Bringing our Thames Heritage to Life from Peter Gazey on Vimeo.

This was a Heritage Lottery Funded project organised by Surrey Docks Farm, to explore the history of the Farm’s Thames-side site in Rotherhithe.

Over the summer and autumn of 2013, volunteers researched in detail the development of the site – from a shipyard (occupied by the shipbuilders Stanton, Wells, and the Barnards) to a timber wharf, to a River Ambulance Receiving Station for transporting smallpox and fever patients to isolation hospitals downriver. Badly damaged by bombing in WWII, the site served during this time as a Fire Service river station and vessel maintenance workshops.


With the help of Eliott and Courtney from the Thames Discovery Programme, the project was able to identify remains from all these stages of the site’s history around the Farm and foreshore. Over seven sessions, TDP staff and FROG members worked with the Farm’s volunteers to survey and record these features. Foreshore discoveries include numerous eel traps, exposed peat deposits, an interesting variety of mooring features, and Thames sailing barge floor timbers.

The findings have been presented as a history trail around the farm, telling the story of the site alongside the visible remains. The history trail panels are illustrated with photographs of artefacts found on the farm’s foreshore – from an Auxiliary Fire Service brass button and Fire Barge sign, to a large collection of Metropolitan Asylums Board crockery, which can now be seen in a display cabinet along the riverside path.

The History Trail can be visited around the Farm daily 10.00am – 5.00pm; for more information have a look at the Farm’s website.