Things get spooky, sparkly, and wacky this Autumn at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, as visitors explore the eerie and infamous through a range of exciting family activities and a new temporary exhibition.

Running from 27 October through to 4 November, Ghost and Guys activities which are suitable for all the family, include a Guy Fawkes Trail, Arts and Crafts, Word Searches, Pumpkin Carving and Mask Making.  The popular story of Megan the Witch will also make a welcome return at this time of year when thoughts of witches and ghosts are all around.  The friendly witch has stories of mythical creatures from the deep blue oceans which will enchant, rather than scare, the younger ones. Children will learn about ghost ships, superstitions linked to the sea and the monsters and mermaids that either frightened or tempted the sailors of long ago.  Access to The Historic Dockyard Chatham and all its galleries and attractions is included in the normal admission price, however a small additional charge applies to some of these activities.


Running now until 2nd December in No. 1 Smithery: The Gallery is a new temporary exhibition called Whirrs, Cogs and Thingamabobs: A World of Wacky Gadgets, a collection of nearly 200 off-beat peculiar antique gadgets owned by award-winning collector Maurice Collins. Maurice’s passion first began on a rubbish dump in Sittingbourne, Kent when he and his son came across a peculiar glass bottle with what appeared to be a marble in its neck.  They had unearthed a ‘Codd’ bottle – invented by Hiram Codd in 1872 to keep the ‘fizz’ in ‘fizzy’ drinks.  It was this discovery that began Maurice’s fascination with unusual everyday objects.  Since then, he has amassed close to 1600 items ranging from a clockwork burglar alarm to an electric hair-restoring comb, two clockwork teasmades, a finger stretcher and even a mechanical envelope sealer.  Other interesting inventions within this collection include a pistol purse which housed a hidden compartment containing a pistol with a single bullet designed to fend off unsuspecting highwaymen!  This exhibition celebrates some of the quirkiest everyday gadgets people used in the past.  Most of the objects on display were made between 1851 and 1951 – from the Great Exhibition to the Festival of Britain.  During this time thousands of new labour-saving devised were invented.  People hoped to make their fortune by creating gadgets that could do a job better, faster or cheaper.  Many of these were meant to make a task simpler and to save time.  Some of these worked, others probably made the task more difficult than it was before!  With such a vast collection of bizarre gadget and gizmos, this exhibition is fun for the whole family and has something that will appeal to both traditional collectors and wacky inventor types alike. Entry into the exhibition is included in the normal dockyard admission ticket.


Further information on all the activities and exhibitions can be found at