The Growth of Plymouth Naval Base and European Tensions, 1717–32
Between 1715 and 1727 Britain sent nine substantial squadrons to the Baltic to safeguard its interests. However, as the situation in the north of Europe began to settle, distrust began to increase again between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar and trade in the West Indies. Fighting at Gibraltar in 1727 led to an extended period of tension. In 1732, for instance, Spanish military preparations resulted in British fears of a Jacobite invasion. This article traces the development of Plymouth Dockyard against this diplomatic background, not only of the dockyard, but of the victualling and ordnance yards and the naval hospital. There was significant and continuous investment throughout these years, often regarded as a period of quiescence. Plymouth was not only, in Daniel Baugh’s words, a ‘fully fledged’ dockyard by the beginning of the 1739–48 war, but also a significant naval base.