River Thames – National Heritage

Traditional boatyards and maritime sites along the River Thames are under threat – as never before – from commercial and residential development.

Where homes and offices are built and sold, often for premium prices, working boatyards are driven out. They cannot compete when property values are driven sky-high by developers.

Yet it is these historic boatyards, slipways, quays, wharves and docks which created Britain’s remarkable maritime history. From the time of the Tudors – especially King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth – right through to Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill – it has been the sailors and boat-builders along the great River Thames who have contributed so much to our national defence and pride.

By linking some of these rare and historic places together, the Thames Heritage Alliance is drawing attention to their importance, to help them survive in the age of high-rise and high-price property development.

It’s been suggested that various Thames-side sites with national heritage value should join together to promote understanding of how small sites along the great river have contributed to our country’s history.

For instance, at Convoys Wharf in Deptford, Henry VIII had his naval shipyards.  At Northfleet near Gravesend, there is evidence of use from Roman times through to the industrial period, and at Faversham Creek a remarkable story of gunpowder production through nearly 400 years shows how these small sites played their part in defending the realm.

Now all these sites are under threat. Property developers and planners want to see them redeveloped – at a premium price. History is being swept away – despite a popular upsurge of interest in traditional methods such as boat-building. Water conservation, environmental issues, wildlife, history, culture and education are all at risk.

The Thames Heritage Alliance is seeking to redress the balance.

We hope you will subscribe to this site and send us your contact details.

2 thoughts on “River Thames – National Heritage

  1. Hello there,
    Thought you should know that a 3rd planning application has just been submitted to re-develop part of the historic working slipways and boat repair facilities at Ramsgate Harbour. This development if it goes through will almost certianly mean the closure of the yard by the restrictions it will impose. Ramsgate Harbour Slipways is one of the largest and few remaining yards left in the South East area.

    Details can be obtained via the Thanet Council Website. http://www.ukplanning.com/thanet
    Planning Aplication Number: F/TH/13/0594.
    Objections in writing need to be sent in by 22nd August.

  2. It is clear to me, after a life time of sailing around the east coast and writing about it for nearly ten years, that the waterside is gradually being sucked into the sphere of the house holder at the expense often of the mere boat yard…

    This news from Ramsgate mirrors what has happened at places such as Wivenhoe, Faversham, Strood and many places along the banks of the tidal Thames beyond sea reach.

    One of these days our foothold on the waterfront will be reduced to zero … one can only hope that if that be the case, the saltings that often builds up in front of these desirable abodes grows to such an extent that the old waterways become roads, thus destroying what the householder wanted… Joke, maybe…

    I’m sailing in slow time up the Thames to Tower Bridge in a week or so’s time with a view to looking at changes and at what is there now…

    First I’m off to Faversham for my annual visit: I love places like the Iron Wharf Boat Yard!

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