Posts Tagged ‘Chatham Historic Dockyard’

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The Ropery in Chatham Dockyard is the only one of 4 original Royal Navy Ropeyards still in operation. Rope has been made on this site for over 400 years. The building is over a quarter of a mile long.

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The rope is made by taking individuals strands and winding them together. This process can be repeated a number of times to produce the required thickness of rope.

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Inside the ropery – the machinery travels from one end to the other in the production of the rope. At this end the strands are held in place.

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The heads which combine the strands into one rope.

As the strands pass through the heads they are combined

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Keeping the rope taught and a quick way to get from end to end of the Ropery

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The finished rope is coiled

 

The Ropery still makes traditional ropes for sailing ships etc but also produces rope made from more modern materials

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A Sloop launched at Sheerness in Kent in August 1878 she saw service in the Pacific from 1879-1883 before returning to the UK. In 1885 she was sent to the Mediterranean sea and was used in anti-slavery patrols. She also saw action off the coast of the Sudan and Eygpt. From November 1888 she was assigned to carry out survey work in the Meditteranean Sea, which she did until 1891 and again from 1892-1895.

In March 1895 she returned to Chatham, where she was assigned to Harbour duties. In 1900 she was used as accommodation by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Co at Grain. In 1903 she became the Royal Navy volunteer reserve drill ship moored in the London docks and was renamed HMS President after its predecessor in that role. She was relieved of that duty by HMS Buzzard in spring of 1911. In 1913 she was loaned out as a training ship under the command of C B Fry, the famous Cricketer and transferred to the River Hamble where she served as a dormitory for boys training to join the Royal Navy. She remained at Hamble until the school closed in 1968. The ship was given to the Maritime Trust for restoration, the years in the Hamble having taken a toll on the structure. Restored to her 1888 glory she was, in 1994, passed onto the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust where she is now on display.

 

 

 

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HMS Cavalier 

Built at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, HMS Cavalier was launched in March 1943. She served in the Home Fleet during World war II, mostly on Russian and Scandinavian bound conveys and post-war in India and the Far East until she was decommissioned in 1972.

She is the last surviving example of a British WWII destroyer and as such was an important heritage vessel. She was purchased by the Cavalier Trust. As a privately owned vessel, she holds a naval warrant to retain the ‘HMS’ title and to fly the white ensign of the Royal Navy. She was originally docked at Southampton, then in 1983 moved to Brighton and four years later to the River Tyne. Following a period of restoration, she was purchased by Chatham Historic Dockyard and arrived on site in May 1998. She was housed in No 2 dry-dock, the same dock where Nelson’s HMS Victory was built.

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In 2007 HMS Cavalier was officially designated as a war memorial to the destroyers sunk during WWII (142) and the men who lost their lives serving on them (around 11000).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The RNLI houses its collection of Lifeboats within one of the sheds at Chatham Dockyard. The collection contains an example of many of the different classes and types of lifeboat used since the RNLI’s foundation in the late 19th century. As such you can visually trace the development from the rowing boats to those more recognisable as Lifeboats today.

‘St Paul’. The oldest lifeboat in the collection entered service in 1897 spending the next 34 years at Kessingland in Suffolk. Credited with saving 18 lives.

‘Lizzie Porter’ entered service in 1909 and spent the following 27 years at stations in Northumbria. Credited with saving 113 lives

‘Helen Blake’ saw service for 20 years from 1939

‘Susan Ashley’ spent most of its service (1948-79) at Sennen Cove in Cornwall. Credited with saving 67 lives.

‘ North Foreland’ spent 27 years at Margate in Kent

‘Grace Darling’ (1954-84)

‘JG Greaves of Sheffield’ (1958-93)

Waveney Class Lifeboat (1967-99). 44-001 was the class prototype and spent its service after trials in the RNLI reserve fleet. Credited with saving 100 lives

Early inshore rescue boat. This example of the McClachin class served at Weston-Super Mare in the west country from 1970-83 and is credited with saving 60 lives

Atlantic 21 class inshore boat. (1970-1999). Some are still in service with marine rescue around the world in Australia, Finland and Poland.

 

 

 

Keith and I made a visit recently to the Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent.

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It is not exactly known when Chatham first was used as a dockyard. The fleet used the Medway estuary as a mooring from the early 16th century and there is evidence of shore-based facilities surviving the fleet from around 1509. The first dry dock was built in 1581 and shipbuilding commenced on the site and the first ship, HMS Sunne, was launched five years later. Perhaps the most famous ship to be built here was HMS Victory, the flagship of Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, which was launched in 1765.

A model showing Chatham dockyard in the mid-late 18th century, when its most famous ship, HMS VIctory was built here

At the beginning of the 20th century, the first submarine was produced in the dockyard, HMS C17, and this was to point the future for the Dockyard. The final ship, Okanagan, was launched in 1966 and the dry docks refitted for the task of submarine refits.

Models depicting Chatham in its role as Submarine building and refitting yard

However, this was to be short-lived and in 1981, the ministry of defence announced that the dockyard would close in 1984. In its 414 years of service, it produced over 500 ships and at its height employed over 10,000 skilled workers. The Dockyard site was passed into the hands of a charitable trust who now preserve the site as a historic monument and home to a number of Royal Navy and other seafaring collections and museums.