Author Topic: Chatham Dockyard  (Read 2777 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Kyn

  • Prolific Contributor
  • *****
  • Posts: 673
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #180 on: January 21, 2022, 21:31:16 pm »
08 Mar. , 1743 , Navy Board to Resident Commissioner: all Roman Catholic workmen are to be discharged.

Offline Kyn

  • Prolific Contributor
  • *****
  • Posts: 673
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #181 on: February 14, 2022, 01:03:40 am »
The Brunel Sawmill at Chatham Dockyard was constructed in 1814 mostly by the Dockyards own workforce; its role was to replace workers sawing wood, which was a slow process, by replacing them with a sawing machine powered by steam.  The men employed in sawing wood suffered many back complaints due to the hard work involved and this new machine would not only speed up the process but reduce the amount of backbreaking work needed and was a revolutionary invention which changed the process of wood cutting across the country.  The steam engine fitted within the mill was a Maudslay, Sons and Field beam engine of 30 horse power, there were eight frames which each carried 36 saws that could produce 1260ft of sawing per minute. 

Not only was the sawing machine an impressive invention the whole set up of the sawmill was something special.  The sawmill was so placed that from its elevated height, of 35ft above the rest of the yard, it could incorporate other ideas to speed up the process.  A canal and tunnel of 550ft were constructed leading from the South Mast Pond, which was used to store the wood after being brought up the River Medway, to a reservoir next to the mill itself, once in the reservoir the wood was lifted by a floating platform controlled by the weight of condenser water from the steam engine and would then be lifted 50ft by a crane and delivered to the timber pound.  The crane ran on an overhead track with a length of about 1000ft and moved between the timber pound and the reservoir delivering all the wood that travelled up the canal from the mast pond.  The building was built using iron columns and prefabricated parts, which was very unusual at the time, but when the large chimney began to settle subsidence started to cause a problem, to overcome this Brunel used had iron ties put into the brickwork to support it, again this was another engineering first.

The sawyers were reduced in numbers once the sawmills were up and running, a small number were retained to run the machinery or to complete complicated jobs that the machine could not complete.  Those retained were forced to take a pay cut as their workload reduced greatly.  Once the mill was complete it housed eight sets of circular powered saws in cast iron frames each holding 36 saws each,  these and the newly complete canal and tunnel encouraged visits from many dignitaries to see for themselves the ingenious newly designed mechanical sawmill.  These visitors included the Archduke, attended by Prince Esterhazy, the American Ambassador who were received under salute from cannon on Chatham Lines, by Commissioner Sir Robert Barlow in March 1816.

The upper floor, in 1815, was partly used to house another of Brunel’s ingenious inventions, a steam powered block mill, these he had first constructed for the Navy at Portsmouth Dockyard.  It was to be placed above the boilers of the steam engine, which was fully fireproof.  After the mill had been in use it was realised that the mill was producing far more cut wood than was needed and it was considered to use part of the upper floor as storage.  The steam engine was also used for other purposes including powering treenail mooting machinery and pumping water for the nearby royal Marine Barracks and also later on Melville Hospital.  The steam engines also pumped water around the Dockyard to be used in case of fire, this was complete by January 1916 and to oversee the maintenance and use of these pipes, the machinery and boilers in the mill it was proposed to hire a Master of the Mill who would have the superintendence of the machinery and other works including all the waterworks and pipes around the yard.  It was proposed this Master would be paid a salary of two hundred and fifty pounds per annum, these proposals were agreed by the Commissioners and the King.  The decision to employ the Master, Mr Bacon, meant that Mr Ellicombe, who had been overseeing the work of the sawmill, was no longer needed and on the 9th May 1816 it was agreed to remove him from the workforce.  Mr Ellicombe had been overseeing the construction of the mill on behalf of Marc Brunel as Brunel was effectively banned from the Royal Dockyards due to his being of French nationality.  At the time the French were a serious threat and there was concern that a Frenchman, even a well-known and respected one, could pose a threat to Britain’s security.  Marc Brunel wrote a letter to the Navy Board on 23rd May 1816 voicing his objection to the removal of Mr Ellicombe, in it he points out he had been out of the country and retuned to find Commissioner Sir Robert Barlow had been told to signify to Mr Ellicombe that his services were no longer required.  He complained that “Had I been asked whether his services were required for superintending the work already connected with the sawmill, or were necessary to it, I should have not hesitated on the answer I should have had to return.  But when I took over what Mr. Ellicombe has had to do, and what he has to do, for establishing the carriage now preparing and also for disposing the means and connecting the powers whereby the timber is to be conveyed to and fro and spread over the ground; I should easily have accounted how far the abilities and services of that gentleman were necessary for the establishment, had I been honoured from you, with a previous application such as my situation and the confidence I have hitherto be honoured with, had given me a right to expect at the hands on the honourable Navy Board.”

He goes on to say that over the last few weeks Mr Ellicombe had been hard at work when others had not, and without him the works would not have been as far into completion as it would have been left in others hands, the work in progress at the time was to convey power through the whole course of the railway.  He tells the board that without Ellicombe the effect would be his having to increase his travelling time to visit Chatham Dockyard more frequently to taking up his valuable time and the public’s money, which would amount to the cost of keeping Mr Ellicombe in attendance.  He finishes his letter with a request to the Board to keep Mr Ellicombe in his position at Chatham Dockyard until the work is complete.  This letter was replied to on the 30th May 1816 with the board requesting further details on the time scale Brunel would like Mr Ellicombe to be employed for.  The reply to this letter is not available but it is safe to assume that Brunel got his wish to keep Mr Ellicombe employed until his use was no longer needed.  The full cost of the sawmill was £41,315, £27,551 being for materials used and £13,764 for the workmen.

A letter from Brunel to the Navy Board was sent on the 30th March 1817 objecting the use of the mill as storage space, in the letter Brunel states “that the spare area is as well calculated as any other part of the yard for the stowage of other material; but viewing  it with all the advantage that are coupled with its present disposition, I would consider it would be as great a waste of its present means, as any part of the mill itself, if it was converted into a store.”

Offline Stewie

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #182 on: April 23, 2023, 15:41:39 pm »
Does anyone know the purpose of the small 'lookout' windows on the top of number 3 slip please, (see attached picture)? The space is reached by a series of wooden stairs from ground level and presumably was too distant to be an overseers office. The space looks out in a north easterly direction over what would have been the mast ponds and possibly as far as the basins on St Marys island. There may possibly have been more of these spaces, the angles on the structure roof would allow it, but there seems to be no obvious evidence of additional ones ever being provided and subsequently removed.

Offline Stewie

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 35
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #183 on: April 25, 2023, 08:47:16 am »
Does anyone know the purpose of the small 'lookout' windows on the top of number 3 slip please

Looking at the view you would be likely to get from the room, I presume that you could see across to the River Medway to the vicinity of Hoo saltmarsh, possibly even Sheerness dockyard with a telescope. Could this have been a lookout facility to give a view for either approaching (friendly) shipping or naval vessels moored in that part of the river perhaps?

Offline Blue Print Research

  • Newcomer
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #184 on: October 09, 2023, 21:43:53 pm »
Further to my earlier post about the Nuclear Re-Fit Complex; there's an excellent model of the Complex in the Dockyard Museum:

cliveh

Can anyone help with crane identification!?

Offline Blue Print Research

  • Newcomer
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #185 on: October 09, 2023, 21:44:58 pm »
Can anyone help with crane identification!?

Offline Blue Print Research

  • Newcomer
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #186 on: October 09, 2023, 21:47:05 pm »
I have 6 blue prints from 1945.  He worked for William Arrol

They are of a 120 T wharf crane for Chatham.

My grandfather kept them and sadly I never met him, but I am trying to see if it was ever commissioned and made and where it may have been in use at Chatham.

I'd be grateful for any advice or contacts.

Online pomme homme

  • Editor
  • Prolific Contributor
  • *****
  • Posts: 8978
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #187 on: October 10, 2023, 09:56:58 am »
Welcome to the forum, Blue Print Research, and thank you for your posts regarding the crane that might have been in the dockyard at Chatham. There are numerous members of the forum whose sphere of interest is naval facilities on the North Kent coast. So hopefully one or more of them can help you - or, at least, point you in a direction that might enable you to make progress toward finding an answer to your question.

Online pomme homme

  • Editor
  • Prolific Contributor
  • *****
  • Posts: 8978
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #188 on: October 20, 2023, 18:02:48 pm »
Sorry. It appears that my optimism was misplaced. Assuming that you have not approached it already, why not try the Chatham Historic Dockyard? Its e-mail address, for research enquiries, is collections@chdt.org.uk

Offline Blue Print Research

  • Newcomer
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Chatham Dockyard
« Reply #189 on: October 21, 2023, 22:49:33 pm »
Sorry. It appears that my optimism was misplaced. Assuming that you have not approached it already, why not try the Chatham Historic Dockyard? Its e-mail address, for research enquiries, is collections@chdt.org.uk.

Thank you.  I visited and have met the very helpful collections department.  However- more digging to go!