JOHN Matthews, a local historian, opened the November meeting by declaring there is a lot of history attached to the Mardyke, but also a lot of brambles and nettles!

The name means “boundary ditch” and part of the Mardyke forms the boundary between Barstable and Chafford hundreds. For most of its course, it forms the boundaries of parishes through which it flows.

Various tributaries were described - two flow from Thorndon Park, another flows west from the Plotlands in the Langdon Hills and another flows east from Upminster.

A riverside seven-mile walk, the Mardyke Way, runs from Bulphan to Ship Lane, Aveley, passing the fens to Stifford.

The walk continues on through Davy Down, where one can see the Victorian viaduct and the pumping station, to the Thames Chase Community Forest and on to Aveley.

It continues on to Purfleet where a bridge crosses to the Rainham Nature Reserve.

The Mardyke finally flows into the River Thames near the QEII Bridge where, on the bank at low tide, tree stumps can be seen, the remains of an ancient forest, which have been dated to Neolithic times, probably the oldest things in Thurrock.

At the Christmas meeting at 8pm on Friday, December 14, at Grays Adult Community College, Susan Yates will celebrate our 60th anniversary by telling the history of the society. Visitors are welcome.