HMS Vigilant launched at Blackwall antique print. Original antique print published by the Illustrated London News in 1856.
Below is the text of a ‘blog’ in Reach plc’s ‘In Your Area’.
On this day April 5th. in 1856 the Illustrated London News carried the above wood-block engraving of the launch of the Royal Navy’s HMS Vigilant.
Her class were designed as second-class despatch and gun-vessels. They were intended to operate close inshore during the Crimean War but the war had ended a few days before Vigilant’s launch
Launched at Blackwall in east London, she was one of five vessels launched into the river Lea on that day.
The ILN correspondent described the class as “the most elegant and beautiful specimens of fighting ships that have ever appeared in our Navy.”
Notwithstanding their beauty, the class were scrapped within a decade owing to their vulnerability, being manufactured entirely of wood.
The correspondent continued: “… three iron mortar-boats had been launched in the Lea by the same firm a few minutes earlier; and immediately after the launch of the Vigilant … the company present were conducted to another part of Messrs. Mare’s immense building yard, to witness the launch of the *Alacrity*, a sister vessel. In a period of fifteen minutes the five vessels were successfully afloat”.
Three “gunboats, and twelve remaining vessels will be launched from the same yard in the course of the next three weeks”.