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Deptford and Woolwich: London's Royal Dockyards

Origins and Tudor development
17th- and 18th-century developments
Decline of the Deptford and Woolwich yards
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Henry VIII, 1491-1547.
View full size imageHenry VIII, 1491-1547. © NMM
This story explores the rise and decline of naval shipbuilding at Deptford and Woolwich. It looks at the changing use of the dockyards and the stories of some of the associated people and ships.

Centre of authority

By the early 16th century, London was a centre of royal and Church authority and the home of national government and the judiciary. It was also England's financial, commercial, trading and industrial capital.  

Henry VIII further enhanced London's national significance and widened the range of its activities by setting up the Royal Dockyards at Deptford and Woolwich on the south bank of the Thames.

A prospect of the town and His Majesty's Dockyard at Woolwich. Engraved for the 'London Magazine', 1756.
View full size imageHis Majesty's Dockyard at Woolwich, 1756.
This strengthened London's important links with the sea and particularly with the newly created Royal Navy.

The dockyards soon became major centres of industry in their own right with a far-reaching impact on the local communities.


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Find out more
GalleriesDeptford Royal Dockyard collection
Further images of Deptford Dockyard
GalleriesWoolwich Royal Dockyard collection
Further images of Woolwich Dockyard
StoriesThe Tudor and Stuart port
London becomes a gateway to the markets and products of the world
GalleriesFamous Thames ships
The great and the good
Fact fileHenry VIII
The king who had six wives
StoriesTrinity House
Showing the way
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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