is part of the London LOOP. The river is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation.


2. Watermills

The River Cray powered fourteen watermills. From source to mouth they were:

Calico Mill

TQ 524 749 This mill stood where Watling Street crossed the Cray. In the 18th century it processed calico. It was marked on Greenwoods 1821 map as Calico Mills.


2.1. Watermills Orpington Mill

TQ 467 669 A Domesday site, Orpington Mill stood almost at the source of the River Cray. The mill building dated from the 18th century and was of traditional construction, with a timber frame clad with weatherboards under a peg tile roof. The mill was powered by a 11 ft 6 in 3.51 m by 9 feet 2.74 m cast iron waterwheel carried on a cast iron axle which had replaced an earlier wooden one. Much of the machinery was of cast iron, including the wallower, great spur wheel and crown wheel. The upright shaft was of wood. The mill drove three pairs of millstones. Miller John Colgate had introduced steam power by the 1870s, and the tall chimney for the steam engine was known locally as "Colgates Folly", as it did not function as well as intended. The mill was used as a store in its final years before its demolition in 1934 or 1935.


2.2. Watermills Upper Paper Mill, St Mary Cray

TQ 472 682 This mill stood opposite the Black Boy public house; it had an undershot waterwheel. Nicholas Townsend was mentioned in insurance records in 1757, and William Sims in 1771. In 1784 William Townsend was first mentioned as a paper maker in St Mary Cray. In 1786 Samuel Lay of Sittingbourne was the paper maker; he was described as a master papermaker in 1801. Martha Lay ordered two moulds in 1806. Martha Lay was running the mill in 1816; paper from this mill bore the watermark Martha Lay 1804. The mill ceased working in 1834.


2.3. Watermills Joynsons Mill, St Mary Cray

TQ 471 684 This was a corn mill which stood near St Mary Cray church. It was replaced by a paper mill, then a paper factory and in recent years by a warehouse complex.

In 1787 this mill was being run by Henry Brightly. John Hall was the owner in 1816. Charles Cowan was working at the mill in 1819, when the mill had two vats and was producing an estimated 1.500 pounds 680 kg of paper a week. William Joynson took over in 1834. He had previously been at a paper mill in Snodland. Paper produced here bore the watermarks Joynson Superfine or WJ&S over St Mary Cray Kent ". In 1839, Joynson was granted a patent for watermarking paper produced by machine. The waterwheel was of cast iron construction and may have been overshot, as the head was some 8 feet 2.4 m to 9 feet 2.7 m. The mill was expanded in 1853, when a second machine was installed, enabling the steam driven mills to produce 25 to 30 tons of paper a week. William Joynson died in 1874 and the mills were left in trust to his two grandsons. One of them, William, drowned in 1875 leaving Edmund Hamborough Joynson as sole heir. Cowan mentions that the mill was producing an estimated 70.000 pounds 32.000 kg of paper a week in 1878. Some 700 people were employed at the mill in 1881 and E. H. Joynson took over the mill in September 1882, expanding it the following year with a new steam engine and machinery. An engraving of the mill in 1891 can be seen here. Joynson produced only high quality writing papers. In the late 1890s, a dryer was sold to Nashs and installed in their mill at St Pauls Cray. Edmund Joynson took his son into partnership shortly before World War One. The firm became William Joynson & Son. In 1914, Joynsons paper was used in the first £1 and 10/- banknotes issued by the Bank of England. Edmund H Joynson retired in 1930 and the mills were taken over by Messrs Wiggins Teape & Co. who promptly closed the mills in order to rebuild them. 350 people were made redundant, and only 200 were employed in the reopened factory. The paper factory made greaseproof and vegetable parchment paper. The mill reopened in April 1933 as the Vegetable Parchment Mills Delcroix Ltd. The production of "vulcanised fibre" began around 1943. In 1963 the mill was the home of the National Paper Museum The mill closed in 1967 and the paper museum collection was transferred to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.


2.4. Watermills St Pauls Cray Mill

TQ 474 694 In 1718 this mill had two waterwheels driving machinery for dressing leather in oil, and a third for corn milling. The mill was replaced by a paper mill, powered by a turbine.


2.5. Watermills Foots Cray Nashs Paper Mill

TQ 474 694 This paper mill replaced the earlier corn mill. Papermaking had been established by 1742. A steam engine had been installed by around 1820. It was used in the 1830s as a meeting place for Baptists. In 1845, Mary Ann Nash inherited the profits and rents of the mill until her sons came of age under the terms of her husbands will. Mary Ann Nash died on 7 June 1852. Thomas Nash enlarged the mill in 1853. After his death at the age of 21, his brother William was manager under the trustees until he came of age in 1857. William Nash was married twice, and had five children. In 1870 they moved from the Mill House to a new house called Crayfield House. It is recorded that the axle of the waterwheel protruded into the kitchen of the Mill House. William Nash died on 11 September 1879 and the mill was in the hands of trustees again. In 1898 a 250 horsepower about 190 kW double-expansion condensing steam engine by Pollitt & Wigzell was installed, along with a second paper machine. Shortly after this a secondhand dryer was purchased from Joynsons mill to replace one that had proved unsuitable. By 1954 the site was a factory complex. It had been demolished by 1986.


2.6. Watermills Foots Cray Mill

Foots Cray mill was a paper mill. By the 1870s it was used as a fabric printing works. In 1900 the mill was being used as a factory making photographic film. Its final function was the processing of silk. The paper mill had two cast iron overshot waterwheels in parallel. Each was 15 feet 4.57 m diameter. One was 10 feet 6 inches 3.20 m wide and the other was 5 feet 1.52 m wide. The mill was demolished in 1929.


2.7. Watermills Old Mill, Bexley

TQ 496 735

A Domesday site, one of three in Bexley. This was a corn mill. In 1255, the miller, Auxellus, was censured for allowing the escape of a suspected murderer. A millstone was bought for 55s.6d. in 1300. The last building on the site dated from 1779, when the low breast shot waterwheel of 14 feet 4.27 m by 10 feet 3.05 m powered four pairs of millstones. It was owned by the Cannon family from 1839 to 1907. Stephen Cannon was the first of the Cannon family, also running mills on the River Darent. The miller in 1872 was Stephen Cannon son, who concentrated the business at Bexley, the mills on the Darent being sold. A steam engine was installed in 1884, the tall chimney was built by a Mr Hart from Lancashire, who fell from the top whilst doing repairs and lived to tell the tale as his fall was broken by the roof of the engine house. The Cannon family sold Bexley mill in 1907. The mill was used in its latter days for making sacks. A picture of the mill can be seen here. The mill was burnt down on 12 May 1966 and was replaced by the Old Mill PH, a pub with a mill theme. In 2007, the pub/restaurant was converted into residential accommodation in the form of flats. Archaeological work carried out by Wessex Archaeology that took place prior to the redevelopment found that Aside from the levelling deposits no archaeological deposits or remains were observed and that "No traces of the medieval / post-medieval mill or of the wing shown on the 1873 Ordnance Survey maps of the area were observed either.


2.8. Watermills Hall Place Mill, Bexley

TQ 502 743 A Domesday site, this mill stood behind the mansion of Hall Place. The mill was run by the Cannon family at one time. It was a corn mill until 1882, and was then converted to a silk printing and flagmaking factory. It was demolished by a traction engine in 1925, with some of the main beams being sold to an American millionaire, Mr Brady. He used them in the construction of a mansion. The low breast shot waterwheel was 14 feet 4.27 m by 9 feet 2.74 m and powered at least two pairs of millstones.


2.9. Watermills Swaislands Printing Works, Crayford

TQ 517 748 A print works was established by Charles Swaisland in 1812. Two waterwheel symbols were marked on Greenwoods 1821 map. A cast iron and wood low breast shot waterwheel of about 10 feet 3.05 m by 6 feet 1.83 m was removed around 1948. It drove wooden drums for fabric washing. A second waterwheel was in existence in 1893.


2.10. Watermills Calico Mill

TQ 524 749 This mill stood where Watling Street crossed the Cray. In the 18th century it processed calico. It was marked on Greenwoods 1821 map as Calico Mills.


2.11. Watermills Lower Iron Mill, Crayford

TQ 528 755 This was the site of a plating mill built in the 16th century. It was in existence by 1570. It was still used as a flatting mill in the early 18th century, when it was owned by Lady Shovell. It was known as Crayford Iron Mill in 1800. It had a breastshot waterwheel. In 1817, it was replaced by Crayford Flour Mills.


2.12. Watermills Crayford Saw Mill

TQ 528 755 This was a saw mill powered by a breast shot waterwheel. It partnered Crayford Iron Mill from 1765. The timber for the floor of Buckingham Palace was produced here. The saw mill stood alongside Crayford flour Mill; it was standing in 1854.


2.13. Watermills Crayford Flour Mills

TQ 528 755 Crayford Flour Mills were built in 1817. They were powered by a cast iron low breast shot waterwheel 28 feet 8.53 m by 4 feet 6 inches 1.37 m and drove five pairs of French Burr millstones. The upright shaft was wooden, with a cast iron wallower. The waterwheel and machinery were scrapped in 1914, when roller milling plant was installed, driven by gas engines.

  • local Saxon landowner recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and from the River Cray that passes through the village. It lay on the old Maidstone Road now
  • name may also derive from the Latin word creta, meaning chalk, as the River Cray flows over a chalk bed. The village name derives from the dedication of
  • It borders the suburbs of Albany Park, Sidcup, Foots Cray North Cray and Ruxley. The River Cray runs through it in a north - easterly direction. The London
  • on the River Cray east of Sidcup and south of Bexley, and is in the Cray Meadows electoral ward, which also includes Foots Cray North Cray was previously
  • The industrial belt of the River Cray especially the paper mills, provided much of the club s support up till the 1950s. Cray Wanderers were a strong force
  • Though modern in appearance, St Paul s Cray has an ancient history. Romans camped along the banks of the river and even earlier settlements are suggested
  • Cray is a supercomputer manufacturer based in Seattle, Washington. Cray may also refer to: Crayfish River Cray in London, England Cray North Yorkshire
  • Cray Reservoir is a storage reservoir located in the Brecon Beacons National Park named after Crai village for the water supply to the city of Swansea
  • Murrumbidgee Rivers as well as many of their tributaries. Murray crayfish are also known as Murray River crayfish Murray crays freshwater crays spiny
  • Barnes Cray is an area in south - east London within the London Borough of Bexley. It is located on the Greater London border with Kent, bordering the Dartford
  • The River Shuttle is a small tributary of the River Cray in London, United Kingdom. The river rises at two or more springs between Avery Hill and Eltham

  • Foots Cray Place was one of the four country houses built in England in the 18th century to a design inspired by Palladio s Villa Capra near Vicenza. Built
  • St Mary Cray railway station is in St Mary Cray South East London within the London Borough of Bromley. It is 14 miles 57 chains 23.7 km down the line
  • River Cray was the largest river in the hundred of Ruxley flowing northward through six of its parishes, four of which are named after it. The River Cray
  • The Darent is a Kentish tributary of the River Thames and takes the waters of the River Cray as a tributary in the tidal portion of the Darent near Crayford
  • They include small gardens, river and woodland areas, and large parks with many sporting and other facilities. Foots Cray Meadows is an area of parkland
  • continues west over the River Cray then through Foots Cray and uphill to Sidcup as the A 211 road named Maidstone Road, Foots Cray High Street, Sidcup Hill
  • around the valley of the Afon Crai. The river is dammed 2 km 1.5 mi southwest of the village to form Cray Reservoir. Crai means fresh, raw water. The
  • near Buckden and the River Wharfe. It is a very popular walking area and is renowned for several waterfalls known collectively as Cray Waterfalls. On 5 July
  • Crane Beverley Brook River Wandle Ravensbourne River Silk Stream Pymmes Brook Salmons Brook Moselle Brook Ingrebourne River River Cray The network also includes
  • Crays Hill is a village in the Basildon borough of Essex, England. The River Crouch passes under Church Lane. The village was listed in Domesday Book of
  • Sevington to Willesborough Its tributary is the River Cray A minor river from Temple Ewell to Dover A Wealden river It is included here since for part of its
  • the River Thames the other rivers within the Borough are the River Darent, which, with its tributary the River Cray and the smaller Stanham River all
  • Shuttle River Way and Cray River Way and the Mayor of London s London LOOP walk, which, shortly after its start at Erith, follows the Cray River Way from
  • the Wateringbury Stream, Kent Upper Paper Mill, St Mary s Cray a watermill on the River Cray Kent Russell Company Upper Mill, Middletown, CT, listed
  • Park is situated on high ground overlooking the valleys of the River Cray and the River Shuttle. Originally a rural area used as farmland, the settlement
  • Saint - Marcelin - de - Cray is a commune in the Saone - et - Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. Communes of the Saone - et - Loire department
  • Saint - Bonnet - de - Cray is a commune in the Saone - et - Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. Communes of the Saone - et - Loire department
  • unfavourable recovering The site comprises four gravel pits, and the River Cray runs through three of them, while the fourth is fed by springs. Gravel
  • from Cannon Street to Deal left London at 5pm, hauled by River Class tank engine No 800 River Cray Several passengers later recounted that from time to

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