The Deptford Shanty Crew has joined the local protest against the Convoys Wharf regeneration plan with its new song “Deptford Dockyard”, which was released online last week.
The song, written and performed by the Crew, criticises Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision in October to put Deptford Dockyard’s regeneration plan into the hands of Hutchinson Whampoa, a Hong Kong-based investment company, instead of leaving it with local people.
Many groups, such as Deptford Is and Build the Lenox, have been campaigning for years for the site to reflect its social history and provide affordable housing in Lewisham.
Liam Geary Gaulch, who founded Deptford Shanty Crew last year, said: “I really believe in the power of music to get your message across. We are a community group involved with local campaigns and the Convoys Wharf development plan is so disgraceful that we had to write a song about it.”
Gaulch explained that, if the current plan is approved, there will be no room in Convoys Wharf for the local people to live or work.
He said: “As the lyrics say, ‘there goes our history and our land, way off in the hands of the London’s mayor’. There are so many local projects for the development of the site that should be taken into consideration.”
One of these project is “Build the Lenox”, a proposal to build a replica of the Restoration warship Lenox that was constructed in the same site more than 330 years ago, when Convoys Wharf was King Herry VIII’s Royal Dockyard. Local apprentices would be involved in the project, creating transferable skills for all those taking part in the construction of the ship, and creating tourism and identity in Deptford.
Another proposed project is the Sayes Court Garden, inspired by John Evelyn’s garden built in 1652 and used as a testing ground for a number of exotic plants and trees to be grown in England. The project wants to create a new Centre for Urban Horticulture at Convoys Wharf, offering a future for local young people by creating jobs from food growing to bee keeping.
There is still a chance for these projects to be considered as Boris Johnson has scheduled a public hearing for March 31, during which a final decision about the future of Deptford Dockyard will be made.
Lewisham People Before Profit and the Shanty Crew have announced this week that they will be peacefully lobbying for changes in the regeneration plan at the hearing.
Gaulch said: “We might go and sing our shanty at the hearing too. That could be another way of showing the Mayor that people in Deptford are strongly opposing the plan.”