Thursday 23 July 2009

Amazing finds on the Charlton foreshore

Thanks to Elliott and Lorna from the Thames Discovery Team for an amazing meeting for GIHS on Tuesday.

We have the following report from Richard Buchanan - and see further down for details of when they will be on site again - and looking for volunteers

“Thames Discovery” is following on from the 1990s ‘Foreshore’ study, with small staff on a three year scheme to establish a continuing archaeological study of the Thames foreshore, which can change from tide to tide, eroding in some places or building up elsewhere. To do this they are training volunteers, both in the classroom and on sites – one of which is by the Anchor & Hope pub in Charlton.
There was a ship breakers yard there, where a square platform was built from scrap material. This was for boats to sit on between high tides for repair work. Map and pictorial evidence suggests it was built in 1904, a time when the yard broke up four warships built in mid-19C.
The 19C was a time of rapid change in warship design, going from: wooden sailing ships; through designs with wrought iron armour and steam engines driving screw propellers (though still with sails as early steam engines needed too much coal); iron ships, which could be made larger; to steel battleships such as the Dreadnaught. Warships could already be obsolete when they were launched. So few of a particular design would have been built – and the wood and iron used to make the boat platform is therefore of interest.
The Duke of Wellington, built at Pembroke in 1852 as the world’s largest and most powerful ship, probably contributed the timbers in the platform. The Hannibal, Deptford 1854; Edgar, Woolwich 1858; and Anson, Woolwich 1860, could also have contributed to the platform, which contains iron beams and some large lumps.

- Elliott says

These are the times for our fieldwork at Charlton: 27/7 0915-1315 28/7 0945-1345 29/7 1030-1430 30/7 1100-1500 31/7 1200-1600
If it is at all possible, it would be helpful for us if those who wanted to come down could come together as a group (or two groups on two different days?) as we will be training volunteers for most of the time, and it would be nice to devote some time to give your members a good tour of the site. If not, nevertheless, I will try to show everyone round as best I can.