Iconic Ships 13: Thermopylae – The Finest All-Round Clipper of Them All?

December 2021

Clipper Thermopylae (foreground) in company with Cutty Sark beating down the South China Sea, 1872. Painting by Tim Thompson.

In this episode we hear about Thermopylae, one of the most magnificent clipper-ships ever built, and some claim the finest of them all. In 1879, before her second wool voyage from Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald eulogised: ‘The fastest and handsomest ship in the world is now lying at the Circular Quay loading for London, and those who take pleasure in seeing a rare specimen of naval architecture should avail themselves of the opportunity of doing so. Of course, we allude to the Thermopylæ, the celebrated Aberdeen clipper. [The] Thermopylæ has all the appearance of a yacht, and yet she carries a good cargo, is a beautiful sea boat, and stands up to her canvas well.’

Built in Aberdeen and commissioned in 1868, but long over-shadowed in public recognition by her rival, Cutty Sark (a ship built specifically to out-pace her in the China tea trade but only once succeeded in so doing), Thermopylæ lives on as arguably the finest all-round clipper of them all.

Clipper ships like Thermopylae were astonishing to behold, and were the culmination of centuries of refinements in sailing technology that led to some of the most beautiful and fastest merchant ships ever built. They revolutionised global trade tearing around the seas carrying tea, wool, luxury goods, and of course people as this era of migration changed the populations and economies of the world forever. Their heyday was short lived, however, as increasingly efficient steam engines and railways changed the way that goods were transported – all over again.

To find out more, Dr Sam Willis speaks with Captain Peter King. Peter recently retired from the merchant shipping industry after over 62 years of continuous service in a wide range of maritime disciplines. In the 1980s, while serving as Managing Director of one of the Christian Salvesen group companies in Aberdeen, he developed an interest in the George Thompson Jnr’s Aberdeen-based shipping enterprise leading to his researching and publishing the first definitive history of Thermopylæ.

  • View The Transcription

     

    Mm Pod Thermopylae edited

     

    Sam Willis 

    From the Society for Nautical Research in partnership with Lloyd’s Register Foundation, I’m Sam Willis, and this is the Mariners Mirror Podcast, the world’s number one podcast dedicated to all of maritime history. Hello everyone and welcome to the Mariners Mirror Podcast. Today we are entering the wonderful salty world of the clipper ships and hearing all about Thermopylae, commissioned in 1868, but long overshadowed in public recognition by her rival Cutty Sark, Thermopylae, in the minds of seamen of her time and subsequently lives on as arguably the finest all round clipper of them all. In 1879. Before her second wool voyage from Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald, eulogized the fastest and handsomest ship in the world is now lying at the circular key loading for London. And those who take pleasure in seeing a rare specimen of naval architecture should avail themselves of the opportunity of doing so. Of course, we allude to the Thermopylae, the celebrated Aberdeen clipper. Thermopylae has all the appearance of a yacht, and yet she carries a good cargo. Is a beautiful sea boat and stands up to her canvas well. We will hear today about her construction, the remarkable high standards demanded from her owners George Thompson of Aberdeen and her record as a thoroughbred of the clipper class. The clipper ships were astonishing to behold sailing merchant ships of the 19th century and the culmination of centuries of refinements in sailing technology, leading to the most beautiful and fastest merchant ships ever built. They revolutionised global trade tearing around the seas carrying tea, wool, luxury goods, and of course people in this era of migration that change the population and economies of the world forever. Their heyday was short lived, however, as increasingly effective steam engines and railways changed the way that goods were transported all over again. To find out about what made Thermopylae so special I’m talking today with Captain Peter King. Peter retired from the merchant shipping industry a couple of years ago after over 62 years of continuous service in a wide range of maritime disciplines. In the 1980s, while serving as managing director of one of the Christian Salvesen Group companies in Aberdeen, Peter developed an interest in the George Thompson Jr’s Aberdeen based shipping enterprise, leading to his researching and publishing the first definitive history of that long forgotten shipping entity. The jewel in whose crown was the clipper Thermopylae. Here’s Peter.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Peter, thank you so much for talking to me today.

     

    Peter King 

    Sam, My pleasure.

     

    Sam Willis 

    So tell me about Thermopylae.

     

    Peter King 

    Thermopylae came into my life in the 1980s When I was working in Aberdeen, in the offshore industry, and I became aware of her as a ship of the finest quality, but which very few people knew about. The Cutty Sark gets all the glory because he’s still with us. Sadly, the Thermopylae doesn’t.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Is it fair to say that Thermopylae actually is one of the finest all round clippers of them all?

     

    Peter King 

    Yes, in my opinion she was, but in a rather more complicated ways than perhaps some is generally understood.

     

    Sam Willis 

    What do we know about her owners?

     

    Peter King 

    George Thompson her owner came from an interesting background, a very humble background his father was a soldier in the Royal Artillery, who joined the honourable East India Company and sadly within 18 months of going to India, died of a fever at Madras. But George Thompson received a pretty good education,  he served his time as an apprentice shipping clerk with the Aberdeen and London Shipping Company, on the coastal trade. Then in 1825, at the age of tender age of 21, he set up in business to his own account as an insurance broker, ship broker, and very quickly also as a ship owner. He went into ship owning initially with small shares in coastal collier type trade, in the Baltic herring trade, and the Baltic timber trade before breaking into the North Atlantic trade. He bought in shares, and ships, which were carrying immigrants from Scotland to North America, and timber back, and he bought timber to his own account, so he was quite a businessman at the earliest stages of life, not just a ship owner.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Yeah, it’s extraordinary how early he got into this. This shipping world, and how far into his career, did Thermopylae come around? Did he kind of test his hand a little earlier first?

     

    Peter King 

    Oh yes, he built up a significant feat of ships, in fact Thermopylae came in the latter part of his career, by which time he had an established company. From the North Atlantic trade, he began progressively moving out into overseas shipping, long distance shipping, initially on the Cuban trade, copper ore to  Swansea. And then in the early 1840s, he began exploring Australia as a potential line. It was a long time though before he actually had ships of his own on that trade. He was established as a liner operator in that trade. His ships hitherto had been charted out to non vessel operating companies on the trade. At the same time, and significantly, Thompson bought into the local newly formed shipbuilding company, Walter Hood, at Footdee in Aberdeen. Water Hood is a bit of an enigma, because no one knows very much about him. But he built a fine class of ship, 100 of them at least, before going out of business in 1881. And practically all Thompson’s ships were built by Walter Hood, of which he was a senior shareholder in Aberdeen, including the Thermopylae.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Yeah, so really important business contacts made quite early on that.

     

    Peter King 

    it’s interesting to study the ownership of these ships as they  emerged. You can see brackets of ship owner colleagues, not particularly ever going to operate ships, but who’d like to put money into ships as a shareholding. And you get groupings of lawyers, farmers, coal merchants, you name it. Thompson had them and they were distinct groupings, which you could very quickly recognise the ownership of his ships.

     

    Sam Willis 

    And so what about the China trade? He said he was interested in what was happening in Australia. How did he fit that into his plans for the China tea trade,

     

    Peter King 

    Thompson went into his first venture into long haul trades, was really the Prince of Wales, which commissioned from Hoods yard in 1842. It was engaged by the New Zealand Company to run immigrants and freight out to New Zealand. Shortly after that, in 1847/48 Hoods built a succession of three very advanced, very fast, barks and ships. All to the same rough dimension, which were really the foundation of Thompson going into the really long haul trades. And of those, three of them, the Oliver Cromwell, Phoenician and the John Bunyan, the John Bolian, brought the first tea cargo from China in a George Thompson bottom in 1849. And that was really his first footstep into that trade, and he built the trade up. But the time came when, with his developments in Australia, the need for ships to service the Australian Trade led to his withdrawing from the China trade for six years. But he re-established in the China trade in 1862. And he built up a succession of ships engaged every season up to a maximum of six ships. So he was a very significant owner, if not the biggest single owner on the China tea trade. A couple of years after re establishing in 1864, he developed the China tea trade alongside his Australian Trade on what was known in the business as a triangular trade. Namely, his ships went out to Australia with general cargo, usually liked high value cargo. And there was a saying all the way along the line that Thompson had very close relationships with the Jewish merchant fraternity in London, and therein lay his success with other cargo’s. When the ships got out to Australia, discharged in Sydney, or Melbourne, they then loaded coal to George Thompson’s account for the bunker stations in the Far East. And so the second leg of the triangle was from New South Wales, generally, with coal to his account up to Japan or China. Then in China, or wherever he discharged, the ship was cleaned out obviously, and proceeded either to Shanghai or Wuchow to load tea. And that was really the opening into the China tea trade in an established way. interestingly that triangular trade continued, even after Thomason had gone into steam, with his first steamer so engaged, on one voyage a year, on just the same triangular route to the intense irritation of the established Far East Conference Line led by John Swire.

     

    Sam Willis 

    I fascinated with this loading the ship with coal from Australia and taking it to China and then kind of refitting it, to fill it up with tea. It must have been unbelievably filthy, having had a cargo of coal, and then transported that all the way to China.

     

    Peter King 

    Yes, no doubt he had some cadets on board.

     

    Sam Willis 

    There’s some people to help him. Out of interest how do you get hold of the archive material for tracing this kind of career? Is it easy to get hold of?

     

    Peter King 

    No, in a word, the Thompson’s were very, very poorly documented, the archives are virtually nil. There was one tin black box up in Huntly, which I found, owned by the family which had some documents. But generally, one had to go through quite a difficult source. And I built the overall picture of the George Thompson’s operations, really from scouring, the register of British ships in Aberdeen. My late wife spent nearly six months in the cellars of the customs house, scouring through the various ships, which are owned by George Thompson, a task which was made more difficult because at one stage there were three, George Thompson’s contemporary, owning ships in Aberdeen . Nightmare. But it was fun. And gradually by using that and a myriad of other sources, one piece together something much, you could say, well, yes, that fits.

     

    Sam Willis 

    So we’re at a stage now where Thompson’s established in the China trade this triangular trade going into Australia and then China and it’s at this stage that the hull of Thermopylae is laid down. So let’s just ever think about the construction of this wonderful ship, because that’s what really made her unique, isn’t it?

     

    Peter King 

    Yes, in part, I wouldn’t say made her unique because there were quite a large number of composite ships already at sea, before she was laid down in 1868. Her real interest she is composite, namely that she had an iron framework ship form to, which on the outside was affixed deep elm planking. Why was she composite? Well, that is the important element. For years, the wooden ships have proven themselves too heavy, too small for economic trading, but they were about the only thing they had. And the great thing about a wooden ship was that you could affect copper anti fouling plates, or yellow metal anti filing plates, to their hulls. Iron had been a reality for some time going back almost the beginning of the 19th century. But iron had a number of major problems attaching to it, the most difficult of which was that there was no effective anti fouling, you couldn’t hammer on sheets of yellow metal onto an iron Hall. It didn’t work. The Navy tried it with intermediate planking, but that didn’t work very effectively. So anti fouling was a real problem. And Iron ship, you could build larger and cheaper, but you couldn’t anti fouled it at that stage was the development of the anti fouling materials to hand. The other thing about an iron ship which was advantageous was the size, they were very much larger, they offer very much larger hull form, hull capacity than a wooden ship. And they didn’t get saturated with seawater over the years, but a wooden ship did. And accordingly, although iron was there, you couldn’t afford to dry dock the vessel halfway through every voyage. So it wasn’t yet forthcoming as a whole construction media. The other thing about iron which had distinct disadvantage was that in the then state of ventilation in the hulls of a sailing ship, it raised an awful lot of wet damage to cargo as a result of condensation particularly bad for tea. So it wasn’t favoured by the tea merchants and those fixing ships. And it had one other major problem, in fact that they hadn’t yet sorted out how to correct the compasses on an iron ship. And that led to a number of very serious casualties. So she was composite ship. Why was she different? Well, going back in history somewhat up to the time she’d been built. There were over seven distinct patents in existence covering iron ships, only one of which, the patent of John Jordan in 1851 was regarded as a sound basis covering the whole business of a composite ship. And Jordan held the shipbuilding market in the UK to ransom with patent term fee demands. Until he in fact, he was finally kicked out in the High Court who ordered that his patent was not specific enough and was not unique enough. But he was there. Lloyd’s Register was distinctly slow in acknowledging the peculiar features of a composite built ship.

     

    Sam Willis 

    There are separate rules for kind of wood and then separate rules for iron but nothing for between the two.

     

    Peter King 

    Yeah, absolutely so, they hadn’t prepared it any specific rules for composite ships, I think probably because they thought it was a short lived phenomenon. But they got over the problem rather, with some difficulty by using the rules of wooden ships as they applied and the rules for iron ships as they applied and leaving the interpretation to the poor old surveyor on the spot. Now, this was not satisfactory, and a succession of ship owners and ship builders, canvass Lloyd’s Register with a view to their producing rules. They will those to do this, but in the Lloyd’s Register of 1862, the company or the society Lloyd’s Register, produced a memorandum, a one page memorandum, with 11 points on it, for the benefit of people considering constructing ships in the composite form. But it still had attaching to it the fact that each ship was to be considered on its merits as an experimental ship. And it was subjected to a two years special survey, which was obviously a big economic disadvantage.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Actually, being classed as experimental doesn’t help for a number of reasons.

     

    Peter King 

    Now, the shipbuilders and particularly Alexandra Stevens, on the Clyde, lobbied Lloyd’s Register hard for something more satisfactory. In 1866, Lloyd’s Register commissioned one of their senior surveyors, Bernard Weymouth to case a set of rules or suggestions for the construction of composite ships. And these are really an expansion of the of the one page memorandum. And 1866, he produced this document, it was approved by the committee, it was still only suggestions, and I suspect that the fact they weren’t made rules might have had something to do with the patent claims of Mr. Jordan, because the rules that came out, or the suggestions that came up Lloyd’s were bore dramatic resemblance to the patent produced by Jordan, they came out and they came out as a suite of suggestions with their own tables for scantlings and materials. And eventually or quite quickly, in fact, the experimental and the two year survey cycle were dropped, and they went to 4,14,16 year survey cycles.

     

    Sam Willis 

    It’s interesting seeing how they kind of coped with it, isn’t it? How they sort of was rolled with the punches?

     

    Peter King 

    Yes it is. But interestingly, also, and this is a great point about Thermopylae. At the same time that Bernard Weymouth, the senior surveyor was casing the rules or suggestions for composite built ships. He was actually designing Thermopylae on behalf of George Thompson. Even in their sort of 100/ 150th anniversary publication, the questions are raised, where do conflict of interest come in? I have argued, and I don’t know whether I’m right. But I’ve talked it through at length with authorities on it. I’ve argued that just possibly, he may have got away with it by suggesting to the committee that he was gaining the experience by whereby he could case the suggestions in a professional way. And I think that that probably has got some merit. But it is a very interesting fact that he designed. He certainly designed the hull form and the sail plan of the Thermopylae. Probably the details done in Aberdeen, but by one of the Thompson family, Cornelius, but he certainly did the plans for the hull, the lines and the sail plan.

     

    Sam Willis 

    It’s interesting that it was originally classed as experimental. And I suppose all of those who are actually engaged in the composite construction market thought that was a little unfair and tried to get it changed, but composite construction was short lived in the end. I mean, the idea of calling an experimental is in some terms, right, isn’t it?

     

    Peter King 

    Oh yes, I mean you have to see the construction of the Thermopylae in 1868, just a year before the Suez Canal opened. Already Alfred Hoggs was sending steamers around the Cape of an advanced engine design, which spelled out that the China tea trade was going to fall, in fairly short order, to the steamer after the opening of the canal. So it was a venture on the part of George Thompson to put the ship together. And the fact that she was an outstanding ship, within Thompson’s outstanding fleet, is interesting, because the design, although Walter Hood are producing very good design, of ships and some very fast ships of that Thermopylae’s form is very fine, and very well tailored. She was nonetheless a different ship to the Water Hood, standard design, distinctly different. And I’m sure that this was what Thompson was engaging in, when he took Weymouth on to do the design because he clearly wanted to have a ship, which was going to be first in class, even before she actually put to sea.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Yeah. And we’ve got some we have some figures I’ve just seen some from the record passages of the legs of her voyages. These are extraordinary, aren’t they and they must have been suitably celebrated.

     

    Peter King 

    Indeed, they were one of the outstanding features of Thermopylae apart from her hull construction, was the fact that Thompson moved from always employing almost invariably employing companies men, time served companies men, to command their ship, to place in command, an outsider, an Englishman to boot. Most of his chaps were Scots, he put in an Englishman from Suffolk, Robert Campbell, he was known in the business as Pylon Campbell, who was an exceptionally good commander. I mean, one had people, commanders who drove their ships and drove them under. These are pretty delicate Ships, Campbell drove a very hard ship, but he was very well liked by his officers and crew, very well respected. And on the first voyage out, he established a record to Melbourne, which I believe is still for a square rigged ship of 63 days, still holds the record. It’s always difficult as you can probably appreciate to actually measure the length of these voyages because it all depends where they measured it from. Was it dock to dock. pilot to pilot?  Sometimes it was one, sometimes it was the other, it was all rather convenient as to which record you wanted to beat.

     

    Sam Willis 

    Very good. So it wasn’t it’s the London to Melbourne and 63 days. That’s it. That is is extraordinary, isn’t it? And we’ve got some other ones here, Newcastle to Shanghai

     

    Peter King 

    in 31 days, again it was an outstandingly fast voyage, because a lot of ships were engaged by then in the triangular trade who are then going on to the tea clipper run. But finally, the Fuzhou to London which  she  achieved in 91 days was absolutely outstanding. Sadly though, 12 days later Sir Lancelot lumbered in having pipped two days off that record. But at the time, it was the record homeward bound from Fuzhou. And it was undoubtedly both the ship and the character of the commander and his officers. It’s interesting to note that the likes of Lubbock, whose books I find very useful, but slightly too romantic, perhaps. He always refers to the first class crews that are on board these ships, Thermopylae in particular, they had good officers, they had good commanders because that’s the company way. The crew, the deckhands tended to be whatever they could pick up around the world because the crew tended to desert as soon as they got to Melbourne, to go off into the gold rushes of one form and another. The commanders then picked up whatever they could get. And they were a pretty polyglot crowd, and they certainly weren’t the all English champions that Lubbock talked about.

     

    Sam Willis 

    It’s amazingly complex, isn’t it? When you think about the quality of the crews and the commanders and also the different ports and how the record is adjusted according to what port you’re going to because they didn’t all leave from the same place did they?

     

    Peter King 

    Absolutely not. They all have the South China Sea to beat down or they might actually take the rest and go outside but most experienced commanders took the South China Sea route, but it depended on whether you loaded in the Shanghai group of ports or whether you loaded at Fuzhou , which gave you an immediate 400 mile advantage. But the prime, the first clip of the tea came in at a time that the Southwest monsoons were blowing in the Indian Ocean and up the China Sea at a strong southerly, south easterly wind. So the ships that picked up which was selected nominated for the first clip, namely those which had a reputation They always had a beat down the South China Sea, which is a hazardous place before they got out into the Indian Ocean and then had to face the Southwest monsoons in the Indian Ocean. So, the ships had to be capable of beating to windward well, that was a prerequisite of a China clipper was her ability to beat to wind wood. and Thermopylae was extremely good at that. She was designed for the tea trade, and she only subsequently went into other trades by by force of circumstances. She was a tea clipper designed for that trade. And she was good at running to windward.

     

    Sam Willis 

    And what about the competition between Thermopylae and the Cutty Sark? Is that sort of fairly represented? Or is it sort of overtly romanticise that, what do you think of that?

     

    Peter King 

    Yes. I think it was grossly over romanticised on the China tea trade, Thermopylae had a better running performance than Cutty Sark. And I think myself that that probably affects the quality of her command. Throughout the time that almost the whole time she’s on the train to T trade. She was commanded by Robert Kemball, who was a supremely good commander, Cutty Sark, beat him on one occasion,  or beat Thermopylae on one occasion. And that was a change of command from Kembell leaving to go to take command to the Aristides, and his first taking over so perhaps, for one voyage, lack of experience may have counted against them. And there was the voyage when it would seem that Cutty Sark was pulling ahead, but then she lost her rudder. And although the commander of the Cutty Sark, undertook a magnificent piece of damage control and re rigging a rudder, he didn’t make up the time, but morally he’s always been awarded that victory as well. So on tea trade Thermopylae, was undoubtedly a superior ship and she was on the trade for longer than the Cutty Sark was. She wasn’t always the first ship. In fact, she wasn’t only a couple of times was she the first ship and but she was consistently good she was always in the top five. The others making up the top five might be in the top five one year and out of the top five the next. But Thermopylae was always in the top five. When she got pushed out of the China to trade by steam, and the opening of the of the Suez Canal. She along with the other clippers went into the Australian wool trade. And there the climatic conditions were very different, wool was a heavier cargo, much heavier cargo, you were faced with the strong winds, along the route to the Cape, Cape Horn, very strong winds from the west. Cutty Sark generally proved the better ship, heavy laden with the wind aft. Seamen of that time, and subsequently always said that Thermopylae was better, in Lighter winds, lighter laden, and when required to beat to windward, which was the China tea trade, whereas the Cutty Sark was better in the wool trade. Where heavily laden with a wind oft and along a prolonged voyage with the wind, often heavier seas. Interestingly, in more recent years research work done at the Greenwich Maritime University, where they computer modelled the two ships hulls, actually confirm what the sailors had said for the last 150 years. Namely that Thermopylae had a hull which was better for beating to windward, fairly likely laden. And indeed that Cutty Sark had a better hull for the heavier laden wool trade.

     

    Sam Willis 

    So how did the introduction of the triple expansion steam engine change everything

     

    Peter King 

    For a number of years steam as a propulsion had stagnated because the boiler systems available, were not advanced enough to pass what was known as triple expansion steam. Accordingly, it was not economic for other than high speed passenger ships and mail streamers it was not economic for freighters, and Thermopylae was a freighter to be powered by steam. In 1882 George Thompson ironically, commissioned his first steamer and this was the first successful application of triple expansion steam. At a  stroke the long haul trades were opened up economically to steam. The ship that bore this engine designed by Kirk the engineer, had a triple expansion steam engine that was a well known feature and had been used unsuccessfully earlier on a similar ship. The principle of triple expansion steam was known and understood. What it hadn’t but plus triple expansion steam to work you needed much higher pressure than was available from the current range of boilers and uniquely into the Aberdeen’s boiler scene came what was known as Fox’s Corrugated Flue. The furnace was a corrugated flue, which withstood the pressure upon it, of the steam, and, and they were able to introduce much higher pressure steam going up to 150 pounds per square inch, as opposed to about 60 pounds per square inch. Which had been the limit to then. The impact of that was that you could carry more cargo than you did coal. Before that it was the opposite way around. But it was ironic that of all the owners to actually break into the trade with triple expansion steam. It was George Thompson, who was one of the greatest clipper owners on the trade, who did it.

     

    Sam Willis 

    He just turned his turned genius to the new technology,

     

    Peter King 

    He turned the genius but not his financial, to the new technology. He had the technology. He didn’t exploit it, because every ship had to be paid for out of shareholders money, there are no mortgages and loans or anything of that nature. Sadly, that was the beginning of the end of George Thompson because he just was not adventurous enough in terms of capital spends, even though he had good financial backing, to develop a fleet quickly enough.

     

    Sam Willis 

    And what about the twilight’s of Thermopylae’s career? What happened? She ended up with old bones.

     

    Peter King 

    Yeah. Well, by the end of the 1880’ss, she was becoming an old ship. Undoubtedly, if you’ve been hard, well maintained, but hard run, and it was getting increasingly difficult to get paying cargoes homewards and the insurance on freight, carried by sailing trip was getting more and more, and it was decided to dispose of her. Accordingly she was sold in Rotterdam, she carried her last two cargoes. were oil shale from New South Wales, which was used in the production or the enhancing of town gas for lighting. Not the sort of cargo which she was going to make any money out of. And she was sold to Canadian interests via an intermediary to be used on the West Coast, North America trade to the Far East and Southeast Asia, primarily bringing rice back to feed the large Chinese community which we’re now building up in the West Coast ports, where they’re engaged as labour in various capital projects in the railways, and then carried back freight to the Far East timber, flour, and coal. She served on that trade for about five years. She took on Nova Scotian captain and crew. They proved to be good. But she was a very expensive ship. She was losing the new owners a lot of money. They finally bit the bullet and sold her eventually via lease to the Portuguese Navy. The Portuguese intended to use her as a sail training ship and they undertook the production of plans showing her conversion to a sail training trip. When they finally materialised, it became obvious the ship was too elderly and too decrepit to be used for that purpose. So she was decommissioned as a coal Hulk for the Portuguese Navy. And then she rested on the 13th of October 1907. She being no further use to the Portuguese Navy was towed out at a Royal Regatta presided over by the Queen of Portugal and was sunk, with two Whitehead torpedoes fired by torpedo boats off cascades in the mouth of the river Tagus. Two torpedoes hit the ship, a third torpedo missed and ran up a bathing beach an occasion  which must be in rather fun, and it’s suggested that that particular torpedo was fired by the king. Yes. But as on all these things it was it was kept fairly quiet. So that was the end of her,  just recently in 2002, and there about, the have been sub-aqua archaeological digs on her. There’s not much left of her. But it’s interesting to see what is and what you can identify from the pictures

     

    Sam Willis 

    Yeah. Well, it’s a wonderful story. And thank you so much for sharing it with us today. Peter, really enjoyed hearing about this wonderful clipper ship. Thank you so much. Thank you all so much for listening today. Do please take the time to find the Society for Nautical Research on social media. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Please also take the time to find the Mariners Mirror podcasts own YouTube channel where we have some wonderful and innovative videos about our maritime past. But best of all, please join the Society for Nautical Research. It doesn’t cost very much and your annual subscription will help support this podcast. It will help us publish our quarterly journal called the Mariners Mirror, which has been published for over a century, and it will go towards helping to preserve and protect our maritime past. Members also receive other benefits, not least of which is being able to attend our Annual General Meeting and have dinner afterwards on the gun decks of HMS Victory. And we have just launched a series of online winter lectures presented by some of the biggest names in maritime history, though to attend them you do have to be a paying member. So go on and if you aren’t a member already, please join treat yourself and we hope to see you soon

Category: | | | |