Future Secured For Neglected Treasure Of England's Naval Heritage

Dockyard Church (James Brittain)

Dockyard Church (James Brittain)

  • £4.2m National Lottery cash to rescue & transform Sheerness Dockyard Church

  • A new Enterprise Centre supporting young people to build thriving new businesses

    The Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust (SDPT) has secured £4.2 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the rescue, repair and transformation of one of England’s great forgotten monuments, the Grade II* listed former Dockyard Church at Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

    Confirmation of the National Lottery funding marks a brand new chapter in the life of Sheerness Dockyard Church, which was built in the 1820’s to serve the officers and workers of the newly constructed Royal Naval Dockyard. A pioneering project will transform the building for a number of uses, including a new ‘enterprise centre’ –in partnership with the Kent Youth Support Trust, supporting young people to help them develop and sustain their businesses; from school leavers’ support and training, to providing premises, business mentoring and career development initiatives.

    Other key components of the project are:

  • The conservation and installation of the great Dockyard Model, sections of which will be displayed in the main body of the church, changed periodically, with accompanying interpretation.

  • The provision of a community cafe and event space venue for local and regional hire.

    Dockyard Church

    Dockyard Church, Sheerness, was built in the 1820s to serve the officers and workers of the newly constructed Royal Naval Dockyard. The architect was George Ledwell Taylor – surveyor to the Admiralty and designer of another famous Kent landmark, Hadlow Tower. Ledwell Taylor worked to a master-plan by the great engineer John Rennie. Rennie had prepared the site of the Dockyard by driving in millions of timber piles into the marshy coastal ground. His state of the art dry docks and basins and mast house were the envy of the engineering world. 

    The Church continued in use for a time after the closure of the Naval Dockyard in 1960, before becoming a sports facility and later a store. In 2001 it was gutted by fire. In 2013 it was acquired by Swale Borough Council under compulsory purchase powers and vested in the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust. In 2015 ownership was formally transferred to the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust.

    William Palin, Chair of the SDPT, said:

    “The award of this major National Lottery Heritage Fund grant represents a great moment both for Dockyard Church and for the Isle of Sheppey and a huge vote of confidence in our project. This is a building which just a few years ago appeared to be on the brink of collapse. Now the former Church will become the focus of major investment to give it a new future at the heart of life in the region.

    We are grateful to everyone who has supported us, in particular National Lottery players, without whom this grant would not be possible. The support we have received from the Trusts and Foundations to whom we have applied has been outstanding. In addition to this we have also received very generous contributions from individual donors. All of this is a great endorsement of our project.”

    Ros Kerslake, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

    “This is an exciting project that harnesses the power of heritage to regenerate local communities. Making every pound of National Lottery money work harder, it will restore the majesty of Sheerness Dockyard Church, find long-term sustainability for this much-loved community building, whilst boosting its local economy through nurturing the next generation of local businesses leaders. It’s an impressive initiative.”

    Chris Foulds, Kent Youth Support Trust Trustee and Sheerness Town Council member writes:

    “We are delighted to be supporting SDPT. The creation of business and employment opportunities for young adults in Sheerness will help drive the economic growth which we are seeking to generate."

Visualisation of completed building (Hugh Broughton Architects)

Visualisation of completed building (Hugh Broughton Architects)

Hugh Broughton, lead architect for the project, writes:

“The green light from the National Lottery Heritage Fund means we can now push ahead with the delivery of this important project to restore Ledwell Taylor’s remarkable Dockyard Church to provide a focus for young entrepreneurs in Sheerness and an enjoyable place for the local community to learn about the history of the Dockyard. We are now really looking forward to developing the scheme with the Trust in collaboration with Martin Ashley Architects.”

The Trust has been working with its professional team led by Hugh Broughton Architects and Martin Ashley Architects to produce designs. Planning permission and listed building consent have now been secured. The Trust aims to start work on site in early 2020 with estimated opening of the new centre in autumn of 2021.

For CGI ‘fly-through’ model of project follow this link:


Martin Ashley, conservation architect, writes:

“The eleventh-hour rescue by Sheerness Historic Dockyard Trust of this outstanding historic Naval Chapel for such a beneficial use is a highly important project. The wonderful support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund has now made this project possible. We very much look forward to developing the scheme with SDPT and Hugh Broughton Architects.”

Our Funders

The National Lottery funding has been matched with nearly £3m of grants from some of the UK’s leading philanthropic trusts, foundations and individuals including:

·         The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust

·         Lund Trust, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin

·         Colyer Fergusson Charitable Trust

·         Garfield Weston Foundation

·         The Sackler Trust

·         Foyle Foundation

·         Wolfson Foundation

·         Allchurches Trust

·         Art Fund

·         Henry Oldfield Trust

·         The Swire Charitable Trust 

·         Pilgrim Trust

·         Architectural Heritage Fund

·         Kent Community Foundation

·         Roger de Haan Charitable Trust

·         Rothschild Foundation

·         Peter Stormonth Darling Charitable Trust

Jeremy Noles, Grants Officer for
Allchurches Trust, who gave a £102,000 grant, said:

“This unique project will bring this historic dockyard church back from the brink and breathe new life into the local economy, giving young people in Sheerness new opportunities to build a bright future for themselves and their town. We’re delighted to have been able to support its restoration.”

Matthew Mckeage, Chief Executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said:

“Without the courageous efforts of SDPT, the future of this wonderful historic building – one of great importance to the town of Sheerness - would remain bleak.  The impressive backing secured by the Trust for their innovative plans demonstrates the real difference that a community-led charitable organisation can have in turning round the fortunes of buildings that matter to people, locally and nationally.  The Architectural Heritage Fund is delighted to be supporting the Trust.”

The AHF provided three grants totalling £50,000 to help the Trust when it first started out through to developing the project proposals, helping them to secure the major funding now in place.