From Cannon to Steam Propulsion: the Origins of Clyde Marine Engineering

By Michael Moss, published November 2012


This article revisits the origins of the Clyde’s marine engineering works’ contribution to steam propulsion, much of which has previously relied upon hagiographical accounts from contemporaries such as Robert and David Napier. It highlights the role of the Board of Ordnance during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in expanding its private sector suppliers of cannon across the country, which necessitated more up-to-date foundry techniques, particularly in furnaces and casting, and boring machinery capable of greater accuracy than hitherto to comply with exacting standards. This necessitated capital expenditure often with the aid of business networks and the experience gained was successfully transferred to the rapidly growing market for steamship engines and auxiliary equipment to service the burgeoning Clyde shipbuilding and marine engineering industries.

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Filed under: Other (Nineteenth C) | Internal Waterways
Subjects include: Administration | Navies | Science & Exploration | Weapons

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