PortCities London

Deptford and Woolwich: London's Royal Dockyards


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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