Category Archives: Biographical sketch

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

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 call 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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PS Comet

In 1812 the first commercially viable paddle steamship in Europe set off along the Clyde. It was the brainchild of Henry Bell. He wanted to be able to ferry customers from Port Glasgow to his Bath Hotel in Helensburgh. It … Continue reading

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Throttling

A lot of people think we’re living in a very dangerous age. That’s undoubtedly true what with deluded religious zealots shoving the imaginary words of their equally imaginary overlords down our throats with as much non-imaginary violence as possible. The … Continue reading

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Plimsoll’s magic line

This is a mini post especially for Mirinda who asked what the Plimsoll Line is and why Thomas Turnbull didn’t like it. Prior to 1876 cargo ships were more or less unregulated. It was up to the owners to decide … Continue reading

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Turnbull of Whitby

Today I discovered an amazing family of ship builders, owners and repairers. They were the Turnbulls. It all started, as far as I can tell anyway, with a Thomas Turnbull of Whitby who was, possibly, a watch maker. He figured … Continue reading

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Coble WY16

When is a Coble not a Coble? When someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing enters them incorrectly on MIMSY and I wind up spending a few hours sorting it out! There were actually three models all up. Two were … Continue reading

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