Clare and Mary Rose

A new museum dedicated to the Tudor warship Mary Rose will be opened in Portsmouth on 31 May 2013. Despite what the UK Independent says, the warship did not lie “undiscovered in the Solent until its exposed timbers were seen by divers in 1971”: the rather longer Guardian story points out that the Deane brothers dived on the wreck in the mid-nineteenth century. Charles Deane also worked on the recovery of the cargo of the Intrinsic, off the coast of Clare; he allowed Thomas Steele to wear his apparatus to descend on the wreck.

In September 1840, in the same issue that reported Mr Brunel’s rash wager of £1,000 that, when his Great Western Railway was finished, he could travel from Bristol to London in two hours[i], the Mechanics’ Magazine also reported that:

Mr Steele, of the County Clare, in the prosecution of his new principle of submarine illumination of objects in dark and muddy water, has been this week down on the wreck in Mr Deane’s water-tight dress and diving helmet, making some observations and experiments[ii].

It may be, therefore, that it was a Clare man who cast the first light on the Mary Rose for almost three hundred years.

Steele's illuminator

From The Mechanics’ Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal, and Gazette No 867 Saturday March 21 1840



[i] italics in the original

[ii] “Submarine Operations” in The Mechanics’ Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal, and Gazette No 893 Saturday September 19 1840

5 responses to “Clare and Mary Rose

  1. I am interested to see that the Mary Rose is due to open as a museum in Portsmouth. I hope they invite my former work colleague who is a relative of the warship’s commander. I would like to write a bit more about this and would seek permission to republish your blog on my page today, with the usual accreditation..

  2. Brian that’s fascinating, and to see Steele’s illuminator. I’ve just shared it on Twitter.
    Mary M

  3. Thanks, Mary. There are several articles by and about Steele in editions of the Mechanic’s Magazine available on tinterweb. I have written an article-length piece about him, with veritable footnotes, but haven’t done anything with it. bjg

  4. That’s fine; thanks; go ahead. bjg

  5. Pingback: CLARE & MARY ROSE | FisherBelfast's Blog

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