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1764 - Plans for Development of the Dockyard

In 1764, the Earl of Egmount who was head of the Admiralty proposed a plan of improvements for Portsmouth Dockyard, which was laid before the King and approved. In the plan No 5 Dry Dock was to be lengthened and a site provided for the building of No 4 Dry Dock that was to be identical in size to No 5.Dock, although work on the new dock did not start until 1772.

The delay may have been due to a contract awarded to a Mr. Templar in 1765 for the rebuilding of the Basin entrance with the cill lowered by 2 ft. and also for lowering the bed of the Basin. It may well have been deemed necessary to complete this work before starting on the new dock. It would seem that work to No’s 4 & 5 Dry Docks along with the Basin was already planned before the 1764 plan was accepted.

There is a drawing in the PRO. Piece Number 560 dated 1766, entitled Contract drawing from Mr. Templar indicating a rebuild of No.5 Dock and new build of No.4. It would appear that he was responsible for all the work in the basin and of the dry docks at this time. The original estimates for the first part of the new Dockyard plan was £352,240 of which by the end of 1773 £299,912 had been laid out. The plan that was adopted continued for just on 40 years and apart from one or two deviations is what we now know as the Historic Georgian Dockyard of Portsmouth. These storehouses and even some of the workshops continued in service for the remainder of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some are still in service with the fleet to-day, in the twenty-first century and the substantiality of their structure stands as a testament to the far sightedness of the Navy Board of the 1770’s.

Part of the plan was for the creation of a new and larger Mast Pond. To be sited just west of the old one, work on this continued spasmodically until 1796 when it was cancelled. According to one authority if it had been allowed to continue it would have taken 176 years to complete and cost 132 million pounds at the rate it was proceeding.

Contract awarded to Messrs. Templar and Collard for the building of new slips, The slipways were covered by roofs and formed, together with the adjacent storage space for timber, on 14 acres of land reclaimed from mud lands during 1765.

The Great Storehouses. Considerable thought went into the design of the new storehouses and their sighting. Frequently in the older buildings inflammable materials were mixed with dry stores so that leakage from one soaked into the other. Often-inadequate ventilation and cramped storage led to mildew decaying perishable goods. The first of the great storehouses was No 11 or the North store, built in 1764 its design set the pattern for No’s 9 & 10 houses. The shoreline ran from the Main Gate almost in a straight line up to No. 11 storehouse, consequently the shoreline had to be reclaimed to build the new storehouses and form the jetty walls of the Camber and Watering Island. The Watering Island was originally part of a mud flat that was reclaimed and surrounded by stonewalls. The channel of water that separated the Watering Island

from the Dockyard is known as the South Camber; originally this was the western edge of the Dockyard and was faced with timber jetties. The Watering Island and South Camber wharfs were completed by 1785. The subsequent building dates for the three storehouses were No. 9 1784, No.10 1777 and No. 11 1764. Of these three building No.9 is virtually as it was built in 1784.