Warships: 1860 to the present day

Having managed to dodge the day before D-Day celebrations in Portsmouth last week, I was back at work today. The weather was actually bright and, vaguely, sunny as I headed south. While rain had been predicted, like all predictions this was a miss rather than a hit. Until it was time to go home, of course, when it poured with rain, soaking the train I was sitting in.

Heather wasn’t in the office today so Kate logged me in and away I went. I love the fact that they just leave me to get on with it. I’m not alone, of course. Today there were way more volunteers than permanent staff and all of us were happily beavering away at our various jobs. It’s odd but I think the volunteers are keeping the place going.

Anyway, I collected some books and set to working through them.

Having disposed of the dreaded poetry two weeks ago, I was now firmly entrenched in warships. And warships from all ages. From a delightful little book regarding the Greek war galleons to a strange looking stealth vessel, the Sea Shadow built in 1985 and finally scrapped in 2012 because it didn’t work very well.

This is not a schematic of the Sea Shadow

The book regarding the galleon dated from 1824 and was a short essay describing, in full, how the ships worked and were built. The information was based on historical accounts and the minimal archaeological evidence extant at the time.

Given we know a lot more now because of, for one thing, improved archaeological process, it would be interesting to read a more recent account of the same thing. Mind you, I could have done without the Greek sections. The author had the habit of quoting people like Homer in the original. All well and good in 1824, but there’s not a lot of ancient Greek spoken any more.

The essay was scattered throughout with line drawings showing a galleon through various elevation and plan views, bringing it alive. I’m sure someone could use the drawings to build their own Greek galleon if they were so inclined.

Another book I entered had a history of warships from the ironclads, featuring a short introduction regarding the development of steam and screw propulsion. Naturally, I had a read. And, while skipping a full account of the screw propellers tried by the British Navy before deciding on Petit-Smith’s, the author was pretty close to the money. He even included a wonderful lithograph of the first steam ship, an image I’ve never seen though know all about.

Claude Francois, Marquis de Jouffroy d’Abbans testing his steam boat in 1783 on the Seine, Paris

I wrote about poor Jouffroy back in October, 2012 but hadn’t seen an image of the boat being tested. A rare and wondrous find.

Oddly, quite a few of the books I worked on today had the title Warships: 1860 to the Present Day. They were all by different authors and were various editions from various years in as many different formats as possible. It was all a bit unimaginative, though accurate, I guess. (I’m assuming that 1860 is taken as the starting point because it begins with the Warrior.)

I worked my way through another shelf then logged off and headed home. As Kate escorted me out to the gate, I explained that the rain presently falling on us was my fault because I built a barbecue yesterday. She agreed and told me off. I said it was probably justice that I’d not be able to use it for a while.

How could I not include the Warrior?

The worst of the rain was reserved for the train journey and I only managed to get a little damp before reaching home. During the night, it returned to torrential levels of downpour.

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