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Get creative

... with Arts Award Discover

Arts Award Discover

... the first step on your Arts Award Journey

Why not get rewarded for your creative efforts?

Accredited by Trinity College London, Arts Award Discover is an introductory award, designed for ages 5 and above but is open to children and young people aged up to 25.

To achieve the Arts Award Discover all you need to do it complete the tasks set over the next 6 weeks and fill out our Log Book. Be as inventive and creative as you can. Write about your experience or use photos, video or collage to capture your creations. Great fun for the whole family – we promise the activities won’t make too much mess!

When you’ve completed all activities send your Log Book to Sophie Wynne ( and we will submit your Log Book to Trinity College London for your Arts Award certificate.

When the Dockyard reopens to the public we will invite you to collect your certificate at a Dockyard Award Ceremony.

We look forward to seeing your artwork and don’t forget to share your progress with us on social media using #DockyardArtsAward

Week 1: Sailors

... Macrame Keyring

Macramé is an ancient craft that has been passed down over hundreds of years. It is thought to have originated with Arabic weavers during the 13th century, using decorative knots to finish the loose ends of hand-woven textiles. However, decorative knot-tying can also be traced back to third-century China on ceremonial textiles as well as wall hangings.

The craft slowly spread throughout Europe and eventually became a common pastime for Sailors. Sailors played a large role in sharing the art with new lands. Knots had many practical uses aboard their ships, but decorative knot-tying kept hands and minds occupied during long voyages. Furthermore, they would sell and barter their knotted goods such as hammocks, belts and hats at port.

Knot-tying remained a popular hobby and way to adorn clothing and textiles through the Victorian era, when it fell mostly out of favour until returning in the 70’s.

What you’ll need:

  • Pieces of wool, string or fabric
  • Beads
  • Tape
  • Key ring loop

Watch the video for a step by step guide on how to make your keyring.

Week 2: Science

... the science of submarines

We asked ex-Chatham Dockyard Shipwright John De Rose, about how submarines were built at Chatham.

“First we would build a box keel (a keel is the specially shaped piece of steel along the entire length of the bottom of the boat) on the slipway, about 1m x 2m using 12-15mm steel plate. Then we’d erect frames for the pressure hull, these were are about 8m diameter and covered in 25mm plating. These were built in 15 to 20m sections with frames every metre. When complete they were joined to each other to make a 65m long cigar shape  – you could compare it to a tube of Rolos.

While this was going on, the front and back of the submarine were being built, and when they were complete they were placed on the slipway and welded to the rest of the pressure hull. The pressure hull is where the crew live and work. It needs to be able to withstand undersea pressure which increases as the submarine goes down.

In order for the submarine to sink, it needs to take on water and this is done by flooding external water ballast tanks. These were welded to the side of the pressure hull throughout its length and could be flooded or pumped depending on whether you wanted dive or rise.

The final part was the walkway for the crew to stand on when afloat, and the conning tower, or fin. These parts were usually made from fibre glass. This is where the radar, radio and air masts are situated together with the periscopes.”

Sounds easy right? Now it’s your turn …

What you’ll need:

  • 2 x plastic bottles
  • 3 x elastic bands
  • 3-4 x paper clips
  • 2 x lolly sticks
  • 1 x bead
  • Something to make holes in plastic bottles (like a heated needle or a drill)
  • Pen-knife or scissors

Did you know? HM Submarine Ocelot sailed 90,000 miles during her career and her top speed when submerged was 17 knots.

Don’t forget to record this week’s activity in your Log Book.

Week 3: Under the Sea

... going with the tide

Have a look at a Map of England, can you see the River Medway and where you live?

Why did Kings and Queens pick the River Medway to build their Royal Navy?

Henry VIII started to use the River Medway in 1547 and in 1586 the first warship was launched from a small dockyard at Chatham. It was then officially established as a royal dockyard by Elizabeth I in 1567. The King picked the River Medway because of its closeness to the Thames estuary. It was also difficult for enemy ships to come up the Medway due to its shape (it has many twists and turns) and narrowness of the channel.

How would you navigate the River?

The Medway is a tidal river with a difference of 6 metres in tide levels. The tides change twice in a day and, at its lowest level, provides a very narrow channel for only small ships to navigate it due to the mud banks both sides of the river. At its highest level the mud banks are covered and thereby provide a hazard for the larger ships which may ground on the mud and become unusable.

Therefore, every large ship which comes up the Medway needs a pilot (an experienced seafarer who knows the mudbanks and the channels) to guide its route and this also applied to warships which came to Chatham for refit.

In the days of sail it was very difficult to get the right wind in order to leave or enter the Medway. Large ships often needed small ships to tow them and this could involve using rowing boats. It is reported that large battleships in the days of sail sometimes took many weeks to get out into the open sea.

Modern warships still take an hour and a half to get from Chatham to Sheerness.

Find out about the biggest battle on the Medway and the English defeat largely forgotten

Thanks to John De Rose, ex Dockyard Shipwright and current volunteer for the Reading Room and Chatham Dockyard Historical Society.

Activity 3: Make a Pom Pom Octopus

Whilst the sight of an Octopus in the River Medway would be incredibly rare, many of the ships that enter the River are likely to have encountered these creatures on their travels. The Octopus is also the subject of many seafaring myths and legends.

Follow the instructions in the video and make your own mythical Octopus.

What you’ll need:

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • Coloured Paper
  • Glue
  • Wool
  • Hole-punch (optional)

Don’t forget to update the activity in your log book.

Week 4: Ships and Shipmates

... make a Jolly Roger Flag

Why are Royal Navy Submariners known as Pirates?

When submarines started to be used as warships, at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries, Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson of the Royal Navy said that they were “underhanded, unfair, and damned un-English”, and that captured enemy submariners should be hanged as pirates.

Submarines then were very small, uncomfortable, and generally unpleasant, with relatively informal practices and attitudes compared to big surface ships. Many officers as a result looked down on submarine crews, viewing them as “piratical”.

What is the Jolly Roger flag?

The flag that became known as the Jolly Roger – a skull and crossbones design – was used in the 17th and 18th centuries by pirates.

The original skull and crossbones flag was not black and white, as used now, but was blood-red which signified that no mercy would be given once the pirates boarded a ship.

The skull and cross bones came from the symbol used in ships’ logs, which was used to represent a death onboard.

The name of the flag – the Jolly Roger – may have originated from the French phrase ‘joli rouge’ meaning ‘pretty red’, from its original blood-red colour, which in English became “Jolly Roger”. However other derivations of the name have been suggested.

Find out more about where the official Royal Navy flags were made at Chatham – The Sail and Colour Loft

Why did Royal Navy submarines fly the Jolly Roger?

In the First World War, following on from Admiral Wilson’s comments in 1901, Lieutenant Commander Max Horton (later Admiral Sir Max Horton, Commander in Chief Western Approaches in the Second World War) began flying the Jolly Roger after returning from successful submarine patrols in his submarine HMS E9.

Initially he flew a separate flag for each successful patrol, but later switched to a single large flag onto which symbols were sown on to indicate the submarines achievements.

The practice of flying the Jolly Roger was adopted by some other submarine commanders in the First World War, but not all. The practice was not approved by the Admiralty, but they were unable to stop it.

In the Second World War, the practice re-started, and was widely adopted, although not by all submarine commanders. Many submarine flotilla commanders issued a Jolly Roger to a submarine when it returned from its first successful patrol.

The practice is still used by Royal Navy submarines; a Jolly Roger was flown by HMS Conqueror on her return from the Falklands War in 1982. Other navies also adopted it, but only on a very occasional basis.

The Jolly Roger was marked with symbols to signify particular successes, with one symbol representing each individual successes/achievement. Some examples of commonly used symbols were/are (these were mostly used in the Second World War):

  • Lifebuoy – rescued personnel from downed aircraft or sunken ships
  • Diver’s helmet – exceeded safe diving depth
  • Dagger – a ‘cloak and dagger’ operation – typically the delivery or recovery of shore parties from enemy territory
  • Lighthouse – used as navigational marker for an invasion force

Find out about the Jolly Roger of HMS Trenchant in our collection.

With thanks to Jim Williamson, Volunteer for the Reading Room and the Learning Team at Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.

Activity 4: Make a Jolly Roger flag

Now it’s over to you. Can you make a Jolly Roger Flag? Carefully think about the symbols you choose and what they might represent.

What you’ll need:

  • Fabric (anything you have to hand will work, we used felt)
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Pins (not essential but they will make things easier)

Don’t forget to record this week’s activity in your Log Book.

Activity 5: Secret Messages and Spies

... make a dazzle ship

What is DAZZLE?

Dazzle is a type of ship camouflage used extensively by the British in World War I, and less so in World War II. It was also used by the Americans and other countries to a lesser extent.

It comprised differing and complex patterns of various geometric shapes, in various colours, with the patterns crossing and intersecting. The dazzle pattern on each ship was unique.

What is it for?

Dazzle was not, unlike other types of camouflage, intended to hide the ship from detection. It was designed instead to make it difficult for another surface ship or a submarine to estimate the ship’s (i.e. the target) range, speed and heading.

With thanks to Jim Williamson, volunteer for the Learning Team and Reading Room.

Some pictorial examples of the use of Dazzle are below:

Activity 6: Body Art

... make natural tattoos

From ruffians to royalty; from sailors to socialites; from pilgrims to punks: tattoos have been etched into bodies throughout history.

Tattooing occupies a deep, sometime troubling, place in British history and the British popular imagination but tattoos are not at all a modern invention.

In Tudor times, artists and writers created grotesque, fanciful images of ‘Ancient Britons’ with bright blue bodies and fierce body art. These were inspired by fantastical accounts of Pict warriors by Roman historians, who were horrified and fascinated by accounts of these apparently barbaric tribes.

Although this was probably non-permanent body painting, the idea of ‘ancient Britain’ and tattooed bodies was so powerful that it became fixed in the popular imagination.

Our spring exhibition, Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed tells the story in more detail. Whilst the exhibition is not open to the public due to the current lock down restrictions, much of the exhibition is available to view online.

Artist Research

Research an artist or craftsperson that you find interesting. Tell us what you discover…

Use our amazing online resource “100 Objects That Made Kent” to get some inspiration.
Or look further afield at the Tate’s fantastic kid’s pages:

Arts Award Discover

... the first step in your Arts Award journey


What is Arts Award?

Arts Award is a scheme that provides a variety of unique qualifications achievable by anyone aged 5-25, which helps them grow as artists. Children and young people are encouraged to take inspiration from the arts worlds by connecting with a range of art forms.

Are there different levels?

Accredited by Trinity College London, Arts Award goes from the introductory Discover Award to the next levels of Explore, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. These are delivered in a wide range of settings, such as cultural and heritage sites, museums and weekly clubs or groups.

Find out more

What does it achieve?

Via the scheme, children and young people can achieve a nationally recognised qualification which goes towards progressing in further education and employment. In addition to expanding their art world knowledge you can learn skills in communication, leadership and creativity.

What is Arts Award at the Dockyard?

Here at the Dockyard, we are an Arts Award Centre promoting cross-curriculum activities for small or large groups. We can also visit you in your setting. We focus on offering flexible and bespoke content inspired by the Historic Dockyard with the opportunity for attendees to self-curate their own exhibitions. We have previously offered a broad range of topics such as photography to stop animation and visual arts to textiles.

We have worked with a huge variety of groups, from whole school Arts Award days to smaller projects with Young Carers and Medway Virtual School.

Please email Sophie Wynne ( if you would like to know more.


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 

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