In 1791, the Universal British Directory was published in
five large volumes. It contained a description of the chief places in
England and Wales together with a listing of the principal inhabitants,
their occupations and status. It was not, in the modern sense, a travel
guide - the volumes were far too large to carry around. It was meant to
handy trade guide for those who required goods and services not
available in their own area and others who were willing to travel
around the country in order to supply those needs. The lists of residents in each area and the descriptions of places as
they were in 1791 are of great value to the family historian.
This is the Directory's description of Dock, then a new Devon town:
"The town of Dock lies about two miles
below Plymouth. It is nearly as large as Plymouth itself as the list of
inhabitants will show. A new Balloon* coach sets out every morning for
Exeter, Bristol, Bath and London, from Mr. Lockyer's the Old King's Arms
Inn and Tavern. A diligence** sets out every morning at six o'clock for
London, Bath, Bristol and Portsmouth from Mr. John Sole's, the Fountain
Inn and Tavern.
Portsmouth sloops that bring passengers to Plymouth and Dock and
from thence to Portsmouth are:
Brothers - Captain Henry Haskett
The Rose -
Captain James Churchill
The Duke of
Portland - Captain Benjamin Stephens
- Captain Richard Haskell
Enterprise - Captain William Harvey
The Hope -
Captain Richard Braggs"
There follow long lists of the Commissioners and Officers
of His Majesty's Dock Yard, followed by the local Gentry, Clergy,
medical men and attorneys, ending with the names of nearly 700 of
the leading traders of Dock. Inn-keepers feature heavily, as one might expect,
but there are representatives of almost every trade and craft needed to
cater for the official requirements of the 18th century British Navy and
for the needs of an unlisted army of ship-yard workers and their
families. Sword-cutlers, gunsmiths, button-makers, tailors and Customs
officials take their place alongside hairdressers, midwives, butchers
The amenities for ship building and repair at Dock, begun in the
reign of William III, are described in detail as are the handsome
houses built for the commissioners and officers of the "king's
yard" as it was called.
Devonport - a wet dock
"Adjoining the yard is also a gun-wharf where all
the cannon belonging to the men-of-war, lying in the Sound at the time
of peace, are laid up. This wharf is remarkable for being hewed out of,
and contained within, a solid rock. It contains an arsenal and
magazines, in which are generally kept a large quantity of arms and
stores, in like order, though not in so great a quantity as those in the
Tower of London.
This place is, in short, now become as complete an arsenal and
yard, for building and fitting-out men-of-war as any the government are
masters of, and perhaps more convenient than some of them, though
not so large: and this has occasioned a proportional increase of
building to the town which is now become a very considerable, well-built
and large place and had the name of Plymouth Dock, but now generally
called Dock only."
- old buildings on the Gun Wharf.
lies the modern dockyard.
coach with concave sides. It was lighter than previous models and
consequently speeded up journey times slightly.
diligence came to Britain from the continent. It was longer and lower than
the standard coach and had capacious luggage compartments above the
seating area. More luggage could be carried but journey times were
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