Wednesday, 4 April 2012

On the telly

Our local area was - John Bishop ran right past my old local and my daughters school on that programme about his money raising Paris to London thing.  If they'd have kept the camera on two seconds longer D-o-F would have been on the telly.   Now last night though Pub Dig at Chatham was aired on Channel 5.   This is a rip off of Time Team but with less people and Rory McGrath hosting it... all digs are in pubs...  nice gig Rory!

Anyway last night they were at Chatham outside The Command House - a teenage occasional haunt of mine - haven't been there in years mind.  However they were digging out the front of it looking for evidence of the first Royal Dockyard - started in 1500 something by Henry VIII and in Elizabeth I's reign it was the most important dockyard in the country and therefore in the wars with the Spanish etc.  In fact the last ever foreign invasion was in the Raid on the Medway in 1667 when the Dutch had a go and actually did sink a lot of ships.

Anyway they dug and found some evidence of Georgian store houses but there was always a lot of evidence about them - including photographs from the early 20th century.  However they did find only 16th Century shards of pottery from drinking vessels and some ships nails (difficult to precisely age) but also 16th Century bricks like those Hampton Court Palace is made from - the right time for the buildings believed to have been at the centre of the first dockyard set up by Henry VIII. 

Great programme for me as my family is steeped in local history - we've gone back a few generations and still in the locality.  My Dad, Mum, Sister and Aunt all worked in the dockyard until it's closure in the 1980s (thanks Mrs Thatcher!) and I believe previous generations did too. 

One final thing - in Sept the Antiques Roadshow is coming to Chatham dockyard (well the little bit that is a museum now) I intend to go along.  I'm not a lover of the show but my Dad was awarded a watch in 1941 called the Coast watch.  It was awarded every year to the boy from a Gillingham school who passed the entrance exam with the highest score who went on to become an apprentice shipwright.  We have the watch which is engraved, an original cutting from the local paper about its presentation and also recently I unearthed my Dad's original apprentice indentures.  I thought it might make an interesting artefact given all that and the relevance to the dockyard.  He worked as master shipwright on the last O boats (submarines) made there as well.  I have some photos of the launches I could take along too.


  1. thought you said your dad's original to see that on antiques's all going on with you then John Bishop/ Whoever next?? happy easter....!!

  2. Goodness, what roots you have, I quite envy you growing up and living in the same area - it must be wonderful to have those strong bonds within your community (I rarely lived in the same place, or even country, for more than two years as I grew up). I'd love to see some pics of these fascinating items, especially of the watch (hint, hint)..?

  3. We North American have such confounded histories as we are largely transplants not so long ago. I am always jealous of people who can trace their family history! Lucky you :).

    1. Funny I have often considered my ties to my home town as a hindrance rather than something to be jealous of... I've not applied for jobs etc. as they would mean us moving - which given I'm in an area of high unemployment isn't smart.

      When I say local literally we go back to mid 19th Century and we're still in the same parish! My great great Grandfather was baptised in the same font I was! I think it is genetic - there are the wander genes and there are not - I'm a not. I think my son will break some of that mould he has moved away for uni and not planing on coming back.

  4. There's a US version of "Antiques Roadshow". Somehow i am guessing that the European version is a bit more interesting. You certainly have older 'stuff'...

  5. Great to know so much about your family history.

    Mrs T has a lot to answer for!

  6. Hope you get on Antiques Roadshow. Let us know when it being broadcast as we sometimes get it down here in NZ.
    I once saw an Oberon cruising through Valetta harbour in Malta, they looked so elegant and deadly.

  7. Would be interested to know how you get on with the watch. If I had lots of money old watches would be a weakness of mine.

    I won't move out of my area either, despite it being a very grim area for jobs if you have the nerve to ask for some degree of interesting work and more than six quid an hour. Or at least, it would have to be some fantastic well-paid and enjoyable gig. And even then I'd come back. The way I can walk down town and see loads of people I know, and never have to plan things, and get dragged into pubs all the time, is precious.

  8. Oh yes, you must! It sounds like something they would be interested in - and you must tell us if you're on the telly!

  9. I mean, that's a fascinating history of the watch and your grandfather. And to have all the papers too. A lovely piece of family and local history.