Conyer was frequently mentioned in early records being described as a Roman hamlet and often mentioned in relation to Smuggling. It is said that a quarter of all the vessels engaged in smuggling nationwide were based in Kent and Sussex and Conyer certainly played its part as a smuggling community in the 18th and 19th century. A short walk north along the creek to the Swale easily shows how remote and suitable for smuggling the area would have been in the past.
The name Conyer is also synonymous with Barges. During the industrial revolution, Barges were needed to move many raw materials and finished goods, which were produced in Kent, into the Thames and on to London and beyond. Paper mills and brickfields were fed by the barges that brought in sand, mud and household waste such as cinders for brick making, and took away the bricks once made. Conyer was ideally suited for this purpose and a flourishing barge-building industry developed. The earliest known barge was built in the area by John Huggens in 1803.
Conyer became known for its Barge building and over 500 types of barges are believed to have been built here. A John Bird (born 1832) is reputed to be the first of the barge builders to settle at Conyer and records exist for a sailing barge built here in 1866, the year he began his work at the yard. Alfred Marconi White took over the Conyer yard from John Bird in 1890 after serving his apprenticeship at the Blackwall yard in London. The last of the many sailing barges was built at the Conyer yard in 1914, but repair works continued well into the 1930s, with several barges and yachts
built in the 1920s.
Conyer also provided much of the employment in the area at this time with its Brick Works and Cement factory. Industries which sat well with its barge building and good access to the Thames.
The original pub building was a Baker’s shop built in 1642 with a Blacksmiths alongside. This was owned by a Stephen Blaxland and in 1802 he successfully applied for an alehouse license and called that part of the building The Ship. The other half continued as a Bakery until 1831 when Sarah Beacon, a widow who had inherited The Ship bought out the Bakery and was granted a full license for the house. Her son William took over in 1853 and changed the name to The Ship Endeavour and the pub traded under that name until 1876. In that year he sold it to a Canterbury brewer called George Beer of the Star Brewery in Broad Street, who changed the name back to The Ship.