The Docking Station: Industry Hub of the Past to Innovation Space of the Future

Police Section House, a Grade II listed building has seen many exciting things in its 164-year history. Set on Chatham’s Historic Dockyard, it was built in 1857 to replace the previous building and house Fire Watchers and Guards of the Dockyard who played a crucial role in the successful delivery of shipping building and repair, a key sector of industry at the time. Members of the Royal Navy used the important docks to maintain their ships for over 400 years.

The Chatham Dockyard was a hub of activity that shaped the future for generations. Great seamen like Sir Francis Drake and Lord Nelson passed through these waters, linking the dockyard to some of the most important events in history including The Spanish Armada and The Cold War. By the mid-18th Century, the shipping hub developed into the world’s largest industrial organisations, employing thousands and shaping the world we live in today.

Although the dockyard officially closed its industrial doors in 1984 to become a tourist attraction, the latest plans for the area show that it doesn’t only serve as a shrine of the past, but that of the future.

With construction planned for 2024, The Docking Station is being developed by The University of Kent’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi). A high-quality international creative digital hub that provides cutting edge technologies, performance and training opportunities. Working with partners Medway Council and Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, The Docking Station will place creative and cultural industries at the heart of the regeneration plans for the last remaining undeveloped part of the former Dockyard site.

Dynamic cultural centre 

Facilities at the location will include a community café and social spaces, gallery and exhibition spaces, workshops, flexible teaching areas, a state-of-the-art immersive digital interactive space and a start-up/accelerator zone. Located between the University’s Pembroke campus and the Historic Dockyard facilities, The Docking Station will be home to iCCi, an initiative that aims to equip students with the creative, digital and entrepreneurial skills required by a thriving, dynamic cultural sector.

Doctor Gloria Appiah, lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Kent Business School is incredibly excited about the new project. She says:

“We can’t wait for the planned construction of an Accelerator Space at the Dockyard. In particular, the start-up and accelerator zone will be central to the Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme with students having access to world class facilities and the opportunity to interact and be inspired by other entrepreneurs and innovators in a relaxed and creative environment.”

Professor Catherine Richardson, Director of iCCi, said: ‘We are very excited to be moving to the next phase of this important project. The imaginative new spaces that the building will offer for working, learning and creating are central to the distinctive kinds of work we do at iCCi, and they will be crucial to our region’s post-Covid economic, social and cultural recovery. Docking Station will give the partners and their communities a beacon building from which to create our collective futures.’

Kent County Council, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and the university see The Docking Station as a key opportunity to support the delivery of Medway’s new Cultural Strategy, which sets out the area’s vision to develop and improve its cultural offer, as well as provide more opportunities for Medway’s residents. The ambitious 10-year strategy also sets out Medway’s aim to be nationally and internationally recognised for the area’s creativity and culture, including its ambition to become the UK City of Culture in 2025.

Aspiring entrepreneur of the future? Find out more about our BSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree course.

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