Borough of Thurrock
Grays town skyline
Grays town skyline
Shown within Essex
Shown within Essex
Coordinates: 51°30′00″N 0°25′00″E / 51.50000°N 0.41667°E / 51.50000; 0.41667
CountryUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
Ceremonial countyEssex
Admin HQGrays
 • BodyThurrock Council
 • MPsJackie Doyle-Price (Con)
Stephen Metcalfe (Con)
 • Total163.38 km2 (63.08 sq mi)
 • TotalRanked 118th
 • Density1,080/km2 (2,800/sq mi)
Ethnicity (2021)
 • Ethnic groups
Religion (2021)
 • Religion
Time zoneGMT
 • Summer (DST)British Summer Time
ONS code00KG (ONS)
E06000034 (GSS)

Thurrock (/ˈθʌrək/) is a unitary authority area with borough status in the ceremonial county of Essex, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames immediately east of London and has over 18 miles (29 km) of riverfront including the Port of Tilbury, the principal port for London. Thurrock is within the London commuter belt and is an area of regeneration within the Thames Gateway redevelopment zone. The borough includes the northern ends of the Dartford Crossing.

The local authority is Thurrock Council, based in Grays. The borough also includes Purfleet-on-Thames, South Ockendon, Stanford-le-Hope and Tilbury, as well as other villages and surrounding areas. More than half of the borough is designated as Green Belt.

The neighbouring districts are the London Borough of Havering, Brentwood, Basildon and Castle Point. On the opposite side of the Thames are Gravesham and Dartford in Kent.


Mammoths once grazed in the Thurrock area[2] and archaeologists unearthed the remains of a jungle cat. Humans have lived in the area since prehistoric times[2] and the land has been farmed by the Romans[2] and Anglo-Saxons.[2] Thurrock has numerous archaeological sites including the major excavation at Mucking. The name "Thurrock" is a Saxon name meaning "the bottom of a ship".[3]

The Woolmarket, Horndon-on-the-Hill

Horndon-on-the-Hill was the site of an 11th century mint as well as the 15th century woolmarket which gives an indication of the area's wealth in the 15th century. The narrowing of the river where Tilbury now stands meant it was important in the defence of London, and Henry VIII built three blockhouses, two on the Tilbury side and another on the Gravesend side of the river, following the end of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

In 1381, villagers from Fobbing, Mucking and Stanford-le-Hope instigated the Peasants' Revolt when they were called to Brentwood to pay the poll tax. When they refused to pay, a riot ensued which was the catalyst for a mass protest across Essex and Kent.

Later, in 1588 Elizabeth I addressed her troops not far from the Tilbury blockhouse as the Spanish Armada sailed up the English Channel. Between 1670 and 1682, the Tilbury blockhouse was substantially rebuilt into a much larger fortification (Tilbury Fort) and Coalhouse Fort was built further down river, close to the second blockhouse. The importance of the forts in defending the country continued through Napoleonic times and into the two world wars. The land where Tilbury Town now stands was farmland and marsh grazing until the building of the docks in the 1890s. Thurrock includes the Bata village, built for workers of the shoe company in 1933. Eight homes and the factory are listed.

Historically, the area was renowned for mineral extraction, including clay, aggregates and notably the digging of huge amounts of chalk from the West Thurrock area for use in the now defunct cement industries. When chalk extraction ceased one of the disused pits was redeveloped as Lakeside Shopping Centre. A number of former pits have been used to form the Chafford Gorges Nature Reserve, managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust.[4]

Captain Kidd

The body of Captain Kidd was displayed in Thurrock. He had been convicted of piracy and hanged on 23 May 1701, at 'Execution Dock', Wapping. His body was gibbeted — left to hang in an iron cage over the Thames at Tilbury Point[5] — as a warning to future would-be pirates for twenty years. Some sources give the location where his body was exhibited as Tilbury Ness, but this may be an alternative name for the same place. There is some uncertainty as to whether his body was displayed at what is now called Coalhouse Point or at a site a few hundred yards up stream, close to the present Tilbury Docks.[6]

1953 Floods

On 31 January 1953, the low-lying areas of Thurrock were inundated by the North Sea flood of 1953. The Van den Berghs and Jurgens margarine factory, which manufactured Stork margarine, was forced to stop production for many months. Since the output of this factory constituted one third of the country's ration allocation, this led to a severe strain on the supply of margarine in the UK.[7] Most schools in Thurrock were closed, either as a direct result of the flooding or in order to use them to help the relief effort. More than 1300 people in Tilbury and other low-lying areas were evacuated to schools on the higher ground.[8] Chadwell St Mary Primary school was used as the main welfare centre for the homeless.[9] By 15 February, most schools had returned to normal. The last to resume were the Landsdowne school in Tilbury and the newly opened Woodside Primary School – then called Tyrell Heath School.[10] On Friday 13 February, the flooded areas were visited by the young Queen Elizabeth II[8] Despite severe loss of life in nearby Canvey Island, only one person in Thurrock died as a result of the floods.[11]

Heritage plaques

In 2002, a partnership between Thurrock Council, Thurrock Heritage Forum and the Thurrock Local History Society began an initiative to place heritage plaques marking the famous people, events and organisations associated with Thurrock.[12] By September 2021 plaques included:

Administrative history

The borough has its origins in the Orsett Poor Law Union, which had been created in 1835 covering a group of 18 parishes in southern Essex.[15][16] Poor Law Unions subsequently formed the basis for later local government structures, with the Orsett Rural Sanitary District created in 1872 covering the same area. The parish of Grays Thurrock was made its own urban sanitary district in 1886.[17]

Urban and rural sanitary districts were converted into urban districts and rural districts in 1894.[18] Two further urban districts were later created from parts of the Orsett Rural District: the Tilbury Urban District in 1912 covering the parish of Chadwell St Mary, and the Purfleet Urban District in 1929 covering the three parishes of Aveley, South Ockendon and West Thurrock.[19]

After 1929 the area therefore comprised four district-level authorities: one rural district, containing 13 civil parishes, and three urban districts:[20][a]

In 1936 the four districts were all abolished to create the Thurrock Urban District (subject to some minor boundary changes with surrounding areas, notably at North Ockendon). All the civil parishes within the area were merged at the same time to become a single parish called Thurrock.[21][22][23]

The present-day borough of Thurrock was created in on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, covering almost the same area as the former Thurrock Urban District, which was abolished, with just a minor change on the border with Basildon to place the whole designated area for Basildon new town in that district.[24] The civil parish of Thurrock was also abolished as part of the reforms and the area became an unparished area.[25] The reformed Thurrock district was given borough status at the same time, allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor.[26]

Until 1998 Thurrock was a lower-tier district authority, with Essex County Council providing county-level services. Thurrock was made a unitary authority on 1 April 1998, taking over the county-level services.[27] Thurrock remains part of the ceremonial county of Essex for the purposes of lieutenancy.[28]


Main article: Thurrock Council

There is only one tier of local government in Thurrock, being the unitary authority of Thurrock Council. There are no civil parishes in the borough, with the whole borough being an unparished area.[29] The local authority is Thurrock Council. Elections are held in three years out of every four.

Wider politics

Thurrock is covered by two parliamentary constituencies. Thurrock includes most of the borough while South Basildon and East Thurrock includes some wards in the east of the borough.


Old and new: St Clement's Church, West Thurrock with the Procter & Gamble chemical plant on the banks of the Thames behind it.

Thurrock has a population of 175,500 [30] people living in 90,500 homes. The Metropolitan Green Belt covers 70% of the borough. There are 494 acres (200 ha) of land available for industrial use.[31] There are seven conservation areas, 19 scheduled monuments, including the dovecote at High House Purfleet, and 239 listed buildings.

The borough contains ten Sites of Special Scientific Interest:

Despite much of the borough being protected Green Belt land, Thurrock provides localised opportunities for further industrial and commercial development. The borough forms part of the Thames Gateway regeneration area, a corridor of opportunity that has been identified by central government as the area with greatest development and commercial potential in the country. Thurrock Development Corporation took over much of the borough's planning functions from its creation in 2005 until its demise in March 2011.

Much of the population and commercial activity is centred along the riverfront. This includes many large and important industrial sites, including two large oil refineries, manufacturing industries, a container port, cruise liner terminal, distribution warehousing and one of Britain's largest refuse disposal sites at the appropriately named settlement of Mucking. Thurrock is also home to the Lakeside Shopping Centre.


Climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year-round. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb" (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).[32]

Climate data for Thurrock
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 5
Average precipitation days 13 11 10 11 8 10 9 5 11 10 9 10 117
Source: Weatherbase[33]


Historical population
1911 2,500—    
1951 82,100+3184.0%
1961 114,300+39.2%
1971 125,000+9.4%
1981 127,400+1.9%
1985 124,600−2.2%
1991 128,700+3.3%
1995 133,400+3.7%
2001 143,300+7.4%
2005 148,900+3.9%
2007 152,200+2.2%
2011 158,300+4.0%
All totals rounded to nearest hundred
Source: Populstat & NOMIS

At the census of 2011, there were 157,705 people, 62,353 households and 45,985 families residing in the borough. The population density was 9.7 people per hectare. There were 63,869 housing units. The racial makeup of the borough was 86% White, 3.8% Asian, 7.8% Black, 2% Mixed Race, 0.6% other.

There were 62,353 households, out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 72.7% were married couples living together, 52.5% of all households were made up of individuals, 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.[34]

The median age in the borough was 42. 25.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.3% of residents were between the ages of 19 and 24; 30.3% were from 25 to 44; 24.2% were from 45 to 64; and 38.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.3% male and 50.6% female.[34]


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Thurrock at current basic prices published[35] (pp. 240–253) by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional gross value added[36] Agriculture[37] Industry[38] Services[39]
1995 1,406 8 657 741
2000 1,737 4 677 1,056
2003 1,995 5 664 1,327

Culture and film

Thurrock has been the scene of several major films.[40] St Clement's Church and street scenes at West Thurrock were used in the making of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Thurrock can also be seen in 28 Days Later. Scenes from the films Alfie (2004), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were shot at Tilbury docks. The opening scenes from Batman Begins (2005) were shot at Coalhouse Fort in East Tilbury. Some filming also took place for the film Essex Boys in and around the Bata estate at East Tilbury. The State Cinema, where Eddie met Roger in the classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit, can be found in Grays.

Art Deco architecture in Thurrock

The State Cinema in 2007

There are a number of examples of Art Deco architecture in Thurrock. The baggage hall at Tilbury was opened in 1930. It has an art deco interior, designed by Sir Edwin Cooper and is a grade II listed building.[41] The State cinema is also a listed building and dates from 1938. It is one of the few surviving examples of 1930s cinema architecture. It has the original cinema organ which can still be played. However, in the early 21st century the building became disused and faced dereliction. In September 2015 it was announced that J D Wetherspoon had bought the property for conversion to a public house.([42] Building of the Bata Shoes estate in East Tilbury was begun in 1933, and this is now a conservation area.JD Wetherspoon have since put the State Cinema building up for sale after announcing they would no longer be converting it to a public house January 2023

Chadwell St Mary has one of the few examples of a "Sunspan" house designed by the architect Wells Coates. Although built in the 1950s, Woodside Primary School's architecture has been described as the slightly earlier "ocean liner" style of Art Deco. The building features a number of bricked curves and circular windows, while the wrought-iron banisters on the stairs are deliberately set to lean out at an angle.


The Dovecote at High House

There is one multiplex cinema attached to the Lakeside Shopping Centre, and the Thameside Theatre in Grays. Live shows are held at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet. Open space includes Chafford Gorges Nature Park, Langdon Hills Country Park and Grove House Wood, managed by Essex Wildlife Trust. Museums and historic buildings include Coalhouse Fort at East Tilbury, Tilbury Fort in Tilbury, Purfleet Heritage and Military Centre, High House, Purfleet with its historic farm buildings, the Royal Opera House's Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop, The Backstage Centre and ACME artists' studios, Thurrock Museum and Walton Hall Farm Museum.

Next to Lakeside Shopping Centre is Arena Essex, a former motor sports complex, where speedway, banger and stock car racing took place. This site is now to be redeveloped for housing.


National Rail in Thurrock
East Tilbury
Tilbury Town
West Horndon
Chafford Hundred Lakeside

Being on the river and close to London, Thurrock is served with good communication links. The M25 London Orbital Motorway, the railway line between Southend and London Fenchurch Street which provides direct access to Central London, the Port of Tilbury, and the nearby London City Airport make Thurrock an important international trade centre. There is a grass airstrip south of Bulphan village. A ferry for passengers on foot connects Tilbury with Gravesend on the southern bank of the River Thames.

Rail transport in the borough is provided by c2c with stations at:

Bus services within the Thurrock urban area are mostly provided by Ensignbus.

Other operators are First Essex, Stagecoach London and NIBS Buses.


See also: List of schools in Thurrock

Thurrock has 55 schools; 39 of them are primary schools, 13 are secondary, two are special and one is alternative. All but one have free school or academy status, with Grays Convent High School instead having voluntary aided status. Five schools, including Grays Convent High School and four primary schools, are Catholic faith schools while two primary schools are Anglican faith schools. 44 schools in Thurrock are operated by one of 13 multi-academy trusts, which include major chains such as the Harris Federation and Ormiston Trust and the country's first cooperative academy trust.[43][44][45] Since 2007, all secondary schools in Thurrock have had specialist school status.[46] Some schools, such as William Edwards School and Orsett Heath Academy, utilise their right as specialist schools to select 10% of their pupils in specialist subject aptitude every year.[47]

Thurrock has no grammar schools, although Thurrock Council has tried to introduce them.[48][49] Historically Thurrock had three grammar schools, Grays Thurrock School,[50] Palmer's School for Boys and Palmer's School for Girls. In 1931, the Palmer's schools became public schools with boarding, reverting back to grammar school status in 1944 under voluntary control.[51] Grays Convent High School was an independent day school from its formation until 1969. There were also two selective secondary technical schools, Grays County Technical High School which is now an academy status comprehensive[52] and Aveley County Technical High School, which merged with the Palmer's schools in 1971 to form Palmer's College.[53]

Palmer's College, now one half of USP College,[54] is Thurrock's local sixth form college for generalised further education, whilst the Thurrock Campus of South Essex College is the local sixth form college for vocational education.[53] Palmer's also offers courses at higher education.[55] Other institutions of further education in Thurrock include the Thurrock Adult Community College,[56] Osborne Sixth Form and Ortu Sixth Form Centre Stanford & Corringham.


The Tilbury and Chadwell St Mary Excellence Cluster brought together Chadwell St Mary Primary School, ORTU Corringham Primary School, Grays Convent High School, Hassenbrook Academy, Herringham Primary School, Landsdowne Primary School, Manor Infant School, Manor Junior School, St Mary's RC Primary School, Woodside Primary School and The Gateway Academy. Senior members of the schools' councils also sat on the cluster's student council before its dissolution.[57]

ORTU Gable Hall School has had a long partnership with Pro Arte Alphen Park School in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa for almost 10 years – the two schools have held exchange programmes with each other and the students sampling life in each other's respective countries.[citation needed]

Woodside Primary is linked with a school in Nepal, through the charity Gorkha Learning for Life, which was founded by a member of school staff.[58]

Sport and leisure

Thurrock has several Non-League football clubs in the area:

Thurrock Yacht Club is based in the centre of Grays on the Thames foreshore. It offers a range of competitive and recreational boating opportunities.[59]

List of places in the borough

Historic buildings

Freedom of the Borough

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the Borough of Thurrock.

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (June 2020)



Military Units


  1. ^ Whilst the urban districts still contained civil parishes, as urban parishes they had no administrative functions.
  1. ^ a b UK Census (2021). "2021 Census Area Profile – Thurrock Local Authority (E06000034)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d Catton, Jonathan (2008). "A Short History of Thurrock". In Christopher Harrold (ed.). Exploring Thurrock. Thurrock Local History Society.
  3. ^ PH Reaney (1969). The Place-Names of Essex. CUP.
  4. ^ "The Geology of Essex".
  5. ^ "A Brief History of Piracy | Online Information Bank | Research Collections | Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard". Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  6. ^ "Captain Kidd – the Tilbury connection". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011.
  7. ^ Grieve, Hilda (1959). The Great Tide. Essex County Council. p. 466.
  8. ^ a b "1953 Floods". Archived from the original on 5 March 2010.
  9. ^ Grieve, 1959, page 600
  10. ^ Grieve, 1959, page 616
  11. ^ Grieve, 1959, page 568
  12. ^ "Thurrock Council".
  13. ^ Thurrock Yellow Advertiser, 26 April 2012
  14. ^ "Commemorating the Norman knight, Henry de Grey". 14 June 2013.
  15. ^ Higginbotham, Peter. "Orsett Workhouse". The Workhouse. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  16. ^ "Borough and council history: From Turroc to modern Thurrock". Thurrock Council. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  17. ^ Kelly's Directory of Essex, 1914. Kelly's Directories Ltd. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  18. ^ Local Government Act 1894 (56 & 57 Vict. c. 73)
  19. ^ "Orsett Rural District". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  20. ^ "Ordnance Survey Diagram of Essex showing administrative boundaries, 1934". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  21. ^ "Thurrock Urban District". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  22. ^ "Relationships and changes Thurrock CP through time". A Vision of Britain through Time. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  23. ^ A History of the County of Essex: Volume 8. London: Victoria County History. 1983. pp. 35–56. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  24. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 31 May 2023
  25. ^ "Thurrock Registration District". UKBMD. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  26. ^ "District Councils and Boroughs". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 28 March 1974. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  27. ^ "The Essex (Boroughs of Colchester, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock and District of Tendring) (Structural, Boundary and Electoral Changes) Order 1996",, The National Archives, SI 1996/1875, retrieved 9 June 2023
  28. ^ "Lieutenancies Act 1997",, The National Archives, 1997 c. 23, retrieved 26 April 2023
  29. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  30. ^ "Labour Market Profile - Nomis - Official Labour Market Statistics".
  31. ^ "Thurrock Council | Strategic Planning | General Information About Thurrock". Archived from the original on 29 October 2012.
  32. ^ "Thurrock, England Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase.
  33. ^ "". Weatherbase. 2013. Retrieved on 5 July 2013.
  34. ^ a b Neighbourhood Statistics. "Check Browser Settings". Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  35. ^ "Regional Gross Value Added" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2023.
  36. ^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  37. ^ includes hunting and forestry
  38. ^ includes energy and construction
  39. ^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  40. ^ "Thurrock Heritage Fact File". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011.
  41. ^ Good Stuff. "Riverside Station (Including Floating Landing Stage) – Tilbury – Thurrock – England – British Listed Buildings".
  42. ^ "Pub chain JD Wetherspoon confirm purchase of State Cinema". Thurrock Gazette. 14 September 2015.
  43. ^ "Thurrock's Education Landscape" (PDF). Thurrock Council. 13 July 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 January 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  44. ^ "Thurrock Education Commission" (PDF). Thurrock Council. pp. 25 and 26. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 October 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  45. ^ "Our History". Osborne Co-operative Academy Trust. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  46. ^ Smith, Alexandra (1 February 2007). "Specialist schools in England now total 84% of all schools, new figures show". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  47. ^ "Thurrock Council Secondary School Admissions information brochure September 2022" (PDF). Thurrock Council. pp. 40 and 58. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 October 2021. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  48. ^ "Grammar schools for Thurrock?". Thurrock Gazette. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  49. ^ "Thurrock Council reveals plans for new grammar school, if government reforms get green light". Thurrock Gazette. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  50. ^ Parliamentary Papers. House of Commons. 11. Vol. 28. Great Britain: H.M. Stationery Office. 1869. pp. 64–65.
  51. ^ "William Palmer College Educational Trust". USP College. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  52. ^ "Parishes: Grays Thurrock". British History Online. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  53. ^ a b "Report from the Inspectorate: Palmer's College" (PDF). Further Education Funding Council for England. July 1995. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  54. ^ "Our History". USP College. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  55. ^ "USP College Prospectus 2018" (PDF). USP College. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  56. ^ "About us". Thurrock Adult Community College. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  57. ^ "Tilbury and Chadwell St Mary Excellence Cluster". Archived from the original on 30 April 2010.
  58. ^ "Gorkha Learning for Life". Archived from the original on 11 March 2010.
  59. ^ "Thurrock Yacht Club in Essex". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  60. ^ "Posthumous honour for Father Paul as council recognises service to borough community by three priests". The News. Portsmouth. 22 May 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  61. ^ "Council awards highest honour to Thurrock clergymen". Thurrock Gazette. 23 May 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  62. ^ "Freedom of the Borough honour bestowed to three clergymen across Thurrock". Your Thurrock. 1 October 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  63. ^ "Freedom of the Borough ceremony". Thurrock Borough Council. 1 February 2024. Retrieved 2 February 2024.
  64. ^ "Burma Star Association honoured with freedom of the borough". Thurrock Gazette. 28 November 2008.

51°30′N 0°25′E / 51.500°N 0.417°E / 51.500; 0.417