We will meet at Deptford train station (Deptford High Street) at 11.30 and then wander down to explore the riverfront and its history, in particular in relation to the themes of commons and enclosures: from the Royal Dockyard down to current plans for a luxury housing development on its site. The walk has been timed to coincide with a low tide so that we can go out on the Thames beach and have a picnic and discussion there, weather permitting.
Bring food to share and maybe also a waterproof blanket!
A key reference point will be the work of the radical historian Peter Linebaugh. In his work ‘the London Hanged’ he considers the dockyard in Deptford and the repression of the practice of workers being able to appropriate materials from work (chapter on ‘ships and chips: technological repression and the origin of the wage’).
Deptford was also the launch pad for many colonial/slavery expeditions, and was for some time the shipyard of the East India Company. Linebaugh deals with the Empire and enclosure in ‘The Magna Carta Manifesto’, in particular in Chapter 7: Law of the Jungle. Chapter 4 of this book, ‘Charters Lost and Found’ refers to John Evelyn, the 17th century gardener whose house was also on the riverfront at Deptford.
Deptford was also a key point in the ship-borne circulation of people, ideas and struggles across the Atlantic and beyond. This circulation is the focus of Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker’s book, The Many Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. Of particular relevance is Chapter 5 Hydrarchy: Sailors, Pirates, and the Maritime State .
The immediate future of the site will depend on the outcome of plans for the Convoys Wharf development. There is lots of detail about it on local blogs including