Saturday, October 19, 2013

Convoys Wharf site, Depford, now listed by World Monuments Fund

Built at the Royal Docks at Deptford,
Royal Sovereign, with shipwright Peter Pett.
Peter Lely c.1643 (photo sourced from Portcities).
Thanks to @brob11 on Twitter for highlighting this BBC News story, which is currently showing on BBC iPlayer at

It has been my week for drifting slightly beyond the confines of Rotherhithe into neighbouring areas. Over a couple of days it was Greenwich; this is much closer to home, with a news story about the former Royal Docks at Deptford.  

The 16th Century Royal Dockyard at Deptford, where Henry VIII's beloved Mary Rose was built and where Captain Cook set off on his voyages of exploration, is now in private hands and has been scheduled for development by Hutchison Whampoa.  Back in 2011, the Shipwright's Palace blog raised several good points about the failings of the development plans as regards the surviving dock features, and highlighted a vast list of fascinating events that took place at the dock and expeditions that began their lives there. 

The Victorian shipbuilding structures that are shown on the photograph below are just the tip of the iceberg, the real gold being the basin, a series of dry docks and mast ponds dating from the 16th Century period onwards, when vast naval ships were made for the Crown.  

The site as it was when it was being excavated
by the Society of Antiquaries of London, May 2012
(photo sourced from their website)
The site has now been placed by the World Monuments Fund on a Watch list of threatened heritage sites.  The WMF styles itself as the leading non-governmental organization for the protection of cultural heritage.  This may make life more difficult for the developers, Hutchison Whampoa who want to build the £1 billion pound Convoys Wharf development, consisting of 3000 new homes, many of them high-rises.

Hutchison Whampoa say that their plans are sensitive to the existing features, but being added to the WMF Watch list may help to ensure that the local heritage is made a focal point of the development plans rather than just given a nod in passing.

There's a report on the archaeology of the site from the Society of Antiquaries of London newsletter dating to May 2012.

Map of Deptford in 1623


Deptford Dame said...

Local campaigners have a blog at and two projects that they would like to see included in the masterplan - and

Andie said...

Thanks - good to know.

Jason said...

very nice and different blog.The Victorian shipbuilding structures is very beautiful.

Roy said...

Convoys site not excavated by the Society of Antiquaries but by Museum of London Archaeology (MoLA)

Andie said...

Hi Roy. The news item about the excavation to which I linked above is on the SoA website, which was why it was mentioned.