Reply To: Pickling Pond at Chatham Dockyard

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Malcolm Lewis

    Most interesting Nicholas and thank you. The Brick and Tarras salt water tank (1768) is new to me. “Building the Wooden Fighting Ship” Dodds & Moore Page 81, illustrates a kiln for steaming timber for bending onto the ship’s hull, introduced in 1736. The kilns were 40-60 feet in length. Previously they say planks were stoved in wet sand to make them more pliable but this proved unsatisfactory.
    The Navy Board order of 1744, to which you refer, confirms that steaming and heating wet sand proved unsuccessful. The Bricks & Tarras salt water tank/trough must have been of equivalent length to the kiln.
    I am not sure how the Pickling Pond fits into this picture of making timber supple for fixing to the ship’s side. Do you think logs might have been put into the pond for months, dried and then sawn into planks which were then heated in the salt water tank?
    Quite a task to manhandle, say, a very hot 50’ length of timber and position and fix it onto a ship’s side.
    Malcolm Lewis