A message from The Lenox Project director

First and foremost, I hope that all our supporters are keeping safe and staying healthy.

Many of you may have noted the lack of activity on the website over recent months. The Lenox Project entered a period of review and reflection after our crowd-funding bid to support a visitor centre and operations base in the undercroft at the former Rum Warehouse was unsuccessful.

Since then, our core team has reduced in number, as a result of what we consider ‘combat fatigue’ after ten years of campaigning.

Despite the excitement that the project generates among those who learn of it, our fatigue has been exacerbated by the cumulative effect of a decade of effort by a small team, a lack of tangible progress on the Convoys Wharf site, and the ongoing uncertainty regarding the status of the protected wharf area on which our project is intended to be located.

A decision on the latter is awaited from the Secretary of State; Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has recommended that the wharf protection remains, but the Secretary of State may take the opposite view. If the protection is removed, it could have a serious impact on our future plans.

Nonetheless, we have a sizeable mailing list of supporters and are confident we still have the support of Lewisham Council and the London Assembly.

For the time being, our plan is for the charity to continue at a reduced level of activity, in particular since there are more pressing needs in the current pandemic. 

However, in these ‘interesting’ times we must adapt to survive, and we have been giving thought to another option that might improve the viability of the project. Our historical advisor Richard Endsor has just published his latest book, The Master Shipwright’s Secrets; in my view his best yet.

Again it is Deptford-centric and deals with the construction of the fourth rate, Tyger. This ship is about two thirds the size of Lenox and would use about half the timber. It may prove a better option than building a ship the size of the Lenox.

Lenox (behind) with Tyger in colour, shown at the same scale (copyright Richard Endsor)

As always, my desire is to get on the ground and get started; having something to show is in my view the best way to get further backing.

We need to look to boosting our team of volunteers during this time. Vitally, we need someone with skills as a co-ordinator; and someone to work on our website and social media presence. An interest in Deptford and its history would help but is not essential.

My desire is to see the project survive, and become a creative adventure that will stimulate and revitalise everyone once this challenging time is over.

Julian Kingston, director of The Lenox Project

If you think you can help, please get in touch julian.kingston@buildthelenox.org

The Master Shipwright’s Secrets

Lenox Project historian and 17th century shipbuilding expert Richard Endsor has published a new book.

Inspired by the recent discovery of mathematically-calculated digital plans for a fourth-rate ship by the Deptford master shipwright, John Shish, The Master Shipwright’s Secrets is an illustrated history of Restoration shipbuilding focused on the Tyger, one of the smaller but powerful two-deck warships of the period. It examines the proceedings of King Charles II in deciding the types of ship he wanted and his relationship with his master shipwrights.

This fascinating book reveals the many secrets of Charles II’s shipwrights through an analysis of John Shish’s plans for the Tyger, revealing innovative practical calculations which differ significantly from the few contemporary treatises on the subject and the complicated process of constructing the moulds necessary to make the ship’s frame. All the other duties performed by the master shipwrights, such as repairing ships, controlling their men and keeping up with the latest inventions are also discussed in detail.

The Master Shipwright’s Secrets is replete with beautiful and detailed illustrations of the construction of the Tyger and explores both its complicated history and its complex rebuilding, complete with deck plans, internal sections, and large-scale external shaded drawings. The title also explores associated ships, including another fourth-rate ship, the Mordaunt, which was purchased into the Navy at the time and underwent a dimensional survey by John Shish. A rare contemporary section drawing of another fourth-rate English ship and constructional drawings of Shish’s later fourth-rate ship, St Albans, are also included.

The book is for sale direct from Osprey Publishing as a hardback or ebook via this link https://ospreypublishing.com/the-warship-tyger

You can also see what’s inside the book in this preview.

Mayor of London pledges his support for Deptford Dockyard visitor centre

The Mayor of London has announced that he’s backing the campaign by Deptford-based charity The Lenox Project to raise funds for a dockyard visitor centre and event space on the Thames riverfront in south east London. 

At a special event at City Hall this evening (Tuesday) Mayor of London Sadiq Khan will announce his pledge of £50k towards the campaign, through his Crowdfund London initiative. 

The space is in the basement of this historic building on the River Thames in Deptford

The Deptford Dockyard & Lenox Visitor Centre aims to rejuvenate the dramatic vaulted undercroft of an historic building in Deptford, creating a place where the area’s dockyard and ship-building heritage can be explored and celebrated through events, model-building and local archives. 

The campaign has also had a boost from local celebrity and Ghosts actor & screenwriter Ben Willbond, who has spoken out in support. 

The proposed visitor centre will bring alive a significant part of Deptford’s history, celebrating maritime heritage, wooden ship-building, and the rich social history of the area, which lies just upstream of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. 

The disused undercroft that The Lenox Project hopes to rejuvenate

Hundreds of ships were built and refitted in Deptford’s royal dockyard, which was established in 1513 by Henry VIII; little evidence remains above ground today, and the charity wants to prevent this incredible history being forgotten when the site is built over.  The crowdfunding bid is already 42% funded and has attracted more than 80 pledges since it launched – it is being backed by local resident Ben Willbond; 17th century shipbuilding expert Richard Endsor; historian & author JD Davies, and former Deptford MP Dame Joan Ruddock, who is also a trustee of the charity. 

The Lenox Project was formed in 2011 in response to the planned redevelopment of the site of the former Deptford Royal Dockyard, which is now known as Convoys Wharf. The charity wants to preserve and celebrate the heritage of this part of Deptford to prevent it being lost. The new visitor centre will offer training and apprenticeships, particularly in ‘eye-to-hand’ skills and heritage crafts, opening new routes to employment and laying the groundwork for the ultimate aim of building a full-size replica of the 17th century wooden ship Lenox on the Convoys Wharf site. 

This idea was inspired by projects in France, Sweden, Spain and Russia where replica ship construction has rejuvenated public interest in maritime heritage, dockyard history and ship-building crafts. 

Lenox Project director Julian Kingston said: “For more than 400 years, Deptford was the epicentre of cutting-edge ship-building. But over the last 35 years of my life, living and working on vessels on the Thames, I have witnessed London’s waterfront being given over to luxury housing and little else. 

“Now it’s time for a new adventure to begin! This is the perfect opportunity to set the stage for construction of our beautiful ship, Lenox, which will create a real challenge that is accessible to everyone in our community; provide a grounding in ‘hands on’ skills as well as technological wizardry, and restore a sense of participation and pride, allowing maritime Deptford to celebrate its identity once again.” 

Local resident and Ghosts actor & screenwriter Ben Willbond has spoken out in support of the project

Ben Willbond said: “I was hugely honoured to be asked to support The Lenox Project. The Deptford dockyards are steeped in history and it is vital that the future development gives people access to the site. I was very excited by the news that they now have the opportunity to develop a Deptford Dockyard Visitor Centre to complement the main project. I urge anyone interested in history to back this vital part of the development.” 

Supporters can back the project at https://www.spacehive.com/thelenoxproject but they only have until 12th August 2019 to make it happen. Pledges will only be charged if the project hits its funding goal by this date. 

A busy day at Hilly Fields

A glorious day of sunshine brought the crowds out to Hilly Fields in Brockley on Saturday 22nd June for the Brockley Society Midsummer Fayre. It was the first time that The Lenox Project had been able to attend, and we had a fantastic pitch right in the middle of all the action.

We met a whole host of new supporters who were fascinated to find out about Deptford’s amazing history, and to take a look at our restored Saker cannon in the exhibition trailer.

Our long-time supporter, local celebrity and Ghosts star and screenwriter Ben Willbond also dropped by the stall to catch up on the latest news.

We’re fundraising for the Deptford Dockyard visitor centre!

The Lenox Project is fundraising to renovate an incredible historic undercroft on Deptford’s riverfront and open it up to the public! We want to raise enough money to bring this beautiful space back to life, and turn it into a Deptford Dockyard visitor centre and interim base for the Lenox Project charity.

With your help, we will create a new public space and workshops where we will involve volunteers and apprentices in building a scale model of the Lenox, alongside an exhibition focussing on the maritime history of Deptford. We’ll host a range of events, invite community groups and schools to visit, and enable people to find out more about the ship-building heritage that shaped this part of London.

The building owner, Hyde Housing, has agreed to let us have the space, which has been unused for many years, at a peppercorn rent for up to ten years. But we still need to raise money to install toilet and kitchen facilities and a workshop, supply the workshop with tools and materials, create an exhibition space with display facilities, and to make it accessible to everyone.

We’ve now launched a crowd-funding bid on Spacehive, and have pitched for funds from the Mayor of London’s Crowdfund London initiative. With your support we could net up to £50k from the mayor’s funds, but to do this, we need to demonstrate that our scheme has strong support in the local area.

Even if we are successful in attracting a pledge from the mayor, we still need to raise a considerable amount of money and we’re asking you to help us! Please pledge to our project and give us your backing to open up this wonderful space and bring it back to life!

We have until 12th August to meet our ambitious target – for full details and to pledge, please visit our Spacehive page.

https://www.spacehive.com/thelenoxproject

Open day at Nunhead Cemetery

Come and meet us at the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery Open Day on Saturday 18th May where we will have our restored Saker cannon and exhibition trailer on display, and we’ll be selling our fantastic, locally-produced merchandise including mugs and historic map tea towels.

You can find out more about our exciting plans for a new dockyard visitor centre on the waterfront in Deptford, and sign up to help out if you have some time to spare or skills that we can make use of.

Saturday 18th May, 11am-5pm

Nunhead Cemetery, Linden Grove, London SE15 3LP

For more information visit www.fonc.org.uk/2019-open-day.html


Budding shipwrights enjoy a day of family fun

More than 1200 children and families from Deptford and the south east London neighbourhood enjoyed a free day of shipbuilding and maritime-related fun at the Deptford Lounge last week, courtesy of The Lenox Project and Tideway.

The family fun day, which was organised by The Lenox Project and funded by Tideway, gave kids and their carers the chance to build and decorate a large-scale model ship, explore historic maps of the local area and find out how the former Royal Dockyard and the River Thames are linked to the area where they live.


Construction began with assembly of the wooden frame created by Lenox director Julian Kingston; the cardboard ‘planks’ were then added, with paints and crayons used to turn the ship into a bright and colourful creation.

Masts and rigging were added to the vessel and these were then adorned with hand-painted flags and sails.

The ship took centre stage in the window of the Deptford Lounge for three days, as a visible reminder of the creative skills of our local residents.

Ben Weddell of the National Maritime Museum brought along a selection of shipbuilding tools for kids to have a look at, and also created a timeline showing some of the significant events in Deptford’s history since the dockyard was established in 1513.

There was the opportunity to dress up in the type of clothes that would have been worn by sailors and shipwrights of the time.

Becky from Beanstalk Arts was on hand to entertain our visitors with tales of Thames history and songs about shipbuilding and sailing.

The restored Saker cannon and our exhibition trailer proved popular in Giffin Square, assisted by a day of glorious sunshine, and visitors enjoyed the visual impact of seeing the bow and stern posts at each end of the square, demonstrating the impressive scale of the ship.

Once again we would like to thank Tideway for supporting our Free February events, and also all the staff at Deptford Lounge for making it such a fun and hassle-free day!

Hidden Deptford draws huge audience


An audience of almost 300 crammed into St Nicholas’ Church last Thursday evening to enjoy the Tideway-funded event organised by The Lenox Project and featuring maritime-themed music and talks on ‘hidden Deptford’ history.

Photo by Gareth Gardner www.garethgardner.com

It was standing room by 7pm as the first speaker – award-winning historian and novelist David Davies – began his talk about Deptford and its links with Samuel Pepys and the rise of the British navy.

Photo by Gareth Gardner www.garethgardner.com

The South East London Folk Orchestra entertained guests as they arrived, and during the interval, with a medley of maritime-themed music and songs.

Photo by Gareth Gardner www.garethgardner.com

Lenox historian Richard Endsor, author of The Restoration Warship and expert on 17th century shipbuilding, talked about the women of Deptford and how they both influenced and profited from the dockyard and the associated businesses.

Photo by Gareth Gardner www.garethgardner.com

We were delighted to welcome so many people to this wonderful church, with all its historic links to Deptford dockyard and shipbuilding, and we would like to thank Rev Louise Codrington-Marshall and her team for being so accommodating and welcoming.

If you were at the event and did not get chance to give us your feedback, please do so via our online survey – click here for the link.

Deptford foreshore walk

Join us for a fascinating morning foreshore walk! We’ll take a walk along the foreshore in front of the historic Deptford Royal Dockyard, to explore the incredible landscape that is revealed by the river at low tide.

Find out about ship building at Deptford Dockyard, and our rich maritime heritage on a walk led by Museum of London senior archaeologist Eliott Wragg.

Sunday February 10th, 10.30am
FREE but booking required
Family-friendly, recommended age 5+
Places are limited so please book using Eventbrite.

The foreshore may be muddy, slippery or uneven, so please wear sturdy footwear e.g. boots or wellies. Meet at 10.30am at the stairs at the end of Watergate Street.

Image courtesy Thames Discovery Programme