Civil Engineer in Chief's Department

From Naval History Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search
Civil Engineer in Chief's Department
Flag of the Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.svg
Department overview
Preceding Department
Superseding department
JurisdictionGovernment of the United Kingdom
HeadquartersEmsworth, England
Department executive
  • Civil Engineer in Chief of the Navy
Parent DepartmentDepartment of Admiralty

The Civil Engineer in Chief's Department was the main civil engineering department of the British Royal Navy responsible constructing, and maintaining naval buildings, dockyards, ports and managing civil engineering staff from 1919 to 1960 it replaced the earlier Admiralty Department the Architectural and Engineering Works Department.[1] In 1960 it was abolished and replaced by a new Navy Works Department.


A specific post with responsibility for the navies expanding civil works programs led to the creation of an Inspector-General of Naval Works in 1796 who's managed civil engineering works in the dockyards under the supervision of the Navy Board.[2] In 1813 the department was renamed to Department of the Surveyor of Buildings administered by the Surveyor of Buildings. Following the abolition of the Navy Board the department was placed under Admiralty control. In 1837 the department, it was renamed the Architectural and Engineering Works Department under a then new Director of Works responsible to the Civil Lord Civil Lord of the Admiralty who managed the Royal Navy's buildings and works departments and land estates. . In 1919 the department was renamed the Civil Engineer in Chief's Department.[3] In January 1960 it became the Navy Works Department under a Director-General, Navy Works. In April 1963 the department ceased to exist when responsibility for building and civil engineering works for the armed services was transferred to the Ministry of Public Building and Works, later Department of the Environment.[4]

Head of department

Civil Engineer in Chief of the Navy

  1. Brigadier-General Alexander Gibb R.M. 1918 – 1919.[5]
  2. A. L. Anderson 1938 – 1939.
  3. Sir William Gordon Harris KBE CB FREng, 1959 - 1960 (became 1st Director-General, Navy Works Department).


  • Navy Board, Inspector General of Naval Works, 1796-1813
  • Navy Board, Surveyor of Buildings, 1813-1832
  • Board of Admiralty, Surveyor of Buildings, 1832-1837
  • Board of Admiralty, Architectural and Engineering Works Department, 1837-1919
  • Board of Admiralty, Civil Engineer in Chiefs Department, 1919-1960
  • Board of Admiralty, Navy Works Department, 1960-1963


  1. The Royal Dockyards 1690-1850: Architecture and Engineering Works of the Sailing Navy. The Mariner's Mirror. 1990. volumes: 76-77. page.285. The Society for Nautical Research.
  2. Morriss, Roger (2004). Naval Power and British Culture, 1760-1850: Public Trust and Government Ideology. Farnham, England: Ashgate. p. 3. ISBN 9780754630319.
  3. Archives. The National. Admiralty: Architectural and Engineering Works Department, later Civil Engineer in Chief's Department: Photographs of Works. . 26 February 2020.
  4. Archives, The National. Records of Works Departments., 26 February 2020.
  5. "Presidents - Sir Alexander Gibb GBE CB: 1927—1929 - IChemE". Institution of Chemical Engineers. Retrieved 11 August 2021.