Filed under naval history

Evelyn and Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell was a soldier, who famously neglected the navy, but here is an account of him with a newly built ship, by John Evelyn, February 1655: “I went to see the greate ship newly built by the Usurper Oliver, carrying 96 brasse guns, and 1000 tons burthen. In the prow was Oliver on horseback, … Continue reading

Naval Disagreements

Whenever there is a change of management, heads often roll as a means of ensuring loyalty to the new regime. This happened in England whenever there was a change of monarch, as John Evelyn describes from 1692: “We went to Mr Hewer’s at Clapham, where he has an excellent, usefull and capacious house on the … Continue reading

A Diving Bell

I thought the earliest of these was the one that was demonstrated in Bath in about 1770, but of course there were precedents. This is from the diary of John Evelyn of 1661: “We tried our Diving Bell or engine in the water-dock at Deptford, in which our Curator continu’d half an hour under water; … Continue reading

The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden

There were a lot of aftershocks from the First World War, one of them was a widespread desire to escape the horrors and decadence of Europe. A book Forgotten Fatherland tells of the colony in Paraguay set up by Friedrich Nietzche’s sister Elizbeth, in fact a lot of Germans seem to have headed to South … Continue reading

The Most Important Battle of World War I?

In a few weeks, on 9 November, it will be 100 years since the battle happened which could have changed the world, and yet efforts to have it commemorated have failed to raise much interest. This is the date that the Australian navy’s first light cruiser, the HMAS Sydney, began a running sea battle with … Continue reading

Liverpool Light Ship

Liverpool Light Ship

I seem to find these in every port. This was only decommissioned in 1989. Apparently there are still unmanned ones round the coast of Britain where it’s too dangerous to build lighthouses. I am impressed with the many uses they are being put to. This is being converted to a club, it’s now a small … Continue reading

Mariners’ Church

Mariners’ Church

England has traditionally been protected by its wooden walls, so the ultimate soldiers of these islands are, if you like, its mariners. So, men who go to sea have a special place in all our hearts, so I have a special interest in their welfare. The mariners church in Bristol was built as a welfare … Continue reading

Light Ship, Bristol

Light ships were towed into places where it was too difficult to build lighthouses. I was told the one on Bristol was the last one but in previous posts I have shown them in Cardiff & Swansea. This one is the clubhouse for Bathurst Basin boat club

On Swimming

One of the ‘truisms’ I hear a lot is that people never used to swim, especially referencing how the fashion took off in Victorian England, but also there were tables drawn up showing how many years you lost off your life for the time you spent swimming in the sea. Sailors especially were meant to … Continue reading

Dreary Lane Kew

Some more from the Epicure s Almanack: In going up Dreary Lane that leads to Richmond you pass the east boundary wall of Kew Gardens, extending more than a mile in length. This dead wall used to have a most grazing and tedious effect on the eye of a pedestrian; but a poor mendicant crippled … Continue reading