[Samuel Read of Chatham Dockyard and the School of Naval Architecture.] Autograph Letter Signed ('S: Read') to Viscount Ingestrie, attacking in detail Sir Charles Adam's conduct regarding the construction of the wooden steam paddle frigate HMS Gorgon
A substantial letter, 3pp., foolscap 8vo. 100 lines of text. Bifolium. In very good condition, on aged paper, with one closed along crease line neatly repaired with archival tape. Addressed on reverse of second leaf, with Chatham postmark, frank, and black wax seal, to 'Viscount Ingestrie M:P. | 2 Wilton Crescent | Belgrave Square | London'. An interesting document, in which a distinguished Victorian naval architect makes detailed criticisms of an innovation in his field. (HMS Gorgon was designed by Sir William Symonds and launched in 1837. Her direct-acting engines (in which the engine's cylinders are placed under the crankshaft), built by Seaward and Company, were the first to be fitted in any vessel. She was scrapped in 1864.) Read begins his letter: 'My Lord | Nothing could exceed my astonishment at the reply or rather
which Sir C. Adam gave in citing the Gorgon as a specimen of the success of the personal conductor of our Naval Construction. | In a lithographic account privately circulated but which the Hampshire Telegraph published; it was stated for what purposes this bad & wretched failure was designed. - She was to be able to carry 10 long 32 Pr. between decks - 4 32 Prs. and 2 10 inch Bomb Cannon on the weather deck - She was to take or be able to take a regiment on board with all its equipage for a colonial voyage across the Atlantic.' He proceeds to describe the 'falling off' from these specifications, commenting that 'her constructor had so little knowledge of what he was about, that he was deficient in displacement at least 400 tons corresponding to a too great immersion of 3 feet about [...] When she left Plymouth for her first trip to St. Sebastian she drew 17 ft 3 in aft instead of her intended draft 15..6 and the Ports abaft the Paddle Boxes were only from 3 ft 3 in to 3 ft 6 in above the water!! Of course the Ports were still caulked in.' At the end of this criticism he describes the Gorgon as 'a failure'. He proceeds to 'shew how experiments are got up', concluding, 'is this the way that an experiment involving a cost of 40000£ should be conducted? - The engines alone of the Gorgon cost 20000£.' He continues 'Would Sir C. Adam produce the lithographic circulars of which the Gorgon was intended for and would he venture to place in contrast with it the actual performance of the ship?' He gives more specifications, before stating: 'The Constructor of the Gorgon ought to be called upon to explain if he can the early discrepancy between his intentions & performances. He ends by apologising for 'this rough document'.