Wednesday, 8 October 2014

UK Maritime Heritage Forum

This week I have been attending a meeting of the UK Maritime Heritage Forum in Belfast. The meeting was held over two days in the engine room of the SS Nomadic, one of the original tenders used by the White Star Line to ferry passengers to their Olympic class liners, the most famous of which, of course, was RMS Titanic.

SS Nomadic

The UKMHF brought together around 60 curators and allied professionals to to share news and experience. There were some very interesting presentations, and I particularly enjoyed hearing about the exemplary work of Rhian Tritton and Joanna Thomas of the SS Great Britain Trust at the new Brunel Institute in Bristol.

To put concern for Peggy into perspective we were treated to an excellent walking tour led by Colin Cobb that took in HMS Caroline, last survivor of the Battle of Jutland, and the awe-inspiring Thompson Dock where Titanic was fitted-out.

HMS Caroline

Members of the UKMHF standing at the head of the Thompson (Titanic) Dock

The walking tours are run by Titanic's Dock and Pump House and they are very well worth taking.

Titanic Belfast from the bridge of SS Nomadic

Day two offered us the opportunity to visit Titanic Belfast, pictured above and quiz the team that run it. It's truly very impressive and obviously worth seeing.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Keeping it together...

This week another example of the accelerating pace of losses from Peggy. This section of the starboard rubbing strake fell off during Friday night. We have had several similar losses this year. We can expect many more of these because the nails holding the boat together have been completely consumed by rust...

James holds the latest lost piece of Peggy

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Scaffold going in

Here is a picture of the unfinished scaffold platform that will soon be bearing the weight of Peggy.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Sand baggers

Last week, volunteers from Isle of Man Civil Defense built this sand bag wall to protect vulnerable archaeological timbers from the incoming tide. 400 sand bags were used. Stirling effort!
This week scaffolders will build the platform over the dock that we'll use to get Peggy out...

See the press release here.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Mystery objects

More mystery objects for you to ponder over.

The first is part of George's Marvelous Machine. As you can see it incorporates a crank and a curious, conical drum. Could the drum be intended as a kind of variable gear for a belt-drive?

PB14CDM#080

PB14CDM#080
Second is a piece of 18th century timber with a carpenter's mark upon it. We'd like to identify the mark if we can. if you have any suggestions we'd be happy to hear them.
Timber inscribed with carpenter's mark

Thursday, 24 July 2014

George's Marvelous Machine

Finally today, a quick run through of what I found in the tangled mass sitting on the base of the dock.

The mass was cemented together by a combination of fine, black mud and lime kiln waste. The black mud was formed from night soil waste and was very tenacious. It ranged in consistency from very soft and clayey to compact and hard, similar to Jurassic mudstone such as that you can find on Dorset beaches. Iron salts from the decomposition of ferrous objects made it extremely hard in places. The lime kiln waste was identified as such by analysis undertaken by the Scottish Lime Centre. Like the night soil, it had been dumped upon the mass of machinery etc. from above through a doorway to the alley. Much of the lime had taken a very strong set, like concrete.

The deposition sequence was as follows:
1.
Thick layer of sawdust, wood shavings and off-cuts, 10-15 cm deep sitting directly on the dock floor. There were a few fragments of broken pottery incorporated, including most of a Delft Willow Pattern eggcup. The thickness of the layer and the incorporation of pottery waste strongly suggest it was the result of dumping through the doorway above, of waste from a workshop, rather than of works to boats (i.e. Peggy) in the dock itself.
2.
Machinery components, metal implements, scrap timber. This would appear to be a single deposit, judging from the extremely complicated tangle. There are items from what might best be described as a workshop clear-out: miscellaneous cast iron boxes, one of which contains a flintlock, a key and other oddments; hinge plates and cast iron collars; keys; a set of weighing scales; an auger and a variety of long bars with hooks or T-pieces. The machinery components are distinct from these. They are characterised by substantial and refined castings and finely made gears. They are often composite with wooden parts. They include a number of crank pieces designed to transmit rotary motion to lateral, reciprocal movement, driven by a beveled gear and a separate drive shaft; one of these pieces incorporates a very unusual belt-drive cylinder. 

Part of an elaborate cast iron cam with wooden rods

There is also a rather fine regulator – a long rod, pivoted in the middle, terminating in lead spheres at either end. The two large wheels, one with four spokes and the other with six, are also from this group. The strong indication is that all the machinery components come from one machine unconnected to the dock.

3.
Night soil, as above described.

4.
Lime waste, ditto.

5.
Glass and pottery waste, added while the night soil and lime were soft.

Volunteers help archaeological dig

Also this week Allison Fox, Curator of Archaeology at Manx National Heritage, has been supervising volunteers from the Friends of Manx National Heritage. The volunteers have been cleaning artifacts from the archaeological dig.

and it didn't rain......

We are very lucky with our Friends organisation. They include many talented and energetic people are they are ably organised by Nicola Pemberton. If you'd like to join them, why not contact Nicola by clicking here?