Visit the Master Shipwright’s House for Open House weekend

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On Saturday 20th September the doors of the Master Shipwright’s House will once again be opened to the public for Open House weekend, offering a rare chance to explore this little sliver of Deptford history.

The Master Shipwright’s House is sandwiched between the watergate next to Paynes & Borthwick Wharf, and the Convoys Wharf site on the former Deptford Royal Dockyard. When activity at the dockyard was at its height, master shipwright John Shish would oversee construction of vessels in the Double Dry Dock – including the Lenox – from this very house.

The building has been meticulously restored and it offers a unique view of the river from its exclusive Thames frontage.

The Lenox Project CIC will be there with our restored Saker cannon, and we will be happy to update you with the latest news on our project and answer any questions you may have.

Saturday 20th September, 10am-5pm. The garden and selected rooms will be open to visitors.

In SE8 and environs you can also visit Deptford Green School, Deptford Lounge, Fordham Park, Lewisham Arthouse, Rachel McMillan Nursery, Seager Distillery Tower (great views in the right weather!), the Stephen Lawrence Centre, and Trinity Laban Building as well as many of the historic buildings in Greenwich. Full details on the website.

Great fun at Party in the Park!

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Thanks to everyone who came along to meet us at Party in the Park on Saturday – it was great to see our long-time supporters and to have the chance to meet so many new faces too. We had fun explaining the project to those who didn’t know about it, and were thrilled by the enthusiasm of everyone we met!

pitp_kidsOur young fans loved seeing the cannon and learning about where it was found, how we restored it, and how it would have been fired in the days when it was employed on a ship similar to the Lenox.

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Our director, boat builder Julian Kingston, dressed up in costume as Deptford’s master shipwright John Shish, whose skills and foresight in noting down the full details of the design and construction of the original Lenox will allow us to replicate the ship exactly.

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We were lucky enough to meet some very interesting and entertaining people – as well as all those local residents who love the idea of seeing a replica ship built in Deptford, we met some with a more direct interest in the project and the period, including a blacksmith, a carpenter and lute player Stephanie Feeney who is giving us a brief serenade in the photo above.

If you missed us at the Party in the Park, do come along to the Master Shipwright’s House in Deptford next Saturday, where we’ll be hosting Open House London from 10am till 5pm.

The Lenox Project at Party in the Park

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The Lenox Project will be taking part in the Party in the Park in Fordham Park on 13th September – do come along and meet us, we would love to update you on what’s been happening this year.

We’ll have our restored 17th century cannon with us – come along and have a look at it and find out a bit about its recent history – and you can support us by buying one of our lovely tote bags for just £5!

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Party In the Park is an event organised by various community groups in the area around Fordham Park. It’s a community event for all ages, with family events, arts and crafts, stalls, spoken word, as well as local bands and acts for all tastes from disco to reggae, punk rock, soul and folk.

There will be food stalls, a beer tent, bric-a-brac for sale, new and vintage book stalls with many rare and first edition books at very low prices, plus games and competitions with lots of prizes. Plus stalls from local community groups like Millwall Football Club, the Lewisham Labour Party, New Cross Commoners, Save Lewisham Hospital, Grow Wild, and local housing co-operatives.

Saturday 14th September, from 12-8pm

Fordham Park, New Cross

For more information and full details of the line-up, visit http://pitpnxd.co.uk/home

Shtandart welcomes the Lenox team at the Tall Ships Festival

The Shtandart moored at Woolwich. Photo: David Graham

The Shtandart moored at Woolwich. Photo: David Graham

The Lenox team made an early visit to the Tall Ships Festival in Greenwich. A special focus of the visit was the Russian frigate Shtandart moored at Woolwich Arsenal Pier, a modern replica of a ship built by Tsar Peter the Great and one of almost 50 sailing ships visiting Greenwich.

The original Shtandart was just over a third the size of the Lenox and was the first flagship of the Imperial Russian Navy, built by Dutch shipwright Vybe Aleksandr Menshikov under the direct supervision of the Tsar. It was in commission until 1727, when it was broken up following damage during a refit. The Empress of Russia, Catherine I, ordered a replacement to be built, but this was not realised until a group of sailing enthusiasts embarked upon a project in 1994.

The new Shtandart is a remarkable achievement, having been built without the benefit of surviving historical plans. The replica has furnishings and decorative carvings copied from the original ship, as well as working cannons, but she also meets modern safety standards, although accommodation for the crew is extremely tight, but not as cramped as it would have been in the original. The original crew numbered between 120 and 150, whilst the modern crew consists of 30 trainees and 10 officers.

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Left to right: Captain Vladimir Martus, David Graham and Julian Kingston

Lenox Project director Julian Kingston and our architectural advisor David Graham secured a private visit to the ship on Friday morning before she opened to the public, and met with the captain, Vladimir Martus, whose expertise combines that of naval architect, master shipwright and builder of the ship. We were given a warm welcome, learning first-hand the full story behind her construction sixteen years ago, and were also able to give him a detailed summary of our plans for the Lenox.

Built in 1703, the Shtandart was a contemporary of the Lenox, which was built in 1678 but remained in commission until 1756. The connection goes much further, in that the Tsar learnt about the latest in shipbuilding technology at his visit to the Royal Dockyard at Deptford in 1698, where the Lenox was the first of thirty similar ships to be built, making the Shtandart one of the first Russian ships to benefit from his visit.

The Shtandart's ornately carved bow. The carved figures are based on crew members.

The Shtandart’s ornately carved bow. The carved figures are based on crew members. Photo: David Graham

The Shtandart was constructed by a small team almost entirely by hand on wasteland outside St Petersburg. They were allowed to fell trees in the nearby forest that Peter the Great had planted for the construction of ships over 300 years previously. The only concession to modern technology was the occasional use of a chainsaw, and later her twin engines and navigation equipment. She has been successfully cruising northern waters since and regularly joins races and regattas, providing the young crew from St Petersburg with the unique experience of learning to sail a piece of history.

The Shtandart's upper gun deck with working cannons. Photo: David Graham

The Shtandart’s upper gun deck with working cannons. Photo: David Graham

Vladimir gave Julian and David much in the way of useful advice and strongly supports what the Lenox team are trying to do. We aim to maintain links with the Shtandart project and one day may see her visiting Deptford alongside the Lenox. We extend our best wishes to the Captain and crew for fair winds and calm seas.

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Tall ships at Greenwich

Tall ships at Woolwich. Photo: David Graham

Tall ships at Woolwich. Photo: David Graham

The Tall Ships Festival opens in Greenwich on Friday 5th September and runs till Tuesday 9th. As part of the Falmouth–Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta, around 50 ships set sail from Falmouth today in a race to arrive at Greenwich during the week where they will berth at various locations along the river at Greenwich and Canary Wharf. The festival includes both free and ticketed events, fireworks, outdoor performances and live music plus the opportunity to board the ships or cruise on the river. More information at www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk.

The Tall Ships’ Races are organised by Sail Training International, an international association of national sail training organisations devoted to promoting “the education and development of young people of all nationalities, religions and social backgrounds, through sail training.” It is the Lenox Project’s aim to provide such training once the Lenox is built, so we are naturally excited about the arrival of the ‘tall ships’ so close to home, and encouraged by public enthusiasm for such spectacle and endeavour.

Greenwich is busy gearing up for the festival, including one of our staunchest local supporters, Lush Designs (at 8 College Approach SE10 9HY). They have just launched a new design for their homeware range which features the Lenox at Convoys Wharf!

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Meanwhile, the Lenox team are still involved in negotiations with the GLA and the developers to agree the full scope of the Feasibility Study, which forms part of the developer’s Section 106 Obligations, to determine the appropriate home for the Lenox on the development site. Also under discussion are the terms and wording of the legal clauses of the Community Project Obligations in the overall Section 106 agreement. The intricate detail and sensitivity of these negotiations is such that it has been difficult to keep our supporters updated, for which we apologise! The date for the Section 106 agreement to be signed has twice been delayed by the GLA and is now scheduled for the end of September.

Nunhead cemetery open day – 17 May

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Our restored Saker cannon on show last year at Twinkle Park

Some of our team will be at the Nunhead Cemetery open day this weekend – do come along and say hello if you are in the area, although it’s probably worth making a special trip if you’ve never been to this wonderful Victorian burial ground before!

As well as the opportunity to see our restored Saker cannon and catch up with the news from the Lenox Project, there will be other community stalls, tours of the cemetery and the crypt, and food and drink for sale at the cafe.

The open day runs from 11am to 5pm: more information, including directions, at the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery website.

Boris passes Convoys outline planning application

Lenox Project 6-740At City Hall yesterday, Boris Johnson gave his consent to the developer to go ahead with their proposal. The good news is that he imposed two extra conditions, one of which was a feasibility study into the possible locations for construction of the Lenox on the site. We are awaiting the official notification of the decision so that we can fully assess the implications and we will keep you updated when we can.

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Boris concluded the 3-hour hearing with the following statement:

“I am minded therefore to give consent, subject however to agreement of the 106 which must contain two provisions. I’ve been very impressed tonight by the arguments that have been made by the MP Dame Joan and by others who have made a strong case in favour of two schemes that seem to me who have a great deal of merit and are both intrinsically attractive, the idea of the Sayes Court Gardens horticultural venture and The Lenox Project.

“And so with two provisions that must be in the 106 are: that my officials should get together with Lewisham and the developers and to look at this space in Sayes Court Gardens and indeed around the development in general that has been identified to come up with a secure, viable and deliverable project. That’s the first provision. I’ve mentioned SCG haven’t I? I’ve mentioned the existing park …. to look  at the space in the existing park and the wider development to ensure that there is a viable and deliverable project.

“Second condition. I’m delighted that the developers, whom I warmly congratulate on their scheme by the way, I’m delighted that they have agreed to fund a feasibility study into the Lenox project and I would like that one of the provisions that we will include in the 106 is that this feasibility study should be concluded as soon as possible to produce clear options and that there should be an agreement on the part of the developer to contribute to whichever of these options is the most feasible. And with those two provisions in my 106, I therefore give consent to this proposal.”

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section.psdThe hearing is available as a webcast on the GLA website here (Mac users will have to download a QuickTime add-on).

Date set for Convoys Wharf planning application hearing

The Mayor of London has announced that the representation hearing for the planning application to redevelop the former Deptford royal dockyard at Convoys Wharf will take place on 31 March at 4pm at City Hall.

The procedure at the hearing is governed by guidelines which can be read via this link and is an opportunity for supporters and objectors to restate their case for and against the planning application in front of the mayor himself.

If he does not announce his decision at the end of the hearing, the Mayor has five days in which to do so.

Seven days ahead of the hearing, the GLA officers responsible for assessing the application will publish their report into the application, which will include a recommendation to the Mayor. It seems very unlikely that the Mayor will go against their advice unless he wants to make a particular political point.

Based on the correspondence we have read, and the meetings we have been present at, we believe that the GLA intends to recommend that the mayor approve the scheme.

The applicant Hutchison Whampoa has recently submitted some revisions to its masterplan, and these are currently being consulted on with the deadline for comments set as 20 March 2014. Although we welcome the revisions, we do not believe that they go far enough and we still have deep reservations about the failure of the masterplan to adequately reflect the significant shipbuilding, naval and horticultural heritage of the site.

Comments from the Council for British Archaeology and English Heritage support this view.

The CBA wrote to the GLA last week to reiterate its objections to the plans on grounds of ‘harm to the heritage assets’ and a failure to address key aspects of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Likewise English Heritage commented on the revisions, saying it remained concerned that ‘the opportunity to reflect local character and significant history are not reflected in the the submitted proposals’.

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The Lenox Project CIC also finds it deeply disappointing that the developer seems unable to appreciate the potential of the two heritage-led community projects – The Lenox Project and Sayes Court Garden – to create a vibrant, sustainable heart for the redeveloped site. Under Hutchison Whampoa’s proposals for the site, neither project is being offered the right conditions to flourish, despite these involving relatively minor adjustments to the plans.

We are encouraged by Hutchison Whampoa’s offer to lease space on the protected wharf at a peppercorn rent to the Lenox Project, indicating that our proposal is finally being given the serious consideration it merits. See their offer (12th March 2014): CCE00001 HW letter.

At the same time, we believe that if this support is truly sincere, the developer will understand our request for an independent assessment of the potential construction sites for the ship, in order to establish the most feasible location on the former dockyard site.

We regard the protected wharf as the least suitable of the options, and are unwilling to accept this offer due to the unacceptable risk it poses for the construction of the ship, and the lack of any legacy at the site.

Read the GLA letter to Hutchison Whampoa (17th Feb 2014) which sets out the GLA’s position (this was copied to the Lenox Project, rather than addressed directly to us): GLA position following meeting of 07.02.2014

Here is The Lenox Project’s initial response to the GLA position (26th Feb 2014): GLA Position Response Lenox Project Illustrated