The buildings on which naval ships’ crests have been painted are to be demolished as part of the Albert Row development. *Photo by Simon Jones
The buildings on which naval ships’ crests have been painted are to be demolished as part of the Albert Row development. *Photo by Simon Jones
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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29: For decades navy crews proudly painted their ships’ crest on the concrete walls surrounding the South Yard in Dockyard.

Between 1951 and 1995 scores of vessels from across the world passed through Bermuda and left their mark in the West End.

But over the years the crests have faded away and many of the emblems have been repainted by volunteers. Now it seems time is finally running out for the naval crests of the South Yard.

WEDCO chairman, Walter Lister, confirmed that the paintings on the concrete structures surrounding the South Yard would be removed as part of the Albert Row project.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “The emblems will go as part of the Albert Row development.

“Time has taken its toll on this area and the old concrete structures with the Royal Navy emblems on them around the South Yard will be got rid of.

“But having said that an archive has already been made of the emblems and that is kept in the National Museum.

“So people will always be able to see what they looked like and they will not be lost to the community.

“I can not say how long it will be before that part of the project starts and the structures with the naval emblems on them will be got rid of.

“But they will going in due course.”

Scores of naval ships left their mark in the South Yard between 1951 and 1995 including well known vessels such as HMS Brilliant and HMS Londonderry that have since been decommissioned.

And even before then in April 1943 HMS Argonaut famously called into the South Yard for repairs after having her entire stern and part of her bow blown off by an Italian submarine.

The deepwater berth is still used today by visiting Naval and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships as well as cable ships. Historian Dr Edward Harris, told the Bermuda Sun: “The emblems are what would be considered transient heritage.

“It is unique and interesting but it is transient because it is almost impossible to preserve it.

“If they were just left to the elements they would be washed away.

“There is no way to guarantee their survival because of circumstances.

“People have categorized each one of the emblems and they have been
archived.

“It is fair to say that their days are now numbered.

“It’s also important to note that most of the emblems have been repainted at least a couple of times in the last decade by students and volunteers in a bid to restore them.

“As a result it is difficult to say how much of what we see today is actually an original of what was first there.

“That is part and parcel of the nature of transient heritage.

“It has a shelf life and the important thing is that we were able to archive it all after 1995.

“What we have is archives and that is as good as it gets.”