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Volunteer Voices26th May 2024

Volunteer Voices: Memories of My Grandad

Conservation Volunteer, Cecila shares how one specific object within The Historic Dockyard Chatham’s collection brings about memories of her grandad.

Working as a conservation volunteer is not only incredibly rewarding but also allows for public history to intertwine with your personal history.
I have always found myself to be an incredibly sentimental person and have always been incredibly invested in my personal history as well as local history.

Unlike many others in the Medway area, my family history is not intertwined in any part with the history of the Dockyard.

My Grandad, however, whilst unrelated personally to the Dockyard, had a special interest in sailboats, although he died when I was only young, his passion for sailboats and a small model of a sailboat that we inherited after his death are irrevocably intertwined with my memories of him.

For this reason, the 32-foot Cutter we currently have in Slip 3 is by far my favourite.

It is the only cutter we currently have in Slip 3 that has its sails up. It inevitably reminds me of my grandad and working on it feels like a homage to my family history.

Unlike some of the other objects in Slip 3, the cutter is one of our more low-maintenance objects and it does not require cleaning as often as some of our other objects.

However, it still attracts a lot of dirt (especially from rogue pigeons) and I will always jump at the chance to clean it.

It may not have such a heroic or impressive history as other objects at the Dockyard however it is still an incredibly important part of the Dockyard’s mission to preserve and showcase local naval history.

It takes individuals who care about history to work to preserve these collections, so they are still around for future generations. On our level that translates to maintaining their appearance and character.

The Dockyard ultimately encompasses local and personal history for many across Medway and beyond. With this year being the 40th anniversary of the closure of the Dockyard, it allows us to remember the impact the Dockyard had on the local community and continues to have by maintaining that historical impact.

It is undeniably because of my personal history that I feel sentimental about the 32-foot Cutter. It’s my favourite object and I know that it would have been my Grandad’s too.

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