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Sunday 31 October 2010

An Old Dockyard, Bedtime reading from Mr.Dickens Jnr's. 'All The Year Round'

other uses for clocks

Just below Limehouse Hole, and at a little distance from the eastern shore, lies Limehouse Rock,  on which are only four feet. Opposite the Victualling Office at Deptford, on the Isle of Dogs side, a shoal begins, and extends about one-fourth over the River, which makes the channel very narrow between it and the ships at the Red House. You will avoid it by keeping Deptford Spire just open to the westward of the Clock House
in the Royal Dock Yard.
GREENWICH REACH lies winding in a circular direction from S.S.E. to E.N.E. At Deptford Creek a shoal begins and runs down almost to the west end of Greenwich Town; it nearly dries at low water: outside this shoal are 13 or 14 feet. The Clock House on with the two trees in Deptford Yard just clears it……..
……..On the north shore, off Millington’s or Anchor Wharf, and close in shore, is another shoal, which will be avoided going down, by keeping the Storehouse Clock in Deptford Yard open to the southward of the Isle of Dogs Ferry House, until Blackwell Reach comes open.

Excerpt from The New British Channel Pilot 1839.

The clock tower of 1712-20 replaces an earlier tower of the seventeenth century. Imagine Greenwich losing the turret from its seventeenth century Flamstead House, another maritime structure employed to set ships' clocks in the Thames, or another building contemporaneous with the early Eighteenth century Deptford Dockyard clock tower, the Royal Naval College losing its domes.

Putting the clock back in Deptford

Images 1,2 dockyard model d.1774
Image 3, photograph 1870
Image 4, 5 photograph 1984
with thanks to Marmoset at Crosswhatfields for the title and inspiration.

Cherokees in Deptford

Deptford Old Town Library

Description of Library that was demolished with money from Deptford City Challenge.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

any old iron

January 1669

The Officers of the Yard to the Navy Commissioners. Last night William Chandler, servant of George Hipton, shipwright in the yard, was taken by the porter carrying a drine bolt out of the yard, which he alleges he threw out of the London into the dock and hid it till he found an opportunity to carry it out. In confederacy with him was Edward Syms, shipwright. Since the repair of the London several parcels of iron have been stolen out of the yard and, though diligent search has been made, these two are the first apprehended. Chandler is now in the porter's custody and we offer our opinion for his punishment to have him well whipped about the yard for example's sake and then discharged, and Syms to have the like punishment and be discharged.

chips with everything

Copy letter from the Master Shipwright at Chatham. Received a petition from John Bissenden and Robert Woodriff, Shipwrights, on behalf of the whole body of shipwrights about their carrying out chips from the Yard on their shoulders. The Commissioner read the Board's warrant of May 1753 when the petition was withdrawn. All the Foremen and Quartermen had the Order read to them and each Quarterman was charged to tell his men separately that the Order required the chips to be carried under their arm. Today, 150 workmen came to the gate without chips, then 20 more came and lowered their chips and were followed by John Miller who refused to lower his chips and the main body of men pushed on with their chips on their shoulders and cheered when they left the yard.

ADM 354/153/40

Tuesday 12 October 2010


The Clock-tower returns.........an archaeological dig reveals the dock can be restored and remain open....

Landing Place and Look Out Stairs

The set of watergate stairs to the right of the dry dock were created at the same time as the 1720's Store House. Listed on plans as Landing Place and Look Out Stairs, they served as the ceremonial access to the dockyard for the launching of ships. Used by royalty from 1720 to 1869 and depicted in Clevely's series of paintings of the yard, the stairs remained open until the twentieth century. Perhaps they could be re-opened and the lookout building re-instated in a modern idiom to display finds from excavations that will take place during the impending development?

Convoy's Swans

Congratualtions are in order to the Convoy's Swans for the successful rearing this year of a brood of seven cygnets now almost fully grown and shedding their ugly duckling plumage. Let's hope their number augurs well for the future of the dockyard.

Barratt's Bones

Could this be the plot that Barratt Homes is about to build on?

Monday 11 October 2010


Panorama of the former dockyard during the tenure of The Metropolitan Foreign Cattle Market c.1900. From the left, the covered Double Dry Dock, the Great Storehouse and Clock-tower, Covered Twin Sister-Slips, 'Olympia' Sheds and Covered Single Slip.

Storehouse 1720-1984

After more than ten years of researching the dockyard there are still wonderful gems to be found, such as this photograph showing the Sail and Rigging loft immediately to the south of the 1720's storehouse and clock tower that was demolished in 1984.

Sunday 10 October 2010


inspired by Crosswhatfields to finally get some of these images of early Deptford to you all.

Bomb Damage

Dispelling Myths

Its often said that the dockyard was heavily bombed during WWII. In fact most of the destruction occurred post-war. This map of bomb damage to the area of the dockyard shows how little damage was actually done. The black colouring shows irreparable damage, the orange colour minor reparable damage. The circle covering the landing stage may be the bomb that killed the U.S. marines stationed in Deptford during WWII. They were killed when a V2 rocket hit their amphibious landing vehicles, LST's that were moored alongside the jetty.