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Latitude: 50.3994 / 50°23'57"N
Longitude: -4.2041 / 4°12'14"W
OS Eastings: 243446
OS Northings: 57824
OS Grid: SX434578
Mapcode National: GBR R05.98
Mapcode Global: FRA 272Z.XLC
Entry Name: Building 13 (Receipt and Issue Magazine), Rnad Bull Point
Listing Date: 17 April 2009
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1393253
English Heritage Legacy ID: 497775
Location: Plymouth, PL5
County: City of Plymouth
Electoral Ward/Division: St Budeaux
Traditional County: Devon
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon
740-1/0/888 ROYAL NAVAL ORDNANCE DEPOT, BULL POINT
17-APR-09 Building 13 (Receipt and Issue Magazin
e), RNAD Bull Point
Ordnance magazine. 1853-7, designed by Commanding Royal Engineer, Devonport for the Board of Ordnance. Plymouth limestone ashlar with rock-faced dressings and granite plat band and coping, with corrugated sheet roof.
PLAN: Rectangular plan.
EXTERIOR: Single storey; 2-window-range. Coped gable ends, stepped eaves and a plat band, with quoins and dressings set forward. The ends have twin, parapetted porches with segmental-arched doorways and double wooden doors, beneath blocked upper doorways, and a blind oculus. To the sides, the plat band steps up over 3 narrow openings covered by wooden shutters, and there are 4 small openings at plinth level.
INTERIOR: vaulted roof.
HISTORY: Intended to receive ammunition from ships coming in to refit or be paid off. Powder barrels which had been checked were held there for issue. It stands in the great architectural tradition established early in the 18th century by the Ordnance Board, then responsible for the construction of forts and barracks through out the British Isles. This is a uniquely accomplished building, its unity of form and function even extending to the treatment of the ventilation holes and recalling the late C17 work of the great French engineer Vauban, who had an impact on the work of military engineers throughout Europe.
Bull Point, located just to the north of the Royal Navy's new Steam Yard at Keyham, was the last great project of the Board of Ordnance, which was abolished in 1856. It provided storage for 40,000 barrels of powder in an integrated complex including a floating magazine where powder was unloaded and the 1805 St Budeax laboratory where it was checked and processed, before being taken to the Bull Point magazines (SAM). In contrast to other yards, Bull Point was from the outset provided with a set of buildings planned and dedicated to the various functions for the processing as well as the storage of the new types of ordnance which had a revolutionary impact on the design of naval ships and fortifications. All the buildings - mostly in ashlar with rock-faced dressings and fronting an avenue to the S of the magazines - are stylistically coherent with the magazines themselves, and comprise both the finest ensemble in any of the Ordnance Yards and a remarkable example of integrated factory planning of the period.
The magazines for Devonport dockyard had been moved from Morice Yard - developed from the 1720s - to Keyham Point in 1775. Sir William Congreve, Deputy Comptroller of the Royal Laboratory in Woolwich, proposed in 1804 the establishment of subsidiary Laboratories (now demolished) at Portsmouth and Plymouth. Restoving establishments, for the repair of damaged powder returned from ships, were also to be provided. The potentially hazardous work of examining, restoving, dusting and remixing gunpowder could not be carried on in such proximity to the towns and advantage was taken of the local topography of the areas to provide dispersed locations to and from which the powder could be taken by water transport. At Plymouth all the powder processing facilities were concentrated at St Budeaux safely up the Hamoaze. Several plans survive of the establishment, whose buildings were of the same design as those at Stamshaw and Little Horsea in Portsmouth (where only below-ground remains can be traced). Earth traverses reinforced with masonry were used to minimise the effects of any explosion, and the boiler which supplied steam to the stoves was placed between two semi-circular traverses. The Mixing House of 1804 (Building 124), is the only building surviving on the site, the footings of the other structures being clearly visible.
The establishment of a new large magazine at Bull Point was forced on the Ordnance Board because of the Admiralty's decision to build a Steam Yard, with basins and very extensive factory facilities at Keyham. The town of Devonport was rapidly encroaching on the Keyham Point magazines and in 1841 the inhabitants petitioned for its removal. The CRE at Devonport (Colonel Oldfield) was asked to find a new site, although its proved to be a prolonged business. Although March 1845 tenders for work at Bull Point were advertised (Baker and Son being given the tender), it was to be nearly seven years before Bull Point was ready for operations. Work on the magazines and associated traverses and enclosures commenced in October 1851 and was completed by June 1854: Oldfield's plans for the magazines were only slightly modified by his successor, Colonel Holloway. Drawings for other buildings are dated 1855-8.
As completed, Bull Point housed 40,000 barrels in four magazines, and now formed an integrated complex with St Budeaux, now renamed a Royal Laboratory. St Budeaux itself had been altered, updated and added to, and the danger buildings of the whole site only performed one function each. In 1865 the design of the depot was highly praised and the designer commended - the prolonged gestation had in fact been worth while. The establishment worked in tandem with the floating magazine Conquistador moored half a mile away. When a ship was paid off, its ammunition was transferred to her, and thence to St Budeaux, where it was examined, stoved if necessary, and then sent to Bull Point, which consequently only ever handled powder which was in a perfect state. Tramroads connected all the buildings where materials were handled, the Receipt and Issue Magazine being sited close to the basin: the inadequate size of the latter necessitated the construction of a new powder pier opposite the main magazines.
In contrast to other yards, Bull Point was from the outset provided with a set of buildings planned and dedicated to the various functions which were now coming into demand. The development of artillery meant a great increase in the use of filled shells and the fuzes required to detonate them. Storage room was thus required for the wooden boxes in which shells were loaded onto ships (Buildings 43 and 63), for fuzes and the percussion caps and friction tubes for firing the guns (Building 55). Cartridge and shell filling and packing (Building 65) required buildings of a very different character and construction from those introduced later in the century. Gunpowder was fitted into the shell in flannel cartridges, which needed to be compressed in order to reduce their stowage space on board ship (Building 54). Examining rooms, for unheading barrels and examining contents, were also supplied (Building 59) with instructional rooms (Building 60, soon converted into a school for the children of the staff). All the buildings - mostly in ashlar with rock-faced dressings and fronting an avenue to the S of the magazines - are stylistically coherent with the magazines themselves, and provide the finest ensemble in any of the Ordnance Yards and a remarkable example of integrated factory planning of the period. Also part of the planning of the site, and relating to the fortification of the Plymouth area, were the defensible barracks sited to its north-east, above the altered and demolished managers' houses.
A further building campaign of 1893-1906 left Bull Point prepared for the First World War. The Cordite Store (Building 28), Dry Guncotton Magazine (Building 29) and Wet Guncotton Store (Building 28) are now - with the loss of similar structures at Priddy's Hard - the best surviving group representative of the development of new explosives, and Building 45 provides the finest example - maintaining the high standards established in the 1850s - of a store for the ammunition of the quick-firing guns being increasingly fitted onto warships.
(David Evans, Bull Point (report for Listing Team, English Heritage), 2000)
This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.
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