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Volunteer Voices5th June 2024

Volunteers’ Week: Chatham Historic Dockyard Volunteer Service

Volunteers’ Week: Chatham Historic Dockyard Volunteer Service

The Chatham Historic Dockyard Volunteer Service (CHDVS) was formed by members of the now disbanded Thames and Medway branch of the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service (RNXS). CHDVS assists in conservation and other essential work across the Historic Dockyard site, including setting up for and supporting events.

Recently, the team have turned their focus to restoring a wartime Royal Navy staff car, read their story below.

“Found lurking abandoned in the darker recesses of Slip 6 in 1995 (it took three weeks to clear a path to retrieve it), the Hillman Minx has been the subject of on-and-off restoration ever since.

Built in 1936, the Hillman emerged from the slip sixty years later covered in er, seagull and pigeon guano, and very rusty. Over the next few years, Andy Manington and Peter Sweetlove worked hard to cut away and replace rusty bodywork (sills, floor pan, chassis and front bulkhead) while Frank Foreman revived its long-dormant side-valve engine and drive-train. Spares were hard to get – and sometimes impossible.

Dockyard life regularly interrupted the project’s progress, and other projects frequently took priority. In fact – ignominiously – the Minx was sometimes used to represent a derelict vehicle in a bombed-out house display for successive ‘Salute to the ’40s’ shows.

2023 brought a renewed focus on restoring the Minx, and with the able assistance of new CHDVS team members (Victor, Jamie and Lynette take a bow) progress is being made ready for this year’s Salute to the 40’s show. Though not as a derelict vehicle. The aim is to repaint the Minx to represent a wartime Royal Navy staff car used in the dockyard.”

Volunteers’ Week celebrates volunteers’ amazing contributions to communities across the UK.

The celebration starts on the first Monday in June every year. It’s a chance to recognise, celebrate and thank the UK’s incredible volunteers for all they contribute to our local communities, the voluntary sector, and society as a whole.

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