Chapter 13: "Iron, as a material for ship-building"
Diederick Wessel Linden: Three letters on Mining and Smelting [...]. (London, 1750).
John Grantham: Iron, as a material for ship-building [...]. (Liverpool, 1842).
published February 2018
The favorite books of Stefania Elena Carnemolla
Stefania Elena Carnemolla was our Scholar in Residence in July 2017. As part of her project on the treatment of fouling on wooden and iron ships in the 18th and 19th centuries, she reviewed books and journals on iron, wood, and naval engineering. She chose John Grantham’s 1842 Liverpool lecture on iron as a material for shipbuilding as her favorite book due to its revolutionary content at a time when shipyards mistrusted iron as an alternative to wood.
Stefania Elena Carnemolla
… is an Italian freelance scholar. She is a specialist in the history of discoveries, Portuguese and European expansion, maritime, nautical, and oceanic sciences, seafaring and sea trade.
She received her degree in humanities at Pisa University with a dissertation on Vasco da Gama’s first journey to India. Soon afterwards, she received research scholarships at the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Instituto Camões, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal and Comissão Nacional para as Comemorações dos Descobrimentos Portugueses. In 2000 she was awarded a prize for Portuguese culture.
She has published two books and one edited volume containing an essay entitled “Joseph Conrad on the Titanic: A Pioneering Spirit of Safety and Life at Sea”. She has published academic articles and essays on maritime subjects, many of them on the relationship between the maritime world and science and technology.
She is also a freelance journalist with an interest in science and technology, shipping, defense and foreign affairs, geopolitics, and economics. In 2010 she was awarded a national journalism prize for her work on shipping, alien species and bioinvasion due to ballast water. She has recently translated a scholarly book on Ermanno Stradelli from Portuguese into Italian. Stradelli was a 19th century Italian explorer who lived in Brazil and contributed to our knowledge of Amazonia.
I would love to play a role in this journal:
Mechanics magazine : museum, register, journal, and gazette. 1.1823 - 69.1858
This book needs a sequel:
Dietrich Wessel Linden: Three letters on mining and smelting : in which a method is laid down, whereby these useful sciences may be greatly improved. To which is added, a fourth letter; setting forth a discovery of an easy method to secure ships bottoms from worms. (1750)
The book on my nightstand:
R. M. S.: Queen Mary (1936)
Diederick Wessel Linden: Three letters on Mining and Smelting; in which a Method is laid down, Whereby these useful Sciences may be greatly Improved. To which is added, a Fourth LETTER; A DISCOVERY of an early Method to secure SHIPS BOTTOMS from Worms. (London, 1750).
The Iron Library is a great resource for the history of the treatment of fouling on wooden and iron ships. The Scholar in Residence program was therefore very fruitful to my research focusing on such treatments in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The analysis of my two favorite books was enriched by the study of many secondary sources, confirming what I was looking for and adding new things to my research. It is difficult to summarize in a few lines the richness of the material I analyzed, but what I can say is that the results of my research could give rise to some individual publications.
"A DISCOVERY of an early Method to secure SHIPS BOTTOMS from Worms"
In chronological order, my first favorite book is "Three letters on Mining and Smelting; in which a Method is laid down, Whereby these useful Sciences may be greatly Improved. To which is added, a Fourth LETTER; A DISCOVERY of an early Method to secure SHIPS BOTTOMS from Worms" written by Diederick Wessel Linden and printed in London in 1750 for George Keith, Bookseller, at Mercers-Chapel, Cheapside.
This book is a collection of letters to the Earl of Halifax by Diederick Wessel Linden, a doctor, as stated by two rare biographical notes, probably of German origin, who then moved to England. The fourth letter is about a new method he developed for protecting timber from Teredo navalis, a bivalve mollusk also called shipworm, which attacks boats, ships and harbors, and has been known about for a long time.
The letter also contains a critique of previous treatments, explaining why they had been unsuccessful. Linden probably never patented his method, and yet his letter is an interesting chapter in the history of protecting ships against Teredo navalis.
John Grantham: Iron, as a material for ship-building, being a communication to the Polytechnic Society of Liverpool. (Liverpool, 1842).
"Iron, as a material for ship-building"
My second favorite book is "Iron, as a material for ship-building, being a communication to the Polytechnic Society of Liverpool" printed in Liverpool in 1842. The book, with an appendix including drawings and a collection of letters by renowned personalities of the time who were interested in both iron and shipbuilding, contains a pioneering lecture by John Grantham, an English engineer involved in marine, railway and tramway engineering. This lecture on iron shipbuilding, held in 1842 at the Polytechnic Society of Liverpool, focused on the early history and construction of iron vessels, as well as on iron vessels as both a national and a commercial issue.
As to fouling and its treatment, the book contains two interesting paragraphs. One describes the condition of ships sailing in oriental seas, giving detailed information on “shells” and “animals” causing fouling; the other paragraph is on Grantham’s instrument, a scraper for cleaning ships’ hulls, a mechanical method initiated at the end of the 19th century and which can be considered the forerunner of the automated methods largely employed to clean hulls today. But I did not only find important material on Grantham’s solution for treating fouling. The book also allowed me to discover a letter by Thomas Jevons, a Liverpool iron merchant, on his iron life-boat, suggesting new chapters for my future research.
During my research, thanks to the screening of "Mechanic's Magazine" – where I found many other items of news from the time on treating fouling – and more historical magazines and journals, I had the opportunity to follow Grantham’s efforts for the treatment of fouling, which latterly included a novel hull design and a new hull coating.