Sort file:- Gravesend, March, 2021.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.


Earliest 1846-

Punch Bowl Tavern

Latest Nov 1846




The building was totally destroyed in the fire in 1846. (Details here.)


Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette 21 November 1846.



Shortly after twelve o'clock on Thursday night, or rather yesterday morning, the town of Gravesend, which has of late years suffered severely from frequent fires, was, we regret to say, the scene of another calamity, the greater in magnitude, at regards the destruction of property, than any of the former, containing no fewer than forty houses, and numerous other buildings to a very great extent.

Singular to say, its locality is the same as the former fires. West-street extending along the water side from near the Town Pier to the Rosherville Gardens, and it it supposed that at least half of the street, with the houses on each side, is laid in ruins, including on the west side of High-street, and those bounding the courts at the back.

From inquiries made it appears that about half-past twelve o'clock some watermen, who were at the Town Pier-stairs waiting the arrival of a foreign steamer, observed a body of smoke hovering over the premises occupied by Mr. Garretes, tea dealer, adjacent to the "Pier Hotel," at the corner of West street. Not having seen anything of the kind before—their duty at the stairs being almost nightly—they suspected all was not right, and determined to arouse the inmates. Before, however, they could accomplish this, the flames burst forth from the back premises with such violence as to light up the whole town and the opposite shore, creating a general alarm. The inmates having been got out in safety, steps were taken to bring the Corporation engines, which were soon on the spot, into operation; but this for a time was impracticable, owing to the defective state of the water mains and the inefficiency of those placed in charge of them. The result was that the fire, which might have been confined to the back premises with the aid of one engine, extended itself to the buildings on each side, hence the destruction commenced with frightful rapidity, sweeping every house in that portion of West-street at the north-east corner to the water-side. The Mayor and most of the Town Council arrived within a quarter of an hour after the discovery, by which period at least four houses on the west side of the street were in flames from the basement to the roof, and the houses on the opposite side were igniting. The excitement at this juncture had increased to a most painful extent, it being too evident that a vast number of the surrounding buildings would fall a sacrifice, if some stringent measures were not adopted. The engines had been got to work, but not effectively. The consequence was that an order was given for the engines stationed at Dartford and Northfleet to be sent for, and expresses were accordingly dispatched. The military at Tilbury Fort had been previously mustered by the commanding officer of that fortress, who, with every promptitude, forwarded them to the assistance of the towns people, and it is but justice to observe, the men, throughout the trying occasions exerted themselves in a most energetic manner for the preservation of properly. Their efforts, however, were of little avail in stopping the career of the conflagration, for at least four hours the wind, which blowing a violent gale, completely baffling their operations, and increased the magnitude of the fire to a frightful degree. The scene, by four o'clock, was most awful, the flames had crossed the street, and seven or eight houses were in flames, beside the whole of the premises from the Town-pier to considerably below the "Talbot Inn," which was also amongst the number. From the south side of West-street the fire raged upwards in the direction of the centre of the town, destroying in its course a great number of low dwelling-houses in the various courts. These were principally tenanted by poor fishermen, hawkers, labourers, &c., and the distress that ensued amongst them in their endeavours to save their lives and their trifling chatties, was of the most poignant character. In one court there was no thoroughfare, except from the approach in West-street, and that was stopped by the dense body of fire. The greatest sanction was entertained for the safety of the poor creatures who tenanted it. The police and soldiers, however, bravely exposed themselves towards rescuing them, and which they succeeded in, by dragging them in at the back windows of the adjacent houses. From their excited state, and the dense suffocating character of the smoke, it is impossible to say whether the whole of them were saved. On this point there are many doubts, three parties up to the period of the account leaving, being missing. In addition to the Gravesend engines, several from Chatham and Dartford were brought to play in the most available positions. The checking of the fire in the direction it was extending towards the valuable portion of the town in the High Street, was the principle object of the firemen and authorities. Owing to the houses on the west side of High-street being composed principally of wood, this was a matter of much time and labour, and it was only by the more expert movement of the troops, that rescued them from destruction. The fury of the conflagration of the lower part of West street, still predominated, creating increased dismay and terror to those assembled; nor was any check effected until near seven o'clock yesterday morning. At this time, however (ten o'clock), an immense body of fire existed in every part of the ruins, the engines still continuing labouring to accomplish the suppression of the flames.

The principal portion of the houses that were erected on the site of the fire in West-street, are consumed, together with both sides of the street from High street to King street. Amongst the buildings destroyed, we may mention the "Pier Hotel," "Talbot Inn," "Punch Bowl Tavern," and also the intermediate wharfs and buildings.

With respect to the origin, there it every reason to suppose that a strict investigation will be investigated by the corporation. Suspicions are entertained that the origin is not the result of accident. The chief bulk of the property is insured in the Sun, Phoenix, Exchange, Licensed Victuallers, and Kent Fire-officers.

Immediately on the Intelligence arriving in town, Mr. Braidwood, the superintendent of the brigade, dispatched a number of his men to the fire to reader all possible assistance.


(Further reading click here.)




If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-