Can you help restore this forgotten piece of Deptford’s naval history?

Deptford naval vaults
The Lenox Project wants to convert this disused vault into a visitor centre

A charity in Deptford is crowdfunding to enable the creation of a visitor centre to celebrate the shipbuilding heritage of the area. One of the project’s directors, HELENA RUSSELL, explains how you can help.

The Lenox Project is bidding to raise funds for the renovation of a dramatic vaulted undercroft on the Thames riverfront, allowing it to be opened to the public for the first time in more than a decade.

The charity aims to bring to life a forgotten but significant part of Deptford’s history, celebrating its maritime heritage, wooden ship-building expertise, and the rich social history of the area. The visitor centre will also provide facilities for construction of the ship’s model and ship’s boats for the future full-size replica wooden ship that the charity plans to build and sail.

A masterplan for the redevelopment of the former Royal Dockyard in Deptford, now known as Convoys Wharf, was approved in 2014 and involves construction of a mixed-use development including more than 3,500 residential units on the huge waterfront site.

The Lenox Project charity was set up in 2011 by local residents, who were inspired by the need to preserve and celebrate the heritage and character of this part of Deptford and prevent it being lost. The charity’s ultimate aim is to build and sail a replica of the Lenox, a 17th century naval vessel that was built in Deptford and was the first of the thirty ships funded and built by Charles II and Samuel Pepys, to rejuvenate the English navy.

Deptford naval warehouses
These 17th century buildings on Deptford’s riverfront are among the last remnants of its naval past

The crowdfunding scheme wants to open up to the public the undercroft of a Grade II listed building which has been unused for more than a decade and is one of the few buildings from Deptford’s dockyard that are still standing.

Funds will be used to restore and fit out the undercroft, preserving and enhancing the historic structure, and providing new facilities including a public event and display area, a workshop for building the ship’s model and small wooden boats, and a base for the Lenox Project.

Deptford naval vaults
The undercroft has been disused for a decade

As well as asking for support from individuals and businesses, the project is pitching for a pledge from the Mayor of London’s Crowdfund London scheme, which aims to fund schemes that give new life to disused spaces. The crowdfunding bid, which already has 60 backers and runs until the middle of August, needs to raise more than £250k in total to enable the space to be renovated and fitted out, and to make it accessible to all.

Director Julian Kingston said: “The Lenox Project charity already has strong support in the local community and having a base will give us the opportunity to build on this and expand our programme of events and outreach. As well as establishing a base and visitor centre, we want to offer training and apprenticeships, particularly in ‘eye-to-hand’ skills and heritage crafts, offering new routes to employment.”

For more details about the crowdfunding appeal visit www.spacehive.com/thelenoxproject.

For more information about the Lenox Project, visit www.buildthelenox.org.

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