HMS Beagle and Rochford district 11 May. 2020

Monday, May 11, 2020

This is the first of a series of blogs by Rochford District Council's Strategic Director, Angela Hutchings, about the legacy of HMS Beagle and its links to Rochford District.  

Today is the 200th anniversary of the launch of HMS Beagle, the ship that changed the world and ended her illustrious career in the humble waters of the River Roach at Paglesham. One of the most famous ships in history, HMS Beagle is synonymous with discovery in the fields of science, meteorology and even space exploration. In commemoration of the bicentenary it has been announced today that the remains of a rare 19th-century dock, built to accommodate HMS Beagle when it was serving as a Coastguard Watch Vessel in Essex, is now protected as a nationally important site. The submerged mud berth on the River Roach near Paglesham has been designated as a scheduled monument by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England. Their press release can be found here.

The dock is one of only five known mud docks anywhere in England and this listing confirms Rochford district’s association with this most famous of ships and secures our place in the history books. I couldn’t be more thrilled as this acknowledgement firmly establishes the district as the home of HMS Beagle.

It feels a little sad writing this, as COVID 19 means that our planned Discover 2020 celebrations for the bicentenary are postponed until next year. But the indominable spirit of HMS Beagle is an inspiration to me to share her fantastic journey in a series of blogs this week as we chart her journey from Woolwich Naval Dockyard to the River Roach, via South America, the Galápagos Islands, Tahiti, Australia and numerous places in between. I also want to highlight those esteemed and high profile people and organisations who have been working with us as part of Discover 2020, to bring the story of HMS Beagle to life and who, I hope, will join with us again next year to celebrate her lasting impact on the world.