News: “Over the graves of the Druids and under the wreck of Rome,
Rudely but surely they bedded the plinth of the days to come.
Behind the feet of the Legions and before the Norseman’s ire
Rudely but greatly begat they the framing of State and Shire
Rudely but deeply they laboured, and their labour stand till now.
If we trace on ancient headlands the twist of their eight-ox plough.”

-Rudyard Kipling
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Author Topic: The Opening of the New Basins, Sheerness, 5th September 1823  (Read 7813 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

John38

  • Guest
Re: The Opening of the New Basins, Sheerness, 5th September 1823
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2014, 14:51:22 »
Really interesting, thank you. When I worked in those dry docks they felt as if they had been there forever.

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1523
  • Appreciation 238
Re: The Opening of the New Basins, Sheerness, 5th September 1823
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2014, 00:48:21 »
Going back to 1820 and the laying of the foundation stone.

Foundation of the Great Stone at Sheerness.
(Extract of a letter from Sheerness.)

The first stone of the stupendous dry docks erecting at Sheerness dock-yard was yesterday laid by Commissioner the Honourable Courtenay Boyle, amidst an immense assembled multitude of workmen, masons, labourers, pile-drivers, convicts, and others. I happened to be present, and such things, you know, only sometimes happen even to a sentimental traveller.

The extent of this prodigious and praiseworthy undertaking seems to be little known to the public, and well might the Secretary of the Admiralty, upon a recent occasion in the House of Commons, invite the gentlemen questioning the utility of these works to a personal inspection: it is indeed from a personal inspection alone, that the extent, utility, durability, and magnificence of the undertaking can be properly appreciated. The first stone was laid with all the ceremony usual upon such occasions: some of the various coins at present in circulation, with a parchment label denoting the date, &c, were enclosed in a bottle, and first lodged under the great stone, which itself was of prodigious weight, and is 3 feet high on its edge on the ground; so that, independent of the vast foundation, the three docks, (each capable of receiving a first-rate) are to be surrounded by three feet in thickness of massy granite. Besides the Hon. Courtenay Boyle, the Commissioner of the Dock-yard, there were present to witness the ceremony, the Right Hon. the Earl of Cork (the Commissioners brother), Col. Prowse, Col. Daubency, of the 31st & 84th regiments, Capt. Brown, and all the officers of the Royal Navy, Capt. Thompson, of the Royal Engineers, &c.

The Royal standard was hoisted, the stone suspended with proper tackle, and 3 times 3 of hearty cheering proclaimed the lodgement of what no mortal eye now in existence will in all human probability ever see removed.

The worthy Commissioner expressed his satisfaction at the conduct of all concerned in this great work, and hoped that Mr. Thomas, the resident engineer and superintendent, might live to witness the completion of his labour, and enjoy the fair fame attached to his meritorious exertions. The Commissioner, in alluding to the officers under his immediate direction, was addressed by one of them in something like the following terms, which as it furnishes a kind of history or view of the works, and proved rather interesting at the time, I, like a true traveller, committed to paper upon my return to the inn, and now forward for your amusement and information:

      "Sir, said the officer alluded to, it is quite impossible for the persons surrounding you who have witnessed the ceremony of the first stone of this stupendous undertaking, not to be impressed with mingled emotions of pride, wonder, admiration, and gratitude. Pride at the country's capability to produce such work: wonder and admiration in the art and labour of man which has brought it thus forward: and gratitude as the giver of all good, what has so wonderfully aided man's efforts by rendering the sea subservient to the barriers raised for its exclusion. If, Sir, we look around us, in every direction we behold matter for praise and wonder: here we see a wall 2000 feet in length, projected into the bottom of the sea: there we view the stupendous sides of a magnificent basin, superb arches of stone, capacious tunnels, immense pillars of granite rearing their heads all around us: in another place we behold mounds and mountains of mud, moving with facility as it were by magic, of railways, steam engines, horse runs and barrows. If we consider what this place was compared with what it even now is, and contemplate what it will be, we are indeed lost in admiration, and equally unable, with the philosopher of old, to reflect on the first stroke of a pickaxe, as it relates to the final formation of a pyramid, without the most pleasing emotions; or can we view this stone without considering that on it may rest the prow of many a first rate ship, which from the facilities afforded by these great works when completed, may in a few days be sent from these docks to bear with British thunder to the shore of any future proud or insulting foe." (loud cheering.)

     "Here, on this very foot where we now stand, but a few months since oozed the soft mud of Sheppey, unequal to the burden of men: and we now tread it a firm and solid foundation: and if we think how this foundation has been formed, Sir, by importing whole forests from Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and the Surrounding counties, transporting their once towering tops to the surface of the earth to the depth of 40 feet below the surface of the earth: next covering up their upper ends with fields of brick from Essex, and bundles of timber from Russia, surmounting the whole with quarries of granite from Scotland, Cornwall and Yorkshire.
We must consider the ponderous project before us with astonishment. No man reviewing these works could question their utility, or cavil at their expense, that they are needful, will be advantageous, and no prodigal expenditure permitted, is the highest gratification to every man of integrity, and true lover of his country: these works, the greatest now in Europe, will present posterity with due applause the names of their projector, planner, executor, purveyor, and superintendent of the latter, Mr. Thomas.

     Indeed, it might appear fulsome to speak upon the present occasion, and in his presence, yet to lose such an occasion would be the height of ingratitude. All it is sufficient to say that the integrity which guides the urbanity that governs, and the kindness that upon all occasions distinguishes the conduct of the honourable and amiable superintendent of these great works, merits and meets support from principle: to follow his example is to do our duty to our country, and to obey his commands, the pleasure and the pride of all around him.
As a humble individual connected with these works, aware of their durability to the utmost extent that human labour, exertion, ingenuity and skill can devise or accomplish, I can only express my best hope, and feel persuaded I shall be joined by my surrounding friends, that this happy country may raise in honour, and raise in glory, long as the dock at Sheerness can float a ship, or Old England furnish such heroes by land and sea as have hiterto and ever defend us." (Loud cheering and applause from all present.)   


From The Hobart Gazette and Southern Reporter. 3rd June 1820.

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1523
  • Appreciation 238
Re: The Opening of the New Basins, Sheerness, 5th September 1823
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2014, 22:29:23 »
The Opening of Sheerness Docks. September 5th 1823.
Painting by William John Huggins in the Government Art Collection.
http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk/work.aspx?obj=13965

Offline Bryn Clinch

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 951
  • Appreciation 71
Re: The Opening of the New Basins, Sheerness, 5th September 1823
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2013, 15:58:56 »
Nice picture, but something not quite right. I can see the entrance to the Boat Basin and the Small Basin
 to the right of the picture when, from memory,  they should be on the left. What do you think CDP ?

(Image removed from quote.)

Just a thought! The original negative may have been printed the ` way wrong up` resulting in a laterally reversed image.

Joedest

  • Guest
Re: The Opening of the New Basins, Sheerness, 5th September 1823
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2013, 14:38:45 »
 Nice picture, but something not quite right. I can see the entrance to the Boat Basin and the Small Basin
 to the right of the picture when, from memory,  they should be on the left. What do you think CDP ?


Offline conan

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1104
  • Appreciation 74
Re: The Opening of the New Basins, Sheerness, 5th September 1823
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2013, 13:34:39 »
 Prints showing, I think, the basins.



To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1523
  • Appreciation 238
The Opening of the New Basins, Sheerness, 5th September 1823
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2013, 01:27:30 »
From the 'Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser' 23 April 1824.

On 5th September 1823 "... the ceremony of opening the new basins in the dock-yard at Sheerness took place in the presence of an immense assemblage of persons of all ranks. At an early hour of the morning, the Royal Artillery and Marines on duty in Sheerness and the neighbouring depots, marched into the new Dock-yard, where they were drawn up in single files, so as to enclose the area in which the new basins are formed. Behind the military lines were erected seats and raised platforms, which commanded a close view of the whole ceremony.
Sentinels were stationed at the different avenues, and no persons were admitted within the enclosure who were not provided with tickets from the Ordnance establishment; these tickets appear to have been liberally distributed, for nearly 3,000 persons were seated upon the platform an hour before the ceremony commenced. The ladies were elegantly dressed, and their gay appearance heightened the coup d'aeil from the harbour.

The 'Prince Regent', 74 guns, Admiral Hallowell, dropped down to Sheerness, and lay at anchor off the new basin, bearing the Admirals flag, with her broadside to the Shore. The 'Genoa',' Isis', and 'Rifleman' were stationed near her. Several gun-boats and pleasure-yachts were moored in a semi-circular form in front of the dock, and the gay colours of their variegated streamers had a beautiful effect, and gave to the harbour a most picturesque appearance.

Soon after 10 o'clock his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence arrived in the Admiralty yacht from Chatham, where he slept last night. His Royal Highness wore a naval uniform, and was accompanied by several personages of distinction. The main yards of the vessels of war were all manned, a royal salute was fired, and the accustomed respect paid to the Royal Admiral of the fleet, with all the deafening explosion of nautical salutation.
His Royal Highness shortly after went on board the 'Lord Howe', 130-gun ship, which was to lead the van at the opening of the new basins-he took his station on the poop, which was covered with an elegant awning, attended by Lord Melville, Sir George Cockburn, Sir George Clerk, Sir Byam Martin, Sir Joseph Yorke, the Lord and Lady Mayoress, Mr Secretary Croker, and some naval and military officers, as well as the principal officers of the civil marine. Several ladies of distinction were also present. At half-past 11 o'clock all the preliminary arrangements for opening the new basins being completed, at a given signal the 'Lord Howe', a new 130-gun ship, was removed into the basin appropriated for her, amid a loud discharge of cannon from the shipping, and an almost equally resounding repetition of cheers from the multitude who surveyed the opening scene.
A number of bands from the different ships played "Rule Britannia", as the 'Lord Howe' slowly and majestically moved onwards to her destination within the dock: it was a novel spectacle to see a ship of such a weight of metal floated upon this spot, and closely & safely deposited within a solid embankment.

The expenditure of such a work as this must have been enormous-it is for practical men to judge of its utility: but overlooking altogether the amount, as well as the necessity of such an expenditure, both of which are very different questions from describing the mechanism of this ceremony, it is due to the scientific execution of the work to state, that nothing can be more complete for its apparent purpose. There are at present three docks ready for service: they are fit for the reception of the largest ships in the navy, and can be used, as necessity requires, either as dry or wet docks: for by an obvious improvement in the application of steam-power, the water can be with-drawn in forty minutes, and the place can also be adapted for the dry dock uses, by a simple mechanical contrivance by an underground tunnel, through which the water can be immediately expelled. The present work is only a part of the projected plan of improvement for naval architecture in this fortress. Many year's labour and expenditure must still be exhausted before the original idea can be executed. The nature of the ground in which the excavations are made considerably retards the progress of the work: it is one of those undertakings in which the power of science and profuse expenditure of money surmount every physical obstacle.

The whole ceremony had been performed just as the steam boats from London (the 'Royal Sovereign' and 'Venus')  hove in sight; the morification was great among the passengers from town, who had hurried to the Tower stairs before six o'clock in the morning to be present, according to due form of contract, at this ceremony. They heard the guns which announced the celebration of the event; they saw (at least such as had telescopes) the sailors descending from the yards; but the disappointment was extreme at finding that Neptune had not stilled the tide, and, obedient to love and duty, waited, for two such visiters as 'Venus' and the 'Sovereign' upon so splendid an occasion, but the waters, governed by other laws of attraction than those provided by the steam-boat proprietors, performed their steady course, regardless of the mortification of 300 or 400 very worthy folks, who make (and long may they continue to do so) occasional excursions from London-bridge to the outports. Notwithstanding the disappointment of the steam-boat passengers upon being too late for the principle spectacle, the entrance of the 'Lord Howe', there was some consolation, however, being in time for beholding the 'Hercules', 74 guns, enter the new basin and dock provided for her reception, and afterwards seeing his Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence and the other personages of rank who were present, pass along the lines, and inspect the different arrangements of these new docks.
At mid-day the steam-boats heightened the sea view, by the variety which they added to the scene, by their ploughing through an adverse current, and trailing along their murky vapour, occasionally obscuring the glowing colours which they displayed from their masts at the moment they most wanted their exhibition. So by their rapid evolutions, successively turning, if not breaking, the lines of small craft which had taken up positions near the shore. What was necessarily lost by the hour of their arrival, they endeavoured to atone for their anxious efforts to secure the rapid landing of the passengers; the bustle incident to such a state of action, and its momentary interuption of the prescribed order of aquatic position, gave for the moment a new interest to the harbour view, which was ludicrously sustained by the desire of the passengers to induce the boatmen to land immediately at the new docks, a forbidden hope, for the men on guard warned them off, and they had to row to the usual landing place at Sheerness. They got into the docks however, in time to see the parade of the arrangement-the large ship was in dock in a capital situation-the basin was there through which she had just passed, the bands were still playing-the soldiers were under arms; the guns had been discharged, it was true, but still there was the bristling array of warlike implements, without any of their terrors; naval officers, in full uniform, armed cap-a pee, but all pacific.

His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence was still on the poop of the 'Lord Howe'; neither the Lord Mayor nor Mr Croker had gone into dry dock, and there  was enough of well-conducted parade (for such it was throughout, from the good arrangement of the superintendents) unfinished in the dock-yard to gratify and amuse the steam-boat passengers after their arrival, and until their return on board to a substantial three-o'clock dinner, but they had hardly sat down to this repast, when the appalling renewal of the royal salutes from the shipping announced an Admiral's, if not a Admiralty movement. His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence was paying a visit to the Admiral on board his ship-the Royal standard was hoisted in his barge.
Within an hour, the same boisterous intonation announced His Royal Highness's return to shore, to dine, as some expected, on board the 'Lord Howe', which was then high and dry in her dock, the water which floated her in, having been removed though the under tunnel. It was understood that His Royal Highness would sleep at Chatham last night, and return to town this day. It is most gratifying to state, that during the whole of the arrangements of the day, full of bustle and gunpowder as they necessarily were, fire and water alike creating liability to accident, according to the information we received, not a single accident occurred. This fact, for such we hope it will prove, is alike creditable to the immense concourse of all classes assembled, and to the arrangements of those who superintended the ceremony of the day."

 

BloQcs design by Bloc
SMF 2.0.11 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines