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The diverse world of ship plans

The idea of this gallery is to illustrate some of the plans that are held by the National Maritime Museum. The plans have an historical context relating to the life of the ship once she was built, and also to the plan’s place in the sequence of shipbuilding design. The plans hold much social information about the accommodation areas of officers and men on warships, and passengers (of all classes) and crew on merchant ships.

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

Sheer and Body Plan of HM 'Bark Endeavour' (bought 1768)

Sheer and Body Plan of HM 'Bark Endeavour' (bought 1768)

While famous under Capt. J. Cook, her type was more frequently to be seen plying between the east of England and the Baltic with cargoes of timber and coal. The’ Whitby Cat’, as the type was known, was a stable, roomy bulk carrier, which suited their owners’ needs. Due to Cook’s success, the Admiralty bought other ships of the same design for exploration, research, and survey purposes.

Unknown, 1768
© National Maritime Museum, London


Hold Plan of 'Leviathan' (later 'Great Eastern'), 1858

Hold Plan of 'Leviathan' (later 'Great Eastern'), 1858

This is from a very colourful set of presentation plans belonging to Denny Brothers, Dumbarton. The plan shows the shape of the hull under water, and her huge coal capacity. Ships like this were important as they showed the limitation and the possibilities when building in iron and using paddles for propulsion. The Admiralty were constantly aware of such developments.

Unknown, 19th Century
© National Maritime Museum, London


The Upper Deck Plan of HMS 'Warrior' (1860)

The Upper Deck Plan of HMS 'Warrior' (1860)

The upper deck plan for this vessel is typical of the details found on ships of this era. The plan is one of a number that represent the different decks of the ship, which together reveal the accommodation, gun placements, propulsion and structure. This plan gives some idea of the long sleek hull-lines that makes the 'Warrior' such an aesthetic warship, and accounts for her speed.

Unknown, 1861
© National Maritime Museum, London


Sheer and Body Plan of 'Lyon' (1709)

Sheer and Body Plan of 'Lyon' (1709)

This vessel was not a glamorous warship, nor a large merchant vessel. She was a type of ship called a ‘Hoy’ (refers to the fore-and-aft sail rig, single mast and the short hull). Before she was lost in 1752, she was attached to Deptford Dockyard to move materials. This plan reveals her short and beamy stature, making her suitable for small and shallow areas of a busy dockyard.

Admiralty, 1709
© National Maritime Museum, London


Lower Deck Plan of HMS 'Endymion' (1797)

Lower Deck Plan of HMS 'Endymion' (1797)

'Endymion' gave her name to a class of large 24 pounder frigates that carried between 40 and 50 guns on their upper and quarter decks. Her design was based upon that of the captured French frigate 'Pomone' (taken 1794). This plan provides information on the accommodation of the warrant and commissioned officers and also some of the storage areas such as the bread bins and spirits store.

Admiralty, 1797
© National Maritime Museum, London


A Plan of the Watertight Compartments of HMS 'Minotaur' (1863)

A Plan of the Watertight Compartments of HMS 'Minotaur' (1863)

This plan provides much information as it has the deck plans, sections and profile. 'Minotaur' (ex-Elephant) was completed in 1865 and spent the next 18 months testing experimental armaments and rigs before being commissioned. After a refit (1873-5) she was the first Royal Naval vessel to be fitted with a searchlight. In 1904 she became a training ship (Boscawen, then Ganges in 1906, then Ganges II in 1908). Sold in 1922.

Unknown, 1863
© National Maritime Museum, London


Inboard Profile of HMS 'Sans Pareil' (1887)

Inboard Profile of HMS 'Sans Pareil' (1887)

'Sans Pareil' was one of two in the Victoria Class of turret ships. Her sister ship, 'Victoria', is more famous as she sank in a collision with HMS 'Camperdown' during manoeuvres off Tripoli in 1893. The inboard profile provides information about the different rooms and their functions. It also gives the outline of the boilers and propellers. The different colours denotes the different materials used in her construction, or any modifications made at a later date.

Unknown, 1891
© National Maritime Museum, London



National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund