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Home   Gravesend   News   Article

Vandals destroy Northfleet Harbour heritage for the sake of 20p scrap angering the Northfleet Harbour Restoration Trust

11 March 2014
by Alex Matthews

Vandals attacked the site of Northfleet Harbour, stealing Victorian mooring rings and clinker balls used by local cement factories in their grinding mills.

Nicknamed the “Northfleet Harbour cannon balls” by conservationists, the balls and the moorings rings have very little financial value but their worth to the heritage of the area is great.

Conrad Broadley is upset that thieves have attacked a site so important to the area's heritage.

Conrad Broadley is upset that thieves have attacked a site so important to the area's heritage.

Conrad Broadley, trustee of the Northfleet Harbour Restoration Trust (NHRT), is upset that people lack respect for the historical site.

He is not sure exactly when the crime took place, but thinks it was last week.

The trust is working to excavate parts of the harbour and has so far discovered two docking areas, a tide mill and an 18th century slip way.

Mr Broadley, 47, said: “We know the Romans travelled through there, because it’s well documented that they took their boats to Springhead.

“It’s all part of the heritage in the area and we’re trying to bring up a collection of finds.

“The clinker balls do hold quite a lot of interest for people who want to find out about how the cement industry works.”

Conrad Broadley

Conrad Broadley

Mr Broadley said he thought the mooring rings had been stolen for scrap.

He said: “It’s very frustrating to think of all our hard work digging this out of the ground and then someone can come along and help themselves.

“It’s what they’re taking away from the volunteers and the community.

“The mooring rings had been buried for about 150 years.

“Their monetary value is about 20p scrap, but the heritage value is immense.”

Northfleet has a long connection with the cement trade, with factories running in the area for decades.

Mr Broadley said people had shown an interest in the harbour and the cement industry’s contribution to Northfleet.

He said: “We’ve had a lot of people come down and talk about the balls.

“Kids used to use them as shot puts and everything – they hold a lot of significance for local residents.”

The theft has been reported to police and Mr Broadley is waiting for a reply from officers.

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