1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Devonport

DEVONPORT, a municipal, county and parliamentary borough of Devonshire, England, contiguous to East Stonehouse and Plymouth, the seat of one of the royal dockyards, and an important naval and military station. Pop. (1901) 70,437. It is situated immediately above the N.W. angle of Plymouth Sound, occupying a triangular peninsula formed by Stonehouse Pool on the E. and the Hamoaze on the W. It is served by the Great Western and the London & South Western railways. The town proper was formerly enclosed by a line of ramparts and a ditch excavated out of the limestone, but these are in great part demolished. Adjoining Devonport are East Stonehouse (an urban district, pop. 15,111), Stoke and Morice Town, the two last being suburbs of Devonport. The town hall, erected in 1821–1822 partly after the design of the Parthenon, is distinguished by a Doric portico; while near it are the public library, in Egyptian style, and a conspicuous Doric column built of Devonshire granite. This monument, which is 100 ft. high, was raised in commemoration of the naming of the town in 1824. Other institutions are the Naval Engineering College, Keyham (1880); the municipal technical schools, opened in 1899, the majority of the students being connected with the dockyard; the naval barracks, Keyham (1885); the Raglan barracks and the naval and military hospitals. On Mount Wise, which was formerly defended by a battery (now a naval signalling station), stands the military residence, or Government House, occupied by the commander of the Plymouth Coast Defences; and near at hand is the principal naval residence, the naval commander-in-chief’s house. The prospect from Mount Wise over the Hamoaze to Mount Edgecumbe on the opposite shore is one of the finest in the south of England. The most noteworthy feature of Devonport, however, is the royal dockyard, originally established by William III. in 1689 and until 1824 known as Plymouth Dock. It is situated within the old town boundary and contains four docks. To this in 1853 was added Keyham steamyard, situated higher up the Hamoaze beyond the old boundary and connected with the Devonport yard by a tunnel. In 1896 further extensions were begun at the Keyham yard, which became known as Devonport North yard. Before these were begun the yard comprised two basins, the northern one being 9 acres and the southern 7 acres in area, and three docks, having floor-lengths of 295, 347 and 413 ft., together with iron and brass foundries, machinery shops, engineer students' shop, &c. The new extensions, opened by the Prince of Wales on the 21st of February 1907, cover a total area of 118 acres lying to the northward in front of the Naval Barracks, and involved the reclamation of 77 acres of mudflats lying below high-water mark. The scheme presented three leading features—a tidal basin, a group of three graving docks with entrance lock, and a large enclosed basin with a coaling depôt at the north end. The tidal basin, close to the old Keyham north basin, is 740 ft. long with a mean width of 590 ft., and has an area of 10 acres, the depth being 32 ft. at low water of spring tides. It affords access to two graving docks, one with a floor-length of 745 ft. and 20½ ft. of water over the sill, and the other with a length of 741 ft. and 32 ft. of water over the sill. Each of these can be subdivided by means of an intermediate caisson, and (when unoccupied) may serve as an entrance to the closed basin. The lock which leads from the tidal to the closed basin is 730 ft. long, and if necessary can be used as a dock. The closed basin, out of which opens a third graving dock, 660 ft. long, measures 1550 ft. by 1000 ft. and has an area of 351/2 acres, with a depth of 32 ft. at low-water springs; it has a direct entrance from the Hamoaze, closed by a caisson. The foundations of the walls are carried down to the rock, which in some places lies covered with mud 100 ft. or more below coping level. Compressed air is used to work the sliding caissons which close the entrances of the docks and closed basin. A ropery at Devonport produces half the hempen ropes used in the navy.

By the Reform Act of 1832 Devonport was erected into a parliamentary borough including East Stonehouse and returning two members. The ground on which it stands is for the most part the property of the St Aubyn family (Barons St Levan), whose steward holds a court leet and a court baron annually. The town is governed by a mayor, sixteen aldermen and forty-eight councillors. Area, 3044 acres.