Gun Wharf Chatham

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HM Gun Wharf Chatham
Seal of the Office of Ordnance.gif
Chatham in Kingdom of England
Site information
OperatorNavy Royal
Royal Navy
Controlled byBoard of Ordnance
Site history
In use1622-1855

The Gun Wharf Chatham or formally HM Gun Wharf Chatham was established in 1622 on the site of the old Chatham Dockyard that had relocated. It remained operational until 1855. The yard was responsible for the storing and supplying of naval ordnance to the Navy Royal and later Royal Navy.


The Gun Wharf, c.1890: the 1717 Grand Store can be seen left of centre (with the Dockyard's Anchor Wharf storehouse in the distance beyond). The surviving carpenters' shop and machine shop are on the right.

An Board of Ordnance yard was established in the 17th century immediately upriver of the Dockyard (on the site of the original Tudor yard, vacated in 1622). The yard would have received, stored and issued cannons and gun-carriages (along with projectiles, accoutrements and also all manner of small arms) for ships based in the Medway, as well as for local artillery emplacements and for army use. (Gunpowder, on the other hand, was received, stored and issued across the river at Upnor Castle.)

Dockyard's Anchor Wharf storehouse in the distance beyond). The surviving carpenters' shop and machine shop are on the right.]] A plan of 1704 shows (from north to south) a long Storehouse parallel to the river, the Storekeeper's house (the Storekeeper was the senior officer of the Yard) and a pair of Carriage Stores. In 1717 the original Storehouse was replaced with the Grand Store (a much larger three-storey building, contemporary with and of a similar style to, the Main Gatehouse in the Dockyard). Not long afterwards a large new single-storey Carriage Store, with a long frontage parallel to the river, was constructed, adjoining the Storekeeper's House to the south.

After the demise of the Board of Ordnance (1855), Ordnance Yards passed under the control of the War Office, and were eventually (in 1891) apportioned to either the Army or the Navy. Chatham's yard was split in two, the area south of the Storekeeper's House becoming an Army Ordnance Store, and the rest a Navy Ordnance Store. It remained thus until 1958 when the yards were closed (the Army depot having served latterly as an atomic weapons research laboratory).[1] Most of the 18th-century buildings were demolished, with the exception of the Storekeeper's House of 1719, which survives as the Command House public house.[2] A few later buildings have survived: a long brick shed of 1805, south-west of the Command House, which once housed carpenters, wheelwrights and other workers as well as stores of various kinds,[3] the adjacent building (machine shop, late-19th century) which now serves as a public library, and the building known as the White House (built as the Clerk of the Cheque's residence in 1816).[4]


  1. "English Heritage report:AWRE Foulness" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 February 2015.
  2. "Listed building description (Command House)".
  3. "Listed building description (Ordnance Store)".
  4. Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support the Fleet: Architecture and engineering of the Royal Navy's bases, 1700–1914. Swindon: English Heritage.