HMS Garnet

Visitors to the Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent this year can enjoy a programme of events to mark the 400th birthday of the attraction.

The Dockyard, said to be the most complete of its age in the world, celebrates Great Britain’s maritime past and contribution to the Royal Navy shipbuilding which led to worldwide command of the oceans.

The year ahead will see a reworked Call the Midwife tour, events themed around transport and the 1940s, and a number of exhibitions, all suitable for groups visiting the Dockyard. 

Celebrate 400 years

Call the Midwife fans will be pleased to know that the Dockyard’s official tour will be reworked this year, linking to the most recent series. The television show, focusing around the lives of midwives in the 1950s, regularly uses the Dockyard as its filming backdrop and the tour will feature material such as props, costumes and sets seen in the programme. 

A Festival of Steam and Transport will take place on Easter Sunday (1st April) and 2nd April, and tickets to the festival include entry to a funfair. It will also include live music, classic and vintage cars, locomotives, steam traction engines, traders, and Steampunk themes. 

Later in the year, groups can enjoy Salute to the 40s on 16th and 17th September. Dance groups and the ‘best 1940s’ entertainers in the business’ will make appearances. Military trucks, jeeps, re-enactors, encampments and anti-aircraft guns, civilian vehicles and re-enactors depicting life on the home front, a vintage fair and parade of vintage fashion also join the event. 

Exhibitions at the Dockyard

From March, visitors can explore the creativity inspired by the Dockyard, the ships that were built and the people that worked there in an exhibition, Powerful Tides: 400 Years of Chatham and the Sea, which will feature objects from national institutions including Tate Britain and Turner Contemporary. 

In addition, historical scenes made from LEGO® Bricks will take over the No.1 Smithery in the summer depicting scenes, from the big bang, to the Battle of Trafalgar, to the moon landings.

Another exhibition at No.1 Smithery will celebrate the black community of Kent over the centuries, from leading lights in the abolitionist movement in the 18th century to families making their homes in Kent. 

The Dockyard will also be turned into a Winter Wonderland for evening parties, festive Sunday lunches and private hires over the festive period.

Group organisers can contact 01634-823815 or e-mail for details of group bookings.

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