Posts Tagged ‘Chatham dockyard’



The Dockyard had an extensive railway network



Clocktower storehouse built in 1723


HMS Gannet, a sloop launched in 1878. She became a training ship in 1903 and continued in this role until 1968.


Timber seasoning sheds (1774)


Mast House (1753)








XE8 Midget Submarine Expunger built in 1944 for operations in the far east. It was sunk as an underwater target at HMS station Portland but was salvaged in 1973. It is the only known survivor of its class.


Railway Carriage believed to have been used by General Kitchener during his campaign in the Sudan.


Dockyard Railway equipment










HMS Ocelot, an Oberon class submarine launched from Chatham Dockyard in May 1962. She was the last submarine to be built at Chatham. She was decommissioned in August 1991 and put on display in the dockyard.


A memorial to the 11000 sailors who lost their lives whilst serving on Royal Naval destroyers in WWII.


The storage buildings at the southern end of the dockyard are over a quarter of a mile long


One of these building contains the Ropery, which still makes ropes today










The Garden of Commissioners House, a lovely place to have lunch






Keith and I entered the dockyard through the main gatehouse which dates from 1722.


Figurehead from HMS Wellesley, a 74 gun battleship launched in Bombay in 1815 and named after Marquis Wellesley, Governor General of India and brother of the Duke of Wellington


The Commissioners House was built in 1704 as a residence for the dockyard’s senior officer


The Destroyer HMS Cavalier was launched in 1944 and saw service with the Royal Navy till 1972. She is now berthed in the same dock where Chatham’s most famous ship HMS Victory was built.


Model of Chatham’s most famous ship HMS Victory


Old Dockyard Shops


One of the sheds houses the Royal National Lifeboat Institutions national collection. This is a Watson lifeboat which saw service at Margate in Kent from 1951-81.


Number 3 slip. Originally erected in 1838 as a place where large ships could be built under cover, The slipway was filled in during the early 20th century and used as a place to store boats out of the water


At the time the slipway was filled in this mezzanine floor was added to provide storage space for small boats taken from ships undergoing repairs in the dockyard


3 Slip today holds a collection of Dockyard equipment and machinery


Our River cruise on the Medway took us past Chatham Historic Dockyard

Reminders of Chatham’s military history now blend into the environment

Old Dockyard sheds

HMS Cavalier, a destroyer launched in 1944 which served for 28 years in the Atlantic, Pacific and Baltic oceans.

The tower of HMS Ocelot, a submarine, shows over the dock wall. It was the last naval ship built in the Dockyard at Chatham. Launched 1962.

HMS Gannet, a sloop, built at nearby Sheerness in 1878. Used as a patrol and communications boat.

The Submarine sheds. Now used as repair shops for ferry boats.

Dockyard cranes



A chance to get out of London and travel down to Chatham to look for the Great Northern Diver which is wintering in the docks (I failed to see it on my trip last month). After meeting Keith at the station we walked down through the town to the riverside where we got great views of Rochester Cathedral and Castle.

Rochester Cathedral and Castle

Rochester Cathedral and Castle

There was a lot of mud as the tide was well out but aside from Black-headed Gulls and a few Mallard, the only bird of note was a single Common Redshank.

Common Redshank

Common Redshank

We continued along the riverside paths to the dock basin.

Chatham Dock Basin

Chatham Dock Basin

We scanned for the diver but it was nowhere to be seen. After a hour we went off to get some lunch and when we returned there was a European Shag on a bouy in the basin. This smaller version of a cormorant is a species not often recorded in SE UK so it was a good opportunity to see and photograph it.

European Shag

European Shag

There was still no sign of the diver (In fact as I sit and write this on Thursday morning – I have seen no reports of it being seen since Monday afternoon – perhaps it has finally moved on?). Mid-afternoon we decided to finish the day on Keith s home patch as Abbots Court near Hoo, A mixture of lakes, marsh and pasture on the edge of the River Medway, this is a lovely site which has lots of different habitats. We were greeted on arrival by a large flock of House Sparrows, once a common garden bird all over the UK, their numbers have plummeted in the last decade and in many places they are now rare – I have had one garden record in 12 years! When I was growing up we often had flocks of over 30 birds in the garden.

Abbot's Court

Abbot’s Court


House Sparrow

House Sparrow

As we walked towards the River, a Common Kestrel flashed by and a group of Meadow Pipit flew overhead. Arriving at the river there was a good selection of waders and other waterbirds on the mudflats (the tide was a long way out so views were distant). A Little Egret probed in the muddy pools looking for food and we flushed some Common Snipe from the saltmarsh.

Saltmarsh at abbot's Court

Saltmarsh at Abbot’s Court


Little Egret

Little Egret

In the distance we could see a flock of 500-600 Brent Geese as the travelled from their feeding grounds to the estuary and back. An amazing sight and a wonderful sound.

The sun was setting and what had been a wonderfully bright and warm January afternoon became much colder as we headed back in land.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

A visit to Portsmouth allowed me an opportunity to spend a couple of hours in the historic naval dockyard. The main purpose of my visit was to see the new Mary Rose exhibition, which had opened since I was last there. I will post about the museum once I have sorted out the photos that I took on the day.
On the way to the new exhibition hall, I had to pass HMS Victory and whilst I did not have time to go on board (this will have to wait for another day) I thought I would still do a couple of posts on the history of the ship.


HMS Victory is a hundred and four gun ship of the line which was built at Chatham starting in the year 1759. It was only one of 10 ships of this size that were been built in the 18th century. The name Victory was chosen to replace the ship of a similar name which had been lost at sea with all hands in 1744. The keel frame was laid, but then work came to a halt and was not restarted until 1763. Two years later Victory was finally launched, but by now the war was over and she was moored on the River Medway as part of the reserve fleet and didn’t receive a commission until 1778. In her role as Admiral’s flagship she saw action at the first and second battles of Ushant (1778/1780), the siege of Gibraltar(1782) and the Battle of Cape St Vincent(1797) where she was the flagship of Admiral Jervis. Interesting to note that one Capt. Horatio Nelson was also present at this battle commanding one of the ships in Jervis’s fleet. As a result of this battle Victory was declared unfit as a warship and returned to Chatham dockyard where she saw service as a hospital ship. But in 1800 work was started to return her to warship status.

Gunports on HMS Victory

Gunports on HMS Victory

HMS Victory -Stern Cabins

HMS Victory -Stern Cabins

On 31st July 1803, Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson raised his flag on Victory when she joined his fleet in the Mediterranean. On 19 October, she was involved in the Battle of Trafalgar, during which she was badly damaged and Nelson was killed. As a result of the damage susytained she was towed back to Gibraltar for re-fitting. Back in active service she continued to serve as an Admiral’s flagship until she was finally withdrawn from service in 1812, and sent to Portsmouth harbour to act as a depot ship.