Although it is one of the world's largest maritime museums, the vast Historic Chatham Dockyard is only about a third of the size of the original port. The first Chatham Dockyard was one of the Royal Navy's principal facilities for several hundred years, and at its largest it covered 400 acres.
In 1984 it was decided that the naval base would close. The space was divided into sections of roughly equal size. The eastern-most section was given over to be a commercial port. Another part was redeveloped as a commercial and leisure development, whilst the final part was taken over by a group of dedicated volunteers.