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George Colby Mackrow

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George Colby Mackrow (1830-1907), naval architect to the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co

1830 April 11th. Baptised at Limehouse the son of John Mackrow, W. I. Dock Officer, and his wife Sarah

1850 August 17th. Married at Shoreditch to Mary Maria Gosling. George is a Shipwright and his father is John Mackrow, a Wharfinger

1871 George C Mackrow 41, naval architect, lived in West Ham, with Mary M Macksow 41, George F Mackrow 19, naval architect, Henry J Mackrow 17, Clement Mackrow 15, Marian Mackrow 10[1]

1881 Living at Essex Lodge, Greengate Street, West Ham: George C. Mackrow (age 51 born Limehouse), Naval Architect. With his wife Mary M. Mackrow (age 52 born Poplar) and their children Henry J. Mackrow (age 27 born Poplar), Naval Architect; Marian Mackrow (age 20 born Poplar); and Florence Mackrow (age 17 born Poplar). One servant.[2]


1907 Obituary [3]

It is with great regret we have to announce the death of George E. Mackrow (sic), the veteran naval architect to the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co, of Blackwall, which took place early in the morning of the 7th of the present month, after only a few days' illness. As he was born on the 7th of March, 1830, he had attained (within a month) his 77th year. Having in his earliest youth previously tried the three different trades of cooper, silversmith, and optical instrument maker, and not liking either, he was, in the month of March in the early "forties" - about 1844 - taken by a friend from his home, which was in Limehouse Fields, over to the ship · yard of Messrs. Ditchburn and Mare - then known as the Land's End - introduced to Mr. Ditchburn, and after a few weeks was bound apprentice to his firm for seven years to learn the "art and mystery" of ship construction. The firm at that time occupied very small works, these consisting of a shipyard on the Thames, and a mould loft.

When he had finished his school education he made his first essay at learning a trade, that of a cooper. About the time he was apprenticed to Ditchburn and Mare, the senior partner was consulted by the Lords of the Admiralty as to the most proper size and form of vessel to convey her Majesty Queen Victoria from Whitehall to Woolwich. After careful consideration Mr. Ditchburn proposed a certain form of vessel, and advised that she should be propelled by an Archimedian screw. The merits, however, of such a mode of propulsion being little understood by "my Lords" of that day, the proposal to "screw" her Majesty between those places was considered by one of them as little short of high treason; but Mr. Ditchburn overruling these scruples, carried out what he had proposed, and his labours resulted in the construction of the Royal yacht the Fairy, which turned out a complete success, and highly creditable to all concerned in her production, she having been declared, by a most capable judge, the "most perfect gem that ever floated on the water." Nothing has since been seen to compete with her in beauty. Young George Mackrow had thus in her, at the outset of his career as a naval architect, a splendid object lesson for future study, of which he subsequently made good use in the design and construction of several Royal yachts for European and other monarchs, built at Blackwall.

A year or two after being articled to Ditchburn and Mare, the junior partner - Mr. Mare - conceived the idea of starting new works across Bow Creek - the then existing shipyard being on its south side - and laying down plant for rolling his own iron. This proposal led to a rupture of relations between the partners in the firm, and Mr. Mare commenced the new works alone. The site was then a swamp, overgrown with rushes as high as a man's waist; but it was on this swamp - then known as Frog Island - that the first two shipbuilding slips were staked out by young Mackrow, and on them were laid down eight of the "Citizen" river Thames passenger boats.

By the year 1858 the firm of C. Mare and Co. having become defunct, and the Thames Ironworks risen out of its ashes, a design and tender was called for by the Admiralty for an iron vessel to be clad with 4in. armour plate, the result being the building by the Thames Ironworks firm of the Warrior, the first seagoing ironclad ship in the world. The success attending the construction of that vessel, and the keen interest felt by all nations in her building, brought in orders to the firm for the first of the armour-clad warships possessed by Spain, Portugal, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Denmark, Germany, &c. Up to the time of the advent of the Warrior, the British Admiralty possessed only a few iron sloops and transports, mostly built at the Thames Ironworks shipyard, the Himalaya being the largest of the last-mentioned class of vessel afloat for many years. After the expiration of his apprenticeship he continued in the service of Mr. Mare, and subsequently, on the retirement of that gentleman from business, and after having risen through the different grades of employment to that of chief of the designing department, Mr. Mackrow, transferred his services to the successors of Mr. Mare in the occupation of the Thames Ironworks. There he remained, and during the past forty years or more he has designed and seen through to completion some of the finest warships, not only for our own, but for the foreign navies previously mentioned, together with those of China and Japan. Mr. Mackrow was admitted an Associate of the Institution of Naval Architects in 1861, was elected a Member in 1864, and later on became a Member of Council of that body.



1907 Obituary [4]



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