The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
The Royal Navy has always needed food and supplies. Originally these were provided by private contractors but these were found to be wanting. Poor standards abounded and eventually this method of supplying the Royal Navy was superseded by one which the Government had total control over.
The water-front buildings that were once
In 1654 one Captain Henry Hatsell was appointed as Captain Commissioner of the Navy and Victualling, with an office on Lambhay Hill, overlooking Plymouth's Barbican and the Cattewater. New warehouses were built on land leased from Mr William Strode. Unfortunately it was not long before the country was hit by food shortages brought about by the war with the Dutch and Plymouth's victualling office began to suffer from an inability to find replacement sources.
Captain Hatsell was replaced as Commissioner in May 1660 by Mr John Lanyon, one of two local brothers. This was at the time the Royal Citadel was being constructed and some of the Victualling Office buildings were demolished to make space for it.
Then, in 1694, the Royal Dockyard was commenced but it was over in the Hamoaze, far from the site of the Victualling Office and its storehouses. As the Royal Naval vessels moved from the Cattewater and Sutton Harbour to the new facility, it became clear that the Victualling Office was no longer in the right location for easily supplying the ships. It was now necessary to transfer food and stores by boat from the Barbican to the Dockyard around the front of Plymouth Hoe, which was not at that time protected by the Breakwater. Plans were made to construct a new victualling depot near Millbrook, on the Cornish side of the Hamoaze but the merchants of Plymouth petitioned Queen Anne and the plan was dropped. They did, however, build the King's Brewery over at Southdown, to the north of Millbrook.
The facilities at the bottom of Lambhay Hill were growing and being improved. In 1734 the freehold of the land there was purchased for the sum of £6,784. This enabled expansion to take place and a new bake house was built, with a wharf for loading and unloading. In the following years a slaughter house, several storehouses and a second wharf were built. The King's Bakehouse was destroyed by fire in November 1744 but was rebuilt and enlarged the following year.
Our first published description of the facilities at on the Barbican is dated 1812 :
The same source gives the names of the officers in 1812 as: Agent, Mr Thomas Miller; Clerk of the Cheque, Mr Robert Bulcock; and Store-keeper, Mr John Slight. 
By the beginning of the 19th century, the need had far outgrown the facilities at Lambhay Hill and the Admiralty decided that a new, purpose-built depot was needed in a more convenient location. The result was the Royal William Victualling Yard at Stonehouse.
On Tuesday August 9th 1831 the old victualling office was sold by auction at Plymouth's Royal Hotel, Mr Hoggart, of London, being the auctioneer:
On the following day the building materials of the premises standing on the ground surrendered to the Board of Ordnance were sold to the same parties.
Later, some of the above-mentioned premises became the Emigration Depot.
|© Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK|
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