A treasure house of maritime treats
The expansive No.1 Smithery was begun in 1801 to help meet the Dockyard’s growing need for ironwork. This building housed metalworking facilities, initially for the production of anchors and chain, but a foundry and other workshops were later added.
Today, in a joint project between the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, Royal Museums Greenwich and Imperial War Museums, the main exhibition space in No.1 Smithery is devoted to National Treasures. Unearth incredible stories through paintings, detailed ship models and intriguing artefacts, including a large and meticulous scale model of the Dockyard which was presented to George III in 1774. The world class collection reveals fascinating social history stories – such as prisoners of war or lighthouse keepers – as well as shipwrecks and heroic actions at sea. Among the artefacts is an intricate 18th century model of Admiral Balchen’s flagship HMS VICTORY and a superb scale model of the Eddystone Lighthouse (1759) – the first stone built offshore lighthouse to survive.
No.1 Smithery is also home to our temporary exhibition gallery which hosts a programme of changing exhibitions throughout the year.
We have worked with AccessAble to create individual access guides to our galleries and spaces. These guides give you the detailed information you need to work out if a space is going to be accessible to you.
No.1 Smithery Access Guide
Parking, Entrance, Ticket Office & Shop Guide
Changing Places & Accessible Toilets Guide
Getting Around Guide
No.1 Smithery’s main gallery, National Museums: Maritime Treasures features a world class collection of more than 4,000 items from the National Maritime Museum and Imperial War Museums, including maritime models, art and fascinating objects.
The gallery comprises three separate areas, which include many interpretations of England’s place as one of the world’s greatest seafaring nations.
During the Age of Sail the Royal Navy pioneered the development of specialist craft to land troops and equipment on hostile shores. The 20th century saw even more innovation, especially during the Second World War, to support landings across Europe and the Pacific. Today amphibious warfare capability remains at the heart of Britain’s military strategy.
London and the River Thames lay at the heart of Britain’s international trade for over 300 years. Extensive docks and port industries, combined with international insurance and commodity markets, led to London becoming the maritime capital of the world. In the 19th century Thames’ shipbuilders and marine steam engine builders were at the forefront of iron and steel ship construction, and the ships that were built on the river had a world-wide impact.
MODELS IN DESIGN
By the early 19th century Britain led the world in ship design and construction, with models playing a major role in both processes. Today, historic models made as part of the design and construction process provide evidence of the innovation and pioneering ground-breaking engineering that enabled Britain to become the world’s maritime superpower of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Collections & Research
National Museums: Collections and Research is a state of the art environmentally controlled study area and storage space for over 3,000 models and artefacts from the National Maritime Museum’s and Imperial War Museum’s ship model collections.
Access to the stored collections of ship models at No.1 Smithery can be arranged by prior appointment. Please contact the Store Manager to request items to study and arrange a visit.
At the heart of No.1 Smithery is The Courtyard, a large open space that allows you to view most of the original building with its huge anchor pits, chimneys and rugged industrial feel.
Blogs & Articles
Dive a little deeper into No.1 Smithery and its collections with our blogs and articles.
Don’t miss out on experiencing the other attractions and galleries as part of your visit to the Historic Dockyard.