More About the Society  

    By the time that the dockyard closed in 1984 CDHS had created a museum of dockyard and naval artefacts in the old Lead and Paint Mill (a building of historical interest in its own right).  CDHS Members were lecturing and undertaking research for visitors who wrote in seeking information about relatives who had worked in the yard or served in the Royal Navy.
    Photograph of the Fitted Rigging House
    Over the years members have assembled a nautical reference library which is considered to be one of the best of its type in the South-East of England.

    In the spring of 2001 the society's historical collection was amalgamated with the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust's own collection of artefacts and books to form the new, larger MUSEUM OF THE ROYAL DOCKYARD and the Royal Dockyard Library upstairs in the Fitted Rigging House. (See a location map.)

    The Royal Dockyard Library was officially opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in November 2004. 

    Summer 2012 saw the Society being recognised for our voluntary work by the award of the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service during Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee year.

    Following the 2018 Annual General Meeting held in October 2018, the following people were appointed as Officers and Committee Members of the Chatham Dockyard Historical Society:-

    President: Mr J Lambert
    Chairman: Mrs S Goodhew
    Vice Chairman: Mr D Dray
    Secretary: Mr P Sargison
    Treasurer: Mr A McPherson

    Committee Members:

    Mr B Perry
    Mr C Allen
    Mrs D Lawrence
    Mr T England
    Mr LG Phillips
    Mr R Huntley
    Mr R Lowe (Archivist)
    Mr C Stanley (Membership Secretary)

    Our Patron is His Honour Andrew Patience, QC.


    Selected Events in the Chronology of Chatham Dockyard

    1512 River Medway used as anchorage for the Kings Ships
    1549 Land hired from Thomas Derkyn of Gillingham for mast pond
    1550 All ships to be laid up at Gillingham
    1559 Upnor Castle building started
    1567 Anchorage renamed: Chatham
    1570 Mast pond, storehouse and forge built. Hill House furnished for Admiralty use.
    1571 Matthew Baker appointed first Master Shipwright and Principal Officer
    1579 The MARLYNE, a pinnace, the first recorded ship constructed at Chatham
    1584 Grounding or graving place built 
    1586 The SUNNE, a pinnace of 56 tons, 50ftx13ft, 5 guns launched and SEVEN STARS, a galley of 140 tons building, both on Sunne Hard
    1619 New dry dock built with wharves and crane
    1621 Ropery built
    1667 Dutch Raid on Medway, 8 British ships sunk, 7 burned, 2 captured
    1675 Experimental catamaran built
    1685 Dockyard modernised with 2 dry docks and 21 storehouses
    1668-98 30 ships built
    1695 Experimental ship with man-powered side paddles built
    1698 Yacht built for Peter the Great of Russia
    1700-25 New dockyard obliterated old, wooden buildings replaced with brick
    1704 Commissioners House built
    1708 First Naval Superintendent appointed
    1753-58 Mast Houses and Mould Loft built
    1759-65 VICTORY building at site of present No 2 Dock
    1770 Nelson joins his first ship at Chatham
    1786 Present Ropery built on site of earlier building
    1800-03 VICTORY rebuilt
    1810 Marc Brunel steam power sawmill built
    1817-23 John Dickens (father of novelist Charles Dickens) clerk in Pay Office
    1819 Lead and Paint Mill (home of CDHS 1986-2001) built
    1829 PENELOPE 5th Rate converted into Chathams first steam-driven paddle frigate, followed by PHOENIX in 1832, a paddle sloop
    1843 First Dockyard Technical School at Chatham opened
    1846 TEAZER, Chathams first screw vessel built
    1856 First Engineer Officer/Manager appointed
    1862 Victorian extension started adding 380 acres to Chathams existing 97 acres
    1863 ACHILLES worlds largest ship, an ironclad battleship at 6039 tons
    1864-85 St Marys Island extensions, 3 fitting out basins and 5 dry docks built
    1875 Master Shipwright renamed Chief Constructor
    1903 Electrical Engineering Department formed
    1905 New departmental names: MCD, MED, EED. AFRICA, Chatham?s last battleship, of 16350 tons built
    1908 Secret launch of submarine C17
    1914-18 WWI: 16 ships built, including 3 cruisers and 12 submarines
    1934-39 ARETHUSA and EURYALUS, Chathams last cruisers launched
    1939-45 WWII: 16 ships built, including 11 submarines and 2 floating docks
    1944 340 ships were refitted or repaired
    1957-66 6 "O" Class submarines built, including OCELOT the last submarine for the Royal Navy
    1966 RCNS OKANAGAN launched from No 7 Slip, the last of 57 submarines built at Chatham
    1968 Nuclear submarine complex opened
    1981 Closure of Chatham Dockyard announced
    1984 Formal closure of HM Royal Naval Dockyard, Chatham. 

    For a list of HM Ships built at Chatham, please click here. [A PDF file which opens in a new window.]