Ships at River Festival
  • Date: 16th June 2018
  • Location: The Historic Dockyard, Chatham
    ME4 4TZ
  • Time: 10:00 - 18:00
  • Cost: Free

Summertime festivities were in full swing at this year’s Medway River Festival which took place at The Historic Dockyard, Chatham.

Did you go to this year's River Festival 2018? Then tell us what you thought of the event in our short survey

About the 2018 festival

This year's River Festival marked the double celebration of two important anniversaries - Medway's 20th and The Historic Dockyard, Chatham's 400th.

The River Festival also helped form part of Festival 400 - a year long calendar of exhibition, activities and events that celebrate the world’s most complete dockyard from the age of sail in the world. The festival will included all the usual fun on the river and on land.

A prize draw was also held with the below prizes:

  • 2 tickets to Salute to the ’40s at The Historic Dockyard, Chatham
  • 2 tickets for the English Chamber Orchestra at The Historic Dockyard Chatham
  • 2 tickets for the Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra for Wednesday 11 July – Castle Concerts

Events programme

River activities

Mast Pond at 11am to 5pm

Come and try activities including canoeing, kayaking and standup paddle boards.

There will also be two Newfoundland dog rescue displays at 12.30pm and 3.30pm

Historic vessel sail past – 2pm

River displays 11am – 5pm (specific times to be confirmed)

Displays will include:

  • Jet Ski display team
  • RE army boat display
  • Historic vessel sail past
  • Bristow helicopter fly past (subject to emergency call out)
  • Svitzer fire tug display (subject to emergency call out)

Drop-in Art Workshop for families and adults

Patterns Through Time - Printing the Dockyard: 11am to 4:30pm

Work with local professional print artist Heather Haythornthwaite of Hazelnut Press to make beautiful printed artworks inspired by your surroundings at Chatham Historic Dockyard. Get busy with colourful inks, rollers, tiles and bright paper. 

Children must be accompanied by an adult. No need to book – just come and find us inside No.1 Smithery

This workshop is part of Medway Print Festival 2018

Printed artwork inspired by Chatham Dockyard


Dazzle Ships: 11am to 4.30pm

Join Cabinet of Curiosity and learn about these incredible ships and their role in our defence during WWI. Assemble and customise paper versions using geometric patterns, shapes and colours. 

Children must be accompanied by an adult.  No need to book – just come and find us in The Courtyard inside No.1 Smithery.

This workshop is funded by Rochester Bridge Trust.

Ship from Dazzle Ships event

Dance in the Dockyard

12 noon to 4pm near the Commissioner's House

A celebration through dance for families and adults. Watch performances by professional, community dancers and performers from contemporary to musical theatre, street dance to Irish dancing.  Get involved in dance workshops for all ages and abilities. 

No need to book.

This programme of dance is supported by Medway Council in partnership with The Right Step Dance Company and Medway Dance Network you can find on Facebook or Twitter @DockyardDancing

Dancers from Dance in the Dockyard

Land activities

This year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. To mark this world-changing event, Medway Council’s Heritage Team is working on several projects which link today’s communities with those in 1918. 

You can be part of our commemorations today by taking part in our activities.

The Lost Helmet at The Courtyard from 11am to 4pm

To capture the scale of the loss to Medway caused by The Great War, a replica helmet will be passed through the hands of thousands of Medway residents, each representing one life lost in the Great War.  Photographs will be taken of people wearing the helmet which will be collated and projected at the Medway Archive Centre, each image captioned with one of names of lost Medway servicemen.

A special backdrop for The Lost Helmet photos has been designed and created by students form the University of the Creative Arts.

All our projects are based on the FOMA De Caville Index. The Index was started by Michael De Caville, a local man, who over twenty-five years ago began a quest to record street by street the men of the Medway Towns who died during the Great War.  The index was completed by the Friends of Medway Archives, and made available online in 2014.

View the Index

This resource isn't well known outside of archive circles in Medway. Our project's aim is to raise awareness of the Index, whilst training local people and school pupils in basic archive and research skills, to learn more about their family, house and areas history.

Lost Helmet Artwork

80 acres of adventure – all day

The Historic Dockyard Chatham have 80 acres to explore. Discover their interactive exhibitions, play areas and galleries such as Command of the Oceans with some green screen fun! And re-discover their recently re-designed Steam, Steel and Submarines Gallery.


There will be a range of stalls for you to browse, including:

  • Fort Amherst
  • Medway Hospital
  • Royal Engineers Museum
  • Rochester Cathedral
  • Nucleus Arts
  • MACA

Refreshment stalls will also be available as well as The Historic Dockyards’ cafes.

The Historic Dockyard’s cafés and restaurant will be serving hot and cold food throughout the day.


Visit Resident Historic ships in Basin 1 (by The Ship and Trades areas), available until 1:15pm.

The Historic Motor Tug KENT

Visit the M.T.KENT, a ship built by Richard Ironworks at Lowestoft for JP Knight Ltd of Rochester. At the time of her launch in 1948 she was the most powerful single screw harbour tug in Great Britain with diesel propulsion.

Working life for the M.T.KENT began on the River Medway with ship-handling at Rochester, Chatham and Sheerness but in the years after she was sent to work elsewhere in the UK, carrying out coastal towns and a host of other duties.

The Tosher Tug Fearnought

Thsi ex harbour tug was used for moving barges around the docks in London and The Medway. Owned by South Easter Tug Society Trust.

VIC 96 Ex Admiralty Costal Fleet Supply Ship

The VIC 96 is Steam Powered and owned by The Vic 96 Trust.

Steam Tug Barking  

The Steam Tug Barking was a motor tug but converted to steam by her owner, it's now managed by The VIC 96 Trust.

Sail Training Ship Morning Star

Visits are subject to availability - she goes out regularly with young people on training excursions.