Minotaur. “The Launch of the Iron-clad steamship of war Minotaur from the Yard of the Thames Iron Shipbuilding Company, at Blackwall.” Scarce original antique print from the Illustrated Times published December 19th 1863.
HMS Minotaur was the lead ship of the Minotaur-class armoured frigates built for the Royal Navy during the 1860s. They were the longest single-screw warships ever built. She took nearly four years between her launching and commissioning because she was used for evaluations of her armament and different sailing rigs. The ship spent the bulk of her active career as the flagship of the Channel Squadron, including during Queen Victoria’sGolden Jubilee Fleet Review in 1887. She became a training ship in 1893 and was then hulked in 1905 when she became part of the training school at Harwich. Minotaur was renamed several times before being sold for scrap in 1922 and broken up the following year. The Minotaur-class armoured frigates were essentially enlarged versions of the ironclad HMS Achilles with heavier armament, armour, and more powerful engines. They retained the broadside ironclad layout of their predecessor, but their sides were fully armoured to protect the 50 guns they were designed to carry. Each was equipped with a plough-shaped ram that was also more prominent than that of Achilles. Minotaur was considered “an excellent sea-boat and a steady gun platform, but unhandy under steam and practically unmanageable under sail” as built. Steam-powered steering improved her manoeuvring qualities significantly when it was installed in 1875 and she was judged “one of our very best manoeuvrers we have in the Navy” by Vice Admiral Philip Colomb in 1890. The ship’s steadiness was partially a result of her metacentric height of 3.87 feet (1.2 m).