John Isaac Thornycroft bigraphy, stories - British shipbuilder

John Isaac Thornycroft : biography

1843 - 1928

Sir John Isaac Thornycroft (1843–1928) was a British shipbuilder, the founder of the Thornycroft shipbuilding company and member of the Thornycroft family.Herbert B. Mason (Editor). London. 1908. pp. 630-631. available from GoogleBooks.


He was born in 1843 to Mary Francis and Thomas Thornycroft.

Thornycroft worked for a while at Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company in Jarrow-on-Tyne before studying for a diploma in engineering at the University of Glasgow. At Glasgow he studied under Lord Kelvin and Professor Macquorn Rankine.

He established a shipbuilding yard on the River Thames at Chiswick in 1864. He built his first steam launch when he was 19 years old. In 1876, his first vessel for the Royal Navy was a steam torpedo boat, HMS Lightning.

His yard built a steam-powered lorry which led them into the vehicle manufacturing business, the Thornycroft named business lasting until the late 20th century.

Thornycroft worked on means of aiding hull lubrication by air which also led him to the hydrofoil. This led him to develop stepped chine hulls which used for 55 ft British Coastal Motor Boats during the war gave them speeds of up to 40 knots. at

In 1904, he transferred larger shipbuilding activities to Southampton. In 1908 he also set up the Hampton Launch Works on Platts Eyot, an island on the Thames at Hampton, Middlesex.

He died in 1928.Sir John Isaac Thornycroft - 1843-1928. Obituary notice. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A. Vol. 121, No. 788 (Dec. 1, 1928), pp. xxxv-xxxvii



This boatbuilding works concentrated on cabin cruisers and speedboats, but also produced small naval craft - Coastal Motor Boats in the First World War and Motor Torpedo Boats, Motor Launches and landing craft in the Second World War.

Thornycrofts closed their boatbuilding operation on Platt's Eyot when they were taken over by Vospers in the mid-1960s. The Southampton shipyard continues to operate as a VT Shipbuilding (Vosper-Thornycroft) company.

Sir John Thornycroft's son Isaac Thomas Thornycroft skippered a motorboat Gyrinus II designed by him to two gold medals at the 1908 Olympic Games.

Sir John Thornycroft was the brother of the British sculptor Hamo Thornycroft and uncle of the poet Siegfried Sassoon.

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