BOB HIND: Built in just a year and a day, the ship that ruled the world

HMS Dreadnought, ready for the fleet in a year and a day. She outclassed every other battleship when commissioned.
HMS Dreadnought, ready for the fleet in a year and a day. She outclassed every other battleship when commissioned.

THIS WEEK IN 1970: Football screen in Havant Park move

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I see the new ships to defend the two new aircraft carriers, the Type 26 frigates, have started to be constructed in Govan, Glasgow.

The first of the ships is to be named HMS Glasgow but she will not be ready for service until the mid-2020s. Seeing as one of the new carriers will be in service this year there is a shortfall somewhere.

Can anyone tell me why it takes at least seven years to build a modern frigate?

On October 2, 1905, a new design in battleship was laid down on the slips in HM Dockyard, Portsmouth. Everything about the battleship was top secret and the slipway and dry dock where she went for fitting out were screened from prying eyes.

She was not a frigate, cruiser or battle-cruiser but a massive battleship and she took little more than just one year to complete and be ready for service in the fleet.

On February 10, 1906, the new ship was christened HMS Dreadnought and launched with a bottle of Australian wine.

She was then moved to No15 Dock for fitting out.

What made her unique was that she had a uniform main battery of 10x12in guns.

She was also the first capital ship to be powered by steam turbines. This made her the fastest battleship in the world.

Her launch also started an arms race with other nations who wanted something akin to Dreadnoughts, which most would be called after the initial title.

All other battleships were titled pre-Dreadnoughts.

On October 1,1906, steam was raised and she went to sea on October 3 for two days of trials off Devonport. Yes, just a year and a day after she was laid down.

She made all other battleships, British or foreign-owned obsolete overnight.

Dreadnought was commissioned for fleet service on December 11, 1906. So how come she was built so quickly?

For a start, Portsmouth Dockyard was renowned for the fast construction of ships.

Much material was stockpiled and much prefabrication was done from May 1905 with about 6,000 man weeks work expended before she was laid down.

There were 3,000 men employed in building her and each was told they had to work a 69-hour, six-day week.

This ran from 6am until 6pm with half-an-hour for lunch. It also included compulsory overtime.

No doubt some had their grievances about the working hours, but I am sure that when they saw their pay packets they soon kept quiet.

For all her uniqueness, Dreadnought never saw action.

The only damage she did to an enemy was the ramming of the German U-boat SM U-29.

She was sold for scrap in 1923 when she was just 17 years old, although she had been in the reserve fleet since 1919.

She cost £1,785,683 to build. The shipbreaker paid £36,630 for her.

n Updating my old videos, I recently purchased the two films on DVD, The Jolson Story and Jolson Sings Again.

They are, of course, bio-pics of the man billed as the World’s Greatest Entertainer, Al Jolson who died in 1950.

As we know, Glenn Miller and his orchestra and comedian Bob Hope toured American army bases in England and all over Europe entertaining troops during World War Two.

On researching Jolson, I found out that he was the first showbiz personality to entertain troops, not only in Europe but the Far East as well.

He actually appeared in England and Northern Ireland too which I am sure very few know about.

Can anyone tell me where he appeared?

Better still, even at this late date, can anyone remember seeing him?