The Supply of Casks and Staves to the Royal Navy, 1770–1815
The sailing Royal Navy needed wooden casks for fresh water, alcohol and food. Consumption peaked in 1805: Deptford Yard issued 72,253 tight casks and 72,073 dry casks, and the annual average at Portsmouth was 10,000 and at Plymouth 21,700. From the 1780s cask staves were principally English beech, from 1800, oak from Quebec, but the cost and scarcity of new staves in wartime led the Victualing Board to trial wrought-iron water tanks for ships’ ground tiers, in the Royal Oak, from 1809–12. In 1812 Dickinson and Maudsley were contracted to supply 1,000 two-tun tanks, which were delivered in 1813, and then to supply 1,000 more at 160 per month to Deptford. However, casks were used for food throughout the nineteenth century.