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1860 Robert Whitehead went from Trieste to Fiume and was persuaded by some friends, who provided the necessary funds, to open the Stabilimento Tecnico Fiumano to produce steam boilers and engines for ships.
1872 Robert Whitehead and Count Georg Hoyos (who had married Whitehead's daughter Alice in 1869) purchased a factory in Fiume to make Whitehead's torpedoes. The factory was renamed Silurifico Whitehead, with John Whitehead as a director.
There were many important visitors to the Fiume works - one such was Louis Victor Robert Schwartzkopff, the owner of the German firm Berliner Maschinenbau. On the last night of Schwartzkopff's visit, a disturbance reportedly took place in the plant's drawing office. In the morning, it was discovered that someone had broken in and stolen a set of torpedo plans. Whitehead maintained that Schwartzkopff had nothing to do with the affair. A few months after this, Schwartzkopff's company unveiled a new product, the Schwartzkopff torpedo. It looked very similar to the Whitehead torpedo and in fact featured Whitehead's "Secret" pendulum-and-hydrostat control system. No doubt other versions of the story are available.
The British Admiralty required the Whitehead torpedoes to be produced in Britain. After negotiations with Captain Edwin Payne Gallwey, Robert Whitehead agreed to start a factory at Ferrybridge, near Weymouth, to produce torpedoes.