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Leonard Peskett

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Leonard Peskett, OBE (1861–1924) was the Cunard Line's Senior Naval Architect and Designer and the designer of sister ships RMS Mauretania and RMS Lusitania, as well as their 'half-sister,' RMS Aquitania, and the RMS Carmania

Peskett came to Cunard in 1884 from H.M. Dockyard, where he had been an apprentice shipwright and remained at Cunard until his death in 1924

He is the author of the paper "The design of steamships from the owner's point of view," published in Transactions of the Institution of Naval Architects, London, 1914.

1924 Obituary[1]

"The unexpected death of Mr. Leonard Peskett, the naval architect of the Cunard Line, which occurred after a short illness at his home, Craigmin, Blundell-sands, on Friday evening last, the 7th inst., will be keenly felt in mercantile marine circles. Mr. Peskett was born in Kent in 1860, and after leaving school decided to devote his attention to the study of naval architecture and ship designing. His chief work is embodied in the progressive series of ocean liners and mercantile ships of the Cunard Company, which are known throughout the world and represent all that is best in British liner construction.

When Mr. Peskett joined the Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd, in 1884, he served for a time as draughtsman to the late Captain Watson, who was then the general superintendent. About that date the 19.5 knot liners Umbria and Eturia, the last of the company's single-screw vessels, of 8127 gross tons, were in course of completion, and Mr. Peskett was engaged in work connected with them... Read more

1924 Obituary[2]


The Cunard Steamship Company has lost a valued servant and the naval architects, marine engineers and shipbuilders of our country a good-hearted and loyal friend, by the death, at the age of 64 years, of Mr. Leonard Peskett. He suffered a collapse through an internal trouble some four years ago and had to undergo a serious operation. Possessed of a fine physique, he soon recovered from his trial and was early back to his usual activity. Though apparently as fit as ever, this trouble may have left some effects. A man of energy frequently takes little note of the necessity for a long building-up after a serious illness, and it was thought by some of Mr. Peskett’s friends that he went back to his duties after, perhaps, too short a period of rest. Whether that was so or not it seems to have been the case that some weakness remained. How unexpected his collapse was, after a short period off duty, may be judged from the fact that on Thursday last, the day prior to his death, he appeared quite bright and cheerful to those of his family and friends who were allowed to visit him.

Mr. Peskett served his apprenticeship in Rye, Sussex, and spent the following four years, from 1880 to 1884, as a draughtsman at H.M. Dockyard at Chatham. Here he earned an enviable reputation for his ability in rapidly producing solutions of difficulties encountered in the internal arrangement of vessels, and his abilities becoming known, he was appointed draughtsman to the General Superintendent of the Cunard Line, the late Captain Watson. In his new sphere of activities, first as a junior, then as ship designer, and finally as naval architect, he took part in all the great developments of shipbuilding for passenger traffic. The story of his achievements is the recent history of the Cunard Line.

Changes in construction being advocated, he early appreciated their significance and with a great capacity for judging men and their purposes he could readily gauge where trust was warranted. The single-screw vessels Etruria and Umbria were being built when he entered the service of the Cunard Company. They were the last single-screwed ships the Cunard Line ever built. The next important constructions were the twin-screw lister ships Campania and Lucania. These vessels of 12,900 tons and having a speed of 22 knots for long remained the fastest on the Atlantic service. Later the company favoured a return to lower speeds and the combination of extensive provision for passengers and cargo capaoity, and the Saxonia, Ivernia and Carpathia, of this type, were built between 1900 and 1902. An increase both in size and speed to 19,600 tons and 181 knots was seen in 1905, when the Caronia and Carmania were added to the fleet. These vessels were similar, except that the Caronia was propelled by reciprocating engines through twin screws, while the Carmania had Parsons turbines operating three screws. Experiences with these two vessels gave Mr. Peskett very valuable information and data from which to judge the significance of turbine propulsion, and this proved useful in dealing with the proposals for the RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania. The latter vessels maintained a service across the Atlantic at 25 to 26 knots, and wrested the records from the Germans. As the man responsible to the company for these developments, the construction of the RMS Aquitania and the building of the company’s extensive postwar programme, Mr. Peskett must be considered as one of the greatest forces working for progress in ship design during the last quarter-century. Mr. Peskett made contributions to the Proceedings of the Institution of Naval Architects, of which he became a member in 1905, and was elected a member of council a year ago. He leaves a memory of a kindly nature which put everybody whom he appreciated immediately at their ease, and he inspired any company he entered with the true spirit of friendship."

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