Devonshire Dock Hall

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Devonshire Dock Hall
DDH, Barrow-in-Furness.jpg
Devonshire Dock Hall viewed from Channelside Haven in 2010
General information
Type Shipbuilding hall
Location Barrow-in-Furness, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates 54°06′37″N 3°14′15″W / 54.1104°N 3.2374°W / 54.1104; -3.2374
Construction started 1982
Completed 1986
Owner BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines
Technical details
Structural system Steel frame
Floor area 25,000 square metres (270,000 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architect Alfred McAlpine
Main contractor Alfred McAlpine

Devonshire Dock Hall (often abbreviated to DDH) is a large indoor shipbuilding and assembly complex that forms part of the BAE Systems shipyard in the Barrow Island area of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England.


HMS Audacious under construction inside DDH in 2013

Constructed between 1982 and 1986 by Alfred McAlpine plc[1] for Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, DDH was built on land that was created by infilling part of Devonshire Dock with 2.4 million tonnes of sand pumped from nearby Roosecote Sands. The purpose of the indoor shipbuilding facility was to protect vessels from external weather conditions and prevent satellites from photographing secret technologies involved. In the late 1980s and early 1990s it was known colloquially as "Maggie's Farm" in reference to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who opened the facility, and whose Conservative Party government were upgrading the UK's submarine-launched nuclear weapons from Polaris to the Trident system on board the Vanguard-class boats. DDH provides a controlled environment for ship and submarine assembly, and avoids the difficulties caused by building on the slope of traditional slipways. Outside the hall, a 24,300 tonne capacity shiplift allows completed vessels to be lowered into the water independently of the tide. Vessels can also be lifted out of the water and transferred to the hall.[2] The shiplift was the largest in the world upon completion.[3] The first use of the DDH was for construction of the Vanguard-class submarines (Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance). The shipyard is currently constructing the Astute-class submarines the first three of which were launched in 2007, 2011 and 2014.[4] As of 2014, the Royal Navy submarines Audacious, Anson and Agamemnon are all under construction inside Devonshire Dock Hall.

Structure and dimensions[edit]

HMS Astute photographed outside DDH in 2007

The steel frame DDH is the tallest building in Cumbria at 51 metres (167 ft) and could be described as a 'Groundscraper' having an overall length of 260 m (850 ft), width of 58 m (190 ft) and an area of 25,000 square metres (270,000 sq ft) - over 6 acres. DDH is the second largest indoor shipbuilding construction complex of its kind in Europe after Dockhalle 2 of Meyer Werft in Germany[5][6] and is visible from miles around, most notably from the Blackpool Promenade which is over 20 miles away.[7]

Future expansion[edit]

DDH is at the centre of a £300 million redevelopment of the shipyard that commenced in late 2014.[8] A large extension to the hall is planned to enable construction of the Dreadnought-class submarines — the replacement for the existing class of SSBNs in Royal Navy service — in state of the art facilities. The project is the largest investment at the shipyard since the construction of DDH itself.[8]

See also[edit]



  • Gray, Tony (1987). The Road to Success: Alfred McAlpine 1935 - 1985. Rainbird Publishing. 

Coordinates: 54°06′37″N 3°14′15″W / 54.1104°N 3.2374°W / 54.1104; -3.2374