Northfleet Harbour


Northfleet Harbour in Kent is steeped in history, much of which dates back to the Roman era with a complex of villas, temples, graveyards and dwellings being excavated upstream on the River Fleet (Ebbsfleet River).  Saxon dwellings and an intact water turbine have also been found, together with three Viking anchors in Fleet. 

Downstream in the harbour entrance there is a tidal water mill dating back to Victorian times with mill pond, millrace and sluices still intact.  In the area, there was a wealth of industry from foundries creating armaments for the Crimean War, boat building and the world's earliest cement exports. Sadly, the historic harbour declined with the cement industry and was totally forgotten, being hidden from view behind the factory.

Currently the harbour has been blocked off by a flood defence wall with just a sluice to let the river Fleet out, but the aim is to reopen this wall and link the harbour back to the Thames to bring this vital marine asset back into use. 

The Northfleet Harbour Restoration Trust hopes the harbour will see a renaissance, with the area being ear-marked for mixed use regeneration to help plug the gap in facilities in the Thames Estuary region.  As well as providing a multifaceted facility with safe moorings for historic ships, boat repairs, a base for community organisations such as sea scouts and other voluntary bodies, the Trust also aims to offer sail training, heritage interpretation, victualling, marina facilities etc.

The Trust's key objectives include:

- creating a base for historic vessels, traditional ship builders and repairers, thereby alleviating problems caused by lack of space for their activities on the Thames

- providing an operational base for organisations such as The Marine Volunteer Service and Sea Scouts, thus promoting educational resources for both heritage marine and boat building skills

- building a marina the size of Gillingham Marina with almost full tidal access 24hrs a day (to give an idea of scale, Northfleet Harbour is five times the size of Gravesend Canal Basin).

Northfleet Harbour is an ideal location for what could be a very attractive and popular boating destination on the Thames, helping to reduce the current shortage of sheltered berths and moorings for historic ships and traditional boat repairers.


The Vision

Northfleet Harbour of the future could be a vibrant destination to visit. The mixed use development to the East of the harbour could offer an attractive marina; the harbour could host a marina and become a centre for maritime heritage, boat repairs, sail training.

Here are the examples that the Trust believe the harbour should be used for:

Ebbsfleet International Marina
Attractive walks and seaing areas
A home for historic ships - the harbour could offer dozens of affordable places for ships to be displayed and repaired
Public boat launching facilities
Boat repairs and storage
Access for Migratory fish and other wildlife
Reopened River Fleet
Sports facilities
Heritage interpretation

Shipshape Network will continue to keep you updated on this project as it develops.

Sept 2014   Northfleet Harbour Restoration Trust achieve charity status

This is fantastic news for the project team, whilst it won't have any immediate impact on all the good works being carried out by Trust volunteers and enthusiasts, it will help immensely as they raise funds toward the harbour’s Lock Design, Development Plan, Part Time Archaeologists, education program and eventual Harbour restoration.

As always donations are gratefully received, or you can join their growing list of sponsors both corporate and individuals.  Every bit will help towards getting the archaeology finished and the harbour full of water and boats.

Donations can be made via Paypal to or cheques can be made payable to Northfleet Harbour Restoration Trust and send to 80 Dover Road, Northfleet, Kent DA11 9QD

The Trust’s Registered Charity Number: 1158702.

Update from, Sept 2014

April 2014   New Ebbsfleet Garden City Proposals could have positive impact

News has just been released of the 15,000 home Ebbsfleet Garden City, preceded by announcements about the £2bn Paramount Park, these in turn both preceded by the delivery of Bluewater and Ebbsfleet International Railway Station.  All these new developments are neighbours to Northfleet Harbour and will be linked to the harbour by the Fastrack Public transport route.   

The Northfleet Harbour project team are hoping that these developments won't be dealt with in isolation to Northfleet Harbour as there are many mutually beneficial aspects to both, for those moving into the new Garden City to be able to walk down the road to see the boats and relax in a harbour side bar or buy fresh fish from the fishermen will be a truly unique experience, likewise for visitors to Paramount with a chance to unwind after the excitement of the day. The harbour itself would be a major destination in its own right with the opportunity to come and see a whole range of historic ships, restoration projects and the opportunity for a whole range of other maritime activities.

Update from, April 2014

24 Jun 2013 - Challenge

The biggest challenge for the Harbour Restoration Project could arguably be putting a hole in the 1980's River Wall and opening up the harbour to the Thames.

Evaluating the option to choose in itself is a huge challenge and could well end up being the costliest part of the feasibility study.

Whilst the team has the structural drawings for what is currently there, they do need to have a structural engineer build up some potential solutions and put some costs to them, which will determine whether they have a full 24hr tidal access set of lock gates, a lifting cill or just an open wall as existed before but with flood defences improved around the perimeter of the harbour.

They are looking for support on this front, whether donations, promotions or advice, this needs to happen so we can get on to the next chapter in the harbours history and future. 


11 May 2013 - Generous support

Toppesfield Ltd based in Northfleet right on Northfleet Harbour very generously donated the use of their digger for three days. This along with the use of a dumper truck also donated for the purpose has enabled the West Dock to be completely opened up, allowing the archaeological digs to begin.

The digs go down to the early 1900's level and have also exposed the top of the East Dock where with another day's work, the archaeology can begin on that side as well.

Update from

30 Jan 2013 - Northfleet Harbour Restoration supported in local plan

Gravesham Borough Council planning documents recognise the full potential of Northfleet Harbour for the area. The document clearly states that Gravesham Borough Council 'supports the creation of a new navigable harbour for recreational purposes at Robins Creek (aka Northfleet Harbour)'.  Whilst it is not a new harbour that is being created, but a restoration of an ancient harbour, the fact that the Council has recognsied the potential is positive news.

The representation deadline has now expired (12 Feb 2013), see website for all details.

13 Jan 2013 - Slipway and Docks being uncovered

Fantastic progress has been made over the last month and the slipway is now completely uncovered, the next challenge is the two docks.

Images showing Slipway and Docks being uncovered

Update from   

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