H.M.S. Victoria (1887)

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H.M.S. Victoria (1887)
Builder: Armstrong, Whitworth & Company, Elswick[1]
Laid down: 23 Apr, 1885[2]
Launched: 9 Apr, 1887[3]
Completed: Jun, 1888[4]
Commissioned: 19 Mar, 1890[5]
Rammed: 22 Jun, 1893[6]
Fate: by Camperdown

H.M.S. Victoria was one of two Sans Pareil Class battleships built for the Royal Navy, named in honour of Queen Victoria. Laid down at Armstrong's in 1885 and launched in 1887, her completion was delayed by problems with her main armament of two BL 16.25 inch Mk I naval guns, and she wasn't commissioned until 1890. For the entirety of her active career she served as flagship on the Mediterranean Station, except a period in 1892 when she grounded off the coast of Greece and had to undergo major repairs. On 22 June, 1893 she collided with the battleship Camperdown near Tripoli, Lebanon during manœuvres and quickly sank, taking 358 crew with her, including the commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet, Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon. One of the survivors was her Commander, John Jellicoe, later Commander-in-Chief of the British Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland.


Victoria was ordered in 1885 as the armour-clad warship Renown, but was renamed shortly before launch in honour of Queen Victoria who celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 1887. Victoria was laid down at the Elswick yard of Sir W. G. Armstrong, Mitchell and Company and the first rivet was driven by Sir William Armstrong[7] on 23 April 1885.[8] The ship was launched on Saturday 9 April 1887 by Mrs Forwood, wife of the Secretary to the Admiralty. At the time Victoria was the largest ship ever launched on the River Tyne and 150,000 people assembled to watch her go down the slipway. Her hull displaced so much water that some observers on the opposite bank were knocked down by the resulting wave.[7]

Victoria was the first British battleship to be equipped with triple expansion steam engines.[9] All her lights were electric, and she was the first ship to be fitted with conventional bridge engine telegraphs, with a lever going forward for "ahead" and backwards for "astern".[10] As completed Victoria had very low funnels, which initially differentiated her from her sister-ship Sans Pareil which always had high funnels. Victoria's funnel arrangements did not provide much natural draught and in July-August, 1890 they were heightened by 27 feet.[11] Because of her profile; a long forecastle with low freeboard and built-up superstructure aft, Victoria was known as "the slipper" and with Sans Pareil as "the pair of slippers".[12]

Victoria's crew arrived at Elswick on 4 April, 1888 and she left for Chatham Royal Dockyard to be fitted with her armour on 8 April,[13] where she arrived on 16 April 1888.[14] On 22 November Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alexander Milne, Bart presented Queen Victoria with an offering from the naval service commemorating her Jubilee, which included a model of the Victoria.[15]

Completion of Victoria was delayed for years by trouble with her main armament of two BL 16.25 inch Mk I naval guns. All the guns of this type were manufactured by Armstrong's, but had to be proof fired by the Royal Gun Factory, Woolwich. One gun drooped 1.4 inches in April 1889 and was later installed in Victoria but the droop increased to 2.5 inches after firing 12 rounds. It was later reconstructed. In firing trials on 17 October 1889 the other gun was found to have a droop of 0.7 inches and a slight opening between hoops.


Captain the Honourable Maurice Archibald Bourke was appointed as Flag Captain to date 20 August, 1891.[16]


On 29 January 1892, Victoria ran aground at Snipe Point near Platea on the Greek coast. Platea had been selected as a convenient friendly port for British ships to use as a base for exercises with torpedoes and mines and each ship of the Mediterranean fleet would go there in turn during the winter. Torpedoes would be launched from fast moving ships in real battle conditions, but it was desireable to practice this in relatively shallow waters so that the torpedoes could be recovered afterwards with greater ease after they had finished running, and manoeuvring in confined and shallow waters tested the vigilance of men in the battleships. Captain Bourke had appreciated the potential difficulties of operating his ship in shallow waters, and had ordered a crew to set out a buoy offshore where the water shoaled to ten fathoms. However the crew missed the shallowest point, so that Victoria ran aground at nine knots onto the rocky shoal and stuck fast. The fore end of the ship ended up seven feet higher out of the water than would be normal as momentum drove it up onto the shoal. The ship's bottom was damaged, and three compartments flooded. The stern, however, was still in 66 feet of water. Tryon was notified and departed for the scene from Malta in the despatch-vessel Surprise and he ordered the dockyard tug Sampson with pumping equipment and hawsers to sail Platea.[17]

Captain Bourke was subjected to the customary Court Martial stretching from 20-26 February and was severely reprimanded and admonished to be more careful in future.[18]


The model of Victoria present at the Colombian exposition in Chicago was given to the Admiralty by Armstrong's, and in 1899 it was presented to the training ship Britannia.[19]


Dates of appointment are provided when known.

See Also


  1. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 30.
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 30.
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 30.
  4. Burt. British Battleships: 1889-1904. p. 42.
  5. The Navy List. (April, 1891). pp. 263-4.
  6. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 30.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Launch of Her Majesty's Ship Victoria" (News). The Times. Monday, 11 April, 1887. Issue 32032, col B, p. 6.
  8. Parkes. British Battleships. p. 330.
  9. Clowes. History of the Royal Navy. VII. p. 53.
  10. The Marine Engineer. X. p. 65.
  11. Parkes. British Battleships. p. 335.
  12. Hough. Admirals in Collision. p. 48.
  13. "Her Majesty's Ship Victoria" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Saturday, 7 April, 1888. Issue 32354, col C, p. 13.
  14. Parkes. British Battleships. p. 336.
  15. "Court Circular" (Court and Social). The Times. Friday, 23 November, 1888. Issue 32551, col C, p. 9.
  16. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Thursday, 6 August, 1891. Issue 33396, col E, p. 4.
  17. Penrose Fitzgerald. Life of Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon. pp. 280-282.
  18. Bourke Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 131.
  19. "Naval & Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Thursday, 12 January, 1899. Issue 35724, col F, p. 7.
  20. The Navy List. (April, 1891). p. 263.
  21. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Thursday, 6 August, 1891. Issue 33396, col E, p. 4.
  22. Bourke Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 133.


Sans Pareil Class Second Class Battleship
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