GTO Mike Herring said he wouldn’t have visited the Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent if it wasn’t for the Group Leisure & Travel Show.

HM Submarine Ocelot at the Historic Dockyard Chatham

Mike and his group toured HM Submarine Ocelot as part of their visit.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham team exhibited at the event last autumn, and will be back again on 3rd October 2024 at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. They spoke to Mike from the King’s Cliffe Old Blokes Club, who then went onto book a trip which turned out to be quite the experience. 

Mike told us: “Having made contact with the Historic Dockyard Chatham staff at the GLT Show, we decided that this was a very suitable place for our group to visit.

“The highlight of the day was The Ropery demonstration. This takes place in a 400m-long building where ropes are made commercially, still using the methods and machinery from the early 19th century.”

After a fascinating demonstration, the group headed outside to walk through HM Submarine Ocelot which was the last warship built at Chatham for the Royal Navy, launching in 1962. She was one of 57 submarines built between 1908 and 1966 and served during the Cold War in the Arctic, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. 

The Ropery at the Historic Dockyard Chatham

The highlight for Mike’s group was The Ropery.

Mike continued: “It was great to explore a very different world and one which leaves you in awe of the sailors who lived in the cramped conditions for weeks on end. This is not for the faint hearted or infirm with its small testing hatchways to negotiate, but well worth it if you can manage it.”

“We also walked through HMS Submarine Ocelot and our final visit was to the very extensive RNLI exhibition of ex life boats – ranging over much of the 200 years of the RNLI life and each one having a tale to tell.”

Visitors and exhibitors chat at the Group Leisure & Travel Show 2023 in Milton Keynes

The GLT Show presents an opportunity to meet with group organisers face to face and plan visits.

Chloe Wilson, commercial sales manager at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, who originally met Mike at the GLT Show last year, said that talking to group organisers in person is the most effective way to demonstrate the breadth of the attraction’s offer, which is something she was able to confidently do by exhibiting at the Group Leisure & Travel Show.

She said: “With numerous types of GTOs, reaching them all can be challenging, but the GLT Show provides an excellent platform by bringing them directly to us. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s essential to secure a spot at the event to increase the visibility of your attraction among a wide range of group organisers.

“Visitors on the day often finalise their upcoming trips at the show, making it an excellent opportunity to capture their attention and secure new bookings right on the spot.”

“With numerous types of GTOs, reaching them all can be challenging, but the GLT Show provides an excellent platform by bringing them directly to us.”

Chloe Wilson, commercial sales manager at the Historic Dockyard Chatham.

Mike added: “We chose a very wet and windy day but this did not detract from our visit. Much of the exhibits can be seen indoors so we avoided the worst of the weather and had a brilliant time.”

What can you expect at the 2024 Group Leisure & Travel Show?

The Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes will be full of attractions, hotels, tour operators, tourist boards/DMOs, cruise lines and more. Exhibitors are there to inspire visitors with ideas, special offers and advice. Plus, there are talks in the Seminar Theatre from journalist, Simon Calder and TV presenters, Paul Martin and Jilly Goolden.

Entry is free, as is convenient parking*, with visitors also able to enjoy a free bacon butty breakfast and hot drink on arrival, and a free light lunch. Complimentary coach travel routes will be announced soon. 

  • Group organisers and coach tour operators can register to visit the 2024 exhibition which takes place in Milton Keynes on 3rd October at
  • Those interested in exhibiting can contact Lisa Milton on 01908 623323 or via email at
  • More information about group visits to the Historic Dockyard Chatham can be found at

* Terms and conditions apply, car details need to be registered with show organisers on site.