Archive for the ‘Kent’ Category

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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

 

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.

 

Named Norweigan, this locomotive arrived at KESR from Oslo in 1971. It was built in Trollhattan in 1919 and first saw service in the SE of the country. From there it transferred to the Nordland line, 60 miles north of Trondheim, where it served as the power unit for a snow plough. On withdrawal, it was purchased and brought to the UK. In 1984 it was purchased by the Norweigan Locomotive trust as one of only 3 surviving examples of this class and was renamed Norweigan.

 

 

RSPB Cliffe Pools

A bright sunny morning found Keith and me at the RSPB Cliffe Pools reserve in North Kent. August can be a quiet time for birds and so it seemed it would be on the way down to the reserve from West Court farm. Still, it is also a time when plenty of other things can be seen. Our first stop was the radar pools but apart from a large group of Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits, there was little to be seen, bird-wise. However the vegetation around the pools was alive with butterflies, mostly small whites and green veined whites, together with a single Painted Lady, a few Red Admirals and Holly Blues and a number of Migrant Hawker dragonflies; Common Blue damselfly and Common Darters.

Red Admiral

Painted Lady

Holly Blue

 

Migrant Hawker (f)

Common Blue damselfly

Common Darter

 

Perhaps our best find was at the small pond under the radar tower, where we found three emerald damselflies. There are four species of emerald damselflies found in North Kent and I didn’t immediately recognise this one. Later research, confirmed them to be the Willow Emerald. A recent colonist to south-east England, this damselfly was first recorded in East Anglia in 2007, it has now spread to Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and the north coast of Kent. This is my first record of this species.

Willow Emerald damselfly. Photo by Keith

Moving on there were no signs of Black-winged Stilts on the pools near the Black Barn. Black-winged Stilt is a rare visitor to the UK, but two pairs bred at Cliffe this year raising at least seven young. It seems that one family has apparently moved off across the Thames to Essex, but the other has remained at Cliffe. But they were not visible during our visit. Walking down to the sea wall, a flash of colour alerted us to a rather well camouflaged moth resting against the stone wall. This Red Underwing, mottled grey on top, was magnificently camouflaged until it flew revealing its brightly coloured underwing.

Red Underwing. Photo by Andy Rogers (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cobaltfish/)

Spot the Moth. Red Underwing blending into stone wall

As we left the estuary and turned back inland we were alerted to the calls of Greenshank and searching for these lead us to find a Eurasian Spoonbill and a number of other wading birds including Common Redshank and Whimbrel. We had just decided to move on from this pool when the clouds darkened and there was thunder and lightning followed by heavy rain. We sought shelter under the vegetation for 10 minutes but it did not seem like this was a passing shower and so we decided to make our way smartly back to the waiting car and a quick retreat.

A good day with my first record of willow emerald damselfly being the highlight.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Red Underwing Moth (Catocala Nupta)

Western Willow Emerald (Lestes viridis)
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Some pictures from a recent visit to the Kent and East Sussex Railway.

The Railway line from Robertsbridge to Tenterden opened in 1900, with extensions in 1903 and again in 1905 as far as Headcorn. It was envisaged that the line would go onto the county town of Maidstone, but this section was never built. the line struggled through the 1930’s as competition from Road Transport cut into its financial viability. Following the nationalisation of the Railway in 1948, the situation did not improve and figures from 1953 showed that each week 90 trains were run on the line and between them they carried only 118 passengers a week! The line was closed the following year for passengers although goods continued to be hauled on the line until 1961. A battle to preserve the line began and the first trains ran over a 2-mile section in 1974. The line was extended to Nortiam in 1990 and to Bodiam in 2000.

Tenterden Town station

Copy of notice for Withdrawal of passenger services on the line which now forms the KESR

D9504, an unusual design with a central cab, at Tenterden

Locos and utility trains in the sidings at Tenterden

Travelling through rolling Countryside

Approaching the terminus at Bodiam

Norweigan state Railway 21C class locomotive at Bodiam.

D2024 awaiting restoration at Bodiam. Worked at BR depot at Lincoln, Hartlepool docks and Grangemouth before arriving at KESR in 1980

 

All aboard for Southend

Posted: July 28, 2017 in Essex, Kent, UK
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On Wednesday Keith and I travelled aboard the Jacob Marley from Rochester Pier up the River Medway and across the River Thames to Southend.

Passing under Rochester Bridge

Upnor Castle

Lightships at Hoo (now used as house boats)

Hoo Fort

Kingsnorth Power station. The day after the trip the building on the left was demolished

Garrison Point Sheerness at the point where the Medway joins the Thames. The old fort and the new navigation control tower

Approaching Southend Pier

Jacob Marley moored on Southend Pier

It had been a relatively calm crossing with little traffic in the main sea lane leading from London to the English Channel.

 

Old dockyard buildings

Lower Gun Casement. Upnor Castle

Upnor Castle

 

 

Upnor Castle was constructed between 1559-67 to defend the Chatham Dockyard and Reach which was at the time the primary port for the British Navy. In June 1667, the Dutch launched a surprise raid on Chatham. The entered the reach and burned and captured a number of ships. The defensive positions such as Upnor were severely hampered by a lack of ordinance supplies and thus were unable to prevent the progress of the Dutch fleet up the river. They were resupplied overnight and when the Dutch returned the next day intent on burning the dockyard, Upnor and the other positions were successful in driving them off before they reached their target. However, the raid had shown that any raid needed to be stopped before it got that close to the dockyard and so a series of larger forts were built nearer the Thames. Upnor became a gunpowder and cannon store for ships visiting the Dockyard. It remained a military establishment until 1945 when it passed to the Dept of Monuments and is now open to the Public and managed by English Heritage.

Medway Tugs

The Medway is a major leisure location

Motor launches at the Royal Engineers Station on the Medway

The Royal Engineers Station on the Medway

Rochester Cathedral with the Castle beyond