HMS Lord Clyde (1864)

Armament 1866: Twenty-four 7 inch muzzle-loading rifles
Armament 1870: Two 9 inch muzzle-loading rifles Fourteen 8 inch muzzle-loading rifles

Two 7 inch muzzle loading rifles

Two 20 pounder breech-loading saluting

HMS Lord Clyde was a wooden broadside ironclad built at Pembroke dockyard, a sister to HMS Lord Warden.


Part of the genesis of her design and construction was the perception that this dockyard possessed a large surplus of seasoned timber, and the economic motive on the part of the Board of Admiralty to make use of this surplus. It transpired, however, that the perceived surplus did not in reality exist, and that the ship had been built including a significant amount of incompletely seasoned wood.

Ship Weight of Hull (tons) Total Weights Carried (tons) % Weights Carried
Lord Clyde 3,647 3,979 52%


The following data are taken from Reed. As is usual for costs of British warships, they do not include the cost of the armament.

Hull £212,167
Engines and Fittings £63,602
Masts, Sails, Stores, &c., until complete for Sea £18,712
Total £294,481

Parkes gives a cost for the Lord Clyde of £285,750.


According to Parkes, the Lord Clyde class ships were by far the worst rollers in the Victorian battle fleet. This characteristic was so dramatic that when the rolling propensities if ship were compared, it was usual to say "as bad a roller as the Prince Consort, the Lord Clydes being beyond compare. Lord Clyde generally performed worse than did Lord Warden. In sea trials in 1867 with HMS Bellerophon, Lord Clyde was rolling her gun ports under, while Bellerophon could have fought her main armament in safety.

Lord Clyde holds the double record of being the largest ship of any type or of any nationality ever to enter Plymouth Sound or Spithead on sail alone.

Service History

She was commissioned at Plymouth on 28 May 1866 by Captain Roderick Dew, and served in the Channel Fleet. In 1868 she was posted to the Mediterranean, but after only one cruise it was evident that her engine was wearing out, and she was sent home to be re-engined. She served in reserve until 1871.

On 14 September 1871 Captain John Bythesea VC commissioned the Lord Clyde at Plymouth and took her out to the Mediterranean Fleet. In March 1872, Lord Clyde "was lying at Syracuse and received a wire from Malta to proceed at once to the help of a British steamer aground on the island of Pantellaria, on which service she got far worse aground herself. Anchors were laid out, coal jettisoned, guns, ammunition and stores hoisted over the side into small casters from the island hired on the spot, and everything possible done to lighten her, but she remained a fixture except to sway in the swell from the open sea, strain her back, and wrench off her sternpost, rudderpost and rudder. It took some time to summon help, as that was a full generation before the days of wireless telegraphy and Pantellaria had no cables; but an officer was dispatched by a passing steamer to Malta, where the Lord Warden was lying as flagship and came at once to pull her crippled sister off and return to port. This proved an extremely difficult job even when she was afloat again, as she yawed about so violently without a rudder when in tow, as to pull the sister in charge all over the place. It took three days to travel a distance that could ordinarily be covered in less than one, and all the while she was leaking at a steady rate of per hour.

“On arrival at Malta she had to be docked with great care on account of the badly damaged state of her bottom; and the yard reported that it would take six months to repair. The inevitable court martial meanwhile sentenced the gallant Bythesea and his navigating officer to be severely reprimanded and dismissed their ship, with the result that neither was ever employed again. On receipt of the report from Malta the Admiralty decided that only sufficient external repair for a passage home was to be carried out, but even that required half a year and cost a lot of money… She was escorted home by the Defence, with a navigating party on board supplied from that vessel; and on arrival at Plymouth her engines, boilers and hold fittings were removed to ascertain what internal repairs were required.” “This disclosed a disastrous state of affairs as a consequence of insufficiently seasoned wood having become prey to the germs of timber fungus from bow to stern… Every remedy known to the expert science of the day, including chemical antidotes, was tried in turn, but to no purpose… It was hoped that perhaps she might serve for a time as a drill hulk attached to the Portsmouth gunnery school... but after nearly three years of ceaseless though unsuccessful curative treatment even that idea had to be abandoned, as she was sinking into decay so fast that she had to be sold before being too far gone to find a purchaser.” She was sold in 1875 for £3,730.

Data in Ship's Book

At the end of each year, a Form 200 was filed on each ship of the Royal Navy, serving as an objective report detailing the performance and experience of the ship during the year. The form was signed by the ship's Captain, Commander, Staff, and Carpenter, and bound into the Ship's Book. Following is a reproduction of the Lord Clyde's Form 200 for the year 1867, with the preprinted text of the form in small type, and the manuscript answers in normal type.

Form 200 (late 112)
HMS Lord Clyde of 24 guns, and 1000 HP
Mediterranean Station Complement of Men 605
A REPORT of the Sailing and other qualities of this Armour plated ship ascertained under various circumstances, and from strict observation, between the 1st of January 1867, and the 31st of December 1867.
The draught of Water found, on trial, to be her best sailing trip, with 13 Weeks' Provisions and Stores, and 500 Tons of Coals on board


25 ft 5 in

26 ft 10 in
The draught of Water found, to be her best sailing trim, with a s much Provisions, Coals, and Stores on board as she can conveniently stow

Forward Have never stored more than on average 13 weeks provisions
Rake of her Masts from a Perpendicular

Foremast In

3 in

4.5 in

6 in
The quantity of Iron Ballast on board, and where stowed

Proposed quantity of Iron Ballast, if an alteration is considered desirable

The quantity of Water she stows (excluding the weight of tanks) In Iron Tanks 82 Tons
In Casks None
The quantity of Coals (for steaming) she stows In Bunkers Restricted to 500 Tons
In other places None
With 13 Weeks Provisions, Weeks' Stores and 500 Tons of Coals on board Draught of Water Forward 23 ft 5 in
Aft 26 ft 10 in
Height of Port Foremost 10 ft 9 in
Midship 8 ft 9.5 in
Aft 7 ft 1 in
With as much Provisions, Stores and Coals on board as she can conveniently stow Draught of Water Forward Have never completed with stores and provisions more than necessary for the Home Station.
Height of Port Foremost
How many days' consumption of the following artiucles can she conveniently stow for her complement of men? Provisions 120
Bread 90
Spirits 120
Water 16
Coals (if a sailing ship)

Description of Guns Number Pounders or Calibre Weight Length
On Main Deck

7in Muzzle loaders three grooved 20 -

120 cwt 0 qrs

11 ft 0 in
On Upper Deck

7in Muzzle loaders three grooved 4 -

120 cwt 0 qrs

11 ft 0 in
Sailing and Other Qualities
1 Does she ride easy at her anchors? Yes, but has never anchored in an exposed position in bad weather.
Inclination of the Ship (Degrees) Force of Wind
2 Under storm stay-sails or try-sails Not ascertained
3 ditto and main top-sail
4 ditto and main top-sail and reefed foresail
5 Under close-reefed top-sails and courses
6 Under treble-reefed top-sails and courses
7 Under double-reefed top-sails. top-gallant sails and courses 7
8 Under all sails except Royals 3˚ to 5˚ 4-6
9 Under all sails when just able to carry Royals 3˚ to 5˚ 4-6
10 How does she carry her lee ports? Fairly, for an Iron clad.
11 Does she roll easily in trough of the sea? Easily, but deeply.
12 Stating circumstances of wind and sea Angle of roll to windward 32˚ ditto to leeward 31˚ number of oscillations per minute 12 When with the wind on bow quarter, force 9 & is a heavy congnord.
13 Angle of pitching angle of 'scending number of oscillations per minute 11 By the wind force 8 and sea heavily.
14 How does she in general carry her helm when by the wind With all sails set Three quarters of a turn a weather
15 With treble-reefed top-sails and courses Nearly amidships
16 How does she steer off the wind Under sail alone Steadily and well
17 Under sail and steam combined Very well
18 How does she stay? Very well, if properly handled
19 In what time does she stay under different circumstances of wind and sea? About 8 minutes in moderate weather
20 How does she wear? Fairly, but the formation of the bow is unfavorable to the manoeuvre
21 In what times does she wear, under different circumstances of wind and sea? In never less than 11 minutes under favorable circumstances
22 Is she weatherly or leewardly, compared with other ships, in moderate weather? Leewardly
23 Is she weatherly or leewardly, compared with other ships, in a moderate gale? Very leewardly
24 How does she behave lying to? Well
She has run per hour by the log, or by known or calculated distance, with as much wind as she could safely carry this sail to. Under sail alone (Knots) Under sail and steam (Knots)
25 Close-hauled with smooth water Under whole or single-reefed top-sails and top-gallant sails 4.2 This is not tried Being heavily plated these results of sailing do not bear comparison with a wooden ship.
26 Under double-reefed top-sails 3.5 ditto
27 Close-hauled with a head sea Under double-reefed top-sails and top-gallant sails 3.2 8.5
28 Under close-reefed top-sails and courses Not tried Not tried
29 Wind on the Beam Under close-reefed top-sails and courses ditto ditto
30 Under treble-reefed top-sails and courses 4.0 11.5 Steam reduced
31 Under double-reefed top-sails and top-gallant sails 4.5 12 Steam reduced
32 In moderate weather, unable to carry Royals 5.0 Maximum not tried
33 In moderate weather, with all sail set 4.5 ditto
34 Wind on the Quarter In a gale 9.5 ditto
35 Under double-reefed top-sails, top-gallant sails and studding sails
36 In moderate weather, with Royals and studding sails 7.8 ditto
37 Before the Wind In a gale 9.0 13.5
38 In moderate weather with all sail set 6.0 12.5
39 How does she scud in a heavy gale? Have had no opportunity of judging.
40 What is her best point of sailing? Wind abaft the beam or quarterly.
41 Comparative rate of sailing with other Ships One of the slowest of the ironclads.
42 Comparative speed under steam and sails with other Ships Always maintained a good place with the iron clads until the machinery showed defective.
43 Is she generally a well-built and strong Ship, or does she show any symptoms of weakness? Very strong and well built.
44 Has the Ship been ashore, or has she struck the ground at any time during the period of this report? No.
45 If she has, mention the time and place, and the date of the report of the circumstances, and to whom the report was made? Has not.
46 Have any particular circumstances occurred likely to affect the Copper, such as getting shore, and on what Stations has the Ship been employed since last coppered? No. Until the last month has been employed on the Home Station.
47 If the ship be of iron, state the mater with which she has been coated, how long it has been on, the state of the bottom, and the Captain's opinion of the material used Wooden ship, armour-plated.
48 Have any storms of lightning been experienced? If so, state full particulars thereof No.
49 Remarks, stating the grounds for such of the present answers as differ from those in the last Report, and any additional observations on the qualities of the Ship Answers to questions Nos 22 & 23 are altered in this Report, having had a more lengthened opportunity of judging the ship's seagoing qualities.
Dated 31st December 1867

Signed R Dew Captain [Illegible] Commander C.G. Johnston Staff Comm Mr J. Edwards Carpenter



Ballard, Admiral G.A. The Black Battlefleet, published Nautical Publications Co. and Society for Nautical Research, 1980. ISBN 0 245 53030 4

Conway All the World's Fighting Ships ISBN 0-85177-133-5

Parkes, Oscar British Battleships ISBN 0-85052-604-3

Reed, Edward J Our Ironclad Ships, their Qualities, Performance and Cost, published John Murray, 1869.

Ship's Book, UK National Archives file ADM 138/290.

| history HMS Lord Clyde

| Online biography John Bythesea

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