Dikes, Dockheads and Gates: English Docks and Sea Power in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
English docks at the close of the fifteenth century were the primitive structures of the Late Middle Ages. It took six months to build a dockhead and a further month to dismantle it for the ship to be moved. In 1578 funding was provided for a dock rebuild which included the installation of a gate, based on an invention by Leonardo da Vinci. The replacement of the dockhead with a turning gate transformed dock design. Shipwrights were innovative in their solutions to overcome other difficulties with dock usage so by the end of the seventeenth century there were significant improvements to engineering designs which, by then, were being copied abroad.