November Etc IV: Work starts on Kent’s Fallen Giant

Posted: 23rd November, 2020 Category: Architecture, Culture

Faversham Life first wrote about the ambitious plans to restore Dockyard Church, Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in June 2017. This month, after five years of planning and fundraising, the rescue and repair of one of Swale’s most important buildings is finally underway

Words Will Palin Photographs The Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust

The Grade II* Dockyard Church in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent was built in 1828 as part of the newly developed Royal Dockyard. The architect, George Ledwell Taylor, served as Surveyor to the Admiralty from 1824 to 1837 and was also responsible for a number of other key buildings within the Georgian Dockyard.

The Church was badly damaged by fire in 2001 and lay derelict until 2015 when it was acquired by the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust. The Trust began an energetic fundraising campaign and the breakthrough came in 2019 with the award of a £4.2m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund toward a pioneering £8m project to repair and renovate the church for a range of uses, including a business enterprise centre for young people, a community cafe and a changing display of the great Dockyard Model.

The project, designed by an award-winning team led by Hugh Broughton Architects, with conservation specialists Martin Ashley Architects, is due for completion in summer 2022, to open in September that year. The main contractor is Coniston Ltd, who have worked previously on major historic buildings including the Painted Hall at Greenwich and Canterbury Cathedral. PAYE Stonework will undertake the specialist masonry repairs.

Will Palin, Chair of the Dockyard Trust, spoke of his excitement and relief that the project was finally on site. ‘It is an amazing feeling to be starting work – at last – on the repair and transformation of this landmark building which has lain derelict for so long. When complete, Dockyard Church will provide a major cultural and economic boost for this special but little known part of north Kent which has suffered decades of underinvestment. We are hugely grateful to our primary funder The National Lottery Heritage Fund for its incredible support and to all our other funders who have made this unique project possible.’