From Vernon to Gunwharf, a new-look city emerges

HMS Vernon in 1994
HMS Vernon in 1994
The Purbrook team are, left to right, Jon Harvey, Elizabeth Norris and Peter Emmett

THIS WEEK IN 1975: Purbrook Park is a talking success

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In 1923 HMS Vernon was established as a shore base on the site of the old Gunwharf. It comprised the mining, torpedo and electrical departments.

Ariadne Block was built in the early 1920s on the site of the Old Gunwharf Armoury and Donegal House, near the main gate, was built in 1897 as a quartermaster’s quarters but later housed the chaplain and the captain at different times. The wardroom site is now largely occupied by the Holiday Inn.

In 1996 the Ministry of Defence sold Vernon to Berkeley Homes and the site was redeveloped and rebranded as Gunwharf Quays. It opened early in 2001 with the Spinnaker Tower completed four years later.

The 1994 view shows Vernon Pier, Vernon Creek, the heliport and, on the right, North Block.

The former captain’s offices are now the Old Customs House pub.

The lipstick-shaped building is marketed as No1 Gunwharf Quays and reportedly has a penthouse valued at between £2m and £4m.

Gunwharf Gate is shown during Vernon’s centenary celebrations in 1972.