This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways, BOAC and BEA. You can browse the full series of 100 stories in numerical order, by theme or by decade.
The Chatham Dockyard livery was first introduced in June 1997 as part of a now infamous rebranding of BA known as “Project Utopia”.
It takes its name from the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent. The tail fin bears a red, white and blue interpretation of the Union Flag, the official name of the national flag for the United Kingdom.
Based on the original flag used by Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the Chatham Dockyard livery was created for BA by the Admiral’s Original Flag Loft factory in Chatham which had made flags for more than 400 years. The factory has since closed.
Originally, only Concorde was to feature the Chatham Dockyard livery with all other aircraft being painted in up to 50 different tail fins featuring images developed by artists from around the world.
However, all aircraft were to bear a new BA logo and three dimensional speedmarque towards the nose of the aircraft.
Following an adverse public reaction to the World Images tail fins, BA initially decided to paint half of aircraft in the Chatham Dockyard livery, before deciding to withdraw the World Images tail fins altogether.
20 years on, the Chatham Dockyard livery has remained to this day, albeit with slight modifications. All aircraft are painted in bright white rather than pearl white (Concorde always had to be painted bright white for technical reasons) and many aircraft now feature the BA “To Fly. To Serve.” crest.
BA’s new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft also feature the Chatham Dockyard flag on its wing-tips.