Waterbodies & Maritime => Wrecks & Disasters => Topic started by: gavinparson on March 16, 2016, 18:06:01

Title: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: gavinparson on March 16, 2016, 18:06:01
Does anybody know the story behind the caisson or lock gate that's lying off Motney Hill. I assume it came from the dockyard but if so, does anyone know which dock it was from and how long has it been here?
Title: Re: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: Bilgerat on March 16, 2016, 18:48:13
If indeed it came from Chatham, it'll be one of the caissons from the North Dock Complex (Dry Dock No.s 5, 6, 7 or 8). The caissons from the South Dock Complex (2, 3 and 4) are still in place, as are the caissons between the basins and the one in no.9 dock.

They weren't designed to be left high and dry, which is why this one is lying on it's side. I would imagine that it was sold for scrap and broke free from its tow, ran aground and fell over. Failing that, perhaps it was to be broken up at Bloors Wharf and fell over after it ended up where it is. Once it was on its side, the next tide would have flooded it, so there was no what it was ever going to float again unless someone paid to have it righted with a floating crane.
Title: Re: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: gavinparson on March 16, 2016, 22:23:18
It's intetesting that it's got a railway track across it. I don't know if that is any more of a clue of where it came from.
Title: Re: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: jimawilliams on March 16, 2016, 22:39:56
Looking at Google Earth Historical Imagery, it arrived there between 1960 and 1990.
Title: Re: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: The Sheppey Kingmaker on March 16, 2016, 23:52:16
It could be from Sheerness Dockyard as The Great Basin had a Caisson at its entrance and so did No.1, No. 2 & No. 3 docks (which were all in The Great Basin). These seemed to have disappeared in the late 1970's/early 1980's as this seems to be when The Great Basin and the three docks were filled in.
Title: Re: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: Bilgerat on March 17, 2016, 12:18:40
I think the rails may be a big clue. I don't know if there were any tracks crossing the caissons in Chatham's North Dock Complex. I know that the caissons between the basins have tracks and I also know that Chatham had spare caissons. If the caisson is at Motney Hill, the only reason I can think of for its being there is that it was on its way to Bloors Wharf to be scrapped. There must be a record of a caisson under tow breaking free and running aground and becoming a total loss. Perhaps its time for the KHF detective squad to get on the case :)
Title: Re: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: kyn on March 17, 2016, 15:39:34
Apart from finding out it is the star of a book, I couldn't find anything else with a quick look:

Quote
The Jottings of a Thames estuary Ditch-Crawler by Nick Ardley

‘Motney Hill,’ the skipper had quietly chuckled.  The mate hadn’t head… ‘Ah, yes…the area’s cesspit… a great big sewage works.’  The ruins of a dock that had indented the northern shore still sat, dreaming of its past – ‘A load of rubbish probably…’ the skipper had giggled.  Much of the land, once marshes, has been a rubbish depository.  For many years, it had been a central sewage treatment works for a large part of the Medway towns…

The skipper’s thoughts had then moved back to the wreck – it was of a dockyard lock caisson.  It lay over on its side and looked like a beached whale.  ‘Some say ot is of a tug…’ the skipper had remembered.  Its shape was obvious to those in the know… How it had ended up in its lonely spot, he’d never been able to find out.  It had been partially broken up many years before and now it made a superb navigation mark at the head of the long run of Half Acre’s Channel, before it split at the entrance into several creeks: …….
Title: Re: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: mikeb on March 17, 2016, 15:52:50
Wasn't there a ship breakers at or near by Motney Hill? I remember seeing several smallish trawlers moored off awaiting their turn of the burners torch. Could the caisson be left over from their activities?
Title: Re: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: bromptonboy on March 17, 2016, 16:43:03
There was a ship breakers at Bloors Wharf. I recall seeing HMS Diamond broken up there in about 1981.
Title: Re: Caisson off Motney Hill
Post by: gavinparson on March 18, 2016, 08:53:47
On the Google Earth 1960 aerial photos, the Chatham Dockyard inner lockgates had rails on them. Also all the docks off of basin one appear to have caissons with rails on them. Bearing in mind that there's no caissons on those docks now, perhaps it came from there.

I do seem to remember from my time working in the dockyard that there were rails on many of them.