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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Tuesday 25 April 2023

Chatham Dockyard

I had a spare day on Sunday after Salute and before a work event on Monday. So, I decided to go down to Chatham to visit the historic dockyard.

Chatham was a Royal Navy Dockyard located on the River Medway in Kent. Established in the mid-16th century. It built and repaired ships through the age of sail and then into steam and iron-clad warships. When the biggest battleships were too big for the site, it repurposed building submarines and other smaller ships.

The site is vast, but you start with an overview of the dockyard, including a massive model of HMS Victory.

The next stop was the former covered shipbuilding docks with massive roofs. There is a collection of lifeboats and other exhibits, including a midget submarine.

Then to the main reason for visiting, the ships. Starting with HMS Gannet, built in 1878 for steam and sail, the 64pdr RML gave it some punch for a sloop.

Next door is HMS Ocelot, an O Class submarine launched in 1962. 27 built, 13 for the Royal Navy. After this tour, I am sure I was not made to be a submariner!

And last but certainly not least, HMS Cavalier, an O Class Destroyer launched in 1944. At 6’.2” I would be little better off on this than the submarine. This was a sore head day, and no drink was involved.

There are other exhibits around the yard, including AA guns used to defend the harbour in WW2.

A particularly striking building is the Ropery. They would make enough in one year in Napoleonic times to stretch from here to Istanbul.

They also have a fine collection of ship models, not all built here.

That's a quick overview of a wonderful museum. If you are in London, it's only 40 minutes away on the train. Lots of very knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff and volunteers as well.

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