The Blackwall frigates form a connecting link between the lordly East Indiaman of the Honourable John Company and the magnificent P. & O. and Orient liners of the present day.
They were first-class ships—well-run, happy ships, and the sailor who started his sea life as a midshipman aboard a Blackwaller looked back ever afterwards to his cadet days as the happiest period of his career.
If discipline was strict, it was also just. The training was superb, as witness the number of Blackwall midshipmen who reached the head of their profession and distinguished themselves later in other walks of life. Indeed, as a nursery for British seamen, we shall never see the like of these gallant little frigates.
The East still calls, yet its glamour was twice as alluring, its vista twice as romantic, in the days of sail; and happy indeed was the boy who first saw the shores of India from the deck of one of Green’s or Smith’s passenger ships.
Fifty years ago, the lithographs of the celebrated Blackwall liners to India and Australia could be bought at any seaport for a few shillings. Nowadays, these old ship portraits are eagerly snapped up by a growing
army of collectors and have become very hard to find and very expensive to buy, I therefore hope that the illustrations in this book will be appreciated.
The design plans give an indication of our advance in naval architecture—an advance which is little short of amazing, when one remembers that there are still many men alive who served on these old ships—ships which were more akin to the adventurous keels of Drake and Dampier than to the giant boxes of machinery afloat to-day.
My thanks are due to these old seamen, survivors of a by-gone era, for all their help and interest, and if this book is able to bring back a happy memory to a single one of them, my task will not have been in vain.
HB 280 pages