By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the seven home dockyards of the British Royal Navy employed a workforce of nearly 16,000 men and some women. On account of their size, dockyards add much to our understanding of developing social processes as they pioneered systems of recruitment, training and supervision of large-scale workforces. From 1815-1865 the make-up of those workforces changed with metal working skills replacing wood working skills as dockyards fully harnessed the use of steam and made the conversion from constructing ships of timber to those of iron. The impact on industrial relations and on the environment of the yards was enormous. Concentrating on the yard at Chatham, the book examines how the day-to-day running of a major centre of industrial production changed during this period of transition. The Admiralty decision to build at Chatham the Achilles, the first iron ship to be constructed in a royal dockyard, placed that yard at the forefront of technological change. Had Chatham failed to complete the task satisfactorily, the future of the royal dockyards might have been very different.
’It is possible to dip into individual topics, as well as read complete chapters more systematically. Overall the book gives an excellent insight into a neglected but worthwhile topic.’ EH.NET ’All in all, the volume is exceptionally well edited, and makes a substantial contribution to the industrial history of southeast England.’ The Northern Mariner
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Towards Achilles: shipbuilding and repair; Improving the facilities; Manufacturing and the move to steam power; Storage, security and materials; Economics, custom and the workforce; Local management; Central management; Appendices; Documents and sources; Index.