Webpage created: February 02, 2016
Webpage updated: June 16, 2018
Devonport's Royal Dockyard has consisted of four separate yards plus outlying departments such as the Royal William Victualling Yard at East Stonehouse, the Powder Magazine at Keyham, the Naval Ordnance Depot at Bull Point, the Royal Naval Oil Fuel Depot at Thanckes, and the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Ernesettle, all of which came under the control of the Admiral Superintendent of the Dockyard, the chief officer of the Dockyard until that post was abolished in 1967, when the first General Manager was appointed. There was also a convict ship attached to the Dockyard at one time.
The first dock was built in 1691 at Point Froward in the Hamoaze at the instigation of King William III upon finding that the dastardly French had built a naval yard just across the English Channel. The Yard was extended several times and new leases obtained from the landowner at the time. Many warships and Dockyard craft were launched from South Yard, ending with HMS "Scylla" in 1968.
Further to the north the Board of Ordnance built the Gun Wharf between 1718 and 1725 to replace a smaller one at Mount Wise. The Board of Ordnance was abolished in 1855 and it then came under the War Department. They created an Army Ordnance Depot at Bull Point, in the parish of Saint Budeaux, which in 1891 was split to create a Naval Ordnance Depot on the same site. When the Gunwharf finally became a part of the Admiralty and the Royal Dockyard in 1941 it was named Morice Yard.
To the north of that again was the Keyham Steam Yard, constructed between 1846 and 1864. The tunnel between the South Yard and North Yard was constructed in 1857. It was all linked by the Dockyard Railway in 1867. A piece of the Steam Yard was given over to the Royal Naval Engineering College in 1880. In November 1903 it was decreed that the original Dockyard, surrounding the First Dock, should be known as South Yard and the Keyham Steam Yard as North Yard. A general reorganisation of Royal Dockyards took effect at the start of 1906. The North Yard Extension was completed in 1907 and the Yard's first 75-ton crane installed in 1908. The Central Offices were occupied in October 1911. The main body of the Royal Dockyard then extended from Mutton Cove as far north as Weston Mill Creek. In 1921 the Royal Naval Oil Fuel Depot at Thanckes, on the Cornish side of the Hamoaze, was opened.
Developments since the end of the Second
World War have included the extension and abandonment of South Yard, the
flyovers to link the Yards, the closure of the
Dockyard Railway, the
disbanding of the Dockyard Fire Brigade, the creation of a Dockyard Museum,
the opening and abandonment of the apprentices' training centre, the
building of the
(1970-77) and Submarine Refit Complex, and the
privatisation of the Dockyard management.