'St Albans' floated out at Deptford, 1747
The Buckingham on the stocks at Deptford
It is high tide at Deptford on the Thames and a warship is being floated off the slipway. Her launching flags billow in the breeze and there are spectators watching from the dockside and from small boats on the river. The house on the left is home of the Master Shipwright (and still exists today). The impressive brick building in the centre of the picture is the Grand Storehouse.
John Clevely, the artist was trained as a shipwright and lived close to the dockyard, so he would have been familiar with every detail of this scene. The four huge flags above the warship indicate that she will shortly be launched into the river Thames. Beyond her, you can see the frames of another ship being built. Timber is being unloaded from a barge underneath a dockside crane. A new ship would have been a talking point for months, and visitors would have come to see how the work was progressing.
The 'Royal George' at Deptford showing the launch of the 'Cambridge'
Launch of HMS 'Alexander' at Deptford in 1778
John Clevely was apprenticed to a joiner and later worked in the Royal Dockyard at Deptford, which provided the backdrop to many of his paintings. This painting shows the launch of the 'Cambridge' at Deptford in 1775. It also shows the 'Royal George' (right). The 'Royal George', built at Woolwich a year later than the 'Cambridge', could not have been present at the launch - an early case of artistic licence!
The launch of the 74 gun warship HMS 'Alexander' at Deptford Dockyard. The 'Alexander' can be seen on the stocks in the distance. There are a number of barges and smaller vessels, full of spectators, watching her launch. In the foreground, several Royal Navy vessels are moored off the dockyard. The 'Alexander' later saw action in the Battle of the Nile in 1798.