Maritime enthusiasts propose to build a replica of the 17th-century Restoration warship Lenox in the dockyard where she was originally constructed.
More than 330 years after she was built at the Royal Naval Dockyard at Deptford, members of the local community hope to create a copy of the 52 metres-long Lenox.
A 70-gun third-rate of Charles II’s navy, Lenox fought in the Battle of Beachy Head and Barfleur-LaHogue. Representing the pinnacle of Restoration shipbuilding practice, the two-decker warship was recorded in great detail.
This, organisers of The Lenox Project explain, will enable them to build a true warship replica.
“There is more information about this one ship than any other,” project director Julian Kingston told historyextra.
“We have everything – the mastership right pleas, artists’ renditions.
“Lenox was the first of the 30-ship programme of 1677 to be built and was named after one of Charles II’s illegitimate children, so it got a lot of coverage at the time.
“But no-one really has any idea of how a ship like that sailed. With a replica, we would be able to find out how it sailed and what life was like, first-hand.”
Timbers will be fashioned using the latest computer controlled machines, and a numerical controlled routing machine will automatically produce frame pieces, knees and other ship components.
Organisers hope to enable visitors to watch the ship being built over eight years.
“From initial studies we have done we think that once we have something to exhibit and can put together a museum with a gift shop, catering and such, we could be self-supporting within two years,” Kingston said.
He added: “This project ticks so many boxes. We have dire unemployment here in Deptford and a real lack of identity – I think this would be such a fantastic identity.
“If we get this off the ground it will enhance tourism in Lewisham and Greenwich, as we are in walking distance of the Maritime Museum.
“And it will be very good fun as well. I don’t want it to be a beautifully preserved ship, I would like it to go to sea one day.”
Andrew Lambert, professor of Naval History at King’s College London, welcomed the interactive aspect of the project. “I have long held a view that the biggest problem we face with history and heritage is that they are static,” he said.
“We need an opportunity to actually watch people making these things.
“It will mean that over the course of time people will come back, because they will want to see what has happened since they were last there.
“Having sailed on a replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavour there’s nothing better than the opportunity to sail on a real ship, doing real work. You learn so much more.”
Prof Lambert said the replica will enable historians to better understand the workings of a warship.
“It’s about the environment of the ship and how the ship worked,” he said.
“For example, it’s very difficult to fit that many people into the ship – how did they do it?
“How did they keep everyone fit and healthy, how did they provide food? Are they operating as one team or, as I have long suspected, working as teams of teams?
“Lenox is steeped in the history of this country and she took part in fights that saved the nation.
“It really is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who is interested in this period to get to grips with the difficult working environment, and it will help us to understand what important people sailors are in the creation of our national history.”