|John I. Thornycroft & Company|
|Fate||Merged with Vosper & Company|
|Successor||Babcock International |
|Headquarters||Woolston, Southampton, UK|
John I. Thornycroft & Company Limited, usually known simply as Thornycroft was a British shipbuilding firm founded by John Isaac Thornycroft in Chiswick in 1866. It moved to Woolston, Southampton, in 1908, merging in 1966 with Vosper & Company to form one organisation called Vosper Thornycroft. From 2002 to 2010 the company acquired several international and US based defence and services companies, and changed name to the VT Group. In 2010 the company was absorbed by Babcock International who retained the UK and international operations, but sold the US based operations to the American Jordan Company, who took the name VT Group.
John Isaac Thornycroft had shown shipbuilding ability when aged 16 he began building a small steam launch in 1859. The vessel was named Nautilus and in 1862 it proved to be the first steam launch with enough speed to follow the contenders in the University race. The ensuing publicity prompted his father, the sculptor Thomas Thornycroft, to purchase a strip of land along the Thames at Chiswick in 1864, and that became the start of John I. Thornycroft & Co.
In its first ten years the yard had a very modest production, mostly building steam launches and steam yachts. The breakthrough came in 1873, when the firm built the small steel torpedo craft Rap for the Navy of Norway, followed by similar boats for other navies, and by HMS Lightning for the Royal Navy in 1877. Torpedoes and torpedo boats were seen as weapons of the future and throughout the 1870s and 1880s the Thornycroft yard became a major supplier to a number of navies. As Banbury put it:
No high-pressure salesmanship was needed to sell torpedo-boats in the nineteenth century; on the contrary, the customers queued up.— Philip Banbury
The original boats had locomotive-type boilers but, like its competitors, the company developed a water-tube boiler, patented in 1885 and providing more speed. The size of the vessels grew steadily, exceeding 100 tons with Ariete, delivered to Spain in 1887 and 200 tons in the Daring-class torpedo-boat destroyers of the Royal Navy. The largest vessel built at Chiswick was the Alarm-class torpedo gunboat Speedy of 810 tons. During the 1890s it became increasingly difficult for the new vessels to pass under the Hammersmith Bridge - masts and funnels had to be lowered or removed, and put back in place again further down the Thames, and if something went wrong during trials and the boat had to return to the yard, then the whole process had to be reversed. In 1904 the Oscar Mordaunt yard at Woolston was acquired, and production gradually moved there. At its peak, the yard at Chiswick employed 1,700 men. The production of destroyers at the yard caught the imagination of the writer H.G. Wells, who let George Ponderevo, main character of the book Tono-Bungay, become a destroyer designer in the last chapter, describing a test run of the destroyer X 2 under the Hammersmith Bridge and out into the open sea.
In the years at Chiswick John Thornycroft increasingly concentrated on the design and development part of the enterprise, while his brother-in-law since 1872, John Donaldson (1841-1899), managed the commercial side. When Donaldson died in 1899, a group of industrialists headed by William Beardmore bought into the company, and they provided much of the financing when it was transformed into the public company John I. Thornycroft and Co. Ltd in 1901, with Beardmore as chairman. William Beardmore's interest in the company proved rather short-lived and he resigned as chairman in 1907. The management team of the new company consisted of John Thornycroft's son, John Edward Thornycroft as manager, and John Donaldson's son, Thornycroft Donaldson (ca. 1883-1955) as technical director.
The first ship built by Thornycrofts for the Royal Navy at the Woolston Yard was the Tribal-class destroyer HMS Tartar. Up to the start of World War I, the yard built 37 destroyers for the Royal Navy and several more for other navies. During the war, the yard made 26 destroyers, 3 submarines and a large number of smaller craft for the Royal Navy. Notable among the smaller craft were the Coastal Motor Boats (built at Hampton - see below), based on a design by John Thornycroft (the elder) who continued working with hull designs at his home on the Isle of Wight until his death in 1928, taking out his last patent in 1924. His daughter, naval architect Blanche Thornycroft worked alongside him (and after his death) testing models, calculating and recording results.
The construction of smaller boats did not move to Woolston, but to a new yard (Hampton Launch Works) on Platt's Eyot in the Thames at Hampton. The construction on Platt's Eyot included yachts and - during the two world wars - a large number of small vessels for the Royal Navy. The yachts included Enola (1928), Estrellita (1934) (now called Rake's Retreat), Aberdonia (1935), and Moonyeen (1937). The pre-war motor yacht Prunella may also have been built at Hampton. These four have survived and are now recorded on National Historic Ships' National Register.
In the inter-war years there was still some construction for the Royal Navy at Woolston, but the yard also built civilian ships, like the ferry SS Robert Coryndon for Uganda in 1930. She apparently still survives, but as a half-submerged wreck on the shore of Lake Albert. When World War II broke out, production was stepped up again, and the yard built corvettes and destroyers. Production was delayed by several bombings, probably influenced by the yard's proximity to the Spitfire-building Supermarine factory, also situated in Woolston. That factory was bombed extensively in the beginning of the war, and Thornycroft's yard received its fair share of the bombs. Among the more notable ships built by the yard in the war years were the two Hunt-class destroyer escorts, HMS Bissenden and HMS Brecon, (Type IV) with better stability than their sisters. The largest naval vessel built at Woolston during the war years was the fast minelayer HMS Latona of 2,650 tons, with turbines capable of 72,000 shaft horsepower (53,690 kW) and a speed of 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph).
The first seaworthy Assault Landing Craft (ALC), later renamed LCA, Landing Craft Assault, ordered built for the British Navy were by Thornycroft. The first prototype ALC No 1 was built by J. Samuel White of Cowes to a design by Fleming Jenkin, but it was not very successful. Thornycroft's design was much closer to what the navy wanted, with its low silhouette, silenced engines and shallow draught. Designated ALC No 2, it was 41 ft 6 in (12.6 m) long overall and driven by two Ford V8 engines of 65 brake horsepower (48 kW) each. The design was slightly modified by the Admiralty and some 1,929 were built during World War II. In 1944 sixty were being built each month. The LCA was reasonably seaworthy, so long as waves were less than 5 ft (2 m) high. In heavy seas the situation could become critical and a number of LCAs converted to support craft disappeared in the choppy seas of D-Day, 6 June 1944. In 1944 267 were lost (out of 371 losses during the whole war).
In July 1960 John Ward Thornycroft, John Edward Thornycroft's son, replaced his father as chairman of the company.
In 1962, John I. Thornycroft and Sons was building wooden yachts in Singapore.
Thornycrofts merged in 1966 with Vosper & Company, part of the David Brown Group, to form one organisation called, by 1970, Vosper Thornycroft. The merger made sense, as Thornycroft had yard space but few orders, while Vosper had the orders but lacked the space. The combined company built new facilities at Woolston and production continued there until 2004. But by 2003 the company had outgrown even these facilities, and it was decided to move production to a new yard at Portchester, Hampshire.
Later, Vosper Thornycroft changed their business name to VT Group, and in 2010 were absorbed by Babcock International, who integrated the UK portion of VT Group into its own business, then in 2012 sold the US-based operation and the VT Group name to the Jordan Company.
HMS Duchess - Daring class destroyer 1952
For the World War II H-class destroyers, see H-class destroyer (1937)The Acorn class (officially redesignated the H class in 1913) was a class of twenty destroyers of the Royal Navy all built under the 1909-1910 Programme, and completed between 1910 and 1911. The Acorns served during World War I.D-class destroyer (1913)
The D class as they were known from 1913 was a fairly homogeneous group of torpedo boat destroyers (TBDs) built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1890s. They were all constructed to the individual designs of their builder, John I. Thornycroft & Company of Chiswick, to meet Admiralty specifications. The uniting feature of the class was a top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h) and they all had two funnels.HMAS Nepal (G25)
HMAS Nepal (G25/D14) was an N-class destroyer of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Launched in 1941 as Norseman, the ship suffered significant damage during an air raid on the John I. Thornycroft and Company shipyard, and during repairs was renamed to recognise Nepal's contribution to the British war effort. Although commissioned into the RAN in 1942, the ship remained the property of the Royal Navy.
Most of Nepal's wartime service was as part of the British Eastern Fleet, operating in the Indian Ocean. The destroyer was involved in Madagascar campaign in 1942, and the Cockpit and Transom air raids in 1944. In early 1945, Nepal was reassigned to the British Pacific Fleet, and operated with them for the rest of the war.
On her return to Sydney in October 1945, Nepal was decommissioned and returned to the Royal Navy who recommissioned her as HMS Nepal. She was scrapped in 1956.HMCS Skeena (D59)
HMCS Skeena was a River-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1931-1944.
She was similar to the Royal Navy's A-class and wore initially the pennant D59, changed in 1940 to I59.
She was built by John I. Thornycroft & Company at Woolston, Hampshire and commissioned into the RCN on 10 June 1931 at Portsmouth, England. Skeena and her sister HMCS Saguenay were the first ships specifically built for the Royal Canadian Navy. She arrived in Halifax on 3 July 1931.HMNZS Hickleton (M1131)
HMNZS Hickleton (M1131) was a Ton class minesweeper that operated in the Royal Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). She was named after a small village near Doncaster.
Built for the Royal Navy by John I Thornycroft of Southampton, the minesweeper was launched on 26 January 1955 and later commissioned as HMS Hickleton
She was commissioned into the RNZN in 1965 and decommissioned in 1966. After leaving New Zealand service, she was transferred to the Argentine Navy and renamed ARA Neuquen (M1).HMS Albatross (1898)
HMS Albatross was an experimental torpedo boat destroyer of the Royal Navy authorised under the 1896–97 Naval Estimates and built by John I. Thornycroft & Company of Chiswick on the River Thames. She was contracted to be faster, larger and more powerful than existing designs.HMS Charity (R29)
HMS Charity was a C-class destroyer of the Royal Navy laid down by John I. Thornycroft and Company of Woolston, Southampton on 9 July 1943. She was launched on 30 November 1944 and commissioned on 19 November 1945. She was sold to the US Navy in 1958, for transfer to the Pakistan Navy as a part of the Military Aid Program.
Renamed Shah Jahan, the ship was badly damaged in a strike by Indian Navy missile boats during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, and scrapped as a result.HMS Concord (R63)
HMS Concord was a C-class destroyer of the Royal Navy.
She was initially ordered as Corso during the Second World War, and was built by John I. Thornycroft & Company, Southampton. She was launched on 14 May 1945, renamed Concord in June 1946 and commissioned on 20 December 1946.HMS F3
HMS F3 was a British F class submarine of the Royal Navy. She was built at John I. Thornycroft & Company, laid down 12 October 1914 and launched 9 February 1916.
F3 was broken up in Portsmouth in 1920.HMS Hardy (1912)
HMS Hardy was a Royal Navy ship that was one of 20 Acasta-class destroyers. Serving during the First World War, she was part of the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland. Hardy was built by John I. Thornycroft & Company and laid down on 13 November 1911. The ship was launched on 10 October 1912 and completed on 1 September 1913. She was the 6th vessel of the Royal Navy to bear the name Hardy and the third to receive battle honours.HMS Zodiac
HMS Zodiac was a Z-class destroyer of the Royal Navy built in 1944 by John I. Thornycroft, Woolston. She served during the Second World War, participating in operations in the North Sea and off the Norwegian coast, before taking part in some of the Arctic convoys. She spent a further ten years in Royal Navy service after the end of the war, before being sold to the Israeli Navy, which operated her as INS Yaffo. She saw action during the Suez Crisis in 1956, attacking Egyptian ships and was still active by the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967.HM Coastal Motor Boat 4
HM Coastal Motor Boat 4 is the torpedo boat used when Lieutenant Augustus Agar earned a Victoria Cross for carrying out a raid on Soviet warships in Kronstadt and sinking the cruiser Oleg
It was one of a large series of small, fast, shallow draught Coastal Motor Boats used during the First World War. She was designed by John I. Thornycroft & Company of Hampton, England, ordered in January 1916, built by them and delivered that summer.
CMB 4 was 45 feet (14 m) long and 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m) in the beam. She displaced 5 tons drawing 2 ft 9 in (0.84 m) of water. Power was a 275 bhp (205 kW) Thornycroft V-12 petrol engine driving a single propeller and achieved a top speed of 24.8 knots (45.9 km/h). The boat was armed with one 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo and four .303 in (7.62 km) Lewis machine guns. It was operated by a crew of three.
In May 1916, Lieutenant W. N. T. Beckett MVO DSC took command of the newly built HM Coastal Motor Boat 4. In December 1916 he proceeded to Dunkirk in charge of the 3rd CMB Division and operated on the Belgian coast. Beckett was in command of a Divisional CMB attack on German destroyers at Zeebrugge on 7 April 1917; as a result one was sunk and one very seriously damaged. For these actions Beckett was mentioned in Despatches and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC).The boat, under the command of Lieutenant Augustus Agar, V.C., was made famous by his part in the British operations in the Baltic Sea against the Bolsheviks in 1919, where she operated with her sister ships in activities such as the raid on Kronstadt.After the action the boat was returned to the United Kingdom, where it was on display first at the Imperial War Museum in London and then at the Vosper works on Platt’s Eyot (island) on the River Thames near Kingston for many years with a Victoria Cross painted on the side until the Vosper works there closed. It was then restored and displayed (with details of the action but with the painted VC removed) at the Imperial War Museum’s out-station Imperial War Museum Duxford near Cambridge. In July 2019 the boat was moved to Boathouse 4 in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where she is being displayed alongside a full-size, working replica being constructed by volunteers. CMB 4 remains in the ownership of the Imperial War Museum, and is currently on loan to Boathouse 4 until 2024.
Agar’s VC is held by the War Museum in London.The boat was inscribed on the National Register of Historic Vessels in May 1996, becoming part of the National Historic Fleet.John Isaac Thornycroft
Sir John Isaac Thornycroft (1 February 1843 – 28 June 1928) was an English shipbuilder, the founder of the Thornycroft shipbuilding company and member of the Thornycroft family.List of torpedo boat classes of the Royal Navy
This is a list of torpedo boat classes of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, organised chronologically by entry into service. This article's coverage is restricted to the steam-powered torpedo boats built for or acquired by the British Navy between 1875 (the invention of the Whitehead torpedo) and 1905; the final batch of 36 steam-powered torpedo boats from 1906 to 1908 were originally rated as coastal destroyers and will be found under Cricket-class destroyers, while later torpedo boats powered by internal combustion engines will be found under Motor Torpedo BoatsMY Shemara
MY Shemara is a motor yacht built in 1938 by John I. Thornycroft & Company to the order of Bernard Docker. Between 1939 and 1946 she served in the Royal Navy as HMS Shemara. As of 2015, Shemara is owned by Charles Dunstone, and is available for charter. She can carry 12 guests and 16 crew, is 64.09 m (210.3 ft) in length and 9.19 m (30.2 ft) in beam, and has a maximum speed of 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph).R-class destroyer (1916)
The first R class were a class of 62 destroyers built between 1916 and 1917 for the Royal Navy. They were an improvement, specifically in the area of fuel economy, of the earlier Admiralty M-class destroyers. The most important difference was that the Admiralty R class had two shafts and geared turbines, compared with the three shafts and direct turbines of the Admiralty M class, but in appearance the R class could be distinguished from its predecessors by having the after 4-inch gun mounted in a bandstand. The Admiralty ordered the first two of this class of ships in May 1915. Another seventeen were ordered in July 1915, a further eight in December 1915, and a final twenty-three in March 1916 (of which eleven were to a slightly modified design).
As well as these fifty ships to the standard 'Admiralty' design, twelve more R class were designed and built by the two specialist builders Yarrow Shipbuilders and John I. Thornycroft & Company to their own separate designs. Three were ordered from Thornycroft and four from Yarrow in July 1915, and two from Thornycroft and three from Yarrow in December 1915.
They were the last three-funnelled destroyers ordered by the Royal Navy (although HMS Bristol commissioned in 1973 had three funnels, these were not all on the centreline). All of these ships saw extensive service in World War I. Some saw service as minelayers. Eight R-class ships were sunk during the war and all but two of the surviving ships were scrapped in the 1920s and 1930s. One Admiralty R-class vessel, HMS Skate, survived to see service in World War II as a convoy escort, making her the oldest destroyer to see wartime service with the Royal Navy. A second, HMS Radiant was transferred to the Royal Siamese Navy as Phra Ruang in September 1920 and survives to this day as a hulk.Serrano-class destroyer
The Serrano class was a series of six destroyers, built to a British design, which served with the Chilean Navy from 1928 to 1967. Chile ordered 1927 the Serrano class from John I. Thornycroft & Company in the United Kingdom in cost on £230,000 for each to enhance the Chilean Navy's ability to patrol its extensive coastline. The six vessels were completed by 1929. Serrano, Orella and Hyatt were equipped for minelaying, and Aldea, Riquelme and Videla for minesweeping.
Because of weak hull construction the ships had been assessed unsuitable for service along the southern Chilean coast, where it was necessary to use older ships of Almirante Lynch class instead. The destroyers remained in service until the late 1950s to mid-1960s.Thornycroft type destroyer leader
The Thornycroft type leader or Shakespeare class were a class of five destroyer leaders designed by John I. Thornycroft & Company and built by them at Woolston, Southampton for the Royal Navy towards the end of World War I. They were named after historical naval leaders. Only Shakespeare and Spenser were completed in time for wartime service. The other three were completed after the war, Broke and Keppel after being towed to Royal dockyards for completion, and two further ships - Saunders and Spragge - were cancelled. The function of a leader was to carry the flag staff of a destroyer flotilla, therefore they were enlarged to carry additional crew, offices and signalling equipment, allowing a fifth gun to be carried. These ships were very similar to the Admiralty type leader, but had broad, slab-sided funnels characteristic of Thornycroft designs.
The design was used as the basis for several ships built for foreign navies in the 1920s.
Regele Ferdinand-class destroyer built in Italy for the Romanian Navy
Churruca-class destroyer built in Spain for the Spanish Navy and Argentine Navy
Mendoza-class destroyer built in Britain for the Argentine NavyU and V-class destroyer
The U and V class was a class of sixteen destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1942–1943. They were constructed in two flotillas, each with names beginning with "U-" or "V-" (although there was a return to the pre-war practice of naming the designated flotilla leader after a famous naval figure from history to honour the lost ships Grenville and Hardy). The flotillas constituted the 7th Emergency Flotilla and 8th Emergency Flotilla, built under the War Emergency Programme. These ships used the Fuze Keeping Clock HA Fire Control Computer.
Modern timeline of British shipbuilding companies, 1960-present
|Hawthorn Leslie & Company|
|Caledon Sh'b. & Eng. Co.||Robb Caledon Shipbuilding|
|Harland and Wolff||Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries|
|Ailsa Shipbuilding Company||Ferguson Ailsa||Ailsa & Perth|
|Ferguson Brothers||Ferguson Shipbuilders|
|Lithgows||Scott Lithgow||Scott Lithgow|
|Scotts Sh'b. & Eng. Co.|
|Greenock Dockyard Co.|
|Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson||Swan Hunter Group||Swan Hunter|
|Smiths Dock Co.|
|John Readhead & Sons|
|Hall Russell & Co.||Hall Russell||A&P|
|Austin & Pickersgill||North East Shipbuilders Ltd.||A&P Appledore International||A&P Group|
|William Doxford & Sons|
|Appledore Shipbuilders||DML Appledore||Babcock Marine Appledore|
|Cammell Laird & Company||VSEL||Coastline||Cammell Laird||A&P Shiprepair||NWSL||CLSS|
|Vickers-Armstrongs||Vickers Ltd. Shipbuilding||Marconi Marine (VSEL)||BAE Systems Marine||BAE Sub. Solutions|
|Yarrow & Co.||Y'w. Sh'b. Ltd.||Upper Clyde Shipbuilders||YSL||Marconi Marine (YSL)||BAE Surf. Flt. Solutions||BVT Surface Fleet||BAE Systems Surface Ships|
|Fairfield Sh'b. & Eng. Co.||Govan Sh'b.||Kvaerner Govan|
|Charles Connell & Company||Scotstoun Marine|
|John Brown & Company||Marathon (Clydebank)||UiE Scotland|
|Alexander Stephen and Sons|
|W. Denny & Bros.|
|A. & J. Inglis|
|Simons & Lobnitz|
|J. I. Thornycroft & Co.||Vosper Thornycroft||Vosper Thornycroft||VT Group|
|Vosper & Co.|
|British Hovercraft Corporation|
|Hoverwork Ltd.||Griffon Hoverwork|
|Griffon Hovercraft Ltd.|
|BSC = British Shipbuilders Corporation|