Britain's Victorian

Navy and Army

in old photographs


- with special reference to H.M.S. Defiance, a famous Torpedo School and Submarine Mining Establishment near Plymouth, Devon, England.

A Steve Johnson Cyber Heritage site, bringing to you the rare and different.




Well, that has got you interested I bet - what a cracker of a photo!

....it was taken in circa 1897 in the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich Arsenal which is just outside of London.
All the amazing photos that are waiting to be discovered by you on this page are quite big, but they are all real goodies.They all lie below the hyperlinks describing them, I hope that you will have as much fun downloading them as I did in the first place finding them. Now, where did I find them? They are all taken from

Navy and Army Illustrated

which are bound volumes of this 19th and early 20th century military periodical. Each one is a feast of Victorian and Edwardian military and naval imagery. They are kept for public reference at the Local Studies section of the Plymouth Central Library,in the county of Devon,in South West England, where the very helpful staff will help you as a pilot on your personal voyage of discovery through history.


When my son was little,he had a very inquiring mind and would come with me on dark, cold and wet winter evenings into the peace of the library where the only sound would be the buzz of the fluorescent lights and the tick of the clock on the wall as we ran out of time...the rattle of the caretakers keys politely telling us it was time to go home. Most of these photos were picked by him, he is now a man, yet the harvest of those long dark nights when a young boy`s imagination turned a potentially dull library into a vast playground for a young greedy mind, is now here for you...a traveller in cyberspace in some far land. e-mail

I f you really like these pictures just hop on a plane and come on over and see them for yourself in the library!!!! Enough of all this, bring on the photographs.


They don`t build them like this anymore!! A view of the torpedo boat destroyer HMS Opposum and HMS Benbow a battleship of the line.OK,OK, yeah I know these take a while to download, but look at them, and it is still cheaper than the air fare over to here!!

HMS Defiance

was a Royal Naval Torpedo school close to Plymouth. Actually it was located across the tidal part of the Tamar estuary known as the Hamoaze in the sleepy riverside town of Torpoint...called in earlier times the "New Ground", it enjoyed early prosperity due to it`s proximity to Devonport Dockyard, or Dock as it was initially called. Part of the curriculum in this school was the firing of LIVE explosive submarine mines and Whitehead Torpedos. These were fired up the river and really went bang! Some people today moan about the Army firing blanks on the Moors.....different world today. These images tell it all: Torpedo readied for firing in the Lynher River, as you can see, houses are not exactly too far away! Mines are loaded with guncotton and flotation barrels attached Perhaps it looks more like cooking than something more than just than fizz. Here we see an Outrigger torpedo, go bang: this was not a torpedo as we think of it today, more a bomb on a stick....it was easy..just sneak up on a ship and bang, unless by any slight chance they should spot you of course. Note how close to the housing this is. It is not a trick of perspective in the camera, it really is that close. Ashore, or in the floating hulks that made up the school, mines were readied and technique taught. The way magnetism and electrics worked in mine warfare was hammered out in these ornate labs. Men, fine bodies of men, made Defiance tick. Their laughter and gaiety would have made a Sunday afternoon in Saltash or Torpoint sparkle. Here they are...in their uniforms and in their lives they made our heritage.



And of course there was the boss, the Commanding Officer Captain Henry Bradwardine Jackson R.N.. What stories he could tell.


UNIFORMS

These days there is much interest in historic military uniforms, well in that case this little lot will really get you on the go...Enjoy
ROYAL NAVY.....SOU` WESTER
26th MIDDLESEX....on their bikes!
ROYAL NAVAL STOKER IN BLUE.
14th HUSSARS.
1st GRENADIERS.
OKEHAMPTON, DARTMOOR, DEVON, Army camp staff.
ROYAL NAVAL WHITE SUNDAY DRESS.
ROYAL NAVAL WORKING RIG.
R.N. sailors at Western King Point, Stonehouse, Plymouth.
ARGYLL and SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS Piper Major.
BATALLION SGT.MAJOR. His name is Carnaghan.
SAILORS AND GUNCOTTON.
GRENADIER GUARDS.
GUNNERY INSRUCTOR R.N. His name is Wroe.
LONDON and SCOTTISH Drum Major.
LOST, STOLEN or STRAYED, HORSEGUARDS Photo Tableau.
FOUND! HORSEGUARDS Photo Tableau.
SAILOR and LASS.....girlfriend.
WATER DUTIES
SAILORS CHATTING.
PLYMOUTH CITADEL SENTRY.
VETERANS
A SOLDIER....BEFORE TRAINING AND AFTER.
ROYAL HOUSEHOLD RECRUIT BEFORE TRAINING.
ROYAL HOUSEHOLD RECRUIT AFTER TRAINING.

GUNS

These guns are so huge when compared to almost all in use today. These inventions pushed available technology to the limit. Heavy is a word that springs to mind.
The following images are of activities at HMS Cambridge, a naval gunnery school at Devonport, Plymouth.

Steve Johnson Cyber Heritage has published a web page especially devoted to H.M.S. Cambridge.


H.M.S. Cambridge is represented on this page by:

BROADSIDE OF BREECH LOADING HEAVY GUNS ABOUT TO BE FIRED BY ELECTRICITY
QUICK FIRING (Q.F.) GUN DRILL ON OPEN DECK
SHIP`S LIGHT GUN READIED FOR LANDING PARTY

WHALE ISLAND

at Portsmouth played an important role in naval training. Here we have images relating to gunnery instruction.
The gun shed held a fine collection of early breech loaders for insructional use. Also held were an equally fine collection of muzzle loaders. These seem to have a Jules Verne look to them. Seamen were taught the different kinds of land and naval ammunition with "safety to themselves and destruction to the enemy."Drill ordnance was kept in an "Ammunition Room."NOTICE! the Brass Monkeys on the walls.


Moving these guns about was not an easy task, they were after all a tad on the heavy side, these photos show how it was done. Possibly a little like how the Pyramids in Egypt were built?
10inch Breech Loading gun.

10inch Muzzle Loading gun.
110 ton gun.
10inch Muzzle Loading gun on legs.
10inch Muzzle Loading gun on the move.


With all these guns they had to do some Target practice, either at sea, or on a land range, such as this one at Okehampton on Dartmoor. Records indicate that over 2,000,000+ inert projectiles were fired at sea from either land forts or coastal defences, or from ships. The fishermen were not amused. While ashore on on leave sevicemen were billeted in barracks, look at the decor.


Here are some varied pictures that I`m sure that you will love. They have given me much interest, hope they do for you too.
A NAVAL PINNACE CARRIES A LIVE OUTRIGGER TORPEDO ON THE RIVER LYNHER AT H.M.S. DEFIANCE.
THE AMMUNITION ROOM ON THE FLOATING HULK OF H.M.S. CAMBRIDGE
LOOK AT THESE SPANNERS ON THESE MINES AT H.M.S. DEFIANCE.
THIS ONE IS CALLED "SPONGE AND LOAD."
THE GUN DECK ON H.M.S. NORTHUMBERLAND.
LOADING GUN COTTON INTO SUBMARINE MINES AT H.M.S. DEFIANCE.
FISHERY PROTECTION....or waving a big stick!
JACK (nickname for a sailor) AT DINNER....notice the guns and shells as company for dinner!
AMMUNITION INSTRUCTION AT WHALE ISLAND, PORTSMOUTH.
ARTILLERY SHELLS IN A LOT AT THE FOUNDRY.
COLLECTION OF ARTILLERY SHELLS AT ROYAL LABORATORY, WOOLWICH ARSENAL.
HOW MUCH DOES THIS ARTILLERY SHELL WEIGH?...quite a bit!


Here is a map to explain where all the "action" took place. Defiance is at the top left estuary opposite Wearde Quay, and runs around the shoreline to Looking Glass point, both afloat and ashore; in fact Wearde Quay is in the background of some of the photographs that show how close things were to habitation. Cambridge is at the entrance to the estuary at mid bottom left close by Sango Island, where the hulks were afloat in the deep water close by the mudflats, with some shore accomodations, especially the Rifle Range which is still in military use today and can be seen on this map. Plymouth is the large built up area on the whole of the right. The Tamar river is the large estuary in the centre running from top to bottom.

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