The 20th century led to a huge increase of transport development in Dartford. Cars first appeared at the turn of the century. In 1900, the owner of J&E Hall purchased a belt-driven Benz. In 1903, Dr James Hamilton bought a Belgian Metallurgique, the first to be imported into the UK. This car had a five seater open body. Little did the residents of Dartford appreciate the extent to which the car, lorry, van, bus and other forms of mechanical transport would revolutionise Dartford.
This new motorised transport created many new opportunities and provided cheap and effective means of transportation of not only people but also industrial goods and had a significant impact on town planning. This transport required roads built to a high standard and the town needed to make provision for parking, traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and a network of roads that would facilitate the traffic. The horse and cart soon disappeared.
Traffic incidents in early 20th century Dartford were very frequent. Heavy steam lorries also had occasional difficulties. It is reported that there were many reports of Dartford High Street’s narrowness and poorly-laid tramway tracks.
The 20th century also saw the introduction of new kids of public transport which offered opportunities to travel much longer distances than before. Day-trippers from Woolwich, Bexley, Welling and other South London towns could travel into Dartford to shop more frequently.
The invention of the train and the creation of rail links between Dartford and London and in the 19th century built foundations for rail facilities into the 20th century. The railway system and the development of station facilities brought widespread commuting. Locals no longer needed to work for employers in Dartford they could now ride on a train from Dartford Station and be into central London in less than an hour where they could find better job opportunities and increased wages.
Dartford residents could now also enjoy new leisure experiences thanks to the railway system. Holidays by train to the coast and countryside became more frequent for those who could afford the fare. The rail network also offered new economic opportunities as trains could transport materials and products to generate profits for local companies.
The new transport infrastructure was of great benefit to Dartford into the 1930s and beyond. The area was crossed by new roads and Dartford’s geographical location put many parts of the UK and Europe within easy reach via the M25, M20 and A2.