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HER Number:MDV43301
Name:Middle Dock, Appledore


Eighteenth century dockyard on the possible site of a 1672 quay. Became known as "Iron Yard" between 1891 and 1916. Nineteenth century structures survive.


Grid Reference:SS 464 300
Map Sheet:SS43SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishNortham
Ecclesiastical ParishNORTHAM

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS43SE/232

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • SHIPYARD (XVII to XXI - 1672 AD to 2010 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Yard shown on 19th century map to the north of 'Newquay Dry Dock'. Five buildings are shown around the perimeter & a 'Crane' is shown in the northeast part of the yard.

Greenhill, B., 1949, Shipbuilding at Appledore, 345 (Article in Serial). SDV336437.

'Iron Yard'. Improvements made in mid-19th century by the builder of Richmond Dry Dock. Steel schooners 'Annie Reece' and 'W. M. L' and a number of powered vessels built here in the 1880s. AfterWorld War I 'Iron Yard' became one concern with 'New Quay Yard' and 'Richmond Dry Dock'.

Exeter Archaeology, 2006, Archaeological Assessment of the Appledore Fish Dock, Appledore, Northam, 6 (Report - Assessment). SDV338648.

Other details: Site 14.

Curtis, S., 2010, Appledore Middle Dock (Correspondence). SDV345285.

Evidence that there was a dock at this site prior to 1696, and this may be the location of the quay believed to have been Appledore's first, built in 1672 when the town briefly became the point of tax collection for Appledore, Bideford and Barnstaple. The site was purchased by John Benson, circa 1737. His son Thom is believed to have extended the site, building a new stone quay 200 feet long, in 1745.
The maritime warehouse on this site is the only remaining structure of its kind in Appledore

Godfrey, E., 2010, Listing Advice Report (Un-published). SDV346328.

Not recommended for listing.
Thomas Benson, from whom the quay once took its name, was an individual of note in 18th century Appledore, as an influential merchant and politician. The local historical interest of the site cannot be established with any certainty; there is no firm evidence that 'Benson's New Quay' occupied the site of Appledore's first quay, and whilst it appears to have been the most important quay in Appledore during the 18th century, it was not the only one. During the 19th century, Appledore became known for its ship-building - the significance of this industry is reflected in the designation of the Richmond Dry Dock - which lies to the north of the Middle Dock - at Grade II*. The warehouse under consideration, which was built to facilitate the importation and exportation of goods, does not have this association with an industry of regional - and national - importance.
Overall, the site cannot make a claim to the national historical interest which might support a case for designation. The quay with which the warehouse is associated has been considerably extended during the course of its history; the line it follows today was established in the second half of the 19th century,. As a result, the earlier historic outline has been obscured, and none of the original fabric is visible. The boundary wall which separates the site from New Quay Street also dates from the later 19th century, having been constructed shortly before the warehouse. The structure has been subject to extensive repairs and possibly rebuilding during its relatively short history, and is of no intrinsic design or historical interest. The western edge of New Quay Street is defined by the retaining wall of the western hill slope; the height of these opposing walls creates an enclosed approach to Appledore from the south, which is valued locally. However, this local interest is not of a nature that can be protected by statutory designation, but might more appropriately be reflected by a local designation.
The warehouse, quay wall and boundary wall form a group which is of some interest in an area where traces of the former industrial heritage are relatively scarce. However, the structures do not form a group unified by date or style, through which a defined industrial process can be read, and are not of national historical interest, whilst the principal structure - the warehouse - does not possess the architectural interest which might otherwise justify a place on the statutory list.

Carter, D., 2010, Objection to Planning Application (Personal Comment). SDV346120.

Appledore's first recorded stone quay was built here in 1745, although his father's will dated 1739 refers to an earlier quay in this location. Given the shipping nature of Appledore it is highly likely that this site has been used as a wharf for many centuries prior to that.

Godfrey, E., 2010, Warehouse, Boundary Wall and Quay Wall, New Quay Street (E), Northam (Un-published). SDV345423.

Evidence suggests that there was a dock at the site of Middle Dock prior to 1696, and this may be the location of the quay believed to have been Appledore's first, built in 1672 when the town briefly became the poit of tax collection for Appledore, Bideford and Barnstaple. The site was purchased - possibly in more than one part - by John Benson, a considerable Appledore landholder and ship-owner, circa 1737. It is believed that his son Thomas extended the site, building a new stone quay, 200 feet long, in 1745. Certainly by the 1750s the 'New Quay' was the most substantial of several quays owned by the Benson family. The New Quay was used for the importation of goods and for passenger vessels to Bideford and Barnstaple. There is also evidence that in the mid-century convicts were transported to Virginia from this quay. The site remained in the ownership of the Bensons until at least 1841. From circa 1812 it was leased to a succession of occupants. By 1830 it had been considerably lengthened, and a shipyard established to the south, although the import/export function continued into the late 19th century. Between 1855 (Hydrographic Office chart) and 1889 (Ordnance Survey map), the site underwent considerable changes, taking on much the shape seen today. The estuary edge was extended outwards and straightened, whilst the western boundary was re-defined by the construction of the wall separating the New Quay from a newly-created continuation of New Quay Street. A new, large warehouse was subsequently constructed against the western boundary wall. Whilst precise dates for these developments cannot be identified with any certainty, it has been argued that they may have begun after the New Quay changed hands in 1869, with the boundary wall probably dating from the early 1870s and the warehouse following in the later 1870s or early 1880s. Between 1891 and 1916 Middle Dock was used for building small iron barges, during which time it briefly acquired the name "Iron Yard". The site probably became known as Middle Dock after 1891, after which time both this site and the southern shipbuilding yard were in the same ownership as, and served as adjuncts to, the more prominent Richmond Dock to the north. It is said that during World War II the warehouse building was used in the construction of high-speed motor launches for military use. Thereafter, a corn mill operated on the site, and the warehouse is thought to have been used for grain storage. The warehouse has served as a storage area for sand and gravel since the 1970s, and it was probably to facilitate this function that the eastern elevation and internal floors were taken down.
The retaining wall at the eastern edge of the quay has been exended outwards during the course of the site's history. The line followed by the quay today was established at some tie between 1855 and 1889, and is now approximately 91 metres long. The wall is faced with concrete.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336437Article in Serial: Greenhill, B.. 1949. Shipbuilding at Appledore. The Mariner's Mirror. 35. Unknown. 345.
SDV338648Report - Assessment: Exeter Archaeology. 2006. Archaeological Assessment of the Appledore Fish Dock, Appledore, Northam. Exeter Archaeology Report. 06.103. A4 Stapled + Digital. 6.
SDV345285Correspondence: Curtis, S.. 2010. Appledore Middle Dock. Email. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV345423Un-published: Godfrey, E.. 2010. Warehouse, Boundary Wall and Quay Wall, New Quay Street (E), Northam. English Heritage Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV346120Personal Comment: Carter, D.. 2010. Objection to Planning Application. Digital.
SDV346328Un-published: Godfrey, E.. 2010. Listing Advice Report. English Heritage Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV78503Parent of: Middle Dock Boundary Wall (Monument)
MDV78501Parent of: Warehouse, Middle Dock (Monument)
MDV11885Related to: Appledore, Benson's New Quay (Monument)
MDV43300Related to: New Quay Shipyard (Monument)
MDV11884Related to: Richmond Dock, Appledore (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4241 - Appledore Fish Dock, Northam

Date Last Edited:Apr 20 2021 2:39PM