Royal Naval Sheerness Dockyard
To restore and retain the neglected treasure, the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust (SDPT) was established in 2014. Their biggest project to date is the repair and transformation of the Grade II listed former Dockyard Church, which stands at the centre of Sheerness. The church was damaged by a fire in 2001 and it is now believed to be one of the most important buildings at risk in the South East of England. Built in the 1820s, its purpose was to serve the officers and workers of the newly constructed Royal Naval Dockyard.
After the closure of the Dockyard, the church continued in use for a time, becoming a sports facility and later a store. In 2013, the church was acquired by Swale Borough Council under compulsory purchase powers. And most recently, ownership was transferred to the SDPT.
In December 2018, the SDPT secured £4.2 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the repair and transformation of the church. This funding has been matched by various philanthropic trusts, foundations and individuals, which together have provided a grant for over £3 million, of which The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust were a key contributor, donating £500,000 to the project.
This restoration project is planning to transform the building for a number of uses, including a new enterprise centre. The main partner to the SDPT in the church restoration project is the Kent Youth Support Trust (KYST). The KYST provide business advice, affordable work spaces, funding opportunities to individuals between the ages of 18 to 30, and ultimately providing young entrepreneurs with support and guidance through their business start-up period.
The restoration of the church on Sheerness and the rejuvenation of the Dockyard itself will harness the power of the Dockyard’s heritage, regenerate local communities and provide long term sustainability for the building. Moreover, the initiative of the enterprise centre will help boost the local economy and nurture the next generation of business leaders.
William Palin, Chair of the SDPT
“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.”