This scenic town on the River Medway is a place that launched a thousand ships. Its naval dockyard holds four centuries of exciting maritime history.
For centuries, Chatham’s crucial position on the River Medway halfway between London and the English Channel has made it a prized location. From the 16th to the 20th century, Chatham was a busy dockyard town, producing ships, submarines and sailing equipment in times of war and discovery. This strategic town is located in a picturesque valley along the line of a route used by the ancient Celts.
Defensive fortifications such as Fort Amherst were built to protect the town against the increasing threat of French invasion in the mid-1700s. Get spooked on a Friday night ghost tour of the historic fort’s dark and winding passageways or visit its rolling green Parkland Grounds open every day for free. Hear the mighty bang of cannon fire from the barracks on Sundays.
The Historic Dockyard of Chatham is located just north of the town center and showcases the rich maritime history of the town and the River Medway. Once the lifeblood of the town, the dockyard contains a fascinating selection of maritime artifacts and personal accounts of life in the Age of Sail. Climb aboard two preserved warships and go below the decks of a Cold War submarine.
Visit the Great Lines Heritage Park, a vast green area in the heart of the Medway, with its distinctive Naval Memorial tower easily visible from Chatham town. Follow one of the tree-lined cycling and walking tracks to meander around the park and see families flying kites in the open grassland.
Chatham is the hub of the towns in the Medway area, so it is easily accessible by car or bus. High-speed trains connect Chatham with London and local trains serve the wider Kent area. Chatham has a seaside climate with warmer summers and cool coastal winds and rain in the colder months. Be sure to have your appropriate “brolly and wellies” (umbrella and boots), just in case the weather turns at any time of year.