Department of the Surveyor of Buildings

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Department of the Surveyor of Buildings
Board of Admiralty Flag 19th to early 20th Century.gif
Flag of the Board of Admiralty 1690 to 19th century shown for illustrative purposes
Branch overview
Preceding Branch
Superseding department
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
HeadquartersWhitehall, City of Westminster, London
Branch executive
  • Surveyor of Buildings
Parent departmentNavy Office
Department of Admiralty

The Department of the Surveyor of Buildings was the department of the Admiralty responsible for superintending, maintaining and improving the British Royal Navy Dockyard's, Naval Buildings, and Architectural Works from 1812 to 1837, when it was merged into the new Architectural and Engineering Works Department.[1]

The department was administered by the Surveyor of Buildings.


In 1796 when an Inspector-General of Naval Works was appointed to superintended the Naval Works Department then under the Board of Admiralty with responsibility for all civil engineering works in the royal naval dockyards.[2] In 1806 the Commissioners of Enquiry for Revising and Digesting the Civil Affairs of the Royal Navy produced a fourth report (since 1785) in which they recommended the abolition of the Inspector-Generals Department as a semi-autonomous function and recommended the role be re-styled and its responsibilities broadened.In 1807 the title was changed to the Civil Architect and Engineer of the Navy his department then reported directly to the Navy Board. In 1813 the title and role was changed to Surveyor of Buildings who's responsibilities shifted focus towards architectural works. In 1827 the Surveyors department was expanded to include the duties of managing the buildings belonging to the Victualling Department and including its various yards and stations. In 1832 the Navy Board was abolished and its role and responsibilities were merged into the Admiralty. In 1837 following restructuring the surveyors department was abolished and its functions merged into a new Architectural and Engineering Works Department under a Director of Naval Works who then reported to the Civil Lord of the Admiralty.[3]

Head of Department

Surveyor of Buildings

  1. Mr. Edward Holl, 28 November 1812 - 3 February 1824
  2. Mr. G.L. Taylor, 3 February 1824 - 1837


  1. Board of Admiralty, Inspector-General of Naval Works, 1796-1807
  2. Navy Board, Civil Architect and Engineer of the Navy, 1808-1812
  3. Navy Board, Surveyor of Buildings, 1812-1832
  4. Board of Admiralty, Surveyor of Buildings, 1832-1837
  5. Board of Admiralty, Architectural and Engineering Works Department, 1837-1919
  6. Board of Admiralty, Civil Engineer in Chiefs Department, 1919-1960
  7. Board of Admiralty, Navy Works Department, 1960-1963


  1. Archives, The National. "Records of Works Departments". National Archives, 1786-1962. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  2. Archives, The National. "Admiralty, Navy Works Department and predecessors: Naval Establishments: Plans and Drawings". National Archives, WORK 41, 1760-1970. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  3. National Archives UK