Joyce Green Farm sits towards the centre of the old Dartford Marshes, not far from the A206 dual carriageway, which now bisects the marshes. The farm gave its name to a WW1 airfield and hospital, both of which have now vanished from the marshes.
Joyce Green Farm is now an untenanted aggregate works, Joyce Green Quarry, owned by Ingrebourne Valley Limited since 2015. Security is twitchy, don’t lean on the farm gate.
Working the spoils below
Millennia ago, the River Thames flowed here. The river was much larger back then, its powerful waters depositing deep layers of sand and gravel. Local gravel extraction has taken place since at least the 19th century, albeit on a smaller scale. A flooded quarry is now a scenic lake, complete with wooded islands.
Ingrebourne Valley Limited has permission to extract 670,000 tonnes of sand and gravel from the reclaimed marshland here and work is starting on a processing plant. Lorry movements may be an issue in future years, as access is via a narrow lane.
The company must restore the site, and while attempts are being made to protect wildlife, including newts and water voles, such disruption may come at a price.
Several derelict WW2 ammunition stores are scattered across the farm, and can be seen from the embankment walk alongside the River Darent. At least two have been lost in recent years, with no trace remaining. Enemy aircraft would follow the Thames towards targets in London, so this area was rich in anti-aircraft defences.
The farm is notable for giving its name to the airfield and hospital which followed and is next to one of the few routes onto Dartford Marshes.
Just beyond the farm, dirt bike tracks lead through the undergrowth to the remains of the Orchard hospital. Walk further along the road to get to the abandoned Wells firework factory. Beyond lies the Dartford Gun Club, the Dartford Creek Barrier and the former locations of Joyce Green airfield and the Long Reach Tavern.