Spanning across an impressive 80 acres, The Historic Dockyard Chatham contains the largest concentration of Scheduled Ancient Monuments within the country. Located upon the bank of the River Medway, the Dockyard is recognised nationally and internationally for its maritime and archaeological significance.
Over the past forty years, the stewardship of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust has ensured the preservation of The Historic Dockyard Chatham, whereby it remains the world’s most complete dockyard of the Age of Sail. Continual investment, refurbishment and care has been undertaken by the Trust to preserve the Dockyard’s 100 buildings (47 Scheduled Ancient Monuments, 12 Grade I and 32 Grade II listed).
No.1 Smithery is a Grade II listed Scheduled Ancient Monument, built in 1806 in response to the Royal Navy’s growing need for ironwork as part of shipbuilding and repair. Equipped with forges for production of anchors and chains, the Smithery remained in use until 1974. It is now one of only three surviving Naval smitheries. By 2001, No.1 Smithery had become derelict, contaminated by asbestos and on the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register. After a major redevelopment, the building opened to the public as a museum in 2010, with a number of gallery spaces.
No. 1 Smithery is now a flagship museum and gallery space for the Dockyard, and yet due to a demanding schedule of building maintenance works on site, No. 1 Smithery has not benefited from any major capital investment since its refurbishment thirteen years ago.
And so, in 2022, we launched a fundraising campaign to garner support for No 1 Smithery for significant adaptations to be made to enhance user access, collection display and environmental performance. We were fortunate to secure a generous grant from DCMS/Wolfson Galleries and Improvement Fund to support our vision for No.1 Smithery. In early 2023, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Foyle Foundation also awarded us generous grants towards the project, helping us to reduce our funding gap and build the project accordingly. We are sincerely grateful to our donors for their contribution and confidence in the project.
Improvements to No.1 Smithery
The project is a response to meeting audience needs and increasing access to culture and heritage through interaction with collections, for a unique user experience.
Structural refurbishment to the building entrance will address access inequalities. Completed works will ensure equal access to No.1 Smithery and create an inclusive space for all visitors. Energy efficient solutions to the building will be part of the fit out, to reduce the operational carbon of the building and ensure environmental control of the galleries where ambient conditions are required for the public display of collections pieces.
In developing this project, passive adaptions have been selected to ensure the historic fabric of the building (a material record and heritage asset in its own right) remains clearly legible for visitors to appreciate the original structure and its history.
Unveiling a new look for No.1 Smithery
Scheduled works are due to take place late November 2023. No. 1 Smithery will be ready to welcome visitors back into the newly refurbished entrance and galleries from April 2024.
Want to support this project?
If you would like to find out more about this project or offer your support, please contact us.