HMS Melampus Postcard

Normally when we look at a postcard of a warship on the blog it had some part to play in the Great War, even if as an older vessel it was used for nothing more than a guardship or accommodation block. Today’s postcard is a little different however as it shows a ship that was actually scrapped before World War One started. HMS Melampus was an Apollo class protected cruiser, a large class of second class cruisers introduced in the late nineteenth century. In total twenty one Apollo class and eight modified Astraea class ships were constructed, with HMS Melampus  being launched in 1890 and commissioned in 1891. The ships displaced 3,600 tons and were small, but sleek vessels:

The ship’s main armament was a pair of 6” guns, one mounted at either end of the ship and a secondary armament of 6x 4.7inch quick fir9ng guns and 8x 6 pounder guns arranged down the sides of the ship to provide protection against small fast moving attackers. The ship was conned from a small open bridge in front of the funnels and was painted in the typical late Victorian paint scheme of black hull with white or tan superstructure, an elegant gilded scroll work was attached to the bow:

The ship could reach speeds of up to 19.7 knots and a pair of tall funnels amidships gave the ship an elegant line. Here the ship has been ‘dressed’ for an important occasion and is displaying a full sent of flags and bunting from her masts:

Melampus was originally ordered and built for the Greek navy before being diverted to the Royal Navy. In 1891, when Prince George of Wales (the future King George V) was promoted to commander, he assumed command of Melampus. He relinquished his post in January 1892, on the death of his brother Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. On 5 Jul 1892, in Portsmouth, Melampus carried out trials of her machinery and other equipment, following which she swung her compasses at Spithead. She later departed on the 7 July for Plymouth and Falmouth. On 26 Jun 1897, she was present at the Naval Review at Spithead in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee. She took part in the fleet review held at Spithead on 16 August 1902 for the coronation of King Edward VII, and later that month was off Ireland where she received the Japanese cruisers Asama and Takasago to Cork. In 1903 Melampus was withdrawn as guard ship at Kingstown in Ireland. On 12 July 1910, Melampus was sold for scrap for £9,000.

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