Written by Jonathan Manuel.


Turbinia (First Turbine powered ship in history)

The Turbinia also known as “The Ocean Greyhound” due to her speed is perhaps one of the most important ships constructed in Naval history as she paved the way for an entire new generation of ships. She was designed and built by Charles Algernon Parsons the in inventor of the Modern Steam Turbine. Parsons having foreseen its potential to power ships, he set up the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company with five associates in 1893. To develop this, he had the experimental vessel Turbinia built in a light design of steel by the firm of Brown and Hood, based at Wallsend on Tyne in the Northeast of England (based on his own design despite never having designed a ship or having the training to). The British Admiralty while kept up to date with Parsons designs was kept in the Dark about Turbinia. She was Launched in 1894 after a year of construction and ran trials, Despite the success of the turbine engine, initial trials with one propeller were disappointing. After discovering the problem of cavitation and constructing the first cavitation tunnel, Parsons' research led to him fitting three axial-flow turbines to three shafts, each shaft in turn driving three propellers, giving a total of nine propellers. In her next set of trials, the redesigned Turbinia achieved a top speed of over 34 knots, so that "the passengers aboard would be convinced beyond all doubt Turbinia was Charles Parsons' winning North Sea greyhound".
Turbina became famous due to the set of events in which she was revealed to the world in a public display. Parsons needed an even where he could show off Turbinia and her impressive speed and prowess. Luckily for him the 26th of June 1897 there was to be an Admiralty Naval review at Spithead for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. At this fleet review, a large number of Royal Navy ships were to be present (140 in all), as well as some foreign warships from other countries such Prussia. There were also many high-ranked naval officers, they stood next to members of the House of Lords, MP's, and ambassadors from many other countries. However Most importantly several Royal family members were to be present including the Prince of Wales (representing Queen Victoria his mother) and Prince Henry of Prussia. Throughout this event Turbinia made multiple appearances and showcased an incredible speed of 34.5 knots shocking the assembled dignitaries at this feat. Due to Prussian interest in the Turbine engines the Royal navy ordered it first two Turbine powered ships HMS Cobra and HMS Viper in 1898. By 1900 Turbinia had become world famous due to her speed and the many feats she achieved including a Trip to Paris. However, by 1908 her hull was deteriorating badly as such her owners removed her from the water and offered her to the London Science Museum for preservation. The Museum accepted her and cut the ship in Half as they had no place to display her fully. The aft section, complete with engines and propellers, was put on display in the South Kensington museum in London while the fore section was presented in 1944 to Newcastle Corporation and placed on display in the city's Exhibition Park. In 1959 the Aft section was removed from display and in 1961, using a reconstructed center section, Turbinia was once more complete and put on display at the Newcastle Municipal Museum of Science and Industry. In 1989 she underwent a massive restoration aimed at restoring her to her 1897 appearance. On 30 October 1994, 100 years after her launch and four years of restoration, Turbinia was moved to Newcastle's Museum of Science and Engineering (later renamed The Discovery Museum) and put on display to the public in March 1996. Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, in 2000, the vessel was the focal point of a year-long £10.7 million redevelopment program at the Discovery Museum. The gallery around Turbinia was the first area to be refurbished, with the main part of the work involving raising the roof by one story to create viewing galleries on three levels.

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Museum info:
Address: Blandford Square, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 4JA, United Kingdom
Phone: + (0191) 232 6789
Turbinia's website
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