Hand Tinted View of Devonport

This week’s photograph is a lovely hand tinted view of Devonport taken in August 1925:SKM_C284e18032911530 - CopyThis photograph shows the Hamoaze, the name for the tidal estuary of the River Tamar in Plymouth as it runs past the Royal Navy’s Devonport Dockyard. In 1925, as today, this stretch of water was unbelievably busy with military and civilian craft of all sizes, both traversing the waterways and at anchor. A number of ships can be seen in the anchorage including a civilian steamer:SKM_C284e18032911530 - Copy - CopyIn the middle distance are a couple of ships I suspect may be accommodation vessels:SKM_C284e18032911530 - Copy - Copy (2)They look to be older vessels and there appears to be some structures built onto their decks which was typical of ships taken out of service to serve as accommodation and teaching space for sailors. It was far cheaper to use a surplus vessel and moor it in the harbour than buy land and build a building on it for the same purpose! One of the ships being used for accommodation and training in Devonport harbour in 1925 was HMS Marshal Soult, a monitor. This ship had the advantages of allowing ratings to be drilled in the use of a Battleship’s guns, without the need to maintain a full size battleship for training. The ship’s large, flat deck also made it easy to fit wooden huts and classrooms on board. I do not think these ships are Marshal Soult, but may perhaps be the hulks used by HMS Defiance. HMS Defiance was the navy’s torpedo school and was based aboard hulks from 1884 until 1956 when it moved ashore to a dedicated establishment. This painting shows them from a different angle and between the vessels are four vertical masts that would match the four masts we can see in the photograph:CaptureUnfortunately the detail is too blurry in the photograph, and the angle is clearly very different, to be able to say for certain that this is indeed HMS Defiance, but it seems possible.

Also moored in the harbour is a battleship:SKM_C284e18032911530 - Copy - Copy (3)In 1925 HMS Thunderer was the sea going training vessel for cadets at Devonport, a role she fulfilled from 1921-1926. The Orion class battleship had been laid down before the Great War and after serving faithfully throughout World War one she was used for training until she was sent for scrap in August 1926.

According to the seller I purchased this photograph from, it was hand tinted by a Lt Commander Lawrence Watts of the Royal Navy Reserve. Sadly I have no further information on this, but regardless he has done a lovely job of the tinting and it remains a very attractive image to this day.

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