The Chatham Docks – a small but mighty port servicing southern England

Martin Hughes, Marine Services Manager for Chatham Docks, discusses the capabilities of the Chatham Docks, part of Peel Ports London Medway cluster.    

Close to London and stretching over 27.3 miles of the Rivers Medway and Swale, lies Peel Ports’ London Medway cluster – the core of which are the ports of Sheerness and Chatham.

With an enviably strategic location on the Thames Estuary, onward journeys to northern Europe are efficiently serviced and cargos coming into the ports can take advantage of inland locations – a perfect combination. 

Located downriver from Sheerness, along the River Medway and in-between Rochester and Gillingham, the Chatham Docks is a small but mighty port instrumental in servicing project cargo customers, particularly from the construction industry in the South East and London shipping bulk items including large silos and even wind turbines.

An inland-river port with a lock system, Chatham is perfectly positioned to support bulkier project cargo shipments thanks to its inland location, minimising road miles for large items and getting cargo closer to where it needs to be – maximising efficiency and reducing delays caused by road transport. Work completed in the last year means that there are now no weight restrictions for the site, further enhancing our project cargo capabilities.

A recent project completed with BAM Nuttall highlights the full extent of the services offered at the Chatham Docks. One of the UK’s largest construction and civil engineering companies, BAM Nuttall enlisted the services of the port while creating an oil terminal jetty at Canvey Island.

With jetty components measuring up to 36m built offsite and transported to Chatham via road haulage, the parts were then loaded on to a barge and transported onwards to site for assembly. Not only did this allow BAM Nuttall to minimise the road miles of the oversized cargo – providing both environmental benefits and cost savings – using the port at Chatham provided a more efficient solution. This was due to the consistently still water from the lock system keeping levels at 8m deep at all times, allowing our customer to unload cargo in two days as opposed to four. 

The lock system is beneficial for a number of different customers, allowing for the quicker unloading of cargo once it reaches its final location. Given the nature of the varying cargo requirements of the construction companies utilising the port, the deep-water facilities and project cargo offering means a tailor-made handling and journey solution can be agreed.

Staying within the construction industry, a leading manufacturer and supplier of aggregates for the construction industry has a weekly cement shipment to Chatham, involving large vessels of up to 7000t, supporting construction activity in the South East and London. The company takes advantage of the Peel Ports network across the UK, utilising the in-river terminal on the Manchester Ship Canal for cement.

At Peel Ports we have always prided ourselves on offering the best facilities and comprehensive services for customers. The focused project cargo service at Chatham Docks means that a variety of services for industries operating across southern England can be accommodated each and every time.

For more information on Peel Ports’ services at Chatham, visit

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