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Corrections in any of the material which follows, however tiny, would be most welcome. And additions, of course! Test.

Meanings on this page ... Arcform, bark, barque, barquentine, Blackwall frigate, brig, brigantine, cementing, clipper, coble, composite construction, corrugated ship, cutter, foyboat, galiot, holder-up, hulk, keel, keelboat, lascar, optical marking or lofting, patent log, plater, schooner, ship, sloop, snow rigged, tonnage, turtleback, 'tween decks, Warrior Class tugs, whaleback ships, woodbine funnel.

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The term 'arcform' refers to a design for cargo vessel construction, used to construct, I read, 50 ships between 1933 & 1954.

The design was created by Sir Joseph W. (William) Isherwood, (1870/1937), ('Isherwood'), a respected naval architect who earlier in his career had designed a revolutionary system of construction for seagoing vessels using a longitudinal framing system. The sides of an 'arcform' ship had the form of arcs such that the greatest breadth was at load waterline. The purpose being to promote the smooth flow of water to the propeller & so permit the vessel to have a higher speed yet a lower fuel consumption. I read however, (1933/34), re the maiden voyage of Arcwear, 'the ship suffered with heavy rolling in heavy weather, and jerky motion in calm weather. This resulted in seawater halfway up her hatches and the whole foredeck submerged under water. ... several 'Arcform' tramps were built along with some 'Arcform' tankers. On evaluation, the design was not considered to be very successful.' Have also read that the hull was described as being the shape of a wine cask on end, with the widest beam just below the waterline.

In 1934, Isherwood presented a paper to the 'North East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders', of Newcastle Upon Tyne. And that year the institution published his paper together with the discussions of the members & statistical tables, entitled 'The Arcform Ship: Trials and First Voyage Performances'. Copies of the paper seem to be available.

A drawing of 'Arcwear', thanks to Tony Frost. The image is available in a larger size here.

And a most interesting image of English Trader, 3953 gross tons, built in 1934 as Arctees, using the 'Arcform' design. The image shows very well the hull shape. The ship was not built at Sunderland, rather at the Haverton-Hill-on-Tees shipyard of Furness Ship Building Company Ltd. - for Arctees Shipping Company Ltd.  A Wapedia page states that the vessel was initially named Arches, a name not referenced, however, at Miramar. The vessel was sold, in 1936, to Trader Navigation Company Ltd. & was renamed English Trader. The image shows the stern section of English Trader, under circumstances that follow.

On Jan. 23, 1937, English Trader entered Dartmouth Harbour to rebunker - with a cargo of grain bound, I read, for the Argentine. The steering gear failed & the vessel ran aground on the Checkstone Ledge, off Dartmouth Castle, at the entrance to the harbour. She was most firmly aground & in 10 days of trying, 4 tugs & a Royal Navy destroyer could not drag her off. They decided to cut the vessel into two pieces, which process took 19 days. The undamaged rear section (depicted) was towed stern first into Dartmouth, later moved to Southampton & eventually was rebuilt at the South Shields yard of The Middle Docks & Engineering Company. By the addition of a new bow section. The old bow section presumably was eventually freed & was later scrapped.


I understand that the term 'barque' refers to a vessel which i) has three (or more) masts, and ii) has fore-and-aft sails on the aftermost (or mizzen) mast and square sails on the other masts. Most 'barques' had three masts but some 'barques' did have four or five masts.

For more information on the subject, go here.

The 1931 image that follows is of Herzogin Cecilie, a 3242 ton 4-masted barque, built by Rickmers at Bremerhaven, Germany, in 1902. I understand that the vessel was wrecked, near Salcombe, on Apl. 24, 1936. An eBay item, in Feb. 2013 - described by eBay vendor 'scottbase' as being 'A fine stirring image of crew going aloft to handle sail'.


I understand that the term 'barquentine' refers to a vessel which i) has three (or more) masts, and ii) has square sails on the foremast & fore-and-aft sails on all of the other masts.


I understand that the term 'Blackwall Frigate' refers to a 3-masted fully-rigged fast-sailing ship whose sides were pierced with gun openings, so the vessels could become war ships if that proved necessary. Later such vessels were constructed rather to look as though they were armed, to ward off pirates perhaps, with imitation gun ports. The first such vessels were built at the Wigram and Green shipyard on the river Thames at Blackwall, London, hence the name.


A brig is a sailing vessel with two square rigged masts (fore and main), with the aft mast being the main mast and the taller of the two. The mainmast would carry a small fore-and-aft sail (also called a gaff sail), to enhance vessel manoeuvrability.


A sailing vessel with two masts, square rigged on the foremast & fore-and-aft rigged on the aft or main mast.

In earlier days, i.e. up to the 17th century, such a vessel was small, powered by oar as well as by sail, & square rigged on both masts.


Mori Flapan, of Sydney, Australia, (thank you, Mori) advises as follows:-

The bilge of iron ships was lined with cement to protect against corrosion and abrasion. Concrete was used in the bilge to raise the level in way of the keel to facilitate the drainage of water over the riveted angles attaching the floors so that it would go to the bilge pumps. Otherwise puddles would lie between the floors and these would accelerate corrosion. Furthermore, the cement provides an alkaline environment that keeps water sweeter and seems to inhibit corrosion better than paints that were available in the old days. Structural members and the inside of the shell plating up to the turn of the bilge were coated with cement wash. This worked fine provided it was not subject to knocks and bumps because the cement wash is rather brittle. Cement was used to line water tanks for this reason. Furthermore, if a bolt or lump of coal makes its way to the bilge, the constant movement of the ship in a seaway can cause the plate to wear by the movement of objects in the bilge. The cement protects against this problem. When we restored the tug Waratah and barque James Craig, we replaced the cement in the bilges.


A 'clipper' was a multiple-masted sailing ship of the 19th century. Designed for speed. With a large sail area. Generally narrow relative to length, and with limited freight carrying capability.

'Clippers' often were passenger or emigrant vessels and most references in this total site are to such vessels carrying emigrants to Australia & New Zealand. They did carry some cargo but the cargo they carried tended to be of high value & low volume. Tea & spices were two such cargoes. Speed of delivery was, for such cargoes, of the greatest importance.

Surviving 'clippers'? Cutty Sark in London, though, alas, seriously damaged by fire in May 2007. And City of Adelaide, a clipper ship built by famed Sunderland shipbuilder William Pile, still survives in some degree, as you can read here. Both of composite construction.

An illustration of a clipper ship is here.


An advance in the method of ship construction, an intermediate step, if you will, between wooden & iron ships.

I read that wrought iron hulled vessels were first built in the 1820s. But such vessels could not be sheathed with copper alloy (due to a chemical reaction between the metals) and the speed of the vessels would accordingly be adversely affected as weeds would grow and festoon the hulls in the tropics. Speed was at that time of the greatest importance. A composite ship, i.e. one with wooden planking over an iron frame, resolved that issue, since copper alloy could be applied to the wooden hull and fast ocean passages under sail were then possible. But the copper often did, in time, have to be replaced. The iron frame strengthened the integrity of the whole vessel. A method of construction made obsolete by the advent of steam ships.

There is a fine detailed illustration of the intricacies of composite construction, to be found on page 11 of the 'pdf' file which is available here. Ex 'The Tea Clippers: Their History and Development' by D. R. MacGregor, published in 1983 by Conway Maritime Press, of London.


The term 'corrugated ship' has been applied to a few of the vessels listed in these pages. In particular to Newton Ash & to Wingate, built in 1925 & 1914 respectively, both of which vessels come to the webmaster's mind. What the term 'corrugated' means has not been easy to establish.

Now, thanks to Tony Frost, we can provide a couple of images of a 'corrugated' ship. Which give a fine idea of what such a ship looked like. I have seen a data 'snippet' dating from 1925 (Transactions of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, Vol. 67) that states that the vessel, designed by a Mr. Haver, was 'an enormously bad vessel'. Also known as a 'Monitor' design. It rolled a lot, as I understand it, & its strength advantages were outweighed by its 'rolling' characteristics. A 1912 article in 'The Mercury', a Tasmanian newspaper, re Hyltonia, suggested, however, that the design offered 'increased steadiness at sea and greater stability'.


A foyboat or coble was a small rowboat used for decades on the Wear river & also on the river Tyne. When steamboats came into usage, the role of the foyboats became to assist in the mooring & unmooring of vessels, at coal staiths or at docks, mooring buoys, quays etc. Manned by two sturdy men, the rowed vessels would carry the vessel's heavy hauser in fulfilling this function.

I find it amazing to learn that in the days of sail, such tiny boats would meet incoming sailing vessels in the North Sea, strike a bargain with the captain, get a rope on board & tow it back to the harbour. With the assistance of the tide, a number of foyboats would work together to tow the ship into the river to it's berth & assist with the mooring ropes. They could only attempt to tow the small sailing colliers, which were only 80 ft. or so long. With the coming of paddle tugs, this stopped. With the coming of steam colliers, the foyboats were stationed near the harbour entrance & once the collier entered the harbour the foyboatmen would get the foyboat alongside, 'catch on' to the collier with a large hook, and be towed stern first up river to where the collier was to be moored.

Another astonishing role was to carry ships' 'light weight' anchors known as kedge anchors a distance away from the ship & drop it to the sea or river bed - the vessel would then haul on the anchor & gain distance towards its objective. The foyboat was then given a second kedge anchor to move & drop before the first one was pulled up. The process, known as 'kedging' would be repeated many times. The anchors were incidentally hung over the stern of the foyboat by a short length of rope - they were never put inside the boat 

All hard physical work, often performed at night & in bad weather, an occupation most dangerous.

An information sheet (click to see it larger) published by Tyne and Wear County Council Museums Service, will tell you more about their history & duties. Sunshine, a foyboat built in Sunderland in about 1880, is in the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall.

Leslie, spent all her working life in Sunderland 'foying' - owned by the Hall family since 1912. She was brought to Exeter via the inland waterway system but, with the Exeter museum closed, is now in the 'World of Boats' in Eyemouth, Scotland. A small drawing of her plans follows: Click the image for a larger image.

What did they look like? Here are some images kindly provided by a friend of the site.


A small sailing vessel, somewhat similar to a ketch, used in the North Sea & in the Baltic, most particularly in the coastal waters of Germany. Long and narrow, with a nearly flat bottom, designed to be able to sail in shallow waters. I have not spotted guidance as to such a vessel's rig.


The term 'holder-up' (or 'holder on'), refers to a member of a gang of riveters, a gang of from 3 to 5 members. Red hot rivets (a bolt-like piece of steel with a head and a smooth shank instead of a thread) were picked up by the 'holder-up' with tongs, & inserted into a hole drilled through the plates of steel that are to be joined. There he held the head of the rivet in place using a heavy steel pneumatic tool, termed a 'dolly', which jammed the rivet in place, while on the other side of the steel, the rivet was pounded with a riveting gun (or in the old days by hammers). And was flattened or domed to create essentially a second flattened head on that side. A tough job indeed, I am advised - but it sounds like the worker with the hammer had an even more physically demanding role!

The work so often was in confined spaces within the hull, with poor lighting & the deafening thunder of maybe hundreds of riveters similarly hammering away close by. A typical ship might require literally millions of rivets.


The term seems to most frequently mean a vessel that has been stripped down, moored permanently & used for storage. Pensioned off, you might say!

But Mori Flapan, of Sydney, Australia, (thank you, Mori) advises that the term can mean much more:

'I would suggest that a vessel that is hulked is: no longer intended to operate under its own power or sail; adapted to an ancillary role that is normally harbour based (but not necessarily so) such as storing coal, copra, grain, but may also be used as a lighter for transhipping cargo such as explosives between shore and seagoing steamers, or for loading coal bunkers on steamers. I have also heard of hulks being used as Bethel ships, for accommodation of prisoners, hospitals and quarantine stations, police stations, crane lighters, lightships, tank cleaning vessels, swimming baths and for use as floating dry docks. Generally hulking refers to the stripping down of a vessel from its active role as a fully operational vessel to one of these ancilliary purposes. Typically the rig and machinery are either partially or fully removed or decommissioned, and any non-essential equipment and fittings sold off (otherwise they will be stolen), and certain modifications made (e.g. increasing the size of hatchways on some coal hulks). They may be fitted with additional equipment such as for crane or coal loading elevators. In olden times, it was quite normal for a watchman to live on board, so they frequently retained part of their accommodation intact.'

I do have, I know, in this total site, references to 'hulked' vessels being used as a prison ship, & as a lightering barge.


Keelboats were shallow draught boats with oars or poles, about 40 ft. long, with both ends pointed. Flat bottomed barges. They were used to transport coal, about 20 tons in a load, from the upper reaches of the River Wear to waiting vessels at the mouth of the river. There the coal was loaded into waiting ships. Also used on the River Tyne.

I have read that in 1820, 1,001,163 tons of coal was shipped from Sunderland, a quantity which represented a remarkable 47,000 keel loads of coal & filled 7,500 colliers. By 1862, keelboats had all but disappeared, a victim of advancing technology - i.e. the railways & the coal staiths.


My dictionary tells me that a 'lascar' is 'an Oriental (originally Indian) sailor or camp follower'.


The words (thanks!) of Robert S. Hunter, of Westoe Village, South Shields.

'I was trained & worked at Bartrams from 1959 until 1973 & was brought up on what was then the new technology of 'Optical Marking'.

Prior to this, the Mould Loft drew the shape of the vessel & each individual plate full size on a huge loft floor from which wooden templates were produced which in turn were used to mark the plates for burning & shaping to size. Optical Marking reduced that practice to 1/10 the full size. 1/10 scale drawings of ship plates were produced which in turn were photographed & converted into a 1/100 scale photographic plates. The photographic plates were then placed in a projector at the top of a darkened Optical Tower & the image was projected full size image onto the plate below to be hand marked in chalk & paint and thence to the automatic burning benches. Alternatively, for different components, the 1/100 scale photographic plate was placed into a cassette which was then placed into a 'Monopol' burning machine used to control directly the burning process & the shapes to be burnt.

Essentially this was the start of 'automatic plate production' which developed into numerical control & thence computer controlled machines.

The unsung genius behind the introduction of this much more efficient process was my boss, Walter R. Mellanby, then Shipyard Director & a director of the company, who presented a paper on the whole process to 'The North East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders' in Newcastle on Mar. 9, 1959. He had the pleasure of seeing his innovation soon put into practice at Bartrams & elsewhere.'

The 'Monopol' burning machine? an interesting article about the machine is available here. Thanks to the combined efforts of Derek Maidement & Robert Hunter.

The paper ('Optical Marking and Automatic Plate Production') was published on Apl. 1, 1959 & is available i) in 'Transactions of the North East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders' Vol. 75 re 1959 at pages 247-284 & ii) 'International Shipbuilding Progress' Vol. 6 re 1959 at pages 160-183. It would be good to make the full paper available to all via these pages. If anybody has a copy, I will gladly pay for the paper to be regular mailed to Canada for scanning. And will gladly return it once scanning is complete.


A device that measures speed & distance sailed. Towed from the stern of a ship. The device had a vaned rotor, also described as rotary fins, whose revolutions were counted on a register. Also known as a 'screw log' or 'taffrail log'. Images of such devices can be seen at the bottom of this page.


The term 'plater' would seem to be a U.K. term not used elsewhere.

A plater's role is to get metal ready for welding, by cutting & forming the metal in conformity with the applicable drawings or templates. Using heavy duty cutters & burners & powerful rolling & pressing machines. Have seen the role described as being to cut, saw, straighten, bend, roughly shape & punch or drill the metal with rivet holes. A plater works with metal plate or structural steel which is thicker than 3mm or 5mm (one who works on thinner metal is termed a sheet metal worker). While they do not weld the metal they do 'tack' it - to hold the metal together for the welder to then do his job. The term seems not to apply to working on pipe - such a worker is described as a pipe-fitter.

Readers may well have improved words to describe the role. Do write to me if you wish to suggest changes to my above text.


Not an easy term to put into a few words, I find!

Essentially a sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts. How many masts? Two masts is the most common but there can be up to seven masts. Thomas W. Lawson, built in 1902 by 'Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company', of Massachusetts, had seven masts and its tallest mast reached an amazing 155 ft. above the deck.

The basic plan has two masts with the forward mast being shorter or the same height as the rear mast. But there are many types of schooner:

a) Most schooners are 'gaff' rigged, which term means carrying sails that have four corners rather than three, the fourth corner being made possible by a pole or spar (called a 'gaff') tethered to the mast. Such a rig permits a large increase in sail area over a conventional triangular sail. And greater speed therefore.

b) Some schooners - 'square-topsail schooners' - carried a square topsail on the foremast and occasionally, in addition, a square fore-course (together with the gaff foresail). I must still figure out what those last words mean. I presume it must mean a square sail atop another mast.

c) Modern schooners may be 'Marconi' or 'Bermuda' rigged, which terms apply to a triangular sail with a boom that reaches to the very top of a mast. Some schooners are so rigged on the main mast and gaff rigged on the foremast.

There are clearly many other types, which hopefully I can add in here as my knowledge improves.

I read that a two or three masted schooner was quite manoeuvrable and could be sailed by a small crew. Multi-masted schooners were somewhat unmanageable and were built as a cost-cutting measure introduced towards the end of the days of sail.

Within this site there are references to iron steamships being also schooners. I believe that early iron ships also carried masts and sails, until such sails became unnecessary with advances in steamship designs.


While common usage uses the word 'ship' for any kind of sea-going vessel - sail, steam or whatever - it really means a vessel of three or more masts with square sails on all masts.


A sailing boat with a single mast & a fore & aft rig. If the vessel has more than one head sail (a sail located forward of the mast) the vessel is termed a cutter. Though the term cutter often refers to vessels of official authority, such as a Coast Guard cutter.


A 'snow' is a type of brig, with 2 masts & square sails on both masts. I read that a 'snow rigged' vessel, had an additional mast, known as a 'jack mast' or 'snow mast', set on the deck a foot or so behind the main (rear) mast, & attached to the top of the main mast. It carried a triangular sail which was used in high winds or in storms to maintain vessel control, to avoid ship damage, & to keep the bow to the wind.


In these pages, I try to refer to a tonnage measurement that is universally accepted. As a measure of comparative size, essentially. Not too easy in practice! I try to use 'GRT' consistently, though I should use 'GT' after 1982 or 1994. There were new tonnage measurement rules applied to all ships built after Jul. 18, 1992, however vessels built prior to that date could continue to use the old terms for 12 years, until Jul. 18, 1994.

'Gross Register Tonnage ('GRT') is a measure of the total internal volume of a vessel, with some exemptions for non-productive spaces, crew quarters an example. 1 gross register ton is equal to a volume of 100 cubic feet. I am not surprised to read that the calculation can be most complex, in ways quite beyond my ability, and probably yours, to understand. The result can be different according to the nature of the cargo, it would appear. The term is since 1982 or 1994 incorrect. Since those dates one should refer to 'Gross Tonnage' ('GT') per a 'Tonnage Measurement Convention' of 1969. GT is a measure of all of a ship's enclosed spaces (even to the funnel) measured to the outside of the hull framing. It is always larger than GRT. It would not seem to be comparative with GRT since it includes areas excluded in GRT.

'Net Register Tonnage' ('NRT') is a term even the webmaster can understand in principle - the volume of the space available for carrying cargo or passengers, i. e. the GRT or GT less the volume of the many spaces that will not hold cargo or passengers. But the result would seem, amazingly, to vary by the port or country in which the calculations are being done!  The term is, since 1982 or 1994, incorrect. Since those dates one should refer to 'Net Tonnage' ('NT') per a 'Tonnage Measurement Convention' of 1969. But NT cannot be less than 70% of GT.

'Displacement Tonnage' ('DT') is a another term the webmaster can understand in principle, i.e. the actual total weight of the vessel. Computed on the basic physical law of Archimedes that the weight of a floating object equates to the water it displaces. That would seem to be universal. But it is not that simple. It can be expressed in long tons or metric tons. The measurement of the water displaced can vary, depending upon such factors as whether the water is fresh or salt & the temperature of the water. There is, however, a 'nominal specific gravity' for seawater (1.025). Again a complicated computational method is used, for the details of which I must refer you to other sources.

'Deadweight Tonnage' ('DWT') is the measure of what a ship carries i.e. the DT in a loaded condition minus the bare or lightship weight. It includes the crew, passengers, cargo, fuel, water, and stores. Again the result can be expressed in long or metric tons. Have not tried to learn exactly how 'lightship weight' might be computed.

There is at least one vessel listed in these pages where its 'tonnage' changed as a result of a new computational method adopted in the late 1800s. More on that in due course, I hope. In that regard one set of new measurement rules took effect on Jan. 1, 1836.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What better way to show what such a vessel looks like. A fine image of a vessel with a turtleback forecastle - of Royal Navy Destroyer Kangaroo, built 1900 and broken up in 1920. HMS Kangaroo was not a Sunderland built vessel. Rather built by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company at Jarrow-on-Tyne. The partial image that I show dates from 1911, I understand.

I have read at 'eBay University' that the 'turtleback' forecastle was intended to clear water from the bow, but actually, in practice, 'tended to dig the bow into anything of a sea, resulting in a very wet conning position'.


My definition may well need correction. The WWW dictionary sites re the term seem to be quite poor. Anyway, reading between the lines, the term seems to refer to the space between the decks of a ship, especially the space above the lowest deck & below the upper deck. A space usually used for storage - of food, water, baggage, cargo, etc. It had very little headroom, it would appear.

The usage of the term on this site seems to refer to the use of the space for sleeping accommodation for passengers. Not the affluent passengers of course, who would have cabins etc. Rather emigrants or steerage passengers.


In advancing these pages, I have seen a number of references to 'Warrior' Class Tugs being ocean-going tugs. 'Tug', of Thames Tugs, advises me however that Bill Harvey in his book 'Empire Tugs' describes the 'Warrior Class' as being 'useful for river and estuary work and in emergencies could be used for coastal work'. 'Tug' further advises that war stretched these definitions to the limit considering the Iceland episode (Empire Wold) and those that even made it to the Far East under their own power!

'The basic difference regarding the improved or modified 'Warrior' (or Roach Class) tugs was that they were a couple of feet shorter in length but about four feet beamier, which made them more stable and also they were oil fired with a slightly more powerful engine, the original Warriors being coal fired.'

All these wartime classes were based on known successful pre-war commercial designs, the 'Warrior' having been built for Steel and Bennie of Glasgow in 1935 by Scott of Bowling.

Incidentally 'Crown' appear to be the only Sunderland builders of these tugs, although there were several different builders on the Tyne.


There is no point in my trying to reinvent the wheel. Go here to learn all about them.

Published about 'whalebacks' is a 36 page pamphlet entitled 'Pigboat: The story of the whalebacks', written by Ryck Lydecker. First published in 1973 by Sweetwater Press of Duluth. A valuable pamphlet indeed, I see.


A term used to describe a tall & thin funnel necessary to create a strong natural draught & air flow to permit coal to be burned in the ship's natural draught furnaces - before a forced draught was applied to boilers and boiler-rooms. The name was coined in reference to 'Woodbine', or 'Wild Woodbine', a brand of rather thin cheaper cigarettes, likely named after the common honeysuckle 'woodbine' plant. The brand tended to be smoked by working men.

An example of such a funnel. Stesso built at Sunderland in 1922 by S. P. Austin.

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To Thomas M. M. Hemy Data Page 41. All of the other Thomas Hemy pages, including image pages, are accessible though the index on Thomas Hemy page 05.

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