Notes: page under construction: No item on this subject exists at wikipedia, and numerous pages link to it, so here it is, at last.


Nearby the site of modern Chatham’s Town Library their once stood an ancient watermill, which had existed there even before the Norman conquest of 1066. The old mill was powered by a stream that flowed down the valley to the river ‘Medway’ from it's source at what is now Luton. Over time the small brook was known as ‘Old Borne’, the River Borne or ‘the Brooke’.

As the town grew with the development of the Dockyard so the stream became silted with domestic waist and slowly over the centuries deteriorated into what was no more than an open sewer and was eventually capped in 1824, to later become the basis for the towns drainage system.

The Treasurer of the Navy’s accounts of the King’s Exchequer for the year 1544 identifies Deptford as the Dockyard that carried out all the major repairs to the King’s Ships that year. Peter Pett, of the family of shipwrights whose history is so closely connected to the chatham dockyard was appointed first ‘Master Shipwright’ for Chatham in about 1545.

In 1547 ‘Jillingham water’ as Chatham Dockyard was then known, is mentioned as second only in its importance to Deptford, a result of Chatham’s close proximity to London, and particularly the ‘King’s Palace’ of Greenwich. Following which Woolwich, Portsmouth, Harwich were listed in such order of succeeding importance. By 1550 the ships that were then lying off Portsmouth were ordered, by reason of its superior strategic location to be harboured in ‘Gillingham Water’.

chatham dockyard history:

From the mid 16th to late 17th Centuries Chatham was the most important Naval Dockyard in England and its Commissioner held a seat and a vote on the Navy Board in London.

From the will of a Chatham churchwarden, Richard Holborne, Shipwright at the old dockyard, a quaint and intriguing description of that area of Chatham then part of the Dockyard survives.

It includes a reference to his "ould it is now fenced with the brewing house and garden joyning it with the belle now standing... and the wharfe in the millponde...unto the fence of James have ingresse, egresse, and regresse through that way unto the waterside or water gate...and...the greate Gate Westward...and the...pumpe".

By reference to the Chatham parish Churchwarden accounts it is clear that this cousin of Phineas Pett named Richard (Hoborn) was to to hold the post of Churchwarden from 1634 to 1643, curiously as was his son in law Joseph Pett. Richard was to die in 1654, a year after, and possibly as a result of the stress caused by the ‘Adderley Inquest’ at Chatham, (a matter covered in the page: Peter Pett).