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Development of British Warships 1860-1906: A Photographic Record Hardcover – 20 Aug 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Maritime (20 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844159809
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844159802
  • Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 2 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 962,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Taylor on 30 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most people knowing the somewhat uneven quality of Pen & Sword Maritime books, were probably apprehensive that this book would be a repeat of the same photographs seen so often before. And that it would be a rehash of old views of the Victorian Royal Navy as a reactionary force, fighting to keep away from progress.

Well this book has confounded those fears , although it has faults of it's own.

It's actually two books. One is concise history of the period, taking all the best of the modern view from Parkes to Lambert, David Brown, Beeler, and Preston . Nicolas Dingle studied under Andrew Lambert and he obviously spent his time well.
Nothing very much new but a good solid account, albeit without any tabular information or plans.

Secondly it's a book of photographs seldom seen before, which alone makes it worthwhile. The photos are all from the collection of the Naval Construction Department of the MOD, or as I still prefer to call them, the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors. These photos were transferred into the ADM series of the National Archives on the disbanding of the RCNC. Almost certainly the only good thing to come out of that act of political wanton destruction by an ill-advised government.

However the narrative and the photos do not sit easily together. As Mr Dingle's photo sources were so limited he has often used much later photographs of many of the earlier ships, or in some cases, was unable to use any. This means we do not get views of some important vessels and others are shown in a form far different from their original. For example Minotaur and Northumberland have only later views as three masted vessels, rather than with their original awe-inspiring five masts .
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Cook on 28 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
It always surprises me how many people produce '5 star reviews' for books that cannot possibly qualify for that. This is a good example. I always start with the title- here, '1860 - 1906 A photographic Record'- which it is not.

Really this is a case of presenting a single collection of photos from that period that have not been published before (a very good thing in itself) and then adding a long and rather rambling text- in whch I have detected no really original research. This text provides a general history of British ships of the period: there is a fair amount of technical detail but you have to wade through the narative to find it- why no tabulated data? There are better and much more original accounts, from Parks to Ballard to Beeler and Burt. Since many buyers will already have some of these original accounts they will not want the unadvertised text in this one anyway.

There are only six illustrations of the numerous broadside and central battery ships of the 1860's and '70's so the photographic record there is 'thin' indeed, although for readers interested in cruisers, gunboats, etc, there are quite a few of these- it's not all about battleships. Unfortunately many pictures are rather over- exposed and many would benefit from larger scale reproduction.

If I had been responsible for this as a 'photographic record' I would have significantly increased the page width to present the pictures in the best possible way and added photos from other sources to ensure all significant ship- types could be seen. Then I'd drastically cut down on the extraneous text and would have added consistent tabular details. The book would then be what it claims to be in the title and for that reason alone should deserve more 'stars'. I am conscious that this is an expensive book and most buyers will want to find inside what it claims to provide on the cover.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ned Middleton HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 6 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Far more than a collection of photographs, this is the story of the Royal Navy’s evolution from sail to steam and the conversion from fixed, broadside, muzzle-loading cannon to swivel-mounted, breach loading weapons. It was a period when technology moved so fast that the latest designs applied to vessels as they were laid down were all but obsolete by the time the ship was launched.

Until this book arrived on my desk, I was under the impression the National Archives at Kew (formerly The Public Records Office) existed only to provide documents and information. I was completely unaware this excellent repository held any photographs apart from those which formed part of, say, evidence for famous court cases and other important events. From this book, however, I was fascinated to learn that all the excellent images came from this particular source. By tapping into this under-used photographic library, many of the images within this book have not previously been published.

With those images acting as the foundation, author Nicholas Dingle builds a comprehensive document as he takes the reader through this tumultuous time in the Royal Navy’s history. In so doing he covers the wide spectrum of different classes of ship as he draws the reader’s attention, by way of extended photograph captions, to each latest innovation, improvement and detail as we move firstly from wooden to ironclad hulls and latterly from fully rigged ships to minimal rigging.

The equally comprehensive sections of Notes and Bibliography at the end reveal the level of study undertaken and the many resources consulted during the production of this quite excellent work.

The only down side is one of nostalgia.
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