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Deptford Dockyard
John Cleveley the elder

Deptford Dockyard was an important dockyard and naval base at Deptford on the River Thames, operated by the Royal Navy from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. It built and maintained warships for 350 years, and many significant events and ships have been associated with it.

Founded by Henry VIII in 1513, the dockyard was the most significant royal dockyard of the Tudor period and remained
one of the principal naval yards for three hundred years. Important new technological and organisational developments were trialled here, and Deptford came to be associated with the great mariners of the time, including Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh. The yard expanded rapidly throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, encompassing a large area and serving for a time as the headquarters of naval administration, and became the Victualling Board's main depot. Tsar Peter the Great visited the yard officially incognito in 1698 to learn shipbuilding techniques.

Reaching its zenith in the eighteenth century, it built and refitted exploration ships used by Cook, Vancouver and Bligh, and warships which fought under Nelson. The dockyard declined in importance after the Napoleonic Wars. Its location upriver on the Thames made access difficult, and the shallow narrow river hampered navigation of the large new warships. The dockyard was largely inactive after 1830, and though shipbuilding briefly returned in the 1840s the navy closed the yard in 1869.

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