Home ] Up ] Acknowledgements ] How to use our site ]

Chatham Dockyard 

Home ] Up ] [ Chatham Dockyard ] Portsmouth Dockyard ] Sheerness Dockyard ] Pembroke Dockyard ] Devonport Dockyard ] Elswick Shipyard ] Scotts  Ship Building, ] Vosper Thornycroft ] Gibraltar Naval Docks ] Malta Harbour ] Bermuda Dockyard ] Greek Ports ] French Naval Bases ] Italian Naval Bases ] German Naval Bases ] Keyham Dockyard ] HMS Ganges ] HMS Collingwood Naval Training Base ]

Choose the navy or section of interest below:

Royal Navy United States Germany France Japan Italy Russia Austria-Hungary
Canada Spain Netherlands Argentina Brazil Portugal Turkey Australia
Norway Sweden Denmark Belgium Chile Uruguay China New Zealand
Malta Greece India Poland South Africa Pakistan Libya Kuwait
Ireland Other Navies Liners   Unidentified Ships Wartime Naval Losses


Customer Helpline (UK) : 01436 820269
Subscribe to our Newsletter!

You currently have no items in your basket

Choose a FREE print if you spend over £220!
See Choice of Free Prints

Payment Options Display
Buy with confidence and security!
Publishing historical art since 1985

Google

 

Web

www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk

 

History of Chatham Dockyard. Chatham dockyard, situated on the Medway, was a major naval base for the Royal Navy for many centuries during the reigns of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I.

For ex-employees and families of ex-employees of Chatham Dockyard a message board has been set up click here to view messages.

The following text is from the Navy & Army Illustrated March - April 1902.

The Medway is shallow, with a strong tide, and pursues a winding course through mud-flats, while in old times its channel was dangerous owing to shoals. The river bed had to be deepened in order that the establishment might accommodate modern leviathans, and the docks and basins depicted in the photographs will suggest that a great work was accomplished in that direction. The true reason for the rise of Chatham as a Naval centre was the relative proximity of the place to London, and the facility of access by water. The same cause gave its importance to Deptford, which in the reign of Henry VIII, was the principal naval yard, and long continued to do so, although judged by the expenses of maintenance, Chatham may have been more important even in Elizabeth's time. In 1589, including the charges for building a new storehouse, the costs were £1,774, while the outlay at Deptford was £266, at Woolwich £12 and at Portsmouth £64. Greater charges for Chatham were also found in 1591, and Peter Buck, clerk of the Cheque there, had £40 a year, while the chief clerks of Deptford and Portsmouth had only £20 each

There had been facilities for careening ships on the protected mud-banks of the Medway in earlier times, and when Henry VIII was threatened with a combination between France and the Empire, he set about fortifying important places, including Queenborough, near the mouth of the river. Upnor Castle, on the Medway, dates from Elizabeth's reign. (The Main Gate of the Dockyard pictured right).

Whatever convenience there might have been for repairing ships at Chatham in early days, the dockyard was founded by that Queen on the site of the present gun-wharf, the establishment being transferred to the present site about the year 1622. Elizabeth herself paid a visit to the place in 1573, and Camden describes the dockyard as "stored for the finest fleet the sun ever beheld, and ready at a minutes warning, built lately by our most gracious sovereign Elizabeth at great expense for the security of her subjects and the terror of her enemies, with a fort on the shore for its defence."

In the Spanish wars of the time it was customary for ships to lie in reserve at Chatham, and Hawkins threw a chain across the river for protection. Burough, writing in 1588, concerning four great ships then at Queenborough, refers to the repairing and fitting facilities at the port "which ships are to bring up to Chatham, as soon as we can, and then to ground them, and make them ready as we shall be appointed." Howard, writing to Walsingham on this business, lost hope of seeing those ships on active service, and what he says is worth quoting as illustrating the sound views common with the seamen of that age: " If things fall out as it is most likeliest, they shall be to keep Chatham Church, when they should serve the turn abroad. I protest before God, I speak not for myself any ways, but for her Majesty's service and surety; for whensoever they should come, I mean not to change out of her I am in (the Arc Ralegh) for any ship that ever was made. In 1586, 25 ships were laid up at Chatham under the care of 202 men, and the port was a chief base for the Navy at the time. In 1596, when the Spaniards were at Calais, ships were at Chatham for the protection of home waters, and the fleet was brought round there after the Cadiz expedition, and the port was constantly used up to the conclusion of the war. (Photograph above left shows The Royal Adelaide, hulk, Pembroke depot ship and others).

The Naval importance of Chatham is shown by the institution of the Chatham Chest by Hawkins, Drake and others in 1590, for the relief and support for injured or disabled sailors. The semen were generously minded after 1588, and a contribution of sixpence a month from able seamen, and fourpence from ordinary seamen, with threepence for boys, was mulcted from their wages. It was stated that by their service at sea "masters, mariners, shipwrights, and seafaring men, by reason of hurts and maims received in the service, were driven into great poverty, extremities, and want, to their great discouragement." Every visible precaution was taken for the safe custody of the money, and in 1625 an iron chest with five locks was ordered for the purpose, the keys to be kept by five representative officers of different grades, who could only open it when together, and who were to be changed every 12 months. The chest still exists in Greenwich Hospital, where it was placed by the Admiralty in 1846. Notwithstanding all safeguards, there were great leakages. The very year after the chest was bought, Russell, Treasurer of the Navy, took £2,600 out of it to pay wages, and the sum abstracted was slowly restored, but there is the best reason to believe that the chest suffered very heavily from malversation of money. Pepys was anxious about the state of affairs in 1662. He was informed that the fund had been much abused, and that it would be a meritorious act to look after it, "which I am resolved to do, if God bless me". A committee was appointed and he discovered many things which did not please him. French rules were, therefore, laid down, but abuse was not altogether checked. Yet, as Mr Oppenheim says, the administration of the Chatham Chest in early Stuart times was undoubtedly in a condition of ideal purity compared with the depths of organised infamy to which it sank during the eighteenth century. The chest continued to exist under varying regulations until 1803, when it was transferred to the Directors of the Chest at Greenwich and practically became a part of the relief fund of Greenwich Hospital.

James I took much interest in Chatham, and visited it in 1606 with King Christian of Denmark and many noblemen, being received with a great salute, and they dined on board one of the ships. The growing importance of the place was marked by the fact that in 1619 and 1620 it obtained two mast docks, and that much additional ground was bought, on which a dock, storehouse, and various brick and lime kilns might be erected. Another dock was in hand in 1623, in which year Hawkin's chain was replaced by a boom of masts, iron, cordage, and the hulls of two ships, and two pinnacles. This defensive arrangement was further improved about 1645. Two of Elizabeth's ships, the Garland, of 1590, and the Mary Rose, 1598, had been used in construction of a wharf. (Photograph below right shows the Great Sheers at Chatham Yard - The battleships Irresistible and Goliath in No.2 basin.).

The early officers of the establishment were interesting personages. Phineas Pett, the great shipbuilder, was appointed keeper of the plank-yard in 1600, and assistant to the master shipwright in 1601. Four years later he became himself one of the King's master shipwrights, and was the designer of the famous Prince Royal, and in 1630 he was appointed assistant to the Principal Officers and Commissioners of the Navy, to reside at Chatham, and he died there in 1647. His son Peter succeeded him in 1647 or 1648, but was removed from his office of commissioner in 1667, owing to the blame cast upon him in regard to the success of the Dutch fleet in the Medway. Sir John Cox, who fought in the 4 days action with the Dutch in June 1666, and was killed in the battle of Solebay in 1672, was appointed resident commissioner at Chatham in 1669. Another Pett, Sir Phineas, grand-nephew of the first commissioner at Chatham, was appointed master shipwright at the yard in July 1660. He was dismissed a few years later for misbehaviour in office, but was restored to favour, became a member of the Navy Board, was transferred to Chatham again in 1686, and was dismissed for political reasons in 1689. 

The pages of Pepys are full of interesting matter concerning Chatham Dockyard. On July 11 1663 he writes: "By barge to St Mary's Creek, where commissioner Pett (doubtful of the growing greatness of Portsmouth by the finding of those creeks there) do design a wet dock at no great charge, and yet no little one; he thinks towards £10,000. And the place indeed is likely to be a very fit place when the king hath money to do with." Pepys was at Chatham again, viewing the yard with Commissioner Pett on October 2nd 1665. "And among other things, a team of four horses come close by us, he being with me drawing a piece of timber that I am confident one man could easily have carried upon his back. I made the horses be taken away, and a man or two to take the timber away with their hands." Pepys did not entirely trust Pett, and the disgrace of the Commissioner came with the Dutch raid of 1667. De Ruyter's detached squadron attacked Sheerness, and took it, creating a panic in London, and orders were given to sink ships in the river, with the intention of blocking the channel to Chatham, but on June 12 De Ruyter advanced up the Medway, passed Upnor Castle with little opposition, and attacked a number of our ships lying above that point. These were given to the flames, and some of the finest vessels in the navy, including the Royal James, 82, the Loyal London, 90, and the Royal Oak, 76, perished, while the Royal Charles, 90, was captured and carried off. Thus, at Chatham befel one of the most humiliating incidents in all our naval history. On the last day of the gloomy month, Pepys was there and heard that there had been but one man killed on shore. "Thence by barge, it raining hard, down to the chain; and in our way did see the sad wrecks of the poor Royal Oak, James and London and several others of our ships by us sunk, and several of the enemy's, whereof three men-of-war that they could not get off, and so burnt. So to the chain, and there saw it fast at the end on the Upnor side of the river; and where it broke nobody can tell me."

In the reign of Charles I the first wet dock or basin was constructed at Chatham, and the same monarch erected large storehouses and a sail loft, and enlarged the yard. Yet, at the same time, the Crown was very short of money, and the Chatham shipwrights threatened to cease work unless they were paid, the men being so turbulent that they actually besieged the Navy Commissioners. The unhappy commissioners were constantly ordered to perform impossibilities, and, when it was asked at what cost ships were built, the Chatham dockyardmen said they had been twelve months "without one penny being paid, neither having any allowance for meat or drink, by which many of them, having pawned all they can, others turned out of doors for nonpayment of rent, which, with the cries of their wives and children for food and necessaries, doth utterly dishearten them." Driven to desperation, the Chatham men at last marched up to London in a body, whereupon the Treasurer of the Navy made a promise which was not fulfilled, while, as Mr Oppenheim says, "the ragged misery of the visitors was an outrage on the scented decorum of the Court." ( Photograph left shows the building of the ship - a battleship receiving her skin plating.)

But Chatham was growing in importance, though there was manifest need for docking accommodation. Defoe visited the place in 1705, and speaks with an enthusiasm of its achievements which may pass belief. "So great is the order and application there that a first-rate vessel of war of 106 guns, ordered to be commissioned by Sir Cloudesley Shovell, was ready in three days. At the time the order was given the vessel was entirely unrigged; yet the masts were raised, sails bent, anchors and cables on board, in that time.

The outbreak of war with France and Spain had demonstrated the need for expansion in that quarter, and in 1710 land was ordered to be bought to improve the establishment. The largest classes of ships were built at Chatham in the years that followed. Thus the Plymouth, 80, was built in 1722, and the Royal Sovereign, 100, in 1728, both from designs by J Rosewell. The Ramillies, 74 was launched in 1763, the Victory, 100, in 1765, the Barfleur, 98, in 1768, the Queen Charlotte, 100, in 1789, and the Ville de Paris, 110, in 1795. By the year 1770 the establishment had so grown that, including the gun wharf it extended a mile in length, had an area of over 95 acres, and possessed four slips and four large docks. The officers and men employed in the yard had also greatly increased, and it may be interesting to say that in 1798 they numbered 1,664, including 49 officers and clerks, and 624 shipwrights. The others were blockmakers, caulkers, pitch-heaters, blacksmiths, joiners, carpenters, sail makers, riggers, and ropemakers (these last number 274), as well as bricklayers, labourers and others. since that time the men employed at Chatham have more than quadrupled in number, as the establishment has increased in extent.

The importance of the dockyard in the days of the Great War and the menaces of the time forced upon the authorities in the latter half of the eighteenth century the necessity of creating adequate defences for the place in the shape of earthworks and forts. These were the well known Chatham Lines. The Inner Lines enclosed the dockyard, barracks, St Mary's Church, and the town of Old Brompton, while the Outer Lines was a name given to the open space devoted to sports and military manoeuvres. Charles Dickens, who knew Chatham well, spoke of the defences in an article in Household Words, which may be quoted:

"I took a walk upon these Lines, and mused among the fortifications, grassy and innocent on the surface at present, but tough subjects at the core. Here I saw the artfullest pits and drawbridges, the slyest batteries in most unexpected angles and turnings, the lowest, deepest-set, beetle-browed little windows down among the stinging nettles at the bottom of trenches. Steeped in these mysteries, I wandered round the trenches of Fort Pitt, and then away to Fort Clarence, and, looking down the river from the sloping bank, I saw even there, upon the shore, a stranded little fort, with its weather beaten brick face staring at the mud."

Sir Edward Gregory, who retired in 1703 (Clerk of the Cheque at Chatham for nearly 20 years), had been the last civilian to hold office as Commissioner of the yard. The last Resident Commissioner was Captain Charles Cunningham on whose retirement, in 1829, the dockyard was placed temporarily under the inspection of Captain J M Lewes, Resident Commissioner at Sheerness. Captain, afterwards Admiral, Sir Charles Bullen was the first Superintendent, being appointed in December 1831, and being invested with the same power and authority as the Commissioners, his predecessors, except in matters which were required by Act of Parliament to be done by the Commissioner of the Navy. As is well known, the Navy Board was abolished shortly afterwards, its powers being transferred to the Admiralty, and the Resident Commissioners at all the yards were replaced by admirals or captains as Superintendents.

In 1879, when the new system was working, and when the Chief Constructor had long replaced the old Master Builder, there were 3,800 men at Chatham yard, and yet only one Chief Constructor, whereas under the older system the supervision would have been under many more officers. At the same time the dockyard had increased in extent from 95 to 500 acres. In the first years of the nineteenth century Sir Robert Seppings, who was a Master Builder at Chatham, attained great eminence as a naval constructor. Since his time a revolution has taken place in the constructive work at the yard, and many of the conditions that existed even 20 years ago have changed.

The resources of the dockyard had been fully employed, and an ever-increasing strain at length forced upon the attention of the authorities the necessity for the expansion of the establishments. Sir J Rennie, the eminent engineer who was so greatly concerned in the Portsmouth works, was consulted in regard to the necessities, and an important plan for an enlargement was prepared by him. It was not, however, until 1853 that the Admiralty became possessed of the whole of St Mary's Island and some neighbouring land, upon which the extension was to be made. Three years later the Navy Estimates bore a charge of £160,000 towards the work, and a large employment of convict labour was contemplated. Progress was slow, and little was done until 1864, when General Sir A Clarke, who was then Director of Works at the Admiralty, took up the matter energetically. The works were in hand about 18 years, the estimates of 1884-1885 bearing a small charge practically for completion.

The huge crane which is depicted (top left, the largest crane at Chatham), the dockyard railway as a great facility for work (top right a working party leave the storehouse by the dockyard railway), and the vast basins and docks, are thus accounted for. It is a proud record of a great work done, and does not take any account of the cruisers built at the yard. Chatham on the other hand has many memorials of the old navy, including a large collection of figureheads, which almost rivals that at Devonport. We see also that there is still scope for the deft hands of women in the naval service. (below right women making flags in the Chatham loft), and they do good work in the spinning of hemp for cables (above left women spinning hemp for cables).

The great extension of the Chatham Dockyard initiated in 1853, gave us the establishment as it exists today. The old establishment still exists, however, with some modifications from its former state, and possesses its old wooden slips and docks. There are four iron slips dating from about 40 years ago, and the old saw-pits are there, with other evidences of the Navy in the early part of the last century and century before. The fine figureheads which are illustrated  indicate how the evidences of the past are are treasured at Chatham (See top right and below left), and it would have been a pleasure to describe some other relics of the place. There was a discovery of a vessel some 36 ft below the ground level, made a few years ago when the excavation for the present basins was in progress. There can be little doubt that this was one of the Dutch ships which made the raid up the Medway in 1667. She stood upright in the mud, still possessing her guns and large quantities of shot in her lockers, many of which relics have their place in the dockyard museum.

But it is now time to turn to the extension works of the present day. The three great basins, lying in a west and east line, give access in both directions to the Medway, the eastern opening - from No.3 basin - being through two large locks, which can be used in case of necessity for docking ships. the first basin, that to the west, was opened in 1872 with much ceremony, as well as two of the four docks on its south side. These new graving docks are more than 400 ft long and 100 ft wide, and the basin itself has a length of about 1,600 ft by 900 ft. At its eastern end is an opening into No.2 basin, which is about 1,500 ft long by 800 ft wide, and from this again into basin No. 3, which has an extreme length of about 1,800 ft, its width except towards the east, where it is wider and irregular in shape, being some 800 ft. It is from the basin last mentioned that access is gained to the Medway through the two locks, outside of which are the collier dock, with slips, and other important parts of the establishment. This immense addition to Chatham dockyard, which was practically  the creation of a new establishment fitted to cope with the growing needs of the Fleet, was completed in 1885, when a simple inaugural ceremony took place in September.

The extension of the dockyard was not confined to basins and docks. With the larger future designed for the establishment, many factories, workshops, and stores became necessary, these being erected in convenient positions adjacent to the basins. The gunnery, torpedo and engine shops and other factories and storehouses, are of great size, and the manufacturing establishments are fitted with the latest appliances for work of every description. There is a mighty Hydraulic crane capable of lifting about 200 tons, and the equipment in apparatus of that kind is very complicated indeed. As in other Naval establishments there are steam-hammers, punching machines (see right), sheering machines, steam saw-mills amongst others. The creating of such an establishment where lay an expanse of some 400 acres of desolate marsh, abounding in swamps and dykes, was an achievement to be proud of, and we cannot withhold admiration from the energy with which the work was undertaken and the zeal with which it was executed. It had been foreseen that with the enlargement of the dockyard, and the creation of facilities for building and repairing the largest classes of vessels, the channel of the Medway would have to be improved. That ancient waterway, winding through level tracts, and abounding in creeks, was too shallow for our modern leviathans, and a very great work has since been completed in dredging the bed of the river. Ten years ago the work was in progress, and it was completed in 1896, though, of course, dredging operations are continually necessary to prevent the silting up of the passage. 

The last ten years have seen further progress in the establishment. No.5 dock has been lengthened in order that it may accommodate cruisers of the Diadem class (435ft), this work having been completed about September 1898. A new coaling depot is being created to facilitate and expedite the work. The reconstruction of the foundry also became necessary, but considerable difficulties occurred, and it was at length decided that a new foundry should be constructed. As a matter of fact, the foundations of the old structure had given way, thus illustrating one of the great difficulties which have been encountered at the Chatham yard. Provision was made for the new foundry in the Estimates of 1899-1900, as also for a new building slip. Some delay, however, occurred in completing  the plans for the latter, but good progress is being made, as also with other works in progress at the yard, and the foundry will be completed in 1902. Progress is also being made with the coaling establishment, and a new dock is to be added. (Below right a plan of Chatham Dockyard)

The increase in Chatham Dockyard has not been in material matters only. The additions made to the fleet have involved a great augmentation in the number of officers and men at port, and the necessity for larger accommodation became a pressing need six or seven years ago. The extension works had been partly executed by convict labour, and the convict prison became available for conversion into barracks. There was, however, a great need for suitable new buildings, and the inconvenience of putting seamen into hulks at the port was strongly urged in 1894. It was then proposed to commence a new Naval barracks to accommodate 3,500 officers and men, and after which it would be possible to remove the old hulks, and to find space for the berthing of modern vessels, and designs were prepared, but a difficulty arose in regard to the necessary land, and a long delay resulted. Negotiations were entered into with the War Office for a site, upon part of which the Brennan torpedo factory stood, but in 1898 the military authorities were still reconstructing the factory, so that the land might be made available. Meanwhile the contract was signed for the construction of the barracks, and considerable progress has since been made, the western block having been completed, while two other blocks are well above ground. The delay has been unfortunate, for the inconvenience and discomfort of a  seaman's life on board a hulk are an important consideration in these days, when the comforts of the shore exercise such a powerful attraction upon the men of the fleet. (below left cruisers are berthed for repair and refit)

The necessity of extending the hospital accommodation was also recognised by the authorities, and a proposal was formulated in 1896 for building a new hospital, with 600 beds; the old building, besides being too small, was obsolete in design and defective in construction. In particular there was no provision for the isolation of infectious cases, and no wards were arranged for the seriously injured patients. Moreover, the grounds in which the hospital stood were limited in size, and did not admit of any extension of the old building. The foundations of the main building of the new hospital were laid by the beginning of 1900, and the establishment is now approaching completion. With these increased facilities, soon to be made available, we may link an improvement in the water supply which has been effected. Much has, indeed, been done for the increased number of seamen retained in reserve at the port, and when the barracks and hospital are in use, one great disadvantage of Chatham will have been removed.

It might appear to the casual observer, seeing the immense mass and variety of stores lying alongside a ship, that some confusion must exist, but it would not be long before they discerned that a thorough system of organisation evolves order and progress out of apparent chaos. Each man knows exactly his work, and everything is done with order and regularity. The building of a ship takes place accordance with plans prepared at the Admiralty, and the operation is conducted under the immediate orders of the Chief Constructor of the Dockyard. The calculations for displacement have already been made, and the conditions which affect the draught of water have been fully taken into account. A matter of extreme importance, therefore, is that the intended weights shall actually be built into the ship and no more, a matter which in former times, owing to modifications of plans, was sometimes neglected, with the result that ships have not floated at their intended waterline and that the armouring upon them has not afforded the protection designed and required.

In the picture (right) which illustrates the mast of the Irresistible, the Goliath will be seen completing at her berth in the basin. It will be noticed that an office is provided for that important functionary the recorder of weights, whose business is to keep a very accurate account. A notification is also affixed on the office in these words: "All materials to be weighed before being taken on board." Thus is assurance made in the matter of displacement, and it is truly astonishing how closely the calculated displacement approximates the to the real. The responsibility for launching a ship also devolves to the Chief Constructor of the yard, but, as soon as she is in the water, it is the duty of the King's harbourmaster to bring her alongside the wharf, where the work of structural completion and equipment goes on. The recent launch of the Prince of Wales at Chatham Dockyard brought to the minds of many the very great importance of all the functions which attend building, launching and completing. The smallest miscalculation may lead to serious difficulties, and it is therefore, always with a sense of relief that the good ship is seen gliding down the ways into the element which she is to grace and command. Cabins have then to be provided, mess-places and storerooms to be arranged, the engines, boilers, hydraulic and electrical gear to be fitted, and a vast deal of other work to be done, and a ship in this stage is, therefore, always a scene of bustling activity. All the officers of the yard have important functions in regard to the building and equipping of ships, and it is the custom for them to meet each morning at the office of the Admiral Superintendent to learn the orders from the Admiralty, and then to decide how they shall be carried into execution - a system that conduces much to rapidity and efficiency of work. Finally let it be said that Rear-Admiral Swinton C Holland is the Superintendent at Chatham, and Captain Archibald G Douglas the Staff Captain and King's Harbourmaster, while the Chief Constructor is W James, Esq. the Chief Engineer W G Littlejohns, and the Naval Store Officer H J Laslett. (Above left shows the Pembroke Gate).

 

The battleship Albemarle being built at Chatham in 1901.

The Parade Ground at Chatham.

Sent in by Ian Anderson

 
 

Valuations

Classified Ads Terms and Conditions Shipping Info Contact Details

 

 

Click here to go to our naval history forum

 

AVIATION PRINTS

Click above to see all of our aviation art index - Eight random half price aviation items are displayed to the right.

Some Current Half Price Aviation Art Offers

 Opened in 1932, Ryde airport became the principal airport for the Isle of Wight, with routes being operated to destinations as far away as Croydon, Bristol and Shoreham, as well as a regular commuter service that took in Southampton, Bournemouth and Portsmouth.  This painting depicts a typical day early in 1936 when aircraft of both Portsmouth, Southsea and Isle of Wight Aviation Ltd  and Railway Air Services were using the airport, in this case, Airspeed Courier G-ADAY and De Havilland Dragon Rapide G-ACPR City of Birmingham respectively.  The airport closed officially in 1939, but may have been used sporadically after the war.  The site of the airport is now occupied by Tesco and McDonalds.

Ryde Airport, 1936 by Ivan Berryman.
Half Price! - £80.00
 Regarded by some in the Air Ministry as a failed fighter, the mighty Hawker Typhoon was unrivalled as a ground attack aircraft, especially in the crucial months immediately prior to – and after – D-Day when squadrons of Typhoons operated in 'cab ranks' to smash the German infrastructure and smooth the passage of the invading allied force.  This aircraft is Mk.1B (MN570) of Wing Commander R E P Brooker of 123 Wing based at Thorney Island.

Sledgehammer by Ivan Berryman. (AP)
Half Price! - £90.00
 With Italys entry into WW II on June 10, 1940, the epic two-and-one-half-year siege of Malta began. Symbolizing the defiant resistance of the people and defenders of that tiny island, the legend of Faith, Hope, and Charity grew from a handful of Gloster Sea Gladiators which initially comprised Maltas sole aerial defense. Until the arrival of the more modern Hawker Hurricanes, these obsolescent biplanes fought the Regia Aeronautica alone in the skies above Malta. Only six or seven Gladiators were assembled from the shipment of eighteen crated aircraft which had been delivered by the HMS Glorious. Others were utilized for spare parts, and three had been dispatched, still crated, to Egypt. Though hugely outnumbered, the defenders fought on, raising the morale of the citizens of Malta, and denying the Italians mastery of the sky. Suffering from a constant shortage of spare parts, tools and equipment, the devoted ground support crews were never able to keep more than three Gladiators operational at any point in time. Only one of these Gladiators was totally lost in aerial combat, and the sole surviving aircraft was presented to the people of Malta, and today stands in their National War Museum as a proud symbol of courage and endurance. In Stan Stokes painting, a Sea Gladiator, piloted by Flight Lt. James Pickering, tangles with a Fiat C.R. 42 over Malta in 1940 while an Italian Savoia S.79 tri-engined bomber passes by in the background. The Gloster Gladiator represented the zenith of development of the classic biplane fighter aircraft, a design formula which characterized an entire era from WW I until the advent of the monoplane fighter just before WW II. Glosters naval model of the Gladiator was equipped with a Bristol Mercury VIIIA engine providing a maximum speed of 253 MPH, a rate of climb of 2300 feet per minute, an operational ceiling of 32,200 feet, and a range of 415 miles. The Gladiator was armed with four .303 inch Browning machine guns, and incorporated several advanced features including an enclosed cockpit and wing flaps. One top RAF ace, Sqd. Ldr. Pattle, attained eleven victories flying the Gladiator. A total of 527 Gladiators were produced, and the aircraft served in twelve different countries. The Italians were overly persistent in their emphasis on biplane fighters, stemming from their successes with these highly maneuverable machines during the Spanish Civil War. Employing distinctive Warren-truss type interplane bracing the C.R. 42 was powered by a Fiat A74 R.C. 38 engine providing a maximum speed of 274 MPH and a range of 485 miles. The C.R. 42 was more lightly armed than the Gladiators it opposed, possessing only two 12.7mm Breda machine guns. The C.R 42 served on all of Italys fronts including North and East Africa, France, Britain, the Balkans, and Russia. Exported to Hungary, Sweden and Belgium, the C.R. 42 ironically served alongside the Gladiator in other theaters of operation during WW II.
Faith Hope and Charity by Stan Stokes. (C)
Half Price! - £65.00
 Routine, though essential, maintenance is carried out on a 501 Sqn Hurricane at the height of the Battle of Britain during the Summer of 1940.  Hurricane P3059 <i>SD-N</i> in the background is the aircraft of Group Captain Byron Duckenfield.  Hurricane P3059 <i>SD-N</i> in the background is the aircraft of <a href=http://www.military-art.com/mall/profiles.php?SigID=1236>Group Captain Byron Duckenfield</a>. 

Ground Force by Ivan Berryman (GS)
Half Price! - £290.00

 Under the watchful eye of his more experienced tutor a trainee pilot gets his first taste of the Spitfire Mk.IIa, airborne from Tangmere early in 1941.  the nearest aircraft is P7856 (YT-C) which enjoyed a long career, surviving until 1945.

The Fledgling by Ivan Berryman. (B)
Half Price! - £100.00
 New Zealand's highest scoring ace, with 25 victories to his credit, proved himself to be an extraordinary and resourceful leader.  Whilst on a routine patrol in September 1918, Keith Logan 'Grid' Caldwell's 74 Sqn SE5a was involved in a mid-air collision with another SE5a, the impact breaking one of Caldwell's struts and destroying the aerodynamics of his aircraft, which promptly dropped 1,000 ft and went into a flat spin.  Incredibly, Caldwell climbed from the cockpit of his stricken machine and held the broken strut together with his left hand whilst keeping his right hand on the joystick, somehow steering his wayward fighter out of danger and over friendly territory.  With no hope of a safe landing, the Kiwi jumped clear of the SE5a just a second or so before it impacted with the ground. Astounded British soldiers in a nearby trench saw Caldwell stand, dust himself off and walk casually toward them.  He returned to his unit and continued flying until the end of the war.

The Tenacious Grid Caldwell by Ivan Berryman. (P)
Half Price! - £800.00
 Aircraft number 2247, flown by Lt McElroy, attacks the Yokosuka Yard near Tokyo. He was one of the 18 B25 Mitchell bombers which took part in the famous retaliatory raid on Japan.

Doolittle Raider, Tokyo, April 18th 1942 by David Pentland.
Half Price! - £50.00
 Group Captain Billy Drake in Hurricane JX-P of No.1 Sqn scoring his first victory, an Me109 during the Battle of France, on 20th April 1940.

Billy Drake - First of Many by Ivan Berryman.
Half Price! - £85.00

 

NAVAL PRINTS

Click above to see all of our naval art index - Eight random half price naval items are displayed to the right.

Some Current Half Price Naval Art Offers

 Completed in 1916, the Resolution was one of the finest capital ships in the Royal Navy, serving in many theatres with her sister ships, Royal Sovereign, Royal Oak, Ramillies and Revenge, she is shown here in 1936.

HMS Resolution by Ivan Berryman. (Y)
Half Price! - £29.00
One of the most decisive battles in the history of the Royal Navy, Nelsons defeat of the French fleet took place on 21st October 1805 off Cape Trafalgar and was conducted with not a single British ship lost, although few ships escaped severe punishment and loss of life on both sides was tragically high

The Battle of Trafalgar, 21st October 1805 by Ivan Berryman.
Half Price! - £85.00
 In the early morning murk of 24th May 1941, the forward 15in guns of HMS Hood fire the first shots against the mighty German battleship Bismarck. Both Bismarck and her escort, the Prinz Eugen, immediately responded, the latter causing a fierce fire on Hoods upper deck, while plunging shot from Bismarck penetrated deep into the British ships hull, causing an explosion that ripped the Hood apart, sinking her in an instant. Tragically, just three survivors were rescued from the water.

HMS Hood Opens Fire Upon the Bismarck by Ivan Berryman. (Y)
Half Price! - £230.00
DHM1307P.  Queen Elizabeth at Southampton by Ivan Berryman.

Queen Elizabeth at Southampton by Ivan Berryman. (P)
Half Price! - £1400.00

Depicting Titanic with the sun going down for the last time.

Titanic by Robert Barbour (AP)
Half Price! - £50.00
 The largest and fastest of all the ships that took part in the Battle of Jutland, the elegant battle cruiser HMS Tiger was launched in 1913 and is easily recognisable by the unusual position of Q turret just aft of the third funnel, She is shown about  to pass beneath the Forth Bridge as she departs Rosyth for a sea trial

HMS Tiger by Ivan Berryman (AP)
Half Price! - £25.00
 Key ships of the British task force sail in close formation in the Mediterranean sea during the build up to the coalition invasion of Iraq in march 2003, nearest is the flagship HMS Ark Royal with the commando carrier HMS ocean to her port side. other ships include a Type 42 destroyer , the Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria and an LSL  

NTG03 - Task Force to Iraq by Ivan Berryman.
Half Price! - £15.00
 One of the most advanced submarines in the world, the nuclear-powered HMS Astute (S119) is depicted making her way into the open sea from her base at Faslane.  Commissioned into the Royal Navy on 27th August 2010, Astute is capable of carrying 38 Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles over virtually unlimited distances.

HMS Astute by Ivan Berryman. (P)
Half Price! - £700.00

 

MILITARY PRINTS

Click above to see all of our military art index - Eight random half price military items are displayed to the right.

Some Current Half Price Military Art Offers

CC204. The Viking Hersir by Chris Collingwood.
The Viking Hersir by Chris Collingwood.
Half Price! - £700.00
DHM499.  2nd Maryland Regiment at the Guildford Courthouse 1781 by Brian Palmer.

2nd Maryland Regiment at the Guildford Courthouse 1781 by Brian Palmer.
Half Price! - £35.00
 The Battle of Solferino, fought on 24th of June 1859 was the last battle at which both armies were commanded by their monarch; the French army commanded by Napoleon III and his Allies Victor Emmanuel II and his Sardinian Army were victorious over the Austrian Army commanded by Emperor Franz Joseph.
Napoleon III at Solferino by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier. (Y)
Half Price! - £30.00
 Study for the original painting Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.
Page to Richard III, Bosworth 1485 by Mark Churms. (P)
Half Price! - £120.00

 The Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879 was the first major encounter in the Anglo-Zulu War between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. Eleven days after the British commenced their invasion of Zululand in South Africa, a Zulu force of some 10,000-12,000 warriors attacked a portion of the British main column consisting of about 1,800 British, colonial and native troops and perhaps 400 civilians. The Zulus were equipped mainly with the traditional Assegai iron spears and cow-hide shields, but also had a number of muskets and old rifles though they were not formally trained in their use. The British and colonial troops were armed with the state-of-the-art Martini-Henry breech-loading rifle and two 7 pounder artillery pieces as well as a rocket battery. Despite a vast disadvantage in weapons technology, the numerically superior Zulus ultimately overwhelmed the poorly led and badly deployed British, killing over 1,300 troops, including all those out on the forward firing line. The Zulu army suffered around 350 killed, and up to several hundred wounded. The battle was a crushing victory for the Zulus and caused the abandonment of the first British invasion of Zululand.

The Battle of Isandlwana by Jason Askew. (P)
Half Price! - £3200.00
As the French regiment man the postion while under heavy attack, a French drummer boy and soldier are seen attending the wounded mascot dog of the regiment.
The Dog of the Regiment is Wounded by Horace Vernet. (Y)
Half Price! - £30.00
 Normandy, Mid-June 1944.  A REME Leyland Retriever mobile workshop truck and M7 Priest SP gun of 33rd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, 3rd Infantry Division, disembark from an LST at one of the <i>Whale</i> floating roadways that made up the British Mulberry B harbour at Arromanches.

Arromanches by David Pentland. (P)
Half Price! - £700.00
 Men of the US 381st Infantry Regiment, 96th Division supported by the tanks of 763rd and 713th Flamethrower Tank Battalions, during the assault on Yaeju Dake. This escarpment, known as Big Apple was the last in a series of tough Japanese defence lines on the south of the Island.

Taking of Big Apple, Okinawa, 10th - 14th June 1945 by David Pentland. (GL)
Half Price! - £300.00

 

SPORT PRINTS

Click above to see all of our sport art index - Eight random half price sport items are displayed to the right.

Some Current Half Price Sport Art Offers

 It was Saturday 4th May 2002, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.  Wonderful goals by Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg for Arsenal were too much for their London rivals Chelsea to capture the FA Cup.  Four days later, on Wednesday 8th, Arsenal rode into Old Trafford.  This time a goal by Sylvain Wiltord on his 100th appearance for the club was enough for Arsene Wenger's team to overcome Manchester United and clinch the Premiership title, maintaining a record of scoring in every league game of the season.  For the second time in four years under their long-serving and inspirational captain Tony Adams, Arsenal had performed the classic double of English football, the third in their history making 2001-02, a season never to be forgotten.

The Double 2001 / 2002 by Gary Keane. (Y)
Half Price! - £65.00
 Richard Burns and Robert Reid.  Subaru Impreza WRC 99
Rain or Shine by Michael Thompson
Half Price! - £30.00
B47. Eddie Irvine/ Ferrari F.310. by Ivan Berryman.

Eddie Irvine/ Ferrari F.310. by Ivan Berryman.
Half Price! - £40.00
 Damon Hill, World Champion

King of the Track by Stuart Coffield
Half Price! - £20.00

 Jimmys total of 516 league appearances produced an amazing 357 goals.

Greavsie by Gary Keane.
Half Price! - £55.00
 David Coulthard. McLaren Mercedes MP4/13
A Scottish Gentleman by Michael Thompson.
Half Price! - £25.00
 Valentino Rossi at speed on his Repsol Honda.
Rossi at Speed by Derrick Mark.
Half Price! - £25.00
 England Captain martin Johnson lifts the World Rugby Cup, as winners of the 2003 World Rugby Cup in Australia.

Martin Johnson by Chris Howells.
Half Price! - £45.00

Everything we obtain for this site is shown on the site, we do not have any more photos, crew lists or further information on any of the ships.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE. ALL IMAGES DISPLAYED ON THIS WEBSITE ARE PROTECTED BY  COPYRIGHT  LAW, AND ARE OWNED BY CRANSTON FINE ARTS OR THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS.  NO REPRODUCTION OR COPYING ALLOWED ON OTHER WEBSITES, BOOKS OR ARTICLES WITHOUT PRIOR AGREEMENT.

This website is owned by Cranston Fine Arts.  Torwood House, Torwoodhill Road, Rhu, Helensburgh, Scotland, G848LE

Contact: Tel: (+44) (0) 1436 820269.  Fax: (+44) (0) 1436 820473. Email:

Return to Home Page