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Tuesday 1 November 2011

Kiss the Past Hello-Deptford 2021

The restoration of Sayes Court Garden has proved to be an international success.

For local people especially,

since it had been decided that it made no sense whatsoever to provide a primary school on site when there was an empty one at Charlotte Turner Gardens a few minutes away, sheltered accommodation has been provided surrounding the restored garden. This means of course that the elderly people spend time outdoors and act as guardians for the garden at the same time. Many of them are also involved in maintenance and planting which adds to their quality of life.

But it isn't just the elderly who benefit, the garden provides training and jobs for local youth who often stay around even after the working day is over.

Some of the young trainees add touches of their own to John Evelyn's original plan that are highly regarded in the world of garden design.

The garden offers so much beyond a place to be. It's a source of learning as well. Evelyn had collected and planted many specimen trees.

that prove to delight so many people interested in their origins.

As the garden had been laid out in the 17th century, 19th century, again in the 20th century and after the restoration in the 21st century, with contemporary additions, this means that Deptford is able to boast four centuries of English landscape gardening which excited the heritage agencies who poured money into such a unique project which in turn attracts visitors from all over the world, as many visitors as there are leaves on a tree,

in all seasons,

Space for everyone.

Visitors are also impressed by the sunken garden in the site of the basin. Whatever the weather it's a popular place to meet and spend time.
The residents though seem to prefer the smaller more intimate garden in the old mast dock.
Of course, it's not surprising that so many visitors come to Deptford now, something that at one time was almost unimaginable for some people. It took a while to convince people of the benefits but it soon became clear that there were once in a lifetime opportunities not to be missed and the powers that be soon came to realise the economic benefits for the area, the health, employment and training opportunities that could be derived from a development that focused on the intrinsic historic character of the place.
But Deptford was never going to be a place where the magnificent history alone dominated the scene, the whole purpose of starting from the historical fabric was in order to generate world class places for the future, somewhere that locals, Lewisham borough and London as a whole could be proud of. The Seven Bridges across the historic openings in the river wall have certainly done that. People come from all over the world now, especially from Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada to acknowledge the origin of their ancestors.
They do this by placing padlocks on the bridges.
They tend to do this on the bridge that was sponsored by their nation to recognise and celebrate the historic links with Deptford.

One of the most stunning bridges is of course is the bridge of light that recognises that not all of Deptford's history is glorious. Its role in the slave trade is acknowledged by the bridge of light where candles are permanently lit to witness the suffering that is also part of Deptford's history.

Finally i just wanted to mention the success of the opening of the dry dock. Doesn't it look fantastic. There were so many opportunities for green spaces elsewhere in the site, that it really made no sense to lose the chance to repair whatever was necessary and open the dry dock. There had been a dry dock in the same place since at least 1517 so it was pretty significant for the whole of London that this was effectively demonstrated. Thank goodness the little landscaped area first proposed was shelved in favour of a much mor e dynamic solution.

The dock is protected for most of the year by an ephemeral structure that echoes the original dry dock cover. Now the dock can be used for all kinds of events throughout the year. An ice-skating rink is installed in the winter from Nov to Feb, there are two periods of art installations one in the spring from March to May which is the international event, we've had Richard Serra and Jeff Koons recently and another in September and October that is a showcase for local artists. During the summer the dock is used as a performance space for National Youth Theatre and visiting international companies. Last year there was an incredible performance of a Japanese Romeo and Juliet.

Let's just go to the floating cafe in the 18th century mast dock,
its where the Lenox is now moored that has just returned from a visit to the royal dockyards in Malta, Bermuda and Antigua.

Coming back to the present, if you want to see some of these opportunities realised then please visit www.deptfordis.org.uk and consider signing the petition for a richer future for Deptford's history and Kiss the Past Hello.......


  1. Once again, brilliant contribution to the future of a unique community, a national viable scheme with international long-term repercussions and relevance.

    See you by the Lennox for a stroll around the park!

  2. Isn't that simple Hutchison Whampoa's Kiss the Past Goodbye! or Deptford's Kiss the Past Hello!??

  3. Overall, a refreshing vision of much better uses for this site than what the developer is currently offering

    But re. Sayes Court, I'm not sure the Heritage bodies would be happy to pour money into a scheme that included historically anomalous elements like those blue topiary er...traffic cones...?!

    Better to restore Evelyn's garden as faithfully as possible, not create a mishmash of four centuries. The nineteenth and twentieth century park incarnations were insignificant by comparison to Evelyn's garden, and if garden archaeology had existed as a discipline when W J Evelyn created the public park in the 1870's I am sure he would have applied it.

  4. You have a point. But the aspirations of the 19th century and the motivations of the 1950's Sayes Court Garden are no less important as social documents and notions of garden. perhaps it is the shifts and social change that make this place so compelling.

    1. Shipwrights historical excellence must be part of current naval construction groups of Royal & Indian Navy. ND Makker Chief Shipwright IN

  5. 2011 to 2012 Mark's the 450th Anniversary of the Laying Down and Launching of HMS Triumph of 1562 at Deptford Royal Dockyard Kent.

    The Largest Ship Built in England during Elizabethan Times with a Complement of

    around 500 Men and with 55 Guns She was the Flagship of Vice Admiral Sir Martin Frobisher during the Battle of the Armada in 1588.

    HMS Triumph of 1562 is a Symbol of Deptford's Important Contribution to Royal

    Navy Shipbuilding and Hopefully one Day a Replica of HMS Triumph of 1562 can be Built and Launched at Deptford Royal Dockyard Site giving a Present and Future to Deptford in Symphapy with it's Heritage.

  6. The Naval Contingent in a Restored Deptford Royal Dockyard Kent Site HMS Deptford should
    be Awarded the Freedom of Deptford and
    Exercise this Freedom on a Once a Month
    Basis at least thus Binding Deptford Town
    Closer to it's Naval Heritage

    Equally with more People coming to Visit Deptford with the Restored Dockyard Site
    it should Act as an Inspiration to Tidy Up
    Deptford High Street

    This will make For a Better Present and Future than the Town Rotting Further into
    Decay and the Dockyard Site Defaced by
    Tower of Babel Skyscrapers

  7. This is visionary stuff - it makes me weep.

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