The Gunboat Yard at Haslar was built in 1858 to allow wooden gunboats to be hauled out of the water for maintenance and storage. The gunboats were intended to be launched quickly in the event of an enemy attack. The initial gunboats were propelled by the wind, but steam powered gun boats quickly replaced them. For a short period in 1870 it would appear the intent was to lease the site, but it quickly returned to service. The yard held a total of about twenty six gunboats of about 250 tons, each mounting single 10-inch RML gun in the bow. By 1900 the use of gunboats for harbour defence had largely lost favour and the flotilla of gunboats had been converted for other functions such as cable boats, dredgers or sold off.
With the introduction of Motor Torpedo Boats, these were added to the flotilla of small boats held at the yard which would supplement the defences in event of attack. Maps of 1898 show the boat shed marked as “Iron Shed for Motor Torpedo Boats”.