The Royal Naval Reserve
Permanently berthed in Aberdeen Harbour was HMS
Clyde a Naval
Training Ship. HMS Clyde was a Man
o' War with 38 guns and 1081
tons. The ship was for a long time moored in the Upper
Dock where it served as a training
ship. Connected to the quay by a floating
gangway, the ship was open to visitors on Sunday
mornings. After being shifted to Victoria
Dock it was towed away to be
NAVAL ESTABLISHMENT C1882
H.M.S. "Clyde," 5th Rate, 8 Guns, 1,447 Tons. Drill Ship for the
Royal Naval Reserve, moored in Victoria basin.
Commander, Ian R. Horn
Fleet Surgeon. William Edward Rennet
Fleet Paymaster, Samuel Lark
The Captains Cabin looks on to the
stern Buoy mooring with the gun ports clearly
defined below the enclosed training deck.
Given the imprecise construction methods employed on Leda-class ships, not to
mention the RN's rostering system, their exact dimensions and complements, while
similar, fluctuated to a degree. On average, each ship was as follows:
Modified Leda Class 46-gun
Fifth Rate Frigate
lower deck 150 ft; keel 125 ft
in Aberdeen Harbour was once occupied by shipbuilding yards.
At the south-east corner of this Dock was moored
for the training of the
Royal Naval Reserve.
She was approached by a floating gangway which ran westward from
When a launch took place the
had sometimes to be moved to make way for it.
1859. The school was established on
a small frigate, the Conway, moored in the Mersey at Rock Ferry,
1861. Replaced by larger frigate Winchester which was renamed
Conway, while the original Conway was renamed Winchester and use as an
RNR drill ship at Aberdeen.
1875 the 2nd Conway was too small and was replaced by the Nile built in
1839 as a 92 gun Ship of the Line. She was renamed Conway, while the second
Conway, which had been Winchester, was renamed Mount Edgecombe and went
to the Devonport and Cornwall Industrial Training Ship Committee at Plymouth.
A 38 gun training ship was a familiar sight in the harbour far many years. A
display of cannons and cutlasses was a tourist attraction. A Fifth Rate
the Clyde, was built about 1820 and served in Aberdeen from
September 1870 until June I904.
1st HMS Clyde was a 38-gun frigate of the ‘Artois/Apollo’
Class, built at Chatham Dockyard, and launched in March 1796. She carried
a complement of 270 officers, ratings and Marines. Although her career was short
(she was broken up in 1805), it was very eventful and she saw action on several
occasions. When mutiny broke out at the Nore in the Thames Estuary in 1797,
the Clyde’s Captain was able to persuade his crew to return to their duty – one
of only 2 ships to break the mutineers’ blockade and escape into the Medway.
The 2nd HMS Clyde is the only example since the 1740s of a
‘Rebuild’, a new ship built to the same design (and name) as one recently
scrapped, whilst the 3rd was a ‘Leda’ Class 38-gun frigate,
the largest class of sailing frigates ever built, and was launched at
Woolwich Dockyard in October 1828.
Clyde in Aberdeen Harbour. She was a training vessel for the Royal Naval
Reserve and was moored in both the Upper Dock & Victoria Dock.
Harbour with HMS Clyde in the foreground. HMS Clyde was a man o' war with 38/46
guns and 1081 tons. The ship was for a long time moored in the Upper Dock
where it served as a training ship. Connected to the quay by a floating gangway,
the ship was open to visitors on Sunday mornings. After being shifted to
Albert Quay it was towed away to be scrapped.
HMS UNICORN was designed as one of the
last of the successful Leda Class Frigates, 150 feet long in the hull
and principally armed with a combination of 18 pounder long guns and 32
pounder carronades. Their lines were based on a French frigate, the HEBE,
captured in 1782, and the whole class was one of the best of the age.
It included such fine ships as the famous SHANNON, which captured the
American CHESAPEAKE, and HMS TRINCOMALEE which was recently extensively
reconstructed at Hartlepool, and which is the only ship afloat in Britain
older than UNICORN. The class was originally rated 38 guns, but under the
new establishment of 1817 they were all re-rated as 46 gun frigates,
to reflect the importance of their carronade armament.
The Trincomalee belonged
to a large class of 38-gun Fifth Rates that have a strong claim to
being the Royal Navy’s standard frigate type for the whole of the
Napoleonic Wars. Following the success of the Shannon against the
Chesapeake in 1813, the class was chosen as the post-war
mass-production design. Intended to replace large numbers of worn-out
war-built frigates, this programme emphasised quality of construction for
longevity, and included a number built of teak at Bombay in India.
One of these was Trincomalee, launched in 1817. This appraisal
reflects the multiple significance of the ship – its place in the
development of the frigate, the importance of the teak building
programme in India, its role in the changing world of the 19th-century Royal
Navy, and even its last contribution as a training vessel for young
seamen. Because the teak hull was considered resistant to extremes of
climate, most of the ship’s active life was spent on American stations – the
West Indies, Newfoundland, and later the north Pacific and Arctic –
combining imperial policing duties with oceanography and exploration. The
resilience of teak was further proved by a long period of harbour
service, and even after a century of relative neglect the hull was found
worthy of an immensely costly restoration. The work carried out on the ship
must be one of the most thorough, historically accurate, and painstaking
projects of its kind, and is an exemplary lesson to wooden ship preservation
movements throughout the world. Individual chapters cover each aspect of
this varied career, concluding with a look at the way the ship is now being
used to bring alive the details of naval life in the age of sail.
Presently berthed in
Jackson Dock, Maritime Avenue,
HARTLEPOOL, TS24 0XZ
The Gun Deck,
with its 18 pounder cannons, was the key to a frigate's fighting ability.
Moving into loading and firing positions by muscle alone, each gun had a
crew of several men to perform these backbreaking tasks. In the heat of
battle, the gunners would endure thick smoke and intense heat from their own
cannons, as well as the threat of enemy fire. The Gun Deck was also the
location of the Captain's Great Cabin - a relatively enormous amount of
space given the cramped conditions the rest of the crew resided in. The
Galley Stove is found on this deck too.
To ask the
First Lord of the Admiralty, in connection with the inquiry which
has been asked for, and the consideration by the Admiralty Volunteer
Committee into the creation of a new division of the Royal Naval Volunteer
Reserve at Aberdeen, if he will consider the advisability of holding a
public inquiry there, with due notice, so that a local committee might be
formed amongst those most likely to be of help in the matter; and if he will
keep in view the advantages which would accrue from the retention of H.M.S.
"Clyde" as a drill-hall and head-quarters of the proposed new division of
the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. (Answered by Mr.
McKenna.) As was stated on the 13th instant, the matter referred to
by my hon. friend is receiving consideration in case any extension of the
existing numbers of the Naval Volunteers should be required. The matter has
not yet reached a stage at which a public inquiry at Aberdeen would be of
advantage. The old system of training the Royal Naval Reserve on Board
stationary drill ships is being terminated, and in consequence H.M.S.
"Clyde" will be paid off on or before 31st March, 1911.
Royal Naval training ship 'HMS
Clyde' was towed from its moorings at Victoria Dock to Clydeside in October 17th
drill ship housing enclosed hulk of the Royal Navy Training ship 'HMS
floating high in the water under tow by steam tug in the tidal harbour.
Its just approaching Pontoon No 3 off the adjacent shipyards, a bucket dredger 'Kantarah'
stands clear and just in the frame left is the north east corner of
- the Berth for the north islands ferries. Its on is way aptly to the
River Clyde for breaking up for timber salvage.
Aye - Knocket Doon instead of being
faithfully restored with all the sea fairing and naval architecture skills
already resident in port.
In 1904 the
composite screw sloop HMS Wild Swan became the 4th HMS Clyde in
her role as the Aberdeen Royal Naval Reserve’s 2nd drill ship. The above
image reflects this statement with a composite wood and iron ship of finer lines
and similar deck housings for drill purposes. Photograph taken from the
Regents Bridge works and before the the 2 storey storage shed was built on
HMS Wild Swan
Osprey Class Sloop
built for the
in the mid-1870s. She was launched in
1877 and became a base ship in 1904, being renamed Clyde. She was renamed Columbine in 1913 and
was sold for breaking to the Forth Shipbreaking Company in 1920.
The Forth Shipbreaking
Shipbreaking at Bridgeness. Mr
Turnbull established a shipbreaking yard at Bridgeness in 1898. The 1st
ship broken was the "Barracouta", but without Oxy-acetalene (which was
introduced in 1903) each ship was taken apart plate by plate. At the end
of the WWI a flotilla of German submarines was broken at Bridgeness. Other
cargo ships and P&O liners such as the "Oriana and the "Orvieto" were also
dismantled at Bridgeness. In 1904 the yard was taken over and renamed The
Forth Shipbreaking Company; it was absorbed into the P. & W. McLellan's
Group in 1921 - 1970.
men-of-war always contribute a large proportion of the material that comes on to
the scrapping market. The progress of warship design is so steady, and the
competition so keen, that the older ships are always going to the shipbreakers in
a steady stream. Even when international agreement periodically postpones the
bigger ships being cleared off the list by giving them longer agreed lives, the
smaller vessels go to the yards in undiminished numbers. The scrapping of
men-of-war is always worth while, so that there is the keenest competition to
get hold of them. Before the war of
they were collected in batches in one or other of the anchorages popularly known
and periodically offered for sale by public auction. The bidding was supposed to
be strictly controlled, certain ships being reserved for national buyers only,
whereas others, of smaller importance, could be bought by anybody.
The pioneer of wooden shipbreaking and the re-cycling of material and parts was
Henry Castle’s of Baltic Wharf, Millbank, on the River Thames in 1838,
and later at Charlton and Woolwich. Turner’s famous painting “The
Fighting Temeraire” shows her being towed to Castle’s yard.
They specialised in wooden warships, and for example, Liberty’s of London,
the famous shop, was rebuilt in 1922 using oak from Training ships
Impregnable and Hindostan that were broken up on the Thames. Castle’s
also kept the figureheads, which were later restored by the Admiralty and
displayed at dockyards and shore establishments.
For many years Castle's took the greatest care of the figureheads of the ships
which they broke up. When, after a long period of neglect, the Admiralty
suddenly realized that such trophies were of great value to the morale of the
Service, it was enabled to make the famous dockyard collections principally
through the co-operation of the scrappers. A number of figureheads are still to
be seen at Millbank,
and others have gone to museums all over the country. The late
King George V
was particularly interested in relics made from the material of old ships. On
the breaking-up in
of the cruiser Melampus,
which he had commanded when he was Duke of York, he had a garden chair made from
her teak for his own use and a suite of garden furniture for
Even today there is a big sale for articles, large and small, made from
man-o-war teak; but in modern ships this material is virtually confined
to the teak decks.
This is at least the 2nd case of scrapyard
"dealers" doing a great service for British Heritage that I am aware of. The
other was Dai Woodham of Barry, South Wales who held on to over 200 steam
locomotives instead of scrapping them.