“ Erith is a place in the London Borough of Bexley, south east London on the River Thames, United Kingdom. Erith's town centre has been successively modernised since 1961. „
If you drive through Erith today you could be forgiven for not realising that it was once a popular tourist destination. At first glance there are few obvious signs that affluent Victorians once arrayed themselves in their finery to parade along the Erith waterfront gardens.
Erith is located on the edge of London just inside the M25, but it is it's position on the river Thames that has always been most important to Erith.
The name Erith comes from a Viking word meaning 'Muddy Harbour'. In Tudor times Erith, was used for outfitting warships that where constructed along the Thames. The river also played a significant role in transporting materials to and from the various industries to which Erith has played host over the years.
It is this industrial legacy which has left its mark on Erith today. Although it is many years since the large scale industries ceased at Erith you do not have to delve too deeply to find the relics they left behind. Perhaps most noticeable are the remaining railway tracks from the old line that used to transport gravel from the quarry to the waterfront.
In more recent times a concerted effort has been made to revitalise Erith. There is now a major Riverside shopping centre which is at least as good as any other in the vicinity. Much of the former industrial land has been turned into affordable housing for local residents, and the signs of growing prosperity are everywhere to be seen.
So what is there to see and do in Erith today?
The local churches are a good place to start any visit. Two in particular are worthy of special mention. St John the Baptist church dates from Norman times and also features a brass to Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury (died 1567).
Christchurch, Erith is a comparative newcomer to the ecclesiastical scene, although only completed in 1874 it is a grade 2 listed building and has a spectacular series of murals decorating the interior of the church. Another important local religious site is Lesnes Abbey, although this falls just outside the boundary of Erith it is worth the short detour if you are in the area. The ruins of the abbey, which dates from 1178, are picturesque, and the whole site is beautifully landscaped.
If culture is more in your line then the Playhouse theatre is the place to head for. Located close to the Erith waterfront this is a cultural landmark and there is usually a show there that is worth seeing.
For outdoor pursuits you may want to head for Erith leisure centre, or perhaps a more relaxing stroll in the Riverside gardens. There is also the possibility of the sports ground, or the recreation ground on the Erith / Belvedere borders, the latter of these also includes a great children's play area that even adults can enjoy.
Travelling slightly further afield there are areas of woodland to explore in Barnehurst and Lesnes, as well as the famous Hall Place house and gardens, all within a ten minute drive.
It has to be admitted that eating out is not one of the things that Erith is best at, there are numerous cheap cafes, snack bars, and Indian or Chinese takeaways, but a distinct lack of anything more formal. The best option is probably to head for one of the many public houses that serves food. I have yet to find one where the food was inedible, and the prices are usually reasonable.
Accommodation is almost non-existent in Erith, a few of the pubs have rooms to rent but that is about it. If you want to spend more than a day soaking up the atmosphere then I suggest you head for nearby Bexleyheath where rooms can be had at either the Marriott or the Holiday Inn.
Erith is well worth a visit, don't miss one of south east London's hidden gems.