Maritime mystery solved (with a little help from Photoshop)

HMS Royalist #1

Unknown naval ship in Brisbane Harbour, dated 1894.
HMS Royalist #2
Named photo of HMS Royalist courtesy of Australian War Memorial –

I had a comment left on a mystery image of mine on Flickr – a nice view of a naval vessel in Brisbane Harbour in 1894 – suggesting that the ship depicted might be HMS Royalist.  The commenter, user BobMeade, also left some helpful links, not just to images of the ship itself but also to information that recorded that she had been in Brisbane that year.  All great evidence.

I wanted to double check that the ships matched, so used Photoshop to scale, flip and slightly rotate the images to get them to the same scale.  Taking my image and the very similar side-on view from the Australian War Memorial website (kindly released with no restriction on use), I then drew reference points and overlaid them onto each.  The results are striking (see left, and click to see originals on Flickr).

There’s only one element of doubt, and that is that she could be one of Royalist’s Satellite Class sister ships.  The Wikipedia Satellite Class page and the Satellite Class page on the site both list seven ships.   All appear to have subtle differences in guns and masts especially, but I guess to some extent these may have have changed over time anyway.  Some don’t even have photographs.  And within the limited information available it is also clear that different ships typically led their working lives in different parts of the globe (for example HMS Pylades did go to Australia, but not until November 1894, six months after my photograph was sent from Brisbane).  But I’ve yet to find any conclusive information that narrows the possibilities down to just one ship.

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