1860 The Warrior Causes Concern

HMS Warrior, the first ever iron clad ship, was launched from a private dockyard, causing real concern about the future of all of the Royal Dockyards, where neither the facilities nor the skills required to build such ships existed. There were now thirteen slips in the Dockyard but they were all designed for building wooden ships which needed to stand and season. All of a sudden this was no longer necessary. Foundries and the skills to work with iron were needed instead. Almost overnight Pembroke Dock went from being the most modern of British shipyards to the least likely to survive. The Admiralty was faced with a number of major problems; its ships were obsolete and it needed new ones urgently, and it needed to do some serious thinking about the future of its Dockyards. To address the first problem the Admiralty issued immediate commissions for as many iron clad ships as it could. To address the second a Royal Commission was established. The Royal Commission seriously considered closing Pembroke Dockyard, amongst others, but fortunately it was saved for two reasons. The first was the coming of the railway and the second was the development of the composite warship, a vessel with wooden planking laid over an iron frame. Pembroke Dockyard was ideally suited to the building of such vessels, having not only a large stock of timber but also the local Shipwrights’ skills in using it.