Naval Dockyards Society

Exploring the civil branches of navies & their material culture

Grants for 5 Dockyard Projects

Naval Dockyards Society announces 5 Dockyard Project Grants

Who knows where an initial discovery can lead? Historic England investigated the dismantling site of Charles Darwin’s exploration ship Beagle, which sailed to South America and twice circumnavigated the world (Hunt for Darwin’s HMS Beagle Reveals Dock Outline)
This has led to the listing of a mud dock berth at Paglesham, Essex as a Scheduled Monument ( The list entry also recognises Beagle’s later career as a Coastguard Watch Vessel and the rarity of surviving mud docks. Such legacies have many meanings to local maritime communities and can become critical in enhancing local engagement in dockyard heritage.

Such small beginnings can stimulate local volunteers to carry out research into the dockyard site, write histories about its ships and people and hold open days. Thus the community learns about its evolving landscape, crafts and society, which ties it to larger stories. This can lead to more permanent sites, volunteer opportunities, and engagement with schools and visitors.

Through the hard work of committee members and the generosity of members, the Naval Dockyards Society has accumulated a small surplus of funds beyond those needed for forthcoming publications. The 2020 AGM agreed that this could be used to support a dockyard museum/dockyard heritage site project. The Society will award five grants of £1,000 each, to help fulfil the NDS Constitution Aim and specific Objectives:


To stimulate the production and exchange of information and research into naval dockyards and associated organisations. The Naval Dockyards Society is an international organisation which is concerned with and publishes material on naval dockyards and associated activities, including victualling, medicine, ordnance, shipbuilding, shipbreaking, coastguard stations, naval air stations, provisions and supplies; all aspects of their construction, history, archaeology, conservation, workforce, surrounding communities and family history; and all aspects of their buildings, structures and monuments relating to naval history. The Society is therefore involved closely in the terrestrial, aviation and underwater heritage of all these sites.

Specific Constitution Objectives to:

5 Increase public awareness of historic dockyards and related sites.

6 Create links with related organisations in Britain and abroad.

7 Coordinate and promote new research into the topics relevant to the Aim.

8 Coordinate the historical, architectural and technical expertise available within the society to enhance dockyard sites and campaign against threats of damage or the destruction of dockyards or related sites.

10 Endeavour to increase access to historic dockyards and related sites.

12 Offer assistance to those establishing dockyard heritage sites.

13 Encourage the storage and collection of relevant archives and oral history interviews related to dockyard history.

The NDS wishes to support a small dockyard museum or heritage site organisation anywhere in the world, such as a not-for-profit organisation with 0-5 employed staff or an elected committee, with a constitution and annual member meetings. This sum could make a real difference to the future enhancement of a worthy museum or site.

What is a dockyard and a dockyard museum or dockyard heritage site?

A dockyard builds, fits out, supplies and repairs naval ships. Dockyards are defined by dry docks, from which water can be drained or pumped out for repairing or dismantling, whereas shipbuilding can be carried out on a slip, but the term was sometimes used where the yard did not have a dock. A dockyard was literally the yard that grew around the dock. The term implies naval ownership, but in this instance also encompasses commercial yards which built for the navy.

A dockyard museum or dockyard heritage site comprises groups of buildings or structures which, because of their distinctive architecture, fabric or their place in the landscape, display historical, aesthetic, communal and social value. This could be tangibly or intangibly associated with events or living traditions, ideas, beliefs, artistic and literary works of significance.

See Dockyard Project Grant Application Guidance 2020

Ann Coats

10 June 2020 (modified 16/06/2020)