Every effort has been made to ensure maximum accessibility for all visitors to The Historic Dockyard Chatham. The Historic Dockyard is, however, an 80 acre (32 hectare) site with over 100 historic buildings and structures and 3 historic warships. This alone provides some limitations and challenges to access.
This page should help explain provisions around the site and help you plan for your visit. If you have any specific requirements please do not hesitate to contact us prior to your visit and we will do our best to accommodate your requests.
You can download our access information as a PDF.
We have disabled parking in our main car park within easy reach of the admission point, please display your Blue Badge clearly if you have one. If you are not a Blue Badge holder but require certain access needs, please contact us prior to your visit.
Visitor Entrance & Shop
Ground floor access with ramps at entrance and exit.
We understand that some people will need an assistant to enjoy their visit. One personal assistant is permitted free entry when accompanying those in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. If multiple personal assistants are required, prior arrangements must be made in advance and written evidence of this may be required.
The distance between the main entrance and the furthermost gallery is approximately 800 metres. The route between the galleries and ships has a fairly even surface with the ground sloping down from east to west. There are, however, some steep slopes to the landward side of the site, particularly between the Victorian Ropery buildings, The Royal Dockyard Church and Main Gate.
We welcome all types of mobility vehicles. A limited number of manual wheelchairs are available for loan at the admissions point; please book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Assistance dogs are welcome.
There is, subject to availability, a staff operated 6 seater electric buggy to assist visitors around the site which can be requested in advance.
We are Changing Places registered.
Our Changing Places accessible toilet is located inside the Fitted Rigging House, adjacent to the Steam, Steel and Submarines gallery.
Please note the facility will be locked on arrival. To access the Changing Places space please contact the Visitor Assistant in the Steam, Steel & Submarines gallery. If the gallery is closed, please contact security by dialling 1286 using the phone on the desk in the lobby of the Fitted Rigging House. Security will give you the code to the key safe and answer any questions.
There are disabled toilets located throughout the site at the following locations:
Food & Drink
The Mess Deck restaurant has level access from entrance or ramp from Museum Square. The Wagon Stop canteen has ground floor level access.
Hearts of Oak
Ground floor and first floor gallery with level access (some slight inclines).
Lifts are available to and from the upper gallery. Please note lift size is 3’7” x 4’9” (110 x 147cm).
Interpretation within the gallery is largely through an audio visual presentation.
Subtitles can be requested for people with hearing impairments – please speak to the gallery staff prior to the start of the tour.
Command of the Oceans/Namur: The ship under the floor
Level access to Command of the Oceans
Namur: The ship beneath the floor has ramps to the gallery and lifts are available to Museum Square.
Steam, Steel & Submarines
Ground floor level access.
The Victorian Ropery
Ground floor level access. A lift is available to the upper gallery and there is a ramped exit from the ropewalk. Please note lift size is 3’7” x 4’9” (110cm x 147cm). Please note that there is a small area of cobblestones immediately outside the ramped exit from the building that could be more difficult to negotiate.
The BIG Space (No. 3 Covered Slip)
Ground floor level access. A lift is available to the upper floor. Please note lift size is 3’6” x 4’5” (109cm x 135cm)
The RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection (No. 4 Covered Slip)
The self guided visitor route around the gallery is via a gently inclined walkway
Self guided visitor route with ground floor ramped access. A disabled toilet is located in the building.
HMS GANNET (1878)
Access to Main Deck and Commander’s Cabin is via a ramped gangway with access for visitors in wheelchairs. Lower deck, poop and forecastle decks are accessed via steep ladders.
HMS CAVALIER (1944)
Access to the ship is via a steep gangway (with steps leading up to it). The visitor route onboard involves a number of steep ladders and small compartments with narrow passageways. A separate gangway is located to the port side of the ship to enable wheelchair access to the main deck (and aft education spaces). Please speak to staff to arrange access to the ship using this method.
HM Submarine OCELOT (1962)
Access to the submarine is via a gangway (with steps leading up to it) followed by a steep ladder. Due to the nature of the vessel it features confined areas and small hatchways to climb through between compartments. Interpretation is by guided tour.
The Historic Ships have been preserved in their original form and both HMS Cavalier and the submarine Ocelot have restricted access for visitors with mobility difficulties. Alternative virtual tours are available below:
Level access to shingle pathways with slight gradients
As with the rest of the world, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust is closely monitoring the situation around the global pandemic of COVID-19.
It is with sadness that following UK Government guidelines we have closed our visitor attraction to the public until further notice.
This closure also extends to Call the Midwife Official Location Tours.
Whilst outside of our control, we apologise for any inconvenience caused during this difficult time and would like to thank all our visitors for their understanding during this challenging period.
We are taking forward orders and enquiries for business ‘post lockdown’ – Master Ropemakers Ltd, film & TV productions, Call the Midwife tours, group travel, weddings, corporate hospitality and conferences.
Last updated: 28 May 2020