Saturday 22 March 2014

Samuel Pepys speaks to the nation

Samuel Pepys, Secretary to the Royal Navy, held a press conference on 21st September 2013 at the Master Shipwright's House at Deptford Royal Dockyard. He implored the developer to consider more fully the history of the dockyard in the light of their plans to build 3500 luxury homes on the site now known as Convoys Wharf and bury all of the surviving heritage assets under concrete.

The event was chaired by star of BBC TV's Horrible Histories Ben Willbond. The former secretary to the navy and celebrated diarist Pepys vented his anger at the total neglect of one of the most important sites in British history and called on the powers-that-be to permit the restoration of the Kings Yard, Deptford, to allow the building of a full-size, sailing, working replica of The Lenox.

Mr Pepys said: "I wept as a parent at the loss of a child when I returned to Deptford to see what had become of one England's greatest assets. I say to our authorities, 'What terrible loss of memory has afflicted you so?'

"This year is the 500th anniversary of the Royal Dockyard commissioned by Henry Vlll that itself heralded the beginning of England's navy and her pre-eminence as a world sea-power.

"I can think of no more fitting restoration than the building of a warship His Majesty King Charles commissioned me to build as the first of a great fleet. To see the Royal Dockyard buried forever under concrete would be to the everlasting shame of the nation!"

Samuel Pepys is played by Deptford actor Jim Conway. Supporting cast as themselves: Ben Willbond (Horrible Histories), Helena Russell (Secretary, The Lenox Project CIC), Julian Kingston (Director, The Lenox Project CIC) as master shipwright John Shish, and Richard Endsor, author of The Restoration Warship, on which the Lenox project is based.

The press conference was held on the first morning of the London Open House weekend, and was also filmed by BBC News who covered the day but did not air Mr Pepys' erudite speech.

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