HMS Blake

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Royal Navy cruiser HMS Blake was built at Chatham Dockyard and launched in 1889. HMS Blake served one commission as flagship at the America and West Indies Station during 1895 and in December of 1895 was commissioned into the Channel Squadron commanded by Captain Bromley. Converted to a  destroyer depot ship  in August 1907 after being struck of the navy list in 1906. Served as the depot ship for the 2nd destroyer flotilla of the Grand Fleet and then to the 11th Destroyer flotilla. after the war was scrapped on the 9th June 1922.

Displacement: 9,000 tons.    I.H.P: 20,000    Length: 375 feet.    Beam: 65ft.   Maximum draught: 25 ft 9ins.   Armament: two 22 ton guns, protected by steel shields.   Speed: 22 knots.

HMS Blake - Name History

The third ?Blake? is a 12-gun twin screw cruiser, launched at Chatham in 1889.  She is of 1900 tons, 20,000 horsepower, and 22 knots speed.  Her length, beam, and draught were 375ft, 65ft, and 25ft.  In 1889 the ?Blake? commanded by Captain Alfred Leigh Winsloe, proceeded to Sierra Leone, and assumed the duties of senior naval officer during the suppression of the Sierra Leone Rebellion.  Six separate columns of troops crushed the rising, and the navy had a little share in the operations.  But had the Navy not been ready at hand, and extremely active at the beginning of the disorders, terrible atrocities might have resulted.  The ?Blake? was eventually converted into a seagoing depot for torpedo-boat destroyers.

HMS Blake. 

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HMS Blake, June 1897

HMS Blake.

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HMS Blake of the Channel Squadron

The Blake was a steel first class cruiser of the early Hamilton Programme, and was launched in 1889. She was built at Chatham Dockyard, and engined by Messrs Maudsley & Co. The Blake was at one time in the commission as the flagship of the North America and West Indies Squadron. She hoisted the pennant in December 1895 for service in the Channel Squadron. She was commanded by Captain Arthur C B Bromley.

The Captain and Officers of HM First-Class Cruiser HMS Blake

The first-class cruiser Blake returned to England in 1895 after serving one commission as flagship on the North America and West Indies Station. On the 17th December 1895, she was commissioned for service with the Channel Squadron by Captain Arthur C B Bromley (the officer wearing four rings of "distinction lace" on his sleeve, and shown in the centre of the foreground), who, with officers and men turned over into the Blake from the first-class cruiser Endymion. The senior officer of the Blake, under Captain Bromley, is Commander Edward F Inglefield - a member of a famous old naval family.

HM Cruiser Blake Preparing for Sea

In these days of mast less ships of war it is not often that one seas Jack aloft, except to man the Fighting Tops or when ordered on some special duty, such as we see some of the company of the cruiser Blake engaged on in 1896. The men seen on their way aloft and on the yards of the Blake's mizzen mast, have to fix down the "steaming covers" of canvas to protect the paintwork aloft from the steam and smoke from the funnels as soon as the ship gets under way. A terrible mishap befell a blue jacket of the Revenge at Queenstown, who fell to the deck while putting on covers on the maintop sail yard, and was killed.

First Class Petty Officer Moore of the Blake

First-class Petty Officer Moore of the cruiser Blake had served in the Royal navy for 21 years at the time of this photo in 1896.and had served in all parts of the globe in token of which he wears the Good Conduct Medal and three Good Conduct Badges, he also wears the Egyptian War Medal, with a Clasp for the battle of El Teb, as well as the Khedive's Bronze Star. The crossed anchors with the crown above on his left arm are the distinctive badges of his rating.

The Company of the Blake

Upwards of 550 officers and men of all ranks and ratings comprised the company of the big first-class cruiser Blake, which served in the Channel Squadron during 1896. Here we see the greater number of the ship's complement assembled to face the camera on the forecastle; a notable assemblage and one that could only have been seen around 1896. It is a curious fact that, before the Russian War of 1854-55, our sailors had no regulation uniform, and might practically throughout the Navy wear any sort, or cut of seafaring dress that they could choose or could most conveniently procure.

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The Petty Officers of the Blake

The Petty Officers of the Royal Navy are as a body rated immediately below the warrant officers, the boatswains and gunners. Petty Officers are promoted from the rating of leading seamen, good conduct, intelligence and smartness being the main qualifications. They take rank as Chief, First, and Second class Petty Officers. Each of the departments of the combatant and civil branches of the naval service has its staff of Petty Officers, who are known by the distinctive departmental badges worn on their uniform. The photograph shows the Petty Officers of the first-class cruiser Blake, of the Channel Squadron in 1896.

Teaching Midshipmen to "Shoot the Sun"

A class of Midshipmen and cadets on board the Blake having the sextant and its working parts explained to them by the Naval Instructor of the ship. The Midshipmen who hold senior rank of the two are denoted by the historic  "white patch" on their collars, the Naval Cadets wearing for their badge a button with a worked buttonhole. The sextant was an indispensable instrument at sea in 1896 and was used daily at noon to determine the exact latitude. Every officer on duty from the Captain to the Midshipmen attends on the quarterdeck Sextant in hand, to take part in the ceremonial of "shooting the sun".

Armourers of the Blake at Work on a  6 in Quick-Firer 1896

The duties of armourers on board ship in the 1890's concerned everything connected with keeping in efficient working order the arms, small and great of all kind. The armourers were classed under the general designation of artificers, and, with the torpedo artificers, belonged to the gunner's staff, as the special department in charge of that warrant officer. They examined and lubricated all gun fittings and mechanisms every Monday morning as a matter of routine, and at all other times that were necessary; executed all the repairs within  their scope; and, with the members of the Carpenter's crew, saw to the testing once a week and repairing of the fire engines and extincteur on board and the hoses. They were generally excused the inspection of arms, divisional drills, and quarters for cleaning guns and arms. The photograph shows the armourers of the Blake at work on one of the cruisers 6-in 100 pdr quick-firing guns.

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Hoisting out the Sailing Pinnace on board HMS Blake

"Spell Oh!" After Dinner on Board HMS Blake. 1896


In the Carpenters Workshop, HMS Blake 1896

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The Diver and His Apparatus, HMS Blake 1896

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These two departments on board ship stand in marked contrast: -one having to do, practically, with everything within the ship; the other dealing with everything without. Furthermore, the carpenter and his mates and staff have formed an essential part of a ship's company from the oldest days of the royal navy , while the diving establishment dates its introduction from the late 19th century. Classes of instruction for divers were regularly formed in connection with each of the Naval Gunnery schools, and the men had to go through a very complete course of training before being passed out and qualified to serve in the Fleet. On the other hand, the carpenters staff on board ship comprised artificers capable of executing repairs of every kind, in metal or wood.

Three Officers of HMS Blake

Officers are Captain Arthur C B Bromley who commanded the first-class cruiser Blake in 1896, together with the previous commander of the ship and the first lieutenant Cecil E E Carey, who was also borne on the Blake for Torpedo duties. Their ranks are denoted by the various rings of distinction lace.

The Engines of the Blake.

Photograph taken from book published 1892 by captain Eardley Wilmott.  Book owned by Cranston Fine Arts