Section of a well, HM Dockyard, Portsmouth, c 1825.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plan from a collection of documents, c 1797-1847, relating to the work of Simon Goodrich, mechanist to the Navy Board. Naval shipbuilding at Portsmouth dates from 1194, when Richard I ordered the construction of a dockyard in the town. In 1495, the world's first dry dock was built at Portsmouth, and Charles II awarded the dockyard its Royal status in 1670. In the 19th century the dockyard expanded as the Royal Navy grew, particularly after the introduction of steam propulsion. Portsmouth was at the forefront of incorporating many innovations in warship design, such as the first steam screw warship (1829) and the first oil-fired battleship (1913). After World War II, defence cuts drastically reduced the dockyard's workforce, and its last ship was launched in 1967.