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Hearts of Oak



Coaling Depot Ships

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Temperley Patent Floating Coal Depot

For Marseilles

This is a representative selection of the correspondence.


8th December 1904; received 12th December 1904.

Letter from Andrau Moral, Agent Maritime, Suite Nr 1, Chalet Le Nid, Chemin de l'Arlequin, Marseille.

Addressed to Messrs Swan, Hunter, Wigham Richardson Ltd., Wallsend on Tyne.

Translation made by the company; noted replied as per attached being proposal of Temperley Transporter letter.

I have come recently across a description of the Floating Coal Depot which you have delivered to Portsmouth Dockyard and having been instructed by a group of capitalists and shipowners with the working out of a scheme of a line of fast steamers in the Mediterranean have been considering the question of propulsion by steam turbines and have received a great deal of information from the Parsons Foreign Patents Co. Ltd. In the meantime I have been working out the average quantity of coal which would have to be supplied and the means of warehousing it and also the best means of handling this quantity and having come across the decsription of your coal depot I have decided to write to you on the subject. 

I would therefore be very much obliged if you would kindly supply me with the information which I want so as to be able to draw up my scheme.

We will have two coaling stations, therefore two floating coal depots will be wanted. The annual consumption of coal will be about 40,000 tons, therefore each depot will have to supply during that period 20,000 tons. The Steamers carrying coals to our ports having an average d.w. of 2500 tons.

Eight Steamers will be wanted annually, that is one every 45 days and each Depot will therefore have a capacity of over 2500 tons; to meet any eventuality say 3000 tons. The quantity of coal used by each

Steamer on each voyage being about 150 tons and the time available in port being only eight hours at a maximum very little time will be left for coaling and the Depot will have to be designed to suit.

I therefore feel obliged if you have the following information.

1) The dimensions you would propose for each of the Floating Depots.

2) The details of the necessary installations.

3) The details of the machinery.

4) Approximate price of each depot.

5) The time of delivery from the date of deciding of the contract.

6) Any further information that may be required.

7) If possible a sketch of the Depot.

Of course this information will be subject to modifications should I be able to get the Board of Directors to adopt the arrangement I am proposing which would only be possible if I have sufficiently accurate estimates and information.


12th December 1904 (Monday) a reply is sent to Andrau Moral.

We beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 8th instant. We will give your enquiry our careful consideration and we hope very shortly to be able to send you fuller particulars of a Coal Depot to carry about 3000 tons.


Letter : 13th December 1904  

From The Temperley Transporter Company, 72 Bishopsgate Within, London EC.

Telephone Number 365 London Wall.

Contractors to The British & Foreign Governments.

To W Denton Esq,    

Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd

150 Leadenhall Street EC.  

Re : 3000 Ton Coal Depots.  [This letter was forwarded to Andrau Moral in Marseilles]

Dear Sir,

Referring to your letter of the 12th inst, and to your telephonic communication of today; Before we can give any satisfactory reply to your inquiry it would be necessary for us to have the fullest information with regard to your correspondent’s requirements. Will you therefore be good enough to obtain replies to the following queries:-

1) What kind of coal?

2) Storage capacity of Depot?

3) How does the coal come to the Depot?

4) Will the colliers discharge their own cargo, or has the depot machinery to do this?

5) If depot machinery has to discharge colliers, in what time must it be done?

6) For what purpose is the coal required?

7) Quantity per steamer?

8) Has the coal to be delivered in bags, baskets, skips or in bulk?

9) Has it to be delivered on deck or into scuttles or side ports?

10) What are the principal dimensions of the vessels to be coaled & of the colliers which supply the coal to the depot?

11) Give position and size of hatchways.

12) Will the vessel to be coaled come alongside the depot for this purpose, or would the coal have to be put into barges and taken to the vessel wherever she may be lying?

We presume the depot will be permanently moored in the harbour and that the colliers will come alongside & discharge their cargo into the depot & that the vessels to be coaled will probably in the first place have to go alongside some quay and discharge passengers & baggage, in which case it would probably be preferable to use one or two small barges fitted with Transporters, similar to Print Number 372 & 381 enclosed [not in the collection], for the purpose of taking the coal from the depot to the vessel. The coal might be put into bags or other receptacles on the depot as it is being delivered into the barge. The barge would be capable of discharging the 150 tons of bunker coal easily in two hours.

However, it is no use our speculating on these matters, but we must await the fullest information which your correspondent can give us.

We send you herewith one of our catalogues which we should be pleased if you would transmit to your correspondent, as he might find some further information therein that might be of use to him.

We are, Dear Sirs, yours faithfully,

The Temperley Transporter Company,  (signed) W. Alexander


Andrau Moral replies to the letters of The Temperley Transporter Co and Messrs Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Co.

Letter dated 19th December 1904; received 21st December 1904. Copy forwarded to Temperleys 21st December 1904.

Translation made by the company: in which all metric dimensions and French currency has been converted.

Gentlemen, I am in receipt of your favor of the 12th & 13th inst, the latter of which only reached me yesterday on account of insufficient address, the name of Marseilles only being mentioned, without any other particulars of address.

In answer to your questions I now have pleasure in answering as follows:

1) The coal will be ordinary Cardiff.

2) About 3000 tons.

3) The coal will come from Cardiff.

4) My opinion is that to unload the coal the floating depot should be provided with machinery for unloading the collier so as to gain time.

5) You know better than myself the stipulations of the Cardiff charter parties with regard to the time allowed for loading and the demurrage.

6) The coal is intended for navigation.

7 Please refer to my last letter which gives you this information, I told you that the steamer would take about 150 tons at each loading.

8) The coal will have to be supplied in bulk by the depot.

9) The loading will have to be done by side coaling ports, 2 at each side of the steamer.

10) the dimensions of the steamer will be 280 ft length, 38 ft 5 ins breadth, 22 ft depth moulded and load draft 14 ft 9 inches approximately.

With regard to the colliers I cannot give you any information as to their dimensions. the ships will be chartered by the Merchant at Cardiff. All I can say is that they will be about 2000 to 2500 tons dw.

11) The above paragraph answeres this question.

12) I cannot give you the exact answer, however, my idea of the scheme is as follows - The steamer having only a very short time to stop in Harbour they will have to coal in 7 or 9 hours, during that time they will have to land their passengers and baggage and discharge their cargo, they will also have to load the outgoing cargo and take on board passengers and their baggage. At the same time they will have to take in their bunker coal. This problem took a good deal of my attention and I did not know how to solve it, when I came across the description of your coaling depot.

I herewith give a sketch which will give more clearly an idea of my scheme. The steamer being moored at the quay. Th edepot is brought alongside and the bunker coal is taken in by side ports, while on the other side the steamer is unloading its cargo &c on the quay.


S Steamer alongside quay

D1 Depot when bunkering steamer

C Collier from which depot is loaded

D Depot in its mooring place.

The coal depot will afterwards be brought to its moorings where it will take coal from the collier. In this manner the depot takes its cargo direct from the collier and loads it directly into the bunkers of the steamer without interfering with the working of the steamer.

For your information we accurately pay besides the freight CIF the sum of 3s 9d per ton;

made up as follows;

Loading coal on quay 9½d

Loading on board the barge  9½d

Towing the barge alongside the steamer 7d

Loading on board the steamer  9½d

Trimming in the bunkers 9½d

Total 3/9d

You can therefore easily calculate the saving which could result from the use of a floating depot with the necessary machinery, and consequently the annual saving by the future company on 30000 to 35000 tons which they will be using during that period. As we need 2 depots this saving must be considerable to allow for the writing of the upkeep and the working of the machinery.

Once these questions are fixed I will be able to bring before the Board of Directors the intended scheme with a chance of seeing it adopted taking of course into account the saving of time and the simplifying of the whole of the operations which of course will be taken into consideration although the actual advantage cannot be calculated. Signed  Andrau Moral.


A reply was duly sent, this time properly addressed, on 21st December 1904.


18th January 1905; From Temperleys to Swan Hunter.

Dear Sirs, With reference to your letter of the 21st December, we have pleasure in sending you a blue print of tracing Nr 8478 showing the outline of a depot to carry 3000 tons of coal and fitted with Transporters for handling the coal by means of grabs, and which can also be used with skips when required,. We would propose that the plant should be driven by steam, the Transporter winches being carried on the towers and arranged to be coupled up to the steam pipes, which would have to run along the deck, by flexible connections.

As Transporter engines of this class use a considerable quantity of steam during the short periods when they are at work, we think it would be necessary to arrange to condense the steam, and flexible connections would therefore have to be provided for the exhaust pipes. W.A.


In a letter of the 20th January 1905, W Alexander of Temperley states that the boiler required will have to be capable of supplying 5000 to 6000 lbs of steam per hour.


21st January 1905; Letter to Swan Hunter from Temperleys

Dear Sirs,

We have now looked into the question of the cost of the proposed Transporters for this installation and find that our charge for one Transporter tower as shown on the drawing we sent you, arranged to work with a grab or with skips would be about £2500. In this case the steam supply would be taken from pipes to be laid along the deck of the vessel, the towers being connected by flexible pipes. We have not included any of the piping on the decks.

It would probably, however, make a better scheme if each of the towers carried its own boiler, and in this case the price of each tower, including its boiler, would be about £3000. th emachinery on each tower would be arranged so as to be capable of obtaining one complete lift per minute, using a grab capable of holding up to about 25cwt of coal.  Percy J Burge.


Undated Specification  

Proposed Depot of 3000 tons.

Length 175 ft; Breadth 40 ft; Depth Moulded 26 ft 6 ins.

The midships section will have a rectangular section and the hull will have the shape of a rectangular prism cut at the ends.

Three transverse bulkheads will divide the hull into four watertight compartments. The two midship compartments to be used for storing coal; those at the ends will be used for the chain lockers, tool stores and if necessary some accommodation for the crew. Each coal compartment will have two large hatches fitted with shifting beams and covers as is usual in ships.

The details of construction are indicated in a general manner on the plan of the midships section. Care will be taken to minimise as much as possible in the holds any obstruction which might make the working of the coal more difficult. Rails with portable stanchions will be fitted for the full length of the deck.

Hand pumps will be used for draining bilges.

Bollards and fairheads will be arranged in sufficient number for the mooring and the working of the depot. Two hand windlasses or cpastans will be fitted if necessary, one at each end. A dinghy with davits will be supplied.

The loading and discharging machinery will consist of two transporters each having their own boiler and each fitted with all necessary gear. The transporters will be placed on rails and suitable gear will be fitted for moving them along the deck.

Each transporter will be capable of dealing with 60 tons of coal per hour and will be fitted in such a way that if necessary coal can be passed from one ship placed on one side of the depot to a ship placed on the other side.

The working of the coal can be done by means of skips as well as by grabs.


C S Swan & Hunter Ltd

Estimate Sheet for Floating Coal depot for Marseilles.

Date 6th March 1905

Andrau Moral (Marseilles)

Including small galley and cabin fittings, and one 18 ft boat with davits, 6 deck pumps,

Cooking Range, Fire hoses and pumps, electrical light & power, floors finished

with linoleum or tiles. Including winches, and hawsers for handling and mooring.

Flat sides, bottom & deck with wedged shaped ends. Single flush butted deck.

Four hatches & two holds. accommodation under fore end. Iron deck.

All painted 3 coats outside & in. Bottom cemented.

Labour £3,537 plus Foreman & Yard Charges at 13.5% (£478); Material £5,847 = Total £9,862

To which is added Current Charges at 11% (£1,085).

Total estimated Costs Launched, Finished at Wallsend complete with two Temperley Towers, complete with boilers £10,947.

Winches and Transporters. £6,000.

Sea Towage, Insurance, Pilotage, Towing Gear & bridle, return of gear &c Chains & anchors windlass & pipes (in the Tyne). £2,053. … Total £19,000 ...... £18,500.


15th March 1905 (Wednesday); To Andrau Moral, 6, Rue Godot de Maurey, Paris.

Dear Sir, Replying to your enquiry for the price of one or two Floating Coal Depots having a capacity of 3,000 tons each, we have the pleasure to enclose herewith an outline description of what we propose, and also two sun-prints [not in the collection], one showing a cross section through the vessel and the other a general arrangement. Our price for one vessel would be £19,000 nett or for each of tower £18500 nett delivered in the River Tyne. If later you require a price for the Vessels' delivery we shall be glad to quote for towage and insurance. J S.



Source : Swan Hunter Collection

2007 - This collection is not yet open for public use because it has not been catalogued.

With many thanks to Colin Boyd of Tyne & Wear Archives


Raymond Forward