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History of Buckler's Hard


Wooden walls of Buckler's Hard
'Wooden Walls' of Buckler's Hard


Buckler's Hard was originally called 'Montagu Town' and was intended to be a free port for trade with the West Indies. Its geography also favoured the development of shipbuilding, as the hamlet possessed access to a sheltered by navigable waterway with gravel banks capable of supporting slipways for vessel construction and launch. Timber for hulls was readily available from the surrounding New Forest.


Shipbuilding at Buckler's Hard commenced in the early 18th century. A private shipyard adjoining the hamlet was established by James Wyatt, a local entrepreneur and timber merchant from Hythe. Wyatt & Co. won a contract to build the naval ship HMS Surprise in 1744 and subsequently, another, HMS Scorpion, at Buckler's Hard.


That same year, Henry Adams, a master shipwright, was sent from Deptford Dockyard to Buckler's Hard by the Admiralty to oversee the building of these ships and after they were completed, Buckler's Hard grew to national prominence under Henry Adams and won subsequent Royal Navy contracts. Over the following sixty years, Adams would supervise the building of 43 Royal Navy ships, including three that fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.


Shipbuilding at Buckler's Hard declined in the 19th century and during the Second World War, the village was a base for the building of motor torpedo boats and, further downstream, sections of the Mulberry harbours were constructed in the old oyster beds for hundreds of landing craft for the Normandy invasion, Operation Overlord.



Contemporary Buckler's Hard


Buckler's Hard un-dated, possibly 1960s


In the post-war years, visitors quickly returned to the river and in 1963, the Buckler's Hard Maritime Museum was opened in what had been the New Inn, 'to service as a memorial to those men of Buckler's Hard who built men-of-war'.


Sir Francis Chichester began and finished his solo voyage around the world in the Gipsy Moth IV at Buckler's Hard.


Today the hamlet is given over to tourism, with a small maritime museum and a modern yachting marina.


Buckler's Hard is still a 'living' village with an impressive and unique shipbuilding past.





Buckler's Hard (c) Buckler's Hard


Buckler's Hard Village - A peaceful haven which remains untouched. Discovery the history of the village, take a step inside a historic shipwright's cottage, or simply amble down the high street to watch the boats sailing by on the Beaulieu River.


Maritime Museum & Buckler's Hard Story - Discover the history of this unique 18th century shipbuilding village, the story of its ships and the residents who lived and worked here.


Shipwright's Cottage - Step through the door of the reconstructed Shipwright's Cottage, home to shipwright Thomas Burlace and his family.


Shipwright Workshop - See the replica timber framed 18th century shipwrights' workshop overlooking the Beaulieu River. Constructed using hand hewn timber from the Beaulieu Estate, the replica workshop was hand-raised on August 2014 as a community training project to reach traditional building skills. The finished workshop is the result of many hours of intensive manual labour by apprentices, students and skilled carpentry experts.


River Cruise - From Easter to September, take a tranquil cruise down the Beaulieu River – an unspoilt haven which is rich in history and wildlife.


For Children - Complete the Quiz Trail, get 'hands-on' and have a go at caulking a seam or learn to tie a bowline and meet living history characters.




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