If you follow us on social media, we hope you have been enjoying our countdown to reopening. Given that we are in 2022, we thought it’s the perfect opportunity to share 22 unique, creative and inspiring things to do at The Dockyard this year. Let’s stress, that we’re not expecting you to do all 22 things in one visit, remember our entry tickets are valid for 12 months, meaning you can come back again (and again) and tick off more experiences with each visit.
We look forward to welcoming you back on Saturday 5th February and you joining us for maritime adventures throughout 2022.
Let’s dive into the list…
1. Watch the Ancient Craft of Ropemaking on our ¼ mile long ropewalk.
Did you know rope making still takes place at The Historic Dockyard today? Breathe in the smells and sights of the ¼ mile long ropewalk and witness our Master Ropemakers at work using centuries-old techniques, something that has graced Chatham Dockyard for over 400 years.
2. Go beneath the waves with our new, temporary exhibition Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744.
Explore our new, immersive exhibition showcasing objects and findings from the Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 archaeological excavation. Discover the story of the amazing Invincible, her capture and the contribution she made to the Royal Navy.
3. Ring the ship’s bell onboard HMS Cavalier.
Step aboard the CA-Class Destroyer, HMS Cavalier, and sound the bell which echoes across the Dockyard. Today, along with the National Destroyer Memorial, she commemorates the 11,000 lives and 142 Royal Navy Destroyers lost during the Second World War.
4. Walk in the footsteps of your favourite Call the Midwife characters.
Take a guided tour of the locations which the program creators, Neal Street Productions, transform into East London when filming the hit series. These tours are really popular and get booked up months in advance, don’t miss your chance this year – book your 2022 tour here.
5. Hunt out the cannon hidden in a tree.
Have you got a keen eye and good at spotting the unexpected? Hidden somewhere in the 80-acres of the Historic Dockyard estate is a rather unusual cannon. Let us know when you find it…
6. Enjoy a picnic in Commissioner’s Garden.
One of the most undiscovered parts of the Dockyard: relax and unwind in Commissioner’s Garden, tucked behind the stunning Commissioner’s House. Did you know, the House is the oldest intact naval building in the UK?
7. Wonder at the architectural marvel of 3 Slip.
A colossal structure, at the time of construction in 1838 No. 3 Covered Slip was the largest wide span timber structure in Europe. Marvel at the revolutionary cantilever roof built to the design of shipwright Sir Robert Seppings. Today, 3 Slip houses a vast amount of vehicles and large objects, including UGM-27 Polaris, a full-sized scale model of a ballistic missile operated by the Royal Navy during the Cold War.
8. Dive Deeper with HM Submarine Ocelot on her 60th Birthday.
Have you ever wondered what life is like on a submarine? You can swing through the hatches, peer through the periscope and get a taste of life beneath the waves on HM Submarine Ocelot, the last Royal Navy warship built at Chatham. In May this year we’ll be celebrating her 60th birthday.
9. Spot the intricate graffiti engraved around the Dockyard on the brickwork.
Search out the graffiti left behind from those who lived and worked at the Dockyard over the past 4 centuries. Do you know where this historic artwork can be found?
10. Enjoy a sweet treat in the Mess Deck Restaurant.
Feeling a bit peckish yet? A variety of great British food is on offer daily at the Mess Deck Restaurant, serving locally sourced meals, sweet treats and freshly prepared sandwiches. Enjoy favourites such as our renowned Fish and Chips on your next visit.
11. Examine the workers marks on Namur’s Timbers.
A unique assemblage of ship’s timbers discovered in 1995. The Namur, built at Chatham in 1750-1756, was in active service for 47-years. You can uncover more about her construction by getting up close to the insightful workers marks across the historic timbers.
12. Start planning your vintage outfit and perfecting your victory rolls now with Salute to the 40s.
It’s time to get in the vintage mood with live music, classic cars, fashion parades and so much more as we travel back in time to the 1940s. The wartime spirit is very much alive, and we’re looking forward to meeting again in September. Tickets are on sale now.
13. See if you can spot the lizard hiding in the National Destroyer Memorial bronze monument.
It is time to go exploring again. This bronze monument, which along with HMS Cavalier, forms the National Destroyer Memorial and commemorates the 11,000 lives and 142 Royal Navy Destroyers lost during the Second World War. On your next visit, stop and look for a moment or two – can you locate the lizard hidden in the memorial?
14. Count the guns on the Victory model in Command of the Oceans.
Walk around the fascinating model of HMS Victory in our Command of the Oceans galleries. Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar is an icon for both British sea power of the Age of Sail and for Chatham built ships. Built here between 1759 and 1765, the Victory returned to Chatham for major repairs both before and after Trafalgar.
Whilst marvelling at the magnificent model, how many guns can you count?
15. Experience the sights and sounds of iconic locomotives.
At its peak, it was estimated there were 17 miles of standard gauge railway across the Dockyard and there is now just short of 1 mile remaining within the Historic Dockyard. Our Railway Volunteers run demonstration freight trains, steam crane operations and other ancillary railway operations on this remaining section of track throughout the year. Listen out for the unmistakable sound of these iconic locos on your next visit.
16. Eat-in or takeaway at the Wagon Stop Canteen, alongside our iconic Locomotives.
The Wagon Stop Canteen is stocked full with delicious Kentish pies, sausage rolls, baked potatoes and sweet treats. Food served here can be enjoyed alongside our historic locomotives or taken-away for some alfresco dining.
17. Learn about the incredible work of our Volunteers.
There are over 300 volunteers involved in the work we do, donating over 35,000 hours of their valuable time each year. Helping to care for our historic buildings, collections, three historic warships and our visitors, volunteers have a huge impact on the work that is carried across the estate. We could not have achieved all that we have over the past 35+ years without the significant input of our volunteer teams.
18. Dive into the digital world of ‘Hearts of Oak.’
The story of wooden warships built at Chatham during the Age of Sail comes to life in our Hearts of Oak gallery. Follow the story of John North as he tries to sway his Grandson into a career in ship building through a digital storytelling experience.
19. Step aboard a sloop of the Victorian Royal Navy … visit HMS Gannet.
A sloop of the Victorian Royal Navy, HMS Gannet was built at Sheerness in 1878. Powered by sail and steam, this highly significant vessel forms part of the United Kingdom’s core national collection of historic ships. Explore her decks on your next visit.
20. Learn why a ‘Jolly Roger’ isn’t just for pirates.
Displayed in our Steam, Steel and Submarines gallery is a replica Jolly Roger flag that once flew on HM Submarine Trenchant. The use of the ‘Jolly Roger’ on submarines stemmed from comments by an Admiral who declared submarine warfare was “ungentlemanly” and that submariners were nothing more than pirates!
After this, when returning from action on entering harbour, the ‘JR’ was flown to denote any successes obtained whilst on patrol. The symbols on the flag represent the submarines actions during the war.
21. Explore the rich history of Lifeboats in the RNLI Lifeboat Collection.
Did you know we are home to the UK’s largest collection of RNLI historic lifeboats? You can step aboard some of the iconic vessels, uncover their rich history and learn how lifeboats evolved over the last century with interactive displays and archive film.
22. Plan your visit and maximise your day at the Dockyard.
With 400 years of heritage and 80 acres to explore, a little bit of planning on arrival can help you maximise your day. Our friendly team will be on hand to help you book free tours and experiences as well as giving you some top tips so that you don’t miss our best bits. Don’t forget our general admission tickets are valid for 1 year, meaning you pay for a day and you can return again (and again!) for free.