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Grays (or Grays Thurrock)[1] is the largest town in the borough and unitary authority of Thurrock in Essex and one of Thurrock's traditional (Church of England) parishes. The town is approximately 20 miles (32 km) to the east of London on the north bank of the River Thames, and 2 miles (3.2 km) east of the M25 motorway. Its economy is linked to Port of London industries, its own offices, retail and Lakeside, West Thurrock.

Grays Town Wharf.jpeg
Grays wharf overlooking the River Thames and Kent
Grays is located in Essex
Location within Essex
Population36,601 (2001 Census)
OS grid referenceTQ615773
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townGrays
Postcode districtRM17
Dialling code01375
AmbulanceEast of England
EU ParliamentEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°28′30″N 0°19′48″E / 51.475°N 0.330°E / 51.475; 0.330Coordinates: 51°28′30″N 0°19′48″E / 51.475°N 0.330°E / 51.475; 0.330


Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that he visited Grays on 24 September 1665 and apparently bought fish from the local fishermen.[2] Parts of Grays and Chafford Hundred are set within three Victorian chalk pits; the largest two being the Lion Gorge, and the Warren Gorge. Another area of the Chafford Hundred residential development is built on a Victorian landfill site.

On 23rd October 2019, the bodies of 39 people were found in the back of a lorry at Waterglade Industrial Park in Eastern Avenue. They are believed to have been victims of human trafficking, or migrants being smuggled into Britain. The vehicle, registered in Bulgaria, was thought to have travelled to the UK through Purfleet from Zeebrugge. A 25-year-old lorry driver from Northern Ireland was arrested by Essex Police on suspicion of murder.[3] Essex Police launched an investigation afterwards and the lorry was moved to the nearby Port of Tilbury.[4][5] It is the biggest murder investigation in the history of Essex police.

Origin of the nameEdit

The origin of the name "Grays Thurrock" comes in two parts. Thurrock is a Saxon name meaning "the bottom of a ship".[6] The element "Grays" comes from Henry de Grai, a descendant of the Norman knight Anchetil de Greye, who was granted the manor of Grays Thurrock in 1195 by Richard I.


Nearest places:


A map of the town from 1946

Local sites of interest include the Thameside Theatre, the Thurrock History Museum, Grays Beach and the now-disused State Cinema.

The Dell was of the earliest houses in Britain to be built of concrete.[7] It was built on the instructions of Alfred Russel Wallace, who lived in the town from 1872 until 1876.

From the top of the Derby Road Bridge in Grays one can look down to Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays Beach children's playground and the River Thames.

As well as Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays Beach is the site of the local landmark The Gull, a lightship built in 1860, which has lain on the foreshore for decades and is now in a serious state of dilapidation. The light from The Gull has now been removed, restored and installed on the foreshore of the yacht club.

The Thurrock Campus of South Essex College relocated to a new complex in the town centre in September 2014.

The town is approximately 20 miles (32 km) to the east of London on the north bank of the River Thames, and 2 miles (3.2 km) east of the M25 motorway its economy is linked to Port of London industries, its own offices, retail and Lakeside, West Thurrock. Its variously used riverside (from homes through wild bird-habitat marshland to importation, storage and distribution) faces Broadness Lighthouse in Kent.[8]


Grays has good road links, being close to the A13 road and the M25 motorway. The A126 London Road is the main road which links Grays town centre with Lakeside Shopping Centre, Purfleet and Tilbury.

Grays railway station runs through the centre of the built-up core and is served by c2c services to London Fenchurch Street to the west and Shoeburyness to the east.

Also Grays bus station by the station above is a hub for most bus services in Thurrock. The bus services are operated by Ensignbus, First Essex and NIBS Buses.


The area's local football team is Grays Athletic, which plays non-League football and has won the FA Trophy twice.

It's also home to Sunday league football team Palmers F.C. who were defeated by Thames Gateway F.C. in their most recent cup final clash.

Lakeside Hammers speedway team (formerly Arena Essex Hammers) races nearby, next to the Lakeside Shopping Centre.

A team named Grays raced against the home team which was called Cambridge at Caxton Speedway near Cambridge on 10 September 1931. Grays featuring Lionel Loudon, Wal Evans, Bill Bailey, Alf Lloyd and Smiler Puncher lost.

Sailing is a popular sport in Grays, and with the proximity of the Thames has potential for growth. Most sailing activities take place at Thurrock Yacht Club or Grangewaters outdoor education centre.

Notable peopleEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Moncrief, AR Hope; Bruhl, L Burleigh (1909). Essex. Adam and Charles Black. p. 107.
  2. ^ "When Samuel Pepys visited Grays". Thurrock Gazette.
  3. ^ "Lorry driver held as 39 found dead in trailer". 23 October 2019 – via
  4. ^ "Murder investigation launched after 39 people found dead in lorry container | Essex Police".
  5. ^ "39 found dead in lorry 'were Chinese nationals'". 24 October 2019 – via
  6. ^ PH Reaney, The Place-Names of Essex, (CUP, 1969)
  7. ^ ""The Dell" plaque". The Alfred Russel Wallace Website.
  8. ^ Grid square map Ordnance survey website
  9. ^ "Russell Brand: Grays bad boy made good talks about his life, times and new 'Booky Wook'". Thurrock Gazette. 16 November 2007. Retrieved 8 February 2019.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit