The Reading Room houses the Trust’s collection of over 6,500 books and manuscripts that focus on ships, shipbuilding, naval architecture and history.
The Trust also has an extensive photographic collection of over 10,000 photographs and images, ranging from mid-19th century until closure in 1984, showing dockyard workers, trades, shipbuilding and repair and the wider dockyard site. We hold maps of the Historic Dockyard site and drawings of the buildings, along with a number of plans of ships built at Chatham.
We hold limited records of those who worked in the Dockyard or served in the Chatham Division of the Royal Navy. If you are looking for information on family members who are connected with the Dockyard, the National Archives at Kew may be able to help you: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
Archival material must be booked in advance so that it can be retrieved. Please contact email@example.com 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.
The Reading Room is located at the rear of the Steam, Steel and Submarines Gallery, in the Fitted Rigging House. Our Visitor Experience Assistants in the gallery can accompany you to the Reading Room desk where you can use the telephone to dial through to the Reading Room steward, who will sign you into the room.
Access to the Reading Room will be with a Reading Room steward only. Readers must agree to abide by the Reading Room rules.
The minimum age to use the Reading Room unaccompanied is 14 years. Children aged 8–14 can use the facility but must be accompanied by an adult (one adult per child).
Advance bookings and appointments for the Reading Room can be made via completing the enquiry form below, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01634 823800.
Please provide as much information as possible about your enquiry, this will help inform the type of material that you are interested in, a catalogue search can be completed in advance and books located.
We hold an extensive collection of Navy Lists spanning the 19th-21st centuries.
They are valuable resources for anyone undertaking naval-related family history research but, please note, they contain the names of commissioned Royal Navy officers and the ships they served on.
Information we hold includes:
These two volumes provide a detailed history of the working Dockyard, including Sheerness Dockyard, other nearby Admiralty establishments and the Navy itself. It covers early history, administration, finance, apprentices, trades, clerical staff, medical officers, Dockyard security and spiritual welfare. They also contain information on Chatham’s defences, ordnance supply and prison hulks on the River Medway.
Crawshaw taught at the Dockyard School from 1936 until his retirement as a Head of Department in 1970.
This publication is hosted courtesy of the copyright holder Mrs Isabel Garford. The Trust would like to acknowledge the following people for making this possible: Mrs Isabel Garford, Andy Boorman, Len Boorman, the late Richard Boorman and Chatham Dockyard Historical Society.
We are 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 the enquiries we receive, our team 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.
We aim to respond to initial written enquiries within 5 -10 working days. In the case of in-depth research, the timescale will vary depending on the nature of the research.
To enquire about access to our collections, please complete the form below or email: email@example.com
The Historic Dockyard Chatham is now open to visitors.
For your safety, and in line with the latest government guidelines, things will be different from your last visit and there will be a few changes to how you’ll explore our 80-acre site. Please take a moment to read our ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU GO‘ information.
If you have any queries that are not answered on this page, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are trying to contact us via telephone, we are experiencing a high volume of calls and we ask for your patience during this time.