The Battleship Builders

I have had an interest in warships, warship design, and the history of naval warfare ever since I first took part in a naval wargame when I was very young, and over one-third of the shelves in my toy/wargames room hold books that deal with this subjects. The most recent addition to my collection is THE BATTLESHIP BUILDERS: CONSTRUCTION AND ARMING BRITISH CAPITAL SHIPS by Ian Johnston and Ian Buxton.

This book was published in 2013 by Seaforth Publishing (ISBN 978 1 84832 093 2) and has been on my ‘to buy’ list ever since I first saw it on the shelves of my local branch of Waterstones. I finally got around to buying it very recently … and regret not buying it sooner.

The book is not just an economic history of the individual shipbuilders who built Britain’s battleships; it is also about the creation and use of the industrial infrastructure required to manufacture the ships’ hulls, their boilers and engines, their armament, and their armour. It also explains how the industry developed, the facilities that were required to build such large warships, the way in which the various companies costed and bid for contracts (often colluding with each other to ensure that bids were not over-competitive), and about the workforce that built the ships.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand how battleships were built during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.


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