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Cliff Collapse at Galley Hill, Swanscombe Closes Main Dartford-Gravesend Road

Aerial Photo
CopyrightBritish Broadcasting Corporation
 

The damage to a local warehouse can clearly be seen in this aerial photo of the collapse which occured in April this year taking with it the eastbound carriageway of the A226, pavement, stone wall, trees and hundreds of tons of chalk. It is thought that a local water main burst might have triggered the separation of the cliff face from its' parent chalk deposit. Thankfully, no-one was injured in the incident. The road will be closed for some considerable time with all traffic diverted through Swanscombe and Ebbsfleet.

The Galley Hill incident is the second such collapse in recent years, the last one being the chalk landslide at Bluewater Shopping Centre in 2021 that closed part of the Bluewater Parkway road for several months.

Landslide
CopyrightStone Museum of Geology
 Bluewater Parkway

Concerns over such events occurring were raised by the residents of the Worcester Park housing development where 160 metres of chalk cliffs alongside the A226 in Stone that edge the site were beginning to fail and £1m of work had to be undertaken to stabilise these cliffs with hundreds of steel reinforcing rods, metal mesh and catch-fences.

Worcester Park
Aerial view of Worcester Park Development
CopyrightGround Engineering
 A226 Cliff
Remedial works
CopyrightStone Museum of Geology
Close up of Remedial works
CopyrightStone Museum of Geology
 Close up of remedial works showing the steel reinforcing rods inserted into the chalk, metal mesh covering the face and catch-fencing added to the bottom of the railings.

In the south east cliff collapses are more normally associated with the English Channel where coastal erosion, freeze/thaw action, wind and rainfall causes cracks to form in the tall cliff faces. Events such as these occurring within 20 miles of London are rare but chalk quarrying across north Kent over the past century, particularly in the Dartford, Stone, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Northfleet areas, has meant that such cliffs also exist along much of the A226.

Because of the Government Thames Gateway building programme there are new or existing residential and commercial developments at the foot of many of these cliffs. The Bluewater, Worcester Park and now Galley Hill incidents should be a wake-up call to both National and Local Government that the possibility of such collapses in north Kent is high and that events such as these will inevitably happen again.

Former quarries between Dartford & Gravesend
Former quarries between Dartford & Gravesend.

 

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