HMS Birkenhead

Submit a new image

Reference WMO259432

Address:

Woodisde Promenade

Birkenhead

Birkenhead

England

Open large map
Edit memorial location & address
Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Unknown
Description: Other monument
Materials:
  • Metal Metal (any)
Lettering: Inscribed on a plaque
Conflicts:
  • Unknown
About the memorial: The Story of HMS Birkenhead & what became known as the ‘Birkenhead Drill’. In 1845 John Lairds Ship Builders of Birkenhead launch a new type of iron hulled Frigate for the Admiralty. Displacing 1918 tons, HMS Birkenhead was representative of early attempts to marry sail and steam. She was rigged as a brigantine, but carried a tall funnel between masts, while below deck two single-pistoned engines, with a collective 350 horse power were coupled to a pair of paddlewheels set on the outside of the hull, each six metres in diameter. Her construction too reflected a stage in the transition from wood to iron shipbuilding, an important feature on the vessel was a number of iron bulkheads which divided the vessel into several watertight compartments. However, the integrity of these bulkheads was compromised during her conversion to a troopship in 1850 when they were pierced by doorways to improve ease of access. In 1852 HMS Birkenhead under the command of Captain Robert Salmond, began her career as a troopship, ferrying troops to the Channel Islands, Lisbon and then onto Cape Town. There were 638 people, including 476 British soldiers and 20 women and children on board. In the early hours of the morning on 26 February 1852, the ship ran on to a pinnacle of rock, just off Danger Point - which lies between Cape Hangklip and Cape Agulhas. The iron hull was torn open and just over a hundred soldiers drowned as they lay sleeping. The rest of the troops rushed on deck and were ordered to help the crew to man the pumps and free the lifeboats. The lifeboats had rarely, if ever, been used meaning only three were usable. The women and children were placed into these lifeboats. The soldier's commanding officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Seton, drew his sword and ordered his men to stand fast - to rush the lifeboats might mean that the women and children aboard the boats would be swamped and would perish. He had no need to use the sword - each soldier remained in their ranks. The soldiers did not budge even as the ship split in two and the main mast crashed on to the deck. Of the 638 on board 445 men died but every Woman and Child was saved. The sinking of this ship was the first occasion on which women and children were taken to safety first, a procedure which became known as the ‘Birkenhead Drill’. The pebbles around the memorial plaque are from the beach the survivors came ashore in Gansbaai, Western Cape, and represent a joining of the areas. The HMS Birkenhead & Lifeboat Drill Memorial was the idea of Andy Liston a RN & RNLI volunteer based at New Brighton. The project was sponsored by John Syvret the Chief Executive Officer at Cammell-Laird, supported by Wirral Borough Council and designed by Jemma Twigg of Birkenhead Sixth Form College.
Edit memorial details
Report this condition update
View more details

Information Required

Information Required

Information Required

Information Required

Information Required

Information Required

Information Required

Information Required

Information Required