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Clydebank Battlecruisers: Forgotten Photographs from John Brown's Shipyard Hardcover – Illustrated, 15 Sep 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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  • Clydebank Battlecruisers: Forgotten Photographs from John Brown's Shipyard
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  • A Shipyard at War: Unseen Photographs from John Brown's, Clydebank 1914 - 1918
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  • The Battleship Builders: Constructing and Arming British Capital Ships
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Seaforth Publishing (15 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848321139
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848321137
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 1.9 x 26 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 423,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Although this is essentially a picture book, it is a cut above most illustrated volumes because of the very high standard of images reproduced and the story they tell of shipbuilding in the early 20th century. - Ships Monthly While this new publication is essentially a 'picture book', using rare and largely unpublished photographs from the John Brown archive, it is also much more than that, recording in detail not only the construction of the ships concerned. The photographs, which constitute the primary focus of the book, are simply stunning, and are given plenty of space to 'breathe' by the book's designer...overall content and otherwise excellent production values of the book. Clydebank Battlecruisers has to be on of the outstanding publications of the year, and anyone with an interest in the major ships of the grand Fleet or shipbuilding on the Clyde will want to own it. - Warship 2012

About the Author

Ian Johnston, a graphic designer with a lifetime s interest in ships and shipbuilding, is the author of Clydebank Battlecruisers, and The Battleship Builders, co-authored with Ian Buxton. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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