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Dockyard at Ireland Island, a Royal Navy base from 1815 to 1950s
British Atlantic and Caribbean islands from the USA, a convoy center in WW2, now
chief cruise ships port
Archibald Forbes (see About
Us) exclusively for Bermuda
Other files on
Bermuda by this author relating to military matters and civil aviation include Airlines
serving Bermuda - American
Bases in Bermuda from 1941 to 1995 - Bermuda
Aviation History Pioneers Civilian and Military - Bermuda
centre. As it looks today, a far cry from its original purpose dating back to
1795 as a fortified Royal Navy Dockyard following Britain's defeat by the USA in
the 1776 to 1783 American Revolution.
Early history as a Royal
- Following the loss of all
bases on the entire USA side of North American Atlantic
seaboard after US independence, to avoid any further threat to
Britain's supremacy in the Western Atlantic, it was decided in London in
principal that Bermuda offered itself as a well-situated and potentially
strategically important as a naval base to serve Western Hemisphere areas of
North America, Western Atlantic, Caribbean and South Atlantic. It was also
decided that once the new base began to be built in Bermuda for the Royal
Navy, British Army units stationed in Bermuda had one over-riding military
duty - to protect the naval base).
Lieutenant Thomas Hurd, Royal Navy, was told he was going to lead what became
11-year survey of Bermuda as a potential Royal Navy base, to replace the
reliance on Halifax which was vulnerable to attack from America.
Then-Captain Thomas Hurd completed his 11-year (1783-1794) planned survey of Bermuda.
HMS Cleopatra (Captain Penrose) transited the Narrows to Murray's Anchorage.
- Naval Watering tanks were constructed at Tobacco Bay, St. George's. They were
first used by HMS Hermione.
- With the
Militia Act 1794 and the end of the American War of Independence, Bermuda began
to assume an importance to the Admiralty that would see it eventually become the base of
the North America and West Indies Squadron, and the site of the only full Naval
dockyard West of Portsmouth, England except for Halifax in Nova Scotia and of
possibly more strategic importance in the event of invasion of Canada by the
- October. Vice Admiral
the Hon. George Murray, Royal Navy, learned of Lieutenant but by then
Captain Thomas Hurd’s
finding at Bermuda as a superb potential new naval base
and sent the frigate
Cleopatra there “to bring information of a Harbour lately discovered
there, fit, it was said, to admit Ships of any Class.” The resulting
report described the new anchorage as having “capacity enough for all the
Navies in the World to ride in from 7 to 9 or 10” fathoms.’
- Approval for purchase of
Ireland Island, Bermuda, with the site chosen by Captain Pender, Royal Navy. In
the meantime, for a stated short period only. Admiralty House, traditional seat
of Royal Navy Commanders-in-Chief at dockyards both home in the UK and abroad,
was in St. George's, Bermuda.
- The Royal Navy
Dockyard at Ireland Island envisaged for and subsequently built in Bermuda was designed not primarily for
defence but for attack, from which to launch a Royal Navy invasion of the USA. The French
Navy, which caused the blockade that was the major factor in the British defeat
by the Americans, had been smashed. That part had been avenged. This was why Ireland Island in
Sandys Parish, the former
separate, narrow serrated island that pushes out into the Atlantic at the extreme north west of
Bermuda, formally started to become, from 1809 when it was officially acquired by the British
Admiralty, a Royal Navy base of one-time huge significance.
- 1795-1809. Cottages were built
on Hen Island, St. George's and a wharf there was adapted for careening.
- August 11. Captain
Francis Pender, Royal Navy, earlier dispatched to Bermuda by Vice-Admiral the
Hon George Murray, RN, arrived as a passenger on HMS Oiseau (formerly a French
frigate, captured). His orders included the stipulation he acquire some of
the fast sloops of the island for service in the Royal Navy. He ordered the
building of such Bermudian vessels, renowned for their speed and agility,
especially being able to sail sail close to the wind.
- Approval was given by
the relevant authorities in London, England, for the purchase of Ireland Island,
Bermuda, as a Royal Navy base. The site was chosen by Captain Pender.
Following the visit of
and survey ordered by Admiral Murray, Ireland Island in Bermuda was
for the establishment of a Royal Naval Dockyard. Other islands in the
Great Sound were also purchased.
- Captain Francis
Pender, Royal Navy, on behalf of Admiral Murray, purchased a Bermuda-built cedar
sloop, which he called HMS Bermuda, and put it under the command of
Lieutenant Thomas Hurd, RN, who had been engaged on a survey of the Bermuda
reefs to see iof they could be safely navigated with caution. Hurd was
also searching for a channel to allow Royal Navy warships to enter the inner
anchorages of the island. Hurd was later joined by Andrew Evans (both Hurd
and Evans were later promoted to Captains).
more Bermudian vessels purchased from local shipyards were commissioned by the Royal Navy.
They were cedar-built 200 ton,12-gun sloops-of-war, commissioned as
HMS Dasher, HMS Driver and HMS Bermuda. There were to be many more.
- One of the first
acquisitions of the Royal Navy in Bermuda
in an area removed from Castle
Harbour was the purchase of a then-small house on the North Shore of
Bermuda, with some uniquely valuable land. What made it attractive for the
Navy to purchase Seven Wells was the fact that (a) it had seven wells of
fresh water immediately available for Royal Navy purposes and (b) was
located adjacent to Devonshire Dock, from where the fresh water could be
taken in barrels to ships-of-war.
- September 30. Vice
Admiral the Hon. George Murray, RN, arrived in Bermuda on HMS Resolution.
It was accompanied by HMS Cleopatra and HMS Thesly. The
warships were piloted safely through the reefs by James Darrell (born 1749,
died 1815, then a slave) and into what later became known as
“Murray’s Anchorage” in St. George's. For his skill as a pilot,
Admiral Murray later (see 1796) ordered the Royal Navy to purchase Darrell's
freedom, as approved by then-Bermuda British Governor Crauford. Darrell was
appointed one of the first of the Island’s “King’s Pilots.
channel, afterwards named the North Shore Channel, was established for
British shipping and a major anchorage was found at Castle Harbour at the
east end of the island. Thus a Royal Naval depot was first established in
Bermuda, at St. George’s
- October. After
Admiral Murray, Royal Navy, paid his quick visit to Bermuda, he named his
Flag Captain, whose title and name was Captain Francis Pender, RN, the
“Superintendent of the Port” at St George’s, directing him to
establish a depot there and to purchase several fast Bermuda-built cedar
vessels for use as advice boats. So began the two-century association in
Bermuda of the Royal Navy, initially at Castle Harbour.
St. George's was
abandoned as a Royal Navy Base, then temporarily reopened with Mr. Dunsier in charge.
the Dockyard was built, The Royal Navy
invested heavily in a Bermuda-based program of building small,
fast vessels out of Bermuda cedar, discovered by Hurd to be ideal for this
purpose. Such vessels had been used in
Bermuda since 1609 but the Royal Navy only discovered them in 1795. Their choice of
wood was more resistant to rot than any other small vessel and their passage on
the sea was faster than British oak. In rapid succession in
that year, the British Admiralty issued
draught no. 3275, issued by the Navy Office in July for building two sloops of
war in Bermuda; draught no. 3276, for building the two sloops Bermuda and
Indian (the brother of famous British writer Jane Austen, later an
Admiral, commanded the latter from her commissioning in Bermuda); draught No.
3278, as an addition to No. 3276, for fitting out the Bermuda and Indian;
draught No. 4540, for work on the navy schooners Dispatch and Advice;
and draught no. 4541, for supplementing the building of the Dispatch and Advice.
sloops - similar to the one shown below - had unique advantages. Their construction from Bermuda cedar ensured
they were durable and resistant to shipworm. Cedar was plentiful then and unlike
oak, from which many of the larger ships were made in the United Kingdom, did not require seasoning.
- 29th August. The Bermuda
cedar-built (in 1801) brig, 105 tons, then called "Morne Fortunee,"
named after a place in St. Lucia, was purchased by the Royal Navy for £3000
sterling. She was originally the brig "Glory."
- The ship
"Ant", 75 tons, was built in Bermuda
from cedar and sold to the
Thomas Moore arrived in
Bermuda. During his four month stay and work as an official with the
Admiralty he met and had a love affair with Hester Tucker, whom he called "Nea"
in his love poems. Otherwise, he was quite bored. Unfortunately for him, his
Bermuda stay led to many financial problems for him, through no fault of his own
but for which he was blamed for the cheating of another. Tom Moore's Tavern was
later named after him. In Ireland, he is never referred to as "Tom Moore,
always as Thomas Moore.
The Bermuda-cedar built in 1799
HMS Pickle, original merchantman or privateer, acquired by the Royal Navy in
1803 in Jamaica and fitted with cannon as a sloop of war (known as Sting
when constructed) played a unique role in the Battle of Trafalgar in which the Royal
Navy, with 448 dead and 1,241 wounded, soundly defeated the French. Their
navy had 4,408 dead, 1,545 wounded and lost 23 of their 33 ships in the battle.
HMS Pickle, built of Bermuda cedar wood, was the fastest and one of the hardiest
ships in the Royal Navy. Thus it was chosen to cover the 1,000 mile journey from
Cape Trafalgar to England with exclusive news of the battle. It was a 9-day
journey, during which the ship ran into a gale. On arrival at Falmouth, the
officer with the dispatch raced to Whitehall in London by horse and carriage. He
arrived at 3 am. Prime Minister William Pitt, the King and Royal Family and
newspapers, were awoken to hear the news of the victory and the death of Admiral
Lord Nelson. The
Bermuda Sloop, developed on the island, was the fastest boat afloat in the 1700s
and became highly desirably to seaman, particularly those in illegal trades such
as piracy, and for privateering and as advice vessels for the Royal Navy.
used their ships for commerce and travel between the island, the Caribbean, the
continental Americas and wider afield and they were manned by men from all
sectors of the community, free and slave, the latter until Emancipation in 1834.
Tourterelle, formerly a French warship until captured, anchored at St.
George's as a Receiving Ship.
June 12. Great Britain's Royal Navy
Commander-in-Chief in the West Atlantic, Vice Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren,
Bt, KB, was in operational command when
Bermuda's Ireland Island (75
acres), Boaz and Watford Islands were formally acquired by the British Government
by way of
compulsory purchase for the establishment of a naval base, following US
Independence. The Royal Navy had operated from the Town
of St. George in Bermuda for a dozen years while an adequate channel was
sought by which large naval vessels could reach the West End of Bermuda. Thus
Bermuda became, first the winter location, and then the permanent location of
the Admiralty for North America and the West Indies, as well as the base for a
naval squadron. Its purpose was to serve as a replacement for all the ports on
the eastern seaboard of the new United States that were, until 1783, British
possessions. From the reaches of Maine, with all its
great ship timbers, to Boston, New York, the Chesapeake and Charleston, His
Majesty's Fleet had nowhere to retire for rest and repair, in between various
spats with the French and now the new "Americans." Having
retained the Canadian Maritimes to the north and some of the Caribbean islands
to the south, Bermuda, halfway between, was both the logical and only sound
geographical position for the creation of a new naval base. From
there, the new United States could be controlled, as long as the Royal Navy
ruled the sea-lanes of the Western North Atlantic. As a British officer would
later declare, it was a nation "hitherto unable, if not unwilling, to
control among its people a wild spirit of aggression dangerous to the
maintenance of peace." Ireland Island was chosen for the new Dockyard base,
after considering cutting a channel into Harrington Sound because of its
protected harbour. Such a major engineering work would have been simple and
inexpensive, when compared to the final cost of the western site, for all of it
was composed of some of the hardest, "bastard", rock of the Walsingham
formations. Undeterred by geological
intransigence, the Royal Engineers, "purveyors of technology to the
empire", began blasting soon after the erection of a few buildings on flat
ground, facing the original cove of Grassy Bay.
- June 12. Purchase of
Ireland Island. The Royal Navy started moving
on on the day it was officially acquired. It has
a separate history from the rest of Bermuda. It is named after an individual, not a
country. Because there was a fear of leprosy, all on the island had to leave their jungle
of cedar and swine and wooden houses thatched with palmetto. Until it became a major Royal
Navy base there were no roads and only a few inhabitants. Then it was completely separate
from Main and Somerset Islands. (It became connected to other islands via several bridges
first built in the late 1800s). When work began here in 1809, main weapons were light.
Several wooden wharves were erected, also storehouses and more for supplies for
two 74s,six frigates and two sloops.
- December. a main
guardhouse was built near the Spa Yard.
- May 4. A Royal Navy
Captain of H.M.S. Swiftsure jumped overboard, "in a fit of temporary
derangement", and was drowned, off the Bermudas. He was Captain John
Conn R.N. (August 1764 - 4
May 1810), a senior captain, whose shining career included service at the
battles of the Saintes, the Glorious First of June, Copenhagen and Trafalgar
ended tragically in a shipboard accident before he could reap the rewards of his
long service. Conn could also claim membership of Nelson's "Band of
Brothers", a clique of dashing naval officers who participated in Nelson's
campaigns during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, as well as a
close friendship with the admiral himself, who once said: A better or more
zealous officer than Captain Conn is not in His Majesty's service. Born to a
Royal Navy warrant officer of Irish extraction in Devon, England, on 1764, Conn
gained first hand experience of the sea at twelve on his father's ship HMS
Weasel, before securing a place on HMS Arrogant as a midshipman on board which
he saw action at the battle of the Saintes in 1782. In 1788 he was made a
lieutenant but had to wait five years before being given a good position, during
which married Margaret, a vicar's daughter. Serving aboard the flagship HMS
Royal Sovereign at the Glorious First of June, he came to the attention of
Admiral Lord Howe and further distinguished himself in 1798 in HMS Foudroyant at
the battle of Donegal which resulted in the destruction of a French invasion
fleet headed for Ireland. In 1801 As a commander at the first battle of
Copenhagen, his expertise with bomb vessels caused terrible damage to the Danish
fleet, and he participated in Nelson's disastrous attack on the French invasion
force in Boulogne shortly afterwards, gaining his commanding officers attention
and respect. Promoted to Post
Captain in 1802, Conn commanded the veteran ship HMS Culloden accompanied by his
nine year old son Henry, before transferring to the French prize ship HMS
Canopus and being specially requested by Nelson in the Mediterranean. In 1805 he
was given temporary command of the first rate flagship HMS Victory and his old
ship HMS Royal Sovereign whilst their commanders were on leave and further
contributed to his reputation as a reliable and steady officer. On 10
October he returned the Royal Sovereign to Admiral Collingwood and was
given the fast new second rate HMS Dreadnought to command. Eleven
days later Conn and his crew where thrown into battle as the Franco-Spanish
fleet attempted to break out of Cadiz. Situated halfway down Collongwood's
division, Conn struggled to reach the action, only getting there around the time
Nelson was mortally wounded in the northern division. Making up for the delay,
Dreadnought tangled with the San Juan Nepomuceno, rescuing the battered HMS
Bellerophon, killing the Spanish captain Cosmé Damián Churruca and forcing his
ship to surrender. Charging on from this victory, the Dreadnought engaged the
Spanish flagship Principe de Asturias, mortally wounding the Spanish admiral,
but being unable to defeat the enemy, which succeeded in escaping back to Cadiz.
Conn even managed to rescue his prize, the San Juan Nepomuceno being one of only
four captured enemy ships to survive the storm. Following
the battle, in which Dreadnought suffered 33 casualties, Conn continued in
service taking over the massive 112 gun HMS San Josef and then the 120 gun HMS
Hibernia as flag captain before moving as a commodore to the West Indies in HMS
Swiftsure in 1810. Admirals' rank and the honours which came with it were surely
not far away when tragedy struck on the 4 May when during the chase of a small
French ship near Bermuda, Conn became overeager, slipped and fell overboard.
Swiftsure was halted and a search was conducted but Conn had drowned before help
arrived. His passing was mourned in Britain and especially in the Navy where he
was a popular and respected figure. Sir John Borlase Warren, an old commander
and friend, expressed regret at the death of so deserving an officer as Captain
- Admiral Sir John Warren
rented the St. John's Hill, Spanish Point, Pembroke house as the residence for
the Royal Navy Commander-in-Chief.
It became the new Admiralty House in
- HMS Tourterelle moored
off Tatem's Island and was assigned for duty as a Hospital ship.
- Construction began at
Ireland Island of the Old Storehouse Building.
The Royal Navy's first
Bermuda Commodore Superintendent, Commodore Andrew Evans,
hoisted his Broad
Pennant on HMS Tourterelle.
Royal Navy, Bermuda was granted Mount Wyndham House in Hamilton Parish by the
- St. John's Hill,
Pembroke, property rented by the Admiral became a Naval Hospital.
- HMS Tourterelle was sunk
by the Royal Navy
to give shelter to ships in the Camber area at the future
- Naval cemetery at
Ireland Island consecrated.
One of the
first Naval actions of the 1812-14 War between the USA and UK, which
involved Bermuda too as a British colony, was the capture of the Bermuda
sloop, HMS Whiting, in a US port. Having sailed from Plymouth, she
entered Hampton Roads on 8 July 1812 with dispatches for the American
government, and lowered her anchor. Unfortunately war had been declared
about two weeks earlier. As her captain was being rowed ashore, the American
privateer Dash, under Captain Garroway, was leaving port and captured her.
Dash had one large gun on a pivot, and a crew of 80. Not only were a third
of Whiting's crew in her boat, the
rest were not at the guns as they were unaware that Britain and the United
States were now at war. Some regard this as the first naval capture of the
war. However, Whiting was carrying official dispatches for the American
government, which ordered her release. (The
first capture by either side was the British capture of USS Nautilus on 16
Sir Alexander Cochrane formed the Corps of Colonial Marines. Although
they were of African descent and many were formerly enslaved in America,
these troops received the same training, uniforms, pay and pensions as their
Royal Marine counterparts. The Corps of Colonial Marines saw extensive
military action from Canada to Georgia in the years 1814 to 1816. These
former slaves, who became known from where they were from originally as
America Negros or Florida Negroes or King's Negroes, or French slaves, had
all sought refuge under the British flag, Many had extensive local knowledge
of tidal creeks and riverine routes of the US South during that period.
Because of that knowledge, they participated in numerous battles,
skirmishes, and raids during the War of 1812. In 1814 they were sent to
- 1812. The British 18 gun
brig HMS Frolic was consort to 14 merchantmen homeward from Honduras
and was separated from her convoy on Oct 16 in a heavy gale. She was
repairing damage on the 17th when she sighted sail which proved to be
the American brig "Wasp." The following day, after 43 minutes of
fighting, Frolic lost both her masts, 2 officers, and 15 seamen, 43 wounded
out of the total ship's company of 110. The Wasp lost 8 men and about 8
wounded. A few hours later, the British 74 gun ship "Poictiers",
Capt Sir John Poo Beresford, hove in sight, captured the "Wasp"
and recaptured the "Frolic" and brought them both to Bermuda. Capt
Beresford's wife died in Bermuda and was buried in St George's. He was the
brother of Marshal Beresford who organized the Portuguese Division in
Wellington's Army in the Peninsula. Both were bastard sons of Earl of
Tyrone, afterwards 1st marquess of Waterford. Jacob Jones commanded the Wasp
at the capture of the Frolic on Oct 18, 1812. The next day the Wasp and her
prize were taken by the Poictiers to Bermuda.
War of 1812-14, the British blockade of American ports was orchestrated from
Bermuda by the Royal Navy, and a squadron based in Bermuda was active in
the Chesapeake from February 1813 until the end of the War. British forces
briefly occupied Kent Island in 1813 . Other refugees were first brought to
Bermuda in May 1813, where they were employed in the construction of the new
Dockyard on Ireland Island in the company of hired artisans, both free and
enslaved, (and finally to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for resettlement).
John's Hill property previously rented by the Royal Navy was renegotiated,
this time for a peppercorn rent.
- April. A midshipman's grave
was dug at Clarence Cove, originally Abbott's Bay. He was a 16-year
Royal Navy midshipman, Charles Francillon, of the Royal Navy ship HMS
Spartan. He died from phthisis, a form of tuberculosis, a highly
contagious disease of the time, on April 18, 1813 - during the 1812 to 1814
War. Francillon was born in Harwich (then in Essex, England), the
fourth son of Francis Francillon of Harwich, a Purser in the Royal Navy. He
was 15 years old when he joined the ship as a First Class Volunteer, a rank
created in 1794. It was a first step for boys, who later became Midshipmen
for three or more years, then Lieutenants. He was a patient of what was then
the recently opened first Bermuda shore-based Royal Naval Hospital - much
later, Admiralty House - when he died. The letters D. D. appear beside his
name, which mean he was "Discharged Dead". He probably
received the posthumous rank of Midshipman while still technically a First
- April 23. Prison hulk Ardent ex 64
arrived and stayed until 1824
- April 27. American forces
raided York (Toronto) looting and burning buildings, including the
governor's house and the provincial legislative building. This was the
second American invasion since 1812. Later, they were repulsed by
British Army forces. Until that happened the Americans destroyed property
throughout Canada, turned citizens out into the cold in the depths of winter
and burnt their homes.
- June 1. HMS Shannon (38
guns) captured the "Chesapeake" (44 guns) off Boston Light after a
sharp and decisive engagement that lasted only fifteen minutes. The
commander of the "Chesapeake", James Lawrence, who was mortally
wounded in the fray, was related to the Cox family of Bermuda, and his
senior officer was William Cox, son of a Bermudian who had emigrated to
America. The Chesapeake (pictured below) was initially sent to Halifax, Nova
Scotia but was shortly afterwards brought to St. George's, Bermuda by HMS
Shannon and the ship, her officers and men became prisoners-of-war.
- July 24. HMS
Romulus, after being re-classed as a 22 gun unrated hospital ship, was based
- December 10. The small
Canadian town Niagara on the Lake, situated at the mouth of the Niagara
River, and directly across from Fort Niagara, originally named Newark, had
already seen much activity during the War of 1812 when nearby Fort George
was earlier captured by American forces under General George McClure. On
this date, McClure’s men set fire to the town before abandoning the fort
to advancing British forces, destroying eighty homes and “about 400 women
and children were rendered homeless.” As Newark had been the early capital
of Upper Canada and to every loyal Canadian it symbolized the early
struggles of the province and the names of Simcoe and Brock---its
destruction (and the burning of York’s (Toronto) public buildings earlier)
infuriated the British and led directly to the retaliation burning of
Washington, DC in August 1814.
- Construction was well under
way to switch the location of the Royal Navy base from Castle Harbour to Ireland
- HMS Goree arrived in
Bermuda, stationed mostly at St. George's but also at the emerging Dockyard.
She was earlier the 16-gun sloop of war HMS
Favourite launched in 1794. The French captured her in 1806 and renamed
her Favorite; the British recaptured her in 1807 and renamed her HMS Goree.
She became a prison hulk in Bermuda in 1814, mostly to house captured
American sailors and was broken up in 1817.
- January. Vice Admiral Sir
Alexander Cochrane, then resident in Bermuda at Admiralty House, Bermuda,
then located at Mount Wyndham, Bailey's Bay, was appointed
Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy's North America and West Indies
Station. He already had plans for carrying the war to the United States
by launching attacks in Virginia and at New Orleans.
- Royal Naval forces directed
from Bermuda and active at sea since 1813 established a base on Tangier
Island in the Chesapeake, where the Royal Navy recruited from among
refugee slaves a Corps
of Colonial Marines.
- June 2. Sir George Prévost,
Governor of Canada, wrote to the Royal Navy's Vice Admiral Sir Alexander
Cochrane in Bermuda,
calling for a retaliation against American depredations against
non-combatant civilians and private property, as such acts at the time were
considered to be against the laws of war. He wanted the American invasion of
Yorktown (later, Toronto) avenged.
- July. HMS Dictator, and HMS
Diamond, both 64s, along with HMS Royal Oak, 74, arrived at Bermuda
between July and August from England with the 4th, 44th, and 85th Foot
regiments aboard. Altogether a brigade of 3,500 troops disembarked on the
North Shore, near Devonshire Dock, at a place still called "Forces
Point", under the command of Maj-Gen Robert Ross of an Ulster family.
- July. 6 British frigates
arrived at Bermuda from "up the Straits" having on board the
7th Fusiliers and 3 other regiments. They were soon joined by those
brought on HMS Royal Oak, Dictator, and Diamond.
- July. One of the British
men-o-war which assembled at Bermuda to attack the American coast was the
HMS Royal Oak, with Major (later Lt-Gen) Sir Harry Smith (1787-1860) age
27 who wrote an account of the arrival at Bermuda. She left Bermuda with
Rear Admiral Malcolm and 30 or 40 sail of transport, on board troops
recently arrived from Southern France, to rendezvous in Chesapeake Bay with
the "Tonnant" and the "Surprise". "The wind blowing
from the east made it difficult for the "Royal Oak" to leave the
anchorage. The Admiral resolved on the boldest thing ever attempted, to take
the fleet out through the North East Passage, never done before save by one
frigate. There was but one man capable of piloting the "Royal Oak"
(Joseph Hayward, "Uncle Joe") and he feared her bows would touch
when the rudder was clear. Sir Harry Smith wrote: "To my honour there
appeared not a foot to spare, it was a most extraordinary thing ever seen,
the rocks visible all around the ship." At one moment the wind was very
light, it almost died away; the only expression of Admiral Malcolm was
"Well, if the breeze fails us it will be a good turn I have done the
Yankees". The undertaking was successful, the expedition went up the
Pawtuxent and carried out the attack on the city of Washington."
- July. British soldiers
under the command of Major General Robert Ross arrived in Bermuda from
Britain and camped out near Devonshire Dock in their hundreds, for two
weeks on the island. In Murray’s Anchorage, some 18 ships of the line,
including the flagship, HMS Tonnant (86 guns, originally the French Le
Tonnant, captured by Nelson in 1798 at the Battle of the Nile) and HMS Royal
Oak (74) lay at anchor, awaiting a signal for departure for the continent.
The Admiral in overall command, Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm, was able to
view the entire fleet from his strategic hill-top home at Mount Wyndham in
Hamilton Parish, his official residence rented from Stephen Outerbridge.
- The former HMS Romulus,
by then a hulk, was moored off Spanish Point as a ratings' hospital.
- July. A Royal Navy
fleet with Royal Marines and soldiers assembled in Bermuda and sailed to attack and burn
principal buildings, including the White House, in Washington DC in revenge for the
American torching of Yorktown, now Toronto. Afterwards, off Baltimore as a detainee aboard
a British warship, the American lawyer Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star Spangled
Banner" - with its melody from a raucous British drinking song.
- August 1. HMS Tonnant, with
Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane K.B. and the frigate
"Surprise" with Sir Thomas Cochrane, prepared to sail
from Bermuda, destined for Chesapeake Bay. The British Royal Navy
fleet was piloted by James Darrell of St. George's aboard HMS Resolution
through a difficult passage to Murray's Anchorage until it reached the open
sea. It had been ordered to assemble in and sail from Bermuda to
successfully attack and burn Washington DC, in retaliation for the
American attack on and burning of Yorktown, now Toronto, in Canada. Pilot
Darrell — known as Jemmy — is often cited as the first black man to buy
a house in Bermuda and it is certain that he was one of the first to own
land. He was a slave until then. His nautical prowess led to him becoming
one of the Island's first King's Pilots and eventually his release from
slavery, aged 47. The father-of-one later campaigned for better pay for
pilots and for a change in the law to allow black people to leave their
property to their family. After it burnt Washington, it attempted the same
thing on Fort McHenry in Baltimore. During that engagement, Francis Scott
Key wrote the words of what became the Star Spangled Banner, as a temporary
detainee on one of the British warships. The melody is from a bawdy British
drinking song by a London based composer. The fleet's voyage ended in
Halifax, where hundreds of slaves who had lined the shores of the Pawtuxent
River and elsewhere nearby to implore British troops to help them escape
from bondage had been rescued and were also on the British warships cheering
on and actively assisting the sailors who had set them free, were promptly
and officially given their freedom.
- August 4. A then-massive
Royal Navy fleet of 16 ships under the command of Vice-Admiral Alexander
Cochrane and with British troops also aboard, led by HMS Royal Oak, left the
island and headed for Chesapeake Bay to crack down on US ambitions to annex
Canada by attacking the capital Washington DC and Baltimore. It spawned
the only time the US capital has been invaded by hostile forces — who
burned most of the public buildings, including the White House, in
retaliation for the burning of York, which was later renamed Toronto. It had
its origins in tensions between Britain and the US over UK domination of the
seas and the British territory of Canada. The US had raided York twice and
set fire to government buildings in the city — and Britain wanted to teach
the new nation a lesson. Admiral Cochrane planned the attack from his then
HQ at Mount Wyndham in Bailey’s Bay, amassing a fleet of 18 ships and
5,000 soldiers before sailing from Murray’s Anchorage for the US Atlantic
coast. The earlier loss of its American colonies in the American War of
Independence led to a new focus on Bermuda as Britain’s naval bastion in
the west and the start of a military build-up that would eventually see the
massive Royal Naval Dockyard built in the West End, which helped support the
Island’s often-struggling economy. But the planned attack got off to a bad
start. In the days of sail, strong easterly winds had trapped the fleet in
Murray’s Anchorage for three days until Bermuda pilots Joseph Nicholas
Hayward and Pilot Outerbridge volunteered to try and navigate the entire
fleet, which included the 86-gun HMS Tonnant, out through a narrow gap in
the reefs, the North Channel, just east of North Rock. The feat had never
been attempted before with warships under sail, but the entire fleet scraped
through with inches to spare and headed for the coast of the US. The attack
took the US by surprise, and land commander Major General Robert Ross
defeated a poorly-trained and hastily-assembled American Militia force at
the Bladenburg before marching into Washington. Tangible reminders of the
attack still exist in Bermuda today — the two massive portraits of King
George III and Queen Charlotte which hang in the Island’s House of
Assembly were looted from a warehouse in Washington before British troops
set it on fire. But things started to go wrong again for the British after
they rejoined the fleet and headed for Baltimore — described as “a nest
of pirates” by Admiral Cochrane — and landed near the strategic port
city. British troops were turned back by American forces after General Ross
was shot and killed by an American sniper. The British later bombarded Fort
McHenry, built to defend Baltimore’s harbour and among a handful of
Americans interned on British ships in case they passed intelligence to the
US forces was Francis Scott Keys, a lawyer and ancestor of famous US
novelist F Scott Fitzgerald. Keys wrote the poem that became the Star
Spangled Banner after US forces showed their defiance by raising a massive
American flag after the British fleet had attempted to blast the fort to
pieces and, more than 100 years later, it was finally adopted as the
official anthem of the US. And what is believed to be the last casualty of
the war — US Navy Midshipman Edward Dale, badly wounded when the USS
President was captured by a Royal Navy squadron off New York and brought to
Bermuda — died in St George’s of his wounds. The naval engagement in
January 1815 came three weeks after Britain and the US signed the Treaty of
Ghent to end the war — but it took months for the news to travel across
the Atlantic. Later, a brooch of silver and paste jewels was found stating
“Rear Admiral Cockburn to Mrs Outerbridge, commemorating her husband’s
daring feat of piloting through North Rock Passage the British Fleet
responsible for the sacking and burning of Washington. Bermuda 1814.” One
was also given by the Admiral to the wife of pilot Hayward.
- August 24. British Army and
Royal Navy forces entered the Chesapeake Bay and attacked Washington DC from
Bladensburg, Maryland. Washington had little strategic value - the thriving
port of Baltimore was much more important. However, as capital of the
nation, the British hoped that its burning would have a psychological impact
on the will of the Americans to continue the conflict.
As the British
army of approximately 4,000 approached, the majority of Washington residents
fled the city. American defenders, with President James Madison in
attendance, were quickly routed by the invaders in a battle at Bladensburg a
few miles from the city. A messenger was dispatched to the White House to
warn First Lady Dolley Madison of the impeding arrival of the British. She
and her staff fled by carriage across the Potomac - taking with her the
full-length portrait of George Washington that had been torn from a White
House wall. That evening, the vanguard of the British army reached Capitol
Hill. Their original intention was to halt and send, under a flag of truce,
a small party to offer terms, for officials to surrender without
bloodshed. But when they were fired on from the windows of a house,
with the horse of General Ross killed by the gunshots, they retaliated.
Realizing they were too few in number to effectively occupy the city they
began its systematic destruction of all public buildings in the city. Included
in their number were contingents of black British Colonial Marines. Their
intent was to cause as much damage as they could, at least as much as the
Americans had caused in Yorktown. In fact, they had brought with them
meticulous accounts of the latter. The troops advanced into the town,
and first attacked and killed all who were found in the house from which the
shots were fired, then burnt the house. Then they proceeded, without any
further delay, to burn and destroy everything in the most distant degree
connected with government. In this general devastation were included the
Senate House, the President's White House, an extensive dockyard and
arsenal, barracks for two or three thousand men, several large storehouses
filled with naval and military stores, some hundreds of cannon of different
descriptions, and nearly twenty thousand stand of small arms. There were
also two or three public rope works which shared the same fate, a fine
frigate pierced for sixty guns and just ready to be launched, several gun
brigs and armed schooners, with a variety of gunboats and small craft.
Royal Navy ships
en route to attacking the USA at anchor off Dockyard, 1814
magazines were set on fire, and exploded with a tremendous crash, throwing
down many houses in their vicinity, partly by pieces of the wall
striking them, and partly by the concussion of the air whilst quantities of
shot, shell, and hand grenades, which could not otherwise be rendered
useless, were thrown into the river. When the detachment sent out to destroy
Mr. Madison's house entered his dining parlor, they found a dinner table
spread and covers laid for forty guests. Several kinds of wine, in handsome
cut glass decanters, were cooling on the sideboard; plate holders stood by
the fireplace, filled with dishes and plates; knives, forks, and spoons were
arranged for immediate use; in short, everything was ready for the
entertainment of a ceremonious party. Such were the arrangements in the
dining room, whilst in the kitchen were others answerable to them in every
respect. Spits, loaded with joints of various sorts, turned before the fire;
pots, saucepans, and other culinary utensils stood upon the grate; and all
the other requisites for an elegant and substantial repast were exactly in a
state which indicated that they had been lately and precipitately abandoned.
The soldiers hungrily ate the dinner, drank the wines then set fire to the
White House and neighboring places. Of the Senate house, the
President's palace, the barracks, the dockyard, etc., nothing could be seen
except heaps of smoking ruins.
House after it was torched by British forces in revenge for the US burning
of Yorktown now Toronto
- After the War of 1812 to 1814, there were
continuing disputes between the
British and Americans over the boundaries between Canada and the United States. The military authorities saw this as
They were informed that work on building the dockyard was proceeding far too slowly.
Providing the convict labor force was a cheap and effective way to overcome the
problem, get the base built cheaply and isolate the trouble-makers.
Bermuda was selected as a convict station in preference to Sierra Leone in
Africa or Canada. Without the Dockyard, Bermuda would
have had none, all would have been sent to Australia instead. As it was, it received 8 for every 1
sent to Bermuda. Transported to hard labor in the
colony for six to eight years in the same way British convicts had been once been
condemned in Virginia and elsewhere in the USA until the American Revolution in 1776, the
prisoners lived on rotting Royal Navy prison hulks - including some from the
Battle of Trafalgar 20 or more years earlier - and worked from sunrise to sunset to
build the naval bastion and fortress. Most were still wearing chains of bondage as convicts when
Bermuda's blacks were freed from all vestiges of slavery in the 1840s. Only when
the sentences of the convicts was served if they still lived - because
20% died in Bermuda or on the way there - were they allowed
to remain as free colonists.
- The Royal
Navy Dockyard, Bermuda, formally began life as the idea of Arthur Wesley - later Wellesley - the 1st Duke of Wellington
a colonel in the 33rd Foot in 1795). The British Government
needed to retaliate
in the event of any invasion of Bermuda or any further attempted invasion of Canada by Americans or their
allies, as the Americans had tried to do in 1812, and occupied what is now
Toronto which directly caused the War of 1812-14, before being beaten back. After the War of 1812-14
between Britain and the USA, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Halifax, Nova
Scotia, was considered too vulnerable to attack from America. In 1818, the
Royal Navy Dockyard in Halifax was formally moved to Bermuda. Halifax
suffered a further economic malaise for a few years, that had started
when peace was declared in 1815 between the USA and Britain. Bermuda,
well beyond the
operating range of the United States Navy, isolated but in the strategic mid Atlantic, was
ideal for a surprise Royal Navy attack.
- Construction at the
Dockyard of a blacksmith's workshop in the Spar Yard.
- Construction began of
the Royal Naval Hospital at Ireland Island, Dockyard.
- After the War of 1812-14
the men of the Corps of Colonial Marines earlier brought to Bermuda to man
the garrison and to continue the construction of the Dockyard were affected
by Britain's reduction in naval budgets that came with peace. The
Admiralty declined any further responsibility for them. The men rejected
a British Government offer to become part of its West India Regiment,
but accepted from 1816 the government's alternative offer of settlement in
Trinidad as free independent farmers.
- Houses were built for
Royal Navy personnel and their families in the Dockyard's Grey Bridge area.
- Royal Navy Officer's
houses were built on the north side of the Dockyard's Ireland Island. They
included one for the Commissioner (demolished in 1827).
- Admiralty House, St.
John's Hill, Pembroke, earlier rented by the Royal Navy, then at a peppercorn
rent, was formally gifted to the Royal Navy by the Bermuda Government.
- Appointment in Bermuda
from Halifax, Nova Scotia, of James Robertson Arnold, one of the two sons of Benedict Arnold
and his Loyalist wife Margaret Peggy Shippen of Philadelphia and - like his
mother, American born - went to Canada with his family and was educated at King's College School. He avenged his father's humiliation in America by joining the
Royal Engineers of the British Army. He became a Colonel and later, a Brigadier
General. From Halifax,
he was the first Royal Engineer to fortify the new Bermuda Dockyard against the
USA. From 1814, the Dockyard defended the
British military machine in Bermuda against any possible attack by the United States and
others. For big guns to defend dockyards
adequately, smooth bore cannon, developed in the 1500's, had to be more effective. One
temporary British answer was the development of the carronade in about 1779. The Royal
Navy brought them to Bermuda as effective weapons. After
spending 2 years in Bermuda, he returned to Halifax and used the experience and
knowledge he had gained in Bermuda to reconstruct and improve the fortifications
at the Citadel in Halifax.
Fortifications 1818 as completed by Colonel James Robertson Arnold, son of
Benedict Arnold, in 1816.
- With the new Dockyard at
Ireland Island nowhere near ready, the Royal Navy needed to continue its
presence in Castle Harbour, St. George's. A suitable house was leased for
the Commodore Superintendent.
- Captain John Lewis,
Royal Navy, was appointed as first Commissioner of Bermuda's emerging new
- Cockburn's Cut,
Dockyard, was constructed, dug and opened by the Royal Engineers. It was
refilled in 1823.
Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda officially replaced the Royal Naval Dockyard,
Halifax as the British headquarters for the North
America and West Indies Station of the Royal Navy.
houses were created at The Square, Dockyard, from Portland Stone imported
from England. The facility became known as Portland Place.
- Completion of the Royal Navy Hospital near the Dockyard,
with the unusual cast and wrought iron building designed by Edward Holl,
Chief Architect for the Royal Navy and Scottish engineer, John Rennie
(1761—1821). It was built in
the same pre-fabricated manner as the later Commissioner's House, initially as a
Quarantine unit. British convicts transported to Bermuda to build HM Dockyard,
were treated here. When added to substantially later, in addition to more cast
iron structural features, such as veranda columns, floor joists, and possibly
cast and wrought iron roof trusses, some of the stonework for the building was
the hard local limestone. A surgeon, doctors and medical staff were
appointed and sent by the Royal Navy. During World War 2, the Royal Naval
Hospital, Bermuda, treated and often saved the lives of many brought in from
torpedoed ships. The Royal Navy left in the 1950s. That
hospital building ended its life as an egg farm, then finally was deliberately
burnt to the ground by the Fire Department in November 1972 after it became a
battery for producing chicken eggs. Later, it was the site for Lefroy House, for
senior citizens. Only rubble is left.
Lefroy House was so-called after the famous
Bermuda Governor (and historian in later life). It became an Adult day
care center for seniors. Registered charity 393.
House at Spanish Point was surveyed.
house was erected at the Royal Naval Hospital, Dockyard.
houses at Dockyard were constructed.
factory, Smithery and Storehouses were established at Dockyard.
Admiralty House, improvements were made to the dwelling quarters for
non-commissioned staff and a wine cellar were created for the Admiral and his
officers. Admiral Fahie, Commander in Chief. Royal Navy Bermuda, based at Admiralty House,
ordered the wine cellar to be constructed “for the preservation of his
health and of his suite.” (A kitchen was added in 1824, a new dining room
in 1828 and new stables in 1834).
Dockyard, the Ruby hulk was broken up. Its timbers were used to delineate
the Dockyard area.
further survey of Admiralty House, St. John's Hill, Spanish Point, where
Admiralty House was situated, was re-named Clarence Hill after the Duke of
Clarence. At the same time, Abbott's Bay became Clarence Bay.
Dockyard, four horses were bought by the Royal Navy to replace slaves.
A system of
flag signals created by the Royal Navy for use in Bermuda began to work
across the islands. Four hill-top posts were created, one at Fort
George, with the Dockyard-based Central Signal Station for shipping and for
meteorological reporting. Others were Mount Langton, Gibbs' Hill with the
colony's lighthouse, and Admiralty House at Spanish Point. The flags
indicated the arrival and passing-by of shipping and other events, including
a midday time signal; the numerical flag code was easily read by the civil
residents, who were also allowed to send private messages.
Convicts began to arrive on Prison Hulks
convicts were approved by the British Government in London and its Navy Board
for transportation to Bermuda to work on HM Dockyard.
British convicts who were exiled
in chain gangs to Bermuda at that time included debtors, unemployed mill hands
goaded into riots in Britain by starvation, Irish nationalists, Welsh debtors,
Scotsmen defiantly and violently protesting the Clearances from the northern
Highlands of Sutherland and Caithness in particular, defaulting
bankers, sheep steelers, poachers and petty thieves. They
were to do so for 40 years. The decision to send them to
Bermuda was strategic. Britain needed to speed up work on the Dockyard,
there were not enough men in the local population and convict labour was cheap
and plentiful. See http://issuu.com/penandsword/docs/prisonersinparadise.
This decision was
taken for three reasons, one being the frustration from the slowness of
local labor. Another was the need to speed up work at the dockyard. The
third was the fact that convicts were going to be constantly available as
a source of cheap and expendable labor. The convicts were to be
housed on prison hulks. The hulks were once ships
of the line that had fought at Trafalgar and elsewhere and then been
decommissioned due to their age or condition or seaworthiness. Masts were taken off and
extra decking and roofs were erected to make places on incarceration.
blasting began to occur at Dockyard. At that tine, 23 UK expatriate
supervisory staff and 218 local employees were involved.
House commenced its construction. Samuel Wade Smith was sent out
to Bermuda by Edward Holl, the Surveyor of Buildings for the UK's Navy Board. He
brought with him the plans for the Commissioner's House at HM Dockyard which
Holl had designed. The former was responsible not only for the building of
Commissioner's House, but also all of the quarrying and leveling of the dockyard
site, the construction of the breakwater and the great wharf walls, and all the
other buildings which constituted what became known as ‘The Works.
It is so-called because it was the home and office of the Royal Naval Dockyard Commissioner.
It has the distinction of being the oldest overseas cast iron building in British military history (it is
exceeded in age only by a few buildings in the UK and USA where cast iron buildings
were pioneered). It was an iron and steel framework shipped from the United Kingdom.
It caused a monumental
scandal because of its huge cost to British
taxpayers. It became HMS Malabar VI and remained so until paid off. In front
of and below it - see picture above - is the replica of the original bowsprit of a one famous Royal Navy
vessel (with the author next to it).
Commissioner's House was restored in 2000 after long years of neglect. The
Bermuda Government contributed US$ 500,000 in a new partnership with the Maritime Museum.
It has now been reopened as a second museum. It is identical in name to
properties at other Royal Navy bases.
Cut was closed, for military security.
Announcement of more convicts to arrive within months.
- January. Casemates
commenced as a barracks for Royal Marines and soldiers. They would
undertake two main functions, one to provide general security and the other
to guard convicts when they arrive. The grim building of Casemates ( described by name in Somerset
Parish - was once solid rock. It is one of the most important - and
second-oldest of the Dockyard buildings. It was built from convict labor as a
barracks for Royal Marines Light Infantry, then
responsible for the defence of the Dockyard. The "casemate"
refers to the fact that its roof, vaulted in brick and concrete some eight
feet thick, was built to make it bomb-proof against the incoming cannon balls
and mortar shot of the day. At
one time (1848), Casemates was the barracks of the 42nd Highlanders (Black
Watch). They were then guarding the convicts building the
Dockyard. (They later created their own unique niche in Bermuda history in the
creation of the Black Watch Pass and Black Watch Well). Its yard is a flat,
white wasteland created by the blasting away of its hard limestone, to give
slaves (until 1834), free men and jailbirds from England (until 1863) the raw
material from which they laboriously shaped each and every rock that made up the
fortifications. The walls are several feet thick and made of specially-treated
local limestone needed no plastering to make them waterproof. It had
two floors with accommodation for 120 officers and men, along with canteens,
messes and offices. There was a veranda -
needing restoration - on three sides of the building on the ground floor.
The well that forms the roof has unparalleled views of
the Dockyard to the northeast and the building, given its construction,
was capable of being used as a fort. On either
side of the Barracks was an ordnance yard, still with gunpowder storage
buildings, or magazines. In recent years, but without success to date, there have been proposals to
create a hotel from the former prison, now deserted. It has also been suggested that the Bermuda
Archives be relocated here.
was erected, at the northwest side of Maria's Hill.
and saw pit were created.
entrance closed by causeway.
hulk arrived, used as a victualling hulk.
East Breakwater reached 200 feet, growing at 13 feet per month.
laid of South East Breakwater.
destined to become a prison hulk, arrived in Bermuda after sailing from
England in late 1825. Earlier, she had transported
convicts to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1820, was ex store ship.
She stayed in Bermuda until 1851.Dromedary was an East Indiaman that the
Navy purchased in 1805. First named Howe and then renamed Dromedary
in 1806. She was converted to a prison hulk in 1825, at Bermuda and broken
up there in 1864.
September 1. Possessions of the convicts from the 19th
century found much later were of value only to the convicts who made them illegally. The
Colonial Times newspaper in the UK reported the situation then prevailing as follows: "At the termination of
the assizes or sessions, the keepers of the various gaols throughout the kingdom
are required to transmit to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, a
list of prisoners who have received sentence of transportation, and an order is
then forwarded, directing to which of the hulks they are to be conveyed. On
their arrival, they are immediately stripped and washed, clothed in coarse grey
jackets and breeches, and two irons placed on one of the legs, to which
degradation everyone must submit, let his previous rank have been what it may.
They are sent out in gangs of a certain number to work on shore, guarded by
soldiers. A strict account is kept of the labour performed by each gang, there
being a scale by which it is calculated, and out of each shilling earned for the
Government by the prisoner, he is entitled to a penny, which is carried to his
credit; but of this he receives only one third part weekly, the remainder being
left to accumulate until the expiration of the term which he is doomed to
serve. "Thus it sometimes happens that a man who has been six or seven years on board
the hulks, on his discharge is put in possession of ten or twelve pounds, and is
also supplied with an additional sum of money to defray his travel expenses to
get back home. The strictest discipline is
maintained, and extreme cleanliness enforced in the vessels. The diet daily
allowed is a pound and a quarter of bread; a quart of thick gruel, morning and
evening; on four days of a week, a piece of meat weighing 14 ounces before it is
cooked; and on the other three days in lieu of meat, a quarter of a pound of
cheese, also an allowance of small beer; and on certain occasions, when work
peculiarly fatiguing and laborious is required, a portion of strong beer is
served out; no where [except in the Colonies] does a good behavior meet its
reward more than at the hulks. A chronicle is kept of the conduct of each, and
the Captain and Chaplain have the privilege of recommending annually a certain
number as fit objects for a mitigation of punishment, so that it frequently
occurs that a man sentenced to seven years transportation, serves only three
years and a half or four years; there are also other inducements to orderly
conduct, such as having the irons lightened and being promoted to little
appointments which relieve from severe labour. Besides those who are retained to
serve out their term of transportation in England, thousands are every year sent
to these colonies, upon an average about six transports arrive annually in Van
Diemen's Land; and about twelve in New South Wales. Amongst others who are
actually transported to the Colonies, such are invariably selected as are known
to be old offenders, and those who appear to be incorrigible. One ship, the
Bellerophon, at Sheerness, is appropriated exclusively to a reception of boys,
not exceeding 16 years of age, most of whom are not expatriated, but are taught
various trades, such as shoemaking, tailors work, bookbinding and etc. The
morals of these youthful delinquents, some of whom are not more than ten years
old, are very carefully attended to; it is, however, a lamentable fact, that not
withstanding the severe lessons taught by the discipline of the hulks, very many
instances occur of prisoners who have been discharged, again returning to habits
of dishonesty, and, again incurring the penalty of transportation, eventually
banished to these Colonies. The Penitentiary, at Millbank, was erected in order
to serve some measure as a substitute for the hulks or exportation, but it is
sufficiently notorious that this gigantic establishment which has cost the
Mother County near a million of money, has hitherto most lamentably disappointed
the expectation of its projectors, both in a moral and political point of view.
About two years back, when much sickness prevailed in the penitentiary, an Act
of Parliament was passed, to enable His Majesty to remove the prisoners from
thence to the Hulks, and a certain number were drafted to each ship. These are
said to have exhibited little symptoms of reformation, but, on the contrary,
were generally found to be the most refactory. We have drawn this statement ,and
we place it before the Public to convince them of the difference between the
usage of American prisoners, and those subjected to a penal bond in the Colonies
we inhabit; and we are the more eager to do so at the present period, from the
influx of prisoners from England and the penal settlements, otherwise we should
not have been induced to have entered thus fully into this subject."
were The Cottage, Parsonage, Fortifications, Keep and Great Wharf.
Primarily for the convicts but also for other Royal Navy personnel, a Church
of England parson was sent from the UK to attend to the spiritual needs of
the convicted and free. From that time on the Royal Navy
property was known as the Parsonage and the bay in which it was located was
referred to as Parson's Bay.
Commissioner moved in to Commissioner's House.
Corondel (formerly Malabar II) arrived in Bermuda.
Coromandel was a 20-gun store ship, formerly an East Indiaman that the
Admiralty purchased in 1804, commissioned as a 56-gun Fourth-rate, and named
HMS Malabar in 1804. She was refitted as a store ship in 1805 and renamed
Coromandel in 1815. She became a prison hulk in 1827 and was broken up in
other prison hulks in 1828
Bermuda-built cedar privateer, completed in 1825, also with the name Pickle in
honor of the vessel of 1803, took part in a severe Royal Navy action of the
northeast coast of Cuba that resulted in the capture of a Spanish slave-trading
ship, the Boladora and the release of 330 slaves aboard.
Two reports by John Henry Capper, Esq, Superintendent of Ships and vessels
employed for the confinement of offenders under sentence of transportation
relating to the convict establishments at Devonport, Portsmouth, Chatham,
Woolwich and Bermuda. London: House of Commons. 8pp. British Parliamentary
Paper. HC170. Contains lists of convict hulks at Portsmouth, Gosport, Sheerness,
Woolwich, Chatham, Deptford & Bermuda with numbers of convicts. Summaries of
work performed, health etc. Parliamentary Papers.
- The Dockyard and forts elsewhere in Bermuda
began to be fully armed.
- HMS Hussar, a Royal Navy
5th rate, 38 guns, built in 1805, was refitted at the Royal Navy
- Two careening capstans
installed on the Camber.
- The Old Cooperage
building was built for Royal Navy storage (now the Bermuda
Arts Center, the creative workshop of local artisans and artists, open 7 days a
- October 25. Death and burial
in Bermuda early November of one-time Mount Wyndham resident Rear Admiral Sir
Edward Griffiths (later Griffiths-Colpoys), on a voyage to England. The
Royal Navy monument to him was the largest in the Royal Naval Cemetery at
Ireland Island. (His sister, Martha Griffiths, married one Thomas Abbott in 1798
and her great great grandson, Admiral Sir Peter Abbot, GBE, KCB, served in
Bermuda in the mid-1970s).
- First steamship-of-war, HMS
Rhadamanthus, coaled at the Royal Navy Dockyard, Bermuda, whole en route
from Jamaica to London.
- A traditional
Bermuda-rigged sloop was built of Bermuda cedar partially by slaves
freed or about to be freed. She was a Ballyhoo schooner, believed to have
been a significant local evolution of the Royal Navy's "Shamrock"
class of boats.
- August 1. Slaves working at
HM Dockyard, Bermuda, were officially declared freed and were promptly
retained on the payroll.
- Ports Island was made into
a quarantine area for cholera.
- St. George's was finally
abandoned as a Royal Navy base.
A hurricane breached the North
East Breakwater and stopped work on Timlin's Narrows.
- Great Wharf and North East
- Post of Commissioner
abolished. Mr Ballingall, Naval Storekeeper, assumed charge. He lived at
- Commissioner's House became
the residence for the Superintendent of Convicts.
- First buildings erected in
- Interior work began on
North East Arm of Breakwater
- Foundations for Lighthouse
at Wreck Hill
- HMS Malabar IV visited
Bermuda for repairs
- Exterior work began on the
North East Arm
- Ports Island, made into a
quarantine area in 1834, and Royal Naval Hospital improved
- Boat Slip was created
at the Camber.
- Houses were built near
the Spar Yard
- May 28. Vice Admiral
Sir Thomas Harvey, KCB, Royal Navy, stationed in Bermuda and Commander in
Chief of the North American and West Indies Naval Forces, died at Clarence
House (later, Admiralty House) and was later buried in the Royal Naval
Cemetery, Bermuda. He was 66 years old.
- Dockyard Main Gatehouse
- Workmen's houses near
the Royal Naval Hospital were constructed.
- Completion of Dockyard's
last wooden buildings
- Victualling Yard began
dockyard further taking shape, with Victualling Yard being built
- Wall of North Yard
- South (small) Arm completed
- SW Guard House created
- Lodge Point houses
- Tenados hulk arrived
- Cockburn's Cut re-opened to
allow stone barges through. Wooden bridge constructed over gap.
- August 18. Violent
hurricane caused great damage to Dockyard and other buildings.
- Worst Yellow Fever
outbreak. 1047 sick, 114 died.
- Dockyard Boy's School established.
- Thames hulk arrived.
- Albert Row 1-4 homes
- Plumbers Shop in Spar
- Gibb's Hill Lighthouse in
Southampton Parish completed with the aid of newly-arrived convicts sent
from Dockyard with Royal Navy officers overlooking by sea. The Royal
Navy had played a key role from the sea in determining the best place for
the lighthouse to be noted by mariners.
- 1845-1848. Captain Sir Michael Seymour,
painted the distinctive watercolor below in Bermuda when his vessel toured ports of
the North America and West Indies Station during that period. He commanded HMS Vindictive.
They have been on display at the Bermuda Maritime Museum and its Commissioner's
House. This one shows
the Dockyard from Commissioner's House, including prison hulks on the left. The Victualling Yard had
not yet been completed.
Mortuary at the Royal Naval
Hospital was created, in a hut by the Lagoon.
Victoria Row houses 17-24 were
built as basic accommodation
for lower ranks of Royal Navy personnel.
- December. Captain Charles Elliott,
Royal Navy, became Governor of Bermuda until August 1852
- Albert Row houses 5-8
Both row houses, or terraced houses, were built as basic accommodation
for lower ranks of Royal Navy personnel. When the Royal Navy left Bermuda in the
1950s, they became low-cost homes for local residents. But because
more than 30 separate homes fell into disrepair,
have not been lived in for more than a year. landowners the West End
Development Corporation (Wedco), says demolition is the only viable option.
idea of leveling Victoria Row was first mooted in 2009, but a final decision
over the property’s fate was only made in mid 2015 once all other avenues had
- A small slip for HMS Pickle
was created in the Spar Yard.
- A boat repair shed was
built in the North Yard.
- Stables and stable shed
were built in the North Yard.
- Breakwater in the North
Yard was completed.
- Gaspard Le Merchant Tupper,
a British Army officer and noted artist,
was posted to Bermuda from 1845 to 1848, was a Major with the Royal Artillery (he became a Lieutenant General,
later, on his
return to England). He painted the three images below.
Dockyard, Bermuda, May 1847.
- Admiral the Right
Honourable Earl of Dundonald—dubbed “Dauntless Cochrane” after his
exploits at sea both in the Royal Navy and in the navies of Chile, Brazil
and Greece—took over as commander-in-chief of the Bermuda-headquartered
Royal Navy fleet then servicing Bermuda, the Caribbean and North America and
promptly quashed plans to rebuild Admiralty House in Pembroke where he was
then residing, saying, “It has been proposed to spend £11,000 on building
a new Admiralty House. Don’t sanction it! Look at the Commissioner’s
House [newly built at Dockyard]. It is scarcely credible that there is an
11-stalled stable and two coaches attached to this mansion.” Though he
stayed in Bermuda for just three years, Cochrane made his mark on the
property, earning the nickname “Earth Mover.” He made caves and tunnels.
That is why a tunnel exists to this day from nearby the tennis court on the
eastern end of the property to the now Government nursery on the other side
of Spanish Point Road. And also why a large cave exists by the cove.
Dundonald may have been chary of colonial expenditure, but that did not
prevent him from offering magnificent entertainment. (In May 1850, he gave a
full-dress grand ball at Admiralty House for 350 guests. After the dancing
concluded and the supper was enjoyed, according to the Gazette, guests were
allowed a novel experience. “We descended a flight of stone steps into the
tunnel, thence into a room hewn out of the solid rock, about 14 ft in height
and 40 ft circumference, lighted by day through an aperture in one
side....” In the centre of the cave was a table “furnished with small
brown jugs from which each visitor might quaff a beverage...”
- Boaz Island was bought by
the Royal Navy to serve as Convict Barracks
- Naval Wells were pronounced
as "bad" by Lord Dundonald.
- Medway prison hulk
1848 woodcut showing
Medway and other prison
hulks moored off Ireland Island, Bermuda
- Rails and trucks were
brought in by the Royal Navy from England to speed up coaling of Royal Navy
ships calling at Bermuda
- A Smithery was created
- Magazine in Keep Yard
- At the Victualling Hard a
Dockyard Terrace was built
- Watford Cemetery on Watford
Island was allowed to become a burial place for convicts
- Grey's Bridge, connecting
Ireland Island and Boaz Island for Royal Navy strategic reasons, began
construction by British convicts serving hard labor. The bridge was built
to accommodate the expansion-in-Bermuda aims of the Royal Navy. It was named
in honor of the Rt. Hon. Henry, Earl Grey, one of Her Majesty’s Principal
Secretaries of State.
- More Victoria Row lodgings
were built by convict labor based on prison hulls.
- By this time there were
many such hulks in Dockyard waters.
- Introduction of the exploding shell and use of rifling inside a gun barrel
for improved range and
accuracy. Rifled muzzle loading and
rifled breech loading guns were also much easier, safer and quicker to load and
fire. The Royal Navy brought them to
Bermuda in quantity to fight off an enemy.
- Magazine was constructed on
what was then still Cross Island (later referred to as Sober Island).
- Boaz Island barracks were
- June. Mr. Ballingall
ordered the layout of the top floor at No. 2 Victualling Store as a chapel.
- Cockburn's Cut -
named after a former Admiral at west end of Lagoon
opened after re-excavation to allow free flow of water. It was originally
built in 1817. It is between Ireland Island north and south.
- Ireland Island, Bermuda,
was formally physically connected by the Royal Navy to its nearest neighbor,
Boaz Island. The Admiral on the North America and West Indies Station
(headquartered at Bermuda), Lord Cochrane, the Rt. Hon. the Earl of
Dundonald, opened The Grey's Bridge, begun in 1849, between those two
military islands at the extreme northerly tip of Sandys Parish.
- A large Magazine in the
Keep Yard was built.
- The Earl of Dundonald, the
Bermuda-based Admiral Cochrane of the Royal Navy, nicknamed Cochrane the
Dauntless, was aghast at British Government proposals to spend £11,000 on
rebuilding Admiralty House in Pembroke Parish. In pithy terms, he warned
against it, citing the horrendous expenditure on Commissioner's House at the
Bermuda Royal Navy Dockyard as example of wasting money. At Admiralty House,
he organized a grand ball, and also displayed for the first time the unique
changes he had made there, including a tunnel to the fruit and vegetable
gardens and the excavated caves, accessed via a flight of stone steps into a
room 14 feet by 40 feet over the sea with places for small boats to tie up.
- Shipwright's Shop was created
at the Cooperage, North Yard
- The Oratory (formerly slaves
quarters) opened as a Chapel
- Organ received from USA for
- Captain Charles Elliott,
Royal Navy, became Governor of Bermuda.
- Foundry and Fitting Shop
- Victualling Yard completed
- Ports Island Isolation
- 6 houses in Dockyard
Terrace were completed
- Building of the Naval
Storehouse and Great Eastern Storehouse,
the latter huge - pictured below - with 3 foot walls and 100 foot towers,
Hill Fort was demolished, with the hill partly quarried away to supply the
Dockyard with soft Bermuda stone, a quality of the rock indicated in several
Ballingall retired. Captain F. Hutton, Royal Navy, became first
Captain-in-Charge and hoisted his Broad Pennant on HMS Terror than moored at
the Dockyard. He also moved into the Cottage as his residence.
Storehouse complex - later the Clocktower building - was completed and
Old Storehouse was finally demolished. The
clock on the south tower was cast in England in 1857 by John Moore and Sons. What seems to be a single hand clock
on the eastern side of the north tower is a rare "tide clock." In
Royal Navy days, the hand was set daily to indicate the time of high tide. Grassy areas lead to
deep water berths. Today, it is a shopping mall - the Clocktower Mall.
After the completion of
the Naval Storehouse and East Storehouse complexes, above, the Keep at the
Dockyard was surrounded on
three sides by sea water. The Royal Navy's firepower then had 68 guns, mostly of 24 and 32 pounds in ammunition size and
range. In those days of Imperial sea power,
one gun in the latter weight could fire a 32 pound ball for a distance of 1,000 yards.
From these, shells were carried to the guns on special systems.
- More houses were built
at Victoria and Albert Terraces
- A steam pumping engine
arrived from the UK and was installed.
report titled "Defence of Bermuda" Colonel A. J. Hemphill, Royal Engineers,
included this comment about the defence of the Dockyard: "There
are mounted altogether on the Land Front and its outworks four 32-pdrs, fourteen
24-pdr guns and eleven 24-pdr carronades, and in rear of it, covered by its
ramparts is a Bombproof Barrack, constructed for 13 officers and 307 men, with
tanks underneath for 120,000 gallons of water; and on the flanks of the barrack,
but at a lower level, bombproof magazines for 2500 barrels of gunpowder, (but
now unused owing to the dangerous proximity of the Dockyard new blacksmiths),
and a range of bombproof buildings, containing Commissariat offices,
storehouses, bakery, etc., and barrack stores."
Admiralty House area used by the Royal Navy was extended to 16.36 acres with the
purchase by the Admiralty of an area east of Clarence Cove, often referred to as
Burnt House Hill (see third graphic below).
It included a small cottage,
later known as the Clerk's Cottage from being occupied as the dwelling of the
male Admiralty House clerk of the Admirals. A local scribe, H. J. Carr, wrote at
the time that the addition of the tract was necessary because the Clerk's
Cottage property had earlier been used as a house of ill repute, a haunt of bad
characters, possibly even a brothel according to Spanish Point folklore. It
later became the headquarters of the Pembroke Community Club.
help in it's battle against yellow fever that was then becoming an epidemic in
British Army and Royal Navy units then based in Bermuda, the Royal Navy sent Dr.
Henry Domville, of the RN's medical service, to the Royal Naval Hospital,
Ireland Ireland. It is believed he and his wife were there for several years.
May 1. Because Hawkish individuals
in the USA's Union side after the US Civil War (1861-1865) ended wanted the USA to seize Bermuda as war reparations
retaliation for how Bermudians supported the Confederacy and the ships from Britain that
preyed on Union shipping, Royal Navy installations at the Dockyard were
strengthened and additional British Army troops were brought in from the UK
primarily to defend the dockyard.
The Royal Navy, both in Bermuda and in England, resolved to end the
primary limitation of Bermuda as a Dockyard because of the porosity of its
limestone sandstone, which prevented construction of a proper dry dock.
It decided to remedy the problem with an order for a floating dry dock. This
(and its successors), was a large hull, with a U-shaped cross section. It
could be partly-submerged by filling ballast tanks with water, so that a
ship might be brought in and braced into position. The tanks were then
emptied to lift the ship out of the water for repairs below its waterline.
- June 23. Bermuda's first Royal Navy
Floating Dock was completed in England. The earliest dock proposal was made in 1823
but in 1827 the Clerk of the Works argued that the local rock was too heterogeneous and
porous for an efficient coffer dam. But a slip was started to careen the hulls of ships
and is still there. The idea of a floating dock was discarded for a generation. It was
stated that the new slip had to be capable of accommodating two 46-gun frigates.
Correspondence was renewed in 1852 on the relative merits of a dry-dock, a slip and a
floating dock. At that time, it was specified that the largest vessel to be considered
would have the beam of the Terrible and the length of the Simoom,
or the size of an 80-gun ship as these were the largest that could come through the
Narrows in the channel widened for ships. In 1854, a 600-foot slip was proposed at a
cost of 35,000 pounds sterling but considered too costly. Three years later there was a
plan for a dry-dock and yet another slip in 1862. Then it was
finally decided Bermuda should have
a floating dock. It was built by English floating dock engineers Campbell & Johnstone
at Blackwall on the River Thames and completed on this day.
- July 28. Bermuda's first
Floating Dock, the mammoth HMS Bermuda, ordered seven months earlier from
London and Bermuda, arrived after being towed from the United Kingdom
starting on 20th May that year to Bermuda's Royal Navy Dockyard, following
the decision taken to order it. In May 1869, the construction of what
was then the world's second largest floating dry dock, HMS Bermuda, was
finally completed by the company which had employed more than 1,400 skilled
workers for the job. The floating dock was over 47,000 square feet in total
size, 381 feet long, 123 feet wide, and 74 feet deep. It was ordered from
Campbell's Patent Floating Dry Dock expressly for for H M Dockyard at
Bermuda. It was designed by Col. Clarke R E. and built at Messrs Campbell
Johnstone and Co Works, Silvertown near North Woolwich and launched by Col.
Clarke's wife on Sept 3rd 1868. For its transit to the Island, the
first-ever such long distance operation, the vessel was named HM Floating
Dock Bermuda, with a crew of around 80 under Staff Commander William
Hains, RN. It was designed for docking ships of the 'Bellephron' class when
waterlogged between the caissons and capable of lifting without the caissons
a vessel of 8,700 tons weight which with the weight of the dock itself 8,000
tons gave a total displacement of 16,700 tons. It was designed to
accommodate ships up to 370 feet long and 25 feet wide. Due to her size,
only three docks in the world were able to receive the 'Warrior',
Portsmouth, Liverpool and Southampton - all in England. She could, however,
berth at the floating dock at Bermuda. Floating docks were less expensive
than investment in major permanent construction. Additionally, there was the
strategic advantage of having moveable docking and repair facilities. It
serviced both naval and civilian vessels, some weighing as much as 10,000
tons, from all over the world, until 1904 (while being towed away to a ship
breaker's yard, the dock broke loose and stuck at the foreshore, Spanish
Point, where some remains are still visible in the water).
The floating dock lay in Grassy Bay until the following April when it was
brought to the North Basin and moored against the Great Wharf. As a
functioning Dockyard, this facility had ammunition depots, deep water
berths, barracks, chapels, soldiers and sailors to guard it. The soldiers
were based at the fort here, the largest in Bermuda (now the Bermuda
Above and below. Royal Naval
Dockyard 1869, showing the Floating Dock
Floating Dock for HM Dockyard with vessel inside. Thomas Dutton, artist and engraver. Original in
the National Maritime Museum, London
arrives in Bermuda 1869
Location of the
Bermuda Floating Dock
She was towed out by the
and HMS Northumberland as far as Porto Santo, Madeira, where
HMS Warrior (Britain's first iron-hulled battleship,
built in Blackwall on the River Thames in 1860 as a counter to the naval
ambitions of Emperor Napoleon III of France, the fastest, largest, strongest and
best-armed warship in the world but by 1869 she was obsolete (but in May 2018
this author saw her in Portsmouth Harbour, restored) and
HMS Black Prince took over. With HMS Terrible and a
small gunboat fast astern, the voyage took 35 days. The ships and the floating dock
arrived off Ireland Island on July 28. The floating dock lay in Grassy Bay until the
following April when it was brought to the North Basin and moored against the Great Wharf.
As a functioning
Dockyard, this facility had ammunition depots, deep water berths, barracks,
chapels, soldiers and sailors to guard it. The soldiers were based at the fort
here, the largest in Bermuda (now the Bermuda Maritime Museum).
Keep was freshly equipped, until 1905. Concrete emplacements for 10 inch
rifled muzzle loading guns were built on five of the bastions. One could fire a 400 pound
exploding shell for a distance of 4,800 yards. Two new magazines for ammunition were also
built. In the 1880s, the Royal Navy
brought modern breech loading guns with steel barrels to Bermuda, in accordance with the
rearmament at British dockyards in Britain, Canada and Malta.
- What is now the Queen's Exhibition Hall
was a magazine built in the late 1800s for 4,860 kegs of gunpowder. The Shifting House
once handled ordnance for naval vessels.
- Cockburn's Cut
- named after a former Admiral - was re-excavated, originally built in 1817. It is between Ireland Island
north and south.
Dr. Edward Lewton Penny was the Dockyard parson, schoolmaster and librarian.
during this 5-year period. A
scholar, he described himself in Latin as "unhappily submerged and badly
treated in the Bermuda Islands. " In the sketch by him shown below he notes in Greek
that the man who borrows a volume and does not return it is committing a sin. He
hoped for the best but expected the worst.
Captain John Moresby, RN, later Rear Admiral, left Bermuda after a three-year
assignment at the Royal Naval Dockyard: ‘I handed over my command to another,
when parting kindnesses, warm farewells, and much speechifying, poured in on me
from all quarters, together with gratifying official recognition; but I think
the Commander-in-Chief Sir Leopold McClintock’s last words were my greatest
pleasure, when he simply said: “I hope I shall be regretted as you are when I
also give up my command.”
The first Watford Bridge on Watford Island was conceived after a great storm
cut communication between Somerset and the Royal Naval islands, it
accentuated the need for a bridge. Later, when the Dockyard was to be
expanded a “Watford Island Bridge” was deemed essential. Works on the
South Yard of the Dockyard and what was intended for the new bridge meant
that the descendants of any Bermudian families of today who now live in
Somerset first came to Bermuda to be employed on the construction of the
South Yard and the bridge. This
bridge, now the third, was named after Watford,
Ireland, not the English town in Hertfordshire as has long been
claimed. It connects Somerset Island with Watford Island, Boaz Island,
Ireland Island and the Royal Naval Dockyard. Sea views are marvelous. Bus
routes # 7 ("Dockyard") and # 8 stop in the immediate area.
There's also the Watford Bridge ferry stop, on the Royal Naval Dockyard to
city of Hamilton route. See a British historic military cemetery on nearby
Watford Island and another one near this bridge. In 1958 the bridge was
rebuilt to provide fishing and pleasure boats a shorter trip to and from the
West End. The first bridge was conceived in 1887 after
a great storm cut communication between Somerset and the Royal Naval islands
of Watford, Boaz and Ireland Islands. It accentuated the need for a bridge. In
1902, a bridge to the mainland, begin in 1901 and formally opened in
September 1903, finally spanned the Watford gap. Prior to 1900, a “horse
ferry”, being a small flat-bottomed boat that could accommodate a horse
and carriage, traversed the channel. It
eventually spanned the 450 feet of the channel. Great cast-iron cylinders
were sunk into bedrock and filled with concrete. Some
3,000 tons of local stone, 200 tons of cement and 55 tons of granite were
required for the works, along with 433 tons of steel for the bridgework and
central swinging span. The original bridge lasted
for 54 years; its replacement from 1957, a mere 23 years. The
present Watford Bridge, minus the Island, was built in 1982, and claims to
be “one of the most successful tributes to the use of galvanizing in civil
engineering.” It is supposed to have a “design life” of 120 years.
on Maria Hill near the Royal Navy Dockyard were erected as the Single
- Not until 1900 did the USA and
Britain become allies, which is why so many land based forts were built in Bermuda in the
19th century, primarily to defend against not European but American aggression. They and their powerful, long range, hill-top coastline cannons discouraged
an enemy from seizing Bermuda. All the forts in the Western Parishes were designed to help
protect the Dockyard. It was Britain's Atlantic naval base headquarters from Canada's
Great Lakes to the Caribbean and remote islands of the South Atlantic. It was the Citadel
of the Western Atlantic and Gibraltar of the West. At the Dockyard three 4.7 inch
quick firing modern breech loading guns - mostly to guard against torpedo boats -and four
new six inch breech loading guns were mounted on the bastions. Each was supplied by an
underground magazine. Under this further improved system, a six inch gun could fire a 100
pound exploding shell for 12,000 yards.
- February. HMS Hotspur,
after being retired from distinguished Royal Navy active service became a
coast defence and port guard ship at the Royal Navy Dockyard, Bermuda. She
was a Victorian ironclad ram - a warship armed with guns but whose primary
weapon was a ram. She was built at Govan, Scotland by Napier, launched 19th
March 1870 and completed 17th November 1871. She was commissioned at
Devonport in 1871, and remained in reserve until 1876. She was similar in
layout to Monitor HMS Glatton. She was an armored gun house with four
gun ports. This was built instead of a turret as it was believed that the
turret would not withstand a ramming. She served with HMS Rupert in the
Sea of Marmara during the Russo-Turkish war of 1878. She then returned to
Devonport, where she remained until her major reconstruction between 1881
and 1883. Her only active service thereafter was with the Particular Service
Squadron of 1885. She was guard ship at Holyhead until 1893, was again in
reserve until 1897, and was posted thereafter to serve as guard ship at
Bermuda, where she stayed until sold for scrap in 1904. Her armament (after
reconstruction in 1883) consisted of a 10ft armored ram, 2 x 12 inch guns, 2
x 6 inch guns, 8 x 3 in quick-firers. 8 x machine guns. Displacement:
4331 tons, Speed: 12.6 knots. Compliment: 209.
HMS Hotspur at
The South Yard was built in Dockyard
between 1901 and 1910 to accommodate the larger naval ships
that were becoming more
commonplace across the world.
- At Dockyard, the Royal Navy
incorporated tiny Sober (Cross) Island into the land-based South Western
Breakwater. By doing so, it created a natural defence against the sea, to
plug what had earlier been an obvious breach of defences there. In the
process, with a guardhouse established there partly to stem the outbreaks of drunkenness among the crews working on the
project, the Royal Navy approved the change of name from Cross to Sober
Watford Bridge was begun, mostly
for Royal Navy personnel to access the Royal Navy Dockyard on Watford, Boaz
and Ireland Islands. Until 1900, a “horse ferry” - a
small flat-bottomed boat that could accommodate a horse and carriage -
traversed the channel. The
bridge eventually spanned the 450 feet of the channel.
Great cast-iron cylinders were sunk into bedrock and filled with concrete.
Some 3,000 tons of local stone, 200 tons of cement and 55 tons of granite
were required for the works, along with 433 tons of steel for the bridgework
and central swinging span.
- Primarily as the result of
the economic boom created
by the massive Walker Works project of expanding and modernizing the Royal
Naval Dockyard, hundreds of West Indians from many Caribbean islands arrived
in Bermuda by sea.
The scope of that massive construction included
Watford Island, Boaz and Ireland Islands, the building of a Watford
(Swing) Bridge and construction of a railway to carry tons of fill for the
reclamation of land from the sea.
- In Bermuda, headquarters of the
Royal Navy's America and West Indies Station, with Vice Admiral Sir Archibald
Douglas in command of the Station, the following Royal Navy vessels were based
at the RN Dockyard:
Cruisers: Ariadne; Calypso; Charybdis; Indefatigable;
Pallas; Retribution; and Tribune. Torpedo-boat Destroyers: Quail; Rocket. Sloops
and gunboats: Alert; Columbine; Fantome. Gigs: 4.
- July. The second Bermuda Floating
Dock arrived in Bermuda.
The dock was referred to officially as Admiralty
Floating Dock No. 1 (AFD1) sometimes now as the “Bermuda Dock”. AFD1 is a
“floating graving” type floating dock designed by Clark & Standfield for
the British Admiralty and built by C.S. Swan and Hunter Ltd, Wallsend. In the
“floating graving” type dock, there are three separate pontoons each bolted
to the continuous sidewalls on either side. Self docking was accomplished by
unbolting the centre pontoon and sinking the dock allowing the centre pontoon to
rise up. The pontoon was then reattached at the higher level and then raising
the dock, thus lifting the centre pontoon clear of the water. A similar process
could be applied to the other two pontoons, one at each end. Access to the
underside of the sidewalls for repair was by careening. The dock was launched in
February 1902 and completed June 1902, delivered in July 1902. She cost £226,000.
24. The formal opening of the first Watford Island Bridge, begun in
1901, completed in 1902, in heavy rain. Many
Bermudian families of today in Somerset first came to Bermuda to be employed
on the construction of the South Yard and the bridge. The structure had been
started in August 1901 and eventually spanned the 450 feet of the channel.
Great cast-iron cylinders were sunk into bedrock and filled with concrete.
Some 3,000 tons of local stone, 200 tons of cement
and 55 tons of granite were required for the works, along with 433 tons of
steel for the bridgework and central swinging span. Before
that, a horse ferry, a flat-bottomed boat that could accommodate a horse and
carriage had been the only way to cross the channel. “The bright
smart-looking khaki of the soldiers quickly assumed the appearance of brown
paper; many pretty dresses became limp and bedraggled, and clung
affectionately to their fair owners.” But the
weather cleared for the opening of what was considered the crowning
structure in the work of providing continuous overland communication
throughout Bermuda following the completion of the Causeway at St.
George’s Parish in 1871. The people of Somerset
had constructed a triumphal arch at their end of bridge and a great crowd
gathered. The Governor, Sir Henry LeGuay Geary, KCB, pressed an electric
bell and the swing span opened to allow a procession of boats, including as
passengers all the schoolchildren of Somerset, to enter Mangrove Bay.
This particular Watford Island Bridge lasted for 54
- 1903. The Rev. Charles
Monk, an AME minister and publisher of the "People's Journal"
defended Jamaican and other West Indian workers at the Royal Naval Dockyard
who claimed they had been exploited. He was sued in a criminal libel
trial brought by the contractors and imprisoned.
1914 World War 1 or Great War
- At Admiralty House, Pembroke,
Bermuda, residence and headquarters of the Royal Navy's Bermuda-based Admiral of
the West Indies and North America Squadron, staff there
included individuals in
the following photograph:
- December 12. The death
while at sea, in action against the German Navy, of Bermuda-based Lieutenant
Commander Ernest Grant Ede RN, while on convoy duty in the North Sea on HMS
Pellew. His wife, Winifred, was a Bermudian restaurant owner. Their
infant son Herman had been born earlier that year (in 1940, as a Flying
Officer, the first Bermudian to die in World War 2.
How the Dockyard
House, in Pembroke Parish,
where the Admirals lived and had their offices
- April. The Royal
Navy in Bermuda expanded its wireless telegraphy facilities.
Bermuda's Royal Naval Dockyard was sent a S/W (Short Wave) - or HF -
transmitter, from HM Signal School, RN Barracks, Portsmouth. A 17-page
explanatory note dated 29th April 1929 came with it. It was an ICW
transmitter for radio frequencies between 21,428 and 6,000 kc/s (14 and 50
metres, also between 1,364 and 272.7 kc/s. A power amplifier was fed
by one of two sources - S/W or L/W (Long Wave = MF) frequency determination
units, and a choice of one of two aerials which would be selected manually
by the site operator. The transmitter was of medium power, possibly in the
region of 2kW. The transmitter and its related equipment were positioned
inside a wooden frame. (Not until the mid 1930s did metal casings become the
- May. From then on the
Dockyard became a strategic overseas naval coaling and classified wireless
telegraphy transmission station for the Royal Navy. Whole areas of land
had tall wireless masts and special fittings. During this period,
hundreds of local boys and some lads from the Caribbean became apprentices
at the Dockyard when they turned 13 or 14 years old. Ships steamed in
and out almost on a daily basis. Apprentices helped to service them.
Aptitude papers were kept by the Royal Navy. Young electricians were the
most called for. Then there were pattern making, engineering, machine
shop or woodworking areas for trainee shipwrights, joiners or carpenters. In
those days, there were many specialist buildings at the Dockyard, including
a Spar theater, hospital, cinema, cooperative stores for clothing,
pharmaceuticals, canteen, officers' club and quarters, books, cafeterias.
There was also a ginger beer plant and place where rum was imported in 55
gallon casks and dispensed in a British style public house. There were
separate schools for boys and girls of locally based servicemen - and where
the latter could go for special adult training. In the social scene, there
were pantomimes, an amateur naval orchestra and sports events.
- HMS Malabar and
British Military seaplanes based at Dockyard. Referred to as HMS Malabar
as researched by a senior Royal Navy officer who was familiar with India,
the word "Malabar" derives from the
name of a series of floating ships and shore facilities once based in a district of India stretching about 145 miles along the west coast,
south of Mangalore, in the general region of present-day Kerala. Its chief towns
include Cannanore, Tellicheri, Calicut (Kozhikode), and Palghat. In its older,
wider, and popular significance the Malabar Coast includes the whole southwest
corner of India as far back as the ghaut line. The ancient form of the name was
Male - "where the pepper grows" - thus the name Malayalam for the
prevailing language. HMS
Malabar in Bermuda was manned by RAF personnel, though under Royal Naval control.
The primary duties there consisted of building up crated sea-planes, servicing, repairing and, when
necessary, replacing aircraft from the fleet. These were mostly used for
artillery spotting, reconnaissance and opportunistic attack roles. The anomaly
in the command structure referred to in 1933 was rectified when this part of the
Royal Navy Dockyard was transferred to the FAA and given this name. (Later, HMS
Malabar was resurrected became the Signal Station in front of the Commissioner's House). Its crest was of a flaming sun
with the motto "Our Guide" underneath.
1939. New Royal Naval Air
Station (RNAS) on Boaz Island
May 25. When the Fleet Air Arm
was reconstituted as a branch of the
Royal Navy, rather than an RAF detachment, the process of replacing them with naval
personnel began. Its purpose as a station was to
oversee the equipment and detachments to the naval vessels operating from the
colony, within the Dockyard proper (on the dock beside the Stores building, on
Ireland Island. It was how the new small Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) in
Bermuda began. From then on, all Royal Navy military aircraft became part of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA).
They included a number of Hawker Osprey, Fairey Seafox and Supermarine Walrus
seaplanes. Because the facilities at HMS Malabar referred to above
was far too limited, and placed in the busiest part of the base, it was decided
to relocate it to Boaz Island, one of the under-used appendages to the Ireland
Island facility. Here, two slipways were built, allowing the use of the Great
Sound or the open waters to the west, depending on whether the winds blew from
West or East. Two hangars were also built, and a workshop, though the full plans
for the facility were never realized. The RAF handed operations over to
the Royal Navy on 3rd September, 1939-co-incidental with the re-location to Boaz
Island ( and the same day volunteer units were mobilized in preparation for
declaration of war on 8 September). Some RAF personnel were to remain until 1940
when 718 Squadron was disbanded and the remainder of its personnel were posted
elsewhere. Fleet Air Arm (FAA) members were key players. See the book "The Flying
Boats Of Bermuda" by Colin A. Pomeroy
1939 to 1945 World War 2
years Battle of the Atlantic
Royal Navy wireless station operated.
primarily intended as a maintenance facility, on the advent of war the
FAA at Boaz Island found themselves tasked with more active roles.
Bermuda quickly became a major form-up point for trans-Atlantic convoys
and U-Boats were a constant menace. Establishing regular patrols proved
to be very difficult as RNAS Boaz Island lacked its own aircrew. Patrols
were flown with whatever pilots were on hand, including aircrew from the
two RAF Commands at Darrell's Island, and pilots from the Bermuda Flying
School (BFS). The Chief Flying Instructor of the BFS, Captain Edward
Stafford, a US citizen, flew a number of such patrols in the navy's
Walrus amphibians, as did other local pilots. In May 1942, the last FAA
assets on Ireland Island moved to Boaz Island, now, technically, RNAS,
Bermuda (HMS Malabar II--though it had been preceded by at least four or
five others of that name). The FAA would lose a number of aircraft in
the colony over the years, though primarily from visiting vessels. There
is still an FAA Swordfish floatplane sitting at the bottom of the Great
Sound. A Skua dive bomber crashed on the Port Royal golf course
after a sudden drop in wind speed prevented her returning to HMS
Illustrious, anchored in the Sound, and a Walrus met her end in the
Great Sound). When the BFS was closed down in 1942 due to a surplus
of aircrew, Captain Ed Stafford joined the RAF Ferry Command. Shot down,
he was captured by the Germans and not liberated until 1945). Although
RAF Transport Command was soon flying many Catalina maritime patrol
aircraft through the colony at RAF Darrell's Island, the FAA provided
the only aerial patrols of the surrounding Atlantic until establishment
of a US Naval Kingfisher unit on the colony in 1941.
target towing sorties for ship and shore based AA guns, maritime
reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrols. Personnel of all occupations
and ranks often worked 24 hours a day, This Royal Navy base was one of
the two most strategic British and Allied facilities in the North
Atlantic. Its floating dry docks, towed across the Atlantic from
Britain, provided the repairs most in demand by ships of all sizes. The
cruisers HMS Ajax and Exeter which took part in the Battle
of the River Plate, did so with aircraft serviced at RNAS Bermuda,
having sailed from Bermuda before meeting the Graf Spee in
December of that year. In six years of the conflict, artificers and
engineers worked on merchant, Royal Navy and Allied ships damaged by
German cruisers, pocket battleships and U-boats prowling Atlantic
shipping sea lanes between Bermuda and New York. Nearly 600 vessels
from all navies and merchant marines were repaired here and put back to
Royal Navy sea patrols rescued, processed and transported to Britain and
Canada thousands of men, women and children from torpedoed Allied ships,
many after days or nights at sea in open lifeboats. German
prisoners of war were sent via Bermuda under naval guard to POW camps in
Canada. The Royal Canadian Navy was also prominent in Bermuda then. There
was an anti-submarine warfare training base under Royal Navy auspices.
Part of it was at Casemates Barracks. It spread east to Convict
Bay in St. George's Parish, with the establishment in 1944 of HMCS
Somers Isle. Royal Canadian Navy ships also played a major
role in the War of the Atlantic. When Britain signed its "50
Destroyers for Bases" deal with the USA, once again the dockyard
was twinned with Halifax for strategic military purposes.
Royal Navy officers and men were conveyed from Bermuda to Halifax to
take over 50 previously mothballed American naval ships. Many Swordfish
aircraft were based here or at nearby Boaz Island and one crashed into
the sea. There were also several Walrus torpedo bombers based in
Bermuda to help the war effort. One crashed at Daniel's Head. A
ditty was sung to the tune of "Meet Me in Dreamland" every
time a ship steamed from the Dockyard. It went: "Good bye,
Ireland Island. Farewell the floating dock. Good-bye to spuds and
onions. Chin chin the Dockyard Clock. And when the boat you go home in
steams out of Grassy Bay, you'll love this place dearer when you're no
nearer than three thousand miles away. "No defensive air or
sea action was seen from either RNAS Bermuda or the Royal Navy based
here, however (though the presence of locally-based aircraft overhead
and the Royal Navy's Bermuda-based heavy guns may well have thwarted
German attacks on vessels in local waters). In
April 1943 HMS Argonaut called into the South Yard for repairs
after having her entire stern and part of her bow blown off by an
Italian submarine. When the worst of the Battle
of the Atlantic was over - especially with the entrance of the United
States into the war from December 1941 and with the build up of the US
Navy and USAAF air bases on the island from 1941, the FAA facility
became somewhat superfluous and was placed on a 'care and maintenance'
footing in April, 1944. It was never re-opened, but was used for a
time, after the war, by civil float plane operators. Some remnants still
- The second Bermuda
Floating Dock, which had been stationed in Bermuda since 1902 and was of
tremendous assistance, particularly during the War Years 1939-1945, was sold and
left Bermuda. The dock was referred to officially as Admiralty Floating Dock
No. 1 (AFD1) sometimes now as the “Bermuda Dock”. AFD1 is a “floating
graving” type floating dock designed by Clark & Standfield for the British
Admiralty and built by C.S. Swan and Hunter Ltd, Wallsend. In the “floating
graving” type dock, there are three separate pontoons each bolted to the
continuous sidewalls on either side. Self docking was accomplished by unbolting
the centre pontoon and sinking the dock allowing the centre pontoon to rise up.
The pontoon was then reattached at the higher level and then raising the dock,
thus lifting the centre pontoon clear of the water. A similar process could be
applied to the other two pontoons, one at each end. Access to the underside of
the sidewalls for repair was by careening. The dock was launched in February
1902 and completed June 1902. She cost £226,000. She was taken to Montevideo.
Note that this dock should not be confused with the first Bermuda dock, which
was designed by Campbell in 1869.
1902-1946 Bermuda Floating Dock.
- The Dockyard played
a strategic NATO role as a naval base for Royal Navy
during the Cold War years, Royal Canadian Navy and
other NATO navies' ships. Many clandestine operations in submarine surveillance
were conducted to keep the Soviets from regarding the Atlantic as "their
ocean" for any warlike designs against the US East coast. By then the whole
original purpose of the Dockyard had been reversed. Instead of being used as
earlier to attack the USA and defend Bermuda, it became - with the former
US Naval Annex in Southampton Parish - a principal naval base to defend
the USA from Soviet attack.
- The Royal Naval Radio
Station in Bermuda, in existence since 1928, reached its highest number
of employees, 40.
- February. The Royal Naval
Radio Station in Bermuda, having earlier reached its peak of 40
employees, announced its pending closure, with the closure of the Dockyard
the following year..
- It was clear
that the Royal Navy was unlikely ever again to require the immense repair
facility embodied in the Dockyard. While
many anticipated it would be reduced to a care and maintenance level, few were
prepared for the Admiralty announcement in 1950 that the Dockyard would close
within 12 months.
- March 31. The Dockyard closed officially
after being in
operation since 1809. It took a while for this to take effect. The dismantling
was virtually completed when the large floating dock left Bermuda on July 11,
bound for England. It was towed by the Royal Navy tugs Wanden and Reward, with
the tug Prosperous in reserve. All reached Falmouth, England, on August 11. Most buildings were offered to the
Bermuda Government and in 1953, when the great majority of the Royal Navy left,
title of the Dockyard buildings was officially transferred to the Bermuda
Government for 750,000 pounds sterling. A limited number of buildings and other
facilities, mainly in the South Basin area, were retained by the Royal Navy
(until 1995) for the support of visiting British, Commonwealth, NATO and foreign
naval vessels calling in from time to time. They
were administered by a small permanent Royal Navy staff under the Resident Naval
Officer with the rank of Commander. The post of SNOWI (Senior Naval Officer West
Indies) was established on 29 October 1956. In June 1965, HMS Malabar was
re-commissioned as Malabar VII. Moresby
House, close alongside, and the Magazine House on Boaz Island, became a sort of
Supplies and Signals center but without official accreditation. Things were
again cut back in December 1967 to a single Lieutenant Commander, RNO
(Supplies). He left, with his SNOWI post, when Bermuda as a base for the Royal
Navy was officially abolished on 1 April 1976. In
1980, the Bermuda Government underwrote an ambitious rehabilitation scheme
covering the 214 acre site. Massive rehabilitation for civilian occupation and
use began in 1982, after nearly three decades of Bermuda Government inactivity
and crimes galore against property. In March, 1995 all remaining buildings were
turned over to Bermuda as well. To date, the restoration and conversion to
public use has cost more than $21 million in public funds and $42 million in
private investment. The
Royal Canadian Navy and United States Navy continued to have a base in Bermuda
until 1993 and 1995 respectively, at separate naval bases. Now, they too have
September 1960 to September
1961. HMS Rothesay was based Royal Navy Dockyard at Ireland Island.
Crew enjoyed periodic station leave at
the-then un-used former British Army camp near Horseshoe Beach, in between
patrols covering the whole of North and South America. They enjoyed
the hospitality of the local people. One crew member spent a few days with a
local family over Christmas 1960 (when then was a brief appearance of snow,
usually unheard of in Bermuda) and attended Mass with them on Christmas Eve.
When the Royal Navy left, it became the main Bermuda corrections center (prison) for
convicted criminals until 1995. There was even an execution or two here in the
1960s and 1970's. It was such a damp, forbidding, gloomy place that the Bermuda Government
built a brand new prison nearby, to make it more humane. The old building is still there, not used at this
Londonderry was based at the Royal Navy Dockyard at Ireland Island during
her first commission and the ships company have very many happy memories of
Bermuda and the hospitality that was afforded them whilst there.
The South Basin was dredged
to allow nuclear submarines to come into the South Yard
10. The last of Dockyard’s historic naval emblems were painted over as
part of the major renovation project on the South Basin. For decades navy
crews proudly painted their ships’ crest on the concrete walls surrounding the
South Yard where the vessels berthed. Between 1951 and 1995 scores of vessels
from across the world passed through Bermuda and left their mark in the West
End. Over the years the crests have faded away or were
whitewashed during redevelopment of the Dockyard (However, since 2009, available on our website at www.bermuda-online.org/rndshipscrestswalls.htm). Much
proud old dockyard heritage was lost in the clearing of the South Yard of the
old Royal Naval Dockyard for the erection of buildings for the teams competing
in the America’s Cup Between the 1920s and the 1940s the yard was used
for basic repairs on passing naval ships. This continued throughout the Second
World War while Bermuda was used as a base for the Allied forces. The South Yard
remained the Royal Navy’s base in Bermuda for the next four decades. In 1985
the South Basin was dredged to allow nuclear submarines to come into the South
Yard and ten years later the Royal Navy left Bermuda and the South Yard was
handed over to the Bermuda Government. Scores of naval ships left their mark in
the South Yard between 1951 and 1995 including well known vessels such as HMS
Brilliant and HMS Londonderry that have since been decommissioned.
And even before then in April 1943 HMS Argonaut famously called into the
South Yard for repairs after having her entire stern and part of her bow blown
off by an Italian submarine.
2017. May 20. Renovations to
Dockyard’s historic Moresby House have been completed. The building was
constructed in 1899 as the residence of the Office-in-Charge of Works. Later
called HMS Malabar, it has remained empty since the Royal Navy left Dockyard in
1995. Craig Cannonier, Minister of Public Works, said the “remarkable”
restoration was a “fitting tribute” to the building’s history. “I am
extremely pleased with the work the contractors have done in such a short space
of time,” the One Bermuda Alliance MP said yesterday. “To think that I was
here only a few months ago touring a dilapidated building and now to see it
today is truly amazing.” Andrew Dias, general manager at West End Development
Corporation, said the landmark building had fallen into disrepair. “It was
always our intention to make sure this historic building was restored and with
the help of a grant from the Ministry of Public Works, work has now been
finished,” he said. Wedco received a $3 million grant from the Government for
the project. Mr Dias, who previously told The Royal Gazette that the
project would be completed by April 20, said he was “delighted” with the
final product. Restoration work was completed by Overnight Construction and Strike force, and was completed on budget. The building will be rented as a
commercial space after the completion of the America’s Cup.
2016. March 16. Improvements
to the Royal Naval Dockyard continue ahead of the America’s Cup with more than
$10 million invested into the historic site over two years. Projects include
renovations to the Glassworks building, work on the Sail Loft, the Spar Lane
apartments and Prince Alfred Terrace, according to the West End Development
Corporation. “This last year and for the coming year, Wedco will have spent
$10m on improving buildings,” chairman Ray Charlton said. “It has been a
busy year and it is about to get even busier.” Mr Charlton was speaking at the
sixth annual pre-season breakfast held at Bone Fish Grill, in Dockyard. Wedco
General Manager Andrew Dias added that a $900,000 renovation of the Glassworks
building would soon be completed and that work on Cross Island was on schedule,
with piling in its final phase and the area should be completely finished by the
end of June. “We have stayed on deadline and on budget,” he added. According
to Wedco, improvements on the Sail Loft cost $500,000, while the Spar Lane
Apartments has seen a $300,000 investment. Meanwhile, Prince Alfred Terrace will
have benefited from $3.5 million, the hangar building on Boaz Island from
$300,000, North Basin building 4 from $1 million, Detached Cottage 7 from
$300,000 and Moresby Plains Road will have seen a $200,000 investment. Mr Dias
added: “Wedco’s mandate is to look after and improve the beautiful and
historic buildings in the Royal Naval Dockyard and these projects, including the
infill at Cross Island, have been in the pipeline for several years and I am
delighted that people can now see the benefits of all our work.” Mr Dias said
that by the end of 2016, Wedco will have reached a milestone in that every
historic building inside the North Basin will be wind and waterproof, apart from
the Victualling Yard and associated buildings, which are being looked at under a
Memorandum of Understanding. “In Bermuda, that is an extremely large task and
we, at Wedco, are very pleased with that. It has been a busy and challenging
eight or nine months for us but this is going to be a great season. The season
will continue to build towards the America’s Cup and we want to deliver a
product for Bermuda that all of us can be proud of.”
2017. March 9. More than $10
million has been invested in renovating historic buildings at Dockyard ahead of
the America’s Cup. The money has been used to make new office space and
upgrade homes. Andrew Dias, General Manager at the West End Development
Corporation (WEDCO), said: “The work was always in the pipeline but was given
fresh impetus as a result an insurance payout from recent hurricanes and the
America’s Cup. Many of the buildings being renovated will be used by people
from the America’s Cup as well as the ACBDA team, but after that, they will be
available to locals. We always wanted Dockyard to be a vibrant, 24/7 place and
hopefully these developments will go some way towards that ambition. We are
investing an enormous sum of money and we will see the transformation or
protection of many buildings. When finished, we anticipate that it will be home
to a range of commercial activities adding even more life and more attractions
to Dockyard. People will be able to work, rest and play in the Royal Naval
Dockyard.” Some of the major restorations include work on Prince Alfred
Terrace which is being renovated and restored to apartments at a cost of
approximately $4.5 million. Once the renovations, which include a complete
interior restoration including additional bathrooms and layout improvements,
have been completed, first use will go to the ACBDA until the end of the
America’s Cup. The Spar Lane Apartments are being given a new lease of life
and once work is finished they will again be used as homes. Moresby House, or
HMS Malabar, is being restored and will be office space, the Sail Loft has been
restored and will also be available for use after the America’s Cup. The old
Police Barracks is enjoying a new life as home to Artemis Racing, one of the
teams taking part in the America’s Cup. As well as major work, Wedco has
tended to less obvious projects including roof upgrades, asbestos removal and
electrical, plumbing and painting work. North Basin Building #10 — the Canvas
Shop — on Smithery Lane, has been restored over a four-month period and North
Basin Building #14 — West End Yachts — on Camber Road, has been restored.
The North Basin Building #3 — the Anchor Restaurant — has also undergone
renovation work including a roof replacement. Mr Dias added: “Dockyard is a
very important part of Bermuda’s tourism product and it is imperative that we
at Wedco do not stand still. We have to continually invest and reinvent
ourselves to keep us ahead of the competition.”
see WEDCO's http://www.thewestend.bm.
Navy ships under the overall command of the Admirals based at Admiralty House,
HMS Bermuda - ships by that
From the 1800s to
1942, eight ships of the Royal Navy were named after Bermuda, including the
mammoth Floating Dock of 1869, now rotting at Spanish Point.
(1795). A 14-gun brig-sloop purchased in 1795, foundered the following year.
(1805). An 18-gun sloop-of-war launched in 1805 and wrecked 1808.
(1808). A 10-gun brig-sloop launched 1808, wrecked 1816, built by John
Pelham of Frindsbury, Kent, UK.
(1813). A pilot boat acquired in 1813, broken up 1841.
(1819). A schooner purchased 1819 and foundered 1821.
(1848). A 3-gun schooner launched 1848 and wrecked 1855.
(1868). Not a ship but a naval Floating Dock, towed to the Bermuda
Dockyard in 1869 by HMS
Black Prince and Terrible.
(C52) - see below - was a cruiser launched 1941 and broken up 1965.
HMS Bermuda 1939 to 1965.
A light cruiser of the Colony Class, launched in 1941,
decommissioned in 1962, scrapped in 1965. Built by John Brown & Company at Clydebank, laid down in
November 1938 and commissioned on August 21, 1942. Originally, the ship had 12
six-inch guns, anti-aircraft pieces and six torpedo tubes. During the war, she
served in the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic and Arctic and finally in the
Pacific theatre. In later years, the vessel was a part of NATO, but was
taken out of service in 1962. Some silver objects given to HMS Bermuda by the
island are now at the Bermuda Maritime Museum. She visited Bermuda 3 times:1958,
Jul 1959, and Feb 1962.
HMS Bermuda, Royal
Admirals & Commanders in Chief, Bermuda
of the Royal Navy
- 1767 Commodore Samuel Hood.
Commodore John James Gambier. As Admiral Gambier later,
he was Commander
of the Baltic Fleet at the bombardment of Copenhagen, then elevated to the peerage as Lord
Gambier. He took to gardening in his retirement and his head gardener, Mr. T. Tomson, made
botanical history in developing the pansy by crossing and re-crossing varieties of Viola
tricolor with the yellow Viola altaica, a native of the Crimea and Turkestan. By 1816, Mr.
Tomson, still employed by Lord Gambier, was known in the British gardening world as the
'Father of the Heartsease' as pansies - flowers - were then called.
- 1771 Admiral John Montague.
- 1774 Admiral Samuel Graves
- 1776 Admiral Lord Howe
- 1779 Admiral Hon. John Byron
- 1779 Admiral Marriott Abbuthnot
- 1780 Admiral Thomas Graves
- 1781 Admiral Marriott Abbuthnot
- 1781 Rear Admiral Hon. Robert Digby
- 1782 Commodore Sir E. Appleck
- 1783 Commodore Sir Charles Douglas
- 1785 Rear Admiral Herbert Sawyer
- 1789 Rear Admiral Sir Richard Hughes
- 1791 Vice Admiral Hon. George Murray
- 1796 Vice Admiral George Vanderput
They were the first Bermuda based
commanders of this Station.
- 1800 Vice Admiral Sir William Parker, Bt.
- 1802 Vice Admiral Sir A. Mitchell, KG,
- 1806 Vice Admiral Hon. G. C. Berkeley
- 1807 Vice Admiral Sir J. B. Warren, Bt.
- 1810 Rear Admiral H. Sawyer
North America & West Indian Station
(as it then became)
1812 Vice Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren, Bt., KB. This was when the
Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda first began. It was then significant that the
British West Indies was then included in the name of the post. Prior to
that, from 1767, North America was the main title for the New World squadrons of the Royal
Navy. The change of name indicated the coming importance of Bermuda and the British Caribbean islands.
Admiral Warren participated in Britain's first war with the USA in 1776 and
thereafter destroyed over 200 French vessels. He was also known for his
purchase of Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel and a yacht.
North America Station
- 1813 Vice Admiral Hon. Sir A. Cochrane, GCB.
- 1814 Rear Admiral Edward Griffith
- 1816 Rear Admiral Sir David Milne, KCB
North America & Lakes of Canada Squadron
- 1816 Rear Admiral Edward Griffith
St. Lawrence River and Coast of
- 1821 Rear Admiral W. G. Fahie, CB
North America & N.F.L.D
- 1824-1827. Rear Admiral W. T. Lake
- 1827-1830. Rear Admiral Sir Charles
North America & West Indies Station
- 1830 - 1832. Rear Admiral Sir E. G. Colpoys, KGB
- 1832 - 1836. Vice Admiral the
Rt. Hon. Sir George
- 1836 Vice Admiral Sir Peter Halkett,
- 1837 - 1839. Vice Admiral the Hon. Sir C. Paget, GCH
- 1839 - 1841. Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Harvey, KCB. He
died in Bermuda and was buried at the Royal Naval Cemetery, Dockyard.
In 1957 his ornate tomb with re-dedicated, with senior naval officers in
attendance, one of whom was Captain George Edward Hunt, DSO DSC RN, late of
His Majesty’s submarine Ultor (1942-44).
- 1841 - 1844. Vice Admiral Sir Charles Adam, KCB
- 1844 - 1848. Vice Admiral Sir Francis
Austin, KCB. Also in
Bermuda, in a less senior post, from 1805 to 1810. The elder brother of novelist Jane Austen and Charles
- 1848 - 1851. Vice Admiral Sir
Thomas Cochrane, GCB (later, Lord Cochrane, later yet the Right Honorable
Dundonald). 1775 -1860. He was a son of an eccentric Scottish peer. He first entered
the Royal Navy in 1793. In a series of outstanding and heroic actions,
often fighting his ship against seemingly overwhelming odds, he established a
unique reputation as one of the most daring and successful captains of his
day. He served Britain at sea so gallantly that Napoleon dubbed him the
"Sea Wolf." But his campaign as a Member of Parliament against corruption
in high places in Parliament and the Royal Navy made him
powerful enemies among less honorable men. He was deprived of further
advancement in the Royal Navy at the very time when he could have altered the
course of its history - for its significant betterment. He was framed on a Stock Exchange fraud,
imprisoned, cashiered from the Navy and stripped of his Order of the Bath.
Released from prison, he was too valuable to less snobbish and more honorable
organizations abroad. He was
appointed Admiral of the navies of Chile, Brazil and Greece and earned honors
galore from them for his daring exploits during their struggle for liberation.
He returned to England in triumph and won back his good name. He was granted a
free pardon in Britain for his alleged misdeeds. He was reinstated
in the Royal Navy. He was 72 years old when Lord Auckland wrote to him on
December 27, 1847 to ask if he would accept the appointment. On his death, Lord
Cochrane was buried as a hero of the United Kingdom at Westminster Abbey. After
Nelson, he was the greatest naval hero in British history. While Palmerston and
his Cabinet were notably absent from his funeral, Queen
Victoria personally insisted that his banner as a Knight of the Bath should
be reinstated beforehand in Henry VII's Chapel. The Brazilian ambassador was
among those who carried his coffin into and out of Westminster Abbey.
- 1851- 1853. Vice Admiral Sir G. F. Seymour, GCH
- 1853- 1856. Vice Admiral Arthur
- 1856- 1860. Vice Admiral Sir Houston Stewart, KCB
- 1860- 1864. Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, KCB
- 1864- 1867. Vice Admiral Sir James Hope, KCB
- 1867- 1869. Vice Admiral Sir Rodney Munday, KCB,
- 1869- 1870. Vice Admiral George G. Wellesley, CB
- 1870-1873 Vice Admiral
Sir Edward Gennys Fanshawe, GCB. (27 November 1814 – 21 October 1906).
Born the eldest surviving son of General Sir Edward Fanshawe, and the nephew
of Admiral Sir Arthur Fanshawe, Fanshawe was educated at the Royal Naval
Academy, Portsmouth where he came second from the top in a very talented
year and was commended for both his artistic and writing ability. Fanshawe
joined the Royal Navy in 1828. During the Oriental Crisis of 1840 he took
part in the capture of Acre. He was subsequently given command of HMS Cruiser
and then HMS Daphne. He took part in the Crimean War as Captain of
HMS Cossack. Later he commanded HMS Hastings, HMS Centurion
and then HMS Trafalgar. He suffered some health problems from the
1850s, which curtailed his Mediterranean command of the HMS Centurion.
He was made Superintendent of Chatham Dockyard in 1861, Third Sea Lord in
1865 and Superintendent of Malta Dockyard in 1868. He went on to be
Commander-in-Chief, North American Station in 1870, Admiral President of the
Royal Naval College, Greenwich in 1875 and Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth in
1878. He retired in 1879. Fanshawe's marriage to Jane Cardwell took place in
early 1843. His wife, Jane, was the sister of Edward (later Lord) Cardwell,
a notable politician and, as Secretary of State for War under William
Gladstone in the 1860s, instigator of the 'Cardwell Reforms' of the British Army. Their
four sons included Admiral of the Fleet Sir Arthur Dalrymple Fanshawe, whose
son Guy also became a Royal Naval Captain. He also had a daughter, Alice,
whose watercolor paintings of Bermuda and the Caribbean were exquisite.
- 1873 Vice Admiral George G. Wellesley, CB
- 1876 Vice Admiral Sir A. Cooper, KEV, KCB,
- 1878 Vice Admiral Sir E. A. Inglefield, GB,
- 1880 Vice Admiral Sir F. L. McClintock,
- 1882 Vice Admiral Sir J. E. Commerell, VC,
CB, KCB. (Commerell has been an unusual but distinguished German name since 1357. His
great grandfather, Friedrich Wilhelm, was born in Heilbronn 1716 and emigrated to England
in 1732. Other Commerells went from Germany to Holland in about 1810).
- 1885 Vice Admiral Earl of Clan William, CB,
- 1886 Vice Admiral Algernon McL. Lyons
- 1888 Vice Admiral Sir George W. Watson, KCB.
- 1892 Vice Admiral Sir John O. Hopkins, KCB
- 1895 Vice Admiral James Elphinstone Erskine
- 1897 Vice Admiral Sir John Arbuthnot Fisher,
- 1899 Vice Admiral Sir Frederick Bedford, KCB
- 1902 Vice Admiral Sir Archibald Douglas, KCB
- 1904 Vice Admiral Day H. Bosanquet
1907-1914. Appointment lapsed
Held temporarily by Admirals commanding Fourth Cruiser Squadron
- 1915 Vice Admiral Sir George
- 1916 Rear Admiral Montague Browning, CB, MVO
- 1918 Vice Admiral Sir W. L. Grant, KCB
- 1919 Vice Admiral Morgan Singer, CB.
He served in World War I
and was appointed Director of Naval Ordnance in August 1914 taking
responsibility for the Admiralty's entire supply of guns, torpedoes and
mines. He continued
in that post until March 1917. Promoted to Vice Admiral in February 1919, he
became Commander-in-Chief, America and West Indies Station the same month.
He was appointed KCB later that year. While in Bermuda, based at Admiralty
House, he was accompanied by his wife.
- 1919 Vice Admiral Sir Trevylyan Napier KCB,
- 1920 Vice Admiral Sir William Pakenham, KCB,
KCM, CMG, MVO
- 1923 Vice Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour,
Bt, KCB, MVO
- 1924 Vice Admiral Sir James A. Ferguson,
KCB, KG, MC
America & West Indies Squadron
(established 1 July, 1927, as the station HQ then became)
- 1928-1930. Vice Admiral Sir Cyril T. M. Fuller,
KCB, CMG, DSO
- 1930-1932. Vice Admiral Sir Vernon H. S.
Haggard, KCB, DMC. A daughter was Rae Lyster. A son, Hugh, commanded the
submarine HMS Truant in World War 2.
- 1932-1934. Vice Admiral Sir R. P.
Ernlie-Erle Drax, KCB, DSO
- 1934-1937. Admiral Hon. Sir Matthew Best,
KCB, DSO, MVO
- 1937-1940. Admiral Sir Sidney J.
- 1940-1942. Admiral Sir C. E. Kennedy-Purvis,
Western Atlantic Squadron
- 1942-1944. Vice Admiral Sir Alban T. B. Curteis,
KCB. He was in command of one of the unlucky Malta Convoys in mid-1942.
- 1944-1945. Vice Admiral Sir Irvine G.
- 1945 Vice Admiral Sir Irvine G.
- 1949 Admiral Sir William G. Tennant,
KCB, CBE, MVO
- 1951 Vice Admiral Sir Richard
Symonds-Tayler, KBE, CB, DSC
- 1951-53 Vice Admiral Sir William G.
Andrewes, KBE, CB, DSO.
His most recent service was in the Korean War theatre. His flagship was
- 1953 Vice Admiral Sir John F. Stevens, KBE,
- 1955 Vice Admiral Sir John W. M.
Eaton, KBE, OB, DSO, DSC
Station ended, but HMS Malabar continued. It
shut down officially in stages from 1953. Commanding
Officers included Commander J. A. Startin, RN who served from 1986 to 1990.
Royal Naval Cemetery (The Glade)
Island South in Sandys Parish.
On Malabar Road, near Lagoon Park, approaching the
former RN Dockyard. Phone: (441) 236-6483. Bus
Routes: 7, 8. Admission is free. The Royal Navy purchased the
land where the cemetery sits in 1809 and consecrated the ground in 1812. It
reverted to the Bermuda Government in the late 1950s when the Royal Navy
Dockyard here finally closed after approaching two centuries in Bermuda. Hallowed ground for
officers and men Royal Navy in Bermuda from
the 18th to 20th centuries. The
cemetery grew in size and was open for burial to all until 1849 when convicts
were excluded. Also known as ‘The Glade,’ it has memorials to many Royal
Navy personnel from warships stationed here who died of the yellow fever that
ravaged the British military in Bermuda during the mid-19th century. Maintained by the British War Graves
Commission. Four Admirals
were buried here. One was Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Harvey, KCB, RN. He died in
1841 on May 28 at Bermuda at the age of 66. He had been stationed in Bermuda as
Commander in Chief of the North American and West Indies Naval Forces. He was 66
years old. He was entombed under a fine monument later erected by his family,
and subsequent descendants who added a text engraved on a brass plaque in 1957
(see larger photo below). His monument shows an 19th century warship wedged
between two cannon and cannonballs.
Small photo above by this
author Keith A. Forbes.
The cemetery also records the
numerous accidents that befell the young servicemen in Bermuda, including deaths
during World War 2 when Bermuda was a transit point in the Battle of the
Atlantic. Close to the road are final
resting places of Royal Navy seamen who died on their ships in mid
Atlantic actions near Bermuda during World War II against German pocket
battleships and U-boats.
Prince Albert Terrace
2015. September 15. Bermuda's
West End Development Company (Wedco), a Bermuda Government quango, is seeking
planning approval to make improvements to Prince Alfred Terrace, while replacing
the former Royal Navy Club with apartments. According to a planning
application, viewable at the Department of Planning offices, Wedco is seeking to
tear down the former Royal Navy Club — one part of the what had been the HMS
Malabar shore station. The documents show two new buildings being erected on the
Pender Road property, each containing two two-bedroom units and two
three-bedroom units. The project would also include a parking area and a
communal outdoor space between the new buildings. The Royal Navy Club building,
erected in the 1880s, had served as the officers club before turning into the
fleet canteen. While the building had been a Grade 1 listed building, it was
formally delisted earlier this year. Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said the
delisting was a “difficult decision”, but the building was in a considerable
state of disrepair and plans were afoot to restore the neighboring historical
buildings — the Bungalow, Star of India and Moresby House. Meanwhile, in a
separate application, Wedco sought planning permission to make renovations at
Prince Alfred Terrace. The project will include removing the existing asbestos
roof, replacing all of the external doors and windows, installing new wooden
pergolas and making other external improvements to the ageing building. Prince
Alfred Terrace was first built in the 1840s to serve as married officer quarters
for the Dockyard. The building reportedly suffered hurricane damage in last
year’s twin hurricanes, and the proposed refurbishments are to bring the
building to a “low to mid-level standard” for rental purposes. Wedco had
previously announced that it had hoped to upgrade the Grade I listed building
into 14 three-bed, two-bath units through a $3 million investment.
Naval Dockyard. Telephone (441) 234-1333. Open daily 9:30 am to 5 pm,
with last admission at 4:30 pm. There is a
Board of Trustees, with local and overseas members; a Bermuda Maritime
Museum Inc. in New York; and a Bermuda Maritime Museum Trust in London.
||P. O. Box 73,
Somerset, Sandys MA BX. RC 136
Association (Bermuda Branch)
Sailors' Home, Richmond Road, Pembroke, call 236 6089 or 236 7177. Meets
Today, longer a dockyard, it
still uses the name. The berths and all buildings are civilian. It still handles
the occasional hydrographic survey and cable laying ships. The facilities
include locally owned shops and restaurants. Access is free, except to the
Bermuda Maritime Museum. Go by bus, ferry, moped or taxi.
Andrews And The Onions", by Lt. Commander Ian Strannack, RN, formerly based
in Bermuda. The story of
the Royal Navy in Bermuda.
- Formerly the Visitors Service
Bureau. Phone (441) 296-9400. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three, when cruise ships are docked, one each at
- Heritage Wharf pier;
- just outside King's Wharf
- and at the ferry dock. Offer a
friendly, free, quite comprehensive tourist brochures, information services,
maps and more to walk-in visitors. Hours: 9 am to 4 pm Monday-Saturday.
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Good Friday.
Development Corporation (Wedco)
Dockyard. P. O. Box MA 415,
Mangrove Bay, MA BX. Set
up in 1982 to manage and develop 214 acres of Government-owned land in the West
End, including Watford Island, Boaz Island, Ireland Island South and North, the
small islands forming the Crawl off Ireland South and the North and South basins
and breakwaters. Directors are political appointees. Revenue is generated from residential and
commercial tenants plus berthing fees from the commercial and cruise ship docks.
Mega cruise ships now dock there.
Hulks sent to Bermuda as
convict prison ships included
- Ardent ex 64
- Antelope ex 50
- Dromedary, transported
convicts to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1820, ex store ship
1825, ended up as a prison hulk in Bermuda from 1826 to 1851.
- Coromandel ex 56 1827-1853
- Weymouth ex 44 1828-1865
- Slaney ex 28 1830-1838
- Tenedos ex 38 1843-1875
- Thames ex 38 1844-1863
- Medway ex 74 1847-1865
Hulks sent to
Bermuda as convict guard ships or hospital ships included:
How used initially
64,1811-1821, depot ship
Romulus, ex 36,
1813-1816, hospital ship
Romney, ex 50,
1820-1837, hospital ship
Royal Oak, ex
74, 1825-1850, receiving ship
brig, 1826-1852 diving bell
transport, 1826-1846 receiving ship/slop ship
brig 1827-1848, receiving ship
Terror, floating battery, 1857-1901, base
Virginia, barque, 1862-1866, coal
Irresistible, battleship 1868-1894, depot ship.
Scorpion, turret ship,
1869-1901 guard ship.
Minstrel, gunboat, 1874-1902 coal
1892-1904 coal hulk
Hotspur, turret ship, 1897-1903, guard
Malabar, troopship 1897-1918, base ship and from 1901 in place of Terror.
ship, 1904-1907, guard ship
cemetery in Bermuda
The British convict cemetery is behind Albert Row on
Ireland Island South, via a left turn onto one way Cochrane Road (named after Admiral
Cochrane). About 2,000 of
the 9,000 convicts died here from yellow fever or other diseases and
were buried there, but the graves of many are no longer visible. Note the Redman
headstone in the grave yard at Boaz Island which reads "Killed One Day, Died the Next." Nearby,
past a tall stone chimney, is a weathered limestone formation known as Pulpit
Rock, from the convicts who were denied freedom of worship. Because
of the social stigma in Bermuda attached to the convicts, 98% of those
who survived elected to go back home to England or Wales or Scotland or
Ireland, or emigrate to Canada or USA if they wished after they had served their
sentences and at least partly at their own cost. In addition to building the
Dockyard, they also constructed parts of Pembroke Parish, for example, the caves
and secret hideout at Admiralty House.
Few in Bermuda or the United
Kingdom will admit they are descended from convicts, unlike in Australia where
it has become a source of pride that many there are descended from men sent
there as convicts for offences that today are so minor no-one is imprisoned at
all. But it is known that some - not many - of the wives and children were
voluntarily transported to Bermuda so as not to completely break the family
Trial records for convicts tried
in England can be found not in Bermuda but at the London Public Record Office (PRO) in Kew or at
the County Record Office responsible for the place where the trial occurred.
Generally in the UK, for British convicts sent to Bermuda, Assizes Court records are held at the PRO while Quarter Sessions
records are held in local County Record Offices.
For more information in Bermuda on the
convicts, see the books:
- Bermuda: A
Colony, A Fortress, and a Prison or Eighteen Months in the Somers'
Islands. "A Field Officer." (Whittingham, Lt. Col.
Ferdinand). Late 1840's. He focused on the British convicts sent to
Bermuda for more than 40 years. Rare.
Establishment Bermuda. Booklet by Chris Adams and
Mike Davis. $7. A 1998 version of the 1820-1863 story of the convict
hulk ships sent by the Royal Navy to Bermuda primarily to build the Dockyard.
- Life of John Mitchel. Dillon. Two volumes. 1888.
The Irishman Mitchel, John Mitchel (Irish: Seán Mistéil) was born on
November 3, 1815 and died on March 20, 1875. He was an Irish
nationalist activist, solicitor and political journalist and one of the most
famous convicts on a
Prison Hulk in Bermuda.
- Jail Journal. Mitchel (above). 1910's. 320 pages.
- The English
Prison Hulks. Branch-Johnson, 1957, London, Christopher Johnson. 205
pages. Much about Bermuda and its British convicts.
- An historical view of
the progress of the physical and mathematical sciences." 1834. The
author was Baden Powell, the father of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder
of the Boy Scouts. Handwritten in the margins of the book, on two different
pages, is "The Ireland Island Library Association" and the
"Bermuda Convict Establishment". The author's brother-in-law, Sir
Henry Augustus Smyth, was an army officer who served in Bermuda between 1847 and
1851. He was in the Royal Artillery which then helped to guard the Dockyard as
well as other places. He may well have brought this book with him, but possibly
donated it to the library there when he left.
Other military files by this
December 11, 2018
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