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Call for Papers - Kent & Shipbuilding Conference

Posted: Monday 11th December 2023

Call for Papers - Kent & Shipbuilding Conference

Conference: Kent and Shipbuilding

Organised by KAS Maritime Kent Special Interest Group

Dates - Autumn 2024 tbc

Venue - Chatham Historic Dockyard tbc

Kent as a maritime county has been a centre for ship and boat building since the earliest times, with the Bronze Age boat discovered near Dover in 1992 having a claim to be one of the oldest seagoing vessels in the world. Ships have been built in the county for hundreds of years using local timber and iron to serve both the navy and the county’s many maritime-based industries, businesses and activities. Some of the Royal Navy’s most famous ships were built at Chatham, including Nelson’s Victory, and yards like James Pollock & Sons in Faversham supplied ships and boats for customers across the world. Thriving local fishing businesses led to the construction of custom-built boats that are unique to Kent, like the Whitstable Whelk boats and the Medway Doble and Gravesend’s role as the entry point for the Port of London led to the development of a specific type of boat, the Gravesend Waterman’s skiff, to ferry passengers, pilots and customs officials back and forth to the ships at anchor off the town. Similarly, Deal Galleys were designed specifically to take people and goods out and back to ships anchored on the Downs.

Held in the year of the 40th anniversary of the closure of Chatham Dockyard, this conference seeks to highlight and explore the wider story of Kent’s shipbuilding heritage and so we are seeking proposals for papers on all aspects of ship and boat building in the county. This includes ship design and construction, both naval and merchant; the history and operation of specific ship and boat builders/yards (especially those producing innovative and locally used craft); places with a particular connection or history to shipbuilding; how archaeology has contributed to the understanding of ship and boat construction; the social and economic impact of shipbuilding on both people and places; and Kent shipbuilders and yards in the context of the UK’s shipbuilding industry over time.

Please send a proposal for a paper (max 300 words) and a short biography (max 150 words) and/or any queries to Stuart Bligh by Wednesday 31st January 2024. Please note that papers should be no longer than 25 minutes

Proposals will be assessed by the Maritime Kent SIG steering committee and you will be notified if your proposal has been successful by 29th February 2024.

We regret that at this stage in planning we cannot offer to cover any costs or expenses

Stuart Bligh

Curator Emeritus