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“Nothing ropey about this venue!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Historic Dockyard Chatham

The Historic Dockyard Chatham
Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TZ, England
44 (0)1634 823807
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Ranked #1 of 9 Attractions in Chatham
Type: Historic Sites, Specialty Museums, Cultural
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Attraction details
Owner description: Embark on a year-long voyage of exploration and discovery at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, the world’s most complete dockyard from the Age of Sail and one of Britain’s leading maritime heritage destinations. This unique, award winning attraction has a remarkable range of museum galleries, iconic buildings and historic warships to explore, together with a diverse programme of events, family activities and outstanding temporary exhibitions.
Leicester, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Nothing ropey about this venue!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

This is a fantastic day out. We took the whole family (2 +2) including two grandparents (£77). Large rough car park (don't park in the middle if it's raining). Large site with three large ships including submarine. Book the Rope House visit on arrival (no extra cost) and then immediately book your tours of the submarine and warship. Allow an hour for each. Submarine tour can be managed by most depending upon your level of fitness! Steep stairs (go down backwards - ladies wear trousers) and large round hatchways to 'swing' through when moving down the vessel may deter very young, parents with babies and less mobile (not to mention claustrophobic!) Anyhow very worthwhile - fantastic experience. Rope House is an absolute must with theatrical guide. Chance to buy samples of rope made before your eyes in the traditional manner - have 50p ready. Staff are all very helpful. Antarctic Exhibition photos and artefacts are outstanding. Ships models in the Smithy are excellent. Restaurant reasonable prices - soup recommended! Other 'sheds' have excellent static displays - enjoyed the range of lifeboats. Enough for two days for the historically minded. Limited range in the gift-shop.

Visited May 2013
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725 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Proud to be British
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
25 attraction reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“Need a full day.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2013

Well signposted with plenty of parking on arrival, the historic dockyard is an excellent day out. There is plenty to do and see although you are advised to arrive as early as possible. Tours of the Submarine Ocelot are booked up very quickly as are tours of the Victorian Ropery. There is still plenty to keep you occupied should you miss these tours and tickets are valid for a year which allows you to return whenever you the get the chance.
There is a restaurant on site or should you prefer you can take your own and picnic in the railway workshop where there is also a play area for the kids.
There are volunteers with first hand knowledge situated around the site to help with any questions you may have.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
65 helpful votes 65 helpful votes
“Return visit”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2013

We visited the Dockyard over the Bank Holiday with friends from Cornwall who were staying with us. We hadn't been there for many years - in fact when our (now grown up) children were small.

Like the previous reviewer, we too were surprised at how quiet it seemed for a Bank Holiday Monday, especially as the weather wasn't bad at all. This, though, meant it was easy to walk around and see the various exhibits.

We were looking forward to seeing the Antarctica exhibition and, though it wasn't exactly as I thought it might be, it was extremely interesting and the photos were amazing. We all agreed that we 'sort of' knew the story of Scott and Shackleton but we certainly learned a lot about the expeditions.

Previously booked tickets for the Ropery Tour were well worth the effort. Irene, our guide, was terrific. We were a large group but she coped with this extremely well, with special attention for the children and with a few 'adult' jokes thrown in too. We learned the origins of many familiar sayings, saw the rope being made and of course, bought our own little souvenir. Irene, you were great fun and certainly gave the impression you enjoy your job. One interesting fact that came from our question, was that the rope company has an apprentice young girl who has started to learn the ropes (sorry, couldn't resist!).

We and our friends were very impressed by this attraction and thought it good value for money. There is plenty to see and, if you paid attention to everything, I doubt you would see and read it all in a day. This makes the yearly ticket a good idea, particularly with so much included but, not if you are only in the area visiting. It then becomes wasted and, as the tickets are not transferable and there seem to be strict rules about this, came across as a tad greedy.

Improvements? Yes, as previously reviewed, the Wheelwright Restaurant disappointed. We arrived early lunchtime but there were no baguettes, limited sandwich choices and, I have to say, a rude member of staff. Tea, in a tiny pot, was £1.95 - bad enough but even worse when it's not hot.

On our way to the tour, we passed a snack wagon and were looking forward to a cuppa afterwards. Unfortunately, as we were approaching just before 4pm, the young man was walking away toward his car, saying it was closed. As it was the only place like it in the area for a pit stop, why close it so early when everything around it is still open?

When we arrived at around 11am, the queue to enter was long - there were about 20 in front of us. Thank heaven we arrived when we did though, as it became even longer behind us. We think it was because staff were dealing with Gift Aid paperwork and this was holding everything up. A suggestion for consideration is as Duxford does, namely allowing people to Gift Aid separately thereby not causing long queues for those not involved. We were lucky, it wasn't raining. There is no shelter when there is a queue.

So, all in all, a very good attraction that, in our opinion, could be excellent with just a few tweaks.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stowmarket, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“So much to see!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2013

We visited the dockyards on a sunny Monday in May and arrived just after opening time which worked out well as we walked straight to HMS Ocelot and got on the first submarine tour with only a 5 minute wait. Tours could be up to 20 people but we only had 10 so plenty of room and it was very interactive with lots of opportunity for questions. Would have liked a little more time to look around and take it all in but overall a good tour. Staff alloting times for sub tour tickets were helpful by taking into account our times for the ropery too.
Ropery tour times were assigned when we bought our tickets at the entrance. The tour and the live demonstrations of rope making brought life to the subject and the guide was skilled at pitching her act to the old and young.
We were given an introduction to the Steam, Steel and Submarines exhibits next door to the ropery whilst we waited for our tour and this was a good place to get an overview of the site past and present.
The audio tour of the HMS Cavalier added a lot of additional information to our adventures around the ship and the staff where very helpful getting us back on track and helping my husband when he changed his tour to French!
One exhibit I had not expected to be so good was the historic lifeboat collection. I thought all lifeboats were the same but they're not! This was a must see with ambiance added by very well done sound effects and excellent walkways.
We ate fish and chips in the Wainwright's Restaurant which was fair quality and good value. Staff were good.
There were more places to explore but we were worn out after all this so may have to make use of our free annual pass.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Great day out”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

We were surprised to find the dockyard so empty on a fine, sunny May Bank Holiday Sunday. It was great as there was so much room and it was really easy to get around. The site is massive so I guess it rarely gets busy, although the restaurant probably would.
There is plenty to see and the interactive "Hearts of Oak" exhibit is great. You have to get tickets for timed visits to the Rope factory and the submarine but these don't cost extra. Just remember to get your tickets when you arrive so you have the best choice of times.
The guide for the rope walk was hilarious.
Good day out and a real bargain as you can use Tesco vouchers and the parking is FREE!

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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