Buckler's Hard is an historic shipbuilding village on the banks of the Beaulieu River where Nelson famously built some of his ships that fought at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Towns and Villages
Three Buckler's Hard Curiosities
During the Second World War, Buckler’s Hard became a motor torpedo base. Upstream, Bailey’s Hard was used for fitting out minesweepers. Downstream, sections of the phenomenal engineering feat, the Mulberry harbour, were constructed in the old oyster beds in preparation for the D-Day landings.
Battle of Trafalgar
Timber from the New Forest was used to build HMS Euryalus, HMS Swiftsure and HMS Agamemnon at Buckler's Hard, all of which fought at the Battle of Trafalgar. The local boatyard is named after one of these, Agamemnon. Cool name.
Montagu Town was originally founded as a free port for the trading of sugar from the West Indies. The ambitious plans for a new town were never realised, however, and the village's name was changed to Buckler’s Hard.
About Buckler's Hard
Buckler's Hard was built in the 18th century as a ship building village community. The village played host to the naval dockyard in the late 18th century and many famous warships from the era were built in the village using timber from the Forest.
The most famous boats built here were Lord Nelson's Agamemnon and HMS Illustrious. The original shipbuilders' cottages still remain; some acting as a maritime museum and some privately occupied. The Buckler's Hard Maritime Museum is well worth visiting; it offers an insight into the life and times of the naval dockyard and the village community and features many interesting naval artifacts, as well as some beautiful scale models of some of the ships that were built here.
Things to Do and See in Buckler's Hard
- Visit The Buckler's Hard Story to find out more about its origins, the building of ships for Nelson's Navy, the role of the River in the D-Day landings, and Chichester's epic round the world voyages. The displays and exhibits include ship models, photographs, a scale model depicting the village in 1803, and a Puckle's gun, designed to fire round bullets at Christians and square ones at everyone else!
- You can cruise on the tranquil Beaulieu River in Swiftsure. While you slowly meander down the River you can enjoy its beauty and see the abundant wildlife that lines its banks as you cruise down the River to the North Solent National Nature Reserve, past Exbury Gardens renowned for its rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.
- The Beaulieu river and its bank form part of a National Nature Reserve, which is particularly noted for its bird life. Need's Ore, at the mouth of the river, is home to the largest colony of Black Headed Gulls in the country. The river is also an important wetland for waterfowl and supports many rare species including Dark Bellied Brent Geese, Teal, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, and four different types of Terns. Other birds that can regularly be seen on the river's edge include Shelduck, Curlew, Redshank and Oyster Catchers.
- There is an exciting range of Canoeing and Kayaking activities from Buckler's Hard on Beaulieu River.
- There is a picturesque footpath between Buckler's Hard and Beaulieu of about 2 1/4 miles. The path starts at the back of the Yacht Harbour and Agamemnon Boatyard and then leads through to Keeping Copse. At this point, the path divides into two tracks, the riverside walk running close to the river bank, and the main footpath straight through the woods. Here, trees were grown with shipbuilding in mind and they were encouraged to produce the heavy side branches from which different parts of the ship's frame could be cut. Several of these trees can still be seen.
- After passing through Jarvis' Copse, the footpath runs through the meadows between Beaulieu village and the banks of the river. The path emerges next to the Montagu Arms Hotel, at which point most walkers turns left, either to visit the high street, or to walk on to the National Motor Museum.
- Bucklers Hard has a number of attractions, not least of which is the Maritime Museum itself which shows the history of the village including various rooms which have been recreated to portray life in 1973.
- Buckler's Hard Marina is one of the most picturesque marinas on the south coast of England offering access to the Solent and beyond. The Marina welcomes both visiting yachtsman and visitors alike.
- The Master Builders Hotel offers food and drink in an absolutely delightful setting.
A Little Buckler's Hard History
Buckler's Hard is one of England's most attractive and unusual villages. It was created in the early 18th century by the 2nd Duke of Montagu, who planned to build a free port, Montagu Town, on the banks of the Beaulieu River for the import and export of sugar from the West Indies. The idea failed to get off the ground when the French captured the islands, but from the 1740s the site was used for the building of over 50 wooden ships for the Royal Navy.
The Master Shipbuilder, Henry Adams, and his sons built many ships, including Agamemnon, Euryalus and Swiftsure, all of which fought at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The advent of iron ships saw the demise of shipbuilding at Buckler's Hard and it became a sleepy rural village, but in the early years of the 20th century the Beaulieu River became popular with yachtsman and this popularity increased between the two World Wars.