Britomart-class gunboat

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HMS Cherub (1865).jpg
HMS Cherub Goderich, Lake Huron in 1866
Class overview
Name: Britomart class
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Algerine class
Succeeded by: Ariel class
Built: 1859–1867
In commission: 1860–1890
Planned: 20
Completed: 16
Cancelled: 4
General characteristics [1]
Type: 'Crimean' gunboat
Displacement: 330 tons
Tons burthen: 267 8294 bm
  • 120 ft 0 in (36.6 m) (gundeck)
  • 105 ft 7 in (32.18 m) (keel)
Beam: 22 ft 0 in (6.7 m)
Depth of hold: 9 ft 0 in (2.7 m)
Installed power:
  • 60 nhp
  • 157–277 ihp (117–207 kW))
  • 1 × 1-cylinder single-expansion reciprocating steam engine
  • 1 × screw
Speed: 9 kn (17 km/h)
Crew: 36–40

The Britomart-class gunboat was a class of sixteen gunboats built for the Royal Navy in 1859–1867.


The Britomart class was an improved version of the Dapper class designed by W.H. Walker, and as such comes under the generic group "Crimean gunboats" although this class was ordered and built long after the end of the Crimean War. These were the last Royal Navy gunboats to have wooden hulls: subsequent gunboats were of composite construction, with wooden planking over iron frames.[1]


The class were fitted with a single-cylinder single-expansion reciprocating steam engine. The engines for Britomart and Cockatrice were by John Penn and Sons; the engine builders for the other ships are not recorded. The single screw could be hoisted to give improved performance under sail.[1]

Sail plan[edit]

The ships were provided with a three-masted barquentine rig, that is, with square sails on the foremast and fore-and-aft sails on the main and mizzen masts.[1]


Early ships of the class were armed with two 68-pounder smooth bore muzzle loading cannon (as had been planned, but not implemented, for the Dapper class); but the Heron was fitted with two 112-pounder Armstrong guns. Later ships had two 64-pounder rifled muzzle-loading guns.[1]


Name Ship builder[1] Launched[1] Fate[1]
Britomart T & W Smith, North Shields 7 May 1860 Served on Lake Erie.[2] Sold to Henry Castle & Sons on 12 January 1892, and resold to S Williams of Dagenham as a mooring hulk. Broken up in June 1946
Cockatrice T & W Smith, North Shields 24 May 1860 Became luggage lighter YC.10 at Malta in 1882. Sold there in 1885
Wizard T & W Smith, North Shields 3 August 1860 Broken up at Malta in September 1878
Speedy C Lamport, Workington 18 July 1860 Sold to Henry Castle & Sons for breaking at Charlton in August 1889
Doterel Wm. Cowley Miller, Toxteth Dock, Liverpool 5 July 1860 Sold to Marshall, Plymouth on 6 June 1871
Heron Wm. Cowley Miller, Toxteth Dock, Liverpool 5 July 1860 Served on Lake Ontario.[2] Sold in Jamaica in June 1879 and broken up there in 1881
Pigeon Briggs & Co., Sunderland 7 June 1860 Broken up at Devonport on 29 September 1876
Linnet Briggs & Co., Sunderland 7 June 1860 Breaking completed at Chatham on 15 July 1872
Tyrian Courtenay, Newhaven 7 September 1861 Tug in 1883 at Jamaica and sold there in 1891
Trinculo Joseph Banks, Plymouth 15 September 1860 Wrecked after collision with SS Moratin off Gibraltar on 5 September 1870
Cherub Portsmouth Dockyard 29 March 1865 Served on Lake Huron.[2] Sold to Castle for breaking at Charlton 5 May 1890
Netley Portsmouth Dockyard 22 July 1866 Sold at Portsmouth to Castle for breaking at Charlton in September 1885
Minstrel Portsmouth Dockyard 16 February 1865 Coal hulk at Bermuda in 1874 and sold in 1903
Orwell Portsmouth Dockyard 27 December 1866 Sold to the Customs Board on 20 December 1890
Cromer Portsmouth Dockyard 20 November 1867 Sold on 24 August 1886 for breaking
Bruiser (or Bruizer) Portsmouth Dockyard 23 April 1867 Broken up at Devonport in May 1886
Bramble Portsmouth Dockyard Cancelled 12 December 1863
Crown Portsmouth Dockyard Cancelled 12 December 1863
Protector Portsmouth Dockyard Cancelled 12 December 1863
Danube Portsmouth Dockyard Cancelled 12 December 1863 (never started)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Winfield, p.231–232
  2. ^ a b c A. Preston & J.Major, Send a Gunboat!: The Victorian Navy and Supremacy at Sea, 1854-1904, Conway, 2007, page 65