BookPick: Support for the Fleet
The author of this monumental work is Jonathan Coad, a former Inspector of Ancient Monuments. He is a Vice-President of the Society for Nautical Research and a former President of the Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Support for the Fleet traces the architectural and engineering works in the Royal Navy’s shore bases at home and overseas and the political imperatives and technologies that helped shape them up to the First World War.
Based on 45 years’ detailed research, the book concentrates on the remarkable legacy of surviving structures. These bring to vivid life the varied requirements of the sailing navy and its steam-driven successor, and are reflected in successive dockyard remodellings and expansions throughout the world, a remarkable number of which survive to this day to be discovered by the interested reader. Revealed as well are the close links that developed with a rapidly industrialising Britain at the end of the eighteenth century, showing contributions of figures such as Samuel Bentham, Thomas Telford and James Watt.
The influence of the Royal Engineers is traced from early beginnings in the 1700s to their major role in the dockyard expansions from the late 1830s into the twentieth century. The architectural development of victualling and ordnance yards, naval hospitals, schools and coaling stations are all described, together with their key contributions to Great Britain’s long naval supremacy.
To give an idea of the extent of the coverage in this splendid volume, for the prospective reader I’m going to list the chapter headings –
- 1 The Royal Dockyards in Great Britain, 1700-1835
2 The Royal Dockyards in Great Britain, 1835-1914
3 Planning and Building the Royal Dockyards to 1795
4 Planning and Building the Royal Dockyards, 1795-1914
5 Engineering Works of the Sailing Navy, 1700-1835
6 Buildings of the Sailing Navy
7 Dockyard Housing, Offices and Chapels
8 Buildings and Engineering Works of the Steam Navy, 1835-1914
9 Growth of Empire: The Overseas Bases of the Sailing Navy, 1700-1835
10 Heyday of Empire: The Overseas Bases, 1835-1914
11 The Mediterranean Bases: Buildings and Engineering Works, 1700-1914
12 The West Indies and North American Bases: Buildings and Engineering Works, 1700-1914
13 South Atlantic and Australian Bases: Buildings and Engineering Works, 1700-1914
14 Feeding the Fleet: The Royal Victualling Yards
15 Naval Ordnance Yards
16 Care of the Sick and Wounded: Naval Hospitals
17 Barracks and Training Establishments
Support for the Fleet is copiously illustrated with maps, plans and photographs. Although an expensive volume, this lively and informative work to my mind stands to the forefront as the definitive guide to the importance and workings of the Royal Navy bases and has to be the ‘go to’ source for this other half of naval life for many years to come. It is highly recommended.
Jonathan Coad Support for the Fleet
Published by English Heritage. ISBN 978-1-84802-055-9
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