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Behind the Scenes30th January 2023

Fitted Rigging House Project – Progress So Far

Following the success of the Fitted Rigging House North project in 2018, we are now developing the final third of the building into premium commercial office space, which is known as the Fitted Rigging House South.

Before we dive into what we are working on now, lets find out more about what the Fitted Rigging House was originally used for…

The Fitted Rigging House was built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and is 117 metres long. Along with Storehouse 3 next door, they were the largest storehouses ever built for the Royal Navy which emphasised Chatham’s position as one of the most important British naval dockyards of the time. The first half of the building was used by the Dockyard’s riggers preparing and storing 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 second half of the building was used for the storage of new equipment purchased to fit out newly built ships.


Since the decommissioning of the naval dockyard in 1984, the site, along with over 100 buildings and structures, including 47 Scheduled Ancient Monuments, have been under the stewardship of independent charity, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust. Since its inception, one of the Trust’s core strategies has been “preservation through reuse;” finding appropriate modern day uses for the wide variety of historic buildings on the estate.

Due to the sheer size of the Fitted Rigging House building, with an internal area of 100,000 sqft, it was very difficult to convert into an appropriate modern-day use without significant investment and funding. And so, the Fitted Rigging House lay dormant for many years and became the estates most significant underutilised building.

In 2017, the National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded the Trust with £4.8m funding through the Heritage Enterprise scheme for the conversation of the Fitted Rigging House North. The remainder of the of the £8.2m project cost was met through fundraising by the Trust and £1.5m from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and various other funders.

After a 2 year development period, the building completed and was officially opened in October 2018. The Fitted Rigging House North is home to the Trust’s prime office accommodation and to tenants including Dovetail GamesWard SecurityChapman BDSP and Handlesbanken.

Image: Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Michael Ellis and Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBE DL.

The building is mixed use and also provided a new gallery, Steam, Steel and Submarines, a new volunteer centre,  a reading room, a conservation lab and a new archive store.

The project won The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) South East Sustainability Award 2021 and Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust was also named overall regional winner and Client of the Year.


With a third of the building still underutilised, the Fitted Rigging House South project was born.

The Trust began fundraising again, and in November 2021 was awarded £2.2m funding from the Levelling Up Fund. The Trust is contributing a significant sum of money towards the development as well, which then provides a sufficient budget for the development of the building. The building will produce a further 22,000 sqft of gross commercial office space and will generate vital revenue for the Trust.

The completion of this project will fulfil the Trust’s long held ambition of being a self-sustaining site, no longer reliant on external funding, which is a hugely significant milestone for both the Trust and the entire heritage site.

If you are interested in hosting your business in the new Fitted Rigging House South development, please contact us on

This blog was written by our Estates Manager, Jess Hopkins (pictured below).

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