Sheerness Dockyard Church

Client: Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust
Design Architects & Lead Consultant: Hugh Broughton Architects
Conservation Architects: Martin Ashley Architects
Main Contractor: Coniston Construction
Structural Engineer: Hockley & Dawson
Services Engineer: Harley Haddow 
Cost Consultant: PT Projects
Project Manager: Glevum Consulting
Acoustic Consultant: Ramboll Acoustics
Lighting Designer: Sutton Vane Associates

Dockyard Church is a Grade II* listed building which dates from 1828, designed by George Ledwell Taylor, Surveyor of Buildings to the Navy. It stands at the entrance to the former Royal Dockyard on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. The church, which has twice been badly damaged by fire in 1881 and again in 2001, is an architectural masterpiece and one of the most important buildings at risk in the southeast of England.

The historical value of the church lies in its robust naval architecture; its relationship with the dockyard and the surrounding settlement that grew up around it, and its place at the heart of the community, where naval, military and civilians came together. The resurrected venue is expected to bring much-needed inward investment, business development and economic activity to an area that has suffered the effects of long-term deprivation.

The project for the repair and reuse of this landmark building has been commissioned by Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust. The renovation will safeguard the existing elements of the badly fire-damaged church and bring new purpose to the civic building by creating a business incubator hub for local young people, an exhibition area, a restaurant and an events space. The design philosophy has been developed  in consultation with trustees and the wider community in Sheerness. Externally, the church will be restored to match the profiles of Ledwell Taylor’s design as completed in 1828, including reinstatement of the original roof, windows and doors.

New interventions include the Island Works café, meeting and seminar areas, co-working spaces, and business incubation units on the reinstated gallery floors, designed as 14 discrete flexible pavilions which can be removed without impacting on the original fabric of the building. The ground floor includes a display of the remarkable scale model of Sheerness dockyard made in the 1820s. The model formally in the care of English Heritage was returned to Sheerness, providing a focal point for visitors and a means by which to tell the story of the dockyard and its place in Britain’s naval history.

Fruitbowl Media will be managing the new Island Works coworking space at Dockyard Church in partnership with The Kent Foundation, offering members flexible packages and different spaces to suit their business needs. The Kent Foundation will also provide business support for young people (aged 16 – 30) starting and growing businesses from the local area. This will include hosting free workshops, advisory sessions and events. Spaces will also be available to hire for meetings and events.