The Historical Dockyard Chatham is steeped in Maritime History; during the 17th & 18th centuries it was of one of the countries largest and most important industrial sites; building and repairing warships. More than 400 warships were built at The Historical Dockyard Chatham; these ships allowed the British Navy to dominate the seas of Europe and beyond. The Historical Dockyard Chatham is a large site; with over 100 buildings and structures and its home to 3 historic warships; the HM Submarine Ocelot, the sloop HMS Gannet and the destroyer HMS Cavalier.
The site itself is incredibly well laid out and is ideal for families with many toilets, baby change facilities and watering holes! There is also a fantastic outdoor play area. The ships themselves are a little tricky to navigate with a toddler as there are many steep staircases; however we got over this easily by leaving the pram dockside and taking it in turns to look around The sloop HMS Gannet and The destroyer HMS Cavalier. The HM Submarine Ocelot would have proved trickier as it had small boltholes you needed to climb through; me and Miss H thought this was a perfect opportunity to give daddy half hour to himself and go and get some lunch! It is worth noting that although The HM submarine Ocelot is included in the entry price you need to book a tour time to visit as they only allow 20 people on board due to the limited space.
The Historical Dockyard Chatham is also home to the RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection; these lifeboats have saved hundreds of lives off the coasts of the UK & Republic of Ireland. The collection really gives you a sense of how lifeboats have changed throughout history.
With a staggering 100 buildings on the site you would think it would be difficult for one to stand out; the architecturally beautiful Clocktower, with four stunning clock faces and a working belfy, built in 1723 manages to do just that. The building is magnificent and an incredible backdrop for the warships.
The Ropery is another one of the buildings worth a special mention, the buildings date from 1729 to 1812 and houses machinery and rope storage facilities. There are regular Ropery tours, included in your entry price, throughout the day. The tour guides are costumed giving you an incredible sense of history.
The WWII destroyer memorial, unveiled by the Duke of Edinburgh, is one of the most spectacular memorials I have ever seen. It is a block of bronze, incredibly carved by Kenneth Potts to show a ship rescuing survivors from a ship sunk by enemy action. On the rear of the carving is a roll of honour for the 142 Royal Naval Destroyers lost during the war. I cannot think of a better home for this breathtaking sculpture than The Historic Dockyard Chatham.
The Historical Dockyard Chatham is incredible value for money; Adult tickets cost £24 and Child tickets cost £14. Tickets are valid for a whole year!