Cadets sail back in time

Published: Tuesday 9 August 2016

Engineering cadets from Fleetwood Nautical Campus sailed back to a different era of the maritime industry when they visited the now fully restored steam tug Daniel Adamson, which was built in 1903.

Learning about the historic vessel, the cadets discovered many things were in stark contrast to the cutting edge engine room simulator they use for training at the campus, including a steam steering gear system and old rod and chain system, which can also be used to steer the boat. Students also went into the wheelhouse to see the brass telegraph and the voice tube to the engine room.

The group were met by the marine coordinator of the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society, Mr Stuart Wood, who is a retired Mersey pilot, and chief engineer Mr Andy Dobbs, who gave cadets the opportunity to fire the furnaces in the boiler and engine room – a task which saw more coal falling on the plates than on the fire!

Andy Dobbs explained: “The art is to balance the amount of fuel used to produce the required level of steam for the work required of the engine. All this is down to the man with the shovel as he needs to know where to put the coal for maximum effort and when.”

Captain David McNamee, a part time lecturer at Fleetwood Nautical Campus and a volunteer on the Daniel Adamson, organised the visit. He said:

“The College is very proactive and encourages ship visits whenever possible. The visits make up a vital part of the cadets introduction to the industry as they show the cadets just how much the industry has changed over the years and how far technology has advanced. I’m pleased that the Fleetwood cadets were the very first members of the public to visit the vessel since restoration was completed.”

Engineer cadet David Price added:

“The visit to the Daniel Adamson was an interesting break from life at the College and a chance to see some of the engineering knowledge I have learnt during my training put into practice. Seeing the components of the engine up close working in unison to form a complete system was truly fascinating and shovelling coal into the firebox definitely gave me an appreciation for those doing this job in the past.

“I would like to thank Fleetwood Nautical College for this opportunity and would highly recommend that people look into the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society and the excellent work they are doing”

About the Daniel Adamson

Originally built in 1903, the vessel was named the Ralph Brocklebank after a member of the shipping dynasty, and worked as a tug boat, moving barges and carrying people and livestock. The tug was bought by the Manchester Ship Canal Company and had two art deco saloons and an elevated promenade deck added in the 1930s.

After the re-fit, the tug was renamed the Daniel Adamson, in honour of the Manchester Ship Canal Company’s first chairman. It took on a new role as an inspection vessel, transporting VIP guests such as the Danish Royal family and General Dwight D Eisenhower. It continued with this work until taken out of service in the 1980s. The need for boiler repairs, expensive maintenance work and vandalism problems led to a decision to scrap the vessel.

Then, in 2004, the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society (DAPS) was formed, which saved the ship by buying it for just £1. Fittingly, it was Mersey tug skipper Dan Cross who led the campaign and formed DAPS alongside other volunteers and with support from across the country.

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