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There are over 300 volunteers involved with us here at The Historic Dockyard Chatham donating over 35,000 hours of their valuable time each year.

join the crew

Caring for the many historic buildings and artefacts, three historic warships and thousands of visitors each year means that there are plenty of different roles for volunteers to fill at the Dockyard.

We are extremely lucky to be supported by a number of volunteer groups whose activities range from restoring and running the Dockyard’s historic railway and carrying out research to supporting film crews using the site for the latest large productions.

Volunteers have a huge impact on the work that is done on site and we would not have achieved all we have over the past 30+ years without the significant input of our volunteer teams.

Recognising your support

We rely heavily on the valuable support given by our volunteers but we are here to support you too. Whether it is to identify which volunteering opportunity is most suitable to your skills and interests; helping you settle into a new role; providing training; or introducing you to fellow volunteers in a more social environment, joining the volunteer crew at the Dockyard has many benefits.

Opportunities are varied and can range from hands-on roles, office/desk based support through to research activities in the Library and even getting involved in the operation of our railway or maintenance of our historic ships.

To thank you for your support we are pleased to offer all long term volunteers with a Freedom Pass that gives full access to the site for the holder and up to 4 guests to visit the museums and attractions free of charge. This pass also entitles you to a 10% discount in our Dockyard shop and catering facilities.

We also host volunteer recognition events and trips throughout the year which all active volunteers are invited to. This is a great way for volunteers to learn about upcoming activities and projects as well as giving us a chance to say thank you for all the hard work our volunteers do.

If you would like to have an informal chat about volunteering opportunities at the Historic Dockyard please contact Pip via email at:

Volunteer teams

There are a number of opportunities to join existing volunteer groups including …

Chatham Dockyard Historical Society

Chatham Dockyard Historical Society (CDHS) assists in the staffing of the Steam, Steel and Submarines gallery on a daily basis between February and December. They also help create temporary displays, carry out historical research and man the Reading Room.

Two volunteers removing the cylinder liners from Rochester Castle for inspection

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.

RNLI Historic Lifeboat Volunteers

Our RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection gallery houses 17 of the RNLI’s collection of historic lifeboats and is one of The Historic Dockyard’s public galleries. The lifeboat enthusiasts help keep the exhibits fully maintained.

Heritage Engineering / Ship Keeping Volunteers

Our heritage engineering volunteers are involved in the restoration and maintenance of our three nationally recognised historic warships, principally HMS CAVALIER, HMS GANNET and HM Submarine OCELOT as well as maintaining the Ropery and railway rolling stock .The volunteers come from all walks of life and have all different levels of skill. Work varies from simple tasks like painting, to more technical jobs.

Railway Volunteers

The Railway Volunteers operate and maintain The Historic Dockyard’s collection of locomotives and rolling stock. The locomotives and freight trains run throughout the year and there is an opportunity to be trained as part of the operating crew.

Collections Volunteers

Collections Volunteers at The Historic Dockyard Chatham help the Collections Department with tasks related to collections management, collections care and conservation, for example research, cataloguing, object handling, collections housekeeping and exhibitions work.

Reading Room

Research Volunteers

Research Volunteers look into the history of the dockyard and surrounding area, with a particular focus on the people who worked here. This information is vital for curating our galleries and exhibitions.

Volunteer form

If you are interested in getting involved with volunteering, please drop a line and tell us a little about your interests and we will get back in touch with you shortly.