Archive for the ‘Kent’ Category

A trip to the Kent coast with Bexley RSPB Group on a misty and cold morning. As we approached the reserve, a party of around 12 Swans were visible in a field. From the coach and in the early morning light identification was impossible, but I was later told by one of the volunteer wardens that they were a flock of Bewick Swans, which winter in this area. Arriving at the reserve the first stop was to try and find the roosting Long-Eared Owl which frequents the scrub at the back of the dipping pool. A long scan by many people drew a blank and as others headed off for the hides, I retreated to the visitor’s centre for a hot drink. Suitably refreshed I made my way back for another look for the owl. I was fortunate in that a group of birders from our group haa already located it and soon people were gathering to see the bird which was in vegetation but once found could clearly be seen. A Common Kingfisher paid a visit to the scrub whilst we were watching the Owl giving excellent views.

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Spot the Owl

With the days primary objective completed a circuit of the hides reveals the usual wintering waterfowl, although sadly there are no Smew, Goldeneye or Goosander to be seen. With the milder winters, these once regular winter visitors may become more of a rarity in future. Highlights include a number of good views of Common Kingfisher along with more common ducks and Geese including a single Brent Goose.

                 Common Kingfisher, Northern Shoveller and a Western Marsh Harrier

 

                                   Great Cormorants and Flight of Geese (Canada and Greylag Geese)

At the end of the afternoon, a small group of us walk out to the ARC hide at the farthest extent of the accessible part of the reserve. We were well rewarded for this trek as on the way we found some Tree Sparrows on a feeder and on the ARC pit we got good views of a Great White Egret and on the return walk to the visitor centre saw a Western Cattle Egret fly into one of the small pools by the reserve entrance.

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Great White Egret

 

An excellent day.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Gull (Larus canus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Long-eared Owl [sp] (Asio otus)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

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The Ropery in Chatham Dockyard is the only one of 4 original Royal Navy Ropeyards still in operation. Rope has been made on this site for over 400 years. The building is over a quarter of a mile long.

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The rope is made by taking individuals strands and winding them together. This process can be repeated a number of times to produce the required thickness of rope.

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Inside the ropery – the machinery travels from one end to the other in the production of the rope. At this end the strands are held in place.

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The heads which combine the strands into one rope.

As the strands pass through the heads they are combined

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Keeping the rope taught and a quick way to get from end to end of the Ropery

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The finished rope is coiled

 

The Ropery still makes traditional ropes for sailing ships etc but also produces rope made from more modern materials

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A Sloop launched at Sheerness in Kent in August 1878 she saw service in the Pacific from 1879-1883 before returning to the UK. In 1885 she was sent to the Mediterranean sea and was used in anti-slavery patrols. She also saw action off the coast of the Sudan and Eygpt. From November 1888 she was assigned to carry out survey work in the Meditteranean Sea, which she did until 1891 and again from 1892-1895.

In March 1895 she returned to Chatham, where she was assigned to Harbour duties. In 1900 she was used as accommodation by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Co at Grain. In 1903 she became the Royal Navy volunteer reserve drill ship moored in the London docks and was renamed HMS President after its predecessor in that role. She was relieved of that duty by HMS Buzzard in spring of 1911. In 1913 she was loaned out as a training ship under the command of C B Fry, the famous Cricketer and transferred to the River Hamble where she served as a dormitory for boys training to join the Royal Navy. She remained at Hamble until the school closed in 1968. The ship was given to the Maritime Trust for restoration, the years in the Hamble having taken a toll on the structure. Restored to her 1888 glory she was, in 1994, passed onto the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust where she is now on display.

 

 

 

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HMS Cavalier 

Built at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, HMS Cavalier was launched in March 1943. She served in the Home Fleet during World war II, mostly on Russian and Scandinavian bound conveys and post-war in India and the Far East until she was decommissioned in 1972.

She is the last surviving example of a British WWII destroyer and as such was an important heritage vessel. She was purchased by the Cavalier Trust. As a privately owned vessel, she holds a naval warrant to retain the ‘HMS’ title and to fly the white ensign of the Royal Navy. She was originally docked at Southampton, then in 1983 moved to Brighton and four years later to the River Tyne. Following a period of restoration, she was purchased by Chatham Historic Dockyard and arrived on site in May 1998. She was housed in No 2 dry-dock, the same dock where Nelson’s HMS Victory was built.

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In 2007 HMS Cavalier was officially designated as a war memorial to the destroyers sunk during WWII (142) and the men who lost their lives serving on them (around 11000).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The RNLI houses its collection of Lifeboats within one of the sheds at Chatham Dockyard. The collection contains an example of many of the different classes and types of lifeboat used since the RNLI’s foundation in the late 19th century. As such you can visually trace the development from the rowing boats to those more recognisable as Lifeboats today.

‘St Paul’. The oldest lifeboat in the collection entered service in 1897 spending the next 34 years at Kessingland in Suffolk. Credited with saving 18 lives.

‘Lizzie Porter’ entered service in 1909 and spent the following 27 years at stations in Northumbria. Credited with saving 113 lives

‘Helen Blake’ saw service for 20 years from 1939

‘Susan Ashley’ spent most of its service (1948-79) at Sennen Cove in Cornwall. Credited with saving 67 lives.

‘ North Foreland’ spent 27 years at Margate in Kent

‘Grace Darling’ (1954-84)

‘JG Greaves of Sheffield’ (1958-93)

Waveney Class Lifeboat (1967-99). 44-001 was the class prototype and spent its service after trials in the RNLI reserve fleet. Credited with saving 100 lives

Early inshore rescue boat. This example of the McClachin class served at Weston-Super Mare in the west country from 1970-83 and is credited with saving 60 lives

Atlantic 21 class inshore boat. (1970-1999). Some are still in service with marine rescue around the world in Australia, Finland and Poland.

 

 

 

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Tugboat

The Dockyard had an extensive railway network

 

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Clocktower storehouse built in 1723

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HMS Gannet, a sloop launched in 1878. She became a training ship in 1903 and continued in this role until 1968.

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Timber seasoning sheds (1774)

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Mast House (1753)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XE8 Midget Submarine Expunger built in 1944 for operations in the far east. It was sunk as an underwater target at HMS station Portland but was salvaged in 1973. It is the only known survivor of its class.

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Railway Carriage believed to have been used by General Kitchener during his campaign in the Sudan.

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Dockyard Railway equipment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HMS Ocelot, an Oberon class submarine launched from Chatham Dockyard in May 1962. She was the last submarine to be built at Chatham. She was decommissioned in August 1991 and put on display in the dockyard.

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A memorial to the 11000 sailors who lost their lives whilst serving on Royal Naval destroyers in WWII.

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The storage buildings at the southern end of the dockyard are over a quarter of a mile long

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One of these building contains the Ropery, which still makes ropes today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Garden of Commissioners House, a lovely place to have lunch

 

 

 

 

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Keith and I entered the dockyard through the main gatehouse which dates from 1722.

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Figurehead from HMS Wellesley, a 74 gun battleship launched in Bombay in 1815 and named after Marquis Wellesley, Governor General of India and brother of the Duke of Wellington

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The Commissioners House was built in 1704 as a residence for the dockyard’s senior officer

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The Destroyer HMS Cavalier was launched in 1944 and saw service with the Royal Navy till 1972. She is now berthed in the same dock where Chatham’s most famous ship HMS Victory was built.

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Model of Chatham’s most famous ship HMS Victory

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Old Dockyard Shops

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One of the sheds houses the Royal National Lifeboat Institutions national collection. This is a Watson lifeboat which saw service at Margate in Kent from 1951-81.

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Number 3 slip. Originally erected in 1838 as a place where large ships could be built under cover, The slipway was filled in during the early 20th century and used as a place to store boats out of the water

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At the time the slipway was filled in this mezzanine floor was added to provide storage space for small boats taken from ships undergoing repairs in the dockyard

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3 Slip today holds a collection of Dockyard equipment and machinery

 

Chatham Historic Dockyard

Posted: October 23, 2017 in History, Kent, UK
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Keith and I made a visit recently to the Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent.

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It is not exactly known when Chatham first was used as a dockyard. The fleet used the Medway estuary as a mooring from the early 16th century and there is evidence of shore-based facilities surviving the fleet from around 1509. The first dry dock was built in 1581 and shipbuilding commenced on the site and the first ship, HMS Sunne, was launched five years later. Perhaps the most famous ship to be built here was HMS Victory, the flagship of Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, which was launched in 1765.

A model showing Chatham dockyard in the mid-late 18th century, when its most famous ship, HMS VIctory was built here

At the beginning of the 20th century, the first submarine was produced in the dockyard, HMS C17, and this was to point the future for the Dockyard. The final ship, Okanagan, was launched in 1966 and the dry docks refitted for the task of submarine refits.

Models depicting Chatham in its role as Submarine building and refitting yard

However, this was to be short-lived and in 1981, the ministry of defence announced that the dockyard would close in 1984. In its 414 years of service, it produced over 500 ships and at its height employed over 10,000 skilled workers. The Dockyard site was passed into the hands of a charitable trust who now preserve the site as a historic monument and home to a number of Royal Navy and other seafaring collections and museums.

John H Amos on its pontoon

John H Amos

A steam paddle tug built on the Clyde for the Tees Conservancy. Its main function was towing barges but it also had a licence for 144 passengers. In 1959 the boat and its crew were arrested when it was found to be towing barges containing illicit alcohol as part of a smuggling ring. It was withdrawn in 1967 and presented to the local council. Between 1971 and 1976 it was docked at Stockton and was being restored as part of a youth experience programme funded by the UK government. However in 1976 funding was withdrawn and the project folded. The council decided to scrap the tug. It was purchased by the Medway Maritime Museum and eventually became berthed in a dry dock at Chatham Historic Dockyard, However, when the Dockyard came into possession of HMS Ocelot, a Chatham built Submarine, the John H Amos had to be moved to another berth where unfortunately it sunk. It was later raised using a crane and now sits on a pontoon awaiting funds for restoration.

Medway Queen

Medway Queen

Built in 1923, this paddle steamer carried passengers between Strood, Chatham, Southend and Herne Bay. In WWII she was used as a minesweeper in the Dover Flotilla and was credited with rescuing around 7000 men during the evacuations at Dunkirk. After the war, she returned to civilian ferry duties until 1963, when she was withdrawn from service. She moved to the Isle of Wight where she was used as a floating restaurant and night club.  After a number of years, she sank at her mooring on the River Medina and was raised and brought back to the Medway on a pontoon. Restoration work was completed in 2013 and she is now moored at Gillingham.

The masts of the SS Richard Montgomery

SS Richard Montgomery

The Richard Montgomery was an American Liberty boat wrecked on the Nore sands at the mouth of the Medway in 1944. Her cargo was 1400 tonnes of high explosives, which it was deemed too dangerous to try and salvage. Much debate has ensued and continues to rage, about the effect of any potential explosion on the surrounding area. These range from creating a tsunami which would drown the estuarine towns such as Sheerness and Southend to little or no noticeable effect. The official line is that after 70 plus years underwater it is unlikely that the explosives are still in a viable state and that the explosive risk is very low. Nether the less the area around the wreck remains a prohibited area.