Saturday, 5 January 2013

The First Iron Ship


Researching the Horseley Iron Works for the canal bridges, I discovered that they were responsible for one of the first ships with an iron hull. Named after the owner of the works, the Aaron Manby was designed by Charles, later Admiral Napier. He took the design to Manby at the works – at Tipton in the Black Country. As one reference says, it’s difficult to think of anywhere further from the sea. Anyway, the ship was built in Tipton, then dismantled and transported to Rotherhithe on the Thames where it was reassembled and had engines fitted. After successful trials in 1822, the Aaron Manby sailed to Le Havre under the command of Napier. This trip seems to have been the first sea voyage ever of a vessel with an iron hull. The Aaron Manby sailed on the Seine for 10 years. 


The Aaron Manby when operating on the Seine


Napier went on to build several more steamships but his venture was not commercially viable: it went bankrupt in 1827. His naval career was more successful however.

Incidentally, one of the places in the UK that I’ve heard claims to be the furthest from the sea is Amersham. However, Guardian readers don’t agree – in fact they don’t agree that any place holds this prize - http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-63924,00.html

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