NOTE: For an up-to-date library listing of the publications catalogued in the World Ship Society's Chatham Library, click on the sub-heading to the left under "Chatham", marked "Library" or click here.
NOTE: For information on "The Historic Dockyard Chatham", including a direct link, scroll to the bottom of this page or click here.
NOTE: For information on "Chatham World Heritage Site", including some wonderful photo galleries, click here.
NOTE: Read a write-up on our Library and Archives at the Dockyard. Click on the Adobe link below, then look for the story and photos entitled "A world of maritime and naval expertise on offer".
Our WSS's home within the Chatham Historic Dockyard, (formerly the Chatham Dockyard's Receiving Room). [Photo by Glenn Smith, November 23, 2004]
A welcoming entrance to our Library and Archives. [Photo by Sheila Watt, April 2009]
Our Library and Archives are located in the Receiving Room, Chatham Historic Dockyard, in Kent, England.
The Receiving Room is a ground-level property, with a mezzanine floor, which is situated in the heart of the dockyard complex, on the "visitor trail" between the Ropery and the "Steam, Steel & Submarines".
The mezzanine floor houses the Library and Reading Room, whilst the screened off space under is used for storage, and the front, open, section downstairs contains inspection copies of in-print Society publications, sales tables of duplicate publications and photographs as well as information about the Society.
Although the Library and Archives are intended mainly for the use of Society members, non-members may also use the facilities in return for a suitable donation, and members of the public are welcome in the open section.
The Dockyard is open to the public daily until Sunday 1st December 2013. We hope to have our Facility open daily from 11 am 'till 4 pm, but that depends on the availability of our small but dedicated band of volunteers.
As well as over 7000 shipping books including good runs of Lloyd's Registers, Jane's Fighting Ships, etc., the Library contains runs of both technical and popular shipping magazines and periodicals, all available for WSS members to consult and borrow. Surplus, duplicate books and periodicals are available for sale. The facility also holds archival material bequeathed from the likes of Talbot Booth, Isherwood, Bonsor, Colledge and Lenton, which, once catalogued, will be available for WSS members to peruse. The facility also contains stocks of most in-print WSS publications which are available to all personal callers without having to pay postage. Payment can be made in any of the following ways:- Sterling cash or cheque, Visa and MasterCard cards. There is a cash machine at the "Shell" filling station about 300 yards away.
For a listing of the publications catalogued in the Chatham Library, click on the heading under "Chatham" in the column to the left, then the sub-heading item marked "Library".
A new portable Presentation Board. [Photo by Sheila Watt, April 2009]
The replica Admiral’s Lantern, as could have been sited on HMS Victory’s mainmast, was made by Mr Albert Bagshaw, son of the late Captain “Harry” Bagshaw of the Thames sailing barge “Scone”, and loaned in 2009 by the Bagshaw Family to the Chatham Library and Archives of the World Ship Society to enhance their premises.
It is now proudly displayed, suitably roped, behind the ground floor sales position, with the explanatory notice alongside, and is a frequent source of interested inquiry from visitors.
The above two photos were taken by Sheila Watt, September 26, 2009
Apart from major Event days, access through the Dockyard to the WSS premises is free, but access to the major dockyard exhibits and attractions requires a normal admission ticket.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Train to Chatham Station. Either walk (following signs for "Chatham Maritime") or get on one of the frequent buses, from bus-stop “B” at the station, to the Historic Dockyard Main Gate (NOT Visitor Entrance). Security at the Main Gate should be able to direct you to the WSS premises in the Receiving Room between the Ropery and the "Steam, Steel & Submarines". [05.2012]
BY CAR: (a) If driving via M2/A2 follow signs for "Chatham Maritime" and then the "Historic Dockyard". Do NOT park in main Visitors Car Park. Security at the barrier should be able to direct you to the WSS premises in the Receiving Room between the Ropery and the "Steam, Steel & Submarines" and to car parking on Anchor Wharf.
Please note the following Dockyard rule:
Under no circumstances should any petrol/diesel operated vehicles be parked or left directly outside the front or side of the Archives building. Due to possible fire hazard, the Dockyard forbids parking (except for purposes of loading/unloading) in any area directly in front of the Building unless a person/member is in attendance with the vehicle. (Some visitors may have noticed a CHDT electric "old milk-float" used for various purposes at or near the building, but internal combustion is considered a fire hazard, and we are in a very old building.) Please let us continue our good relationship with the Dockyard by parking in the designated area along Anchor Wharf. Your adherence to this rule would be much appreciated by the volunteers at Chatham, as well as the management of the Dockyard.
(b) If driving via M20, exit at junction 6 and follow signs for "Chatham" and "Chatham Maritime". After passing through Chatham town centre enter the Dockyard through the Main Gate on the left about 200 yards past a "Shell" filling station. Security at the Main Gate should be able to direct you to the WSS premises in the Receiving Room between the Ropery and the "Steam, Steel & Submarines", and to car parking on Anchor Wharf. If you miss the Main Gate, follow signs for the Historic Dockyard Visitors Entrance and follow the instructions in 2(a) above.
SOME RECENT HISTORY. In the summer of 2003, we traded in our old "digs" at the Chatham Historic Dockyard for larger premises. All the material consisting of books, magazines, publications and research papers has now been moved to the new premises down the road. We started our lease on the Receiving Room, next to the Ropery, on 1st October 2003. The move from the old site needed careful management and maximum support for our team at dockyard as well as the assistance of many volunteers. The Receiving Room is a ground-level property, with a mezzanine floor, which is situated in the heart of the dockyard complex on the "visitor trail". There is a screened-off space under the higher level, which will be perfect for the storage of Society publications while the elevated floor will be ideal to use for research, as a library/reading room and as an office. The ground floor area in front of the mezzanine is intended to serve as a reception, sales point and display area.
This new accommodation enables the Society to greatly increase it’s profile in the Chatham complex and the wider world. We are hoping to open this facility as often as possible during the year and especially during the period from April to October. At the moment, our small-dedicated band of volunteers, led by Ian Wells, is mainly concerned with the progress of the library/reading room and management of the store. We are keen, however, to develop a manned reception counter to receive visitors, introduce them to the Society, answer questions and support displays. Such a facility will also enable us to sell WSS books, photographs, membership and Society Shop items - extended to include a range of customer focussed souvenirs. Our aim is to optimise the use of the property, provide excellent support to our members and promote as widely as possible the WSS and its great range of facilities. We need to recruit volunteers, who get on well with people, to a range of different tasks - to staff our reception desk or manage our store or work in the library. If you would like to participate in this exciting, long-term project, please contact the Chatham Manager.
OFFICIAL OPENING OF CHATHAM LIBRARY 15th October 2005. [Report by Dr. Richard Osborne]
Plaque at entrance to Receiving Room. [Photo by Glenn Smith, November 22, 2005. Ref: GS05-0137]
The Society's Library in Chatham Historic Dockyard was officially opened on Saturday 15th October 2005 by the Chairman Dr Richard Osborne during a short ceremony attended by 40 members. The Chairman thanked Ian Wells, Alan Watt, Sheila Watt, Ken Flack, Mike Reynolds, Ken Humble and the late John Freestone for all their hard work that had converted a large collection of books and papers into a library that could be further developed into a research facility.
From l to r — Sheila Watt, Ian Wells, Alan Watt in the upstairs Reading Room [Photo by Glenn Smith, November 22, 2005. Ref: GS05-0140]
Richard also thanked the South Coast Branch for their generous financial donations that had paid for the newly installed shelving. The Chairman also announced that Alan Watt his wife Sheila had become Librarian and Deputy Librarian respectively at Chatham. Once the Library had been opened, those attending were able to purchase surplus books and a total of £1000 was raised that will be used to help pay for the library's upkeep.
Deputy Librarian, Sheila Watt, hard at work sorting through the items moved to the new facility at Chatham. [Photo by Glenn Smith, November 22, 2005. Ref: GS05-0138]
The following photos were taken by Richard Osborne on October 15th, 2005 and show the public part of the new Chatham Library and Archives.
And now we present a photo essay showing the interior of our Chatham library while the volunteers worked on sorting material moved from the old premises. [Photos by Glenn Smith, Novemer 23, 2004]
The Historic Dockyard Chatham, one of Kent's premier Visitor Attractions. The Dockyard is a great place to visit — on your own, with friends and family, or with your fellow Ship Society members.
http://www.chdt.org.uk for an extensive description of what the Dockyard offers, besides being the home of the World Ship Society's Library and Archives. Opening hours and prices, events, and much more.
No. 1 Smithery
Don't miss the greatest 'launch' at Chatham since HMS Victory! Summer 2010
We are delighted to announce the opening of No.1 Smithery – a new cultural venue and centre for world-class maritime collections at the heart of The Historic Dockyard Chatham - in July 2010. Here we give you a brief introduction to this exciting and magnificent new attraction which heralds a new and inspiring addition to our visitor programmes. A unique partnership between Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, the National Maritime Museum and the Imperial War Museum, No.1 Smithery is an exciting fusion of museum, heritage and culture. Magnificent maritime models, art and other artefacts come together in an historic industrial building to provide an inspiring and thought provoking mix located within one of the UK’s leading maritime heritage sites.
On the weekend of July 17th & 18th, Sheila Watt took a walk around the premises at the Chatham Dockyard. With camera in hand, she captured just a few of the interesting exhibits located within the Dockyard.
224 — This is one of several new 'outdoor sculptures' titled "Through Spencer's Eyes". The left-hand edge represents a silhouette of a face. The holes are supposed to be the eyes through which you look at the intended object depending on your height.The current aim is to give children paper on which to draw "What they see, through Spencer's Eyes". Located at the Eastern end of Anchor Wharf. Photo by Sheila Watt.
225 — Another one of the new 'outdoor' sculptures' titled "Through Spencer's Eyes". This particular one is located just outside the WSS's premises. Photo by Sheila Watt.
226 — New flight of Entrance steps to the Smithery, with long disabled ramp on the right. Leads to revolving doors, with emergency / disabled entrance on each side. Check-in desk is just inside this. Photo by Sheila Watt.
227 — HMS GANNET and main Ornamental Anchor taken from atop the main Smithery Entrance steps. Photo by Sheila Watt.
228 — Side-on view of entrance steps to Smithery, now closed and with main entrance shutters down. Dockyard Clock tower in distance. Photo by Sheila Watt.
229 — Taken with "Wheelwrights Restaurant" just off to the left. Panorama showing new eating area opposite restaurant, either for food taken out, or for eating own food picnic style. Large propeller face down on deck, and huge Plate-Bending Rolls machine. End of new Smithery just to the right. Photo by Sheila Watt.
230 — Propeller from the 14,000 ton Royal Fleet Auxiliary RELIANT. Photo by Sheila Watt.
231 — Plate-Bending Rolls, 1913 — One of the largest machine tools ever used in Chatham Dockyard. Photo by Sheila Watt.
233 — Huge maker's model of SS JERVIS BAY, said to be 3.5 metres long - situated in lighter foyer, with indication of size from figure/visitor just visible on right. Photo by Sheila Watt.
234 — Photo from far side of JERVIS BAY model (which is inside foyer entrance) re: Princess Alice visit 1940, in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Sign reads "DECK GAME ON BOARD - Officers and crew watching a competition on board." / A ROYAL VISITOR - Captain Fogarty Fegan escorts HRH Princess Alice from the ship at the end of a visit in 1940" Photo by Sheila Watt.
235 — Plaque re: JERVIS BAY, 1922, built Barrow-in-Furness. Posting reads "A full-hull shipbuilder's model of the JERVIS BAY, as built for the Australian Commonwealth Line by Vickers Ltd at Barrow-in-Furness." Photo by Sheila Watt.
236 — Photograph taken from outside the Smithery, of No.3 Slip (where most festivities take place), with beginnings of Life Boat Museum on right and HMS GANNET on the left. Photo by Sheila Watt.
237 — Photograph of HMS GANNET with ornamental anchor, taken from side of Smithery entrance. Photo by Sheila Watt.
238 — The Smithery Entrance as seen through the Anchor. Photo by Sheila Watt.
239 — HMS CAVALIER, dressed overall. Photo by Sheila Watt.
240 — Side view of HMS CAVALIER, dressed overall, with outdoor sculpture bottom right. Photo by Sheila Watt.
243 — Ship's bell from the Eagle Oil tanker M.V. SAN DEMETRIO, 1938, situated in the bottom corner of the JERVIS BAY casing, in the foyer of the new Smithery. "Bell from the MV San Demetrio, an Eagle Oil Company tanker, attacked by the ADMIRAL SCHEER as the convoy scattered. Abandoned on fire, she was later re-boarded by her crew and brought to the Clyde, her cargo of petrol intact." Photo by Sheila Watt.
244 — Propeller from the RFA RELIANT, 1954. Photo by Sheila Watt.
245 — No. 3 Slip and the RNLI Museum from outside the Smithery. Photo by Sheila Watt.
246 — HMS GANNET. Photo by Sheila Watt.
247 — HMS OCELOT. Photo by Sheila Watt.
248 — National Destroyer Memorial Monument, 1939-1945, unveiled by HRH Prince Philip on Wednesday 14th November 2007. Monument is situated next to HMS CAVALIER. Photo by Sheila Watt.
The following two illustrations capture the story of Chatham. They are taken from the Kent on Sunday online version newspaper which can be accessed at http://www.kentnews.co.uk(and look for the archive editions of the "West Kent / Medway" edition - pages 88 to 91 for week ending April 5, 2009 edition), or click on the following link —