Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust was delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport the Rt. Hon. Lucy Frazer KC MP to officially open The Fitted Rigging House (South), the latest capital development project at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, on Thursday, November 9.
The Trust was awarded £2.2m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) in November 2021 to support the works required to bring the final third of Fitted Rigging House, a Grade I listed Scheduled Ancient Monument, back into effective use. The project has transformed the derelict space into c.1,900 sqm of commercial floorspace, benefiting the local economy and creating high value jobs.
The working Dockyard closed in 1984 and over the past four decades the Trust has cultivated a community of cultural enterprises within its commercial estate and grown an industry leading film location business used regularly by international productions. Completion of the Fitted Rigging House project further reinforces the Historic Dockyard’s position as a creative industries hub, supporting the delivery of the Trust’s charitable purpose of preservation and learning and contributing to the economic benefit driven by Medway’s flourishing creative sector.
85% of the commercial space in the Fitted Rigging House (South) has been pre let which will generate sustainable long-term revenues for the Trust, supporting the charity’s financial viability. The first tenants, Age UK, Ward Security, and Siemens will move in during November.
The Fitted Rigging House (South) project will be one of the first LUF funded projects to complete nationally and builds on the previous successful conversion of the Fitted Rigging House (North).
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a brilliant day out for the whole family filled with opportunities to learn about our naval heritage.
“I was delighted to open the Fitted Rigging House and it was fantastic to see all of the work going on to make this Dockyard not only an engaging museum and collection of heritage buildings but a unique creative facility and site for local businesses.
“Thanks to Government support for this redevelopment – including £2.2 million from the Levelling Up Fund – the Dockyard will also become a leading creative destination.”
Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KBC OBE DL, Chairman, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said:
“We were delighted that The Rt. Hon. Lucy Frazer KC MP was able to join us to formally open The Fitted Rigging House (South). We a champion a long-standing strategy of ‘preservation through re-use’ allowing us to bring historic buildings back into effective everyday use. The completion of this project sees one of our final underutilised buildings brought into sustainable re-use, extending the creative business cluster that is thriving within the Historic Dockyard estate, creating jobs and delivering significant economic benefit to the Medway region. The project would not have been possible without the generous support from the government’s Levelling Up Fund.”
The Rt. Hon. Kelly Tolhurst MP said: “As always, it was great to visit The Historic Dockyard Chatham, alongside the Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport to view the new Fitted Rigging House. The Historic Dockyard is an important part of our local heritage. I am constantly pushing Ministers for investment in our local assets, so I am glad to see the result of this funding we have secured. We all want to see the Historic Dockyard remain a cultural and economic hub, and its prosperity is vital in it continuing to attract more private investment into our communities.
Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust has worked tirelessly to deliver the project and I am glad that we have successfully made the case that the Dockyard is a great place for investment. I was elected on a platform of supporting our local economy and this is just a small part of the record levels of investment that our constituency is beginning to receive to deliver on plans to level-up and regenerate parts of our constituency.
My thanks to Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, Richard Morsley, Paul Barnard, and the rest of the team at the Dockyard for showing us around their latest development.”
Image: Admiral Sir Trevor Soar and Culture Secretary in the Ropery