The Gunpowder Magazines

Map of Creekmouth area showing proposed location of magazine stores next to 'ale house' The Crooked Billet

Map of Creekmouth area showing proposed location of magazine stores next to ‘ale house’ The Crooked Billet

The first gunpowder magazine at Creeksmouth was commissioned, and owned, by a Mr John Ivedales. It was referred to as a stone built magazine but they were usually built in brick and then clad in stone. They were, at this time, guarded by soldiers.

Creeksmouth was an ideal spot for a gunpowder magazine as it was in such an isolated  area, miles away from the nearest dwellings, save for the weather-board Crooked Billet Inn, close by. It was used to store around 100 ton of gunpowder. Its proximity to the river was important for two reasons: Firstly, for the easy loading and unloading of the gunpowder barrels, along the purpose-built jetty, to the boats and, secondly, in case of an explosion the magazine was close enough to the river to be able to douse any ensuing flames with the water.

Ships going off to fight wars, in an around the African continent, would make their way from the docks, in London, down-river to Creeksmouth and load up with barrels of gunpowder before continuing on their way down the Thames and out into the English channel. On their way back from war and conflict they would moor up at Creeksmouth to unload the empty barrels and any unused gunpowder, for storing in the magazine.

Another, brick built magazine, with a magazine-keepers cottage nearby, was built in the early 1800s. A pond was dug in the marshland, very close to this magazine, once again for fire safety reasons. In 1885 the magazines were sold to the Chilworth Gunpowder Company.

As the village of Creekmouth grew up around the magazines, the new residents began to complain about the close proximity of so much gunpowder and tried to have them closed down. Eventually they fell into disuse and were dismantled after the Great War. However, local legend has it that the stone built magazine is still there, buried in the silt and mud from the river.

Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any photographs of the Creekmouth gunpowder magazines but there were many suck structures all the way along the River Thames and there is a particularly fine, preserved magazine, just along the river at Purfleet.

Although the magazines were long gone, the two magazine cottages, for the ‘storekeepers’ and their families, remained, and were lived in, until the demolition of the village in the early 1960s.

Chilworth Place

One of the new roads at Barking Riverside has been named in memory of the Chilworth Gunpowder Magazines of Creekmouth.