Maritime History > Harbours and Dockyards

Chatham Royal Dockyard - Sail and Colour Loft


Or in our case a visitor to our factory from somewhere in Africa or South America or where ever saw their flag up our flagpole.....
Those Singer sewing machines brought back back memories of the last days of our bargeyard and sailmakers at Bevan's Northfleet.


They needed to have the national ensigns of all maritime nations aboard.  When a civilian ship enters the territorial waters of another nation it must fly a "courtesy flag" indicating that the ship accepts she is under the rules of the country she is visiting.  The flag must be flown above all others on the halyard from the starboard spreader.

40 years ago my employer would send me to a 'Flag loft' in the London docks (Isle of Dogs? I can't remember now! ) Eventually they closed and I went to this one at Chatham. I only saw the front counter with flags furled in large 'pigeon holes.'  It did amaze me that they seemed to have even the most obscure national flags.

Here are some pics I took in the Sail and Colour Loft in about 2011. We were clearing it out prior to the building's conversion into offices:

In the Attic:

[/size]The winch is for moving heavy objects between floors. There's a set of trap doors on every floor below it.

Top Floor:

2nd Floor (I think!)

A picture showing one of the recycled ship's timbers making up the frame of the building:

These doors open out about 20 feet above the ground. There's a crane attached to the outside of the building, for lowering completed sails onto waiting vehicles on the road below:

The doors leading to the 2nd floor. Notice the rollers:

Original "Government Property" toilet paper:

Finally, a picture of the Sail and Colour Loft in action:



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