A city in Essex best known for its previous darts championships, proximity to the Lakeside Shopping Center and the freight terminal has unveiled a new name in an effort to attract visitors.
Purfleet in South West Essex has changed its name to Purfleet-on-Thames after two years of lobbying local campaigners.
The city, once described as a ‘pretty nasty place to live’, a cargo terminal has thanks to its location on the Thames, while the riverbanks lie in the shadow of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.
Hundreds of pieces of litter had washed up on the shore by the river at Purfleet last year, under the shadow of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge
Purfleet on Thames signage was unveiled on Saturday, July 4 in an effort to bring tourism to the city
Purfleet Thames Terminal processes the import and export of approximately 400,000 vehicles per year
Its proximity to the M25 and Dartford Crossing has also supported many industries, including a 1917 margarine factory.
From 1994 to 2008, the city was home to the PDC World Darts Championships, which were hosted at the Circus Tavern, before moving to Alexandra Palace in North London in 2008.
There is hope that the name change, along with a £ 1 billion regeneration project, will improve public opinion, following scathing reviews of the city that have surfaced online.
The Circus Tavern in Purfleet was home to the World Darts Championship from 1994 to 2007
An online review by Purfleet, in South West Essex, described it as a ‘pretty nasty place to live’
One person wrote about the city: ‘When you walk to the local shop, you’re in luck if you don’t get high from the fumes of the local gangs, who smoke all day while drinking and with stolen motorcycles on the riding trails.
“The buildings here are full of broken glass, graffiti and have not been painted since construction.”
Last year’s horrific photos showed hundreds of bottles and other debris washed up on the banks of Purfleet, under the shadow of the QE2 Bridge.
The natural habitat – an important breeding ground for wading birds and other sea animals – is hardly visible through the waste sea
Lizzie Prior of the Marine Conservation Society told the Daily Express: “These Purfleet images are heartbreaking”
At the time, Lizzie Prior of the Marine Conservation Society told the Daily Express: “These images of Purfleet are heartbreaking.
Everyday items such as beverage packaging, plastic cutlery, foil packaging, wrappers, straws, sandwich packs, lollipop sticks and stirrers thrown out by the public made up nearly 30 percent of all waste found on UK beaches in 2018.
Nearby, Purfleet Thames Terminal handles the import and export of approximately 400,000 vehicles per year.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has a visitor center at Rainham Marshes
In 2014, flytipping cradled part of the swamp area near Purfleet with hundreds of items dumped
The city is ready for £ 1 billion regeneration, but some locals say a name change is ‘an absolute waste of money’
Since 1917, the riverside city has been home to a Unilever factory that produces margarine.
It is also home to an Esso lubricant factory and CarpetRight headquarters. The truck company Scania Ltd also has a workshop and office in the city.
Purfleet Chalk Pits and the nearby Rainham Marshes have both been designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Speaking at a reveal of the city’s new name, City Councilor Victoria Holloway told the Thurrock Gazette, “This name change means the importance of this place and where it is on the river and in Thurrock.
“It shows that the Thames is an important part of Purfleet’s history and also its future.”
The city follows in the footsteps of Staines-upon-Thames, which changed its name in 2012.
Interesting facts about Purfleet-on-Thames
- It can trace its name back to the 13th century, when it was incorporated as Purteflyete.
- In 1916, the gunmen in Purfleet were the first to shoot down an anti-aircraft gun and received praise from then-Mayor of London, Sir Christopher Wakefield
- It’s important because it was listed as a potential A-Bomb target as a seaport and storage area in the 1950s.
- The city is mentioned in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as the location of ‘Carfax Abbety’, a property Count Dracula bought next to an insane asylum.
- Purfleet Thames Terminal sees approximately 250,000 trailers, containers and tanks processed annually.
In 2017, across the street from Purfleet-on-Thames, Gravesend was considering changing the name to reflect its location on the banks of the river.
It would reflect further change in a city with a rich maritime and military history, which has changed in recent years to accommodate the nearby Lakeside Shopping Center and growing traffic across the Dartford Crossing.
According to the BBC, there are plans to invest £ 1 billion in the city, with a film and TV studio, waterfront shops and up to 2,850 homes, along with community amenities.
The change was brought about by Purfleet Community Forum, which says the new name was first used as early as the 19th century.
Trevor Bachelor, vice chair of the forum, told the Thurrock Gazette: ‘The new name is like an old friend who returns for good this time. A glimmer of hope for our future with a nod to the past. I am proud that I gave the final push to make a name for myself. ‘
The reception of the name change has been mixed by some of the city’s 12,000 residents.
A local resident, Nicky Thompson, called the name change an “absolute waste of money,” and told the BBC“I just feel like they changed it to improve the area.”
Claire Asplin, 63, said, “I wasn’t sure, but when time passed, I thought it was actually a fresh start for the place, connecting the old with the new.
“You’re not just thinking of some place name, you’re thinking of a broader feeling of” oh there’s a river, it should be pleasant and fun. ”