The historic heart of Stanley

The Historic Heart of Stanley

Dockyard History

By 1844 Governor Richard Moody had started the process of moving the capital to Stanley. The first buildings to be constructed (largely by Royal Engineers, Miners and Royal Marines) were those in the Government Dockyard.

In July of that year Stanley’s early constructs consisted of a carpenter’s shop, a smithy built of sods, bricks and clay, two wooden cottages, a cottage of sods and stone, and a storehouse – the latter eventually being used as a barracks, a hospital, a court and a gaol.

The original Government Building Book, dated September 1848, describes the details of these buildings, which remain largely unchanged to this day.

By the end of the 1840s, several other Government buildings and a jetty had been added and these too remain in the Dockyard. However, it is the original half dozen buildings that are of greatest historical importance, offering a glimpse into the life of the first settlers in Stanley.

1.  Historic Buildings in the Dockyard

Category A Listed Buildings:
Central Stores
Old Gaol
Government Smithy
Government Boathouse

Category B Listed Buildings:
Dockyard Workshop

1 (a) Central Stores (Building 1)

This building has changed little since its construction and is the only large building in Stanley to retain its original shingled cladding. The loft beams and walls still bear the graffiti of visiting sailors in the 1880s. It is also believed to be the oldest surviving wooden building in southern South America.

1 (b)    The Old Gaol  -  (Building 10)
This building contained four cells on one side of a central passage and two on the other. The building also houses the Gaoler’s accommodation of a “sitting room, bed room and loft over head”.

1 (c)     Government Blacksmith’s Shop  -  (Building 11)
The 1848 Buildings Book describes the Government Smithy as “a new stone building… with forge fitted with 2 forge blocks 2 pair of bellows, 2 anvils, swaging block and a portable forge. There is a bench with drawer etc.” Much of this original furniture remains in place to this day.

1 (d)    The Boat House  -  (Building 9)
This building was originally known as “No. 3 Store” and was used as a coal shed and, for a short time, a temporary powder magazine and during this time was “lined throughout with rugs and blankets.”

1 (e)     The Workshop  -  (Building 8)
This is a small stone building with a panel on the south-east wall bearing the words “T.N. Braxton 1943”. Tommy Braxton carried out a good deal of work in local stone, most of which is still in evidence.

1 (f)     The Government Jetty
A Canadian barque, the Margaret was cut down to its tween decks, filled with rubble and used as a base for this jetty. Although little of this 1836 vessel can now be seen, it remains a matter of interest and demonstrates the resourceful nature of early settlers.

The new capital grew out from this central point and the Dockyard is undoubtedly the historical heart of Stanley.