Saturday 1 February 2014

Royal Dockyard petition tops 1,500 signatures

Support for our alternative vision for the former Royal Dockyard in Deptford continues to grow, with our petition now carrying more than 1,500 signatures, some of them from highly-regarded heritage associations, academics and authors as well as many more from people living, working or running  businesses in Deptford. 

There are also signatures on the petition from supporters as far afield as Australia, the USA, Latvia, and the UAE, showing that the site and its history has vast importance internationally as well as nationally. 

We will be bringing this support to the attention of the Mayor of London, ahead of his determination of the planning application for Convoys Wharf, but if you have not yet signed the petition, there is still time to do so. Supporting comments such as those we have printed below are most helpful, and if you have a particular affiliation which may add weight to your opinion, please include it.

A selection of the comments on our petition which show the high level of support for our proposals:

Dr Ann Coats
Secretary, Naval Dockyards Society
"The Naval Dockyards Society believes that, given the rarity of Tudor, and the non-survival of Stuart naval storehouses, the Great Storehouse, even in its below ground fragmentary state, provides valuable tangible indication of the importance of Deptford Dockyard to Henry VIII and Elizabeth, especially linked to the nearby royal palace at Greenwich. The remains below ground of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian storehouses are fragmentary, but convey a distinctive individual character, intrinsic interest and value to the current community in Deptford and neighbouring boroughs. If that is all we have left, fragments are still important signifiers of cultural heritage which should be valued, as fragments of Tudor castles and Mary Rose are valued.
The below ground remains embody Deptford’s tangible and intangible heritage and ought to give this project a unique character which will distinguish it from many other new developments, inform the overall design and improve its ‘brand’.
Much more can be accomplished to memorialise these below-ground features and make them relevant to today’s residents and visitors than by merely marking their outlines above ground. Footprints should not only be preserved, but integrated."

Professor Mark Laird
Author and historian
"John Evelyn's Sayes Court is among the most important relic sites as cultural and natural heritage. I have written about it on three occasions and my new book, A Natural History of English Gardening, 1650-1800 will bring further attention to its significance as world heritage."

Rob Benbow, Canada
Descendent of Admiral John Benbow
"My ancestor, Admiral John Benbow, was Master Attendant at Deptford in 1696, where he lived at Sayes Court, entertained Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, and sailed from Deptford engaging the enemy for crown and country. We would like to see the history of the Deptford Dockyards preserved, and the plans scaled down to allow the preservation of history. This is the most historical dockyards of the British Royal Navy and should be recognised as such. Please review and adjust the development plans to recognise this importance."

John Kempton
Vice chairman, Medway Queen Preservation Society
"I fully support this petition, and believe that both the development and the Build the Lenox project can work together for the improvement of the area and for the local but also national benefit." 

Justin Reay
Naval historian, and editor of Samuel Pepys' papers at the Bodleian Library
"As a naval historian and art historian, and editor of Samuel Pepys' papers at the Bodleian Library, I am aware of the importance of iconic sites to understanding our shared history. I am sure that the regeneration of the site as proposed by parties to this petition will provide a lasting, meaningful and worthy resource for future generations respecting our maritime, horticultural and artistic history; the proposed development on this site will not significantly add to the social housing stock in London and other sites are available for that."

Andrea Zuvich 
Historian and blogger at The 17th Century Lady
"Deptford's Royal Dockyard is of great historic value and redevelopment would significantly impact this...for the worse. I, as a 17th century historian, urge you to reject plans for redevelopment. We must protect our nation's history and heritage."

Jean Hood
Maritime and naval author
"Deptford should not be degraded and stripped of its rich history, especially its maritime history, to make profits for foreign investors and allow the government to tick boxes re housebuilding figures.  You cannot reclaim history when it is gone, and too much has been lost to the egos and balance sheets of those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. The first maritime book I wrote was about an East Indiaman built in the late 18th century at Deptford, just one of many merchant and naval ships to come from that area over the centuries - ships that played a global role in the development of trade, defence and offensive warfare. Its human community provided many of the craftsmen who built the ships, the men who manned them and their families who waited anxiously for them, and the wider population who provided the services, from shops to taverns and brothels. Please leave something of maritime London well alone."

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