Maritime and Naval Buildings

Listing Selection Guide

England has the longest coastline in relation to its land mass in Europe: nowhere is very far from the sea. Its island status has been a highly significant factor in the defence of the nation, and the country’s Merchant and Royal Navies were key to the development of the British Empire.

This selection guide covers buildings and structures on land that are associated with the sea, in particular infrastructure developed to serve, regulate and protect ship-borne trade and other vessels which exploited marine resources (principally via fishing). They are found in docks and dockyards, including those of the Royal Navy; shipbuilding and maintenance yards; harbours; and around the coast and in estuaries where customs houses, Coastguard stations, lighthouses and lifeboat stations all attest to the country’s seagoing heritage.

There is some crossover with other categories and selection guides: canals are dealt with in Infrastructure: Transport; warehouses fall under Industrial Buildings; seaside pleasure buildings such as piers are discussed in Culture and Entertainment Buildings. For military structures along the coast built for defence against attack or invasion see the selection guide on Military Structures.

This is one of a series of guides which set out some of our approaches to listing buildings. Covering twenty broad categories of building types, they including historical overviews and special considerations for listing, plus select bibliographies. They are primarily intended to develop understanding of listed buildings and structures, and to offer insight into listing decision making.


  • Introduction
  • Historical summary
  • Specific considerations
  • Select bibliography

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 28
  • Product Code: HEAG114


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