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Admirals Offices, 1808

Scheduled Ancient Monument

Built as office accommodation for the Master Shipwright and other principal officers of the Dockyard, this building was designed by the Navy Board’s architect, Edward Holl. Its roof-line was kept deliberately low to avoid interference with the view from Officers’ Terrace behind.

During the 20th century it was extended both on the Clocktower side of the building and at the back – both serving to reduce the impact of Holl’s original symmetrical design. In 1832 the Navy Board was abolished and the Admiralty Board took over the running of the Royal Dockyard with naval officers, first Captains and later Admirals placed in charge. Later on it became the offices of the Port Admiral.

Today a range of different 21st century companies have offices within the building.


Assistant Queen Harbour Master’s Office, c.1770

Scheduled Ancient Monument

This building was constructed next to the Queen’s Stairs, which was the main entry point to the Dockyard from the river during 18th century. This office was built for the Dockyard’s two Master Attendants, who were Principal Officers and were responsible for the ships moored in the river, either in Ordinary or waiting repair and for the trades involved in Fitting Ships for Sea.

In 1865 the whole of the River Medway was designated as a Dockyard Port under the control of the King or Queen’s Harbourmaster, a post held by a senior officer of the Dockyard. The Assistant Harbourmaster worked from this building, responsible for all moorings and ship movements that affected the Navy’s use of the river.

In the 20th century the large mast to the left of the building flew the flag of the Port Admiral.


Main Gate, 1722

Scheduled Ancient Monument

This imposing building was the main entrance to the Dockyard. Completed in 1722 in ‘Vanbrugh style’ its first coat of arms of George I now sits on the inside face of the building. It was replaced on the outside in 1811 with the arms of George III.

The gate provided homes for two junior officials, the Yard Porter and Boatswain. The Yard Porter watched over all those who would enter and exit the site.

Workers would have been mustered by the tolling of the muster bell, which is just to the right of the gate. During the Napoleonic Wars, when fears of spies were at their height, Quartermen, or gang leaders, from each trade were required to personally identify each of their men entering the yard. A practice repeated during the world wars of the 20th century.


Guard House, 1764

Scheduled Ancient Monument

The Seven Years War (1756-63) raised the threat of invasion and landward attack to the dockyard as well as increasing concerns about the risks of spies and saboteurs.

A new Guard House was built in 1764 to house a force of Marines brought in to supplement dockyard security at Main Gate. The external timber colonnade was added in 1813.

In 1834 the Marines were replaced by a uniformed Dockyard Police force and it, and its successors, occupied the Guard House until the Dockyard closed in 1984. Today the building is used for office accommodation.


The Cashier’s Office, Late 18th Century

Scheduled Ancient Monument

This substantial building was constructed for the pay clerks and other staff of the Clerk of the Cheque. It was originally a single-storey structure with the upper floors being added later on. John Dickens, father of Charles Dickens, worked as a pay clerk in this building between 1817 and 1822. Paid £200 per year, he attended the regular muster of all the artisans and labourers employed in the Dockyard and met arriving ships to pay the crews. Charles Dickens made many visits to the Dockyard, both then and later, writing some of his experience in his book The Uncommercial Traveller.

The building remains in use as an office today.