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Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders

Date 2007

Event ID 610073

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The need for an extensive naval base on the east coast of Scotland was foreseen prior to the 1914–18 war and

construction began at Rosyth in 1909. Dreadnought battleships were part of the British fleet and the facilities required for their repair and refurbishment were formidable.The original scheme comprised a large deep-water basin entered by a lock having a depth of water of 36 ft on the sill, two dry docks and provision for a third, and an emergency entrance for use in case of damage to the lock. Outside was a tidal basin for submarines and smaller craft. All sorts of ancillary buildings including cranes, a power station, a pumping station, workshops, storehouses, etc. were required. The site covered nearly 12 000 acres with some 3.2

miles of waterfront. The main contractor was Easton Gibb & Son Ltd, of whom the managing director, Alexander Gibb (later Sir Alexander) was later to achieve fame as a consulting engineer. The scheduled construction time was seven years, but the difficulties to be overcome were immense and the construction methods at first specified by the Admiralty had to be replaced by more practical schemes devised by the contractor. This caused considerable delay, even with a peak workforce of 6000 men and 24 hour day working for long periods. The project, the success of which owed much to the energy and resource of Gibb,

was finally completed in March 1917.

R Paxton and J Shipway 2007

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders' with kind permission from Thomas Telford Publishers.

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