This is a fully revised edition of a book published originally in 1987 by Conway Maritime Press.
The author has a well-established reputation for the standard of his research and his presentation of those facts. The publisher has an equally well-established reputation for the very high standard of its historical naval publications. The joining of author and publisher therefore provides high expectations and these are not disappointed. The production of the book is first class and the standard of the lavish illustration is excellent.
NAME: HMS Warrior 1860, Victoria’s Ironclad Deterrent
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: Andrew Lambert
PUBLISHER: Conway, Anova books
BINDING: Hard back
PRICE: GB £30.00
SUBJECT: Naval technology, iron clads, Victorian Navy, heritage preservation, steam power, ocean-going warships, Industrial Revolution
DESCRIPTION: Britain has had a surprisingly poor record in preserving naval artefacts, in view of its long naval traditions and the critical role the Royal Navy has played from the time of the Saxon King Alfred in the development of Britain and the British Empire and the role it still plays beyond Empire. HMS Warrior is one of the happy exceptions. The author has a well-established reputation for the standard of his research and his presentation of those facts. The publisher has an equally well-established reputation for the very high standard of its historical naval publications. The joining of author and publisher therefore provides high expectations and these are not disappointed. The production of the book is first class and the standard of the lavish illustration is excellent. This is a fully revised edition of a book published originally in 1987 by Conway Maritime Press. Since that first edition, much has changed in publishing and in reading habits. Quality is still highly prized by enthusiasts and professionals, making this a book that will sell well to this market niche. Inevitably, quality comes at a price and the reduction in the numbers of public libraries will mean that many readers who would like to enjoy this excellent book will be deterred by price and unable to source from lending libraries, which is a great shame. When Warrior was launched in 1860, she was a ground-breaking design. As the world’s first ever iron-hulled, ocean-going armoured warship she set a revolutionary new standard as a fast, powerful frigate. For the first time since the Napoleonic Wars and the Battle of Trafalgar, the French under Napoleon III were attempting to challenge the British naval supremacy and launched their armoured rival Gloire that was immediately and comprehensively out classed by Warrior. There were many revolutionary features in the design of Warrior, of which the 4.5 inch armour and breach loading rifled cannon were just two new elements at a time when muzzle-loading cannon were still being produced for navies around the world. In her own right as a very important step in the evolution of naval arms, Warrior would have justified a book such as this. However, there are two stories to be told and Lambert has told both very well. The first story is of the ship and her place in naval evolution. She took advantage of the British Industrial Revolution, which had developed iron and steel production well ahead of other nations and created steam engines and screw propulsion for ships. The same industries had produced iron cooking ranges and advanced cannon, whilst British sailors and designers had advanced navigation technology. All of these developments came together to make Warrior an outstanding vessel in her time and one that enabled the Royal Navy to maintain a dominance of the seas without having to fight. The second story is of her restoration at Portsmouth by the Warrior Preservation Trust. This is one of the success stories of heritage preservation in Britain and by locating Warrior at Portsmouth, she can be compared with HMS Victory, the Mary Rose and the growing collection of major naval artefacts in a port that is still an important Royal Navy base. It took from 1979 to 1987 to restore and move the vessel. The book includes drawings and photographs from the ship’s working life and a comprehensive selection of photographs to record the restoration and display the vessel’s current condition. No self-respecting naval enthusiast will want to be without a copy of this book. The publishers have also gone a long way towards making what is an art quality book affordable to a wider readership. The march of technology is irresistible and the availability of very low cost eBooks and PrintOnDemand books will provide access by an increasing number of people to an increasing number of titles, but when a high quality book such as this is published using traditional printing technology one has to wonder how far the advantages of new technology will reduce access to high quality publications. Inevitably publishers will be forced to move to eBook and POD publishing. Hopefully the new technology will improve in quality, but it is not likely to equal the feel of a high quality printed-paper book. Of course it is not only production quality that is affected. The other side of the coin is that the author will also come under pressure to produce work quickly and cheaply, leading to a need to be sponsored, or be employed within academia. In the mean time, we must seize the opportunity to acquire books of this quality in production and content.