Category Archives: Biographical sketch

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

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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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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