written by
Norman Hart


Today Nelson’s Dock Yard is a main tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world. There are many buildings and artifacts remaining as well as good parking, many vendors selling local goods, a bank and tasty restaurants.

The Dockyard is a cultural heritage site and marina in English Harbour, located in Saint Paul Parish on the island of Antigua. It is part of Nelson's Dockyard National Park, which also contains Clarence House and Shirley Heights, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Nelson is said to have spent much of his three years there in the cramped quarters of his ship, the 125ft (38m) frigate Boreas, declaring Antigua to be an "infernal hole" sending letters back home of sadness and his hatred of mosquitoes.

These days, the dockyard is a vibrant vestige of the island's colonial legacy thanks to the major restoration programme. After England acquired colonial Antigua and Barbuda in 1632, the English Harbour became a focal point for the establishment of a naval base. Its position on the south side of Antigua island facilitated the monitoring of the neighbouring French island of Guadeloupe. Additionally, the harbour is naturally well-suited to protect ships and cargo from hurricanes.

By 1723 English Harbour was in regular use by British naval ships and in September of that year the harbour gained a reputation as a safe natural harbour when a hurricane swept ashore 35 ships lying in other ports in Antigua, while HMS Hector and HMS Winchelsea, both moored in English Harbour, suffered no damage.

Soon British naval officers petitioned for the building of repair and maintenance facilities in English Harbour. In 1728 the first Dockyard, St. Helena, was built on the east side of the harbour and consisted of a capstan house for cleaning and repairing ships, a stone storehouse, and three wooden sheds for the storage of gear. There were no quarters for dockyard staff or visiting sailors and the seamen themselves conducted all work and repairs on the ships. Naval operations in English Harbour soon outgrew the small original dockyard and plans were made to develop the western side of the harbour with more facilities. .many of the original buildings still stand today and present an amazing monument from the past….A photographers dream..