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by popular television presenter Adam Hart-Davis

George Garrett

and the first steam-powered submarine

George William Garrett was born in Dublin and went to Trinity College.  He became a curate in Moss Side, Manchester, and later a Commander in the Turkish Navy.


The reason that he’s a hero of mine is that in 1878 he established the Garrett Submarine, Navigation and Pneumatophone Company, and in 1879 he designed and built the world’s first steam-powered submarine.


She was 45 feet long.  The boiler was stoked while she was on the surface, and then the fires were damped down and she submerged, using diving rudders.  In theory she could stay under for four hours, and do 10 miles at two or three knots.  The Navy recognised her potential, and offered Garrett £60,000 if she passed marine trials in Portsmouth.


So he held a parish fete to raise funds, and launched her from Birkenhead.  But she ran into a storm off Rhyl in North Wales; the crew were taken off, and the submarine sank.  She was called Resurgam, which is latin for “I will come up again,” but unfortunately she never did!

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George William Garrett

Original sketch by Garrett


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