Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Convoys Wharf - Deptford's Aspirations

Convoys Wharf - Deptford's Aspirations: The Olympia BuildingThe Deptford Dame has already written a comprehensive report on last Saturday's consultation event on Convoys Wharf. Transpontine has published some excellent photographs.I noted, as did the Dame, the absence of anybody with an Aedas badge, but I was also somewhat surprised that nobody from the Port of London Authority was in attendance. Approximately half the site is still...
Posted from Deptford Misc

History Corner: Convoys Wharf Archaeology

Report from Transpontine on the Convoy's Wharf open day
"History Corner: Convoys Wharf Archaeology:
Last Saturday there was a lot of interest in the public consultation on the future of  the Convoys Wharf site in Deptford (Deptford Dame and Deptford Is both include thorough reports of the issues raised). For me, the archaeological tour of the area was particularly interesting....."

Monday, 26 March 2012

Convoy's Wharf 'open day'

The Convoys Wharf consultation event was held on 24th March. Various local bloggers have covered it, including -

The Deptford Dame
Deptford Is..

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Convoys Wharf masterplan to be reviewed - from the Deptford Dame

Posted from The Deptford Dame (click the link for her blog)

"Convoys Wharf masterplan to be reviewed: Convoys Wharf developer Hutchison Whampoa has appointed architect Sir Terry Farrell's practice to review the contentious masterplan proposed for the former Royal Dockyard site in Deptford.

The current masterplan by Aedas which the developer submitted for outline planning permission to redevelop this historic site did not go down well with local people, the council's planning department, archaeologists and industrial historians, garden history experts, maritime heritage specialists, and MP Joan Ruddock to name but a few, as detailed on the Deptford Is.. blog.

Aside from retaining the Olympia Building (which is listed and hence protected) and creating a public area over the site of the former double dry dock next to the Master Shipwright's House, the Aedas proposals pay scant regard to the heritage of the site. And though the Olympia Building was to be retained, the masterplan saw it all but cut off from the river and hence denied any context in terms of its original purpose. Boats were built on these covered slipways (which remain just below ground inside the building) before being launched into the great basin for fitting out, and eventually to the river.

The site of Sayes Court Gardens, created by diarist John Evelyn and acknowledged as playing a significant role in the development of the English landscape movement, remains unacknowledged in the original masterplan, as do almost all of the former dockyard structures which remain below ground in unconfirmed states of repair.

Apparently the consultation day on 24 March will be a 'listening exercise' at which Farrell's team will be invited to hear short presentations from some of the community groups such as Second Wave Youth Arts and Deptford Is.. and its associated projects Build the Lenox and Sayes Court Gardens.

Reassuringly Hutchison Whampoa has said it regards this event as the 'beginning' of the consultation process rather than the end of it - I trust this means that they now accept that previous consultation exercises have been rather shallow.

Apparently a more detailed agenda for the event, which has been set up in liaison with Joan Ruddock, will be sent out in due course."

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Old Maps Online

Old Maps Online:
We probably don’t feature enough old maps of London on here – we tend to go for the latest glitzy maps, but to make up, here is a huge collection of older maps, which we have received multiple tips about over the last few weeks!
It’s not specifically London-related, but Old Maps Online, an innovative way of cataloguing lots of old maps, has many of the London area. The website was produced by the University of Portsmouth, with a JISC grant. It uses the Google Maps API, with a custom styling of the background map and appropriately themed controls.
As a catalogue, the maps themselves are stored and viewed on other websites, but Old Maps Online shows the bounding box indicator, and the preview of the map, allowing quick and easy viewing. (Note the bounding box often extends beyond the map boundaries, as it is always represented by a north-facing rectangle and quite a few of the maps are not aligned to north.)
A “bottomless” scrollbar ensures the list of the maps keeps on going, as you explore.
Background map data is Copyright Google 2012.

Posted from The Mapping London blog

Monday, 12 March 2012

Future of Convoys Wharf - New date for community consultation event

New date for community consultation event: Hutchison Whampoa, the developer of Convoys Wharf, has invited members of the local community to attend an open day on Saturday 24th March from 11am to 4pm.

The event is slated as 'presentations and discussions about future plans for the site'.

The poster says that the presenations start at 11am and there will be an opportunity to tour the site. You should meet at the entrance to Convoys Wharf, which is at the top of New King Street.

According to the poster you should email to confirm attendance, or call 0845 460 6011.

Posted from Deptford is

Monday, 5 March 2012

The significance of Deptford's dockyard basin

The significance of Deptford's dockyard basin:
Museum of London Archaeology has published brief information on its website about the continuing excavations at Convoys Wharf. The latest post focuses on the Dockyard Basin, one of the most important below-ground structures on the site which lacks any kind of statutory protection.

MOLA says:

"The excavations... have unearthed several phases of the Dockyard Basin. This large pool probably began as a natural pond at the confluence of the River Thames with the small stream identified earlier in the excavation. Historical sources suggest that the basin was adapted to moor several of the King’s ships in the early 16th century and later used to season masts. By 1688, the Dockyard Basin (or ‘Wett Dock’) was hexagonal in plan, with slipways on the west side and a canal connecting it to the river. Once the ships were largely complete, they were launched into the basin to be fitted out.

"Excavations have identified a timber revetment wall that probably dates to the 18th century when the basin was remodelled. The revetment was held in place by large horizontal timber beams, called land ties, on the landward side.

(copyright MOLA)

The east wall to the canal linking the basin to the river, built in 1814 to John Rennie’s design. The recess to the right of the depth gauge would have housed an iron and timber gate. The wall replaced an earlier timber version, seen in the background of the image.

"The early 19th century saw a dramatic increase in the size of warships and the four slipways at the edge of the basin shown in the c1774 model had been replaced by two much larger stone slips by 1868. These stone slipways were protected from the weather by an open-sided cover building, now known as the Olympia building (listed Grade II). The cover building is one of only two structures visible above ground that date to the Dockyard period (the other being the Shipwright’s House outside the boundary of the site).

The same canal wall looking west from the landwards side; this side of the wall would not have been visible when the basin was in use as it was below ground level.

"The excavation has revealed the evidence for two phases of canal walls linking the basin with the river. The later phase, built in brick and stone in 1814 to a design by John Rennie, is shown in the first of these images with the earlier timber version, just beyond, to the east. Depth gauges were identified in both phases of walls – Roman numerals cut out of copper plate and nailed to the timber wall and carved into stone in the later phase."

But the extent of the excavations being carried out on this enormous site, which has huge significance for the nation's maritime heritage, are woefully inadequate. While the condition of the underground structures that have been uncovered has been found to be variable, it is impossible to state conclusively – as developer Hutchison Whampoa is doing – that these heritage structures cannot be saved. Only a tiny percentage of the dockyard has been excavated, yet the developer is dismissing any suggestion that these major structures be incorporated into the masterplan, instead proposing 'preservation in situ' which essentially means that no foundations will theoretically be allowed to damage the remains, but they will still be buried below a permanent building.

The current masterplan for Convoys Wharf completely disregards English Heritage guidelines on maritime & naval buildings (2011), which highlight works by John Rennie as worthy of a high grade of protection and describe sites such as the basin, basin slipways, basin slipway covers and caisson gate infrastructure as 'sites of collaborative genius'.

In the case of Convoys Wharf, these below-ground structures are all works by eminent Georgian and early Victorian engineers.

Deptford was the first of the royal naval dockyards to have a wet dock or basin and this technology was exported to outlying dockyards such as Chatham in about 1650. Under the administration of Sir George Carteret, Deptford's skilled workmen and naval dockyard officers built the wet dock at Chatham.

The basin is also where John Evelyn carried out the first diving bell experiments, where Cook hoisted the pennant on board the Endeavour in 1768, where Bentham built the dry dock in 1802 with Edward Holl, where in 1814 John Rennie rebuilt the basin entrance with the latest caisson gate technology, where Capt. Sir William Denison built the slipways to the basin with slipway covers built by George Baker &Sons, where George Biddel Airey tested the effect of a ship's magnetism on navigation instruments, and from where in WWI and WWII, supplies were sent out to troops stationed around the world.

The developer's design team has also ignored English Heritage London area committee comments from 2003 and 2005 which requested that the Olympia building be visible from the river. Hutchison Whampoa has dispensed with the Richard Rogers proposal, which was to create a public plaza on the site of the basin – the current masterplan all but cuts the Olympia building off from the river, preventing the building and its importance to the site and the former dockyard from being properly understood, and making a mockery of PPS5 guidelines on planning for the historic environment.

Posted from

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Ghosts In Deptford

Ghosts In Deptford

by Cicely Fox Smith

If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as very well they may,
A man might find the night there more stirring than the day,
Might meet a Russian Tsar there, or see in Spain's despite
Queen Bess ride down to Deptford to dub Sir Francis knight.

And loitering here and yonder, and jostling to and fro,
In every street and alley the sailor-folk would go,
All colours, creeds, and nations, in fashion old and new,
If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as like enough they do.

And there'd be some with pigtails, and some with buckled shoes,
And smocks and caps like pirates that sailors once did use,
And high sea-boots and oilskins and tarry dungaree,
And shoddy suits men sold them when they came fresh from sea.

And there'd be stout old skippers and mates of mighty hand,
And Chinks and swarthy Dagoes, and Yankees lean and tanned,
And many a hairy shellback burned black from Southern skies,
And brassbound young apprentice with boyhood's eager eyes,

And by the river reaches all silver to the moon
You'd hear the shipwrights' hammers beat out a phantom tune,
The caulkers' ghostly mallets rub-dub their faint tattoo —
If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as very like they do.

If ghosts should walk in Deptford, and ships return once more
To every well-known mooring and old familiar shore,
A sight it were to see there, of all fine sights there be,
The shadowy ships of Deptford come crowding in from sea.

Cog, carrack, buss and dromond — pink, pinnace, snake and snow —
Queer rigs of antique fashion that vanished long ago,
With tall and towering fo'c'sles and curving carven prows,
And gilded great poop lanterns, and scrolled and swelling bows.

The Baltic barque that foundered in last month’s North Sea gales,
And last year's lost Cape Horner on her sails,
Black tramp and stately liner should lie there side by side
Ay, all should berth together upon that silent tide.

In dock and pond and basin so close the keels should lie
Their hulls should hide the water, their masts make dark the sky,
And through their tangled rigging the netted stars should gleam
Like gold and silver fishes from some celestial stream.

And all their quivering royals and all their singing spars
Should send a ghostly music a-shivering to the stars —
A sound like Norway forests when wintry winds are high,
Or old dead seamen's shanties from great old days gone by, —

Till eastward over Limehouse, on river, dock and slum,
All shot with pearl and crimson the London dawn should come,
And fast at flash of sunrise, and swift at break of day,
The shadowy ships of Deptford should melt like mist away.

Cicely Fox Smith (1 February 1882—8 April 1954) was an English poet and writer. Born in Lymm, Cheshire and educated at Manchester High School for Girls she briefly lived in Canada, before returning to the United Kingdom shortly before the outbreak of World War 1. She settled in Hampshire and began writing poetry, often with a nautical theme. Smith wrote over 600 poems in her life, for a wide range of publications. In later life, she expanded her writing to a number of subjects, fiction and non-fiction. For her services to literature, the British Government awarded her a small pension. (Courtesy of Wikepedia)