Dartford – more than the QEII Bridge and Bluewater Shopping Centre?
In 1962, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards bumped into each other on a train leaving Dartford Station. Jagger was clutching a selection of albums recorded by Keith’s heroes, Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry. A few weeks later they formed a band called The Rolling Stones. And several years after that, The Rolling Stones ruled the world. Although Mick and Keef have now relocated to more exotic climes, Dartford is still a very nice place to live and is situated on a border between Greater London, Kent and Essex. Fascinatingly, some of the oldest humans in the Northern Hemisphere appeared in the region approximately a quarter of a million years ago, and the area has become the site of many archaeological finds dating back to the bronze, iron and of course, Stones age.
The influence of The Stones is still alive and well in the area, with the Mick Jagger Centre providing a resource for community arts, and The Orchard Theatre enduring as a key London venue for music, theatre, comedy and film festivals. The town’s biggest outdoor area, Central Park also hosts dozens of art and music festivals each year, whilst the Market Street Museum documents the rich and varied history of the area. Indeed, the Dartford area has witnessed some pivotal historical events over the centuries, including the 1381 Peasant’s Revolt, fighting prior to The Battle of Agincourt in 1442 and the execution of Christopher Wade in 1555. The area was also a location of economic activity key to the industrial revolution, including the establishment of the Dartford Paper Mills in 1862. Today, the town still hosts the headquarters of the Mazda car manufacturers and the HQ of GlaxoSmithKline was located in Dartford until 2010.
Probably best known for the town closest to the QEII Bridge and the M25 nightmare, Dartford is known to most of the population as a road sign rather than a place to live in or visit.
If you’re an avid shopper, Dartford and its surrounding area hosts a first class selection of shops, shopping centres and retail parks. Within the town, itself you’ll find the Prospect Place retail park, home to some of the best-known retailers in the UK, including, Asda, Bath store, Bensons for Beds, Matalan, NextHome, Carpet Right and TkMaxx. The Orchard’s Shopping Centre features an equally impressive selection of iconic brands and high street names, including, Boots, Peacocks, Aldi, JD Sports and Carphone Warehouse. Just out of town, you’ll also find two of the biggest shopping parks in the world- Bluewater and Lakeside- complete with most of the aforementioned retailers and a vast repertoire of bars, restaurants, cafes, pubs and food markets.
Housing – rocketing
In the February of 2016, The Daily Mail reported that Dartford was the quickest place for selling properties in the UK- with transactions taking an average of 16 days. Subsequently, properties in Dartford have been in hot demand this year, possibly a consequence of the town being easily commutable to Central London, readily accessible amenities and relatively affordable house prices with the average house costing in the region of £300,000.
Education – do we need any?
As well as Dartford Grammar School, which provided Mr Richards and Mr Jagger with an education back in the day, the town boasts a large range of schools and academic institutions, including: The Leigh Technology Academy, Wilmington Grammar School for Girls and the North-West Kent College of Technology.
Sport – not really necessary with Crystal Palace up the road
Although the area isn’t especially associated with sport, the town does play host to the football clubs, Dartford FC and Fleetdown United, whilst athletics enthusiasts are likely to be interested to. learn that the Dartford and White Triathlon Club is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the UK.
Legal Scene in Dartford
Dartford is difficult to define for law firms – because it is closely connected to Bexleyheath, Erith and Swanley the law firms are somewhat spread out. There are over 7,500 legal employers within 25 miles of Dartford but this includes most of London! 60 solicitor employers are located within 4 miles of the centre of Dartford, with the majority being situated in Bexleyheath. Dartford is a popular area for law – but the work here is predominately high street work – conveyancing and wills & probate are particularly popular. Very few commercial law opportunities exist – you will need to go into town for these.. Salary levels are always a bit of shock for anyone working in London and looking to base themselves closer to home. Unless you set up your own practice then chances are your salary potential is always going to be less than £45k for the remainder of your career.