International Writers Magazine:
setting brings many tourists from London who want to spend a day in the
country. Now these people obviously have never stepped foot outside of
the south east, because if they truly dwell under the misapprehension
that Gravesend is in the country, would they then believe that Derbyshire
is a not-quite-so-tropical jungle?
is a fairly large town in the north west of Kent. Within five minutes
in any direction lies train stations, motorways, ferries and bus
stops, basically anything you could need to arrive at pretty much
any destination. However, next to these major arterial transit ways
lie fields, trees, woods, parks, a semblance of "country".
Not many people outside of Kent actually seem to have heard of Gravesend.
The town has such a rich and varied history from its origins as a plague
pit for the victims of the Black Death to the arrival of Pocahontas in
England. Per square mile, there are more pubs in Gravesend than any other
town in the country and this fact alone you would have thought would give
the town its warranted national fame. Yet alas, Gravesend has sunk into
near obscurity, its rich history forgotten in recent years all because
of what was built just down the road the modern monstrosity that
is Bluewater shopping centre. This is not exactly a surprise as we are
now living in a world where the goings on of some fatuous bimbo such as
Paris Hilton is more important than real culture.
Europes largest shopping centre has affected Gravesend more than
just masking its history, much of the towns business has been lost
and because of this, certain areas have fallen into disrepair. The high
street has more empty shops than ever before; major franchises like Woolworths,
Primark and McDonalds still do well but small businesses have been effectively
eradicated. The cinema became obsolete when Bluewaters sixteen screens
turned up and the building is now an evangelical church.
Gravesend has been through many changes in recent history, some good such
as the building of the St Georges shopping centre in the seventies
and others not so great such as the Channel Tunnel rail link. Whatever
happens to Gravesend it will always be my home, it was where I grew up,
its a part of me. I know I will go back one day and I cant
help but wonder what other changes, good or bad, await my return.
© David Alexander October 2007
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