Founded in 1513 by Henry VIII, this was where Sir Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I and where Sir Walter Raleigh is reputed to have laid down his cloak for the Queen. It is the site where the Mary Rose was launched in 1517, where a store for the Golden Hind was built and where James Cook set out to discover Australia. When England’s world power relied upon its navy, Deptford was at the heart of boat construction, exploration and Royal might. The physical remains of these historic adventures are extensive and significant, still buried beneath the concrete as the site remains largely unchanged since its development halted around 1700.
The CBA put this site forward for nomination as this is the last chance to unveil the history of the site. Development proposals threaten to all but obliterate the 350 years of naval history without taking into account the significance of the site and the scale of designated standing structures. Deptford dockyards certainly have much development potential but we should fully understand the significance of the Dockyard and use it as a catalyst for regeneration, respecting and integrating the surviving remains.
The CBA are not alone in this view. We have been working with an active local group, Deptford Is, who also hold the view that the significance of Deptford Dockyards’ heritage should be a defining feature in any new development. Bringing international advocacy to local action, the CBA hope that success on the World Monuments Watch translates directly to national recognition, more local support, further understanding and a reconsideration of the planning proposals.
Deptford is the missing piece of the Thames jigsaw. It was the working force behind much of the activity at Greenwich, and yet it lies almost forgotten. Now is our chance to reawaken that dormant history and World Monuments Watch success provides a global pointer of the potential that lies beneath the concrete.