Chatham Historic Dockyard
Meet HMS Jervis Bay at No.1 Smithery, the new museum and arts space at The Chatham Historic Dockyard, is a large-scale model of an armed merchant cruiser,
Chatham Historic Dockyard
One of the first things you’ll see at No.1 Smithery, the new museum and arts space at The Chatham Historic Dockyard, is a large-scale model of an armed merchant cruiser. On November 5, a special service will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Jervis Bay
It is no coincidence that HMS Jervis Bay takes pride of place in the Smithery’s welcome area. Hers was no ordinary story. In November 1940 she took the full force of a surprise German attack to save the supplies convoy she was escorting from Canada to England.
Her captain, Edward Fogarty Fegen, and crew knew the lightly armed Jervis Bay was no match for the German battleship Admiral Scheer, but bravely drew its fire.
Fogarty Fegen and 186 men died on board, but their actions saved 32 ships and the lives of hundreds of merchant seamen. Their remarkable story is told in sound and video at the Smithery.
Earlier this year, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust made an appeal for any surviving crew members and relatives of the Jervis Bay to contact the Dockyard so they could be involved in the launch of No.1 Smithery.
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Sadly, the last surviving crew member died some years ago, but relatives of crew members did get in touch and were able to contribute their own memories about the history of this heroic ship.
On November 5 they will join members of the Trust and other guests in a special service in the Royal Dockyard Church commemorating the 70th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Jervis Bay.
The model of the Jervis Bay is one of many fine, and previously unseen, naval and seafaring treasures housed in No.1 Smithery, the result of a groundbreaking �13m partnership between the Trust and two national maritime museums: the Imperial War Museum and the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.
A multi-faceted venue, No.1 Smithery also showcases national and international touring art, and education areas and interactive learning spaces.
It opened this summer with a definitive exhibition by the eminent British artist Sir Stanley Spencer, the first public display since completion of intensive restoration of all eight of his famous Shipbuilding on the Clyde paintings.
Called Resonance and Renewal – Shipbuilding on the Clyde, the exhibition, which continues until 12 December, is curated by artist-in-residence at the Dockyard, Stephen Turner. It also features more than 20 of Spencer’s associated drawings and a poignant collection of workers’ clothing, tools and other items left behind after the original Smithery closed in 1974.
The restoration project was led by the Imperial War Museum, which has loaned the Spencer paintings for this special display - a taster for the ongoing programme of national and international touring exhibitions in one of the gallery spaces.
Elsewhere in the complex, younger visitors especially will relish The Courtyard, a large open space dedicated to hosting a range of family activities (including Ghost Ships, Mysteries and Disasters this autumn), plus learning programmes for schools and creative and performance art.
Many of the original architectural features such as the huge anchor pits and chimneys remain in place and will be put to good use for science and education projects.
GET IN TOUCH
No.1 Smithery, The Historic Dockyard
Chatham, ME4 4TZ
Tel: 01634 823807