Thursday

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards

What I hadn't realised about the 40s was just how glamorous a set of victory rolls could be.

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

For those who already appreciate how glamorous the 1940s were, I send my apologies. For me it took a trip to a dockyard in Chatham, in Kent to have this lightbulb moment.


Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

The event took place last weekend at the Historic Chatham Dockyards and takes place every year over one weekend and is called Salute to the 40s.

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac


Men were dressed in outfits such as military uniforms, or suits and trilby hats, while American GI's whizzed around in jeeps looking a little bit flash, I have to admit.

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac


Ladies with red lipstick were in heels and stockings with the seams up the back and their hair in victory curls.

Familiar songs from the era drifted across the site from the main stage while visitors wandered in and out of ships, stopped at vintage stalls and into the No. 3 covered slip with its impressive timber frame.

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac


We headed towards the Commissioner's House built in 1703 in search of afternoon tea. Up the main staircase a man was pointing to a ceiling out of view. I couldn't help myself, I had to have a look too. Directly above the stairs a colourful Baroque scene emerged depicting Roman gods and figures holding symbolic objects representing justice and peace.

A moment later a lady called Theresa who works for the Historic Chatham Dockyard had swept us upstairs for a brief tour of the wonderful house. She informed us that the ceiling was a series of wooden panels that had been designed for the interior of a ship called the Royal Sovereign. Just before the ship's destruction, fortune preserved it however when the Commissioner took a liking to it and requested that it be installed at his house instead.

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac


The painting is attributed to the artist Thomas Highmore, who trained Thornhill, who later became distinguished for his celebrated work at Greenwich. This ceiling of a slightly earlier period also makes an impressive statement.

Our talk finished on the balcony overlooking the garden where a four hundred year old mulberry tree, now propped up is still producing fruit. It is reputedly under this tree that Oliver Cromwell sat and looked across the Medway, when nearby Rochester was taken by the Roundhead army.

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac


Outside again and we met a man called Joe who was collecting for a fund to restore the Medway Queen. Next to him was a replica of the boat that is currently docked at Gillingham pier. This local paddle steamer saved over 7,000 men after the battle of Dunkirk. For seven days the boat kept crossing the English channel to fill the boat with as many lives as she could carry back to safety. She even helped save men from a small vessel that was floundering on its return journey and packed with rescued soldiers. It's an incredible tale and it would be wonderful if they were able to raise the funds they need to restore this special piece of maritime history. Click on Medway Queen to go to their website and find out more about this vessel.

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

A little further on we passed HMS Cavalier, built in 1944 and once the fastest ship in the fleet. She looked resplendent with all the flags fluttering in the wind and I was sorry we didn't have time to board her.

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac


Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

Everyone had started to wind down but there was still time for me to find out what it was like to look like a 1940s lass. We headed to where Hollywood Howdy Do's were offering vintage and make up services. In a flash Nina also of Locksilicious had rolled up the front of my hair and with a few pins had added a hair net. It was amazing to see how transformative it felt having this new hair style. I loved it. And for once I've added some pictures of me. I'm a little camera shy so don't be harsh when you see my camera face.

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

Days Out near London - Salute to the 40s at Chatham Dockyards, photos by modern bric a brac

With thanks to Salute to the 40s for two complimentary tickets. The 40s hairstyle cost £15 and thanks to Daisy at Hollywood Howdy Do's for taking the pictures of me.

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TE

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