Culture Magazine

From the Archives: Deptford Dockyard Chips

By Carolineld @carolineld
Not the potato sort - 'chips' were offcuts of wood. A valuable perk for shipyard workers, they were often substantial in size.
From the archives: Deptford dockyard chipsIn the eighteenth century, the most valuable perquisite (perk) of the naval shipwright's job was the right to remove chips. The term referred to offcuts of timber up to six feet in length, which the shipwrights would carry home on their shoulders. There was allegedly abuse of this right, with shipwrights sawing down planks to just below the maximum length - in work time - before carrying them away. Quality may also have been affected, with allegations that workers took the seasoned wood, leaving green wood for the actual shipbuilding. The right also cost the Royal Dockyards a great deal, estimated by William Sutherland in 1726 at £93,000 per year. It is unsurprising, then, that the shipyards tried to control the taking of chips while the workers did their best to minimise restrictions on it.
The perk was jealously protected: in 1739, Deptford workers went on strike over an attempt to make them unbundle their loads when they left the shipyard. 1758 saw further unrest here when they were told to carry the chips out under their arms rather than on their shoulders. There was clearly a further threat to the privilege in 1786, and it caused such outrage among Deptford's Royal Dockyard workers that a riot nearly followed. On 25 October, it was reported that
On Friday afternoon a meeting of a very alarming nature took place at Deptford amongst the Shipwrights; we are given to understand it arose about their perquisites of chips. About four o’clock they were got to such a pitch of desperation, that the whole town was in the utmost consternation imaginable, and it seemed as if the whole place was struck with one general panic. But happy for the security of his Majesty’s subjects, an officer dispatched a messenger for a party of the guards, which fortunately arrived at Deptford at six o’clock, which secured the peace for the moment, but were soon found insufficient, and a second express was instantly disptatched for an additional supply, these were found not capable of keeping the peace; at eleven o’clock all the troops from the Savoy that could be spared arrived, which, happy for the town of Deptford, secured the place and restored peace.
However, whatever the unrest it might provoke, the perk had to be brought under control. This was finally achieved at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when in July 1801 the perquisite was replaced by 'chip money' of 6d a day for shipwrights and half that for labourers.
Further reading: there is a chapter on 'Ships and Chips' in Peter Linebaugh's The London Hanged: crime and civil society in the eighteenth century.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Big Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy in China

    Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy China

    Coca-Cola is at it again. As soda sales decline in the United States and Europe, beverage companies look to emerging economies like China for growth. And, it... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dietdoctor
  • Jewellery for a Precious You

    Jewellery Precious

    Jewellery is always close to a woman’s heart. It completes her look and boost confidence. Considering the changing trends in jewellery fashion, it becomes... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dr.jenifer Sayyed
  • Rajshri Productions’ Next Is A Film On Friendship | Hum Chaar | Trailer

    Abhishek Dixit’s debut feature film Hum Chaar is a Bollywood film made under the banner of Rajshri’s film. Hum Chaar is written and directed by Abhishek Dixit. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
  • Saint Paul the First Hermit

    Saint Paul First Hermit

    Today is the feast day of Saint Paul the hermit. This is a sweet and delicate Oatmeal Bread topped with rolled oats and naturally sweetened with agave. Saint... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Veronica46
  • Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu | Teaser | Pranav Mohanlal | Arun Gopy

    Arun Gopy’s Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is an upcoming Malayalam action-drama feature film starring Pranav Mohanlal and Zaya David in the lead roles. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
  • A Year Of Body Positivity

    Year Body Positivity

    Last January, as I sat there on New Years eve all set to make the same old resolutions I've made year after year for as long as I can remember, I realised how... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Sparklesandstretchmarks
  • Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Jan 2019

    Garden Bloggers Bloom 2019

    Euphorbia rigidaWhen I went out to take the photos for this blog post I was surprised at how much was in flower dotted around the garden. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Patientgardener