Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Thames Iron Works, Royal Dockyard Officers and the Perkins Identification Albums

In my maritime meanderings, genealogy type questions arise such as: where and how to find images of ships, or my ancestor worked on the Thames, or at the Dockyards.

Often the most valuable references will not be found on the internet, but in a book. And often only in a special library. These 3 titles are ones I came across recently.  
River Thames
Thames River © Penny Allen

© Penny Allen
picture of the book cover
1.   British Warship Recognition: The Perkins Identification Albums Vol. I: Capital Ships 1895-1939 ISBN: 9781848323827
    This is a very new publication for Pen & Sword within their Seaforth maritime series. The images in the book are from the photo collections of Richard Perkins who donated his albums to the National Maritime Museum. Before publication, these images were accessible only by appointment at the National Maritime Museum.
    Another book, Volume II (ISBN 9781848323865) of this title is set to be published very soon.
                    Never before published!

2.    Royal Dockyards Officers List - I heard about this list from another researcher. It was compiled by a 'Commander May' from National Archives resources. This Dockyards Research Guide at the National Maritime Museum explains that 'In the 17th and 18th centuries there were six Royal Navy dockyards in England, at Deptford, Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth and Plymouth. There were also a number of outports in England and overseas yards, including Gibraltar, Halifax and Jamaica.' (Enquire at the National Maritime Museum)

3.    The Thames Iron Works 1837-1912 : A Major Shipbuilder on the Thames by Daniel Harrison ISBN: 9781907586347

© Penny Allen
picture of the book cover
    The introduction explains that the book particularly outlines the details of the archaeological dig and the operations of the company. However, Mr. Harrison also notes that the shipyard 'reflects industrial and economic trends of both London and the nation during the period from the 1830s to the first decade of the 20th century'.(p.3)
    Some of the resources used are: Thames Iron Works Gazette (TIWG) (a periodical produced by the company) and an historical catalogue produced when the Thames Iron Works had a display at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1911. It is available at the Science Museum. 
    There are very few references to names of staff, and I didn't see an obvious listing of employees or an indication of where to look for staff records. 
    Perhaps they are hidden amongst the Thames Iron Works Gazette (TIWG) and only need to be indexed by an enthusiastic volunteer! 
    The Museum of the Docklands and the Greenwich Heritage Centre would also be a research library that may have further information.  

If you have any further information, or know of a resource for finding staff records, please leave a comment. 

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