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Chatham Dockyard - your memories
Chatham Dockyard at work.
The dockyard at work.

Do you remember Chatham Naval Dockyard when it was in its prime? Did you, or someone in your family, work there on the ships and submarines?

This message board is now closed. Thay you for your submissions.

If you have memories of Chatham in the dockyard's heydays then tell us your stories. Has it changed for the better, or were those really the "good old days"?

Or share your memories with the 'Chatham Dockyard Oral History Project' [external website]

arrow Chatham Dockyard 20 years on

arrow Meet those who worked at the dockyard



Glenn Ponter, Scottsdale Az, USA
I began as a coppersmith apprentice at Chatham Dockyard, and ended up as a Mechanical Design Draughtsman before I left and moved to the USA in 1981.. I still sometimes wonder if my name I painted on a beam in the apprentice building with a 6" brush is still there.. I just remember some of those old guys that actually lived in the dockyard.
Wed Aug 17 00:14:32 2005

ex lcem steve woolham hamm germany
i joined chatham rsu in winter 1979, and spent six blissful months there, before going to gosport for my killicks course. then retuning after for leadership course at hms pembroke. like all theold matelots , as we are now, i still have fond memories of the chatham triangle, when my memory does not fail me, that was the chatham arms, portacabin arms and the blue grotto. legend had it then that more sailors were lost in this area. than it more famous counterpart in bermuda. and in a relatively shorter time.
Tue Jul 26 14:51:14 2005

HMS PEMBROKE
Does anyone know what became of this establishment , and are the old accommation blocks still standing ? . Anyone remember East Camp - where the Supply and Secretariat trainees were accommodated ?
Tue Jul 5 11:57:55 2005

David Morgan, Germany
My Grandfather worked in the dockyards,he was a shipbuilder and worked night and day during the WW2. His name was Frank Leonard Morgan. He very often told us grandchildren about the work and circumstances during the WW2. My Grandad had already retired by the time the Dockyard was due to close.
Wed Jun 8 12:08:28 2005

LRO(T) Swanny Lake, Portsmouth
I was fortunate enough to be on the last operational ship to leave Chatham, HMS ACHILLES. I was based there in 81/82 and have found memories of my first runs ashore as a young sailor. I remember Chatham Navy days in 1981 and seeing HMS Coventry and HMS Endurance, if only we knew what would happen in the South Atlantic the following year. I also remember being the the Dive Bar as we called it, and the DJ announcing HMS SHEFFIED had been sunk, how guilty I felt to be enjoying myself when all that was going on. I also remember the day we left for the last time. We took the dockies with us out to the lock and then had a machinery breakdown, everyone said it was as if the ship didnt want to leave. I have never been back since that day but have it on my list of 100 things to do before I die.
Tue Jun 7 20:26:33 2005

Arthur Turnpenny, Addingham
Arthur is my Dad, who got his Order for release from Naval Service from HMS Pembroke on Nov. 5th 1945. Does anyone out there remember minesweeper HMS Ardrossan, on which he was the Yeoman Navigator during the war?
Sun May 8 20:00:44 2005

Richard Warden
As an ex-WEM(R) it was a sad day to be on HMS Hermoine and be the last ship to leave Chatham dockyard, will have to pop back to see the place again.
Thu Apr 21 15:26:27 2005

Nicola, Chatham
The Dockyard holds lots of memories for me.. Both my Grandad and my Dad worked there, My grandad was an electrician working on the Submarines and my dad was an Engineer. My Grandad had already retired by the time the Dockyard was due to close , but I remember me my mum and dad going down to Devenport to see the Dockyard there as my dad was thinking of relocating us down there. We decided not to go , which I am glad about as all my family and friends are here and MY family now take advantage of the Dockyard.
Mon Apr 18 13:44:37 2005

Rosie
My Grandad Mick Sangster was stationed here i think because he wrote to my nan, before they were married, in 1947 from here, when he was on active service.
Sun Mar 27 13:25:18 2005

michael gray s.wales
i was at chatham dockyard about 1979 at the reserve ships unit it was great fun i think i spent most of my spare time in the chatham arms once a chatham rating always a chatham rating
Tue Mar 15 10:58:18 2005

Sherene Garvin-Mack, Gillingham
I am studying Sociology at GCSE level and i was interested whether anyone who use to work at the dockyard would be able to help me in answering a few questions for my coursework.
Thu Feb 24 15:52:34 2005

Chris Tong , Cuxton
I entered the Dockyard on the 5th May 1967 as a Pattern Maker Apprentice. I later transfer to The Foundry and on it's closure I was sent to the trainng school in Kyber Road to train as a Engine Fitter. I later worked on such ships as HMS LIncoln, Warspite, Spitfire, Torquay, Hebe, Vidal, Hydra and many many more. It was a very sad day for me when The Dockyard closed but I still have many fond memories of my time spent as a Dockyard Matey. My best wishes go out to all my old friends. Though I have been on visits it's just not the same!
Mon Feb 14 20:40:08 2005

nicholas mills south africa
from 1980-1984 i sold newspapers on board all the ships that docked in the yard,i was a young lad of 11 when i started,and only stopped after my father alan mills (deceased)mod police was transfered to plymouth dockyard in 1985,i was on board hms hermoine when she left the yard for the last time i was one of the guest of honour ,a great experiance for a young lad of 15. my abiding memory of the yard will always be when hms endurance came back to chatham, to see that red and white boat docked in the basin was always the best feeling for me. thatcher never understood what she done to young people like myself,my whole life changed completly (i definitly would not be living in south africa if the yard had stayed open),although i was not a yard worker in the true sense i know my career path would have been in the yard doing one job another,i always wanted to be a welder on the boats,plymouth also is a great yard,but does not have the same vibe and commuinty feel that gillingham and chatham had.even after 20 years when i attend a navy days hear in south africa my heart is always in chatam, i still follow the ups and downs that is gillingham football club when i come home to visit i always take a nostalgia trip down to bridge road where pembroke gate used to be wich also is the road in wich we lived. nicholas mills 04/02/05
Fri Feb 4 11:25:46 2005

Roger Martin Australia
Nobby Clarke I worked with Nobby from 1968 untill I emigrated to Australia . a nicer bloke you could not find it seemed that all the men that worked on subs had a certain brotherly kinship between each other ,and I have fond memmories of my time on subs as a Boilermker at battery Corner and also on the nuclear subs . So sorry to hear about nobby,s death my sincere condolences to you Julie. regards Roger Martin (boilermaker)
Wed Aug 25 00:38:58 2004

Brian Clarke, Gillingham
Dad worked on the submarines for years, and only left when the Dock Yard closed, Many people would have know him as Nobby, but sadly passed away in April 2002. From his Daughter Julie Hunter, Thursday 8/4/04
Thu Apr 8 13:59:31 2004

David Johns, New Ash Green
My first ship was HMS Diamond which I joined at Chatham in 1962, we had some good times in Gillingham and Chatham especially at the fleet mess.
Thu Apr 1 16:00:01 2004

Eric Roseaman new romney
I was on HMS Windsor when we used to do our refits, i think it was the dry dock that now has the ww2 distroyer in,we had great times 1943 we should have gone down the tunnel incase the dry dock were bombed ,had good nights ashore.
Wed Mar 31 19:01:54 2004

Clive Stanley, Higham
As an ex-Engine Fitter Apprentice and Mechanical Design Draughtsman it was a sad day when I learnt the dockyard was to close. I had left Chatham in 1978 to move to Southampton as a Naval Engineer Overseer but my 'game plan' was to eventually return to Chatham after promotion and then retire! Nowadays, I have joined the Dockyard Historic Society and try to visit the museum as often as possible for lectures and general helping out.
Wed Mar 31 14:39:03 2004



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