Navy Works Department

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Navy Works Department
Flag of the Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.svg
Department overview
Preceding Department
Department executive
  • Director-General, Navy Works Department
Parent DepartmentAdmiralty

The Navy Works Department was the main civil engineering department of the British Royal Navy and part of the Admiralty responsible constructing, and maintaining naval buildings, dockyards, ports and managing civil engineering staff from 1960 to 1963 it replaced the earlier Civil Engineer in Chiefs Department.[1]

The department was controlled and directed by the Director-General, Navy Works Department who in turn reported to the Civil Lord of the Admiralty.


The history of this department goes back to the late 18th century. In 1796 Inspector General of Naval Works was appointed to superintend for the Navy Board civil engineering works in the dockyards through a Naval Works Department. In 1813 the title was changed to Surveyor of Buildings and the emphasis shifted to architectural works.[2]

In 1837 the department, now under Admiralty control, became the Architectural and Engineering Works Department under a Director of Works responsible to the Civil Lord. In 1919 the department was renamed the Civil Engineer in Chief's Department and in January 1960 it became the Navy Works Department under a Director General.[3]

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

Director-General Navy Works Department

  1. Sir William Gordon Harris KBE CB FREng, 1960 - 1963 (previously Civil Engineer in Chief of the Navy).


  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 (1786–1962). "Records of Works Departments". Kew, Surrey, England.: National Archives UK. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  2. National Archives UK
  3. National Archives UK
  4. National Archives UK