Wednesday 4 July 2012

Touching History : HMS Thunderer

I haven't got a lot of painting done this week because I have been directing my efforts to a little reorganisation of my 'stuff'. My corner of the family room contains several computers (some defunct), lots of books, boxes of models, old games and lots and lots of files containing all of my family history research. The latter is very much an unfinished project but the beauty of Genealogy is that time only makes the job easier as more and more records are digitised. When I look at the records available online today I can't help thinking it would have been easier to wait!

So I have been spending a bit of time this week sorting out my old notes and folders and generally tidying up to make sure everything is preserved and recorded. In the process I came across a picture that I thought would be interesting to share. This is HMS Thunderer which was the last major ship to be built at the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company and took part at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

HMS Thunderer at anchor at Spithead in 1912
(IWM Collection No. 2107-01 – Public Domain)

My 2x Great Grandfather Thomas Hadley lived in canning Town and worked in the Thames Ironworks. He moved from Staffordshire with his father George sometime in the mid 1860's to work in the iron industry. Although I can't find direct records he would have been working at the Ironworks during the period when the TiW's was at its height as one of the major shipbuilders for the Admiralty.

A scene from the construction of HMS 'Thunderer', the last ship built at Thames Ironworks. 
(© National Maritime Museum, London)

Thomas had actually left the Industry before the Thunderer was built but would no doubt have seen her as his home was within a few hundred yards of the slipways. After the vessel was launched it came down to Dagenham (where I live now) to be outfitted.

The Thunderer being outfitted at Dagenham Dock

I've carefully filed all my records and uploaded scans of all documents against the day when I pick this project up again. Or maybe one of my kids will take an interest at some point in the future, in which case I will be able to pass on several generations of research to give them a head start. As I said at the beginning this is the sort of hobby that can be picked up at any point and indeed the longer I leave it the easier it is to make progress as more and more records are digitised and put online. 


  1. I understand that the Thunderer Jetty (which is where HMS Thunderer was fitted out) is still in commercial use today.

    All the best,


    1. Indeed it is. I work for an inspection company that does Quantity & Quality assurance surveys of incoming cargo vessels (mainly petrochemicals) and we occasionally get ships on Thunderer Jetty even now.


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