Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Silurifico Whitehead

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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[1] 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.[2]

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.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Obituary of Robert Whitehead
  2. [1] Wikipedia - Schwartzkopff torpedo