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British Industrial History

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Neptune Iron Foundry

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of Waterford, Ireland

Iron founders and shipbuilders

The c.1840 O.S. map shows the foundry as a 'J' shaped building, the top of the J being on Newtown Street, and the site backing onto the river. The c.1910 map shows that more buildings had been added, and there was now a slipway.

1858 'Iron Ship Building in Waterford - We learn that the Dutchman, a very fine iron vessel built at the Neptune Iron Works, under the superintendence of Mr. Home, has been just purchased by the new Russian company, who obtained from the Sardinian government the lease of a part of one of the ports in the Mediterranean, and that she will be placed on one of the lines running to Civita Vecchia. This vessel, as well as her companionship the Abeona, has won a very high character. Two other iron steam vessels built in this port, were bought by the Sardinian government a few years since, and gave great satisfaction. In addition to the Dutchman the Russian company have bought from the Messrs. Malcomson two other steam vessels, the Bellona and the Norma ; the latter was, we believe, built in Cork— Waterford Mail.' [1]

1865 'Iron-Shipbuilding at Waterford.—The last plate has been laid—the last bolt has been riveted—the incessant din of a hundred hammers has, at length, ceased—and there stands the noble iron ship—a triumph of well-directed enterprise and native skill—awaiting the moment when she is to glide into the tidal waters of the Suir! This evening some thousands of the citizens will assemble within the building yard of the Neptune Iron Works, Waterford, to witness the early anticipated launch of this magnificent vessel—the twenty-seventh, we believe, which has been constructed there for the eminent firm of Malcomson Brothers. No one can look at that enormous mass of iron without feeling impressed with sense of pride and pleasure the successful issue of a great work. As she rests upon the stocks, now in calm repose, the fineness and perfection of her lines serve rather to deceive the eye and lead away the mind from a thorough knowledge of her vast proportions. We can scarcely realise that the ship before us is capable of accommodating over one thousand passengers, and of carrying a burden of upwards of 4,000 tons, yet it is! In August last this vessel was commenced, ere her predecessor had left the river to add another to the great iron fleet belonging to the Malcolmsons, and sailing o'er many waters, the first bar of this the largest ship of all was laid down; since then 400 hands, almost wholly natives of the city of Waterford trained in the establishment, have been engaged upon her at a remunerative rate of wages. Under the practised and energetic superintendence of the manager, Mr. John Horn, the various operations of cutting, rolling, punching, drilling, and bolting the massive joints and plates were all carried out according to the drawings and plans, which also were prepared and executed by Mr. Horn. The ship is 330 feet long, thirty seven feet beam, and 29 feet depth of hold. Built for the London, Havre, and New York line, she intended as concert of the Cella and other iron vessels engaged on that line, for the purposes of emigration and for a general carrying trade. Her saloons, first and second class, are on deck, and are fitted up with becoming elegance. The sleeping compartments are ranged below, and embrace every improvement designed for comfort, luxury and health. As regards ventilation, the arrangements are the most perfect we have ever seen, and are carried right through the ship. The furnishing, cabinet, and upholstery work of the first class saloons and berths has been entrusted to our own townsman, Mr. Thomas Graham. Her engines will he of 600 horse power, and on deck there are steam winches, four steam cranes, with a similar class of machinery for heaving the anchor, and working the ship's cargo. accommodation for steerage, or rather third-class passengers is placed in the after part of the vessel, and every arrangement has been made in liberal and kindly spirit towards securing their health and comfort on the voyage. officers' rooms are situated intermediately. Such is the iron ship which, this evening, is gaily decked with the flags all nations, emblematic of her reception into that friendly sisterhood she about so soon to enter. Extraordinary preparations have been made to launch her securely and successful.—Clonmel Chronicle of Saturday.'[2]

1865 'NEW SCREW STEAMSHIP WILLIAM PENN.
WATERFORD, MONDAY EVENING.
To-day (Monday) being the day fixed for taking this truly noble ship down the river to get her compasses adjusted and then to proceed to Glasgow for her machinery, I feel much pleasure in sending you a brief description of her for insertion in the Irish Times. The William Penn is 330 feet long, 37 feet beam. And 29feet depth of hold, 2300 ton register, and will s carry 4000 tons of cargo. She is by far the largest ship built in Ireland, and the various new features in her construction all tend to increase her stability, so that she may with safety be pronounced the strongest iron ship of her class afloat. She was designed and built by Mr. John Horn, the eminent engineer at the Neptune Ironworks, and is another laurel added to the Messrs. Malcomson Brothers' fleet of steamship intended for the London, Havre, and New York Line.
When going on board, you are at once struck with her great size and the admirable arrangements on her upper decks, cabins, &c; but to give a proper description of her I shall endeavour to enter on details.
First, the engines and boilers will be placed amidships, the engines are to have great power, fitted with all modern improvements and Mr. Horn's patent condenser and valves, four large boilers to be used for steaming the engines, and all the machinery of the very best workmanship, from drawings and designs given by Mr. Horn. She will carry a sufficiency of coals for 30 days' consumption, having great coal space, and will insure a uniform speed of twelve knots an hour. The hull of the ship is built of the strongest scantling, extra rivetted, and coated all over the bottom with patent cement to prevent oxidation. Her bottom is stiffened with five rows of keelsons, running fore and aft in an unbroken line, connecting her floorings together vertically and bracing them in an entirely new way, so that it is impossible for any working; this is ceiled over and made watertight. Great care has been bestowed on this part. The lower and main decks are of iron, the upper deck of wood; all decks have strong girder beams in one length, secured at the ends with Mr. Horn's patent angular stringers, which give immense strength, are very compact, and do not break stowage. These stringers run under all the decks the whole a length of the ship. in short, it is impossible to describe adequately the admirable fittings and fixings connected with the iron decks, they, appear to be so bound together that nothing could disturb them.. No expense has been spared to ensure strength and render her fitted for her work. She is a four-mast ship, lower masts of iron, wire rigging, and all the gear carefully finished. Her hurricane deck forward is 65 feet long, with ample fittings ; all very strong for working and mooring the ship, berthing, anchors, &c. Under it are stalls for live stock, bakery, galleys, storerooms, icehouse, waterclosets, pumps, tanks, &c. On the upper deck are the forward steering wheel-house, with patent apparatus and in connection with it the first-class dining saloon, smoking and captain’s house, four large wing store-rooms.
The saloon is most elegantly fitted, with two rows of mahogany telescope tables and telescope seats, all moving in and out when required, the seats covered with rich crimson velvet; large elegant sideboard, beautifully carved with wings, and surmounted by a large mirror and eight day clock, bookcases, swinging trays for decanters and glasses, revolving chairs. The sides of the saloon are ornamented with first-class paintings of Irish scenery, mahogany sliding windows with silk curtains, the beams all richly trussed with gilt consols, and supported by mahogany pillars with Corinthian capitals. Going aft on the same deck are the boats, arranged on each side, so as to be ready at a moments notice. In the centre of them are the first class cooking galleys, entrance doors for officers' room, dining saloon for second-class passengers, and steering room with strong screw apparatus and arrangement in case the rudder head were to break (same as in the Great Eastern case) for steering direct from the rudder. On this deck are the mooring and warping gar, large patent windlass for anchors, steam winch for working it, and four beautifully-finished steam cranes for working the cargo and doing all the subsidiary work of the ship, all of which are supplied with steam from a large boiler, also used for supplying the distiller for producing fresh water. Descending to the second deck and proceeding forward we have the forecastle for the crew, fitted and divided for the port and starboard watches, well arranged and ventilated. Every care has been bestowed by Mr. Horn to render the crew as comfortable as the passengers. Adjoining are the storerooms and lamprooms, hospital, sailroom, and pantry for stewards. An iron bulkhead (to prevent fire) divides this off, and behind are the first-class sleeping berths, elegantly fitted and furnished, with several ladies' retiring rooms. These are directly under the first-class dining saloon, to which there is an entrance by an elegant circular stair. Then we see the engine and boiler space, surrounded by the officers' rooms, richly furnished; distillery room, dining room for. officers, bathrooms, firemen's rooms, trimmers and carpenters' rooms, and other accommodations too numerous to detail. An iron bulkhead dividing this, to prevent fire. Then we come to the second-lass dormitories, most comfortably fitted, also ironroom for specie. The stairs are wide and the ventilation admirable. Descending to the third deck and commencing forward we have storerooms and first large hold for third-class passengers, with fresh water tanks and pumps. Second hold, 82 feet long, with fittings for third-class passengers. Third hold for machinery and engines. Fourth hold, 80 feet long, with tanks and pumps. Here again the ventilation is admirable, and must have given Mr. Horn much thought, being a point of so much importance. All the lower holds are for cargo, and the steam cranes work into them and over the ship’s side. From this hurried sketch you will now be enabled to form an idea of the immensity of this noble vessel. Great care has been bestowed throughout it, and the ventilation is, in every sense of the word, perfect.
In concluding this account, I feel bound to acknowledge the great personal kindness and attention of Mr. Horn in affording me every information, and placing a considerable amount of his valuable time at my disposal, and congratulate him on his great success on this as on former occasions . His name is too well known to the scientific world as an eminent engineer and shipbuilder, having the control and management of Messrs. Malcomson, Brothers' immense fleet of steamships, now the largest in the world belonging to a private company.
In the Neptune Iron Works I observed two iron vessels nearly ready for launching; a saloon river steamer, well advanced, and a large screw steamer half in frame. All this shows what can he done by native talent when properly directed. I trust that the William Penn may have a long career of success and prosperity and that many other such specimens of naval architecture may be produced from the same works. The Irish Times, Tuesday, November 14, 1865.'[3]

1869 'LAUNCH OF A STEAMER AT WATERFORD. (From our Correspondent.) WATERFORD, THURSDAY,- This morning, at eight o'clock, a very fine iron steamer, named the Magnet, was launched from the Neptune Iron Works, in this city. The vessel was designed by, and constructed under the personal supervision of Mr. John Horne, the manager of the works. The vessel is 216 feet long, 32 feet beam, and 16 feet depth of hold, and about 750 tons gross burthen. She has been built for the Waterford Steamship Company, and is specially fitted up for the cattle trade. The Magnet is fitted with steam-cranes and windlasses for working the cargo, and her engines will be arranged on the combined principle of high and low pressure cylinders. The vessel when launched was fully rigged and nearly ready for sea. At the launch the yard, as usual, was thrown open to the public, and an immense concourse of people were present, including the hands, some 1,800 in number, employed at the factory of the Messrs. Malcomson, Portlaw, and who took advantage of the event to celebrate their annual excursion, which is generously given by the firm to their employees. Mrs. Pim, of Liverpool, christened the vessel, which left the stocks amid the cheers of the people. The Magnet will proceed to Glasgow in a few days to get in her engines, and will then take her station on one of the lines out of this port.' [4]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Cork Examiner, 8 November 1858
  2. Cork Examiner, 27 June 1865
  3. Liverpool Mercury, 18 November 1865
  4. Freeman's Journal, 27 August 1869