Historical parishes of Thurrock

Grays Thurrock

Parish facts:

  • Grays Thurrock is named after the French Norman Knight Henry De Gray who purchased the parish of Thurrock with permission from King Richard the Lionheart in 1195. Henry is thought to originate from the town Grey-Sur-Mer in Normandy, France.

  • Alfred Russell Wallace, botanist and explorer, moved to Grays and built a house called The Dell, off College Avenue in 1882. Here he developed on the sloping gravel terrace an interesting garden and wooded areas with grottoes, water features and picturesque path ways. He was a contemporary of Darwin who he corresponded with and wrote in his own right an important book on the theories of plant evolution.

  • Thurrock's first public railway arrived in the form of the London, Tilbury, Southend line in 1854. Stations were built at Purfleet, Grays, Tilbury Ferry and Stanford-le-Hope, later on stations were added at South Ockendon, Tilbury Town and East Tilbury.

  • The burning of the Goliath a naval training ship moored off Grays in December 1875 resulted in the death of a number of the boys, one officer and totally destroying the ship. The boys are buried in the Grays new cemetery and a memorial tablet is displayed within Grays Parish Church. The ship was replaced by the Training Ship Exmouth, which stayed at Grays until 1939.

  • In 1896 Syd Chaplin was sent to be educated on the Training Ship Exmouth, moored off Grays Beach. Syd was half brother to the famous silent film comedian Charlie Chaplin. Syd in his own right became a well known actor and film director in America. He returned to Grays in 1926 to visit his old ship, which he presented with a mobile cinema, so they could watch some of his films and invited all the boys to view his latest film "The better 'ole" in London.

  • Grays Beach was opened in 1903.

  • First road traffic lights in Grays were situated on the junction between Clarence Road and the High Street in c1931, they were turned off during the 2nd WW so not to waste fuel in stationery vehicles.