Beacon Wood History

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 Beacon Wood has a varied history. It was originally a rounded hill and the ancient woodland on the lower slopes shows evidence that it  has been used for over 400 years - supplying timber for building, fencing and [Oak] for ship construction.

 In Elizabethan times, a beacon was situated at the peak of the 300 feet high hill, where the Country Park is now. It was one of the chain of  beacons lit to warn of the approach of the Spanish Armada (circa 1580); see Beacons Map.

 In the 1800's some woodland clearance took place and orchards were planted, whilst in 1885, the E. C. Powder Company Limited  began manufacturing smokeless gunpowder  (see Photo of Factory) on the site they leased, for a yearly rent of 4-10 shillings, from John J.  Allchin; see Lease Extract.

 In 1900 some 27 small, predominantly Kent-based, cement manufacturers and their subsidiaries merged to form the Associated Portland  Cement Manufacturers (1900) Ltd., or APCM for short, but known locally as "The Combine".

 In 1928 the famous Blue Circle brand name was introduced .

 In the 1930's
Beacon Wood was taken over for its Clay Reserves, by APCM Ltd.

From 1935 to 1964, four million tonnes of clay were excavated, mixed to a slurry and pumped along a 3km pipeline,  from Bean Clay Pit, to Johnsons Cement  Works (between Greenhithe and Stone). The clay was mixed with crushed chalk and burnt in kilns to produce cement.

 Although clay extraction ceased in 1964, the land remained in APCM ownership, without public access.

In the late 1970's
the Blue Circle brand name was adopted as the company name - Blue Circle Industries plc.

 In 1991 Blue Circle Industries leased the 70 acre disused Clay Pit for 15 years to Kent County Council
, for the Beacon Wood Country Park and an Advisory Group was set up by Groundwork Kent Thames-side who managed the creation and operation of the park.

Beacon Wood Country Park was created by Groundwork Trust and Local Residents and opened to the Public on 25 May 1992 .

 In 2001 Blue Circle Industries was taken over and the land passed to the Lafarge Group.  Lafarge Cement UK, like its predecessor Blue Circle Industries,  is the largest cement manufacturer in the United Kingdom, producing cement products under the old Blue Circle brand.

 On the 1st April 2001, Kent County Council and Dartford Borough Council took over park management from Groundwork Kent Thames-side. KCC/DBC did not continued meetings of the Beacon Wood Advisory Group.
The Blue Circle UK cement-making operation became Lafarge Cement in 2002.

In October 2005, a feasibility study and proposed action plan were published, for the creation of an Dartford Ancient Woodlands Country Park (DAWCP).  The report was funded by the ODPM and carried out by Gillespies.  It proposed linking Beacon Wood Country Park, Darenth Wood, Darenth Country Park, Lords Wood and Ladies Wood. The DAWCP was to cater for increased use, both from large scale development in the area and from further afield.  Bean Residents Association's support in principle for an Ancient Woodlands Country Park is noted in Enfusion's assessment of DBC Core Strategy Preferred Options dated January 2008.

Lafarge granted Kent County Council a 10 year extension to the lease in 2006, making the lease end date 2016.

Copyright © Bean Residents Association 2002 - 2014
Last Updated  12 January 2014