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THE ROYAL DOCKYARDS OF ENGLAND. NO. 11. (To the Editor of the North Otago Times.)

Sir, — Though we hare trace* in history of dockyards having existed in England from the earliest times, yet they do not seem to have risen to national importanoe till tnTTtime of Henry VIII. That redoubtable monarch laid the foundation of the Navy of England. He it was who established Trinity House, and the Admiralty, and built the dockyard! at Deptford, Woolwioh, and Portsmouth. It is a pity he did not build three or four more, whioh he could easily have done with the vast sums whioh passed into his hand* from the suppression of monasteries, instead of throwing it away among his worthless favorites, many of whom did not even thank him for Jus largesse. Be this as it may, other dookyards arose under his successors, so that most of those, now in existence can boast a history of three hundred years. At Woolwich I have seen a muster book of the time of Charles 1., and at Chatham, any number of volumes of Admiralty correspondence signed by his son James, afterwards James 11. The dockyards are open to the public, under proper restrictions, but no foreigner is allowed to enter them without an express order in writing from the Lords of the Admiralty. As we are no foreigners, let us avail ourselves of our privilege, ana visit the dockyards in suooession, beginning with that whioh is nearest head* quarters, and the most accessible to Londoners. Here, then, wo are at Doptford ; but by the gate at whioh we have entered we find ourselves not in the Dook Yard, but in the Royal Victoria Victualling Yard. We oannot, however, pass over a place so full of interest to all lovers of the Royal Navy. There are only two more viotualling yards in England, namely, the Royal Clarence, at Gosport ; ana the Royal William, at Stonehouse (grand names these) ; and as both are similar in arrangement to that at Deptford, though not so extensive, wo shall make this one visit do for all three. Let us, then, step forth to see the wonders of the place ; and here the neat, clean, and orderly arrangement so conspiouous in all our public establishments, is especially manifest. The officers houses with thoir neat trim gardens and oroquet lawn ; the pay office with its lovely parterres of flowers, and yellow gravel walks ; and the long range of river wall and storehouses, make up a very pleasing pioture. The great oharin of Deptford and Woolwioh is the rirer Thames. The eye never tires of looking at the river steamers, with boats and barges innumerable, and the ships of all nations passing and repassing at all hours of the day. But it is high time to take a peep inside. Here are all manner of stores for the victualling and clothing of the Fleet — pork, peas, wine, porter, rice, chocolate, sugar, tobacco, and what not. First, we are taken to the rum stores, where we see immense quantities of Jack's favorite beverage pure from the still and olear as crystal, for it does not possess its distinctive color till issued for use. There are many rum vats, all very large, built up through floor after floor. Having olimbed up by a long flight of steps tQ the top of the largest vat, containing, I am afraid to say how many hundreds of thousands of gallons (though I was told) we there find a lid which opens at our feet, into which we dip our tumbler to taste the rum, and round this lid we see an inscription, whioh sets forth that Bang William IV. and Queen Adelaide eaoh tasted the rum (day and date given) and that his Majesty (like a true sailor) thought it very fine j and well he might, for he tasted it at the contract strength ; whereas beforo it is issued it is reduced 40 per cent., and the trost curious part of it is that 60 gallons of rum mixed with 40 gallons of water do not make 100 gallons of the mixture, as might naturally be expected, but falls short of it by 18 or 20 gallons. Now, what beoomes of this 20 gallons ? or how is the storekeeper to keep his account? At all events, the rum when so reduced is still abundantly strong, and much superior to nny that can be got outside. Next wo proceod to the chocolate mills which we fi'id in full operation, with thousands of sacks standing round, all filled with tho precious material. Many of us pass through life without ever tasting ohocoUto, and when we do get a bit of Government-made, we do not mnoh relish it. It seems too rich and oily, but this is for want of skill in preparing it. The sailors boil it over-night in their pannikans, and next day relish it amazingly. From this we go to the biscuit works. The machinery here is perfection. We go up aloft to see the wheat being fed into the hoppen, and come down aguin to see it falling into a trough in the shape of flour, or. as some would call it, meal. Here it is met by a stream of water, and quickly formed into dough by revolving paddles. It is rolled out on a board to the required thickness, and tl\en out by moulds into cakes, not oiroular, but in oblong squares or else iv hexagons. It now only remains to bake them, and this is done in a trice, for at the elbows of the workmen, the ovens are all ready, so that in a few minutes finished biscuits come dancing out in heaps (all hot !) from the wheat we saw in 'the hopper only n few minutes ago ! To our taste they wore rather hsrd-baked. but we believe this is neoeasary to make them keep. Both officers and men are very fond of them — it being customary when at sea for th» ofHoers, of an afternoon or evening, to sit playing draughts or backgammon, and munching biscuits for hours together. We liave hitherto been in the buildings looking on to the river, now we are going more inland, to see the Meat Preserving Works, conducted by Messrs Hogarth, of Aberdeen. Theso enterprising contractors arrive from the North about the beginning of March, bringing with them eighty young women accustomed to the work, and o>i their arrival, twenty more young women of Deptford are engaged, by way of compliment to the neighborhood, making altogether about one hundred. They receive 8s to 10s a week, and are not debarttad from helping themselvM to th« bjup among whioh they are working.

[ Pint, in a long rang* of buildings, <H ■co a number of workman bu«ily engaged making tins for the meat, I never mw no many tinmen at work togethdrin all my life. The bullocks are slaughtered twice a woftL, a hundred and twenty at a time. Now w* past into the boiling-house, where a rung* of immenie coppers are kept boiling. Eighty or ninety strong young women »re engaged cutting up the meat, while other* are putting it into the ooppovis i where it is boiled or steamed into a ri«l> gravy, and then put into the tins, and wnH solderou* down. Trials were made of Australian ptuserved meat as compared with thai mad* at Deptford. Both were found to be excellent. They are not rivals at all. Til* one is for supplying the British navy, the other in for supplying the world, ana the world seems to know it, too, for Australian meat is making its way everywhert Some time ago I went to a house in Moi ton Folgate (Shoreditoh), where diiuierc of Australian meat are provided for \rovk ing men at fourpenoe half-penny e»oh Here I had as good a dinner for fld v* I could have got elsewhere for Is. I aitt glad to make this publioly known. Knd now let ufe taste the Deptford preserve. We find that two or three teaspoonfuh of the gravy is sufficient to make a pint of goocTsoup. But though the smell ib y*\y Inviting, and the taste is superb, here we must not linger, but hurry over the stores — wine, porter, tea, coflee, sugar, {ymk~ peas, rice, tobacco, <fco. Then to ifip olothing department, where we are iuW\)ti heaps of jackets, shirts, drawers, stool ings, boots, and many other artiolen im numerous to mention. But, hark ' the yard bell begins to ring for the workmen to go to dinner, it being olose upon 1 91 o'clock. Out they come, pouring front every corner. Where in the world do they all come from ? In going through the stores we n^vei nw more than one or tw togother, but now they oome out in swarms, ».ll making towards the gate. Just inside th« gate two policemen take their stand, no a« to divide the orowd into three sta-exm*, touching one here nnd they e as they come up, to go into tho waiting-room t<> be searched, thus making every man fee) that he is liable at any time to be 40 handled, and thus keeping them in constant row «n<branoe tliat honesty is the best policy. That thii searohingTs n^t unnoce««ary. w# shall have oooaiion to show by-aiid-by, meanwhile, let us go out with the crowd, for we alto must have some dhu>ei. Should the weather bo fine, you may I\aax of us again in the afternoon ; at any vote, look out next mail for another commute* tion from your obedient servant, Snafdiug< > *> . East Dulwioh, March, 1877.

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NOT18770611.2.12

Bibliographic details

THE ROYAL DOCKYARDS OF ENGLAND. NO. II. (To the Editor of the North Otago Times.), North Otago Times, Volume XXVI, Issue 1604, 11 June 1877

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THE ROYAL DOCKYARDS OF ENGLAND. NO. II. (To the Editor of the North Otago Times.) North Otago Times, Volume XXVI, Issue 1604, 11 June 1877

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