Steam trials at Maplin Sands

Arthur Barrow was second-in-command of HMS Cumberland under, firstly for one month Captain Thomas Pickering Thompson, for two years Captain William King Hall, and then finally for one further year Captain George Granville Randolph. The vessel was a guard ship for the Steam Reserve (including those ships converted to steam and laid up or in harbour) and was based at Sheerness in Kent.  The ship was visited by Vice-Admiral Sir W.J.Hope Johnstone, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief at the Nore, who with his staff made a minute inspection of the ship.  He also witnessed the officers and men at their drill with artillery, expressing himself ‘highly pleased’ at the manner in which they acquitted themselves (Cum_1).  Captain Hall was obviously an inventive naval officer, recommending a new method for ‘masting corvettes and other similar classes of ships’ without their having to be docked for that purpose (Cum_2).  It was during this period that Arthur Barrow was in charge of six vessels which were put through their speed trials (under steam) through a measured mile off the Maplin Sands near Foulness; HMS Salamander (Oct 1863)  – a paddle-wheel sloop (Cum_3), HMS Serpent (Oct 1864) – a gun vessel (Cum_4), HMS Basilisk (June 1865) -also a paddle-wheel sloop, HMS Scout (June 1865) – a corvette,  HMS Challenger (July 1865) – another corvette, later famous as the vessel on the Challenger Expedition, the first global marine survey of the Earth, involving a 68,000 nautical mile journey over the planet, and finally HMS Arethusa (Aug 1865) – a frigate. (Cum_5).

On the 11th August 1865, Arthur Barrow was temporary Commander on board HMS Arethusa while that vessel, one of those in the experimental steam squadron, was being speed-trialled off the Maplin Sands on the northern side of the Thames Estuary near Foulness. The Arethusa had been intended to have the trial some two weeks earlier, but it had to be postponed owing to the defective state of her air-pump valves (Cum_6).  Having completed the trials at Maplin Sands, the ‘… frigate’s head was laid for the Little Nore, where on bringing up she saluted the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir C. Talbot K.C.B.  Immediately afterwards considerable excitement was occasioned by the report that the vessel was on fire, which was confirmed by the fire-bell ringing and smoke being seen pouring up from the fore gratings.’

On 21st January 1864 Arthur Barrow was a member of the court-martial panel ‘… assembled on the HMS Formidable, flagship of Admiral of the Blue, Sir G.R.Lambert K.C.B, naval Commander-in-Chief at the Nore, at the trial of both 23-year old Lieutenant William Walsh, commander, and the surviving officers and crew of Her Majesty’s gunboat HMS Lively … on the charge of having lost that vessel among the shoals on the north coast of the Netherlands, east of the island of Schiermonnick Oog on the morning of the 21st of December last during a violent hurricane …’ (Cum_7).  The court found that Lieutenant Walsh had ‘done everything in his power to save the ship, so ‘honourably acquitting Lieut. Walsh and the officers and crew’.  A further court martial for the trial of Captain Colin A. Campbell charged with being ‘drunk on board … and incapable of discharging his duty’ did not end so agreeably for the accused (Cum_8).

Arthur Barrow appears to have been taken ill or injured while in service on HMS Cumberland, and died at Clifton in Somerset on full pay on the 26th April 1866.  The cause of death is not known.



HMS Cumberland

A 70 gun third rate ship of the line launched in 1842 and broken up in 1889.  She was used as a training ship from 1870, and was burnt in 1889.


Wool embroidery of a third rate ship of the line in profile, loosely based on HMS Cumberland (1842).ZBA2159

A contemporary half block model of HMS Cumberland.Royal Naval Museum Greenwich

A water-colour portrait of HMS Cumberland from her starboard broadside, under full sail.H.M.S._Cumberland

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