Arrow-Left arrow-down arrow-down arrow-down Arrow-Left Arrow-02-Left Arrow-02-Right arrow-up Arrow-Rightbig-left-arrow big-right-arrow close Cloudydirections eye Facebook Hail-StoneArrow-Left image-icon twitter-inline instagram-inline Linkedin Mail mark MistNightPartly-Cloudy-Night-TimePartly-CloudyRainscroll-arrow search-01 SleetSnowspeech SunnyThunder-LighteningTripAdvisor TripAdvisor twitter-inline twitter video-iconYouTube

Discover our collections

A small window into the past

... explore the work of the Dockyard and the people who not only built ships at Chatham but served on them for 400 years.

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust cares for over 70,000 objects in its collection – ranging from archaeology, rigging, hand tools, machinery to fine art and photography.

We collect and preserve objects related to the Dockyard’s past and also carry out specific research into the Dockyard’s rich and varied history. From projects focused on Dockyard workers to the tragedies suffered during the First World War, we are building up a picture of the role and impact the Dockyard has had over four hundred years.

Our Collections Team has recently begun the process of digitising our collection and we are gradually adding new objects to our digital resources.

Reading Room, Archive and Collections 

Since November 2017 Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust has undertaken major conservation, repair and adaptation works to the Fitted Rigging House, the home of the Reading Room. The project has enabled a sustainable future for one of the Dockyard’s most important Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Now complete, the project provides a new accessible Reading Room and much improved conditions for our books and archive collections, alongside new volunteer and conservation facilities.

Our new Reading Room can be accessed on a drop-in basis for visitors already on site. For those wishing to visit the Reading Room only please contact collections@chdt.org.uk to make an appointment.

Archival material must be booked in advance so that it can be retrieved. Please contact collections@chdt.org.uk to discuss your research enquiry before booking an appointment.

Reading Room opening hours are 11am – 3pm, Sunday to Friday (closed Saturday).

The Reading Room is a reference only collection and not a lending library. This means you cannot borrow items from our collection as all materials are consulted in our Reading Room.

Collections Enquiries

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust is committed to helping the public who have enquiries about our collections. These may be answered face-to-face in the case of the Reading Room collections or by telephone, letter, or email for our archive and object holdings. We receive enquiries from all over the world covering a wide range of different subjects.

Due to the volume of these enquiries collections staff can only undertake a maximum of 30 minutes research per enquiry and we are therefore unable to answer enquiries to any great depth.

If your enquiry requires more extensive research, you will receive a referral email/letter and our research volunteers will work with you to facilitate the enquiry.

Initial written enquires are responded to within 5 – 10 working days. In the case of in-depth research, the timescale will vary dependant on the nature of the research.

Please contact collections@chdt.org.uk for your enquiry.

Naval and Dockyard Personnel Records

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust holds very few records for either Naval or Dockyard Personnel. When Royal Dockyard Chatham closed in 1984 the Ministry of Defence removed all records still held on site. Those that we have in our collections are ones that have been donated to us, usually by families of former dockyard workers or Chatham Ratings.

More recent records are available from the Ministry of Defence via their website.

Some older yard pay books and muster books are archived at The National Archives at Kew. Their website gives further information about the type of records they hold and how to search them.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Notice to Visitors

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.

Last updated: 11 May 2020

FIND OUT MORE