'Launch at Deptford Dockyard', c 1750.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Detail from an oil painting by John Cleveley the Elder, showing a warship being launched in front of the Master Shipwright's house. The Royal Naval Dockyard at Deptford was established in the early 16th century by Henry VIII. It was the Royal Navy's main shipbuilding dockyard until overtaken in importance by Chatham in the 17th century. Deptford continued to be important as a location for repairing Royal Navy vesels until it closed in 1869. The Master Shipbuilder was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the day-to-day operation of the dockyard.