HL Deb 29 June 1860 vol 159 cc1181-6

wished to ask a question of his noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty on a subject of much importance in the navy. The Secretary of the Admiralty was reported to have said, in answer to an inquiry made of him in "another place," that Trotman's anchors were not in general use in the navy, because they were objected to by the profession generally; and there were very few officers who did not object to use them. He (the Earl of Hardwicke) was there to deny that; and he would show their Lordships in a few words that Trotman's anchors had undergone great trials by order of the Admiralty, and with the most successful results. The results were given in an official paper, which he at that moment held in his hand. The Secretary of the Admiralty was further reported to have said that officers might, if they chose, have this anchor; but he (the Earl of Hardwicke) had before him the records of instances in which officers had applied for it and had not got it. The late Sir William Peel applied to have one of them for his frigate. He was answered in an official letter, which stated, "Trotman's anchor may be supplied if in store, but no new anchors can be ordered, as the establishment of anchors is complete." As Trotman's anchors were not then in store, and there had never been any in store since, it was of course impossible that captains could get them. That was an answer to the statement of the Secretary of the Admiralty that officers might have them if they liked. Where did their Lordships suppose the only Trotman's anchor now in the navy was to be found? To the bow of what ship did it hang? It hung to the bow of the ship the welfare of which every one of them had more at heart than that of any other vessel afloat—namely, the yacht of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. That was the only Trotman's anchor the navy had ever had, and that one had been tested aboard the Royal yacht to the extent of more than once breaking the cable. He should now go to what was stated in the report of those gentlemen who were appointed to test the several kinds of anchors submitted to the Admiralty. Those gentlemen gave a summary of the results of these experiments, which showed the Admiralty anchor to be the worst of all, and Trotman's to be the best. When the comparative values came to be collected, the Admiralty anchor was found to stand at 18.17, and Trotman's at 23.30, the latter being higher than any other tested. The Admiralty anchor, taken as the standard at 1, was worst but one of all those which were tried. Trotman's was 28 per cent better. The result of all the experiments was that Trotman's was the best under all the trials, which were very long and numerous. He thought the statement about Trotman's anchor being objected to by officers in the navy arose from that anchor having been by some officers confounded with Porter's. But the report of the trials stated that, when competing with Trotman's, Porter's anchor failed to bite till it had slipped along the ground to a length of fifty feet, while Trotman's bit at once. The principle in which Trot- man's anchor was constructed enabled it to bite readily, and to maintain a very firm hold on the ground. He was sure that a statement of these facts would induce the noble Duke to do justice in this case—justice, not to Mr. Trotman, but to the service generally. He should now mention a fact which went far to show the great merits of this anchor. There was a shank-pin which was put in under the crown, and in consequence of the crown being secured in that way a doubt had existed as to the strength of the anchor. An accident had, however, proved its wonderful strength, and that it did not depend upon the shank-pin. The pin was lost from a model which he now held in his hand, and a common quill toothpick was inserted in its stead in order that the fluke might not be lost. Any of their Lordships might catch the fluke under a board, or any other substance, and they would find that the model would not give way at the place where the toothpick served the purpose of a shank-pin. [The noble Earl illustrated his remark by producing a small model of a Trotman's anchor, and subjecting its holding powers to several tests.] That was enough to convince him that notwithstanding this joint the strength of Trotman's anchor was as great in the crown as that of any other anchor of a different construction. For sake of form he should conclude by asking the noble Duke opposite whether he had any intention to order Trotman's anchors to be supplied to the ships in Her Majesty's navy.


said, that one would have supposed from the speech of the noble Earl that great blame was to be attached to the present Board of Admiralty for not having given a fair trial to Trotman's anchor. It was not the present but the late Board, however, which he had now to defend in regard to this matter, and he hoped that, should occasion arise when he quitted his present position, some noble Lord opposite would perform the same kind office for himself. It was a very remarkable fact that this anchor, if it held nowhere else, had, at least, very strong holding ground in the lobby of the House of Commons. That was where it bit best, and in that respect it certainly excelled all other anchors. Of course, therefore, he had not long been in office before this anchor was brought under his notice. He inquired what course the former Board had pursued in regard to it, and found that a long correspondence had taken place be- tween Mr. John Trotman and Mr. Corrie, the Secretary to the Admiralty. In February, 1859, Mr. Corrie wrote that the Admiralty held that Trotman's anchor, while undoubtedly an improvement, was but a slight modification of Porter's anchor, which had been condemned in Her Majesty's ships notwithstanding that it had been most extensively tried, and of which there were many remaining in the dockyard. "It is true," Mr. Corrie added, "that in Trotman's anchor the size of the projecting part of the fluke is increased so as to cause it to bite the ground, but that does not alter the principle of the anchor, which holds well when once it gets into the ground, but no one can tell, when it is let go, whether it has taken the ground or not." Then, again, in March, 1859, Mr. Corrie wrote to say that the Board were willing to test the anchor on board two of Her Majesty's ships, if anchors were supplied for the purpose. Mr. Trotman replied that he considered the experiments made in 1852 sufficient to prove the merits of his invention, and "respectfully declined to become the victim of any procrastination." In April, 1859, Mr. Corrie wrote, in answer to another letter from Mr. Trotman, that the Admiralty were still prepared to afford a fair and impartial trial to the anchor on board one or more of Her Majesty's ships. All this took place before he (the Duke of Somerset) came into office. It was said that this anchor was found to be so good; but what had happened in regard to the Great Eastern? As soon as she was launched application was made to the Admiralty for an Admiralty anchor. They would not trust her to Trotman's anchor. The Great Eastern afterwards went to Holyhead. She then had only Trotman's anchor on board, and that broke in the gale. So far that was not very satisfactory. For himself he was quite unprejudiced, and was uninfluenced one way or the other. He was not defending the acts of the last Board, but before an anchor was dropped some proof of its failure ought to be given. Their Lordships would remember the great hurricane in the Black Sea. He was told that not one of Her Majesty's ships dragged her anchor, while some of the merchant ships went ashore. He had heard, although he did not vouch for the truth of the statement, that Trotman's anchor was on board some of the ships that went ashore. Before, therefore, the Admiralty could be called upon to adopt Trotman's anchor, they had a right to ex- pect that it should be fairly tried. It was not right for inventors to come to the House of Commons with their inventions, and canvass Members, calling upon them in the morning, and waiting in the lobby for them in the evening, and converting, the House of Commons, in fact, into a great advertising van for their inventions. The Government were asked why they did not take up such or such an invention; the public press called attention to the matter; and by these means a great effect was produced adverse to the Government. He considered that this was not fair to the Government, and that it ought to be left to the Departments to try the merits of these inventions. It would have been easy for him to fall into the complaint against the late Board, to say that Sir John Pakington had committed a great fault in not trying the anchor, and then to call upon their Lordships to remark how superior was the present Board. But the other course was, he thought, far more fair to the Department. The late Board would not incur the expense of discarding the anchor now in use in the navy, and adopting this particular anchor. All sorts of new inventions were every day brought to the Admiralty, but it was not the business of a public Department to be continually putting the public to enormous expense in trying new experiments. He had no objection to Trotman's anchor. From what he had seen of it, that anchor seemed to him to have many advantages, and to be very ingenious. He had asked professional persons, however, not connected with the Royal navy, what they thought of Trotman's anchor; to which they replied, "It is an excellent anchor to put away in the hold—it takes so little room." Now, it was not a great recommendation of an anchor to say that it was good to put away in a hold, and he had not heard any officers of the navy say that they would trust Her Majesty's ships to this anchor. It was said that one merit of Trotman's anchor was its lightness; but a large ship-of-war required a heavy anchor. The very weight of the anchor was a great advantage in mud, and if Trotman's were adopted it would be an advantage to have the anchor made of greater weight. He hoped that for the future that and the other House of Parliament would not give so ready an ear to the plans of inventors, but that professional questions would be left to professional men. With regard to the expense, Trotman's anchor was cheaper, be- cause it was of less weight than the Admiralty anchor. If, however, the weight were increased the cost would be proportionably greater than the Admiralty anchor, as Trotman's anchor contained a hinge, and was therefore more complicated in its manufacture.


could not but regard the reply of the noble Duke as very unsatisfactory. He held in his hand a Parliamentary document—not an advertising placard—of the cost and relative merits of the Admiralty anchor and Trotman's, every word of which was authentic and reliable. The noble Duke said it was right that Trotman's anchor should not be adopted without trial. But the trial had been made on the most extensive and expensive scale, before a competent Committee; and the result was that Trotman's came out supreme as the best of all the anchors that had been tried. If the noble Duke thought the merits of this anchor as doubtful as he affirmed, why did he persevere in perilling the safety of the Queen on this anchor alone? Would the noble Duke ask Captain Denman whether he shared his opinion about this anchor? After what the noble Duke had just said, he should expect that an Admiralty anchor would be substituted for Trotman's tomorrow. The noble Duke said this was a doubtful anchor; and yet he allowed the Royal yacht, with Her Majesty on board, to ride at that anchor. Unless that anchor were changed to-morrow—well, he was going to say something unparliamentary, but he would not. The noble Duke said that the Great Eastern, in the gale at Holyhead, broke her anchor. There could be no greater proof of the holding power of an anchor. If the noble Duke had told him the Great Eastern "drove," he would admit that the safety of the ship might have been imperilled by her anchor. When an anchor broke, however, it was the strongest instance of its holding power, and the noble Duke had therefore pronounced the greatest possible enconium upon Trotman's anchor.

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