Original Technology

100 years ago

When The Mary Gordon was built in 1898, electrical technology was in its infancy, but growing fast! As a demonstration of how The Mary Gordon was advanced for its time. Michael Faraday, who had first demonstrated the principles of electromagnetism, ‘retired’ from the Royal Institution in 1865 after over 50 years of service. He died at his house at Hampton Court on 25th August 1867.

The Institution of Electrical Engineers had been founded in 1871 as the Society of Telegraph Engineers and was, by 1898, becoming involved in more powerful applications of electricity such as transport, electric trams and railways.

Reflecting the technology of that time, The Mary Gordon’s original ‘step’ controller was basically that of an electric tram or locomotive, a technology that was developing rapidly at the time. One of the first electric underground lines in London, the Waterloo and City, was opened in that same year 1898, on 8th August.

The dc motors in use were large and heavy compared with the amount of power they provided to The Mary Gordon’s propeller. The batteries were traction batteries; bigger than car batteries which are mainly only used for starting purposes, but smaller than, at the other extreme, submarine batteries which had to have enough power to drive a submarine while it was submerged. The batteries were positioned in the keel of the boat and arranged under the seats down either side, their weight adding to the boat’s stability.

(Information on this page was provided by Mr. Anthony Johns)

<<< Previous Page>> Back to the Homepage <<Next Page >>>