Monday 1st October Faversham Society Members and Guests Meeting
Is there potential for a new maritime museum in TS Hazard, the C15th Town Warehouse? A heritage centre or museum featuring Faversham’s maritime history, trade, the Graveney Boat, and the Cinque Ports.
More than 40 people attended, many members and residents plus Canterbury Christ Church University, Faversham Creek Trust, Faversham Historians, Faversham Sea Cadets, FSARG, Faversham Town Council, Kent Sail Association, Lees Court Estate, Medway & Swale Boating Association, National Maritime Museum, Swale Borough Council (Conservation & Economy and Community Services) University of Kent, SWAT Archaeology.
Faversham – the gift of the sea. John Owen spoke on the history Faversham and reminded us of the importance of the sea and Faversham Creek to the development of Faversham and its prosperity. The town is located where it is, north of the main road, because of the Creek and the trade with London and the continent associated with it. The development of the town and its importance in the medieval period through until the end of the C18th was based on its trading by sea.
Town Quay where TS Hazard stands existed by 1420 and it had two cranes. The Town Warehouse, now TS Hazard, dates to 1475. The first bridge over the creek was built in 1790, it became a carriage bridge in the 1840s. John Owen estimates that one-third of Faversham’s men were employed on the creek or their employment was reliant on it. He also pointed out that the creek provided year-round employment and that it was fundamental to wealth an importance of the town until the C20th.
By 1580 Faversham had sixteen hoys, six of which sailed regularly to London. Whilst there were relatively few prosecutions for smuggling a large volume of seized smuggled goods were auctioned in the town.
The coming of the railway in 1858 resulted in the slow decline of the importance of the creek, although as recently as the late 1970’s fuel, timber and agricultural goods (fertiliser and grain) were being transported on it. As late as 1900 there were 5000 feet of quayside, nearly a mile of quays.
- The Graveney Boat is in the custody of the National Maritime Museum and there is a long-standing ambition to have it on display in Faversham. If the Town Warehouse was to be used to celebrate Faversham’s maritime heritage – trade, gunpowder, oysters, bricks – and its Cinque Ports status then the Graveney Boat might be considered for inclusion.
- Faversham should engage with efforts by the Medway & Swale Boating Association to establish the importance of the Medway and Swale as a leading centre of British, European and World Heritage. More In the 1980’s Maritime Kent was recognised and promoted as a major part of Kent’s tourism offer.
- The Registrar of the Cinque Ports was to have attended but was incapacitated. He is interested in the proposal for a new museum/heritage centre and confirms that the Confederation of the Cinque Ports has been generally supportive of proposals to bring the Ports’ history to a wider audience. The Confederation has yet to take a view and it is extremely unlikely that the Confederation would be able to offer any financial contribution.
- Swale’s Conservation Officer outlined the steps being taken to ascertain the condition of the building, A survey by Anthony Swaine Architecture Ltd was completed in March. They concluded that
After 60 years, the building is, again, in need of significant repair with areas of decay particularly in the sole plates and at the river end where the wall framing is distorting as a result of decay in the cill.
The roof coverings in particular have reached the point where major overhaul is required since the roof was not retiled as part of the 1960s refurbishment and may well not have been replaced for a considerable time before that.
The next stage is for Canterbury Archaeological Trust (Rupert Austin) to carry out an archaeological survey – this is to commence imminently.
- Those present were assured by Swale’s Economy and Community Services representative that no decision has been made about “repurposing” TS Hazard and that if it’s repurposing was to be considered that would only be after completion of a careful consideration of the state of the building and the work required to ensure its conservation. We were assured that any change of purpose for the building would be subject to full public consultation and alternative accommodation for the Sea Cadets would need to be secured.
- There have been discussions about research opportunities in Faversham between researchers at the National Maritime Museum and Greenwich University and academics from both the University of Kent and Christchurch University have expressed interest. Whilst much work has been done by Faversham Historians and other academics there is still much to be done. The Faversham Society is keen to work with everyone with an interest in the history of Faversham and the Faversham Hundred to advance our knowledge of the past and to communicate it. The National Maritime Museum holds the records of James Pollock Sons & Co Ltd and they are keen to see them researched.
- Flooding and a viable income stream to support any new use for the Town Warehouse would be significant challenges as well as funding the restoration of the building.