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9:39am Wednesday 20th June 2007 in News
Now an attractive retail centre, Crayford has a long and proud manufacturing history.
The area is recorded as being the site where the Britons fought the Jutes at the Battle of Creganford in 457. The town is also mentioned in the Domesday Book. A settlement was formed at the point where the River Cray could be forded and Cray-ford became its name.
The presence of the river led to the growth of industries such as tanning and silk-making. A water-powered iron mill was noted in the 16th century and this became a saw mill by the late 18th century.
In the early 19th century armaments firm Vickers moved into the area. The company's workforce grew to 14,000 around the time of the First World War. The Maxim gun, Gunbus fighter and Vimy bomber are among the famous military products of Crayford. Weapons were also produced during the Second World War and for the Korean War.
Many of the semi-detached houses to the north-east of the town centre were built for Vickers' workforce. The houses remain, but all that is left of the Vickers factory today is the clocktower, which is surrounded by modern retail outlets.
The 1930s was a busy housebuilding period on Crayford. Despite Crayford being a target for bombers during the war, the town's population almost doubled between 1931 and 1951.
Manufacturing has been replaced by retail in the Crayford of today, which has a large Sainsbury's store at its centre.
Crayford is also a commuter town, home to many people who work in London and other nearby centres such as Bexleyheath and the Bluewater retail park near Dartford.
Direct trains to Greenwich, Lewisham, Gravesend and Charing Cross, combined with several bus routes linking the town to Dartford and Bluewater, make it easy to get in and out of Crayford.