The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
The former battleship, HMS Bellerophon was the first of the hulks to be commissioned as a part of the new Engine Room Artificer's Training establishment and she was placed at Devonport with HMS Temeraire and HMS Indus. Collectively they operated as HMS Indus.
HMS Bellerophon arrived in the Sound early on the morning of Friday April 1st 1904, in the tow of the cruiser, HMS Undaunted, under Captain F A Warden. She has been converted into a training vessel at the shipyard of Messrs Palmers of Jarrow-on-Tyne, whose yard they had left the the previous Tuesday. The conversion was done under the watchful eye of Engineer-Captain G A Haddy, RN, in consultation with the officers of the Fleet Reserve. He was assisted by Mr Richardson, who became ill in consequence of exposure, Mr Marshall, his replacement, Mr Twaddel, shipyard manager, and Mr Reed, works manager.
She was now capable of housing 200 lads between the ages of fourteen and sixteen along with the 160 crew and 40 instructors. Work had started back in January 1904 with the removal of four of the boilers, leaving three in the forward stokehold, and much of the machinery. The heavier parts of the engines were left intact to act as ballast. Then new structures had to be erected and new machinery, floors, lighting, forty-eight steam radiators and furniture fitted. It was a mammoth task, the length of steam piping alone amounting to some two thousand feet.
A huge corrugated-iron workshop was erected on the main deck, extending from side to side. It was 200 feet long, 50 feet broad and 21 feet high. This was fitted with all manner of machinery for the instruction of the boys, supplied by companies such as Messrs Archdall of Birmingham; Messrs Smith and Coventry of Manchester; Sir W G Arnstrong, Whitworth and Company, of Elswick; Messrs Churchill and Company of Newcastle; and many others. All the machinery was driven by belts from shafting, rotated by electrical power.
Also within the workshop were a handsomely fitted drawing office, a model room, and a gymnasium. On the main deck a class-room had been fitted out for 100 students and the mess deck had been refurnished as a mess for the boys, with tables and lockers. There were also a recreation room, a drying room heated by steam, and a pattern-maker's shop. The quarters for the boys and the men were completely separate, in order to maintain discipline, it was said.
The lower deck had been equipped with a bath room, with hot and cold water, the chest room, to hold the boys' belongings, and a hammock room. The old stokehold from which the boilers had been removed had been converted into a smithy, fitted with 21 furnaces, anvils and a two and a half hundredweight hammer driven by pneumatic power and electricity. As the smithy was low down in the ship, near the keel, it was necessary to come up with an ingenious system to carry away the fumes. A funnel ran along from each of the fires, the draught for which was supplied by means of an electric fan. All the funnels converged in a central shaft rising above roof level, in which there was an exhaust fan.
One of the most difficult tasks was to pierce through the vessel's eight inches of armour plate, ten inches of hard oak backing and two inches of iron, in order to make a large square hole from which a baggage stage could be erected on the outside of the ship. This was achieved by drilling a multitude of holes, like the perforations on a postage stamp, and even then the outside plate could only be moved with the aid of a battering-ram. The shipwrights who performed that task worked for five days and nights, under the direction of Mr Albert Jenkins.
HMS Temeraire was the second vessel to be commissioned and she was due to leave Jarrow on the following Thursday and arrive at Devonport on Sunday April 10th. She would be towed by HMS Immortalite.
The Temeraire was placed in the centre of the three vessels, to supply electricity to the other two ships. Her conversion, carried out at the same shipyard, was every bit as complicated. The removal of her engines was the first problem, as they were riveted to the side of the ship. The deck was opened out to allow them to be removed. The engines were declared obsolete and scrapped. All the brass and copper fittings and anything else of value were removed and sold.
As the Temeraire's function was to provide the electrical power to the other ships, she was fitted with two dynamos, each of 100 kilowatts, supplied by the Thames Iron Works Company. This powered 1,200 lamps and seven motors, ranging from 7 to 20 horse-power. The motors were supplied by Messrs Peter Brotherhood and Company of Westminster. They were closed engines, coupled direct to the dynamos, and running at 450 revolutions.
Where the ship's engine used to be was turned in to a carpenter's shop. Store rooms were provided to hold all the items required in the care and maintenance of ships in the Reserve Fleet. The boilers that supplied the steam heating were the original ones but as they worked at only 60 lbs per square inch pressure -- the normal in those days was 150lbs apparently -- it was necessary to design engines that would work with that lower pressure. Messrs Brotherhood were contracted to do that inside eight weeks and they did it well within that time.
The work of converting these two vessels was carried out in less than ten weeks and cost over £30,000.
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