Royal Dockyards provided the Royal Navy with the shore support facilities it required to build, repair and maintain the fleet. Central to any Royal Dockyard were, as the name suggests, their dry docks and it was the provision of these expensive structures that set the Royal Yards apart from their civilian counterparts until well into the 19th century. aa
By the mid-18th Century the Royal Yards had developed into the largest industrial organisations in the world with complex facilities supporting thousands of skilled workers in a wide number of trades. Indeed it was the level of the facilities and skills provided in the Royal Dockyard's, particularly at Chatham that underpinned the Royal Navy's success at sea – from victory in battle; through the epic voyages of discovery made by Cook, Darwin and others; to the ceaseless anti-slavery patrols of the 19th century and the imposition of Pax Britannica.