The Royal William Victualling Office, Stonehouse, Plymouth oil on panel 29.3 x 40.7cm (11 9/16 x 16in).
Widely regarded as one of the most important early nineteenth century industrial complexes in the country, the Royal William Victualling Yard at Stonehouse, on the Hamoaze at Plymouth, was designed by the eminent civil engineer John Rennie the younger in 1824-5. With an estimated cost of almost £300,000 for the first phase alone, work began in 1827 after two years had been spent blasting and levelling the site to form a suitably flat area of some fourteen acres. Quite apart from the quays and tidal basin, the complex was enormous and consisted of a brewery, flour mill and bakery, stockyards and slaughterhouse, numerous stores and even five residences for the senior officers in charge. The whole ambitious scheme was finally completed at the end of 1832 and named after the 'Sailor King', William IV, under whose direction, as Duke of Clarence and Lord High Admiral of England, it was begun five years earlier.