William Evans of Rotherhithe and his Steamships, by Stuart Rankin, 2003. Extract from the Proceedings of the Second Sympopsium on Shipbuilding on the Thames and Thames -built Ships, held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. 15 February 2003. Edited by Dr. Roger Owen [ebook]


Off-print A4 size, pp.30 13 illustrations in B&W. Originally intended to be one of my “Shipbuilding in Rotherhithe” booklets (and advertised as such on the rear covers) I was contemplating publication, when Dr. Roger Owen kindly agreed to read my draft, and suggested some additional sources of information, and lines of enquiry. These proved so fruitful, that the MS expanded to more than twice its length, and Roger further suggested that full references to sources should be given, as Evans was emerging as a much more important figure in the history of the steamship than had been realised, and an “audit trail” should be left for future reseachers to pick up.


My booklets were produced as a “Cottage Industry” each being printed, collated, folded and stapled by hand (mine!), so there was a limit to the number of pages which could be neatly folded and stitched manually. “William Evans…” far exceeded this, and I decided that he best plan to get the information into the public domain was to present a paper at the Shipbuilding Symposium… with an extended version in the Proceedings.

This is now made available as a download, so that with the other material now presented on Briitish Transport Treasures, all the fruits of research into the History of Shipbuilding in Rotherithe carried out during the 1990s and early 2000s are now available in the public domain at reasonable cost.

I have been personally anxious to do this, because during a social function at Greenwich University in the mid 1990s,I was introduced to a very emminent Naval Historian, by Prof. Sarah Palmer, as “The man who singlehandedly is rescuing the history of shipbuilding in Rotherithe from obscurity.” I was somewat taken aback by the response “Why is he bothering?” – referring to me in the third person, not even addressing me direct. While I think I made it obvious that I felt quite belittled by this remark, as a guest, I did not feel it appropriate for me to respond in kind. I was disappointed, as a long – tme admirer of his work, I would have loved a chat, but having delivered himself of this smug comment he spotted someone more important, and went to speak to them.

I wonder, Professor, (by now you will know who you are) would you have been so damned rude and dismissive to me had I been an already published author in the maritime field , or even one of your students? I suspect not. At all events, the body of Rotherithe material now presented, and my initiating the “Shipbuilding on the Thames…” symposia are a more than adequate response to your cheap jibe.



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