Henry Harrisse.

Britain at work; a pictorial description of our national industries online

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Flowers and Salt

Sunday Morning Scene in "Petticoat Lane" .
Firewood ..........

Chairmenders .........

Street Flower Seller


Street Newspaper Stall


111 the Barber s Shop .......

" Britain s Might " . . . . ...

Semaphore Signalling .......

In the Engine Room of H. M.S. Majestic

Sword Drill : Attack and Defence .....

At Dumb-bell Exercise

Firing Machine (iuns . ......

A Room in the Naval Barracks, Whale Island, Ports
mouth .... . . . ...

Bluejackets in Summer Dress ....














Britain is the greatest hive of industry in the World, it is curious how
JL little the average Briton knows of the primary sources of the Nation s Greatness
her Industries. We supply the World s Markets with every commodity required
by man, but comparatively few of the forty-one millions of inhabitants of the British Isles
possess any definite knowledge of the Wonders of Art and Craft which are to be
found in every workshop and factory throughout our own country. This being the case,
we are assured that "BRITAIN AT WORK," which tells for the first time in popular
form the deeply interesting story of our Industrial Life, will receive an appreciative
welcome from all who have at heart the well-being and prosperity of the Nation.

Many of the secrets of Britain s success and of her almost inexhaustible wealth will
be revealed in the pages of " BRITAIN AT WORK." For us the gates of her world-
famous manufactories will be opened, and at our leisure we may examine the master
pieces of her great Industries. We shall watch the building of a man-of-war from the
time of " laying down " until that impressive moment when, casting off its fetters, it floats
majestically upon river or sea. Later we shall see the making of the Nation s guns,
and in the great Shipbuilding yards of the country witness the growth of the ocean
monarchs which will maintain for Britain the Commercial Supremacy of the World.

The miner in the depths of the coal pit will claim our attention. We shall
accompany him on his dangerous quest for the fuel which " moves the world," and,
having seen it wrested from the earth, we shall ascend with it to the pit-mouth,
and follow its journey by rail and sea to the workshop and fireside. After Coal,
the great Iron and Steel Industries will pass in review before us, and an opportunity
will be afforded of learning at first-hand many valuable facts relative to the wonderful
processes of their manufacture.

Remembering the wealth invested in the Land, we shall follow with interest the
various operations necessary for the successful cultivation of the soil. The picturesque
scenes of rural Britain will be portrayed for us, and the work of ploughing, sowing,
and harvesting will be described in a manner that cannot fail to awaken a deeper
and more intelligent interest in the Agricultural pursuits of this Country. W T e shall
visit a seed farm, and, in due course, watch the cultivation of flowers, vegetables, and
fruit for market.


The busy hives of Belfast, Manchester, and Bradford will be visited, and the
manufacture of Linen, Cotton, and Worsted will be seen in operation. We shall also
visit the famous Granite quarries of Aberdeen and the Potteries, and in each case an
expert writer will explain the processes of these interesting- industries.

The realism of the Iron Road will be pictured for us by pen, pencil, and
camera, and the everyday life of the railway engine-driver and the signalman vividly
described. In a similar manner the daily routine of life in the Navy and Army
-industries in the widest sense will be dealt with, and numerous illustrations
depicting the various scenes will help to render the articles of more than passing

interest and value.

The wonderful work of the Postal and Telegraph service will find a place in
our pages. We shall follow the adventures of a letter from the time it is posted
in London until it is delivered in far-away Shetland, and a telegraphic message
will be traced from the heart of the City until the great electric cable is lost to
view in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland.

We shall make our home for a time with the heroes of the Sea who brave
a hundred dangers even death itself in their quest for the fish required to meet
the ever-increasing demand of our great towns. We shall travel pleasantly along the
waterways of Britain by river and canal learning the while something of the barge
man s work, and of his even-day life. In this way the marvellous panorama of the Pool
of London will be seen to advantage, and many interesting glimpses of industrial
life on the busy Thames revealed to us. The great Docks of London, Liverpool,
and Southampton, of which the Nation is justly proud, will be visited, and their
principal characteristics described and illustrated.

The interesting work connected with the Tea, Coffee, and Cocoa Industries in
this country will be popularly explained, and in the same manner we shall learn
a great deal about the famous Breweries and Distilleries and the manufactories of
Mineral Waters. An article on the Cattle trade will tell how our principal cities
are provided with fresh meat day by day, and accounts of the manufacture of Bread,
Butter, and Cheese will afford an opportunity of ascertaining the extent and nature
of these industrial occupations. Amongst other things we shall see how Paper is
made, and afterwards watch its transformation into our daily newspaper or favourite

Every aspect of our Industrial Life will be sympathetically described, and the
scenes as we see them faithful!} pictured. Writers pre-eminent in their respective
departments have contributed to the work, and every care has been taken to ensure
an accurate and instructive account of the industries of our own country. To this
end many of the great employers of labour, the heads of our famous manufactories,
and the workers themselves have willingly given their valuable assistance, and to one
and all our sincere thanks are due.

Never was there a time when it behoved our people to be more alert and active
in meeting competition, and we trust that the issue of this work may create such a
wide-spread public interest in our Industries, both large and small, that it rnay not
be without its use in quickening the pulses of our Commercial life, and in a small
measure may render some service to the Nation at large.


NO industry in the British Isles is of
greater importance to the nation than
that which is concerned with the
construction of war-ships. In ordinary times
this industry engages the attention of two
dasses of establishments. There are, first,
the Royal Dockyards, which build nothing
else but war-ships. There are, secondly, the
great private yards, which in some cases

by work done in the building of war-ships
is difficult to determine. There are no
statistics distinguishing between those who
derive their daily bread from building
merchantmen and those who live upon the
wages won in war-ship construction. Most
private firms undertake both classes of work
at the same time, the only exception being
the Royal Dockyards. Moreover, scattered

Pholo: By permission of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.


specialise upon the construction of vessels
for warlike purposes ; and in other cases
occasionally undertake the building of
cruisers or battleships when there is no
other work going. In emergencies, such
as a great naval war would bring forth, all
these sources could be supplemented by the
yards which in ordinary times build nothing
but steamers for the mercantile marine.

What exactly is the number of the popula
tion which is in ordinary times supported

all over the country, there are a vast number
of subsidiary industries, all concerned with
the war-ship, such as the armour-plate
makers at Sheffield and Glasgow, and the
various engineering firms who manufacture
the hydraulic and electric fittings so largely
required on board. It is certainly an under
estimate to place the number of men
interested directly or indirectly in the
manufacture of material for the Navy in
Britain at somewhere about a million. The


expenditure upon the construction of ships
for our Navy alone has been ^"9,0x30,000 in
one year. But, besides ships for our fleet,
vessels were building at the same time for
Japan, Holland, and Norway.

The great Government yards are four in
number. Portsmouth is the most important,
employing 8,000 men ; then come Devonport
and Chatham, each with 6,900 ; while Pem
broke with 2,400 is a bad fourth. Sheerness
with 2,000 men does not build battleships,
but only small cruisers and sloops. Round
our coasts are scattered a number of private
firms who build large war-ships. In London
there is the Thames Ironworks, which con
structed the first ironclad to figure in our
Navy, the old Warrior. On the East coast
we have the yard of Messrs. Earle, which
in the past had a fine record, building small
battleships for foreign navies and cruisers
for our own. At Sunderland is Messrs.
Doxford s yard, which up to the present
has constructed only destroyers and merchant
steamers, but which could perfectly well
build armoured ships. On the Tyne is the
gigantic Klswick establishment, where every

thing for the war-ship, from the hull itself to
the guns, projectiles, and even armour, can
now be turned out. This firm is one of
the largest private builders of war-vessels
in the British Isles, and could construct
simultaneously two or three battleships and
two of the largest armoured cruisers. Close
at hand to Klswick is Messrs. Palmer s yard
at J arrow, where the very largest battleships
have been constructed for the Navy On
the East coast of Scotland there is no firm
building big ships; but it is quite otherwise
on the West coast, where the Clyde rings
with the sound of driving rivets. Here are
the immense yards controlled by the armour-
and gun-making firms of Brown and Vickers,
the first owning the Clydebank Engineering
and Shipbuilding Company, and the second
the Beard more yard. Besides these two
concerns there are the Eairfield and the
London and Glasgow yards, both of which
build the largest war-ships.

Descending the coast, there is at Belfast
the very important yard of Harland and
Wolff, which does not in ordinary times
turn out men-of-war, but which is quite

rhoto sitfplied by Sir W. G. Armstrong, H- kinuorth & Co.. Ltd.



; By fermis

Co., Ltd.


capable of doing so. At Barrow is a large
yard owned by the Vickers company, and
building the finest battleships and cruisers.
Finally, at Birkenhead is the historic estab
lishment of Laird Brothers.

The first step in the building of a battle
ship is the preparation of the design. This
is accomplished at the Admiralty, by the
Director of Naval Construction s Department.
The Director works in concert with the
engineering and gunnery experts of the
Navy, and the general outlines of the design
are laid down by the naval officers of the
Admiralty Board. These officers, who may
have to fight the ship, determine what the
guns carried are to be, what the thickness
of the armour, what the speed, what the coal
allowance. The length of the ship and her
draught of water are largely influenced by
the size of existing clocks.

Before finally settling the design, very
careful tests are made to ascertain the best
" lines " or form of ship to give a high speed.
These tests are rendered possible by the
construction of models which are tried in
a large tank. By their aid the speed of
the ship built, with a given engine-power,

can be very accurately determined before
hand, and such unpleasant surprises are
guarded against as occur when a ship
designed to steam twenty knots is found
to be capable only of making nineteen.

As soon as the general outline of the
design has been settled, and passed by
the Admiralty Board, detailed drawings and
specifications are prepared. The most im
portant of these are the "lines" of the ship,
and to obtain them foreign emissaries arc
known upon occasions to have offered very
large sums. The " lines " are a series of
plans showing the variations in the section
of the ship at various points in her length,
the variations in the ground plan of her
different decks, and the longitudinal eleva
tion, indicating such matters as her "sheer"
forward, or the cutting away of what is
known as the " deadwood " of the keel aft,
a feature in ships which are to be able to
turn quickly and in a small circle. If the
ships are to be built by contract, these
drawings, with detailed specifications, indi
cating exactly the material to be used, the
thickness of the plates to be employed, the
type of engines and boilers, and a vast


number of other matters, are forwarded to perhaps such immense forgings as those

certain selected firms who are known to be
capable of executing the work in a trust-
worth}- manner ; they in turn specif}- the

required for the ram have to be obtained
outside the yard which is building the ship.
The engines are not, as a rule, made in our

price at which they are willing to undertake Dockyards, and must be ordered elsewhere,

it, and if their prices are satisfactory orders
follow. A time limit is laid down within
which the ship must be delivered. This is
usually thirty or forty-two months, though
it will depend much upon the emergency
and upon the willingness of the Treasury
to spend money on the Navy. The best
record yet accomplished for the actual
completion of a battleship from the date
of " laying down " was accomplished by
Portsmouth and Chatham in the case of

with certain limits of weight which are
rarely exceeded. Everything used in the
building of the ship, if it is constructed
in a private yard, has to undergo rigorous
inspection by officers whom the Admiralty
deputes to guard its interests. Angle bars,
steel plates, and the raw material generally
are obtained from the great iron and steel
works of the country, or, it may be, imported
from America. Contracts are made for the
minor engines of all kinds with which the

the Magnificent and the Majestic, both of battleship is crammed, for pumping engines,

which were ready for sea in two years.

When the order to build has been given
a great deal of preliminary work has to be
accomplished before the ship actually appears
on the stocks. Material must be ordered ;

riwto : 5. Cribb, South

dynamos, capstans, hoisting engines, and so
forth. The guns are also ordered by the
Admiralty when the ship is laid down, as
the construction of the larger pieces will
often require two years, or almost as long
as the building of the
ship. The armour is
ordered from the makers
of that commodity.

Meantime, while these
various orders are being
placed, the ship s lines are
being " laid off" from the
drawings on a gigantic
plank floor, known as the
mould loft. It is so large
that the measurements
can be marked on it full
size for breadth and depth,
though for convenience
the length measurements
are generally contracted.
In this process of en
largement from the small
scale drawings errors will
be detected and corrected.
From the lines thus
depicted particulars are
transferred to what is
known as the " scrive
board." On this scrive
board, which is also made
of planking, the exact
curves of the frames and.
beams, indeed of all the
important structural



details of the ship, are marked one by
one, full size. When that has been done,
the curve is copied from the scrive board
on the " bending slabs," which are plates
of iron full of small holes in which steel
pegs can be placed, thus, as it were,
dotting in outline the curve to which the
frame is to be bent. The straight length
of frame or angle bar is then ready for
handling. Holes are punched where they
are required, this being done by measure
ment from the delineation on the scrive
board ; the frame is ne.xt heated, bevelled
by machinery, and brought hot to the pins
which mark out the curve to which it is to
be bent, and, in much less time than it takes
us to write this, bent to the required shape.
When bent and ready to take its place in
the structure of the ship it is placed in
position and rivetted.

The first process when actually building
up the structure of the battleship is to lay
the keel plates, which are prepared to
drawings and to the outline on the scrive
board, exactly as are the frames. The keel
plates are upon solid masses of wood,
slightly inclined from bow to stern if the
ship is not being built in dock, and if she
will have to be launched. Building in dock

is quicker, cheaper, and less troublesome,,
because it obviates all the anxieties which
attend the launch of a large vessel, but it
has the serious defect of rendering it
impossible to use the dock for any other
purpose. To the keel plates the frames,,
which are the most important factors in
the ship s structure, are bolted with rivets,,
and in the newest and most up-to-date
establishments the rivetting, of which there
is so much, is accomplished with great speed
by the use of a hydraulic or pneumatic
rivetter. The frames occur at short intervals
from stem to stern, and to them the outer
shell of plating which completes the structure
is secured. They are held in place in the
initial stages by strong shores of timber
and " ribband-pieces." The deck-beams and
longitudinal framing are then added ; the
floor-plates laid ; and the mass of metal on
the stocks begins to look like a ship. All
the operations of cutting plates to size,
bending and punching, are performed by
machinery, which is of the simplest and
most effective description. With the modern
appliances it is a matter of perfect ease to-
shear i V-inch steel plate, even to punch
manholes at one operation. Machinery is
more and more used for the transference



from point to point and handling of the
heavy weights which have to be moved.
Electric, hydraulic, and steam cranes are
employed largely.

One of the chief features in the battleship
is the armour deck, which divides the ship
horizontally into t\vo halves about the level
of the water line. This is usually composed


of several layers of the finest and toughest
nickel steel plate. It strengthens the whole
structure and holds it together. Before it can
be laid in its entirety it is necessary to place
the boilers and engines on board. This is clone
after the ship s launch, when she is brought
under the " sheers," which are hu<re cranes


capable of handling immense weights with
ease in some cases as much as two hundred
tons. The armour on the outside of the ship
is also almost always applied after the launch.

The launch of a big ship is a very serious
affair. In England battleships generally
have about 6,000 or 7,000 tons of material
built into them before they are placed in
the water. In France, however, launches
take place when the hull weighs only 3,500
tons, or even less. " Launching ways " of
heavy timber are laid clown, running parallel
to the ship s keel ; and on
these, under the vessel, is
built up a " cradle," which
is so arranged as to slide
on these ways. Then the
bearing surfaces of the
timber ways and of the
cradle are greased with
great quantities of tallow,
much of which is recovered
after the launch. The
weight of the ship is
gradually transferred to
the cradle, but to
prevent the vessel
moving before all is
ready a locking ar
rangement known as
a " dog-shore " is em
ployed, which must
be knocked away
before the ship is
free to move. The
" dog-shore " is now
generally knocked
away by mechanism,
operated by the
touching of a button
or the cutting of a
string, and arrange
ments are usually
made to scart the
ship by a push from
a hydraulic ram, so
as to prevent the sticking on the launching
ways, which used to be common in the earlier
days. But with all care and precautions
accidents occur, and sometimes very serious
accidents. The most noteworthy of recent
years was that attending the launch of the
Albion at the Thames Ironworks in 1898,
when the tremendous surge of water caused
by the plunge of the ship into Bow Creek sub
merged a staging, drowning thirty spectators.
In spite of all precautions a ship will



generally alter her shape slightly in the
process of launching, owing to the strains
which she has to undergo. This accounts
for the very curious fact that two ships
built from identical designs never give the
same result in the matter of speed. The
most striking instance of this phenomenon
is to be found in the case of the cruisers
Blake and Blenheim, the former of which
has always been a dismally slow ship, while
her sister the Blenheim has a fine record
for good steaming.

After the launch the inner works are
completed ; the armour placed in position,
the engines and boilers erected ; the decks
closed up where gaps have been left for
the passage of the boilers, and the vessel is
then ready to receive her armament. The
big barbettes fore and aft each receive their
two huge 12-inch guns ; in the casemates,
which are structures of armour built into
the hull of the ship, with on the outside
6-inch plate and on the inside 2-inch armour,
the 6-inch quick-firing guns are installed ;

and the battleship is ready to begin her
trials. The first trial is the turning of the
engines in the basin, to ascertain whether
all the parts fit properly and work. Then
follow the steam trials at sea at various
speeds, which usually reveal small defects,
perhaps requiring some trouble to correct.
The bearings in the engines often heat and
need fresh adjustment. After the steam
trials come exhaustive gunner}- trials, in
which all the mechanism for handling the
guns is tested, and many rounds are fired
from each gun. This final trial safely
accomplished, the last touches are put to
the ship, and she passes into the reserve,
or goes directly into commission, hoisting
the British flag, and joining one of the
main squadrons which guard the British
Empire. Erom first to last her cost will,
if she is of the newest type, the King
Edward class, displacing 16,500 tons, have
been from ; 1,250,000 upwards, and the
time occupied in her completion about
three years.


. -**.-

Dioto : Syinonds 6- Co., Poit-mjuth.


1 hoto : Cassfll & Co.,



TIIKRK is a widening gulf of separation
between the interests of Town and
Country. The busy hives of workers
in South Lancashire and Yorkshire, in the
"black" districts of the Midlands, and the
gigantic population of Greater London, are
to a great extent out of sympathy with
the sparsely populated rural districts. And
yet in the earlier memories of thousands of
artisans and labourers in the towns there
must lurk reminiscences of the country and
of rural pursuits. The perpetual drain of
country-bred youths into the manufacturing-
centres must tend to preserve such asso
ciations alive, but, as the years roll on,
the impressions become fainter, and rival
interests become stronger. The lines of
separation between Town and Country do
not stop at the working classes, but extend
upward through the various social layers,
and find expression in comparative indiffer
ence for the yokels and clodhoppers who
sow the seed and reap the harvest with
enduring toil."

To many, the agricultural labourer is an
object of something akin to pity. Until
recently he had no political power, and
even to-day he boasts of no union or trade
organisation. His wages are low in com
parison with the earnings of artisans, or even
labourers, in towns, and the I is. or I2s. a
week which still represents the ordinary

Online LibraryHenry HarrisseBritain at work; a pictorial description of our national industries → online text (page 2 of 39)