Stoke Damerel (& Devonport)


A Topographical Dictionary of England


 Samuel Lewis (1831)

Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)

STOKE-DAMERALL, a parish in the hundred of ROBOROUGH, county of DEVON, adjoining the borough of Plymouth, containing 33,578 inhabitants. This parish, which includes Devonport and Morice Town, is one of the most extensive in the county: the village occupies an elevated site, and comprises several rows of excellent houses, a crescent, and some private mansions of more than ordinary beauty. Among the important public structures are, the immense reservoir of the Devonport Water Company, which supplies the government establishments and the neighbourhood in general; the military hospital, a spacious edifice of grey marble, erected in 1797, on the west side of Stonehouse creek, comprising four large square buildings, of similar size and form, connected by a piazza, of forty-one arches; and the Blockhouse, occupying an eminence north of the village, surrounded by a fosse and drawbridge, commanding a most magnificent prospect: in addition to the military use of this fortress, it forms an admirable land-mark for ships entering the Sound. The living is a rectory, in the archdeaconry of Totness, and diocese of Exeter, rated in the king's books at £18. 18. 9., and in the patronage of Sir John St. Aubyn, Bart. The church is a spacious edifice, with a low square tower. A new church is in progress of erection by His Majesty's commissioners. There are places of worship for Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. On the eastern bank of the Hamoaze, in this parish, is Morice Town, so named from the former lord of the manor, now commonly called the New Passage, where a ferry was established in 1800, to communicate with Cornwall, at Torpoint, on the opposite shore; it consists of four principal streets. The sides of the harbour are lined with various wharfs, and in the town is a large establishment, called the Tamar Brewery. At a short distance is the powder magazine, which, although it covers an area of five acres, was insufficient in time of war, when line-of-battle ships were fitted up as floating magazines. A fair is held here on Whit-Monday. In the vicinity, at Cross hill, is a very extensive quarry of slate of a durable quality.

DEVONPORT, an arsenal (naval, formerly called Plymouth Dock), in the parish of STOKE-DAMERALL, hundred of ROBOROUGH, county of DEVON, 1½ mile (W.) from Plymouth, and 218 (W. by S.) from London. The population is returned with the parish. In the reign of William III., a naval arsenal was established here under the name of Plymouth Dock, and to this event the town is indebted for its importance and present magnitude; in 1824, the appellation of Devonport was conferred upon it by royal permission. It was first fortified in the reign of George II., but the works have been much improved under an act of parliament passed in the 21st of George III. In the early part of the American war, Colonel Dixon, then commanding engineer at Plymouth, applied, on behalf of the troops in garrison at Dock, to the corporation of Plymouth, for supplies of water from a leat, a stream which had been conveyed to that borough by Sir Francis Drake; the application was refused for the alleged reason that this stream was insufficient to supply both places; various other plans were devised and proposed without success, till 1792, when Mr. Bryer, Messrs. Jones and Grey, and others, submitted a plan to the government, and also to the inhabitants, for supplying the latter with water on the same terms as those of Plymouth, and the government departments at a stipulated price; which plan, under an act of parliament obtained in the same year, though not without strenuous opposition, was carried into effect by means of a stream brought from Dartmoor, in a circuitous line of thirty miles, to a reservoir on the north side of the town.
Devonport is situated on an eminence, bounded on the south and west by the mouth of the Tamar, which, expanding into an irregular aestuary, forms the capacious harbour at Hamoaze, and on the east by Stonehouse creek. The town is of an oblong figure, and the streets, which are regular and well built, nearly intersecting each other at right angles, are paved and lighted; the footpaths, when washed by a shower, have a remarkably beautiful appearance, being paved with marble obtained on the manor, which receives a considerable polish from the action of the weather and the feet of passengers. The Fore-street, which crosses the upper part of the town in a direct line, is approached through a plain but handsome gateway on the east, where there is a fosse with a draw-bridge; the houses are in general respectable, and some of a superior order; the entire thoroughfare forming a good approach to the dock-yard. The town is protected on the north-east and south sides by a wall about twelve feet in height, called "the King's interior boundary wall;" skirted on the west by the dock-yard and gun-wharf; and fortified on the sea side entrance by heavy batteries on Mount Wise: immediately south of the town are the houses of the Port Admiral and Governor, the telegraph, and grand parade. Without the wall is a line, or breastwork, with a fosse excavated in the solid rock, of from twelve to twenty feet in depth, planned by a Mr. Smelt, of the engineer department, and begun about the year 1756. In the lines are three barrier gates; the North Barrier, which leads to the passage across the Tamar; the Stoke Barrier, leading towards Tavistock, and the Stonehouse Barrier, conducting towards Stonehouse, Plymouth, &c. On the south side of the town, immediately above the sea-shore, is Richmond walk, raised under the direction of the Duke of Richmond, when master-general of the ordnance, for the accommodation of the inhabitants; it commands a fine view of Mount Edgecumbe, and forms a healthy and pleasant promenade. There is a small theatre in the southern part of the town: the public subscription library is ornamented with an Egyptian facade; and there is an elegant assembly-room at the royal hotel. Southward from the town are hot, cold, shower, vapour, and swimming-baths, with six convenient lodging-houses handsomely furnished. The commerce will be noticed in the account of Plymouth, of which port Devonport is a branch. The principal quays are at Mutton Cove, North Corner, and Morice Town. On the south is a ferry to Mount Edgecumbe, and another on the north-west, to Torpoint. The market days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but the market is not chartered; the market-place is of recent erection, and, for extent and accommodation, is inferior to none in the western part of England; it is well supplied with all kinds of provision, particularly with fish, but it is not a corn market.
The government of the town is vested in commissioners, among whom are the lord of the manor, who holds courts leet and baron at Michaelmas, the stewards of the manor, the rector of the parish, the commissioner of his majesty's dock-yard, the port admiral, the mayor, aldermen, and recorder of the boroughs of Plymouth and Saltash, the manorial lords of East Stonehouse, and of East and West Anthony, with the stewards of those manors; the affairs of the poor, the lighting, watching, and cleansing of the town, and the granting of licenses to porters and watermen, are all under their superintendence. The county magistrates hold petty sessions every Wednesday at the town-hall, for the despatch of business connected with the town and parish. The town-hall includes, in addition to its principal room, which is seventy-five feet by forty, a watch-house, temporary prison, engine-house, &c.; the front, is decorated with a noble Athenian-Doric portico, finished with a horizontal blocking-course and tablet, instead of the usually adopted pediment; near this edifice is a column erected to commemorate the naming of the town anew; it is a fluted column of the Doric order, and from its summit, which is accessible by a spiral flight of one hundred and forty steps, there is a most splendid view. The port admiral's house is a new and elegant structure; the semaphore near it communicates with the flag-ship in the harbour, and is the first of thirty-two telegraphic stations connecting this place with the Admiralty in London. It is said that a communication has been conveyed to and from the metropolis in the short space of fifteen minutes. The dock-yard, one of the finest in the world, is bounded on the east by the town, from which it is separated by a wall, which is in some places thirty feet high, extending from north to south; its water boundary forms a curve bending outwards in a westerly direction; it occupies an area of seventy-two acres, including the projections of the jetties, and was extended to its present dimensions in 1768; the land entrance is from Fore-street, having a carriage gate and a gate for foot passengers. Near this entrance is a chapel recently built by government, on the site of one erected in 1700, "by the generous and pious contributions of officers and seamen belonging to a squadron of men of war" under the superintendence of George St. Leo, Esq., at that time commissioner of the yard. In addition to a stipend from government, the chaplain receives twopence per month from the pay of each of the officers and seamen belonging to ships laid up in ordinary. Opposite to this edifice are the military guard, and navy pay offices. To the south-west is a row of excellent houses occupied by the commissioner and other officers of the establishment, and fronted by a double row of lime trees, from which is a descent by a number of steps to two handsome buildings, one of which, the "Joiner's shop," is surmounted by a cupola. Facing these are the basin and dock, constructed in the reign of William III; the latter is sufficiently capacious for a seventy-four gun ship, being in length one hundred and ninety-seven feet three inches, in width sixty-five feet ten inches, and in depth twenty-three feet one inch: the basin is bounded on each side by jetty heads; that on the south is named "the Master Attendant's stairs." Adjoining to this jetty is a handsome edifice of lime-stone, with the quoins and cornices of Portland-stone, four hundred and eighty feet in length, and three stories high, forming one side of a quadrangle, and called the "Rigging House;" over it is the sail loft; and different store-houses complete the quadrangle, the area of which is the "Combustible Storehouse," entirely composed of iron and stone, the geometrical staircase of which is greatly admired. To the southward is a slip for cleaning the bottoms of vessels, and beyond it the Camber, a canal seventy feet wide, terminating in a basin, which is bounded on the north by the boat-house; this was the boundary of the yard previously to 1768; all beyond, in a southerly direction, is called the New Ground. Here are the "Blacksmith's Shop," a building about two hundred and ten feet square, containing forty-eight forges, the fires of which annually consume one thousand three hundred chaldrons of coal, the anchor-wharf (the largest anchors xnade here weigh five tons), a boiling-house, mast-house, and pond, of which the last is enclosed from the sea by a strong wall ten feet thick, and three hundred and eighty long: it is supplied with water through two openings, of about forty feet wide, crossed by light wooden bridges.
Near the mast-house, in a southerly direction, is a small mount, called Bunker's hill, surmounted by a battery of five cannon (nine pounders), one of which is a beautiful brass piece, made at Paris: from this elevation the prospect is very fine and extensive. In the dock-yard are two lime-stone buildings, parallel to each other, two stories high, and one thousand two hundred feet long, called rope houses; the largest cables made here are twenty-five inches in circumference, and one hundred fathoms long, weighing 1l6cwt. 1qr. 161b., and worth £ 404. 9. 3.; a cable of this weight contains three thousand two hundred and forty yarns. Behind these buildings, in addition to dwellings and store-houses, is the Mould, or Model loft. On the north is the jetty, north stairs, and double dock, so called from being sufficiently large to contain two ships at a time: the gates form the segment of a circle, with their convex sides to the sea. The second dock, called the Union, or North dock, is two hundred and thirty-nine feet four inches, by eighty-six feet seven, and twenty-six feet ten in depth: it is constructed of blocks of granite, faced with Portland-stone, and was built in 1762. The New North dock, two hundred and fifty-nine feet nine inches, by eighty-five feet three, and twenty-seven feet eight inches deep, is said to be the largest in the kingdom, it was finished in 1789. Amongst the objects of prominent interest, is the Breakwater, erected for the security of the harbour, for an account of which see Plymouth. The immense roofs over the docks, being on the principle of an arch without a buttress, are extraordinary specimens of architectural skill; the square contents of one of them amount to one acre, thirty-nine poles, and two hundred feet. The buildings on the gun-wharf, which is separated from the northern part of the dock-yard by a branch of the town, were erected after designs by Sir John Vanburgh; the armouries, and the immense piles of ordnance in the yard, each marked with the name of the ship in Hamoaze bay to which it belongs, are worthy of especial notice. The barracks are calculated to accommodate three thousand troops. The harbour of Hamoaze is about four miles long, and half a mile broad: its greatest depth, at high water, is between eighteen and twenty fathoms, at low water, about fifteen; it is a grand repository for ships of war of all classes.
There are two episcopal chapels of ease: St. Aubyn's, a neat edifiee with a portico and octagonal spire at the west end, erected by subscription in 1771; and St. John's chapel, also erected by subscription in 1799; the inhabitants have also free access to the dock-yard chapel. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Moravians; the chapel belonging to the Baptists has a front in the Hindoo style. A classical subscription school was erected by subscription, and opened in 1821: about one hundred scholars are educated in it. The public school for boys adjoins St. John's chapel, and was erected, also by subscription, in 1809; over it is a school-room for girls, of whom there are about one hundred; the children are clothed and educated. The Baptists and Methodists have their respective schools. A public dispensary, for this and the adjoining town of East Stonehouse, was established in 1815; and a savings bank in 1829. The work-house, under the management of the commissioners, contains an excellent infirmary, and schools for children of both sexes.