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Showing posts from August, 2019

The Mersey Flat's Role in the Coal Trade

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Port side view of Mersey flat. Coal, mined from pits in Lancashire, played an important role in the industrialisation of North West England and Mersey flats were used to transport this valuable commodity from local collieries to the booming urban centres. Sailing flats, first appearing on the River Mersey in the early 18th century and capable of carrying eighty tons of coal in their holds, were of such importance to the mining industry that a series of river navigations and canals were built to accommodate vessels of this size. These flat-bottomed barges, equipped with a fore-and-aft rig that was attached to a single mast, only required a crew of three to operate. Lancashire, home to the  largest coalfield  in North West England, possessed a number of bell pits and drift mines at the beginning of the 18th century that provided fuel for the burgeoning industries in the region. Shallow mines such as these, prone to flooding and eventual collapse, could only be used to extract coal that w

A Brief History of the Brazilian Ironclad Tamandaré

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Tamandaré , constructed in 1865, was an armoured gunboat that was built for the Imperial Brazilian Navy. Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, decided to modernise the navy by constructing an ironclad fleet that could withstand direct hits from explosive shells and solid shot. Paraguay, whose relationship with Brazil was deteriorating as a result of the civil war in Uruguay, possessed a series of fortifications along its rivers that were armed with some of the most powerful artillery pieces of the day. Unprotected warships, such as the wooden paddle steamers that participated in the Platine War, were vulnerable to these formidable weapons and the Empire of Brazil began to protect its ships with iron plates. The Crimean War and the American Civil War, fought on an industrial scale and utilising powerful new technologies, convinced the Brazilian government of the need to update the navy or suffer defeat at the hands of its enemies. Paraguay, a small country with vast ambitions, purchased Krupp ar