Dockyard to create around 100 jobs

The Joiners Shop,Revamp, Chatham Docks. Allison Sweeney , centre manager with the key
The Joiners Shop,Revamp, Chatham Docks. Allison Sweeney , centre manager with the key

Around 100 jobs should be created in a 19th century dockyard building after a £3.3million facelift.

The Joiner’s Shop in Chatham Historic Dockyard has been given a new lease of life as a centre for creative business.

More than 100 jobs could eventually be based in the 44 units in the listed ancient monument that has high ceilings, good natural light and bags of character to inspire people in arts, crafts and design.

For nearly two centuries, in the Royal Navy’s heyday, around 60 joiners made ship fittings and elegant furniture for the captain’s cabin.

A table made in 1880 from wood from HMS Resolute ended up in the Oval Office of the White House and used by US presidents to the present day.

The new centre, funded by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and the Department for Communities and Local Government, aims to increase the prominence of creative industries in Medway.

At the moment, just 3.5 per cent of local jobs are in that sector, compared to 13 per cent across the south east.

Jeremy Herring, SEEDA’s development manager, said they had looked at other possible buildings across Medway but the joiner’s shop - restored by Sandwich-based Cardy Construction in a nine-month project - proved the best option.

"Although we are in difficult times, there will be businesses which will be growing and we need to provide support to help them," he said.

Bill Ferris, chief executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, welcomed the development.

"What better way could there be of marking our anniversary than to turn a building that was formerly a hive of production and activity into a brand new creative industries centre," he said.

Space ranges from 117 sq ft to 1,439 sq ft, including incubators for start-ups. Alison Sweeney, centre manager for Basepoint Developments, which manages the centre,, said rents were reasonable with easy-in-easy-out terms. A small unit, for example, would cost just over £200 a month, with all services, excluding electricity, included in the price.

Six businesses have already moved into the centre, with two more due to go in soon. "I’m determined it will succeed and hopefully will be full by July," she said.

• Details about office space from Allison Sweeney on 01634 816000 or email

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