Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Chatham

C is for Chatham

Chatham (often referred to as Chats) was one of Britain's three naval bases - the others being Portsmouth and Plymouth. It was located on the River Medway.

Here's a map so you can see them in relation to each other.

Wikipedia tells us that Chatham was set up as a Royal Dockyard by Elizabeth 1 in 1567.  Perhaps the most famous vessel to be built in this dockyard is HMS Victory now housed at Portsmouth.

Chatham was attacked by the Dutch in 1667 in the Raid on the Medway.  They burned ships and carried off the flagship HMS Royal Charles, part of which can still be seen in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. How galling.

This is what the Dockyard looked like circa 1890

The Dockyard Chatham, England, Library of Congress.  No known copyright restrictions.

The last warship to be built at Chatham was the Oberon-class submarine the HMCS Okanagan in 1966 according to this post here. The dockyard closed in 1984.

The Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham were called HMS Pembroke.

And last but not least, one of my favourite TV shows was filmed in the Chatham Dockyard - Call the Midwife. 

I found some interesting YouTube videos.  The first one doesn't have any sound but I am impressed by how clear the footage is.

The next piece of footage gives you an idea of what it was like to work in the dockyard in the 1960s.

Alex talks about feeling like he'd gone back to Dickens days when he first started in the dockyards. Funnily enough, Charles Dickens lived in Chatham as a boy and remembers it fondly. As is the way of the world, Alex's old workplace is now a shopping centre.

This has been composed as part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge which is taking place this month.  


Lambert, Andrew, War at Sea in the Age of Sail, Cassell, London, 2000

Lavery, Brian, Able Seamen – The lower deck of the Royal Navy 1850-1939, Conway, London, 2011


Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

I know very little about the naval dockyards other than that they you've given me some extra knowledge today.

Family History Across The Seas

Jill Ball said...

I'm learning, thanks Alex. I hadn't heard of Chatham before this morning.

diane b said...

Your research is amazing.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Pauleen Jill and Diane - Thank you for responding to this post. It is kind of frustrating not being on the ground to do my research I conress. There is probably so much more that I am not capturing but unless you begin to look around/write about it you don't find/learn anything do you?

Wendy said...

You mentioned Portsmouth - and that's the name of my hometown in Virginia. MY Portsmouth is home to a navy shipyard too. You and I are overlapping in our themes a lot today!
Visiting from AtoZ
Wendy at Jollett Etc.

Suzanne McClendon said...

I thought this was a very interesting post, especially the first video with King George VI. I think that Prince William favors his great-grandfather, especially around the eyes.

I am enjoying your theme.

Have a great day!

Dianne Nolin said...

I am the same Alex, researching from across the ocean. We do what we can.
I love Alex's recounting of his life as a boilermaker, and all the great photos. FAbulous!

ScotSue said...

Your profile of Chatham struck a chord with me. One of the most fascinating enquiries I dealt with in my work at my local archive centre involved a man born at Chatham, whose father was in the army and had fought in the Peninsular War against the French. There were also Australia connections with the early settlement of Tasmania. I have always remembered the enquiry as It would have made a wonderful family history story or blog, with lots of different elements. I would have loved writing it up!

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

The Historic Doockyard in Chatham is bidding for World Heritage status. It's really only just up the road from where I live but I still haven't managed a visit. But it's on my To Do list...