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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Getting in touch with our masculine side at the Historic Dockyard

Here at the Ministry, we have a tendency to be a little...well.. girly. What about all you manly men who love museums and heritage? And whats more, what about all you kick ass ladies who love a bit of mechanical engineering? We have a treat for you- our thoughts on the Historic Dockyard at Chatham. I'll give you a hint: big objects, big fun.

Firstly, we know that Chatham isn't exactly 'in' London, but just look how close it is! ( Just a short train ride away and you can be on the site of the royal dockyards dating back to Tudor times. Famously visited by King George the III, the dry-docks at Chatham saw the construction of the Empire's mightiest vessels. It's sometimes easy to forget why the British ruled the sea in the 'Golden Age' of sail, but Chatham is a testament to the industry and skill that built a world superpower.

The buzzword then for Historic Dockyards is big big big! Big ships, big warehouses, big machines and big spaces. It makes sense then that the Dockyard also serves as the stores of the collections of the National Maritime Museum, the Imperial War Museum, and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution amongst others. The old slip-ways have been covered to make (admittedly not very climate controlled) display areas for full size boats, trucks, tanks, machinery and all forms of big toys.

Complimenting the sheer scale of the slipways is the new Number 1 Smithery building which contains state of the art exhibition spaces that prove even ship models can been sleek and contemporary. Gone are the days of model upon model accompanied only by an over technical description, the displays are varied and engaging with a big dash of multi-media. Plus, you can take a peek in the object stores (which any museum geek would love).

If I you aren't already looking up train tickets to Gillingham, we are sure this will seal the deal. The Historic Dockyard is also the setting of many famous films and television programmes, including Call the Midwife and perhaps most famously, the Guy Richie Sherlock Holmes films. Who could forget this epic scene with Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law show in slipway 5!

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