DCMS / Wolfson Grant will give a much loved museum gallery at The Historic Dockyard Chatham a new lease of life

One of the best loved museum galleries at The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent – The Wooden Walls of England – is to undergo a much needed renovation, thanks to £300,000 awarded by DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund.

When complete, the project will ensure that the museum gallery continues to delight visitors for years to come. The Historic Dockyard’s ‘Wooden Walls of England’ gallery (an award winning gallery when completed in 1990) explains the shipbuilding process during the Age of Sail through a reconstruction of the dockyard of 1758 and the construction of a single ship, the Valiant, during the Seven Years War. Twenty years on however, the gallery has now reached the end of its operational life and is in urgent need of modernisation and renewal. Mechanical, electrical and audio visual systems are increasingly obsolescent. Interpretational approaches which were groundbreaking in 1990 have been overtaken by new methodologies and our understanding of shipbuilding processes and Chatham Dockyard’s international significance during the 17th & 18th centuries is now much further advanced.

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust’s Chief Executive Bill Ferris said; “This exciting new project will revitalise one of The Historic Dockyard’s best loved museum galleries, ensuring it remains a ‘high point’ in the visitor experience, providing an ‘on-arrival’ introduction to the history and international significance of this important maritime site during the Age of Sail.”

The work will be undertaken during the winter of 2012-13 and the renewed exhibition will be completed by Easter 2013. The new gallery complements work currently being undertaken by the Trust to re-tell the 19th and 20th Century story of the dockyard in a new gallery Steam, Steel and Submarines, The Royal Dockyard Story 1832-1984 that will open this Spring.