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Behind the Scenes15th February 2023

Conservation in Action: Admiralty Pattern Anchor

If you’ve visited the Dockyard recently, you may have noticed a new, GIANT anchor next to HMS GANNET.

This Admiralty Pattern Anchor was given to us by the Port of London Authority (PLA), following specialist advice on the discovery and registration by Historic England. See conservation in action as our team completes treatment to the anchor.

Heritage Engineering and Historic Ships Manager, James Morgan said “It was great to be invited down to the PLA in Gravesend to look at this magnificent example of an admiralty pattern anchor. Jim Demby and the team at the PLA delivered the anchor to the port side of HMS GANNET where it was craned off and into a tank for preservation. I look forward to working alongside Karoline Sofie and her team of volunteers to bring this anchor back from the depths.”

The anchor was delivered to Chatham at the end of January on the lorry you can see below. The anchor was then lifted and transferred to a treatment bath.

This anchor was a very unusual find and something that was not initially anticipated to end up at Chatham.

Stuart Churchley, Marine Planning Officer at Historic England, said: “The unexpected discovery of such a huge anchor is a reminder of our rich maritime history. The PLA deserves our thanks for recognising that the find was something special and for their collaborative approach to securing a new home for it. Relocating the anchor was no small feat and we’re delighted it will be on public display at The Historic Dockyard Chatham where it will be well cared for.”

This collaboration between the Port of London Authority, Historic England and Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust allowed the anchor to find it’s new home.

Our Conservator, Karoline Sofie, will be working on the anchor. She said “I am very excited to be conserving this brilliant anchor! I have conserved many iron artefacts in the past, but this is by far the largest iron artefact so far in my portfolio. While the size can seem pretty intimidating at first, I have spent lots of time planning and preparing the conservation treatment ahead of its arrival to the Dockyard. As the anchor was left on the seabed for quite some time, it has suffered the damaging effects of minerals found in seawater in the form of iron corrosion. I am now working on a treatment process called desalination, where I am using alkaline solutions to reduce the chloride concentration in the iron, which will slow down the active corrosion and eventually stabilise the iron.

You may see the team working on the anchor when you visit the Dockyard. The anchor is displayed next to a Royal Navy Bombay Cutter which is also undergoing it’s own conservation story which can be seen in the background of the image below.

When visiting the Dockyard you should see major changes to both the anchor and the cutter, have you seen them yet?

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