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Author Topic: The Gillingham Shipyard.  (Read 9234 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: The Gillingham Shipyard.
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2014, 14:05:37 »
Some more information about HM Hoy Deptford, built by Edward Muddle at Gillingham, discovered this by accident. She didn't spend her whole career at Deptford Royal Dockyard.

In 1793, she is shown as commanded by Lieutenant Robert Wright. He was her commander until 1800. In March 1803, she was under Lieutenant Robert Hexter, then in 1804, Lieutenant George Antram, until 1809. In 1810, she was under Lieutenant John Debenham on the Irish Station. She was sent to Sheerness Dockyard in 1830 and was finally sold by public auction to Mr J Farrell, agent to the Asphalt Company in 1863.

"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: The Gillingham Shipyard.
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2013, 16:06:10 »
Need to be careful not to drift off topic. This is, after all, about the former Gillingham Shipyard.

In answer to the questions though. the road you mention is indeed Dial Road. At the time the aerial photo was taken, these houses would have been new. As for the aircraft wing you mention, I have no idea, perhaps people more knowledgeable than I about these things may know. If not, two American B26 Marauder medium bombers crashed nearby after a mid-air collision during the lead-up to the Normandy Landings in June 1944. One crashed on Eastcourt Farm, the other crashed on Corporation Street. It may have been the remains of one of these aircraft.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline oobydooby

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Re: The Gillingham Shipyard.
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2013, 14:48:48 »
Looking at the aerial picture of the cement works, and if I am correct, is the road on the left heading up and ending at a circle called the dial or something similar?  This would make the road going to the left at the beginning of the dial Daneshill and the road going to the right Gadshill.

If I am correct I can recall in the late 50's playing where the two barges are moored together in the picture.  There was an aircraft wing lying in the mud 2 which I believed at the time was the wreckage of a fallen spitfire. (Well, for an 8 to 10 years old, a spitfire was more exciting than any other plane.  Imagination is a wonderful thing!)

Assuming my memory and the site is correct, can anyone tell me anything about the wing and what happened to it?
2014 A Hayes

Astronomers always look into the past.

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: The Gillingham Shipyard.
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2013, 17:38:40 »
By a 'bucket rudder', are you referring to Kitchen Gear? See here for an explanation of what that is:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitchen_rudder

I had heard of Fairmile Quay or Fairmile Wharf; I thought it was where the Steelfields plant is now. I hadn't heard of a slipway there, if anyone has a map showing it, or any pictures of it, it would be nice to see them posted. I also heard that a WW2 submarine, HMS Sentinel was broken up there.

If there was a slipway there, I suspect it was built later, as David Duck and Edward Muddle's Gillingham Shipyard was at the end of Waterside Lane, where the early 2000's-built houses are now, next to the Gillingham Boatyard, at the Strand.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Wardy

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Re: The Gillingham Shipyard.
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2013, 13:08:33 »
During the 1950s I worked at Gillingham Repair Base, locally known as Fairmiles. It was in what was later the Startrite Eng. area. There was a large covered slipway where small craft were brought from the dockyard to have under water fittings such as rudders and sea cocks worked on rather than putting them into dry dock. On one occasion we had to take an inshore minesweeper there to have an experimental device called Nightgown fitted around the prop for silent running. Another "oddball" there was a couple of cutters with what they called a bucket rudder fitted, I couldn't see the advantage over a traditional rudder, perhaps somebody can explain. Could this place be the Gillingham Shipyard as I never heard it referred to as such.

Offline Lyn L

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Re: The Gillingham Shipyard.
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2013, 09:02:10 »
Thank you Bilgerat, another very interesting post. Looks a sorry state now, my hubby used to work at Startrite.
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life tryi

petermilly

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Re: The Gillingham Shipyard.
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2013, 08:43:12 »
Thank you Bilgerat, very interesting.

Offline Bilgerat

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The Gillingham Shipyard.
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2013, 23:56:50 »
The Gillingham Shipyard and it's history is something which has largely been lost in the mists of time. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the larger shipyards further upstream on the River Medway at Upnor, Chatham, Rochester and Frindsbury and not forgetting the great Royal Dockyard, produced much greater numbers of larger ships, some of which went on to achieve lasting fame. Secondly, the bulk of the output from the Gillingham Shipyard was small, coastal vessels such as hoys, barges and fishing vessels. Records of such vessels have not survived the passage of time. It is only because of the involvement of one of the most famous men of his time and a small amount of much later Admiralty work (for which records do survive) that any of record of the Gillingham Shipyard survives at all.

The port of Gillingham was in existence for many hundreds of years and was a thriving port and home to many fishing vessels, from which the men of Gillingham for the most part made their living as well as cargo ships. An example of the kind of commerce carried out at the port is that in May of 1349, the ship John was loaded at Gillingham with a cargo of 16 Quarters of Wheat, 42 Quarters of Barley, 3 Quarters of Rye, 2 and a half sacks of wool, 307 fells of wool and ten cloves of lambs wool. This cargo was all going to a Jean Minchon of Nieuport, near Dunkirk.

There are many more examples of Gillingham's relative prosperity as a small coasting port and it would be reasonable to assume that some kind of building or repair activity was taking place there. Unfortunately, any records of ships built at Gillingham in the period up until 1604 are long since lost.

It was in 1604 that the first recorded instance of a ship being built at Gillingham occurred. This is because of the involvement of one Phineas Pett. Phineas Pett's life is well documented because he came to be the leading naval architect of his day and because he wrote an autobiography which is preserved in the British Library.

By 1604, Phineas Pett was Assistant Master Shipwright at the Royal Dockyard, Chatham and he had fallen in with David Duck, another of the Assistant Master Craftsmen at the Dockyard. Duck was able supplement his income from the Royal Dockyard because by this time, he owned the Gillingham Shipyard. Duck and Pett concocted a scheme where Pett would design a ship, which Duck would build in his shipyard. The ship was duly launched at Gillingham on 12th November 1604 and was named Resistance. It should be remembered that the Naval organisation at the time was riddled with corruption and was filled with men on the make. Pett and Duck were no exception. The Resistance had been built with timber 'liberated' from the Royal Dockyard and had been rigged using the rigging from a warship called Foresight, which had been condemmed at Chatham. Since the rigging was re-used in the Resistance, there was clearly nothing wrong with it and it had been condemmed because Pett and Duck wanted to use it in their own ship. Pett had found himself in trouble over the matter of the Foresight's rigging, but excused himself by stating to an internal inquiry at the Dockyard that "The riggings of the Foresight were found to be so ill that they stood him in little or no stead". The fact that it had found it's way onto a brand new ship was conveniently not mentioned. Little is known of the Resistance's particulars, other than that she was a ship of 160 tons.

After completion, Resistance was taken to a shipyard belonging to Phineas' elder brother Joseph, at Limehouse, where she was laid up until January 1605. Phineas sold a third share of the ship to sir Robert Mansell, Treasurer of the Navy and a third share to Sir John Trevor, Surveyor of the Navy. From these transactions, Pett received a 'builders fee' of 5 shillings a ton.

By this time, Queen Elizabeth I was dead and King James I was trying to make peace with Spain. The Lord High Admiral had been ordered to go to Spain as Ambassador Extraordinary and Phineas Pett was ordered to prepare the Bear and other naval vessels to convey the Lord High Admiral and his entourage to Spain. Resistance was hired as a transport ship to carry the provisions. Pett sailed with the ship as her captain and the fleet left Queenborough on Easter Sunday 1605. After safe arrival at Corunna, Pett returned with his ship, but left her at Rye and made his way back to Chatham by road. Once more, Pett's 'entrepreneurial' nature asserted itself and Resistance was paid wages and tonnage based on being falsely declared as being a ship of 300 tons. Altogether, her voyage cost the King some 800.

Pett continued to hire out the ship to various merchants and she became a commercial success, so  much so that in 1610, Pett used his income from his share of the ship to buy back Sir John Trevor's third share in her. Considering that she had cost Pett next to nothing to build, it is no wonder that he regarded her as being a lucky ship. In July 1612, the ship was sold to Henry Mainwaring for 700 and he used her for piracy. Her ultimate fate is unknown.

By the time of his death in 1647, Phineas Pett had risen to be the first Commissioner of the Royal Dockyard at Chatham and had designed the largest and most powerful ship ever to have been built for the Kings Navy at the time, the Sovereign of the Seas. On his death, Phineas Pett was succeeded by his son, Peter, who held the job as Commissioner at Chatham until he was sacked after being held as the scapegoat for the Dutch Raid on the Medway in 1667.

In 1660, another member of the Pett family, Peter Pett's cousin, also called Phineas, was appointed as Master Shipwright at Chatham. After Peter Pett was suspended from his role as Commissioner, Phineas Pett virtually ran the Royal Dockyard until a new Commissioner was appointed in 1669. In the December following the Dutch Raid (1667), Phineas Pett entered into an agreement with John Bowyer, Shipwright Foreman at the Royal Dockyard and they agreed to build a new shipyard in the Gillingham area. It's precise whereabouts is unknown, so it could have been anywhere in the Gillingham Parish, which at the time extended from the Copperas (now Copperhouse Marsh) to the shore of St Mary's Island opposite Upnor Castle. The pair began to build and repair small vessels, similar to the Bawley Boats. They quickly found themselves in trouble after the Admiralty found out that timber was again being taken from the Royal Dockyard and was turning up in their new shipyard in addition to various items of Naval Stores. The agreement the two men came to also allowed for the buying and selling of timber. They had been buying timber at 38 shillings a load and had been selling it to the Admiralty at a vastly inflated price through a local timber merchant, Mr John Morecock. Other than scandals relating to embezzled naval Stores, little else is known about this new Gillingham Shipyard.

The original Gillingham Shipyard fades from the records until 4th August 1756, when it was bought by Edward Muddle, shipwright of Broadstairs. He bought the shipyard and an adjoining house called Plumpstead House which stood at the bottom of Gads Hill, Gillingham, for 220 and moved into the house with his family. In the edition of the Kentish Post from 8th - 11th September 1756, a Notice was printed which read:

"To be lett and enter'd upon Michaelmas next - the dwelling-house and wharf with a large Warehouse and two Hop Kilns; with or without two large Brick Kilns and lodges for making bricks; two acres of hops and about nine acres of pasture land. At Otterham in the Parish of Upchurch, now in the occupation of Thomas Ady, Hoyman. For further particulars, enquire at the said place. Also, two Hoys to be sold, one about sixty tons, the other about 28 tons. To inquire of Mr Ed. Muddel, Shipwright at Gillingham"

It's not clear from the Notice whether Edward Muddle was the owner of the property at Otterham, now Otterham Quay, or whether he was just the owner and builder of the two hoys listed for sale. The property at Otterham is not mentioned in his Will and neither are there any records of his selling it, so it's likely that he was just the owner of the two Hoys.

Edward Muddle made his Will on 7th October 1758, in which he left the Gillingham Shipyard to his second son, also Edward, together with workshops, storehouses and other buildings and adjoining meadow land at Gads Hill. He died aged 59 and was buried in the churchyard at St Mary Magdalene, Gillingham, on 24th May 1761. Four months after his death, his wife Alice also died and was buried at St Mary Magdalene on 17th September 1761.

Edward Muddle Jr carried on the business at the Gillingham Shipyard, but with the exception of Admiralty contracts, there are no records of the vessels built there. In 1780, Edward Muddle was contracted to build a Hoy rigged sailing lighter for the Admiralty, intended for use as a tender at the Royal Dockyard, Deptford. The contract for this vessel was 10,10s per ton plus a 2.5 percent bonus if the vessel was completed on time. Muddle and his men achieved this objective and he was paid a total of 1195,5s,9d for the vessel. She was to be named Deptford and her keel was laid at Gillingham in August 1780. Construction took a year. She was 61'3" long and 20'4" wide across the beam. She was a vessel of 105 tons and after being fitted out at Deptford Royal Dockyard was fitted with 12 half-pounder swivel guns for self-defence. She must have been a solidly built little vessel; she lasted in service with the Royal Navy until she was sold to Mr J Farrel, agent for the Westminster Asphalt Company for 10,15s on 17th February 1863.

Lines and sheer plan of HM Hoy Hayling c.1750. HM Tender Deptford was a very similar vessel.



Model of an un-named Naval Hoy c1759. Again, Deptford was a very similar vessel.



In 1780, Muddle tendered for another Admiralty contract, this time to build a mooring lighter for use in the Royal Dockyard, Chatham. Mooring Lighter No. 8 was 56'7.5" long, 19'8.5" wide across the beam and was a vessel of 93 tons. The contract price for this was 9,5s per tons and Muddle was paid 962,10s,5d on completion of the vessel. This vessel spent it's whole career at the Chatham Royal Dockyard and was broken up there in 1820.

Sheer plan and lines of a 56ft Mooring Lighter c.1756, designed by John Williams when he was Master Shipwright at Sheerness Royal Dockyard. Mooring Lighter No.8 at Chatham would have been very similar, if not identical to this vessel.



Muddle did not tender for any more Admiralty work until 1801, when he built another 56ft Mooring Lighter, more than likely for the Royal Dockyard at Chatham. At the same time, he built the 36ft Victualling Vessel Mary, of 54 tons, for the Royal Navy.

In 1804, the government undertook an inventory of the numbers of shipwrights employed in commercial shipyards. Despite the fact that the Gillingham shipyard wasn't engaged in any work for the Admiralty at the time, Muddle is recorded as employing four shipwrights and two shipwright apprentices, which means that not only was he not dependant on Admiralty work, but that orders for hoys, barges and other small coastal vessels were keeping he and his men busy. This can be compared to Thomas and Josiah Brindley's shipyard at Frindsbury, which at the time was building the large frigates HMS Pomone and HMS Shannon. They employed no less than 51 shipwrights and apprentices.

In 1808, Muddle's shipyard built an as yet unknown 50ft Gunboat. The reason that the identity of the particular Gunboat is unknown is that the Admiralty ordered a batch 85 of these boats for the Scheldt Campaign, but that none of them were assigned names or numbers until they had been delivered. Hence, Edward Muddle knew that he had built one, he just didn't know which one. The 1808 pattern Gunboat was a vessel of 41 tons. They were 50'7" long and 14'2" wide. They were armed with 2 18pdr long guns, one in the bow and one in the stern.

Sheer plan and lines of an 1808 Pattern 50ft Gunboat.



1808 Pattern 50ft Gunboat sail plan:



While the Gunboat was on his slipway, Edward Muddle was contracted by the Admiralty to build another vessel - the 10 gun Cherokee Class brig-sloop HMS Opossum. Compared to the towering ships of the line being built upstream, HMS Opossum was a mere tiddler. She was 90ft long on her main deck and 24ft 6in wide across the beam. She was a vessel of 235 tons and was the biggest vessel ever built at Gillingham. Muddle received the order from the Admiralty in December 1807, her keel was laid in March 1808 and she was launched in July and towed to the Royal Dockyard Chatham to be fitted with masts guns and rigging.

Sheer plan and lines of the Cherokee Class



Deck plans and inboard profile of the Cherokee Class



Cherokee Class frames



The subsequent career of HMS Opossum os detailed here: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15041

After the launch of HMS Opossum, Edward Muddle did not bid for any more Admiralty work. No doubt his yard continued as it had, building and repairing hoys, fishing vessels and other coastal merchant ships. Unfortunately, we will never know. By 1874, the site had been sold to the Gillingham Portland Cement Company Ltd. They had demolished the shipyard and built a large cement works on the site.

The site of the shipyard is now covered with houses, built in the early 2000's on the site of a former Startrite Engineering Works.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

 

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