The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, HMS Warrior and London’s only lighthouse
The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company Limited (1837-1912) was a shipyard and iron works straddling the mouth of Bow Creek at its confluence with the River Thames. Its main activity was shipbuilding, but it also diversified into civil engineering, marine engines, cranes, electrical engineering and the auto industry.
The company produced ironwork for Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge over the Tamar in the 1850s, and notably the world’s first all-iron warship, HMS Warrior, designed and built for the Royal Navy as a response to the first iron-clad warship, the French Gloire. The tender to build the new iron-cased frigate was awarded to the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company and after 35 months she was launched on 29 December 1860, although not without difficulty. As a result of the coldest winter for 50 years, Warrior was found to have frozen to the slipway and six tugs were required to haul her into the river.
Trinity Buoy Wharf, by the confluence of the River Thames and Bow Creek, is also the site of London’s only lighthouse, although the lighthouse no longer functions. Designed in 1864-6 by James Douglass for Trinity House, it was used for lighting trials for Trinity House’s lights around England & Wales and for training prospective lighthouse keepers. Michael Faraday also carried out a number of experiments there. Sometimes known as Faraday’s Lighthouse it is more commonly known as Bow Creek Lighthouse.
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