The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Photos © Marcus Binney
Roof structure
Camouflage crane is from use in the war when the shed was roofless
Saw-tooth roof profile

100 Buildings 100 Years

1940: No. 4 Boathouse, Portsmouth Dockyard

Status: Unlisted
Condition: Fair condition
Architect: E A Scott
Location: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

No. 4 Boathouse is a product of the rapid re-armament in the late 1930s, and a rare example of an interwar heavy engineering shop, the latest in a continuous chain of dockyard structures surviving in Portsmouth from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries.

It was designed for the maintenance and fitting out of small boats up to 40 tons, and constructed of reinforced concrete with a riveted steel frame, a saw tooth roof profile and facades designed with reference to contemporary American factories.

The Boathouse’s finest hour was as one of only two locations where assault landing craft were manufactured for the D-Day landings, and the site for the modification and testing of experimental landing craft design.

This magnificent building, which I have described as ‘functionalism on a heroic scale’, was saved from demolition after a campaign by Save Britain’s Heritage. SAVE secured a reprieve from an application for demolition, and working with architect Huw Thomas drew up proposals for its reuse as a centre for displaying small boats of the fleet.

By Marcus Binney

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