Rosyth - Encyclopedia


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"ROSYTH 14.718). - The development of the German navy in the first years of the 10th century rendered it necessary to create a British naval base suitable for a fleet concentrated in the North Sea, and in 1903 it was decided to establish a firstclass naval base at Rosyth on the Firth of Forth. Land was acquired and works were planned, but the development of possibilities of torpedo attack soon made it evident that the outer anchorage, as originally designed, would be insecure, and naval opinion became doubtful as to whether the base would be adequate. The plans of construction were, therefore, modified in 1908, but, up to the outbreak of war, Rosyth was regarded as the principal base and headquarters for the Grand Fleet, though it was decided that initial stations must be established at Cromarty (see Cromarty) and Scapa Flow (see Scapa Flow). When the war began, Admiral Jellicoe preferred to establish his headquarters at Scapa Flow, but Rosyth was used as a secondary base, particularly for the battle cruisers.

The Firth of Forth had been selected, before the war, as the eastern terminus of a mid-Scotland canal which was to connect with the existing canal and follow its line for part of the way, and then crossing the low ground in the neighbourhood of Stirling, to enter Loch Lomond, and ultimately to reach the sea by a short canal from Balloch to a point near Dumbarton. The canal was projected not only for commercial purposes but also to enable warships to pass safely and rapidly from W. to E. and to make the great Clyde shipyards easily accessible from the naval base at Rosyth, and thus to avoid the necessity of constructing docks and repairing yards there.The project was again under consideration during the war, but it was obvious that it could not be accomplished in time, and Rosyth was developed as a great dock-yard.

The original scheme included a high-level main basin covering an area of 55 ac., with an entrance lock from the fairway, a dry or graving dock 750 ft. long and II o ft. wide, a submarine tidal basin, the construction of an entrance channel, and the erection of workshops and offices, and work was begun in 1909. The whole site of the works has been reclaimed from the sea, and a great sea-wall was built to form the southern boundary of the docks, the number of which was increased from one to three. Great progress had been made by the outbreak of war, and it was anticipated that the works would be completed by the summer of 1916. Operations were pushed on vigorously during the war, and a special Act of Parliament was passed in 1915 to facilitate the provision of dwelling-houses for Admiralty employees. By the original Act for the construction of the base, the whole area between the town of Dunfermline and the land purchased by the Government was brought within the municipal area, which was thus extended from 2;016 to 7,730 acres. The erection of houses has involved the construction of new roads, and new water and sewerage schemes.

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