Devonport Dockyard: The Scrieve Board (S 162)


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
South Yard, Devonport, Plymouth, Devon, PL1


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1388417.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 02-Mar-2021 at 14:51:37.


Statutory Address:
South Yard, Devonport, Plymouth, Devon, PL1

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

City of Plymouth (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Former slip, dating from the late C18, with slip cover of 1814-21, after a design by Sir Robert Seppings. The slip was subsequently floored, and used as a ‘scrieve board’ for ship design.

Reasons for Designation

The Scrieve Board, a former slip, dating from the late C18, with slip cover of 1814-21, subsequently floored, and used in ship design, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Historical interest: as one of four slips constructed during the post-1760s expansion of Devonport, given a slip cover in the early C19, and subsequently floored over and used as a scrieve board – or drawing board – in ship design, the structure is illustrative of a number of ship-building processes in the Royal Dockyard;

* Architectural and technological interest: the majestic timber slip cover of circa 1814-21, after a design by Sir Robert Seppings, demonstrates the technological innovation of what were at the time amongst the widest roof spans in Europe;

* Rarity: the slip cover is one of only a small number of its type and date to survive.


The asset now known as the ‘Scrieve Board’ originated as one of four slips constructed during the post-1760s expansion of Devonport.

The slip’s cover was constructed circa 1814-21 after a design by Sir Robert Seppings, Surveyor to the Navy. Covers for slips were introduced into Naval dockyards to protect wooden ships during construction, and between 1814 and 1821 most of the dry docks and all the slips (at Devonport) had graceful timber framed housings added (Coad). Two survive at Devonport (this one and Slip No. 1 (qv)); the largest one, dating from 1836, is at Chatham (qv). When built such structures were the widest span roofs in Britain, and the widest in the world except for riding schools in Germany and Russia. As such they prefigured the iron slip covers of the 1840s and subsequent railway sheds.

The slip itself was altered and covered to form the ‘scrieve board’. This was the name given to the drawing floor on which finished outlines were ‘scrieved’ - sunk into the wood, or drawn or painted as here, at full size, for finished sections of steelwork – after the earlier drawings for a new design had been worked on in the mould loft. The scrieve board at Devonport was laid inside the existing covered slip. The scrieve board was conveniently located next door to the bending slab and adjoining Slip No. 4 (not listed). The only other surviving example of a scrieve board or mould loft in the Royal Dockyards is at Chatham, where in 1755 a mould loft was built over an existing masthouse of 1753 (qv).


MATERIALS: timber frame with modern cladding: corrugated steel sides and metal sheet mansard roof with inserted plastic lights. The slip, which survives beneath the inserted wooden floor, is of stone.

PLAN: apsidal aisled plan on a roughly west/east alignment, with gabled west end facing the River Tamar. The structure is 88.7 metres long and 31.4 metres wide.

DESCRIPTION: the former slip is floored over, the timber floor being supported on brick pillars; the original masonry survives beneath the floor, with some later material. The structure of the slip cover consists of compound timber stanchions to cantilevered principal rafters, braced to the stanchions and to a collar beneath the shallow pitched roof; the principals extend out over the outer aisles with two braces. The sides are clad with corrugated sheeting, overhung by the wide eaves of the roof. The west end is enclosed by the metal sheeting, slanting downwards, supported on a C20 metal frame. On the south elevation, towards the west end, is a C20 taking-in door with a metal-framed cover. On the wooden floor, drawn or painted markings survive, relating to the building's former use for shipbuilding. In the south-east corner of the building is a circa 1980s temporary structure containing offices; this is not of special interest. The interior of the building also contains a number of C20 and C21 fixtures and fittings, including lighting and heating equipment, which are not of special interest.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: at the west end of the building, on the northern side, a room has been created under the roof overhang by filling in with brick walling. Also against the north side, towards the centre, a corrugated metal shed has been erected. The brick walling and the shed are not of special interest.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Coad, J G, The Royal Dockyards 1690-1850: Architecture and Engineering Works of the Sailing Navy, (1989)
Sutherland, RJM, 'Shipbuilding and the Long Span Roof' in Transactions of the Newcommen Society, , Vol. 60, issue 1, (1989), 107-26
English Heritage: Royal Naval Dockyards Thematic List Review (1998)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].