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'Richmond Dock' was named after 'Richmond Bay' in Prince Edward Island, where the Yeo Family Shipbuilding operations were based. · 'Richmond Bay' was named after Charles Lennox, the 3rd Duke of Richmond, who had commissioned a survey of the island in 1764. · The title of the 'Duke of Richmond' dates from just after the Norman Conquest, when the lands of Earl Edwin in North Yorkshire were allocated to Alan Rufus by William the Conqueror. · He gave it the name 'Richmond', which comes from the Old-French 'Riche-Monte' a common French place name which means strong hill.
Why was the Dock needed?:
At the end of the 18th century, English oak for shipbuilding wasin short supply, so timber was imported from the Baltic. When Napoleon imposed an embargo, a new source was needed. Prince Edward Isle in Canada, was found to have timber of just the right quality for ship-building, and James Yeo from Kilkhampton (just over the border in Cornwall), went to assess the situation. Whilst there, he had the idea of building ships to a seaworthy stage, packing them with timber, and sending them to the Torridge for completion. His son William Yeo organised the fitting out work in Appledore, but the work was done on the open shore, and this depended on the tides.
Construction of the Dock:
A dry dock was badly needed, and so the Richmond Dock was created. Construction started in 1853 in a sandy creek known as 'The Parlour', and was completed 3 years later. This entailed the demolition of some alms-houses close to the site, and the construction of outbuildings, rigging lofts, saw mills and smith shops. When finished, the dock brought work and prosperity to Appledore, not only in ship repairing, but in many other maritime trades, from boat building & sail making to rope making & chandlery. The resulting Dry Dock was 330 feet long, 36 feet wide, and could hold 2 large vessels at once.
The first ship:
The first ship to be sailed over from Prince Edward Island, and brought into the Dock, arrived on 17 July 1856. She was a barque of about 1,200 tons called the "Elizabeth Yeo" after William's wife Elizabeth. The Bideford Gazette described the event as follows: "Flags were waving in all directions, guns firing and crowds of people striving for advantageous positions from which to behold the entrance of the splendid vessel, which was safely brought into the dock and secured amidst the hurrahs of the assembled multitudes."
Copy borrowed from appledoredrydock.org.uk/ as we believe this to be the lost accurate history available for the dock. Plkease visit their website for further more detailled information.