A Visit to the Past at Chatham Historic Dockyard

HMS Gannet at Chatham Historic Dockyard
HMS GANNET and Slip 3. Camera Settings 27mm wide angle lens, ISO 100, f14. 1/200 sec

It was this time last year, when a certain virus was starting to make headline news from China, that I had the privilege of being invited to run two photography workshops in partnership with the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.

There had been a dockyard at Chatham for over 400 years until it was closed in 1984. The trust was set up to preserve many of it's architecturally unique buildings, many of which date between 1704 and 1855; including the famous Ropery building which is still making rope today.

The site is also home to two ships and one submarine.

HMS Gannet, commissioned in 1878 (see image above).

HMS Cavalier, commissioned in 1944

HMS Ocelot, commissioned in 1962.

To find out more about the site and it's history I recommend visiting their website:-


As we are all currently missing our visits to such historical sites, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite images taken on the workshops. All images were taken on my Canon 7D mk 2. Full camera settings can be found in each caption. Many of these images, with exceptions of the portraits, would have been taken with three bracketed exposures. The settings given are for the primary exposure.

The following were all taken in areas that are accessible to the public on their admission ticket.

HMS Cavalier at Chatham Historic Dockyard
HMS Cavalier, 17mm, ISO100, f16, 1/200 sec

Chatham Historic Dockyard Architecture
ISO 400, 17mm, f11, 1/1/125 sec

Crane at Chatham Historic Dockyard
ISO 100, 17mm, f16, 1/160 sec

I was very privileged to get permission to take the participants into some of the restricted areas which are usually off limits to ticket holders. The Tarred Yarn store, Spinning Room and the Cock Loft.

Tarred Yarn Store at Chatham Historic Dockyard
Tarred Yarn Store, ISO 100, 17mm, f11, 2 sec

The Tarred Yarn Store is where rope was tarred and stored. It has a really unique tired look to it which is why it's a popular backdrop for many period film and TV dramas. Bridgeton and Call the Midwife to name but a few.

The Spinning Room, Chatham Historic Dockyard
The Spinning Room, ISO 100, 17mm, f16, 8 sec

The Spinning Room, Chatham Historic Dockyard
The Spinning Room, ISO 100, 17mm, f11, 2 sec

The Spinning Room, Chatham Historic Dockyard
The Spinning Room, ISO 100, 17mm, f11, 6 sec

The Spinning Room was where the ladies of the dockyard would spin the yarn as part of the rope making procedure. The room is full of both old and modern equipment including rope and reels. It's a photographers dream if you want to capture something unique. My first visit for publicity shots I spent two hours in the room and only stopped because I had run out of room on my card.

The Cock Loft, Chatham Historic Dockyard
The Cock Loft, ISO 100, 21mm, f16, 6 sec

The cock loft is the attic of the Ropery building. Imagine a narrow room which is 1/4 of a mile long with light shafting through the windows. It's just simply amazing.

The second of the workshops we added an additional twist by inviting a re-enactment group along just to add a little bit of extra drama.

1940's vintage at Chatham Historic Dockyard
1940's worker in the Spinning Room, ISO 100, 50mm, f4.5, 1/100 sec

Captain on board HMS Cavalier at Chatham Historic Dockyard
Captain on board HMS Cavalier. ISO 100, 17mm, f8, 1/250 sec

Very fond memories of the fun we all had. Very much looking forward to when we can all visit these fantastic places again.

To find out more about my photography classes, workshops and events visit my website:-


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