Inspector-General of Naval Works

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Office of the Inspector-General of Naval Works
Board of Admiralty Flag 19th to early 20th Century.gif
Naval Works Department
Reports toBoard of Admiralty, (1796-1808)
NominatorFirst Lord of the Admiralty
AppointerPrime Minister
Subject to formal approval by the King-in-Council
Term lengthNot fixed
Inaugural holderBrigadier-General Sir Samuel Bentham
Formation1796–1808

The office of the Inspector-General of Naval Works was established in 1796 for the purpose of modernising and mechanising the Royal Navy Dockyards.[1] In 1808 the office holders title and role was changed to Civil Architect and Engineer of the Navy.

The office holder superintended the Naval Works Department.

History

In the late 18th century, reforming members of the Board of Admiralty were critical of the Navy Board and its management of the Royal Dockyards. The naval dockyards were judged to have fallen short of their civilian counterparts in keeping abreast of developments in the wake of the industrial revolution. In 1794 Earl Spencer, newly-appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, visited the private workshop of an 'engineering polymath',[1] Samuel Bentham (erstwhile apprentice shipwright in the Royal Dockyards, who had spent a decade modernising Naval manufacturing establishments in Russia, for which he was knighted by Catherine the Great). When Bentham then offered to assist the Admiralty with modernising and mechanising the Dockyards, he was swiftly put to work. In 1795 the Board of the Admiralty notified the Navy Board that Bentham would shortly be visiting each Dockyard with a view to introducing improvements. The following year his appointment was formalised as Inspector General for Naval Works and the Naval Works Department was established to support him. [2] In 1805 Bentham was sent back to Russia under the misapprehension that the Tsar was to allow British warships to be built at Archangel, at which point the office fell vacant. Bentham returned in 1807 and was reinstated in his former post until 1808, when his title and role was changed to Civil Architect and Engineer of the Navy.[3]

Office Holder

  1. 25 March 1796–1805, Lieutenant-Colonel, Sir Samuel Bentham
  2. 1807–October 1808, Brigadier-General Sir Samuel Bentham.[4]

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet: architecture and engineering of the Royal Navy's bases, 1700–1914. Swindon: English Heritage.
  2. Archives, The National. "Letters from the Inspector General of Naval Works (General Samuel Bentham)". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. National Archives, ADM 1/3527, 1804-1808. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  3. "Sir Samuel Bentham (1757-1831) - National Maritime Museum". collections.rmg.co.uk. Greenwich, London: Royal Museums Greenwich. 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  4. Sainty, J.C. (1975). Naval Works Department. University of London, Institute of Historical Research, London. pp. 91–94.

Bibliography

  1. Archives, The National. "Letters from the Inspector General of Naval Works (General Samuel Bentham)". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. National Archives, ADM 1/3527, 1804-1808. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  2. Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet: architecture and engineering of the Royal Navy's bases, 1700–1914. Swindon: English Heritage.
  3. Sainty, J.C. (1975). Naval Works Department. University of London, Institute of Historical Research, London.
  4. Sir Samuel Bentham (1757-1831) - National Maritime Museum". collections.rmg.co.uk. Greenwich, London: Royal Museums Greenwich. 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.