Naval Dockyards Society

Exploring the civil branches of navies & their material culture


The NDS began the Navy Board Project in 1998, recruiting volunteers to create a précis of subjects, people and ships contained within in-letters to the Navy Board at the Public Record Office (now The National Archives) and out-letters from the Navy Board to the Admiralty, held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Its outcome is an online catalogue and database, accessible through The National Archives catalogue, which can be interrogated, to aid and promote research into the history of dockyards and naval administration.

The NDS also supported and reported on Project Dockyard 2010: The History of Simon’s Town Dockyard, 1900–2010. Its outcome was Simon’s Town Dockyard – The First Hundred Years, compiled by Captain Bill Rice (SAN) Rtd, (Project Dockyard Oversight Committee, Simon’s Town Historical Society and South African Naval Heritage Trust, Simon’s Town, RSA, 2010) ISBN 978-0-620-47932-5, hbk large format, 249pp, numerous colour and b/w pictures.
As reported in Dockyards, 7(3) (Dec 2002), Bill Rice was Project Officer. The SA Naval Heritage Trust and Simon’s Town Historical Society joined forces to prepare a history of Simon’s Town Dockyard (East Yard) to commemorate the centenary of the commissioning of the Selbourne Graving Dock. Also see his article in Dockyards, 9(1) (Aug 2004) and a review of the book in Dockyards, 16(1 ) (June 2011).


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.

This extensive report is the product of three years of sustained archival and field research into the C20 built environment of these dockyards by members of the Naval Dockyards Society, completed to Historic England standards. It contains 650 maps, plans, models and photographs, many in colour, and is enriched by discussions with many institutions, societies and individuals.

It places C20 dockyards within historical, military, industrial, material, personnel, engineering and architectural contexts. Developing the local, national and international profiles of Devonport and Portsmouth dockyards, it adds to our knowledge and understanding of why and how they changed during the C20 and initiates future research by asking questions.

An important baseline reference book for the future interpretation and management of the two remaining operational English dockyards, it distinguishes which buildings are typical of the C20 naval dockyards and of unique interest, combining data, narrative and analysis.

See C20 Naval Dockyards for downloadable copy of the Report