Old sailortown, or Bluetown, by the docks at Sheerness. An interesting place where you can still get a sense of what life there was like long ago – yet the row of officers’ houses and the burnt-out but once very elegant church is just yards away from what I sure was often noisy debauchery… That music hall looks cool too.
Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust (SDPT) officials have won a £4.75m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant to rescue and re-purpose the Grade II* listed former Dockyard Church at Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey. (Photos © Matthew Andrews)
To be specific, the trust has received a round 1 pass from HLF for a heritage enterprise grant, which unlocks £500,000 of development funding, with a further £4.2m becoming available on the successful completion of the development phase. Over the coming months the Trust will be appointing a professional team and embarking on
£200,000 of urgent works (joint-funded by Historic England and Heritage Lottery Fund) to secure the fabric of the building.
The aim is to repurpose the Dockyard Church to include a new enterprise centre (including facilities and support for young people starting businesses) and a permanent display space for one of the great wonders of British naval history, a vast model of Sheerness Dockyard created in the early 19th century and measuring 40ft square when fully assembled.
SDPT chair William Palin said the grant represented a great moment for the Dockyard Church. ‘This is a building which just a few years ago appeared to be on the brink of collapse, with no future and no hope, standing as a melancholy reminder of the changing fortunes of this once proud naval Dockyard and community. Now it will become the focus of major investment to restore its dignity and give it a new future at the heart of the life in the region. At the end of the project, its monumental classical portico will once
again give entry to a building bustling with life.’
Dodo, Valhalla and Consuelo
Today’s gallery of photos are of steam yachts, and they belong to a collection that Jeff Cole acquired back when he was a teenager.
Except for Dodo he says they are all private steam yachts, mostly photographed at Cowes, and wonders what what happened to them?
On some odd cuttings that came with the photos, GL Watson is mentioned as a popular designer, and Thames, South Coast, Irish and Clyde yards are mentioned as building this kind of craft.
Dodo on Windemere appears in a supplement to The Yachtsman no. 504 published in December 1900. Photo by Brunskill of Windemere.
Alberta, owned by His Majesty the King of the Belgians appears in a supplement to The Yachtsman, no. 415, March 1899. Photo by J De Muevyuck.
Valhalla on hearing that she was third in an ocean race. Jeff thinks she may be a training ship. She appears in a supplement to Yachting World, June 1905. Photo by Illustration Bureau.
Consuelo appears in a supplement to The Yachtsman, no. 522, April 1901
Photo A. Debenham, Cowes. The warship in the background appears to have side-by-side funnels and two rigged masts. Aft, Jeff has identified what seems to be a gun extended at deckhouse level consistent with a barbette, and smaller traversing turrets below it, and so he thinks this is a Royal Sovereign Class ship. HMS Royal Sovereign was flagship of the Channel Squadron round this time, so it could be her.
Ombra was owned by Baron Von Schroeder appears in a supplement to Yachting World, December 1902. The designer: GL Watson, the builder D&W Henderson. She’s described as a steel twin screw schooner, with a Thames measurement of : 267 tons, and 140 by 20.1 by 12.5ft. Photo Kirk & Sons, Cowes.
Vista was owned by Mr WS Hunter, and appears in a supplement to Yachting World, May 1905. She was designed and built by W White & Sons, and is described as a composite screw schooner of 95 tons Thames measurement, and 98.4 by 14.6 by 7.7ft. Photo by West of Southsea. She has a fleur de lis at the forepeak, what appears to be a Royal Yacht Club pennant on the mizzen, and a White Ensign on the jackstaff. Under the bowsprit a full rigged ship can be seen in the distance.
Mirage owned by the Marquis of Ormonde, of the Royal Yacht Squadron. She appears in a supplement to Yachting World no.5, Vol 1, 1894. The image is a Photomezzotype by The London Stereoscopic Co. from a photo by W Kirk of Cowes. Jeff remarks that it is one of the earliest photos in his collection – some of the others are too badly foxed or undated. Note two other sailing yachts moored behind.
Erin as she was when she set out to cross the Atlantic. The image is a Photomezzotype from the Yachting World, thinks Jeff. The shot dates from the mid-1890s, but there is no other information. The ‘lights’ are white dots added to the image by hand, as are the letters ‘ERIN’ between the masts.
La Belle Sauvage appears in a supplement to Yachting World, January 1902. The photo is by Beken of Cowes. 1902 was the year of the Coronation Regatta. Note all sails are stowed in covers and the tropical awnings have been rigged.
Sabrina, Thames measurement 513 tons. She appears in a supplement to Yachting World, August 1899. Photo by Kirk of Cowes.
Oimara, 202 tons, as shown in a supplement to Yachting World, January 1903. Photo by Adamson, Rothesay. Jeff comments that there are canvas screens on the bridge, and that although she is under way she has gangplank rigged. Also notice the figurehead.
Shemara, pictured in a supplement to Yachting World, February 1900. Photo by Debenham, Cowes.
Vanduara, 450 tons, owned by Mr Stewart Clark. The photo comes from a supplement to Yachting World October 1894. It is a badly foxed Photomezzotype, but shows a female figurehead, and, Jeff thinks, a small un-rigged keelboat yacht in davits aft on the staboard side.
Paulina from a supplement to Yachting World published in May 1900. Photo by Kirk & Sons, Cowes.
Nirvana, owned by the Countess de Bearn, shown in a supplement to Yachting World February 1904. Photo by Robertson of Gourock. Jeff says there is a tricolor on the jackstaff, the figurehead seems a bird, and there is a crewman walking a boom rigged with a rope ladder to the dinghy.
Surf, 489 tons, as shown in a supplement the Yachting World, in November 1899. Photo by Debenham of Cowes.
Tuscarora shown in a supplement to Yachting World, February 1902. Photo Beken of Cowes. There’s a rope ladder over stern, and boats appear to be being prepared for launching.
The steel screw steamer Titania appeared in a supplement to Yachting World published in April 1905. She was designed and built by Day, Summers and Co and owned by Mr S. Taylor Chadwick. She was of 138 tons Thames Measurement, and measured 116.5 by 16.1 by 10.1ft. The photo is by Kirk of Cowes.
Researching the fate of these craft, Jeff found that the steam yacht Hiawatha – not pictured in this post – was acquired by the Royal Navy, which renamed her HMS Undine. She served at Sheerness and as flagship to the Commander-in-Chief of the Nore Fleet.
Thanks for the shots and information Jeff!