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Saturday, May 6, 2023

The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent, UK

  Rajesh Kumar Rana       Saturday, May 6, 2023

The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent, UK
Chatham Historic Dockyard,
showing HMS Gannet, and No. 3 Slip.
Image source: Michael Coppins/wikipedia

The Historic Dockyard Chatham

The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a fascinating maritime heritage site in Kent, UK. With over 400 years of history, the dockyard is a testament to Britain's naval past and its role in shaping the modern world.

Visitors can explore over 100 acres of exhibits, historic ships, and attractions, including the HMS Victory, the submarine HMS Ocelot, and the Victorian Ropery. There are also guided tours, interactive exhibits, and plenty of opportunities to learn about life at sea.

The Call the Midwife Tour at Chatham Historic Dockyard is a popular attraction for fans of the BBC TV series. Visitors can see the filming locations used in the show, including the Nonnatus House and the local church. The tour also includes access to areas not normally open to the public, such as the Tarred Yarn Store and the Ropery. It is recommended to book the tour in advance, as it can sell out quickly.

Chatham Dockyard History

The dockyard was first established in the 16th century, during the reign of King Henry VIII. It was initially used as a naval storehouse, but as England's naval power grew, the dockyard's role expanded. Ships were built, repaired, and outfitted at the dockyard, and it played a key role in many of England's naval conflicts.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the dockyard was a major center for shipbuilding and repair. It was also the site of many naval innovations, such as the introduction of steam power and ironclad ships.

In the 20th century, the dockyard continued to play a vital role in England's naval operations. It was heavily bombed during World War II, but was quickly repaired and continued to be a hub of naval activity until its closure in 1984.

Today, the dockyard is a popular tourist destination and a reminder of England's rich naval history. Many of the buildings and structures have been preserved, and visitors can explore the site and learn about the dockyard's past through exhibits, tours, and activities.

Exhibits and displays

The Historic Dockyard Chatham is home to a wide range of exhibits and displays that offer visitors a glimpse into the dockyard's rich history. Here are a few of the highlights:

The Ropery: 

The Ropery is one of the dockyard's most famous attractions. This working museum demonstrates how rope was made using traditional techniques and machinery. Visitors can watch as rope is spun, twisted, and coiled, and can even try their hand at making their own rope.

HMS Cavalier: 

The HMS Cavalier is a World War II destroyer that is now preserved at the dockyard. Visitors can explore the ship's decks, climb inside its gun turrets, and learn about life on board a warship.

Hearts of Oak: 

Hearts of Oak is an interactive exhibit that explores the dockyard's role in the development of the Royal Navy. Visitors can see historic artifacts, try on naval uniforms, and even step inside a recreated sailors' berth.

Steam, Steel and Submarines: 

This exhibit explores the dockyard's contributions to naval technology, including the development of steam engines, ironclad ships, and submarines.

Call the Midwife: 

Fans of the popular TV series can take a guided tour of the dockyard to see some of the locations used in the show, including the exteriors of Nonnatus House and the London Hospital.

Lifeboat Collection: 

The Historic Dockyard Chatham has a collection of historic lifeboats, including the oldest surviving RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat in the world. Visitors can learn about the important role that lifeboats played in rescuing sailors and passengers from shipwrecks.

No. 1 Smithery: 

This historic building has been converted into a modern gallery space that showcases contemporary art and design. Exhibitions change regularly, so there's always something new to see.

Wooden Walls of Old England: 

This exhibit explores the evolution of wooden shipbuilding and the importance of oak to the Royal Navy. Visitors can see a range of historic boats and models, as well as examples of the intricate carving and decoration that adorned many wooden ships.

Sail and Colour Loft: 

This exhibit explores the art of sailmaking and the role of flags and banners in naval history. Visitors can see demonstrations of sailmaking techniques and learn about the symbolism behind naval flags and pennants.

3 Slip: 

This historic slipway was once used for building and launching wooden ships. Visitors can see the remains of the slipway and learn about the complex process of constructing a wooden ship.

These are just a few of the many exhibits and displays on offer at the Historic Dockyard Chatham. With so much to see and do, visitors can easily spend a full day exploring the site and learning about its rich history.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham Events 

The Historic Dockyard Chatham hosts a range of events throughout the year, catering to all interests and ages. Some of the upcoming events include:

Salute to the '40s: 

"Salute to the 40s" is an annual event that takes place at the Historic Dockyard Chatham in September. It is a celebration of the 1940s era and features live entertainment, music, dancing, vintage vehicles, and reenactments. The event usually takes place over the course of a weekend and attracts visitors from all over the country. It's a great opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of the 1940s and learn more about the history of the era.

Festival of Steam and Transport: 

A celebration of all things steam-powered, this event features locomotives, traction engines, and vintage buses. There are also model railway displays and a chance to take a steam train ride around the dockyard.

Halloween Horrors: 

A spooky event for all ages, Halloween Horrors includes ghostly tours, pumpkin carving, and creepy crafts. Dress up in your scariest costume and explore the darker side of the dockyard.

Christmas at the Dockyard: 

Get into the festive spirit with this event, which includes a Christmas market, carol singing, and a visit from Santa Claus. There are also festive workshops and demonstrations, and the chance to explore the dockyard's historic buildings decorated for the holidays.

Outdoor cinema: 

The dockyard hosts regular outdoor cinema events, showing classic films on a big screen in the historic surroundings of the dockyard.

These are just a few examples of the events on offer at the Historic Dockyard Chatham. Check the website for a full listing of upcoming events and to book tickets.

Visiting Historic Dockyard Chatham

Visitors to the Historic Dockyard Chatham can enjoy a range of exhibits and activities, including tours of historic ships, interactive displays, and guided tours of the dockyard's many buildings. One of the highlights of any visit is the chance to explore the HMS Gannet, a Victorian-era sloop-of-war that was built at the dockyard in 1878.

Another popular attraction is the No. 1 Smithery, which explores the history of shipbuilding through the centuries. Visitors can see examples of the tools and equipment used by shipbuilders over the years and learn about the different techniques used to build and repair ships.

Map and Address

The Historic Dockyard Chatham Map
The Historic Dockyard Chatham Map
Image source: Barabbas1312/ wikipedia

The Historic Dockyard Chatham is located in Chatham, Kent, and is easily accessible by car or public transport. The address of the dockyard is: The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4TE. Visitors can use the map on the dockyard's website to plan their journey and find their way around the site.

Ticket information and prices

The Historic Dockyard Chatham offers several ticket options to visitors. Here's a breakdown of the different ticket types and prices:

  • Adult (ages 16-59): £24
  • Child (ages 5-15): £16
  • Concession (seniors 60+, students, disabled visitors): £20
  • Family (2 adults and up to 3 children): £64
  • Children under the age of 5 can enter the dockyard for free.

In addition to standard admission, the Historic Dockyard Chatham offers a range of other ticket options, including:

Annual Pass: For those who want to visit the dockyard multiple times throughout the year, an annual pass is available. Prices start at £34 for adults and £23 for children.

Combo Tickets: Visitors can save money by purchasing combo tickets that include admission to other nearby attractions such as Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, or the Royal Engineers Museum.

Special Events: Some events at the dockyard may require separate tickets or have additional fees, such as the Festival of Steam and Transport or Christmas at the Dockyard.

It's worth noting that prices are subject to change, and some events or attractions may have different pricing or availability. We recommend checking the Historic Dockyard Chatham's website, here for the most up-to-date information on ticket prices and availability.

Opening Times & Directions

Opening Times:

The Historic Dockyard Chatham is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm from March to October.
From November to February, the dockyard is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Last admission to the dockyard is one hour before closing time.


The Historic Dockyard Chatham is located in Kent, England, just off Junction 2 of the M2 motorway.
If you're travelling by car, there is free parking available on-site.
If you're coming by public transport, the nearest train station is Chatham, which is a 15-20 minute walk from the dockyard. Alternatively, there are buses that stop near the dockyard, including the Arriva 191, 170, and 140 services.


The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Chatham ME4 4TE, United Kingdom
We recommend checking the dockyard's website for any updates or changes to their opening times or directions before your visit.

How to get there

The Historic Dockyard Chatham is located in Chatham, Kent, just a short distance from the M2 motorway. If you're traveling by car, there's plenty of on-site parking available.

If you're traveling by public transport, the nearest train station is Chatham, which is just a 15-minute walk from the dockyard. There are also several bus routes that stop near the site.

For those who prefer to travel by water, the Historic Dockyard Chatham is located on the River Medway and has its own dock for visiting boats.


1. When Did Chatham Dockyard Close?

Chatham Dockyard officially closed in 1984, after over 400 years of continuous operation.

2. Is the historic dockyard in chatham english heritage?

No, the Historic Dockyard Chatham is not part of English Heritage. It is a separate heritage attraction managed by the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.

3. Are all attractions open at the chatham historic dockyard?

The availability of attractions at the Historic Dockyard Chatham can vary depending on the time of year and any ongoing renovations or maintenance. It's best to check the official website or contact the Dockyard directly for the most up-to-date information on which attractions are open during your planned visit.

4. How long does it take to tour the Historic Dockyard Chatham?

The length of time needed to tour the Historic Dockyard Chatham varies depending on individual preferences and interests, but most visitors spend several hours exploring the exhibits and attractions.

5. Are there any hotels near the Historic Dockyard Chatham?

Yes, there are several hotels located near the Historic Dockyard Chatham, such as the Ship & Trades, Bridgewood Manor, and St George Hotel.

6. Can you buy tickets for the Historic Dockyard Chatham in advance?

Yes, tickets can be purchased in advance on the Historic Dockyard Chatham website.

7. Is there parking available at the dockyard?

Yes, there is ample on-site parking available for visitors to the Historic Dockyard Chatham. Parking charges apply, and tickets can be purchased from the car park machines or online in advance.

8. What events are held at the Historic Dockyard Chatham?

The Historic Dockyard Chatham hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including seasonal festivals, historic reenactments, and educational workshops.

9. Are there any age restrictions for visitors to the dockyard?

No, there are no age restrictions for visitors to the Historic Dockyard Chatham. However, some of the exhibits and activities may not be suitable for very young children, so please use your discretion when planning your visit.


The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in naval history, engineering, and design. With its collection of ships, buildings, and exhibits, you can explore centuries of naval heritage and learn about the role that the dockyard played in Britain's past.

Whether you're visiting for the day or have an annual pass, there's always something new to discover at the Historic Dockyard Chatham. So what are you waiting for? Buy your tickets now and start your adventure!

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