Dartford is the principal town in the Borough of Dartford, Kent. When the Romans engineered the Dover to London road (afterwards named Watling Street), it was necessary to cross the River Darent by ford, giving the settlement its name. Roman villas were built along the Darent valley and at Noviomagus (Crayford), close by. The Saxons may have established the first settlement where Dartford now stands. Dartford manor is mentioned in the Doomsday Book, written in 1086 after the Norman invasion. It was owned by the king. During the medieval period Dartford was an important waypoint for pilgrims and travellers en route to Canterbury and the Continent, and various religious orders established themselves in the area. In the 12th century the Knights Templar had possession of the manor of Dartford. In the 14th century, a priory was established here, and two groups of friars—the Dominicans and the Franciscans—built hospitals here for the care of the sick. At this time the town became a small but important market town. The earliest industries were those connected with agriculture, such as the brewing of traditional beers and ales. Lime-burning and chalk-mining also had their place. Fulling was another: the cleansing of wool needed a great deal of water, which the river could provide. This led to other water-based industries, using hydropower to operate machinery.
|Watling Street, Dartford|
Dartford Football Club was formed in 1888 by members of the Dartford Working Men's Club, initially playing only friendlies. The club soon was entering cup competitions, reaching the final of the Kent Senior Cup in 1894. Following this, Dartford were founder members of the Kent League for the 1894–95 season, and entered the FA Cup for the first time the season after. Darts continued their association with the Kent League, winning the league cup in 1923–24, before switching to the Southern League in time for the 1926–27 season. For a decade and a half following the 1939–1945 war, Dartford had little to show for its efforts except for a sparkling win over Bromley in Kent Senior Cup in 1947. In the early 1970s Dartford appeared in four successive Kent Senior Cup finals, winning the first and the last. By winning the Southern Division of the Southern League in 1980–81 Dartford had gained a short-lived place in the Alliance Premier League. Relegated after just one season but having tasted life at the top of the semi-professional game Dartford wanted more. John Still who had led Leytonstone/Ilford to a clean sweep of trophies, was the man for the job, in 1983–84 he steered Dartford to a fourth Southern League Championship and a resultant return to the Alliance Premier League. This time Dartford stayed two seasons finishing third in 1984–85. Another periodic crisis was looming, and with Still departing in February 1986, Dartford were relegated once again. In summer 1986 former Tottenham and England winger Peter Taylor took charge of the club.
This Pieman visited Watling Street having travelled by train from London Bridge to Dartford station. Dartford comprehensively beat visitors Dorchester Town 4-0 in this FA Trophy clash.