Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites

Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:33
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The Antigua Naval Dockyard and its Related Archaeological Sites consists of a group of Georgian Naval structures, set within a walled enclosure, built at a time when European nations were battling for supremacy of the seas to obtain control over the lucrative sugar-producing islands of the Eastern Caribbean. 

The Antigua Naval Dockyard and its Related Archaeological Sites consists of a group of Georgian Naval structures, set within a walled enclosure, on a naturally-occurring series of deep narrow bays surrounded by highlands on which defensive fortifications were constructed.

The Dockyard and its related facilities were built at a time when European nations were battling for supremacy of the seas to obtain control over the lucrative sugar-producing islands of the Eastern Caribbean. Antigua’s location as a front-line naval dockyard facility gave the British navy a strategic advantage over its rivals at a crucial point in history.

The construction and operation of the Antigua Naval Dockyard were made possible through the labour and skills of enslaved Africans, whose contribution was crucial for the establishment of the facility and, more widely, for the development of the British Empire, trade and industrialization.

The Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites have been protected as a National Park since 1984 under the National Parks Act and managed by the National Parks Authority (NPA).


Nelson's Dockyard is a cultural heritage site and marina in English Harbour, Antigua. It is part of Nelson's Dockyard National Park, which also contains Clarence House and Shirley Heights.

Nelson's Dockyard was the former naval dockyard for the British Navy in the Leeward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean. It was established in English Harbour in the late 1720s and closed as a military installation in 1895.

For the next fifty years the old naval dockyard was used by Antiguan seamen and boat builders from the village of English Harbour as a careenage and repair facility for their wooden sloops and schooners that traded and provided inter island transportation.

It was also used as a training facility for the West Indian soldiers prior to overseas service during both World Wars.

The site consists of a group of Georgian-style naval buildings and structures, set within a walled enclosure.

The natural environment of this side of the island of Antigua, with its deep, narrow bays surrounded by highlands, offered shelter from hurricanes and was ideal for repairing ships.

The construction of the Dockyard by the British navy would not have been possible without the labor of generations of enslaved Africans since the end of the 18th century.

Its aim was to protect the interests of sugar cane planters at a time when European powers were competing for control of the Eastern Caribbean.

Drawing of English Harbour from 1756 shows it was busy with ships
Drawing of English Harbour from 1756 shows it was busy with ships