Woolwich Dockyard

Woolwich Dockyard

Woolwich Dockyard was an English naval dockyard founded by King Henry VIII in 1512 to build his flagship "Henri Grace a Dieu" ("Great Harry"), the largest ship of its day.

Like its counterpart at Deptford, it was probably chosen for its position - on the south bank of the tidal River Thames conveniently close to Henry's palace at Greenwich.

Its facilities ultimately included two large dry docks, a substantial basin (now used by local anglers), numerous storehouses, a gatehouse and clockhouse, gun bastions, and, in later years, a large metal-working factory used to produce anchors and other iron items used in shipbuilding.

Engineer Samuel Bentham was an apprentice shipwright at the dockyard during the 1770s.

As ships grew bigger and the Thames began to silt up, the dockyard eventually closed in 1869, but some of its features still remain, while Woolwich Dockyard railway station reminds commuters weekly of the history of the area.

Notable ships launched at the dockyards

*1512-14— "Henri Grace a Dieu" ("Great Harry"); flagship of Henry VIII.
*1751HMS "Dolphin"; circumnavigated the globe twice.
*1756HMS "Royal George"; her sinking in 1782 one of the worst disasters in Royal Navy history, around 800 lives lost.
*1805HMS "Ocean"; second-rate Ship of the line, flagship of Lord Collingwood.
*1809HMS "Macedonian"; frigate captured by United States during the War of 1812.
*1820HMS "Beagle"; ship used on naturalist Charles Darwin's famous voyage.


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