Milford Dockyard

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HM. Dockyard, Milford
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Part of Coast of Ireland Station (1797-1814)
Milford Haven in Wales
TypeNaval Base and Naval Dockyard
Site information
OperatorNavy Royal, Royal Navy
Controlled byNavy Board
Site history
In use1797-1814
Installation information
Commissioner of the Navy, Kinsale
OccupantsIrish Squadron

Milford Dockyard or formally HM Dockyard, Milford was a Naval Dockyard of the Navy Royal then later Royal Navy located at Milford Haven, Wales. It was controlled by the Navy Board represented by a Resident Commissioner of Navy who was responsible for supervising the principal officers of the yard. It opened in 1797 and closed in 1814 when the work and staff of dockyard was transferred to Pater Yard.


The town of Milford was founded in 1793, after Sir William Hamilton obtained an Act of Parliament in 1790 to establish the port at Milford, and takes its name from the natural harbour of Milford Haven, which was used for several hundred years as a staging point on sea journeys to Ireland and as a shelter by Vikings. It was known as a safe port[1] and is mentioned in Shakespeare's Cymbeline as "blessed Milford". It was used as the base for several military operations, such as Richard de Clare's invasion of Leinster in 1167,[2] Henry II's Invasion of Ireland in 1171,[3] John's continued subjugation of the Irish in 1185 and 1210[4] and Oliver Cromwell's 1649 invasion of Ireland;[5] while forces which have disembarked at the point include Jean II de Rieux's 1405 reinforcement of the Glyndŵr Rising and Henry VII's 1485 landing at the waterway before marching on England. By the late 18th century the two local creeks were being used to load and unload goods,[6] and surrounding settlements were established, including the medieval chapel, and Summer Hill Farm, the only man-made structures on the future site of Milford.[7]

the town's founder, had acquired the land from his wife, Catherine Barlow of Slebech.[7] His nephew, the Hon. Charles Francis Greville, invited seven Quaker families from Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard to settle in the new town and develop a whaling fleet.[8][9] They began by building a shipyard, and leased it to a Messrs. Harry and Joseph Jacob. In December 1796, in an unusual arrangement, the Admiralty (Navy operations) directed the Navy Board (administration and supplies) to contract Jacobs shipyard to build a frigate and later a 74-gun ship-of-the-line. However, due to a combined lack of local standing oak, access to supplies of timber from the Baltic, and local skills in volume, the Jacob operation soon went bankrupt.[10]

In 1800, following the bankruptcy of the Jacobs & Sons, the Navy Board's overseer, Jean-Louis Barralier, was persuaded to lease the site for the Navy Board and develop a dockyard for building warships.[11] Seven royal vessels were eventually launched from the dockyard, including HMS Surprise and HMS Milford.[12] The town was built on a grid pattern, thought to have been to the design of Jean-Louis Barrallier, who remained in charge of shipbuilding there for the Navy Board.[13][14] Between 1801 and 1803, the town and waterway were protected by temporary batteries at Hakin Point and south of St Katherine's Church, in response to the perceived threat following the Fishguard Invasion.[15]

n 11 October 1809, a naval commission recommended purchase of the Milford Haven facility and formal established of a Royal Navy dockyard. This was, according to the report, due to the fact that Millford built-ships had proved to be cheaper due to the cheap cost of supplies and abundant labour supply.[10] It proposed purchase of the yard at £4,455.[10] However, as this was after the Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805), when the need for naval ships was decreasing in the Napoleonic Wars, and in such a remote location, the proposal seemed perplexing. However, in light of the end of the Franco-Spanish naval engagement, and the merging of the two sides of the Royal Navy under the Admiralty Board, the fact that Frenchman Barallier would remain in charge strongly suggests to historians that the Royal Navy accepted that its ships manoeuvrability was inferior to those of the Franco-Spanish alliance. In an effort to rectify this state of affairs the Royal Navy's first School of Naval Architecture was opened in Portsmouth in 1810. Effectively then, Millford was to be set up as a model dockyard under French management, from which lessons could be learnt for implementation in other dockyards.[10]

In 1814 the work and staff of dockyard was transferred to Pater Dockyard;[16] though, when Robert Fulke Greville inherited the estate in 1824, a commercial dock was started which became the home of a successful fishing industry.[17] and by 1906, Milford had become the sixth largest fishing port in the UK, and its population rose. The Pembrokeshire Herald claimed in 1912 that "the fish trade is Milford's sole industry....the population of the town has doubled by means of it".

Administration and Personnel of the Dockyard


Master Shipwright Milford Dockyard

  1. Henry Canham, June - August, 1813.
  2. Edward Churchill, August 1813 - 1814.


  1. Owen, George (1994). Miles, Dillwyn (ed.). The Description of Pembrokeshire (First ed.). Llandysul: Gomer Press. ISBN 978-1-85902-120-0.
  2. Gibbons, Gavin, South Wales Its Valleys, Coasts and Mountains, Geographia Map Company, 1971. ISBN 978-0092054907
  3. Brennan, Joseph J, A Catechism of the History of Ireland: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern (1878), Kessinger Publishing, 2008. ISBN 1-4367-1986-0
  4. Miles, Dilwyn. Portrait of Pembrokeshire, Robert Hale Ltd, 1984. ISBN 0-7090-2004-X
  5. 4 August 1649 Timeline: British Civil wars Retrieved 19 January 2010
  6. George, Barbara J; Pembrokeshire Sea Trading Before 1900 Field Studies Journal; Pg, 5–6; Retrieved 19 January 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 Wing Commander Ken McKay A Vision of Greatness: The History of Milford 1790–1990, Brace Harvatt Associates, 1989. ISBN 978-0-9515212-0-5
  8. Allen, Richard C. Nantucket Quakers and the Milford Haven Whaling Industry, C. 1791–1821, Quaker Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1, 09.2010, p. 6-31. ISSN 1363-013X
  9. David Barnes. The Companion Guide to Wales, Companion Guides, 2005. ISBN 978-1-900639-43-9
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 J.S.Guard (January 5, 2004). "H.M. Dockyard Pembroke – A Brief History". J.S.Guard. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  11. Encyclopædia Britannica: Milford Haven Retrieved 30 January 2010
  12. Edwards, Sybil, The Story of the Milford Haven Waterway, Logaston Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1-906663-10-0
  13. "Archaeology in Wales – Ymddiriedolaeth Archaeolegol Dyfed – Dyfed Archaeological Trust". Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  14. Francis Barrallier A_Life in Context
  15. Phillips, Benjamin A Pembrokeshire's Forts & Military Airfields 1535 - 2010, Logaston Press, 2013 ISBN 9781906663735
  16. Extract from Bartholomew, John (1887) 'Gazetteer of the British Isles' from Vision of Retrieved 30 January 2010
  17. [1] Lewis, Samuel (1849) A Topographical Dictionary of Wales pp. 430–440. From British History Online. Retrieved 30 January 2010
  18. Harrison, Simon (2010–2020). "Milford Dockyard". Cy Harrison. Retrieved 15 June 2020.