Chatham has had an association with the Royal Navy since Elizabethan times, moving to its current site in 1622. It provided the facilities to build, repair, maintain and supply ships. In the mid-nineteenth century, work began on expanding the dockyard into St Mary's Island, where three huge basins and five new docks were constructed, almost quadrupling its size, in order to support twentieth-century vessels. Work then commenced on a new home for Royal Navy seamen. The new barracks, HMS Pembroke, opened in 1903 providing accommodation for 5,000 officers and ratings for the following eighty years. The dockyard and barracks finally closed in 1984 and the Royal Navy bid farewell to Chatham. However, its legacy remains and its many historic dockyard and barrack buildings provide a warm welcome for residents and visitors alike.
Clive Holden is a local historian with a wide range of historical interests, living near Maidstone. He has appeared on the BBC TV series Heir Hunters on an episode discussing the subject the history of Chatham Naval Dockyard & Barracks. He is a keen photographer and is the creator of the 'Kent's Historical Sites' group on Facebook, which serves as a digital portal for all those interested in the local history of the area.