Building HMS Victory under roofing at Chatham dry dock

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    Malcolm Lewis
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    The keel of the Victory was laid down at Chatham Dockyard in 1759. John McKay in his book The 100-gun Ship Victory (revised edition 2000), page 10, under ‘Construction’, states that:
    Victory was built in the Old Single Dock at Chatham which had a temporary roof placed over it for this purpose’.

    I have not seen this referred to by Arthur Bugler or Alan McGowan in their works about the building of Victory. I have queried this with Chatham Historic Dockyard but received no reply.
    Roofing building docks and slips was unusual in England at this time. It would have required quite a tall construction to allow materials to be passed down into the dock. I am surprised there are no contemporary pictures of what was perhaps a unique situation.
    First Rates were said to be frequently built in dry docks because of their size and to ensure they avoided possible damage which might occur to the keel if launched from a slip. Can anyone list other First Rates built in dry docks in the 17th-18th centuries?
    The Royal George, which was the largest warship in the world when new in 1756, was, I believe, slip-launched at Woolwich Dockyard. She was slightly smaller than Victory was to be. Thomas Slade based his design for Victory on the Royal George although he included various structural additions and modifications.
    Any information on this subject would be appreciated.

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