|The HMS Illustrious from the Thames Vessels blog at |
The most famous ship to be broken up locally was the HMS Temeraire, immortalized in J.M.W. Turner's glorious painting The Fighting Temeraire, in which he depicted the magnificent ship being towed down the Thames to be broken up. I've posted about that in an earlier post, which is accompanied by a rather tragic photograph of her pitiful condition in her last days. In the mid to late 19th Century the breaking of ships was a lucrative business. The Admiralty sold unwanted warships to private companies who broke up the ships and sold off the parts. Metal fittings and wood were the most valuable parts, but even the rope was sold off.
A similar illustration was published in 1871 of the breaking that year of the marvellous HMS Queen.
|HMS Queen by Robert Strickland Thomas|
HMS Queen was brought to Rotherhithe to be broken up in in Surrey Canal Wharf, formerly one of the Beatson yards, by William Beech and Henry Castle. She was the last large warship to be broken up in Rotherhithe. She should have been worth a considerable amount of money once broken up, but on her arrival at the yard she was stranded on the foreshore by the ebbing tide and her back snapped, splitting her in two, meaning that the long lengths so desirable to purchasers were halved and much of her value was lost.
She was the last wooden warship broken this far up the Thames. The Illustrated London News covered the story on September 9th 1871, with the illustration shown on this page.