Category Archives: Biographical sketch

Short occasional biographical sketches of people, places, companies, things or events

Worse job in the navy

Today, at the dockyard library, I entered a lot of volumes mainly concerned with naval and marine terminology. One of these books was the Navy List of 1766…though it was a 2001 reprint with a few explanatory notes helpfully provided … Continue reading

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Foreign names in foreign hands make strange names

I decided it was a good idea to do very little today. I spent the first bit in bed then, while Mirinda strummed her guitar at class then dined at the Holly Bush, I lay on the sofa watching Netflix … Continue reading

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One ship; three deaths

Today at work I reached a milestone. I’ve been working backwards from about 1911 and have finally, reached the end…or the beginning, I suppose. Yay! Mind you, Nick at Work reckons a few Shipping Gallery objects were not on the … Continue reading

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The doctor will see you now

John Spurgin (1796-1866) is on MIMSY as being an engineer who applied for and received a patent in 1837 for his ‘endless paddle chain’ which he felt was just the thing to improve steamships. His People record was very sparse … Continue reading

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Archibald Robertson

Back in December 2016, I researched a ‘ship carver’ called Archibald Robertson for the Science Museum (here’s the entry). I didn’t write him up in any biographical sense. The other day I had a comment from a chap wanting to … Continue reading

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Not knowing his limits

Today, rather than have me working on the Shipping Gallery spreadsheet, Nick at Work gave me a special mission. He wanted me to fill out some information regarding an amazing chap called Francis Herbert Wenham. Not satisfied with marine engineering … Continue reading

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Poor Fitchy

Spare a thought (or two) for poor John Fitch. There are a few Americans who realise that he invented the first American steamboat (they built a shed for him and called it a museum) but most of them believe it … Continue reading

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Neeps and tatties

In 1790, a Scottish banker called Patrick Miller, sent King Gustav III of Sweden, a big, beefy boat (it was quite clearly a ship but I rather like the alliteration). This ship was called The Experiment and was built in … Continue reading

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Small problem

In 1774, John Phillips was in need of some money. A small group of wave-washed basalt and dolerite rocks off the coast of Pembrokeshire was in need of a lighthouse. What a happy coincidence they were both in need at … Continue reading

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Captain Peacock

In the British sit-com Are You Being Served? the rather stuffy floor walker, Captain Peacock, purported to being something of a military hero. Though his military history was never really explained. If anything it was somewhat spurious and, at times, … Continue reading

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