Naval Dockyards Society

Exploring the civil branches of navies & their material culture

C20 Naval Dockyards

20th Century Naval Dockyards: Devonport and Portsmouth Characterisation Report

Coats, A., Davies, J. D., Evans, D., and Riley, R. (2015)
Portsmouth: Naval Dockyards Society
ISBN 978-0-9929292-0-6
ebook ISBN 978-0-9929292-2-0

After three years’ work by the NDS research team this report was published in 2015, launched on 13 November at the National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth.

The report was commissioned by Historic England to become an important baseline reference for the future interpretation and management of the two remaining operational English dockyards, distinguishing which buildings are typical of the twentieth century naval dockyards and of unique interest. Published by the Naval Dockyards Society with sponsorship by the National Museum of the Royal Navy, it was appropriate that the launch should be hosted by the Museum within Storehouse No. 11, itself bombed and threatened with demolition during the twentieth century. Opening the launch:

  • Matthew Sheldon, Executive Director of Heritage, National Museum of the Royal Navy
  • Wayne Cocroft, Senior Investigator Historic England
  • Jonathan Coad, architectural historian with the Ancient Monuments Board, then the Royal Commission of Historic Monuments England and English Heritage, who gave a short talk on Twentieth Century Dockyards: What next?

The product of three years of sustained archival and field research into twentieth century English dockyards, the report places them within historical, military, industrial, material, personnel, engineering and architectural contexts. It adds to our knowledge and understanding of why and how they changed during the twentieth century and initiates future research by asking questions. Enriched by discussions with many institutions, societies and individuals, it combines data, narrative and analysis. It contains 650 illustrations of maps, plans, models and photographs of Portsmouth and Devonport Dockyards.

Our thanks to

  • Matthew Sheldon, Giles Gould, Emma Bain and Natalie Watson of the National Museum of the Royal Navy for providing the venue, refreshments and organisation for the launch
  • Jonathan Coad, our wise adviser throughout the project
  • Wayne Cocroft and Paddy O’Hara of Historic England who guided the research
  • Gail Baird of Tricorn Books who designed and delivered the book http://www.tricornbooks.co.uk
  • Councillor Frank Jonas, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth
  • Peter Missen who took the photographs
  • Judith Webberley who distributed books

The Report is now live and free to download on the NDS website:

Part 1 Historical Background and Characterisation
pp. 1-76 and illustrations

Part 2 Devonport Dockyard in the Twentieth Century
pp. 77-104 and illustrations

Part 3 Portsmouth Dockyard in the Twentieth Century
pp. 105-204 and illustrations

Part 4 Conclusions, Recommendations, Appendices and References
pp. 205-406

Launch pictures show keen discussions and enjoyment

  1. Authors (l-r): Professor Ray Riley, Dr David Evans, Jonathan Coad, Dr Ann Coats and Dr David Davies
  2. Jonathan Coad, Project Adviser, giving his speech   J.Coad’s Speech
  3. Matthew Sheldon, Executive Director of Heritage, National Museum of the Royal Navy, and Dr Ann Coats, Project Manager and author
  4. Councillor Frank Jonas, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, a former Portsmouth Dockyard Apprentice
  5. The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Julian Malec and Dr Ann Coats
  6. Gail Baird of Tricorn Books who designed and delivered the book from the printers, (literally that afternoon) and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth
  7. Wayne Cocroft, Senior Investigator Historic England, and Dr Celia Clark, NDS Committee
  8. Paddy O’Hara, Historic England Archaeological Projects officer and Ann Coats, discussing the 1938 Portsmouth Dockyard Model
  9. (l-r) Archie Malley, Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Historical Trust Support Group, Professor Ray Riley, Portsmouth researcher, Dr Ann Coats and Paddy O’Hara discussing the 1938 Portsmouth Dockyard Model
  10. Dr Celia Clark and Professor Ray Riley
  11. Professor Ray Riley and Deane Clark, NDS member
  12. Deane Clark
  13. Roger Thomas, author of Dreadnoughts in Camera. Building the Dreadnoughts 1905–1920 and NDS member
  14. (l) Victoria Ingles, Senior Heritage Project Officer, National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth with (r) Jenny Wraight, Admiralty Librarian, Royal Navy Naval Historical Branch, Portsmouth, both of whom gave invaluable assistance to the project.
  15. Professor Ray Riley and Dr David Davies, Project Executive

The Report is also live on the Historic England website:
http://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/twentieth-century-naval-dockyards-devonport-portsmouth-characterisation-report/
and linked to the Historic England maritime military page:
https://historicengland.org.uk/research/current-research/assessing-significance/military/maritime-military-heritage/