The oldest naval store-house to survive in any of the Royal Dockyards. The Clocktower Building was constructed at the head of the docks as a ‘present use store’ for materials and equipment needed by ships under construction or repair. These would include iron, lead, copper, oakum, pitch and tar. The top floor was used as a mould loft and the six ground floor bays at the north end of the building were left open and used as sawpits.
The store was rebuilt in 1802 when the original timber cladding was replaced with a brick skin, while the saw pits were filled in. In the twentieth century it was converted into offices.
Today the Clocktower Building has been adapted for the University of Kent’s School of Music and Fine Art. It houses a small lecture theatre, seminar rooms and offices.
Anchor Wharf was where supplies and stores were transferred from river to shore. The long expanse allowed easy movement of materials that were brought into the Dockyard to the storehouses that run the length of the wharf. Areas were also used to store ships’ anchors.
With the development of steam technology and the growth of the Dockyard in the mid-19th century, Anchor Wharf became connected with the rest of the site with a new steam railway by 1871. This enabled easier movement of stores across site.
These two storehouses dominate Anchor Wharf and the largest storehouses ever built for the Royal Navy.
The nearest building is the Fitted Rigging House and Storehouse No 2. This was where the Dockyard’s riggers prepared and stored the rigging for ships being ‘Fitted For Sea’. They used rope made in the Ropery and blocks bought in from private block-makers, or, after 1804, from the Portsmouth Block Mills. The furthest part of the building was used to store new equipment purchased to fit out newly built ships.
The far building, Storehouse No 3, replaced the earlier Long Store in 1785 and was used as a ‘lay apart’ store. Here stores and equipment from warships under repair or lying in Ordinary, or reserve in the Medway, were brought on shore and kept ‘laid apart’ from those of other vessels.
Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust welcomes the news that museums and visitor attractions are able to reopen to visitors from 4 July.
We are actively planning to welcome visitors back to the Dockyard as soon as we are safely able to do so but this will be some time after 4 July.
We will make a further announcement to confirm the exact date as soon as we can.
In the meantime, much of Dockyard life has never stopped. Master Ropemakers has started operating again and we are taking forward bookings for filming, group travel and hospitality, including weddings. Call the Midwife Official Location Tours will resume shortly.
We would like to thank all our visitors for their understanding during this challenging period.
Last updated: 25 June 2020