The Fitted Rigging House, a previously run down, underused building in Chatham Historic Dockyard, has been transformed into a flourishing business hub, thanks to a multi-million pound lottery grant.
Arts, Heritage and Tourism Minister, Michael Ellis, formally opened the awarding-winning venue’ s latest capital renovation project .
The funding has been ploughed into providing the historic Grade II listed workshop with rental space for commercial tenants and a volunteers’ centre.
It will also house the dockyard’s “nationally important” library and archives with improved visitor access.
The building, which dates back to 1793, provided accommodation for dockyard workers to make warships’ standing rigging and a storehouse for new equipment.
Two anchor tenants Dovetail Games, a Medway-based video game producer and Ward Security, an established national company, have already moved in. A third building services and environmental consultancy is looking to relocate early next year.
The overall £8.2 million scheme has unlocked and secured the long-term future of the 80-acre historic dockyard site with its 100 historic buildings. Its unprecedented collection of Georgian structures make it the world’s most complete dockyard of the age of sail.
Bill Ferris, chief executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said: “This project marks a significant point in the historic dockyard’s history.
“Creating 21st century spaces within historic buildings is something we have undertaken for many years and this project extends the creative business cluster that is thriving within the site.”
The total of about £70m grant-funded investment since 1984 when the former naval base closed, has turned a near derelict site into a well-restored, world-class heritage location with a thriving mixed-use community.
The completion of the Fitted Rigging House project significantly increases rental income achieved and brings the total contribution made to the Medway economy to £26.3 million.