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Something for everyone! And perfect weather for exploring this Historic Dockyard.  We arrived at about 11.00 am.  A guided coach tour was planned for the early afternoon to give us an overall view of the site, and my goodness, there was a lot to see and experience.  Our tour leader, Jean White, collected and issued our tickets and then lunch was available in the Mess Deck Restaurant.


Back on the coach Barry, our guide, started by pointing out the slipways which are alongside the road entrance.  The Slipways, which started to be covered during the Napoleonic Wars, of which the oldest is No 3, is now a megastore.  Built in 1838 it may then have been Europe’s largest widespan timber structure.  It is a rare survival of the period.



Another (No 4) is now an RNLI Museum with 17 life boats ranging from the earliest days (1824) up to the present.
















In the dry docks we saw:




















On the opposite side of the road is an imposing brick edifice with a clocktower, rather lavish for a building originally built in timber and used as a storehouse.   Nevertheless, appropriate now as the oldest naval storehouse (1723), currently in use by the University of Kent.

























A woman in a white smock tied up with cord invited us into an entrance lined with benches.  Rose, our guide, turned out to be, in character, extremely funny and soon had us marshalled in brisk fashion with no nonsense.  She explained how ropes were made and told us that ships like the Victory needed 37 miles of rope.  During the years, regulations and mechanisation lead to the loss of work for women.  A rope-walk was established in 1618 but the present buildings date from 1729 to 1812.  George III insisted that the timber buildings be replaced with brick to reduce fire risk. The resulting building is a quarter mile long!  Rose took us upstairs and two men were selected and tasked with turning the handle of trolleys to show how rope was made.  We then made our way through part of the long rope-walk to end our tour of the Ropery.


Left then to explore by ourselves, some made for the Ropery shop and some visited the Commissioner’s Garden across the road.  It still has traces of the original Italianate water garden. Rose guided some of us to a Mulberry tree apparently in existence in Oliver Cromwell’s day. Nearby you can see an Ice House and a Memorial Garden to the 11 Royal Marine musicians killed at Deal during the IRA bombing of their barracks in September 1989.




















All too soon it was time to re-join the coach to return to Worthing.  Thanks to Barry we had a very smooth journey in remarkable time.  Our thanks also to Jean who lead our visit in her usual calm and efficient way.


Text by Sandra Park                                                                               Photographs by Alan Park



























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Chatham Historic Dockyard


HMS Ocelot

HMS Cavalier

HMS Gannet

On the opposite side of the road is an imposing brick edifice with a clocktower, rather lavish for a building originally built in timber and used as a storehouse.   Nevertheless, appropriate now as the oldest naval storehouse (1723), currently in use by the University of Kent.




Next to this is a brick building constructed in 1808 for the use of the Master Shipwright and senior dockyard officials. After use by the Port Admiral it is now known as the Admiral’s Offices. Opposite is the Railway Workshop and Wagonstop Canteen with a brewery hidden in behind. After Barry had pointed out some other buildings we came to a stop outside the Ropery.

Grace Darling

Others will have found their way to the exhibition of Steam Steel and Submarines or the Command of the Oceans display and in the No. 1 Smithy collections of items from the Royal Museum at Greenwich and the Imperial War Museum could be seen.  It was also possible to go on board the Gannet and HMS Cavalier.  (The submarine was only available by guided tours with a timed ticket.)


On board the destroyer it was possible, with difficulty, to climb up and down ladders, follow gangways to see the senior officers’ cabins, the mess deck as well as visit the bridge, gun positions and generally get a feel of life on board.