Littoral, river and sea
: exploring the maritime history of Deptford, 1700-1850

  • Christopher John Ellmers

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This submission relates to key elements of the maritime history of the Deptford
    riverside area, or littoral, of south east London across the period 1700-1850.
    Whilst many famous historical characters – including Sir Francis Drake, Samuel
    Pepys, Admiral John Benbow, Peter the Great, Grinling Gibbons, Captain Kidd,
    and Captain Cook – have provided all too ready and easy proxies for the area’s
    maritime past, this has generally served to obscure far deeper, more complex and multi-faceted histories.1 That rich and often hidden maritime history is
    primarily explained and explored through a detailed overarching contextual and
    integrative guiding commentary around the four published papers submitted
    here in partial fulfilment for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by
    Publication in the Department of History, University of Portsmouth. These papers
    all investigate core elements of Deptford’s maritime and related cultural history
    through a variety of connected lenses, including the ways in which the area’s
    littoral acted – physically, economically and culturally – as a liminal space, where
    the maritime met and interacted with the non-maritime. Centring on
    shipbuilding, the Greenland Dock and the Arctic whaling trade, the papers are
    also about how that littoral interacted with the Thames and reached out across
    the world’s seas and oceans. Given the specific subject nature of the submitted
    papers, a key section of this integrative commentary examines broader
    historiographies by way of a focused account of maritime Deptford. This helps to
    positively situate and ground this introductory commentary. It also demonstrates
    how the papers have contributed to a much fuller academic understanding of
    those key elements of the Deptford littoral and significantly advanced the
    historiography. As such, this section forms an essential component of the
    submission and is linked to the other contextual sections relating to rationales,
    methodologies, research standards, reflective analyses, and contributions to
    knowledge of the submitted papers. The Deptford littoral was an important and
    unique maritime place. Whilst only a mile-long, Deptford’s busy and imposing waterfront arguably punched well above its weight in terms of Thameside,
    national and international maritime history
    Date of AwardMar 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorCathryn Pearce (Supervisor), Karl Bell (Supervisor) & Brad Beaven (Supervisor)

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