Cape Town Dockyard

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HM Dockyard, Cape Town
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Part of Cape of Good Hope Station
(1795–1814)
Table Bay, Cape Town in Cape Colony, South Africa
TypeNaval Base
and
Naval Dockyard
Site information
OperatorRoyal Navy
Controlled byNavy Board
Site history
In use1795-1814
Installation information
Past
commanders
Resident Commissioner Cape Town
OccupantsCape Squadron
West Africa Squadron

Cape Town Dockyard or formally H.M. Dockyard, Cape Town was a Royal Naval Dockyard located at Table Bay, Cape Colony, Southern Africa. It served as the primary shore establishment for both the Cape of Good Hope Station. It was in operation from 1795 to until 1814 when the Department of Admiralty chose develop a new naval base and dockyard at Simons Town Bay which provided an all year round safe anchorage.

The dockyard was managed and controlled by the Navy Board through its Resident Commissioner Cape Town until 1814.

History

In 1650 the Dutch East India Company decreed that a permanent settlement should be established at the Cape of Good Hope solely as a post for the replenishment of the Company's vessels on the passage to and from the East Indies. At no time was it ever intended to gain any military advantage for which there was no necessity at that period.[1]

The Cape of Good Hope only began to assume importance as a strategic point in the military sense with the increasing rivalry between France and Great Britain in the latter half of the eighteenth century. The British Admiralty lost no time in preparing an expedition for the occupation of the Cape, which object was successfully accomplished in 1795. The Netherlands government (in its new republican form) at last realised that an occupation of the Cape by a hostile power posed a very real threat to communications with Batavia.[2]

With a well-situated base to work from the ships of the Royal Navy were able to establish an effective blockade of Mauritius which drastically restricted the depredations of the French commerce-raiding frigates.[3]

During negotiations for peace in this year, the possession of the Cape became one of the most forceful bargaining points. Preliminary Articles of peace were not signed until 1801, and as one of the conditions, the short-sighted government of Addington agreed to restore the Cape to the Dutch. When the Treaty of Peace was signed in 1802, restoration of the Cape to its former owners was no longer possible as the Dutch East India Company had gone bankrupt in 1799. Its successor, the Batavian Republic, became the new owner of the Cape instead.[4]

News of the terms of the Treaty did not reach the Cape until August 1802 and for various reasons the British evacuation was not completed until March 1803. The evacuating squadron had not reached England before war broke out again, but preparations for the re-occupation of the Cape were not put in hand until a new government under William Pitt came to power. In January 1806 a force too strong for the weak Batavian forces to withstand took possession of the Cape once more for Britain.[5]

Within two or three months of the capture of the Cape all effective threats to the supremacy of the Royal Navy in southern waters were ended and their ships were again able to establish a blockade of the French islands, although it was not always possible to make the blockade entirely effective. The only complete solution of the problem was the capture of the islands, and measures to this end were put in hand. In 1810 Mauritius and Bourbon were captured and the fall of Tamatave in Madagascar in 1811 left the French without a single colonial possession. As a consequence there was little left for the ships of the Royal Navy to do in Cape waters and their number was soon reduced.[6]

The naval authorities now had leisure to give some time and attention to the consolidation of the base facilities. The removal of the whole Royal Navy's establishments from Table Bay to Simon's Bay and vice versa at six-monthly intervals was manifestly inconvenient and costly. It had furthermore become clear to the experienced seamen of the Royal Navy that Simon's Bay provided the safer anchorage at all seasons, which Table Bay did not. The Commander-in-Chief of the Cape Station was emphatically in favour of removal of the principal base of the Royal Navy to Simon's Bay and this was immediately accepted. The necessary buildings were completed in 1814.[7] The new facilities in official navy sources until the early 20th century was called the Cape of Good Hope Dockyard.

Administration of the Dockyard

Resident Commissioner Cape Town

  1. Captain Billy Douglas, August 1796, (appointed by C-in-C, Elphinstone rescinded by the Board of Admiralty).[8]
  2. Captain: William Shield, 1808 – May 1813.[9]
  3. Captain: George Dundas, May 1813 - August 1814, (died in office replaced by Captain Sir Jaheel Brenton).[10][11]

Naval Store Keeper, Cape Town

  1. Alexander Farquhar, 1795–1803 [12]
  2. William Hopley, 1806–1809.[13]
  3. John Cresswell, 1812–1813.[14]
  4. William Pennell, 1813–1814.[15]

Master-Attendant, Cape Town Dockyard

  1. Donald Trail 1795–1800.[16]
  2. William Payne, 1801–1803.
  3. Brown, 1806-
  4. John Goodridge, 1806–1814.[17]

Master-Shipwright, Cape Town Dockyard

  1. John Clark, 1806–1809.[18]
  2. Thomas Chaplin, 1810–1814.[19]

Clerk of the Cheque, Cape Town Dockyard

  1. William Pennell, 1813–1814.[20]

Agent Victualler, Cape Town

  1. Mr Maude, 1795-1803.[21]
  2. William Robinson, 1803–1806.[22][23]
  3. Henry Pallister, 1806–1812.[24]
  4. Alfred Johnson, 1812–-1814, (transferred to Cape of Good Hope Dockyard in post till 1820).[25]

Footnotes

  1. The History Of Simon's Town, (1960-2019), https://www.simonstown.com/history-of-simons-town, Simon's Town Historical Society, Simon's Town, Republic of South Africa
  2. Simon's Town Historical Society
  3. Simon's Town Historical Society
  4. Simon's Town Historical Society
  5. Simon's Town Historical Society
  6. Simon's Town Historical Society
  7. Simon's Town Historical Society
  8. Day, John Frederick. (April 2012) ' British Admiralty Control and Naval Power in the Indian Ocean (1793-1815) (Volume 1 of 2)'. Submitted as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime History, University of Exeter. p.145.
  9. Day, John Frederick. (April 2012) ' British Admiralty Control and Naval Power in the Indian Ocean (1793-1815) (Volume 1 of 2)'. Submitted as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime History, University of Exeter. p.133.
  10. Day. p. 133.
  11. Admiralty, Great Britain (1814). The Navy List. London, England.: John Murray. p. 120.
  12. Day. p. 146.
  13. Day. p. 162.
  14. Commons, Great Britain House of (1812). Journals of the House of Commons. London, England.: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 729.
  15. The Navy List, 1814. p.120.
  16. Day. p. 146.
  17. The Navy List, 1814. p.120.
  18. Day. p. 162.
  19. The Navy List, 1814. p.120.
  20. The Navy List, 1814. p.120.
  21. Day. p. 177.
  22. Day. p. 163.
  23. Day. p. 177.
  24. Day. p. 163.
  25. Day. p. 222.

Bibliography

  1. Admiralty, Great Britain (1814). The Navy List. London, England.: John Murray.
  2. Day, John Frederick. (April 2012) ' British Admiralty Control and Naval Power in the Indian Ocean (1793-1815) (Volume 1 of 2)'. Submitted as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime History, University of Exeter.
  3. The History Of Simon's Town, (1960-2019), https://www.simonstown.com/history-of-simons-town, Simon's Town Historical Society, Simon's Town, Republic of South Africa.

Attribution

This article includes copied content from this source: https://www.simonstown.com/history-of-simons-town.