Painting by Joanna Moore
Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust
About the trust
A group of individuals came together in 2013 and began pulling together a plan to safeguard the Church building and develop an exciting scheme to restore the church for the benefit of the Island's community as a whole.
The Spitalfields Trust agreed to take ownership of the building from the local council, on an interim basis, pending the formation of the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust.
Both SAVE Britain's Heritage and Heritage Lottery Fund took a great deal of interest in the plans to restore the building and have provided funding to support our efforts to establish the extent of works required to restore the Church and to develop a range of options to create a site of significant value to the community as a whole, with a mix of uses that will enable the trust to fund the maintenance of the building for many years to come.
The Trust consists of a number of extremely passionate and talented individuals who between them have extensive experience in heritage conservation, business development, project management, community engagement, design, building consent, planning and fundraising.
You can find out more about the Trust here.
About the building
Sheerness Dockyard Church was built for dockyard workers and service personnel in 1826-8 as part of the comprehensive redevelopment of the Sheerness Royal Naval Dockyard between 1813 and 1830.
The principal designer of the new dockyard was John Rennie (1761-1821) but the architect of many of its buildings, including the church, was George Ledwell Taylor (1788-1873), Surveyor of Buildings to the Navy from 1824.
The Church is a neo-classical design with a tetrastyle Ionic portico. It was gutted by fire in 1881 and substantially rebuilt, more or less to the original concept, in 1884-5.
It is listed Grade II* and stands within Sheerness Royal Naval Dockyard and Blue Town Conservation Area. It is included in the English Heritage Register of Heritage at Risk and is part of the site included in the 2010 Watch List of endangered heritage sites by the World Monuments Fund.
A home for the Dockyard Model
As part of the construction project for the new dockyard John Rennie commissioned an architectural model which, at 1,600ft square, is one of the largest ever made. It is meticulously detailed, revealing both subterranean engineering and the colour and decoration of the buildings, and offers a vivid insight in to the technological and industrial might that underpinned British naval power in the 19th century.
The model is currently in the care of English Heritage, and not on public display, but the new Trust intends to include, within the Church conversion project, a permanent display area for the model, together with associated educational material to be open to the public.
1970 - The Church closed
2001 - The Church suffered another devastating fire whilst in private ownership
2009 - A feasibility study on the Church is commissioned by SAVE Britain’s Heritage
2013 - The Church was compulsorily purchased by Swale Borough Council and transferred to the Spitalfields Trust on an interim basis.
2014 - The Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust secured a Start-Up grant from the Heritage Lottery fund to make the structure safe again and began the transformation of the derelict Church into a community resource and enterprise centre for the Isle of Sheppey, to continue its 180 year history.