Ministers visit Chatham's historic dockyard

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The Smithery
Image caption,
Jeremy Hunt visited the dockyard's No 1 Smithery

Two government ministers have visited a Kent attraction which is bidding for World Heritage Site status.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Mr John Penrose MP, Minister for Tourism and Heritage, visited the Historic Dockyard in Chatham on Thursday.

Mr Hunt said the site had "encouraged philanthropy and developed innovative partnerships between local and national institutions".

"It's wonderful to be able to see this first hand," he said.

The bid for World Heritage Site status was made by Medway Council in 2007.

The UK government proposes one World Heritage Site a year, and if selected Chatham's application could be submitted in 2012, the same year Medway will compete for city status.

The proposed site includes Fort Amherst, Upnor Castle, Brompton village and barracks, the Pembroke site's former naval barracks which are now part of Medway's university campus, and the Great Lines.

The world heritage list, run by Unesco, encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the globe.

In March 2010, the site was awarded a £550,000 government grant for improvements, including the No 1 Smithery which the ministers visited.

Bill Ferris, chief executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said of the ministerial visit: "They were clearly impressed by the Trust's approach to 'preservation through re-use' and our mixed income model which includes rental, visitor income and other trading activity such as rope making."

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