Local History Month: a Southwark Home for The Golden Hinde

16th May 2022
Local History Month: a Southwark Home for The Golden Hinde

In early 1996 The Golden Hinde was over-wintering in Salford Quays on the Manchester Ship Canal. The plan was for port visits within UK waters starting at Easter. We then received contact from ANZ Bank in London proposing a meeting to discuss a long-term home for The Golden Hinde.

Travelling port to port with the ship was becoming more difficult as time went by. The Golden Hinde was built as a faithful reconstruction of the original ship. It had rotted in Deptford Creek after being on show for around 80 years, making Drake’s ship the first Maritime Museum. The authenticity of our Golden Hinde meant that modern safety standards expected by the Marine Coastguard Agency, could never be met. These rules included watertight bulkheads, steel dogged doors and enclosed stairs from below. Such measures would have dramatically changed the character of Golden Hinde by devaluing her ability to illustrate life at sea in the 16th century. We had come to the view that after 23 years of taking the ship to ports around the UK and North America, her sailing days were over and a berth in London made great sense.

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On meeting with ANZ Bank they explained that St Mary Overie Dock, beside their UK and European headquarters, came under their control. The dock had been created from a muddy creek with a great history. When the area was re-developed in the early Eighties, a condition of the planning for the surrounding buildings, was that a ‘historic ship’ should occupy a newly created berth. The original plan by the developers was that Scott’s ship RRS Discovery should make St Mary Overie Dock her home, but the plan changed and Discovery went to Dundee where she was built in 1900. It was then decided that the Kathleen & May a West Country Schooner owned by the Maritime Trust should occupy the dock. It remained there until summer 1996, unfortunately falling into a state of disrepair, ending up with masts down and covered in plastic sheeting. ANZ decided that the Kathleen & May should leave and made the approach to The Golden Hinde.


 Kathleen and May

Bringing The Golden Hinde to St Mary Overie was not straightforward. ANZ engaged civil engineers to oversee the modification of the dock. This included cutting a channel through the centre of the concrete sill that the gate rested upon for the deep ship’s keel. Golden Hinde draws 4 metres (13.5 feet) and the new channel was around 1.25 metres wide and a metre deep with its own gate that sat under the main dock gate. Providing the ship entered at an exceptionally high tide (usually every couple of months), then she would pass through the entrance with the keel slipping through the newly created gap in the sill.

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In preparation for the move to her new home, Golden Hinde sailed up The Thames to The Royal Docks where the masts and yards were removed by crane and loaded on deck, spanning the main deck from The Foredeck to The Half Deck. There was a very fine balance to successfully pass under London Bridge, the only fixed bridge on our journey up river. The measurements of water depth and 'air draft’ (the gap between the water level and the underside of the bridge) were critical. This was a tricky judgement that we had to make. Timing the tide height was crucial.
The main dock gate and its mini-gate below are not self opening and require a floating crane to lower them back into position. Once the ship had entered the gates were secured, leaving the dock pump to adjust water levels within. A crane was hired and over a period of several days, masts were re-stepped, yards sent back up and rigging attached. With our newly constructed oak gangway we were open for business.

The success of our move to London 26 years ago was largely thanks to the efforts and support from ANZ Bank. They were great neighbours during those early years.

 The Golden Hinde 3
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