Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Olympia Warehouse sunset

Discussion about the development of Olympia Warehouse, part of Convoys Wharf in Deptford, has been going on for well over a decade. Visions of the building being reused as a cultural space, a celebration of the former Royal Dockyard's history, and so on have not come to fruition: on a recent walk, it still stood in lonely splendour. 

Photograph taken in late afternoon light. A single-lane private road leads to a warehouse, whose two gables are distinctively curved. Its first and second floors are of rusty corrugated iron, pierced with rows of windows. The ground floor storey is painted cream with large garage-type doors. In front of it and to the side of the road is bare soil interspersed with scrubby vegetation. Behind the warehouse, a high-rise block of flats is visible.

The long and sorry history of the development of Convoys Wharf has been well covered by the Deptford Dame. The Warehouse itself has survived thanks to being a Grade II listed building - not just for its distinctive curved roofline, but because it is an important piece of industrial heritage. 

Built in 1846 by George Baker & Son, it is of distinctive iron-framed construction: the original wrought- and cast-ironwork is still visible inside. Originally, the two spans covered slipways, allowing ships to be constructed within. They led into the dockyard basin (now filled in) rather than directly into the river. While the building now has a concrete floor and its more recent use was simply as a warehouse, the slipways are intact a little below current ground level. Only one other such shipbuilding shed survives, at Chatham.
Thw warehouse has survived long beyond its original working life. It was originally part of the royal naval dockyard, first established by Henry VIII on a site used for trading since before Roman times - and closed in 1869, less than a quarter of a century after the warehouse was completed. Convoys Wharf was therefore the site of a huge amount of maritime history; much was lost last century, with more to be sacrificed to the current (forthcoming?) development.  

The following photographs are from a visit (part of one of those many consultations) back in 2011.

Detail of the front gable wall. The photograph shows a section of corrugated iron, pierced with windows. Each window is subdivided by metal frames into numerous small, rectangular pains. Towards the bottom of the image, a sign shows the letters O, Y and PIA.

Exterior photograph of the warehouse. The view of the buildling is similar to that in the photograph above, but there is no road leading up to the building: instead, the foreground shows bare earth.

Photograph of the interior with steel pillars and struts and a corrugated iron roof. The interior is otherwise empty; the front gable wall and windows are visible in the distance.

Interior photograph showing the roof including steel beams and struts and a corrugated iron roof.






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