Portsmouth was the oldest of the six royal dockyards, being the first to have a dry dock in 1495. Since the C18 it has been at the forefront of advanced technology to maintain the fleet. In 1906 the launch of HMS Dreadnought from Slip No. 5 signalled the production of modern warships. After the Second World War defence cuts gradually reduced operations at Portsmouth. As a result of the 1981 Defence Review, Portsmouth Naval Base became a Fleet Operating and Maintenance Base in October 1984, the southwest corner being released by the MoD as a heritage area. In 2010 the decision was taken to keep the carriers; Portsmouth is the only naval base that these very large ships can access all year round and has become the base port for Royal Navy surface vessels.
See Coats, A. (July 2006). The Block Mills: new labour practices for new machines? Ray Riley, (ed.), Transactions of the Naval Dockyards Society 1, Portsmouth Dockyard in the Age of Nelson, 2005 Conference (pp. 59-84). Also see ‘The Restoration of Portsmouth Dockyard Block Mills (built 1803) 2006–8 in Dockyards, 14(1), 14-18 (2009) and ‘A devastating day for Portsmouth’, Dockyards, 18(2), 21-23 (Dec 2013).
Photos taken by David Davies in 2006.