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Salvaged Capstan Mid Harbours Estate

Ref: HA017

Following proposals by Admiral Sir Augustus Phillimore KCB, work on HM Dockyard Gibraltar started in the mid 1890’s and took over a decade to complete. A number of Capstans such as this were commissioned from Cowans, Sheldon and Co, Engineers of Carlisle and used at various points within the dockyard to haul ships into the dry docks to undertake repairs.

Each of these 16-ton capstans were driven by a hydraulic revering engine capable of exerting a pull of 16 tons at the rate of 30 ft. per minute on the slow gear, or 4 tons at 120 ft. per minute on the quick gear. The cylinders, rams, valves and working parts were entirely of brass, and mounted on a cast-iron bed-plate bolted directly into the foundations.

These drums were fitted with phosphor-bronze whelps, and were carried on a heavy forged-steel centre-pillar, which was fixed on the self-contained foundation casting. The power was transmitted from the engine to the drums through spur and bevel gearing, a change of speed being provided to suit the specified loads. The whole of the engines and gearing were fixed in a masonry pit, covered with steel chequered plates, and arranged so that the capstans could be worked from the ground-level by means of extended levers.

This capstan is identified by the Order No. 9740 and the Yard No. 1575. It was built in 1952.

In 2018, the capstan was painted by the children of the Mid-Harbours Estate in conjunction with the Gibraltar Youth Service and Ministry for Heritage.

16-ton hydraulic capstan; Messrs. Cowans, Sheldon and Co., Ltd, Carlisle.

Capstan identifiers and detail.

HMS Vanguard being pulled into the dry dock in Gibraltar, 1949.

Salvaged Capstan Mid Harbours Estate Image