There used to be two mast ponds in the dockyard - the north and south ponds. Only the north pond survives; the south pond was filled in decades ago and is now a car park.
The north pond, bordered by the old railway lines from Gillingham, normally stands full of water as it would have done when it contained the masts of the tall ships built and repaired at the dockyard. When I went to the dockyard in September
2008, the pond had been drained.
A panorama looking North across the drained North Mast Pond in Chatham Dockyard.
Looking North across the drained North Mast Pond in Chatham Dockyard - the northern corner of the Mast Pond.
From here you can see the benches and anchors on the north corner of the mast pond.
Looking northwest along the gangway running across the drained North Mast Pond in Chatham Dockyard.
There are a lot of mineral deposits around the supports of the gangway - it's possible that one of the reasons the mast pond was drained was to clear these away. To the left you can see one of the dockyard's covered slipways; the original South Mast Pond
was under the car park in front of the slipway.
A flowering plant grows from the edge of the drained North Mast Pond in Chatham Dockyard. The steel ring is one of many set into the concrete around the edge of the mast pond.
I'm not too sure what the metal rings are for - they're around six inches in diameter but I'm not sure there would ever have been boats in the mast pond.
There are also two strange-looking white deposits in the mud - there were quite a lot of these on the bottom of the pond when I visited.