Sunday 17 November 2019

Shipnbuilding on the Thames and Thames Built ships



This very successful event was held in February and chaired by Professor Andrew Lambert of Kings College, and Professor Sarah Palmer of Greenwich Institute of Maritime History.  There is no space here for a full report on papers – but they included
Royal ships on the Thames before 1450 by  Susan Rose
Susan showed how it was clear from the surviving records of the Clerks of the King's Ships ( from 1344), that until the appointment of William Soper as Clerk in 1421, the administration for royal ships was based in London. Where were the shipyards? Can we locate an early forerunner of the Deptford navy yard? Where did supplies come from, especially the all-important timber? Was the necessary skilled work force available?
Convicts to Australia: HMS Glatton and her sister ship HMS Calcutta, former East Indiamen, 1802-3 - Brian Swann
William Evans, shipbuilder of Rotherhithe and his steamships - Stuart Rankin
Scott Russell and the screw collier: a lost opportunity for Thames shipbuilding? - Roy Fenton
This discussed the technical developments which made the iron screw collier possible.
Some steam warships supplied to the Spanish Navy in the 19th century by Thames shipyards - Edward Sargent. The first iron warship for Spain, a paddle steamer, was built by Ditchbum & Mare in 1845.  Shipbuilding at Deptford and Woolwich in the early eighteenth century - Ann V Coats. This paper focussed on the administration of these two Thames yards, within and without the yard boundaries, without which ships could not be built. Management of these two yards in this period reflected both tradition and innovation, as they were the oldest and most continuously developed of the royal yards, glorying in their traditions, but also nominally under stricter control by the Navy Board than the other yards. This paper looked at continuities of families and practices: labour practices - hours and chips; and management practices - how tightly it had to oversee the quality and quantity of work produced and how responsive it had to be to the needs of the men in order to get them to work. It emphasised the level of management discourse necessary both within and without these yards.  Ann focussed on a six month period revealed through correspondence from the dockyard commissioner based in Deptford to the Navy Board in 1702, to show how varied and all-embracing the management role of the dockyard commissioner was, and how delicate a line he had to tread to maximise productivity and preserve 'the Queen's treasure'. The language takes us into a quite distinctive and earlier world view, when management had to negotiate subtly to try to end restrictive traditional rights and privileges, raising the question: 'How far could management manage labour in the early eighteenth century?'
Volunteer landsmen recruits to the Royal Navy 1795-1811: the case of three Thames-built frigates - Nick Slope. The three fifth rate 36 gun frigates (four commissions) under consideration were HMS Trent, HMS Emerald (two commissions) and HMS Glenmore that were all built and fitted out on the Thames (Trent and Glenmore at Woolwich and Emerald at Northfleet). The careers of 3766 men, marines, volunteers and boys have been put onto the database and the information interrogated.
Marmaduke Stalkartt: a significant 18th century naval architect and shipbuilder - Fred M Walker'. Stalkartt was bom in 1750. On completion of a shipwright apprenticeship at the Royal Dockyard, Deptford, it became apparent that this training had prepared him well for his relatively short, but most distinguished life. His shipbuilding skills came to the fore when he took charge of a shipbuilding yard at Rotherhithe, from where some remarkable, unusual and very fast ships were produced.
Coastal shipping and the Thames - John Armstrong
This paper argued that coastal, estuarial and river traffic were essential to the growth of London during the process of industrialization in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Some Thames and Medway dry-docks - Ian Buxton
The River Thames remained a primary centre for ship repairing longer than for shipbuilding. Although the first proper dry-docks were built in the 17th century, it was not until the mid 19th century that dry-dock numbers expanded rapidly to over forty. The paper traced this growth, concentrating on docks over 300 ft. suitable for iron steamships, excluding naval dockyards, which are better documented

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