The Royal Naval Dockyard is at the n. end of Ireland Island. The dockyard supported British naval operations from the War of 1812 through World War II. Major construction of this “Gibraltar of the West” began in 1809, involving large land reclamations and the labor of slaves and thousands of British convicts. The dockyard's great warehouses and fortifications now house shops and restaurants. The 1823 Commissioner's House, one of the oldest surviving examples of prefabricated cast iron construction, has been restored as a museum. Spectacular views are offered at the 10-acre (4-hectare) citadel keep, which features ramparts, underground magazines, dolphin encounters and exhibits.
Dockyard open daily 24 hours; closing times vary for shops and restaurants. Cruise ships dock Apr.-Nov. Visitors can reach the island via a fast ferry or bus from Hamilton. Buses leave Hamilton and the dockyard every 15 minutes.