HMS Leander (1882)

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British Cruiser Leander.jpg
HMS Leander in 1897
Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Leander
Ordered: 1880[1]
Builder: Napier, Glasgow[2]
Laid down: 14 June 1880[2]
Launched: 28 October 1882[2][3]
Commissioned: 29 May 1885[2][4]
Decommissioned: 18 December 1919[5]
Fate: Sold 1 July 1920[3][6]
General characteristics
Class and type: Leander-class second-class partially protected cruiser
Displacement: 4,300 tons (4,400 tonnes) load.[2][3]
Tons burthen: 3,750 tons (B.O.M.).[7]
  • 300 ft (91 m) between perpendiculars.[2]
  • 315 ft (96 m) overall.[2][3]
Beam: 46 ft (14 m).[2][3]
  • 20 ft 8 in (6.30 m) aft, 19 ft 6 in (5.94 m) forward
  • with 950 tons (970 tonnes) of coal and complete with stores and provisions.[8]
Propulsion: Sails and screw. Two shafts. Two cylinder horizontal direct acting compound engines, 12 cylindrical boilers, 5,500 IHP.[2][3]
  • 16.5 knots designed[2]
  • 17-18 knots after funnels raised[2]
  • 11,000 nmi at 10 knots.[2]
  • 725 tons coal normal, 1000 tons maximum = c. 6,000 nmi at economical speed.[9]
Complement: (1885): 275[8][10]
  • 1.5 in (40mm) steel armoured deck (with sloped sides) over 165 ft.[2][9]
  • 1.5 in (40mm) gun shields.[2][9]
  • Carried 2 second class torpedo boats.[8]
  • Carried 7-pdr and 9-pdr boat guns and field guns.[8]

HMS Leander was a second class cruiser, name ship of the Royal Navy's first Leander-class cruisers. During a revolution in Panama in 1900, Leander helped protect the lives and property of foreign residents.

Design and construction[edit]

The Leander was built by Napier in Glasgow, being laid down in 1880, launched in 1882 and completed in 1885. The Leander class were originally designated as steel dispatch vessels,[6] but were reclassified as second class cruisers before they were completed. The design was an improved version of the Iris class, with an armoured deck and better armament.[3] The Leander had three masts and two funnels;[3] she was square-rigged on the fore-mast and gaff-rigged on the two masts behind the funnels.[11] She was armed with ten 6-inch BL guns, 16 machineguns and four above-water torpedo-tubes.[3][9][12] Four of the machine guns were later replaced by four 3 pdr QFs.[2][9]

After her sister ship Phaeton's trials, the Leander had her funnels raised 6 ft to improve the draught to the boilers. Once this was done, the Leander exceeded her designed speed.[3] She was the only one of her class to have forced draught.[9] The Leander was a good steamer, but a poor sea-boat with a heavy roll in some sea conditions.[2]

Seagoing career[edit]


On 29 May 1885, Captain Martin J Dunlop arrived on board at Chatham and commissioned the ship.[4][13] The first few days were spent first cleaning and then provisioning the ship. On 3 June, they tested the flooding arrangements of the magazines and shell rooms and found they were correct. On 5 June at 16:00, Leander was hauled out of the basin and proceeded under steam down the Medway in charge of the pilot and at 17:45 secured to the swinging buoy at Sheerness the engines using 5 tons 8 cwt (5.5 t) of coal and the ship a further 3 cwt (0.15 t); no coal was used distilling. One man fell overboard, and went on the sick list. On 6 June they took on board powder, shot and shell, and 300 lb of fresh beef and 200 lb of vegetables. On 8 June they swung the ship to adjust the compasses. On 9 June, the ship went out for gunnery practice, burning 26 tons 5 cwt (26.7 t) of coal for the engines and 6 cwt (0.3 t) for the ship. She fired 21 rounds from the 6-in BL; firing caused a number of breakages: 1 axial vent for a 6-in BL, the glass of two electric light projectors [searchlights], and the Pawl of Compressor of Admiralty Carriage.[8]

Still secured to the buoy off Sheerness Dockyard, she received 90 lb of fresh vegetables and 182 lb fresh beef on 10 June. On 11 June, she was inspected by the Commander-in-Chief. Repairs in the engine room appeared to be complete by early afternoon, and fires were lighted in four boilers between 14:30 and 15:30; the ship prepared for sea, however soon after 18:00 a defect was found in the after centrifugal fan spindle in the engine room, so fires were banked. Artificers worked all night to repair the defect. Repairs in the engine room were completed by 17:00 on 12 June. Fires were brought forward in the boilers, and at 19:00, the ship slipped and proceeded out under steam. She proceeded to Portsmouth; travelling 154 nautical miles under steam burning 35 tons 18 cwt (36.5 t) coal for the engines and 6 cwt for the ship. At Portsmouth she saluted the admiral superintendent with 11 guns at 14:35. On 15 June she stowed Whitehead torpedoes. Some torpedoes were fired to test them.[8]

On 16 June she proceeded to Berehaven arriving on the evening of 17 June finding there the Evolutionary Squadron consisting of Minotaur, Hercules, Agincourt, Sultan, Polyphemus, Devastation, Iron Duke, Hotspur, Lord Warden, Repulse, Shannon, Ajax, Penelope, Hecla, Rupert, Cormorant, Conquest, Mercury, Racer, Mariner, Hawke. At 18:30 she saluted the flag of Admiral Sir Geoffrey Phipps Hornby with 17 guns.[8]

Evolutionary Squadron was engaged in what became the first of the Victorian Royal Navy's annual manoeuvres. When the Leander joined on 17 June, she was attached to the ships blockading Berehaven. On 18 June "the weather was so stormy that all exercises were suspended... After sunset, the Conquest, Mercury, Leander, Racer, Cormorant and Mariner with the torpedo boats attached to them got under way top take up their position of observation outside the haven. The weather proved so boisterous that the blockading division returned before it had reached the open water outside. In returning... the Leander, while manoeuvring to keep clear of the Conquest, struck on the Hornet rock, and was seriously injured. As soon as the accident occurred the engines were stopped, the watertight doors closed, the pumps were set going, and collision mats and sails were passed under the ship's bottom. After some time it was found that e pumps failed to gain on the leak. On the following day the ship was moved nearer the shore, so as to be ready to beach in case of necessity. Early, however on the 21st the divers succeeded in finding the leak and stopping it with the patent leak-stopper. The ship's hold was thereupon cleared of water."[14] It was not until 24 June that Leander was ready to go to sea again.[8] On 26 June, the Leander, escorted by the Mercury, arrived at Devonport, where she was placed in dock.[14] The damage to the Leader was described as follows: "The sea entered through numerous rivet holes where rivets had been sheared, but the compartment kept the ship afloat in a working condition."[15] Amongst the stores destroyed by water were 168 lb of soft soap and 400 lb powder (propellant for the guns).[8] The repairs to the ship cost £8,947.[16]

After her brief service with the 1885 Evolutionary Squadron, the Leander served on the China Station.[4]


Leander was re-commissioned at Hong Kong by Captain Burges Watson on 5 April 1889, and served again on the China Station.[17][18]


Leander was re-commissioned at Hong Kong by Captain William Mc C.F. Castle on 3 May 1892, and served again on the China Station.[19][20][21][22]


The following account of Leander's time in reserve and her refit was written at least 25 years after the event by a retired paymaster officer. In some details this is at variance with the account in the Leander's logbook for 1897 (see next section).

"The Leander paid off at Chatham after many years in China [in November 1895[22]]. Naturally she was in a bad state, and the Dockyard officers reported her as only fit for C Division of the Reserve; that is to say, she required an extensive refit, which meant landing all her stores and stripping her. This was reported to the Controller [Rear Admiral J.A. Fisher], and he wired back that the Leander was to be paid off into the A Division, meaning that no repairs were to be taken in hand, and that her name would appear in the list of ships ready for sea at forty-eight hours notice. As this was contrary to Regulations, besides being false, a further report was made to the Admiralty. Fisher replied: 'If the dockyard offers will not do as I tell them, I will replace them by others who will.' The Leander paid off all standing, and I was ordered to keep her defect lists and reports of the survey until the Admiralty should be pleased to order them to be taken in hand. After some months [actually 1897] Admiralty orders were received for the Leander to be commissioned by Captain Fegen for the Pacific. We reported that she was unfit to go to sea until refitted. The reply was that the Admiralty orders were to be obeyed. The Leander did commission at Chatham. She got as far as Portsmouth, where Sir Nowel Salmon was Commander-in-Chief, whom Fisher could not bully. the result was that the Leander was detained at Portsmouth to have her necessary defects made good. If anything had happened to her owing to her unseaworthy state, it would have been scandalous."[20]


Officers and men of HMS Leander (HS85-10-11263)
HMS Leander at Vancouver.

Leander was commissioned by Captain FF Fegen at Chatham on Tuesday 8 June 1897. On the morning on 11 June, she was moved to No 8 buoy Sheerness, where she was swung to measure the deviation of her magnetic compass. On 16 June she was moved to No 4 Buoy in Little Nore, and the next day to the Downs off Deal. At 2115 on 19 June she weighed anchor and proceeded to Spithead, where she arrived the next day. She remained at Spithead until 2 July, and then went to Berehaven, arriving on 4 July. She left Berehaven on 7 July, going to the rendezvous for manoeuvres. She then stopped at Falmouth Harbour four hours on 11 July. She had gunnery practice on 12 July, expending 25 6-in common shell, 5 6-in shrapnel, 10 6-in blanks, and 27 rounds of 3-pdr Hotchkiss. She then returned to Sheerness arriving on 14 July. On 20 July, dockyard hands started being employed on board each day, finishing on 9 August (including weekends). Typically the number of dockyard hands was between 11 and 22. On 12 August she was reswung at Sheerness, and then she put to sea arriving at Plymouth the next day. She remained at Plymouth until she sailed for Vigo on 19 August, arriving on 22 August. She was again reswung off Vigo on 24 August 1897.[23] She arrived at Valparaiso (Chile) on 28 October. She had gunnery practice again in November 1897, expending 35 cast steel 6-in filled common shell, 5 iron 6-in filled shrapnel shells, 20 3-pdr, 78 cartridges saluting, 2 green very lights, and 1,120 rounds .45" machine gun ball cartridges.[24] The 1900 issue of Jane's Fighting Ships credits her with a crew of 309.[9]

Leander served in the Pacific from 1897 to 1900.[25] A photograph of the Leander taken on 25 June 1897, shows that she still had masts and yards.[3] "In 1900 she did good work during a revolution in Panama in protecting the lives and property of foreign residents."[12] She was paid off at Chatham on 15 January 1901 for refitting.[26]


In 1902 it was decided that Leander was obsolete as a cruiser and should be fitted as a "depôt ship for torpedo boat destroyers"[27] in the Mediterranean.[28] The Leander was reboilered as part of this refit.[12] On 2 May 1902 the Secretary of the Admiralty, Mr Arnold-Forster, was asked in the House of Commons about the choice of boilers. The old boilers were cylindrical single-ended boilers fitted on in 1883. The replacement boilers were of the same type, made by Messrs. J. Brown & Co. of Clydebank.[29] The Leander's refit was again controversial.


The Leander was commissioned as a "depot ship for torpedo boat destroyers" by Captain John M de Robeck on 21 January 1904 (presumably at Chatham).[30][31] She served as part of the Mediterranean Fleet.[30][31] On 1 June 1904,[31] de Robeck left the ship as a result of being censured over Leander's refit.[32] De Robeck was put on half-pay.[32]

In March 1904, the Mediterranean Fleet consisted of:[33]

Leander had as tender to her the depot ship Tyne, and the torpedo boat destroyers: Albatross, Ariel, Banshee, Bat, Bruizer, Chamois, Crane, Cynthia, Desperate, Fawn, Flying Fish, Griffon, Kangaroo, Mallard, Myrmidon, Orwell, Panther, Seal, Stag and Thrasher.[33]

Leander continued in commission as a depot ship for destroyers until December 1919,[34] and was at Scapa Flow during the First World War.[12]

She was sold on 1 July 1920.[6]


  • Blueprints
  • The Naval Annual, various issues.
  • Chesneau, Roger, and Eugene M. Kolesnik, eds. All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, published Conway Maritime Press, 1979. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4
  • Jane, Fred T All the World's Fighting Ships, 1900
  • Martin, Paymaster Rear Admiral W.E.R. The Adventures of a Naval Paymaster, pub Mayflower Press, some time after 1922.
  • The UK National Maritime Museum has papers dated 1885 - 1907 relating to Tristan Dannreuther's appointments to HMS Brittania, HMS Garnet, HMS Inflexible, HMS Foxhound, HMS Melita, HMS President, HMS Pembroke, HMS Leander, HMS Hood, HMS Leviathan, HMS Bachante, HMS Roxburgh, HMS Vindictive, HMS Aboukir, HMS Amphitrite and HMS Kent.[35]
  • The Churchill Archive has logbooks by Bryan Godfrey-Faussett, dated 1 January 1885 – 31 December 1885 covering his time at R.N. College Portsmouth, and serving on HMS Nautilus and HMS Leander,[36] and dated 23 January 1885 – 27 October 1886 covering his time serving on HMS Leander and HMS Agamemnon (Mediterranean Station).[37]


  1. ^ Lyon & Winfield The Sail and Steam Navy List, All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889 pages 270-271
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, page 75.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Leander class
  4. ^ a b c Navy List December 1885, page 216
  5. ^ The Leader's final logbook covers 1 January to 18 December 1919, and is UK National Archives catalogue reference ADM 53/46416
  6. ^ a b c HMS Leander
  7. ^ Navy List, December 1884, page 230.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Log of HMS Leander 29 May 1885 – 22 May 1886, UK National Archives file ADM 53/14282
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Jane, All the World's Fighting Ships, 1900, page 102.
  10. ^ Conway's lists her complement as 278, which appears to be an error. See Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, page 75.
  11. ^ Photos and a water colour of the Leander under sail in the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum
  12. ^ a b c d New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, The Royal New Zealand Navy, Appendix II — Record of HMS LEANDER
  13. ^ The Catalogue of the UK National Archives has logs for the Leander covering 29 May 1885 to 4 April 1889, catalogue references ADM 53/14282 to 14288
  14. ^ a b Lord Brassey, The Naval Annual 1886, pages 118-199.
  15. ^ Lord Brassey, The Naval Annual, 1886, page 199.
  16. ^ Hansard HC Deb 18 July 1887 vol 317 c1208 and 1287 House of Commons, 18 July 1887
    Lord Randolph Churchill said: "The Leander, built in 1885–6, was completed for £191,000; but in the same year the Admiralty spent £8,947 on her."
    Admiral Edward Field replied: "the noble Lord spoke of the Leander, of the great scandal of her costing within a short time of her construction over £8,000. Yes; but he did not tell the reason. Accidents will happen to ships as to other things; and an accident happened to that ship when she was with the Squadron on the Coast of Ireland. She ran upon a rock coming into Berehaven by the west entrance, and knocked a hole in her bottom. You do not suppose you could repair her for a mere nothing, and that sum represents the cost of the repairs of the ship after that accident."
  17. ^ Navy List July 1890, corrected to 20 June 1890, page 228
  18. ^ The Catalogue of the UK National Archives has logs for the Leander covering 5 April 1889 to 2 May 1892, catalogue references ADM 53/14289 to 14290
  19. ^ Navy List December 1892, page 232
  20. ^ a b Martin, The Adventures of a Naval Paymaster, pages 70-71.
  21. ^ Riley, Patrick Memories of a Blue-Jacket 1872-1918, pub Sampson Low Marston. Pages 286, 297-298 show that the Leander was on the China Station in 1894-95.
  22. ^ a b The Catalogue of the UK National Archives has logs for the Leander covering 3 May 1892 to 26 November 1895, catalogue references ADM 53/14291 to 14293
  23. ^ She was next reswung off the coast of Peru on 14 June 1898.
  24. ^ Ships Log HMS Leander, 8 June 1897 to 9 September 1898. UK National Archives file ADM 53/14294
  25. ^ The Catalogue of the UK National Archives has logs for the Leander covering 8 June 1897 to 15 January 1901, catalogue references ADM 53/14294 to 14297
  26. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36345). London. 7 January 1901. p. 8.
  27. ^ Hansard, HC Deb 24 October 1906 vol 163 cc179-83 Obsolete War-Ships
  28. ^ Hansard HC Deb 21 February 1902 vol 103 c739. New Construction. stated: "the "Leander," is now having her boilers replaced in order that she may contribute the very important and valuable service of supplying a torpedo base for the Mediterranean."
  29. ^ Hansard: HC Deb 02 May 1902 vol 107 c558
    "Mr. William Allan (Gateshead): I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if, seeing that H.M.S. Leander is to receive new boilers, he will state what type of boiler is being adopted, who were the manufacturers, what type of boiler is on her at present, and in what year were they fitted on board."
    Mr. Arnold-Forster: The old boilers of the Leander are to be replaced by single-ended cylindrical boilers. The boilers now being inserted are made by Messrs. J. Brown & Co. of Clydebank. The boilers which are being removed are also cylindrical single-ended boilers. They were fitted on board in 1883.
    Mr. William Allan: May I ask the hon. Gentleman why water tube boilers were not fitted in this ship, seeing that they are so much approved of?
    Mr. Arnold-Forster: Because the ship was built for cylindrical boilers, and no special purpose would be served by the installation of water-tube boilers in her case."
  30. ^ a b Navy List, March 1904, corrected to 18 February 1904, page 339
  31. ^ a b c Admiral Of The Fleet Sir John Michael De Robeck, G.C.B., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O.
  32. ^ a b Churchill Archives Centre catalogue: The Papers of Admiral Sir John de Robeck
  33. ^ a b Navy List, March 1904, corrected to 18 February 1904, page 269
  34. ^ The Catalogue of the UK National Archives has logs for the Leander covering 21 January 1904 to 18 December 1919, catalogue references ADM 53/22839 to 22849 and 46368 to 46416
  35. ^ UK National Maritime Museum catalogue item DAN/179
  36. ^ Churchill Archive: The Papers of Sir Bryan Godfrey-Faussett, item BGGF 1/16
  37. ^ Churchill Archive: The Papers of Sir Bryan Godfrey-Faussett, item BGGF 1/18

Logbooks in the UK National Archives[edit]

Catalogue Number Start End Catalogue Number Start End
ADM 53/14282 29 May 1885 22 May 1886 ADM 53/46378 1 November 1915 30 November 1915
ADM 53/14283 23 May 1886 7 November 1886 ADM 53/46379 1 December 1915 31 December 1915
ADM 53/14284 8 November 1886 25 April 1887 ADM 53/46380 1 January 1916 31 January 1916
ADM 53/14285 26 April 1887 7 October 1887 ADM 53/46381 1 February 1916 29 February 1916
ADM 53/14286 8 October 1887 20 March 1888 ADM 53/46382 1 March 1916 31 March 1916
ADM 53/14287 21 March 1888 7 March 1889 ADM 53/46383 1 April 1916 30 April 1916
ADM 53/14288 8 March 1889 4 April 1889 ADM 53/46384 1 May 1916 31 May 1916
ADM 53/14289 5 April 1889 4 November 1890 ADM 53/46385 1 June 1916 30 June 1916
ADM 53/14290 5 November 1890 2 May 1892 ADM 53/46386 1 July 1916 31 July 1916
ADM 53/14291 3 May 1892 9 October 1893 ADM 53/46387 1 August 1916 31 August 1916
ADM 53/14292 10 October 1893 1 April 1895 ADM 53/46388 1 September 1916 30 September 1916
ADM 53/14293 2 April 1895 26 November 1895 ADM 53/46389 1 October 1916 31 October 1916
In reserve ADM 53/46390 1 November 1916 30 November 1916
ADM 53/14294 8 June 1897 9 September 1898 ADM 53/46391 1 December 1916 31 December 1916
ADM 53/14295 10 September 1898 13 December 1899 ADM 53/46392 1 January 1917 31 January 1917
ADM 53/14296 14 December 1899 3 December 1900 ADM 53/46393 1 February 1917 28 February 1917
ADM 53/14297 4 December 1900 15 January 1901 ADM 53/46394 1 March 1917 31 March 1917
In reserve/refit ADM 53/46395 1 April 1917 30 April 1917
ADM 53/22839 21 January 1904 6 January 1905 ADM 53/46396 1 May 1917 31 May 1917
ADM 53/22840 7 January 1905 18 September 1905 ADM 53/46397 1 June 1917 30 June 1917
ADM 53/22841 19 September 1905 10 September 1906 ADM 53/46398 1 July 1917 31 July 1917
ADM 53/22842 11 September 1906 31 August 1907 ADM 53/46399 1 August 1917 31 August 1917
ADM 53/22843 1 September 1907 22 August 1908 ADM 53/46400 1 September 1917 30 September 1917
ADM 53/22844 23 August 1908 14 August 1909 ADM 53/46401 1 October 1917 31 October 1917
ADM 53/22845 15 August 1909 5 August 1910 ADM 53/46402 1 November 1917 30 November 1917
ADM 53/22846 6 August 1910 26 July 1911 ADM 53/46403 1 December 1917 31 December 1917
ADM 53/22847 26 July 1911 14 July 1912 ADM 53/46404 1 January 1918 31 January 1918
ADM 53/22848 15 July 1912 6 July 1913 ADM 53/46405 1 February 1918 28 February 1918
ADM 53/22849 1 January 1913 31 December 1913 ADM 53/46406 1 March 1918 31 March 1918
ADM 53/46368 7 July 1913 28 June 1914 ADM 53/46407 1 April 1918 30 April 1918
ADM 53/46369 29 June 1914 28 February 1915 ADM 53/46408 1 May 1918 31 May 1918
ADM 53/46370 1 March 1915 31 March 1915 ADM 53/46409 1 June 1918 30 June 1918
ADM 53/46371 1 April 1915 30 April 1915 ADM 53/46410 1 July 1918 31 July 1918
ADM 53/46372 1 May 1915 31 May 1915 ADM 53/46411 1 August 1918 31 August 1918
ADM 53/46373 1 June 1915 30 June 1915 ADM 53/46412 1 September 1918 30 September 1918
ADM 53/46374 1 July 1915 31 July 1915 ADM 53/46413 1 October 1918 31 October 1918
ADM 53/46375 1 August 1915 31 August 1915 ADM 53/46414 1 November 1918 30 November 1918
ADM 53/46376 1 September 1915 30 September 1915 ADM 53/46415 1 December 1918 31 December 1918
ADM 53/46377 1 October 1915 31 October 1915 ADM 53/46416 1 January 1919 18 December 1919