Archive for the ‘Ships’ Category

Here is a photo of a liner that was laid up off Paignton during my recent trip together with an amazing Devon sunset.

It had apparently been there for many months during the pandemic but left on our final day to resume its cruising duties.

Cutty Sark.

Posted: September 18, 2019 in History, Ships
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Cutty Sark. Photo by Paul Hudson (

Cutty Sark is the last surviving example of a Clipper. The ships got their name from the American expression ‘to go at a clip’ meaning to go fast. It became a term applied to any boat with a long narrow hull, a yacht like appearance and a large sail area. They were built for speed.

Hull of an East Indiaman (Top) and of Cutty sark (bottom)

Hull of an East Indiaman (Top) and of Cutty sark (bottom)

In the 1860s the big profitable cargo was tea from China. There was a large premium to be made for the first consignments back in London. From 1860-1870 there were about 280 British ships involved in the tea trade. The fastest passage from Shanghai to London was made by the Harlaw in 1869 at 89 days.

Cutty sark was launched in November 1869 and first set sail to Shanghai in March 1870. She was one of 9 ships owned by John ‘White hat’ Willis a Scottish businessman, who got his nickname because he always sported a white top-hat. She was designed for the tea trade with maximum capacity in the ideal shape for speed. She was made of iron frames. wooden planks and brass sheathing which was believed to be the ideal construction for speed and transporting tea.

Hull construction of metal frame. wooden planks and brass sheath

Hull construction of metal frame. wooden planks and brass sheath

In fact Cutty Sark made only 8 trips to China and her fastest time from Shanghai to London was 109 days. She would carry general cargo’s out to China and then on the return leg could carry around 600,000 kg of tea on each journey.

Tea chests in hold

Tea chests in hold

The opening of the Suez canal in 1869 was to mark the end for sailing ships in the tea race. They were unable to navigate it and so they were at a great disadvantage to steam ships which could now do the journey in around 60 days.

The two routes from Shanghai to London once the Suez canal opened in 1869

The two routes from Shanghai to London once the Suez canal opened in 1869

Cutty Sark was switched to transporting Wool from Australia and for many years she was the fastest ship in the wool trade. On every trip she could carry 5,000 bales of wool, each bale containing the wool from 60 sheep.

Wool bales

Wool bales

In 1895 she was sold to Ferriera and Co of Lisbon, who renamed her ‘Ferriera’. She carried general cargo to South America, Africa, the USA and Britain. In 1922 she sailed into Falmouth harbour in the south west of the UK. She was recognised by a retired Captain, William Dowman who set about raising the funds to buy the ship. She was moored in Falmouth and restoration began, She was used as a sail training ship and as a visitor attraction. In 1938 she was moved to Greenhithe on the River Thames where she became part of the Thames Nautical Training College. Eventually in 1954 she went on permanent display at Greenwich. In 2007 during renovations she was damaged by a fire. Thankfully all the artifacts and fittings had already been removed and the only thing that was seriously damaged was the decks (which were mostly 20th century anyway) although some buckling of her metal framework can be seen today. The ship re-opened to the public in April 2012.


There were three classes of Passengers on the SS Great Britain

Luxury in First Class

Comfort in Second Class

Not much privacy in Steerage

SS Great Britain

Posted: June 11, 2019 in Bristol, History, Ships, UK

SS Great Britain, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was the world’s first ocean liner. Launched in 1843 she was the largest ship in the world with the most powerful engines. She also employed the highly innovative screw propeller system, rather than the conventional paddle wheels. She sailed from Bristol, a major terminus on Brunel’s Great Western Railway across the Atlantic to the USA. However, this was short-lived and the costs of running the ship and of refloating her after she ran aground off Northern Island in 1846 caused the owners to reconsider the whole project. Unable to afford the costs of repair they sold her.

From 1852 she carried emigrants travelling from the UK to Australia, carrying 700 passengers per trip, and in 1881 was converted from Steam and Sail power to a Sail only ship and used as a cargo vessel, plying between Bristol and the west coast of the USA. In 1886, having been damaged as she rounded Cape Horn, she sought refuge in Stanley Harbour in the Falkland Islands. The ship’s owners decided that the cost of repairs were too high and so they sold her to the Falkland Islands Company to be used as a floating Warehouse and later a coal bunker. In 1937 she was suttled and sunk.

In 1970 a project financed by Sir Jack Arnold Hayward was started to raise the ship. Repairs were carried out to make her sea-worthy enough to be towed back to Bristol, where she was placed in dry-dock, the same one she had been built in, and restoration commenced.

We are fortunate every couple of years to host the Tall Ships on the Thames riverfront at Greenwich, which is just a few miles from where I live. They are a truly wonderful sight.

This year however their run takes them from Liverpool to Dublin and then onto Bordeaux in France.

It’s Bank Holiday Monday and this afternoon I joined hundreds of other people down on Crosby Beach to watch the Tall Ships leave Liverpool en route to Dublin. It was a beautiful warm day and a bit hazy for photography but I had to record the occasion. Here are some of my images. The Iron […]

via The Tall Ships leave Liverpool. — Crosbyman66



A Sloop launched at Sheerness in Kent in August 1878 she saw service in the Pacific from 1879-1883 before returning to the UK. In 1885 she was sent to the Mediterranean sea and was used in anti-slavery patrols. She also saw action off the coast of the Sudan and Eygpt. From November 1888 she was assigned to carry out survey work in the Meditteranean Sea, which she did until 1891 and again from 1892-1895.

In March 1895 she returned to Chatham, where she was assigned to Harbour duties. In 1900 she was used as accommodation by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Co at Grain. In 1903 she became the Royal Navy volunteer reserve drill ship moored in the London docks and was renamed HMS President after its predecessor in that role. She was relieved of that duty by HMS Buzzard in spring of 1911. In 1913 she was loaned out as a training ship under the command of C B Fry, the famous Cricketer and transferred to the River Hamble where she served as a dormitory for boys training to join the Royal Navy. She remained at Hamble until the school closed in 1968. The ship was given to the Maritime Trust for restoration, the years in the Hamble having taken a toll on the structure. Restored to her 1888 glory she was, in 1994, passed onto the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust where she is now on display.





HMS Cavalier 

Built at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, HMS Cavalier was launched in March 1943. She served in the Home Fleet during World war II, mostly on Russian and Scandinavian bound conveys and post-war in India and the Far East until she was decommissioned in 1972.

She is the last surviving example of a British WWII destroyer and as such was an important heritage vessel. She was purchased by the Cavalier Trust. As a privately owned vessel, she holds a naval warrant to retain the ‘HMS’ title and to fly the white ensign of the Royal Navy. She was originally docked at Southampton, then in 1983 moved to Brighton and four years later to the River Tyne. Following a period of restoration, she was purchased by Chatham Historic Dockyard and arrived on site in May 1998. She was housed in No 2 dry-dock, the same dock where Nelson’s HMS Victory was built.


In 2007 HMS Cavalier was officially designated as a war memorial to the destroyers sunk during WWII (142) and the men who lost their lives serving on them (around 11000).













The Dockyard had an extensive railway network



Clocktower storehouse built in 1723


HMS Gannet, a sloop launched in 1878. She became a training ship in 1903 and continued in this role until 1968.


Timber seasoning sheds (1774)


Mast House (1753)








XE8 Midget Submarine Expunger built in 1944 for operations in the far east. It was sunk as an underwater target at HMS station Portland but was salvaged in 1973. It is the only known survivor of its class.


Railway Carriage believed to have been used by General Kitchener during his campaign in the Sudan.


Dockyard Railway equipment










HMS Ocelot, an Oberon class submarine launched from Chatham Dockyard in May 1962. She was the last submarine to be built at Chatham. She was decommissioned in August 1991 and put on display in the dockyard.


A memorial to the 11000 sailors who lost their lives whilst serving on Royal Naval destroyers in WWII.


The storage buildings at the southern end of the dockyard are over a quarter of a mile long


One of these building contains the Ropery, which still makes ropes today










The Garden of Commissioners House, a lovely place to have lunch





Greenwich Re-visited

Posted: October 31, 2017 in History, London, Ships, UK
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Model of Cutty Sark

Last Friday went to Greenwich with Steve Evans to see the Cutty Sark.



Greenwich Heritage Centre


Looking towards Canary Wharf and Docklands


Greenwich foot tunnel (under River Thames) with City in background


Old Royal Naval College (now University of Greenwich)









Lunching under the Keel