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Thursday, 20th December 2007

ka The Duke of Wellington. In 1995 The Times ran an article explaining that our public figures are not paid to the same level as their historic counterparts. In 1831 The Duke of Wellington was paid £4,022 per annum with an annual pension of £13,168 for being 1st Lord of the Treasury. John Major was pulling £55,000 for being Prime Minister and £33,189 for being an MP (total £89,089). As PM he also doubles up as the 1st Lord of the Treasury.

Well the Duke's wages were the 1995 equivalent to £743,000 per annum. Major was only earning 12% of that. It gets worse though (or better depending on your viewpoint.) If you add 2% wage inflation, which is not unreasonable, the Duke would be basking in a salary of £17 million per annum.

Mind you I would suggest this difference in salary accurately reflects the standing that these two people have with the British public.

There is another difference between these two public figures, John Major does not get a ship named after him and this is the thrust of the article.

In 1904 the ship was sold as scrap for the princely sum of £8,350

Now I do not know about you but I do enjoy the tactical elements of sea battles, perhaps not everyones cup of tea but many a night I can be found curled up with a darn good book on the subject. I digress but it gives you a reason for the article beyond political back-biting.

The Iron Duke, or at least a fair likeness of him, can be found in Players, Ships Figureheads Card #9. The figurehead looks rather disdainful and that is just right. The figurehead itself is quite something, carved from a single block of wood it weighed 4 tons.

The ship it was 'strapped' to began life in 1849 at Pembroke Dockyard and was going to be a sailing ship. However steam was overtaking sail and near to completion the ship was converted from sail to steam.

The catch was a sailing ship does not need an engine room but a steamship does. So an engine room had to be created. Simple they cut the ship in half and lengthened it. They do the same sort of thing with those stretched Limo's you see.

Launched in Sept 1852 it was called the 'Windsor Castle' but before its completion the Duke of Wellington died so Queen Victoria renamed it, 'Duke of Wellington.'

It was the largest ship of its age at 278 feet long and 60 feet in breadth with a capacity for 140 guns.

The Duke of Wellington was to be the flagship until it was replaced by 'The Victory' in 1891. The Duke of Wellington then performing the task of tender, a reversal of their previous roles.

The destiny of the ship was once considered to be very much entwined with that of the figurehead, one not being able to sink without the other. The figurehead was considered the ship's soul.
Often they were of scantily clad women (fear not the Duke was wrapped up warm) because there was a feeling that storms could be quelled by a woman revealing herself to the elements. Which is certainly something to keep in mind.

In 1904 the ship was sold as scrap for the princely sum of £8,350 (It originally cost, £156,881 to build.) In 1909 the figurehead was removed and taken back to Davenport.

In 1912 HMS Iron Duke was built in Portsmouth (completed 1914). This monster cost over £2,000,000 and was one of a class of four. It was also the last coal burning British Battleship and was the flagship of Lord Jellicoe at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Number One in the series, Stephen Mitchell, British Warships [1915], adds the fact that the 'Iron Duke' has ten 13.5 inch guns, sixteen 6 inch quick firers and five submerged torpedo tubes

Now really if you have not read about the Battle of Jutland do so right now. It was the biggest naval battle of WW1 which probably makes it the biggest ever. Midway was probably bigger but as it was entirely fought in the air it was not much of a naval battle really. Interestingly Engadine a British seaplane carrier was at Jutland but was used to tow a damaged cruiser rather than contribute. It was also the battle where the Invincible and the Indefatigable were blown to pieces along with the Queen Mary. The battle was momentous but Jellicoe failed to press home any of the many advantages that presented themselves although it could hardly be considered his fault.

Size Matters

The cards have a small disagreement about displacement and the like of this great vessel. Brooke Bond suggests it weighed 25000 tons and was 580 feet long. But Carreras suggests it weighed 26250 tons and was 623 feet long. They both agree on the speed though. that being 21 knots.

I have a reference book here which fails to give a weight but agrees with the idea that it was 580 feet long but travelled at 20 knots.

Stephen Mitchell, British Warships [1915]

Obviously there is something going on here and the reason is pretty simple, he says.

Clearly something is a-foot here (or maybe not).

The overall length was 623 feet which was the absolute measurement. A length of 580 feet is possible 'between perpendiculars.' Not as painful as a 'carry on' movie would have you believe, this is the measurement between the foremast and the aftermost bulkheads (please don't ask me to identify these things.)

The 614 feet measurement is arrived at by taking the measurement at the waterline.

The matter of weight is trickier for the simple reason there is no real 'official' weight for the ship. The consensus of opinion is the ship weighed 25,000 tons which was the design displacement. Then there is the matter of her load displacement which was likely to have altered over her career.

Ogdens, Leaders of Men [1924] The Duke himself
Another pair

Apart from the two Dukes I have described above there were another pair, of Dukes. One rather more important than the other.

The first 'Iron Duke' was to join the fleet in 1871. Although only 18 years separated this ship from the Duke of Wellington design had changed radically. No longer could it be considered a 'wooden wall' for the simple reason it was made of iron. It was something of a hybrid however as it sported three masts and plenty of sail cloth despite the steam power.

This ship was involved in an unfortunate accident in Sept 1875 when it rammed and sank the Vanguard, a sister ship, off the Irish Coast. Both these ships appear in Cousis, Warships [1904] Mind you this set was so comprehensive if you could not find a warship you could be forgiven for thinking it might not exist.

Eventually I suppose it had to happen but the Duke of Wellington was pushed further back into the public consciousness and the Royal Navy named an infantry landing craft 'The Duke of Wellington.' Actually it was a converted merchant ship by all accounts. Names come and go and it is a fact The Iron Duke is a name which will last forever within the Navy, a ship bearing that name having taken part in the Balkans crisis of 1999.