Chatham Historic Dockyard
Li Jing   May 05.2016


Chatham Historic Dockyard is a maritime museum on part of the site of the former royal/naval dockyard at Chatham in Kent, South East England.Chatham Dockyard covered 400 acres (1.6 km²) and was one of the Royal Navy's main facilities for several hundred years until it was closed in 1984. 

After closure the dockyard was divided into three sections. The easternmost basin was handed over to Medway Ports and is now a commercial port. Another slice was converted into a mixed commercial, residential and leisure development. 80 acres (324,000 m²), comprising the 18th century core of the site, was transferred to a charity called the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and is now open as a visitor attraction. It claims to be the world's most complete dockyard of the Age of Sail.

Reason to Be Selected

A unique, award winning maritime heritage destination with a fantastic range of attractions, iconic buildings and historic ships to explore, PLUS a fabulous programme of temporary exhibitions at No.1 Smithery.

Make rope on the Victorian Ropery Tour; be gripped by stories of life aboard our Three Historic Warships, see BIG ‘things’ in 3 Slip The BIG Space and hear of heroic stories in RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection. Visit the beautiful Commissioner's garden and the Railway Workshop Picnic and Play indoor soft play or the outdoor adventure play areas.

No. 1 Smithery: National Treasures Inspiring Culture is an all round treasure house for the whole family with brilliant new galleries displaying world class maritime treasures from two national museums and a changing programme of temporary exhibitions and family activities. 

Steam, Steel & Submarines - explores the Royal Navy’s use of the River Medway in the 19th and 20th centuries, representing a time of power, strength and adaptation, not only in terms of the ships built, but the people behind the dockyard, without which Britain may not have achieved such global influence. 

Incredible value for money! With so much to see and do, you can come back again and again with your 12 month ticket. (Terms and conditions apply).
A new project for 2014 is 'Command of the Oceans'. This is possible due to £4.53m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Also the project got a £3m contribution from the Homes and Communities Agency. A new entrance on the north side of the visitor attraction will be built and a discovery centre linking the former naval base with other significant heritage sites including Fort Amherst, the Great Lines Heritage Park (between Gillingham and Chatham) and Upnor Castle. This all became possible after the remains of the Namur warship was discovered under the floor of the Wheelwrights' Shop in 1995.[5]Workers at the dockyard performed eight years of restoration work on the MV Havengore, the ceremonial vessel that carried the body of Winston Churchill during his state funeral. In addition the dockyard is acting as custodian of artefacts, masts and rigging from the Cutty Sark and the Medway Queen, while their hulls are being restored elsewhere.


The Ropery, 1786-91
Scheduled Ancient Monument & Grade I
Rope has been made on this site since 1618. Today Chatham is the only one of the original four naval ropeyards still in operation and with much of its original machinery and all its buildings complete. Together the buildings of the Ropery form one of the finest integrated groups of 18th Century manufacturing buildings in Britain.
The main ropery building, the Double Ropehouse, was built during the Napoleonic Wars to house the spinning, closing and laying processes. Originally worked entirely by hand, the closing and laying process were mechanised from 1811 and powered by steam from 1826. Machinery dating from 1811 remains in regular use and on display to visitors - see Ropery section. Rope continues to be made commercially by the Trust's subsidiary charity Master Ropemakers.

Hemp Houses and Spinning Room 1729- 1814
Scheduled Ancient Monument & Grade II
Built from 1729 the Hemp Houses provided storage space for hemp - the main raw material of ropemaking during the Age of Sail. The buildings retain many of their original fittings including much of their timber paneling.

In 1864 mechanical spinning machinery was introduced to the upper floor and women workers employed to look after the new machines.

Hatchelling House 1786-91
Scheduled Ancient Monument & Grade II

Located at the north end of the Double Ropehouse this building was used by the Ropeyard's hatchellers to comb the hemp fibres to straighten them before spinning. This was the first stage of the ropemaking process and was undertaken by hand until the introduction of mechanised spinning machinery in 1864.
Yarn Houses, 1786-91
Scheduled Ancient Monument & Grade II

The Yarn Houses are formed from three buildings now joined together. These were the White Yarn House, used to store newly spun hemp yarns, a Tarring House, where the yarn was dipped in molten yarn for rot proofing and the Black Yarn House where the tarred yarn was dried prior to being returned to the Double Ropehouse to be formed into strand.


Lat: 51.3655
Lng: 0.526147
Region: Europe
Scale: Region
Field: Facility
City: Chatham