The Historic Dockyard Chatham 23rd September 2015
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At 8:00 Club members and their friends boarded a Sprats Coach and headed for the Historic Dockyard at Chatham. We stopped on the way at Birchanger Service Station briefly before setting off again and arrived at Chatham just after 11:00. On arrival we had a guided tour of the various buildings and ships, and were told about the history behind them, after which we would have free time to wander around the many sites and also watch filming of the T.V programme “Call the Midwife”.
I started by having a look around the RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection, which houses the largest collection of historic lifeboats in the UK. Altogether there are seventeen different types. I then moved on to Slipway 3, “The Big Space”, which a lot of people say should not have been built as they cannot find out how the roofing was done. Inside were machines, and various vehicles such as some Royal Engineer vehicles. These included a Drilling truck, mobile crane, Chieftain bridge layer and an amphibious ferry that could carry bulldozers etc.
Further along the dockyard there were three historic warships. These were a Victorian Sloop called “HMS Gannet” which was built in 1878, a WWII destroyer called “HMS Cavalier” built in 1944 and a Royal Navy submarine called “HM Ocelot” which I remember looking around many years ago with my family, all of which you could visit. I decided to have a look around “HMS Cavalier”. There was an audio recorder that told you about what you were looking at and where to go. Unusually it had an open bridge. Also there was a Westland Dragonfly HR5. This was built in 1952 and served at RNAS Yeovilton and Lossiemouth as a Search and Rescue helicopter. Nearby was a model submarine which was used in the James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” which starred Pierce Brosnon who plays James Bond and Robert Carlyle who plays Renard.
Half way I stopped to have a coffee at “The Railway Workshop” which also houses some of the Dockyards locos and rolling stock and a play area for youngsters as well as the cafe. Later I went to the “Steam, Steel and Submarines” building which houses ship's figure heads, model ships and various other items. Later back by the ships I noticed there was some filming being done for “Call the Midwife” which I watched for a while.
We all gathered at the coach and left Chatham at 5:00 to make our way back to Norwich stopping at off at Birchanger Service Station for a break.
Thanks to Peter for organising this interesting and enjoyable trip.

By Andrew Elphick

Click this Link for more information! The Historic Dockyard at Chatham