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Plymouth

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Lat. 50&deg 23' N — Long. 04&deg 10' W, United Kingdom, England
Plymouth is located in the southwest corner of the English county of Devon at the confluence of the Tamar and Plym rivers, about 71 kilometers south west of Exeter.

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To the south of Plymouth lies the sound wherein during the eighteenth century the whole of the Royal Navy might have found safe anchorage.

In the early 1690s, a Royal dockyard was established within the sound at Hamaoze, on the banks of the Tamar estuary, with a view to securing naval control of the approaches to the English Channel. A second dock was constructed in 1727.

The Seven Years War of 1756 - 1763 resulted in the expansion of the Plymouth dockyard.

In 1773, the First Lord of the Admiralty wrote of Plymouth:

Instead of one there are now four docks and four slips, and one of these slips is now intended to be converted into a dock...there are now more first and second rates than in any other of His Majesty’s Yards; and as much convenience for equipping them with stores and with everything necessary for service….There are two immense advantages that this yard has over all the others, namely the greater facility for procuring timber and the increase in the rise of the tide, which is eighteen inches higher than that at Portsmouth, by means of which the ships can be more easily and expeditiously got in and out of the docks (ADM/7/660, 30/6/1773 cited by Coad: 13).

Plymouth came to be eclipsed by Portsmouth by the early 1780s. Plymouth sound and the adjacent seas were exposed to southerly Atlantic gales, a problem not resolved until the construction of a free-standing breakwater 194 metres in length between 1812 and 1841. Portsmouth offered a more sheltered harbor, was nearer to London and importantly was close to the New Forest, then England’s major source of ship’s timber.

 
Related Entries for Plymouth
Places: Mount Batten | Drakes Island
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Prepared by: Turnbull, P
Created: 4 October 2001
Modified: 10 December 2003

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000018

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