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Clydebank Battlecruisers: Forgotten Photographs from John Brown's Shipyard
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2011
As an ex professional warship photographer ( C & S Taylor ) and a great admirer of pre-1920 ship photography I was looking forward to this book. The quality of the period's really big negatives on glass plates, each individually developed, gave superb results difficult to achieve even with today's technology.

Now it is finally available, am I pleased with this book ?

Resoundingly YES, on many levels.

The photography is, as expected, superb, well chosen, and on the whole well reproduced. Good quality paper has helped.
We were lucky that John Brown built such a representative selection of battlecruisers (Inflexible, Australia, Tiger, Repulse and Hood) which covers almost all the RN classes. Each of these five ships has very full chapter of wonderfull images.

But that's not all. I had expected the text to be somewhat pedestrian, merely re-iterating what is available in standard works. Not so, the author has delved deep into archives not only of John Brown but other prime sources , giving the reader an unusual view of the practicalities of warship design, politics and construction. For example the split of the detailed design work between the various yards building each class is fully explained, and one of the best précis of the Repulse and Renown class design from official sources which I have ever seen. And much design minuteae not given before.
Indeed in many respects the text is as valuable as the photos. Anyone interested in British warship design and construction of the period will find it informative, even if their interest in battlecruisers is minimal !

There are plans and explanations of the yard itself, giving a background to the detail in the photos.
Plus several appendices and a somewhat limited index and bibliography.

Overall the book is not only, as expected, a treat for the eyes, but a very valuable contribution to the naval historians knowledge.

Very highly recommended
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2012
Although this is essentially a 'picture book' there is also a fascinating description of the procurement process for each ship. This shows how well organized the Admiralty and the DNC's department was and had to be during a period of massive warship construction programs. It's particularly interesting to note which shipyards were chosen and which were not, how the costs were 'broken down', and to see how both the detailed design and fabrication were sensibly 'shared out' between the companies building ships of the same class.

There are 24 pages on 'Inflexible' but 56 on 'Hood'- though in fairness as time went by it seems the photographic record grew larger. There is no obvious rationale behind these photos, which were taken by professional photographers employed by the shipyard and thus must have been very expensive: they seem to have been taken mainly just for the company archives. Most show the ships in nearly complete state- I'd have liked more showing the early stages, and some showing interiors- but probably these simply are not available.

Picture quality is generally good since these were long- exposure glass plate photographs which often show fine detail- though some seem to be a little over exposed here and many were clearly taken on dark and misty Scottish days: I imagine waiting for fine weather was a fruitless waste of time! The book is nicely made, though a higher gloss paper may have improved reproduction a little. All considered, though, this is a very interesting book: the criticisms are due more to the raw material available than to the efforts of the author and publisher.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2012
In one sense this of course is a book for the real aficionados taking an interest in a rather narrow subject: old warships being built - and hardly a shot being fired.
But anyone interested in naval warfare surely will learn something new, either from the text or from studying the exquisite old glass-plate based photographs with their amazing level of details.
The book deals with the construction of 5 British battlecruisers, at a privately owned shipyard during the period 1905-1920.
The battlecruisers in many ways represented the apogee of warship design of all times. In their days they were unrivalled in their combination of speed and hitting power. They were born during a period where the level of innovation in design was faster than ever, as the book clearly demonstrates when comparing the first ship, HMS Inflexible with the last one, laid down only 10 years later: HMS Hood. New technologies were developed at a fast pace and immediately put to use in the ships.
A chapter is devoted to each of the 5 ships, starting out with a lengthy explanation of commercial, design and practical issues faced by the yard. This introduction is followed by many pages of photographs taken during the construction and fitting out. Small explanatory texts point out interesting details in the photos but there is a lot more to be found by the keen reader.
At the end of the book, appendices provide more details on various relevant subjects, and the reader only ends up wishing that there were more.
The appearance of the book is beautiful, each spread is nicely laid out and pleasing to the eye. In fact the book could easily match whatever else is sold for the coffee table, but maybe the subject still is a bit too specialized for the average coffee table guest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This photo-led work is an excellent compilation of images from John Brown’s shipyard on Clydebank. Whereas I never tire of looking at such historic photos, there are ships and there are ships and those depicted in this book rank amongst some of the greatest warships ever built. The five Battlecruisers built by John Brown’s are detailed in the order; Inflexible (24 pages), Australia (26), Tiger (28), Repulse (32) and the Mighty Hood (56). These are followed by an overview of the G3 contract which was cancelled in 1922. The book then concludes with 10 Appendices, Sources & Bibliography and Index.

Taking the Inflexible as an example of the way in which each subject vessel is tackled, we find the complete story of this ship in between images of the highest possible calibre. Bearing in mind the book’s full title, these photographs show almost every conceivable angle and feature. Four triple-blade propellers, twin rudders, stem, hull and so much more are shown in a series of pre-launch pictures which even include one of her steam launch. After her launch, we find photographs which include; deck views, amidships, aft section, stem, boat stowage, workmen taking a break on the foc’sle deck, bridge, turrets, the two starboard 125 cwt Wasteney Smith stockless anchors close up to the hawse pipes, upper control platforms, weapons, aft funnel, boat deck, steam siren, searchlight, ratings asleep below decks, refrigeration plant, Admiral’s cabin and a number of ship portraits both steaming at full power, stopped in the water. The other vessels mentioned are given the same treatment with even more images per ship.

From this selection of previously unpublished images one begins to gain an appreciation of the amount of work which went into the three year building and fitting-out process for such weapons of war. That detail is then made all the more interesting by the inclusion of sufficient text to whet the appetite and, although not exhaustive, answer most of the questions one might have.

Altogether, this is an excellent product where many of the images simply leap from the page.

NM
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2012
The images in this book taken from full plate images are so sharp and atmospheric that you often feel that you are back on the Clyde on a crisp clear day. You can take a magnifying glass and pick out even more detail. It is hard to believe these scenes now as you stand looking across John Brown's fitting out basin. The text is worthy but its the pictures that make this book an absolute must.
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on 21 November 2012
This is,by far,the best book i've ever read. Magnificent,i lack words to tell you how much i liked this book. I've read it twice and my friends are standing in line to borrow it,but i've told them to buy one for themselves.
There should be moore titles to buy,since the subjekt,RN in it's glory days and shipbuilding in the UK,is of a world interest. If anyone knows of moore titles in this subjekt please let me know. Goes whitout saying, the seller was 100 percent as well. Thank you very much for this magnificent book! j-a l
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2012
This book could easily have been a pot-boiler with a selection of familar photos reproduced to an indifferent standard. But instead, the reader is presented with an excellent selection of pin-sharp photos, which really bring this shipyard and these ships to life; in all honesty, they cannot really be faulted. The informative informative captions are just the icing on the cake.

The "angle" might be Clydebank, but anyone with the slightest interest in the Grand Fleet will enjoy this book and re-read it many times. It is worth buying alone for the superb series of photos of HMS Tiger, almost ready to be commissioned in late 1914 - and arguably the most handsome major warship of the first world war.

When one considers what it offers, this books is cheap at the price; snap up a copy while you can. I strongly suspect this is one of those books which, once out of print, will soon command a healthy premium over the original price.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2011
This is a really excellent book full of previously unpublished photographs. The quality is first class with many unusual on board shots showing fantastic detail. Highly recomended for anyone with an interest in these types of ship. A welcome addition to my collection.

Geoff
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2012
The discovery of these wonderful photo,s are a rare glimpse back into our industrial hereitage of the past Centuary.It is a glimpse of the Nation's strength at the height of the British Empire - a scene never to be repeated.In a way it goes beyond the Battle ships themselves (although the photo's would be a God - send to any avid model maker!)to an innocent era when Britain really did rule the waves.Highly recommended - let the photo's talk to you!
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on 11 December 2014
Best illustrated dockyard photos ever. Well worth it.
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