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The Mariner's Mirror Podcast

The Brisbane Dry Dock

Our mini-series on Maritime Asutralia continues with an episode dedicated to Brisbane's fabulous dry dock. The dock now sits in the grounds of the Queensland Maritime Museum on a bend on the south side of the Brisbane River and contains the magnificent historical vessel HMAS Diamantina, a river class frigate built in the 1940s, and the Carpentaria, a lightship built in 1917 which provided a crucial service warning mariners of dangerous shoal waters off Fraser Island and off the western approaches tot he Torres Strait. The dock itself, the third oldest in Australia, and built in 1876, offers a fascinating insight to Australian maritime history, and in particular shipbuilding and maritime trade in Queensland. To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with Russell Cobine, a retired shipwright with a lifetime of experience working in dry docks.

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  • The Titanic Inquiry 1: Introduction

    The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 led immediately to two major inquiries: one in America and one in the UK. The testimony in these enquiries provides a fascinating and valuable glimpse into the tragedy from the words of the people themselves who experienced it. And yet only recently have these testimonies become freely accessible online, thanks to a heroic effort by numerous volunteers working for The Titanic Enquiry Project. In four subsequent episodes we are going to bring you dramatisations of a number of witness testimonies given at the UK British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry. To set out the background of the project, in this episode Dr Sam Willis speaks with Robert Ottmers, one of the volunteers working on the project.
  • The Rules and Regulations for Composite Ships

    In the archives of the Lloyd's Register Foundation is a stunning hand-illustrated portfolio of the Rules of Composite Ships. These were a set of rules regulating the construction of this new type of vessel born of the industrial revolution. Half iron and half timber, these 'composite' ships transformed maritime capability whilst at the same time challenging existing knowledge of shipbuilding. The illustrated portfolio is the work of Harry Cornish, once Chief Ship Surveyor at Lloyd's Register, a marine classification society. To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with Max Wilson, archivist of the Lloyd's Register Foundation archives. They explore the Cornish drawings as well as the ship plans of several famous composite ships, including the most famous of them all - Cutty Sark.
  • The Maritime Silk Road

    This is episode six of our special mini-series on the maritime history of China and it looks at the Maritime Silk Road. This fascinating topic is far richer and deeper than the name implies. On the one hand we discover all about the ancient maritime trade route by which silk was transported abroad from China – but as you will discover it is far more complicated than that – and far more interesting as a result. It’s a topic that links Asia and Europe’s deep past with the present day and modern China’s strategic global ambitions. To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with Tansen Sen, Director of the Center for Global Asia and Professor of History, NYU Shanghai.
  • Women Shipbuilders on the Clyde and Tyne

    In this, the third of three dedicated episodes to women in maritime, Cecilia Rose speaks to Dr Nina Baker and Dr Antony Firth about women shipbuilders on the River Clyde and the River Tyne, as part of the ‘Rewriting Women into Maritime History’ project. Dr Nina Baker is an independent researcher who works on the history of women in engineering, focusing on the Clyde in Glasgow, whilst Dr Antony Firth, the head of Marine Strategy at Historic England, is organising an exhibition about women shipbuilders on the River Tyne. We learn more about these related research projects and how we can all get involved!
  • 'SHE_SEES': Women in Maritime 2

    In this, the second of three episodes dedicated to women in the maritime world, we look at the Lloyd's Register Foundation's ‘Rewriting Women into Maritime History’ project through an artistic lens. Cecilia Rose speaks to Erna Janine - a London based textile artist specialising in Japanese Freestyle Weaving, and Emilie Sandy - a photographer and visual artist focusing on portraiture and storytelling. Their new joint venture, ‘SHE_SEES’, combines the mediums of textiles and photography to tell the stories of women involved in maritime industries today. We learn about how these women came to their respective professions and how they can inspire others.
  • Rewriting Women into Maritime History

    In this, the first of three dedicated episodes, we explore a new project designed to change our perceptions of the historical role of women in the maritime industry over the centuries. 'Rewriting Women into Maritime History' is run by the Lloyd's Register Foundation and brings together leading maritime organisations. One of the key aims of this project is to empower women by reframing the narrative of a predominantly masculine industry, and by promoting opportunities to encourage more women into the sector. To find out more, Cecilia Rose spoke with Helen Doe, a maritime historian and author who has published extensively on maritime subjects, including the role of women in the industry.
  • HMS Poseidon: China's Secret Salvage of Britain's Lost Submarine

    The British submarine HMS Poseidon sank off the Chinese coast during normal exercises in 1931 having struck a freighter. Just over half of her crew made it out of the hatches as she sank. Twenty-six remained trapped. Eight of those attempted to surface using an early form of diving equipment specifically designed for submarine escapes. Five of those survived and became national heroes. And then, at an unknown time in the subsequent years, the Chinese government secretly raised the wreck. To find out more about this remarkable story which takes us through themes of imperialism, international sea power, the development of submarine and diving technology and medical history, Dr Sam Willis spoke with historian Steen Schwankert. Editor and award-winning reporter with seventeen years of experience in Greater China, Steven is the Asia chapter chair of The Explorers Club, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and founder of SinoScuba, Beijing's first professional scuba-diving operator. Steven uncovered this story and spent many years researching it. He is the author of the book Poseidon: China's Secret Salvage of Britain's Lost Submarine.
  • The Six: The Chinese Survivors of the Titanic Disaster

    Of the 2,240 passengers and crew on board RMS Titanic on her fateful last journey, eight were Chinese, all travelling Third Class. Six of those eight survived, an exceptionally high survival rate for any given nationality. Remarkably, four escaped on the same lifeboat as the Titanic’s owner J. Bruce Ismay, while another was the last person rescued alive from the water. Those six men were forgotten by history until, in 2020, the film maker Arthur Jones and historian Steven Schwankert joined forces in a bid to track down those men in the historical records and tell their stories. Not only does the research itself tell a fabulous tale, but so too does the history they uncovered. For these Chinese men, surviving the Titanic disaster was not the end of their troubles – it was just the beginning. They faced deportations, slurs on their characters and racial condemnation. As research for the film progressed it became clear that almost nothing was known about these man in their subsequent years and that some may never even have told their families what they had experienced. To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with Arthur Jones, Director of The Six.
  • The Maze Collection of Chinese Junks

    In the stores of the London Science Museum is a highly significant collection of ship models of Chinese junks. They were commissioned by Sir Frederick Maze who worked as the Inspector General of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service from 1929-1943. Maze was a true Sinohpile and was particularly fascinated by Chinese maritime history. He lived in China at a time of rapid modernisation and could plainly see Chinese maritime traditions disappearing in front of his eyes. As a result he commissioned a series of ship models of Chinese junks and sampans, to be built in Hong Kong and Shanghai by expert Chinese shipwrights. They are an extraordinary collection and demonstrate a stunning variety of Chinese shipbuilding traditions and technology and details of daily life - down to the religious beliefs of the sailors. To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with Donna Brunero at the National University of Singapore, an expert on the maritime realm and port cities of Asia.